When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

16 February 2008

Dribble-Drive Motion

Who the hell is Vance Walberg? How is his [basketball] offense spreading around the nation? And if his brainchild is the hottest thing in U.S. basketball, why is he out of a job?
Grant Wahl examines the Dribble-Drive Motion offense in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated. ("Fast and Furious," 12 Feb 2008).

(via Kottke)

Dean Smith was an innovative basketball coach and, a legend himself, "descended" from legends: Smith was coached by Phog Allen at Kansas, who in turn was coached by James Naismith, the inventor of the game. Dean wrote what continues, today, to be the bestselling technical book on basketball theory in the world, but the offenses and defenses he ran during his career were developed and tested by others first.

Hell, Dean didn't even invent the Four Corners offense, in which the team with a lead near the end of the game tries to run out the clock... he just popularized it, so much so that the NCAA had to change the rules of the game and introduce the shot clock. The inventor of Four Corners was a coach you may not have heard of. (And a big chunk of Dean's Book On Basketball--the description of the shuffle offense--was written by an obscure coach named Bob Spears.)

That's what Grant Wahl's story is about this week... it's a fascinating look at how unknown coaches can revolutionize the games they make their anonymous livings at.

College basketball is the only sport I know anything about, or really care to.

It's mostly an accident of birth; I grew up as an inadvertent but reverent student of the game in the Triangle region of North Carolina--the place that Dick Vitale inevitably (and inaccurately) refers to as "Tobacco Road," where the legendary programs at UNC, NC State, Duke, and Wake Forest had us surrounded.

Like most North Carolinians, if pressed, I could do a fair job of offering color commentary on a basketball broadcast. My elderly aunt could give you a learned discourse on how to set a screen and execute a perfect pick-and-roll.

(It's a good thing I married a girl from Kansas. They also take their basketball seriously there.)

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