Summer league, where the little things kill you.

So we lost the recent game by seven points. We didn’t exactly give the game away, but we made a few mistakes on defense that should have been better executed if we really wanted to win.

Lack of transition defense
The guards (including me) were too involved in the half-court offense, and failed to get back quickly enough to stop their one guy from getting easy layups. That being said, the guy was really good at finishing his effing bunnies.

It took an entire half before everyone agreed on throwing one guy at their main scorer on defense, with the rest playing zone. To be honest, I would have much preferred to do the job, because Emre and Joe go into attack mode and could not get back in transition at times. The guy only scored one basket in the second half anyway, so I guess it sort of worked.

Not closing out hard on shots
I remember a quote from an NBA player about closing out on the three point shot, where he said you have to mean it and not just run half-heartedly with a hand outstretched. It has to be a full-on run with the intent to jump and block the damn shot.

That’s basically what we did not do, and they made a few threes. I was reminded of this when I got back onto the court, and I made sure I was flat out running at the shooter every time. It seemed to work better, and I’ll have to keep this in mind for future games.

Stagnant offense
Without James to draw the defense on his drives, our half-court offense stagnated. We passed the ball too slowly, there was very little off-the-ball movement. To be honest, I’m not sure how this can be remedied without some team practice time. Building chemistry via 20-30 minutes of game time per week is like building a wall one brick at a time – you’ll get there eventually, but progress sure is slow as hell.

I’ve been here for a whole season, so there are certain things I have noticed.

Like how Josh likes to go on his backdoor cuts and get the ball for an easy finish, or otherwise get to the baseline for a three ball. If he has a defender in front of him on the three line, chances are he will not shoot.

Or on how Danny gets the ball at the low post, always fakes and then takes two big steps into the paint. Sometimes he finishes, sometimes it gets swatted at too much because he holds it a little too close to them defenders.

Or how Joe likes to bring the ball up, and pass it off to the guy on his left. He and Emre like cutting into the high post without the ball; Joe will take the shot right there, Emre will get all the way in. Joe will take the mid-range, Emre almost never does, preferring to draw contact and finish inside. Also, he attacks from the right.

Nick is just everywhere, filling the gaps and going for the boards whenever he can. I’ve noticed though, he likes to pass the ball down to the baseline shooter after he gathers his dribble. (Unconfirmed yet, it just looks that way from what I remember.)

I was encouraging Gary to just go for the basket every itme he was close. He’s a solid big guy who hustles in the paint, and defenders cannot help but foul when he goes up for the shot. Needless to say, he doesn’t always make the shot under the basket, but making their guys clock that extra foul or two is always worth it, especially when team fouls are up.

I was moving around in the first half, trying to get into my usual spots at the baseline and cuts into the paint. When the transition D thing happened, I stopped wandering around on offense and stayed keyed in to where their fast break guy was, making sure to sprint back and stay in front of him if no one else picked him up.

To sum my game contributions up: I brought the ball upcourt, passed it off, and took exactly one shot in the game. Played transition defense, played a bit of pressure defense on the ball handler towards the end of the game.

It looks like I have to think harder on I should best facilitate the team’s offense, rather than looking for my own. I noticed the pass into the high post is always pretty open, perhaps I should just focus on getting the ball there from now on hmmm.

Another game for another day.

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