Several weeks ago, we posed a provocative proposition – a jump shot is better than a layup – and set out to prove it. In Part 1, we traced the historic evolution of basketball and how coaching philosophy and strategy differed from one region to the next, but finally collided in the 1930s and 40s when Stanford’s Hank Luisetti and Wyoming’s Kenny Sailors dazzled the country with their one-handed jump shooting. In Part 2, we explored the nature of jump shooting and its dramatic impact on basketball. Now, in this final post on the subject, we’ll offer three proofs for our proposition.Continue reading…
When I launched my blog in 2014, I outlined ten immutable laws or principles that define the nature of basketball and govern its play. These laws are fundamental to understanding, coaching, and playing basketball. Once mastered they form a prism through which one can “see” the game, appreciate its simplicity, and master its subtleties. At the center of the ten is the all-important Fifth Law: A jump shot is better than a layup. For me it’s the cornerstone on which modern basketball theory rests and why I named my site better than a layup. Over the next few weeks, I’ll unpack this law in a series of three posts. Here’s Part I.Continue reading…
Basketball unfolds as a series of choices, one leading to the next. No matter how controlled or patterned a team attempts to be, the offensive scheme will inevitably break down requiring the attackers to improvise.
Effective coaching exploits this reality by placing players in spots where their natural freelance abilities come to the fore and where the choices are binary – “either/or” situations where it is relatively easy for the offense to read the defense and act quickly.
Complicated offensive schemes that congest the floor, obscure the choices, and attempt to control too many variables reward the defense by creating uncertainty and indecisiveness. Too many moving parts complicate the reads, granting the defense time to react.
Conversely, offenses that create quick, binary decision-making are built around actions and maneuvers that shorten defensive reaction time. Effective offense reduces the number of choices by forcing defenders into “no-win” situations where a choice to respond in one way renders them vulnerable in another way. This makes it easier for offensive players to see or read the defense and seize the initiative quickly.
Basketball’s fourth law – Keep It Binary, Stupid – explores these principles.
So far, so good.
The twenty-five rule changes implemented this season – especially those intended to increase pace and enhance “freedom of movement” – seem to be working. We ended last season with only five teams averaging 80 or more points per game, none scoring more than 85. By mid-December this season, seventy teams were averaging 80 or more, seven of them in the 90’s.
Still, I have my doubts. You don’t reverse a forty-year decline in one season.
Just how deep is the hole we’ve dug? Continue reading…
During the last couple of weeks, in response to a series of posts on the decline of scoring in college basketball and my attempt to trace the reasons for this disturbing trend by probing Austin Carr’s record-setting performance in the early 1970’s, several readers have requested information on the Stack or Isolation Offense. Over the weekend I was flattered to hear from basketball aficionado, Herb Welling.
Coach Welling, as you may know, has been called the “minister of information” in coaching circles and has been featured several times in the media, most prominently in Grant Wahl’s 2008 Sports Illustrated article on the evolution of the Dribble Drive Motion offense.
Herb first became acquainted with betterthanalayup.com when researching the matching zone defense and discovered my piece on coach Gene Sullivan’s strategy. In recent days we’ve shared several emails and phone calls, discussing the origins of Sullivan’s equally interesting Stack offense.
I promised him that I would provide a deeper dive into the subject and am pleased to offer it now in a “quick and dirty,” Q & A format. In the future I’ll post a more comprehensive and polished essay.
In the meantime, I hope this initial piece proves helpful and prompts further questions and commentary.
Click here to read Stack Offense Q & A