A dribble is like a burglar alarm. When the opponent hears or sees one, especially a good player, he will get himself in defensive posi- tion, a help-and-recover position so that any scoring effort made by the dribbler will be difficult. Against a good team, when all four players off the ball hear that signal, it will be very difficult to score, even if you can beat your man.
For that reason, and despite the fact that reverse-dribbles are useful at times (especially against poor defensive teams), you should learn to score from everywhere with one dribble. That means, when you get the ball in shooting position (at a distance you can shoot from), you should expect to be able to get to the basket in one dribble. This can be done—and is done by good players all the time. It is a matter of wanting to get there in one dribble, practicing and developing the habit. One dribble is explosive, and one dribble does not signal the defense. By the time the defenders see a need to alter position, you are already shooting.
Concentration on scoring with one dribble will pay other dividends. You will rarely be surprised by a defender jumping in front of you, and you will learn to fake your opponent out of position using necessarily quick, violent, effective fakes instead of moseying around hoping for an opening or relying on scoring with indirect moves to the basket. Scoring the drive comes to be seen as going past your man, not going around him.
The problem with scoring on backyard moves involving reverse dribbles, spins and several dribbles after you get the ball is that these are less effective the better the team is that you play against. Your time is better spent perfecting a style of play which will be effective anywhere, anytime, against anyone.
The mediocre player will likely say, “But if I restrict myself to one dribble, I don’t get many opportunities.” The good player will admit to himself, “I haven’t learned to fake well enough yet.” One-dribble moves will provide you all the opportunities you will ever need. And once you learn to use them habitually, you will find that your fakes are so effective and your moves so explosive that once in a while you can take an extra dribble or two—just for showing off!
From Dick’s book Stuff
Double-teams must be tough to beat in football. Two big linemen can run at you and stick their helmets in your stomach. But, in basketball, where no one is allowed to touch you, there is no reason that double-teams have to bother you. It is merely a matter of how you think. If, at the moment you see a double-team form, you think, Oh no, a double-team, you are likely to panic and throw a lob pass somewhere that someone can intercept.
Your thinking should be, Oh, here’s a 4-on-3 opportunity. All you have to do is be strong with the ball, be patient, stay low, pivot and look. If you think “tough” and protect the ball, one of your teammates will have time to get open for an easy pass, and your team will have a 4-on-3 scoring opportunity.
What if one of your teammates does not get open for an easy pass? What if they do not run aggressively seeking the pass? The answer is one you should know in advance, before any double-teams ever arise, before the game even starts. Know which of your teammates is the easiest to throw to. What does “easiest to throw to” mean? It means the toughest kid, the kid who is most aggressive, a competitor who wants the ball, who likes to get it and who doesn’t mind a scuffle or getting his body on the court for a loose ball. Before you go into any game, know who your tough kid is and tell him, “Anytime I get in trouble with the ball, I’m gonna throw it to you.”
When you do get double-teamed and in trouble and realize that you need to be getting rid of the ball, call the tough kid, see where he is coming from and then throw the ball where he has a good chance to get it. If you can give him an advantage, so much the better, but if you have to throw it “up for grabs,” then fine; you’ve chosen a good guy for the “grabs.”
To beat a double-team, bring three players into prime receiving position, six to ten feet from the ball, spread out. With two men on the ball, the defense cannot bring three men up to guard all three receivers or they will be leaving a player wide open under the basket.
A trapping team cannot afford to use up all five defenders within six feet of the ball, and they won’t, which is precisely the reason that going to the ball makes sense. One of the players near the ball will be open as long as two teammates don’t stand next to each other and let one defender guard them both.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Did you know that even a so-called slow baseball player can get from home plate to first base in about four seconds? (The fast ones do it in three and a half.) That might seem like an insignificant fact for basketball players, except that the distance from home plate to first base is farther than the distance from basket to basket on a full-sized basketball court. A court is 94 feet long from baseline to baseline; the bases are 90 feet apart in a baseball diamond.
Are you beginning to guess the point of all this? Game after game, a player with the ball in the backcourt throws up a 60-foot shot because there are only three or four seconds left. Do these players not know that you merely need to get the ball out of your hands before the buzzer sounds in order for the shot to count? Or is it that they think baseball players are a lot faster than basketball players? Would they take the ball upcourt and maneuver for a better shot if they could wear spikes?
Whatever the reason they have for “jacking up” a 60-footer with four seconds left, don’t you do it. Take the ball upcourt on a full-speed sprint, and get yourself a chance to shoot a shot that you really might make. Plan on shooting with a second left, or less.
If you aren’t sure that you can do this, go to a court one day, and take a friend with a watch. Start at the free throw line in the backcourt, and have him count off the seconds, 5…4…3…2…1…. You will be surprised how far you can go, how you even have time to stutter-step and fake and still get to the other end for a good shot. Do this just one day, and you should never again fill the air with a throw at the basket with three seconds left—that is, unless you decide to stop for a sandwich before shooting.
From Dick’s book Stuff
The ability to be consistent is what separates a good player from a mediocre one. When your coach starts saying things about you like, “No one can beat him baseline” or “No one can keep him off the boards,” you are a good player. Mediocre players are the ones always pointing out the times they do something good. But good players expect to perform certain tasks over and over again routinely.
You don’t expect praise for never giving up a layup, you just do it because it’s do-able. Things that are do-able, you do, over and over again, every time. Good players have an every-time kind of pride, and that is what coaches call “consistency.” That, not 360s and slam dunks, is what separates good from mediocre and winners from losers.
Strangely enough, season after season, teams called “great” get four or five or even ten victories a year by only a few points over teams called “mediocre” or “bad.” Think of that. Great teams often beat bad teams by only a few points. That’s one turnover, a tip-in somewhere, and a free throw made or missed one way or the other. That’s a tiny defensive lapse maybe tucked away someplace in a fold of the game that the fans never even saw, could have been early in the first half (of all places!), or some play snuck in from out of bounds or on a jump ball someplace.
You’ve got to think hard about that to realize what it means. A few points, a couple of plays, a 45% shot someplace instead of one more pass and a 55% shot—not much difference between a 20-game winner and a team with a losing season. It should give you a healthy regard for complaining, dissatisfied coaches and for words like precision and concentration and hustle. Such a tiny thread in 32 or 40 minutes of basketball separates good from bad, and yet, some people win consistently (by a few points) while others lose consistently (often only by a few points, too).
There is probably only one way to cross that tiny little thread and get on the winning side. Be consistent. Develop a ridiculous attention to detail, to doing things right, to making every practice count, to concentrating on every shot. It is not easy to be consistent. Because that’s what “good” is.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Scoring a backdoor play against an overplaying defense is one of the best feelings basketball has to offer. The cutter has to get far enough out and wide enough to make the pass easy to throw. If the cutter stays in tight, the pass has to be perfect to get through.
Good players should already understand that. What good players, however, often fail to do is communicate with each other so that potential backdoor passes don’t go sailing out of bounds because no one has cut for them.
The way to make sure this never happens is to make a rule: If the cutter takes two steps, that means he is going all the way to the basket. He can jockey with his defender and move his shoulders back and forth and try to duck behind the defender, but the passer should not have to guess whether or not the cutter is going. As soon as the second step begins, the cutter is going. If both the cutter and passer are sure of that, the cutter can be led and can score even when he is very well guarded.
Sometimes, a coach will make a rule that a player may not come farther out than a certain point to get the ball, so when he gets to that point, both the passer and he know that he must go backdoor. If the coach sets up backdoors against pressure in a certain way, terrific. But if he doesn’t give you a specific rule, this two-step rule will be helpful.
From Dick’s book Stuff