Thursday, February 22, 2007

This joke isn't funny anymore

This is getting ri-goddamn-diculous. Have you kids ever played against a flippin' 2-3 zone before? I recently had an email exchange with Dids (he's alive! And Nerding, presumably) about last night's abortion of a contest against Penn State. here are some of our (rapidly growing familiar and tiresome) thoughts on this mindboggling trend:

1. If any team we play the rest of the year spends any less than half the game in a zone, their coach should be fired.

2. If you don't think we're in tremendous danger of losing in the second round, please note that we never really penetrated the zone defense -- lots of our offense came in transition -- of a team that A.) was incredibly small, and B.) is probably less talented than the hypothetical 7- or 10-seed we'd be facing. This is wildly troubling.

3. I can't possibly stress this enough: SEND SOMEONE TO THE HIGH POST. This is seriously like 8th-grade-level stuff, which makes me worry that either the players are too stupid to grasp the idea, or, even worse, the coaching staff isn't telling the kids to do it. Only two players on this team ever flash to the high post: one is Lighty, and he couldn't find the basket with two extra arms, pliers, and a goddamn helmet flashlight, and the other is Cook, but he always fades too far up before catching the ball, and then reverse-pivots so he's outside the three-point line and the entire exercise has become useless because now the entire defense has you in front of them. Ugh. Swinging the ball around the perimeter is great, but it has to be accompanied by some kind of player movement inside the arc, or else the defense's basic shifts will cover everyone. With Oden's height and skill, and the shooters we have, Oden and Hunter should be in the game, repeatedly flashing to the high post while the ball is reversed; we'd make a killing, and teams would be forced to abandon the zone in a hurry.

4. Ball-screens against a zone, and especially at the top of the key, are largely pointless endeavors. Stop it. No, seriously. You're giving me an anyeurism.

5. Another thing that makes me worried that the problem is coaching-related: Who. The Christ. ATTACKS A 2-3 ZONE WITH A TWO-GUARD FRONT?!?! You're just allowing the defenders to match up with your players, and you're decreasing the amount of space said defenders have to cover. You're essentially playing right into their hands.

The way to defeat a zone is to move the ball quickly, force the defenders to move, and slip people into the zone's cracks, forcing the defenders to either collapse on the offensive player or allow him a relatively easy 12-footer. Yes, theoretically, a zone is used for "packing it in" and usually gives up open three-point opportunities. But getting the ball into the paint absolutely devastates a zone defense, and while we swing the ball around the perimeter against zones, we seem to be unwilling to A.) put anyone other than Oden inside the three-point line, or B.) have Oden himself move around anywhere inside the arc. He just sits on the low block, waiting for the entry pass that will never come because *DING DONG* they're in a zone and it's designed to prevent easy entry passes to the low block.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills, because the guys keep winning, so the residents of LEBO are all rosy-red glasses and I'm sitting here fretting us having to face a team with even a modicum of talent and a good head coach. I need to lie down.


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