The game is fast. Teams push the rock. Guards look to jelly, shimmy, and euro step their way for buckets. Set offenses are happening, but it’s not the norm. One might say Chino Hills and the Ball Brothers (including Lavar) set the stage for such antics. Allowing players to ball at a frenetic pace, opened up the rabbit hole for others to follow.
Squads are developing identities.
Ask stretch players and guards about the uptempo play and many love it. It allows them to showcase their skill-sets in the open floor, giving them the opportunity to play through their mistakes. During the 2018 Maranatha Summer Block Party, teams looked to create magic in transition, rather than rely on offensive sets to get it done. It’s only summer, we know, but Long Beach St. Anthony, under 5th year HC Allen Caveness, appear to be developing a sound identity: use your athleticism, press full court and make buckets off your opponents’ mistakes. The Saints also show a strong ability to break you down in half court sets, allowing coach Caveness to draw something up when it counts. Rarely do you get the full package from a team – those who can run, as well as show patience by executing their sets. St. Anthony looked impressive during the 2018 Maranatha SBP. Will other teams begin to follow suit?
But what about our bigs?
What about those who prefer to play with their backs to the basket? Those who’re most comfortable running sets and using the shot clock to their advantage? For bigs whose game is more tailored to play down low, it’s not as simple as it used to be. What’s changing the ‘look’ of the game? Besides the fact that big men don’t come a dime a dozen, a few factors we consider could be contributing to the rise of guard play.
- Playing with a Big
Guards seem reluctant to dump it down low due to double/triple teams or their inability to feed the post (angles family). Most of the time, it comes down to having confidence in your teammate(s) to pass him/her the rock, letting them essentially ‘figure it out’. It also comes down to coach preparing his ball-club in practice to recognize your team’s post presence. When you do have a big that can be special down low, are teams consciously putting an emphasis of dumping it down low? Is the high/low game being implemented? The double team will come. It’s up to clubs to be patient, read the defense, and make the proper play. It’s up to coaches and players to allow their bigs to work through their mistakes, while building player confidence. The game is mental family.
- The need for athleticism
The days when bigs were just looked upon to rebound and defend, are over. Big men are being asked to rebound and push, stretch the defense by pulling bow and arrows from deep, show the ability to beat their man off the dribble, and many more attributes that were once only guard oriented. Position players seem to be getting longer. Although a quick Google search still shows the average height of an NBA PG at 6’2 (WNBA 5’9), everyone can see the length of the game beginning to become a factor in college coaches decision making when offering players D1 scholarships.
- The Speed of the game
Bigs have to contend with the speed of the game. Those who lack great hands and solid feet are going to have serious issues being special in today’s game. Bigs not only have to consciously work on their guard skills, but be able to apply what they learn in practice to game situations. We see all the training players are doing but that means little if you’re not able to apply it to game situations. Something to ponder you trainers out there.
This week’s 32 Annual Nike Fairfax Summer Basketball Classic should shed some early light on teams’ ability to play with their bigs. Sierra Canyon now has 2 seven footers. Sophomore Center Yu Jia-Hao (2021) and Birmingham senior transfer Christian Koloko (2019). Both are a work in progress with Koloko still looking to master the speed of the game.Interesting to see how well they ‘gel’ with their current teammates, many returning from their CIF Open Division State ‘Ship.
Rancho Christian boasts the Mobley brothers. 6’9 Class of 2019 F Isaiah has punched his ticket to USC. At 6’9, he shows true diversity within his game. With the ability to handle well, score from three levels, and show passion out there on the court, USC could be getting a one and done. The younger Evan just claimed the #1 spot in the latest ESPN60 ratings for the class of 2020. Father Eric Mobley is the new assistant coach at USC. Sweet.
The two teams could meet during the Championship game Saturday June 30, 2018 at 6pm on the campus of Fairfax High School. Both teams will look to create havoc with twin towers in the paint.
Elevate Yo’ Game.