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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Basketball: Asymmetric Information

What you don't know can kill you. In Deep Survival, author Laurence Gonsales discusses attempting to body surf in Hawaii. A lifeguard stops him, explaining that the riptide will carry him out, down the surf about a hundred yards, where "I'll pull your dead body off those rocks."

Asymmetric information is common in decision making. Do you buy this used car? Does the insurance company have relevant information about the beneficiary's health? What price  to pay for a commodity (e.g. watch, designer bag) that might be a knockoff? 

How about basketball? 

When evaluating or recruiting a player, do you know their character, health, habits (work ethic), and deal-breakers (e.g. substance abuse)?

State U recruits you. Do you know that the head coach has already signed his top choice and sees you as depth/backup? 

When facing an opponent, does your plan align against their intent? After their catastrophic home loss to USC in 1970, Alabama closed practices in 1971 and installed the wishbone. The Tide exacted revenge. 


Do you know how your opponent will defend a final play? Can you take advantage of your edge? 

We lead by one, five seconds remaining. I've heard the other coach instruct "switch everything." Great. I don't want the ball closer to their basket and design a small versus big cross-screen to get the 1 on 5 switch for a lob to kill time. Even a live ball turnover puts their offense in a dead corner with little time on the clock. 

Find solutions to mitigate asymmetric information. 

NFL executive Mike Lombardi (Gridiron Genius) got data on top SEC prospects by cultivating sorority sources. The college women gladly gave information on potential draftees. 

The Draft reveals a Bill Belichick ploy. 

I know a high school coach whose captaincy process includes a questionnaire, interview, and information gathering from teachers and administration. President Ronald Reagan said, "Trust but verify." 

Do players know how to read and interpret diagrams? Coach Bob Knight would interrupt practice and draw out a play. Then he distributed paper and pencil and expected players to reproduce it. 

Dean Smith assigned players a quote for the day. You better know it. 

Players' ignorance of the plays prompted a coach to give players a written test. If they didn't know the plays, they were replaced by reserves who did. They learned. 

Asymmetric information manifests throughout coaching. What are your tips and tricks to get people on the same page and expand the circle of competence

Lagniappe: via @coachliamflynn

We spend time teaching spread offense actions because they illuminate how to play. The video shares screening, penetration, pass and cut, and drive and kick. When players know how to play, they have an asymmetric information edge. 

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