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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Basketball: Thinking Outside the Box, From Tularemia to Unorthodox Offense

"Think outside the box." What does that mean? We have 'conventional wisdom' then outside the box which may have originated as a puzzle

In Biohazard, a mentor told author Ken Alibek to study the epidemiology of tularemia (rabbit fever) in the USSR. There was a massive (100,000 cases) outbreak in 1942, hypothesized as unintended results (blowback) of biowarfare. Alibek suspected that wind shifts blew the weaponized germ back at Soviet troops. Other authors argue that it was naturally induced during public health infrastructure failure. 

Thinking Volleyball devotes an entire chapter (10) to thinking outside the box. Author Mike Hebert writes, "I want people to ask questions and not immediately embrace the prevailing orthodoxy when it comes to anything related to volleyball. Ask questions, investigate, do research, use trial and error, and steal good ideas if you have to."

The introduction of three-point shooting, penetration of analytics, and expansion of defensive versatility were all "out of the box" concepts that became mainstream. 

Coaches, where do we deploy unconventional strategies to succeed? 

Stall. What price victory? Is it worth it to win a middle school game? Is holding the ball out for two minutes the same as delaying for thirty? 

Small ball. Steve Kerr adopted videographer Nick U'Ren's lineup suggestion of Andre Iguodala in the 2015 NBA Championship series. Good ideas are all around. 

Hack-a-Shaq. Intentionally fouling poor free throw shooters to stop the clock and reduce points per possession has enjoyed variable success. The principal complaint against this is "deliberate fouling makes the game unpleasant to watch." 

Junk defenses. We can dispute the value of innovative defenses like box-and-one, triangle-and-two, Amoeba, and the Freak


Unusual offensive deployment. Dean Smith's "Four Corners" offense functioned as both a delay offense and a stand-alone offense. Ford's ballhandling and passing prowess created scoring chances for him and teammates. 

"Conventional" press breaking often uses guards to advance the ball. We can invert using  ballhandling post players to disrupt defenses. 

Energizing. Energy matters, especially on the road. Brian Scalabrine says, "find ways to impact the game." Energy players may earn time because of the energy they impart to teammates.

Information Organization and management. How do we organize, store, and share information? Don Meyer was famous for his three notebook system - new basketball information, new knowledge, and appreciation notebook annually shared with his wife. Google drive spreadsheets help practice planning, education, lineup development, and more. Flashcards test player knowledge. Share liberally. Life is short. 

Change ourselves. From Thinking Volleyball, "It seemed that nothing I said had achieved any traction. There I stood, having just been struck by the reality club. In an instant I realized the importance of keeping up with the generational changes in outlook that occur every 5 to 10 years among our respective athlete populations."

Lagniappe: "It's a shoulders game." - Kevin Eastman

"Low man wins." Beat people with your shoulders and hips and separate with the ball. 

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