Friday, April 20, 2012

The Importance Of Role Players In Basketball

In basketball, star players are usually admired and idolized (if you're an NBA player).  However, what most people forget is that role players also contribute to the success of basketball teams well.

While Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and other stars get the lion's share of the credit for their team's success, role players make a big difference between a good team and a great team.  If you think of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, he had a Scottie Pippen as the second star, Luc Longley and others at center, Dennis Bodman to get rebounds and John Paxson and + other guys were the spot up shooters.  Without all of these guys, Jordan couldn't have won his six NBA championships.

The problem is some players don't know their roles or don't want to play their roles.   For me, when I was younger, I was purely a spot up shooter.  I was just put up a ton of shots.  As I got into my mid 20's, I turned into a rebounder.  As I have gotten older, I am going back to shooting but hitting my 12 to 15 foot mid range jump shot.   When I was younger, I didn't focus on defense or rebounding.  I just thought shooting equaled to playing basketball.  It took me years to realize that there was more to basketball.

To be fair, just having role players doesn't guarantee success.  If you have five shooters / scorers but no one plays defense or rebounds, that will prove to be bit of a problem.  Even if flip it around and have five defenders with no offense, that will also be a problem.  

The solution is to have a good mix of stars and role players that complement each other.   Each team will have a different mix and it's up to the team / coaches to determine which mix works the best.

I found this out when I was coaching youth basketball in my younger days.  I never had superstar players with my teams.  However, I had some good players with differing skill sets.  For whatever reason, I naturally knew how to find the best mixes for my teams.  Due to participating rules, I couldn't keep my best mixes in the game all the time.  However,  whenever I could, I would put the best mix in there to give my teams a competitive chance.

It's a little harder with adult leagues, but I've had some success in putting solid teams together.   The reason some of my teams were successful was that people were playing to their strengths and didn't try to do too much.  If players are forced to play outside of their strengths, the team sometimes will not do as well.

As a player, identify your strengths and play to them.  Identify your weaknesses as well and work to improve them OR minimize them.  As a coach, your job is put the best team out there.  Not necessarily the best five shooters, best five defenders, or even your five "best players".  The job is put together the "best team" out there that knows how to work and play well with each other.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

There is such a thing as playing too much basketball.......

As I blogged previously, my 2012 spring basketball season with my two teams has been an exercise in frustration in one sense.  However, to be more positive, I have unexpectedly played a LOT more basketball than I would have reasonably expected.

For some reason,  both my Monday and Thursday basketball teams have been playing short handed the past three weeks.  In the past three Mondays, we have had 5, 5, and 6 players.  In the past three Thursdays, we have had 5, 4, and 5 players (yes, we played 4-on-5).  As our leagues playing a running 12 minutes / 4 quarters system, I've played a full 48 minutes quite a bit recently.

I actually don't have any issue playing so many minutes.  I'm in pretty good shape and find ways to get some breaths or rest in to conserve energy.  But what I am realizing is that our league season is long (9 regular season games then playoffs).

Physically, I am doing alright but I am a little mentally tired.  It's tough to get yourself up every week to put a 100% effort in when you're short handed.   Fortunately, the season is almost done and I'm going to put it all out there.

However, playing all these minutes shows me how tough NBA players are.   In most normal circumstances, NBA players play 4 games in 5 nights.  This season, there are 3 games in 3 nights.  Yes, they are professionals and they are paid to perform well.  However, these NBA players are elite athletes while the rest of us are just mere mortals.

All in all, if you ever thought to yourself that you could play HUGE minutes night after night, try it out.  You might change your tune.....

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Origin of Coach41

I go by all sorts of nicknames but one identity I have throughly adopted as been "coach41".  I use it for this blog among other things.  While my closest friends know I use this identity, I don't think anyone really knows the ORIGINS of how coach41 came about. 

Back over in 1998, I had graduated from college and working.   Even though I had graduated, my primary email address was the one I still had from college since 1995.  However, in time, the school informed me that my email address was going to be terminated.  I had to find an alternative email account / address. 

Fortunately, with the rise of the Internet around that time, there were plenty of providers of free email so I went to sign up for an account.  The problem was to decided on an appropriate username.   I'm not sure why I didn't select the username I had from school (maybe it wasn't available).  

After thinking about things, I finally settled on "coach41".  Why coach41?   Two reasons:

Around 1998-1999, I was still coaching basketball at my old grammar school.  I felt the "coach" moniker still fit me well.  

Around 1998-1999, cell phones and instant messaging weren't used as much as they are today.  The biggest technology in use this time were pagers.   My friends and I had pagers.  For people who don't know about pagers, people would call the pager and send a number to the pager for people to call them (i.e., 415-210-2121) .   However, someone came up with the idea to use numbers as letters and thus was born the first version of texting.  Some of the more popular messages are below:  

43110 = HELLO
143 = I LOVE YOU 
6000 171647 = GOOD NIGHT

Unlike today, where your phone number is attached to your text messages, there was no easy way to identify you if you texted the random numbers above.  So, to identify yourself, you would put your BIRTHDAY at the end of the message.   As my birthday was April 1st, I could go with 401 or 41.  I decided to go with 41. 

Combine #1 and #2 and that's how coach41 was born.  

Even though I haven't officially coached a team in about 6 years, I have retained the "coach41" identity  It doesn't seem to be frequently used on the Internet and uniquely mine.  I'm fortunate to be able to register the domain name as well.  

Hope you enjoyed the history lesson!  

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Old Man Still Got A Little Game

Over the weekend, I inched a little closer to being a middle aged man (aka celebrating my birthday!).  I had a pretty relaxed weekend.  I watched a basketball tournament and caught up with a young person I have been mentoring a bit.  I played a little basketball myself and had a nice dinner with some folks.

Today, it was back to work and after a busy day, I went to play in my Monday nigh basketball league.  My team's been struggling a bit but we finally broke through with an exciting 83-82 win.  I contributed heavily with 18 points (7-17 FG, 4-6 FT's).

Though most professional players don't played into their late 30's / early 40's, there are plenty of amateur athletes who are able to play at a pretty good level for many years.  When I got hurt back in 1999-2000 during the prime of my athletic life, I thought I would never get back to level.  These days, while I am little slower and less athletic, I still can pick my spots and do well (like tonight!).

Playing like this into your 40's require both mental and physical preparation.  Mentally, you can't subscribe to the fact that you are "too old".  You have to say to yourself that you can do it.   Physically, you just have to keep playing and stay in shape in general.  I've been fortunate to be abel to do both.

A guy in our league is 53 and is still playing pretty well.  He's a little slow and not mobile but can hit a shot.  I would be happy to be playing well into his age and beyond!