Monday, March 31, 2014
What I Have Learned
Yes. I was questioning Cal and his methods. Yes. After last year and most of the 2014 regular basketball season I think my questions were warranted. Yes. I was wrong! Yes. I still do not like the one and done philosophy (I know that is not Cals rule and he is taking advantage of it in a good way right now).
Yes. I do not watch as much college basketball because I do not like that it has become such a perimeter game and the regular season is just an exhibition (and the likes of Dykes, Vitale and Rafferty make games tough to watch they are calling). First let's talk offense. Despite what many people think, UK does not run a set offense, they do and it is very complex. It is called the Dribble Drive.
From Wikipedia: The dribble drive motion is an offensive strategy in basketball, developed by former Pepperdine head coach Vance Walberg during his time as a California high school coach and at Fresno City College. Like the Princeton offense, the Dribble Drive offense is a "four-out" offense - that is, only one post player (generally the center) plays near the basket, while the other four players play on the perimeter, around the three-point line. Unlike the Princeton offense, which is based on players cutting towards the basket, and other motion offenses which rely on players screening for each other, the Dribble Drive uses a player (usually, but not limited to, the point guard) to dribble-drive towards the basket. The offense is designed in a way that makes it difficult for the defense to help on dribble-penetration without giving up either a layup or an open three-pointer. Depending on how the defense responds, the driving player can either shoot a lay-up, pass to the post player for a shot, or "kick-out" pass to one of the perimeter players. If the ball is returned to the perimeter, the player that receives the pass either takes a three-point shot, or dribble-drives to the basket, restarting the process. Like most motion-type offenses the Dribble Drive is predicated on reading the defense rather than set plays, as it relies on the speed and decision making of its players. "I feel we're teaching kids how to play basketball instead of how to run plays" says Walberg of the offense. Coaches that rely upon the offense have said that they do most of their coaching work in practices rather than games. However, the offense contains a lot of initial entry sets, which are used as starting-out points. The sets serve as a way to get the defense different looks, a way to feature a certain player, or exploit a defensive weakness.
This is a complex offense. It takes allot of time to learn and implement. Now let's take the fact that UK has seven freshmen this year. This is a allot to learn. They struggled throughout the year learning and the point guard play was very a portion of the season and the inexperience of the other players in this offense contributed to many of the failures.
The case in point here is simple and it has been proven, although as fans we seem to forget, it takes time. Look at Brandon Knight and Marques Teague and how long it took (If you will remember for both of those teams there play was in question until the tournament started). John Wall and that team is an exception just because they were as talented a team that UK has ever had and with Teague and that team the greatness of Anthony Davis allowed that team to win allot of games they would have otherwised lost in the maturation process.
The defense is even more complex. I am still not a fan at the switch, switch, switch and switch again defense. I think you should pick a man and guard him but........... When you have athletes who can guard any player (UK has that this year) and you have shot blockers and a great inside presence this defense works well. Problem is like the Dribble Drive it take a long time for the players to learn and trust each other. It has it's ineffective moments (look at some of the open 3's UK gave up late in the Michigan game) but it also gives players confidence, once understood that someone has my back (look at the end of the U of L game) and they trust each other (that is a key they now trust each other).
What did I learn and many fans learn? STFU and let Cal coach and as he says, "Enjoy the ride!".
I have to say the last three games have been nothing short of amazing. You beat a really great undefeated WSU, then beat a rival coming from behind and beat a Michigan team that had been on a roll. Not to mention that this is three conference champions and three conference tournament champions and three of the four Final Four Teams from last year. WOW is all I can say, just WOW.
What does Cal and these boys do for an encore? Hopefully win it all. I do not know if they will or they will not but what a fun tournament this has been and what a surprise it has been from a perspective of they have made the final four (I had them in the final eight). Next year I will have a much different perspective as Cal incorporates some new players into the group. He will coach and I will watch and not complain.
Touche Cal! I will never complain again!