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Friday, February 2, 2018

How We Turned Defeat Into Victory

Do a "premortem" examination of a future defeat. Imagine we play a tough game and come up on the short end, by a basket. How do we change the intermediate steps to arrive at a different "end state?" "The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure."

Make basic assumptions that we'll have 70 offensive possessions and score at 0.5 points per possession (plausible in a youth game). For simplicity, discount any defensive opportunities. That informs our score at 35 and a 37-35 defeat. 

Presume we win the opening tap (we usually do) and run an automatic play for a scorer, who unfortunately misses the layup. That counts as losing 1/2 point (during the possession) but over the game, assume we shoot 24 layups and make 10, instead of even a more reasonable 12 (1 point per possession). That's four points. Solution: more practice time for layups.

At the free throw line, we shoot 3 for 10 (that might be optimistic). We should shoot at least fifty percent. Two more points. Solution: practice free throws. 

We commit twenty turnovers and allow four offensive held balls (with the possession arrow that means two possessions). That's twenty-two lost possessions. If we can salvage even five of those possessions, that's 5 x 0.5 points per possession = 2.5 points. "Make the easy play." Value the ball. The ball is gold

We get three more offensive rebounds through more aggressiveness and anticipation. Ordinarily, a second shot is worth a score 50 percent of the time and a third shot closer to 80 percent. But we'll reduce that for youth basketball and yield another 1.5 points

Without playing better defense or having any special insight, we've generated ten points, a mere .14 additional points per possession and earned a hard-fought 45-37 victory. 

Technique beats tactics. Simple is better. Allocate limited resources (practice time) more efficiently. Do the math. 


"It's a man's world." Get used to seeing more women on the sidelines in that world. Women assistants on boys' teams make a difference with their knowledge and attitude. Becky Hammon is a pioneering coach for the San Antonio Spurs. "The point is, do you know basketball? Do you know what it takes to lead people?” Let character and competence define us, not age, color, gender, or religion. 

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