Nitty-Gritty Basketball
Fundamentals In 2005 NCAA Men Games

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On this page I detail right and wrong play in games that I watched.
The comments are dateless.
Notes On The 2005 Games

As I watched the games this year, and every other year as well, I'm trying to predict who is going to win. Though I often root for the underdog or local team, I evaluate the game based on physical related data more than anything else. In brief, I'm looking to see if one team has a physical edge over the other. Taller, stronger, faster, more agile, better conditioned players usually beat less physical players.

More physical players out rebound less physical ones, yielding more offensive rebounds and easy scores. Better rebounding also prevents opponents from getting easy second shots. More physical players will also play better defense, yielding more recovered turnovers. Better defenses also cause the offense to shoot further from the basket taking difficult shots thus reducing the opponents shooting percentage. Better conditioned teams play well in the last minutes of a game, whereas tired players make more mental and physical mistakes. One reason a team falls apart in the second half is that a less physical team runs slightly out of steam trying to keep up with a more physical team. Again, a less physical team can not finesse a better defense or better rebounding or more energy.

Keep in mind also, that teams can slightly vary the way they play: often play is not 100% consistent. A coach may not be sending players to the boards in the first half, then wise up in the second half. Or the coach may tell players to go inside all of the time rather than settle for 3 pointers. Or the coach may use different players in the second half.

Let me add one note here. Because physicality trumps everything, your job as coach is to make each player stronger, faster, and more agile. Everything in my books and videos involves this type of improvement. Thinking basketball is a game of finesse is a disaster for your players, yielding little to no individual improvement or team improvement. There is more about this in other articles. Now to some comments about the games.
I noticed one thing that I did not like. In critical situations team play completely broke down for most teams. Incredibly talented individual play carried the teams in critical situations.
I also noticed that many teams were hot from the 3 point line during the first 10 minutes, only to fall apart later in the game when their shooting went south. A fan may have thought that there team had a chance, however hot 3-point shooting at the beginning of a game is a big negative. Teams should be going inside early.

A few other problems:
1-Whenever I took a close look at the ball handler, the dribbler was palming the ball. I imagine someone, one player, knows how to dribble the ball, but I did not see this. If you ever want to see proper dribbling find an old video of Bob Cousey or Pete Maravitch.(spelling) A player dribbles using the wrist, not the arm.

2-Most players floated in for layups instead of going up. Approximately 100% of missed layups are due to floating underneath the basket. Ideally a player should be under the basket in position to rebound after a layup, instead of 10 feet out of bounds. Momentum might take a player a foot or two under the basket, however, most players did not seem to know that floating causes misses. Hence, even the best players do not know how to execute a layup properly.

3-About 100% of stolen passes are due to the catcher not running through the ball. Often catchers stay in place, just reaching for the ball. Often, the catcher runs to the ball and stops before catching. Running through the ball means that the player runs full speed, catches the ball while running full speed, then slows down. I rarely saw this, even when a team ran nice offensive patterns. And in clinics, I rarely found a high school or college player with this skill.
Comments About Many Games

Louisville vs West Virginia
West Virginia ran out of steam in the second half, being up against a far physically superior Louisville. Tired players do not think well or shoot well. Looking at the box score, Louisville dominated the boards and had both more steals and blocked shots: all signs of a physical advantage. If Louisville went more inside, shooting too many threes, 28, I'd imagine they would have done even better.

Illinois vs Arizona
Can a team be lucky? For one or two points, not catching up by 15. Can you say that one team relaxed a bit with a big lead because they were tired? Yes you can. Can one or two great physical talents take over? Yes, like Deron Williams. I'd like to see the box score for the last half or last 10 minutes of the game. Usually the team that shoots more 3 pointers loose: however, Illinois shot twice as many as Arizona. And if a game is going to be decided by 1-3 points, its impossible to predict who's going to win. One turnover, one missed front end 1-and-1 foul shot, one this or that is hardly enough to make a case.

North Carolina vs Wisconsin
Actually, I don't remember this game. Guess I missed one. I imagine that North Carolina was just more agile and talented than the big Badgers. Looking at the rosters, most Wisconsin players came from the state,10 of 15, whereas NC has only 6 of 18 rostered players from the home state. Successful recruiting yields more talent.

Michigan State vs Kentucky
What can you say, a great game! In the first half, I thought Michigan State would win because I saw that they had a slight physical advantage. Of course in games this close, you can't pick a winner or rationalize your choice.
Comments on some earlier games.

Duke vs Michigan State
Even though Duke was winning in the first half by 5-10 points I noticed that Michigan St was a much more physical team. I expected Duke to lose by 10; not a real close game. Duke's perennial problem is that they opt out of the physical game inside, shooting too many threes. A losing strategy and a bad example for all coaches around the country.

North Carolina vs Villanova
Though Villanova was winning in the first half, I thought that NC because of their physical advantage, would eventually win by 10-20 points. Only incredible play by some diminutive players on Villanova prevented this.

A closing statement: Basketball is played at schools because it is an educational endeavor. Coaches are teachers, not recruiters. Players are students interested in improving their game, not just college & NBA hopefuls. When the best of the best are not able to execute basic skills like dribbling, catching, or a layup correctly, the educational system is askew.

ll The Nitty-Gritty Basketball™ Series
by Sidney Goldstein
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