For a long time, I have been fascinated by “little books” – short, pithy pieces that explore a particular topic or phenomenon, uncovering its fundamental principles and operations.
The first to attract my attention was Henry Hazlitt’s 1961 classic, Economics in One Lesson. From a simple story about a broken pane of glass, Hazlitt adduces an entire theory of economics, explaining in easy, understandable terms a whole range of economic topics from supply and demand, to unemployment, to rent control, to tax policy — all in 143 pages!
Since then I have encountered several other “little books”: Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf, former Marine Corps commandant Alfred Gray’s Warfighting, and Longitude by Dava Sobel, to name a few. In each, the author uses clear, succinct, almost sparse language to render complex theory into simple principle and practice.
For example, in a series of one and two page chapters such as “Take Dead Aim,” “The Three Most Important Clubs,” and “The Right Elbow,” Penick elucidates the nature of golf and corresponding lessons of life. General Gray outlines the realities of the modern battlefield and how the modern Marine Corps wages war through surprise, shock, and rapid maneuver. Dava Sobel recounts the dangers of early navigation and how an English clockmaker invented the chronometer to precisely measure time at sea and thus determine one’s actual location.
better than a layup is my attempt to add to this collection — to write a “little book” on the nature of college basketball, exposing its underlying principles or laws and tracing the game’s historical evolution. Of course, instead of actually publishing a traditional book, I‘ve decided to present my views in the form of this blog site. In this way, I hope to encourage a “conversation” with you and other visitors to the site, adding to one another’s enjoyment of a great game.
better than a layup is premised on the following assertion: basketball is a game of exquisitely simple principles needlessly complicated by coaches seeking to control every aspect of the game and reinforced in their efforts by a legion of fawning television commentators and sports writers.
Today, despite the increased athleticism of its players, college basketball is a slower, less graceful, and lower scoring game than it was a generation ago. better than a layup will explore how this decline occurred and suggest ways to get the game back on track. In doing so, I will challenge much of what passes as conventional wisdom, replacing it with a series of simple, time-tested principles or laws that define the nature of the game and govern its play.
Before we get started, a caveat.
If this were a book, you and I – reader and writer – would find ourselves constrained by the very nature of printed text. The exposition of ideas would unfold in linear fashion, page after page without interuption or opportunity for conversation.. The communication would all be one way – words frozen in print, from me to you. A lecture.
But this is a blog site. The postings will occur irregularly with the ideas explored seemingly random, “out of sequence.” But there will be a “logic” to all that you find here if you hunt for it… and most importantly, an opportunty for conversation.
I welcome your reaction to my postings and the longer “essays” they may spawn. Please feel free to comment and to add your own insights and reflections.
Mark Shaw Seeberg, I am thrilled for you. I know that the exactitude of your language will draw readers, then fans, then the illuminati, then…wait or it…The World.
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
― E. Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
You’re very kind. Thanks!
Looks great! Can’t wait to follow. Cheers!
Glad you like it!
Congrats Dad! Awesome! Love!
Enjoy this journey!
Thanks for your kind words.
Very exciting Mark!!!! Can’t wait to read the next entry:)
You’re terrific to check out the site and respond. Thanks so much!
Awesome! You are a truly great American! And I absolutely LOVE the photo choice!!! Darn, I could have used your help in my former life as well!
Thanks, so much… hope I can provide some entertainment if not insight.
Coach: Grab hold of their jocks and step right in! Johnny Dee would be so proud! Go Irish! Stump
One of the greatest pre-game lines I’ve ever witnessed. Tough loss for the Irish last night. They just couldn’t match up.
Somewhere in a heavenly sports bar, the old ball coach, Buck Shaw, is telling the newest arrival, Jimmy Chitwood: “Son, if you want to understand anything about the greatest game ever played read this blog thing written by nephew, it is awesome,”
Thanks! Did you know that Jimmy Chitwood only spoke four lines in the entire movie?
Mark, I am looking forward to following your thoughts on basketball and more! Greatest line in Hoosiers…. “I’ll make it.”
Thanks. Personally I like the “I love you guys” line.
Good stuff Mark, hope to join you on this journey! Let me know when you are in the Motor City again. Patrick
Thanks much! Will do.
Is it OK if I include some pictures of myself and my stats from Northfield Park District basketball. I think there is also a picture of Gene Tarmolien.
I like it. Well done. Can’t wait for the next update!
You’re very kind. Thanks!