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 The Write Space and Time

 

Spacing and timing. Sonny and Cher. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together. By themselves they work, kind of. But when paired? Look out. That's when the magic happens. Beautiful basketball pivots on offensive spacing and timing. And it seems to me that life swings back and forth on the same two hinges. So every week or so we'll be examining both, or maybe just pondering about one or the other. And who knows what might happen with the right amount of space and enough time...

Oct. 11, 2010: Favorite Time of the Year
Sept. 1, 2010: One Step at a Time
Aug. 3, 2010: Shopping in July
March 15, 2010: Fight One More Round
Feb. 11, 2010: The Lesson
Jan. 26, 2010: Number 300
Dec. 17, 2009: The 2-For-1
Dec. 14, 2009: Groundhog Day
Nov. 26, 2009: Basketball is Cumulative
Nov. 13, 2009: Hot and Cold
Oct. 26, 2009: The Vision Part
Oct. 16, 2009: The Write Space and Time

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Oct. 11, 2010 -- Our football team is undefeated, my Japanese maple trees have a few crimson leaves, and basketball practice is underway. Seriously, does it get any better than this?

We've had four workouts thus far, thanks to a new NCAA rule that allows us to start about 10 days earlier than usual. I wasn't a proponent of the rule; I feel like the season is a bit too long anyway. But I wasn't in the majority. So we were forced to find a way to live with it, and I think we've actually done better than that. We've found a way to use the extra time as an advantage by slicing up specified areas of teaching and gradating our way into full blown workouts. I'm excited to see if it does what I hope it will do.

Our first four days were strictly offensive instruction: the rudiments of movement, the how and when and why of the myriad of things you can do with five people and one ball. I'm a staunch believer in Wooden's "whole-part-whole" teaching method and week one was the whole. As a result my team is wide-eyed and terrified. Who knew there were so many decisions that could be made on one offensive possession?

The good news is, the only way you can really do wrong is to do nothing. That piece of information always serves as salve for players'confused, anxious, indecisive minds. Our objective for week one was to teach them what could be, while demanding the effort that is required to make any of it possible. If they will basket cut in January like they did in early October, this week of offensive instruction will have been well worth it.

Week two will be all about what happens on the other side of the ball. We'll close out and step slide and jump to the ball until we can do it in our sleep. Our mission is simple: to lay the foundation of individual and team defense. Our young guys will be shocked at how hard you have to work to be good at guarding. That's primarily the reason anybody can do it and virtually no one does.

I think there could be great merit in starting a teaching cycle as we have this year. In depth focus on one facet at a time always eliminates distraction and provides an opportunity for maximum repetition and therefore the development of skill. It's kind of like learning to play golf. I can go to the range and swing and swing and swing my driver until most hits are solid and the club feels really good in my hands. Then I can swing and swing and swing my 5 iron until that club feels really good in my hands. Unfortunately, when I play a round of golf, about the time I figure out how to hit my 5 iron, I have to hit a 7. And then a 3 wood. And then a 9 iron. And before you know it , I can't hit my driver anymore. It's not the clubs, but the changing of the clubs that freaks me out. I swear if I could just play a round with one club, I could get pretty good!

Maybe a certain creation of comfort and mastery on the offensive end, followed by a certain creation of comfort and mastery on the defensive end will allow for less slippage when we stuff it all together. That's the plan anyway. For now it's baby steps and big dreams. My favorite time of year.

- SC