No Shortcuts!


“There are no short cuts to the top; you have to take the stairs”

Teams are typically evaluated based on their performance stats like turn-overs, offernsive and defensive rebounding, free throw percentage, etc…  However, an area that proves significant in a team’s success or failure is the “short cut stat”.  Short cuts on the basketball floor often times lead to disaster.  Here are areas where we often take the short cut, the easy way, instead of the right (but more difficult) way.

Not executing proper block-outs on free throw attempts.  When your opponent is shooting a free throw, our defensive players are to have BOTH feet together closest to the offensive player ready to STEP INTO the opponent with their hands up looking to attack the missed shot. 

Getting a hand up on a shooter and contesting his shot is important in decreasing an opponent’s shooting percentage.  The short cut that is often committed is to not make the extra effort to get the hand up and bother the shooter.  So often games are decided by one or two baskets which means that contesting or not contesting could determine a win or a loss. 

When a Maine East basketball player is defending the ball he is to have “active hands”.  We want to make it difficult for perimeter players to make pin point passes.  We are also looking to get a deflection on the ball – a hand, a finger, etc…  Due to our taking the short cut, we close out with our hands down and as a result our hands are “dead”.

A concept of our half court man to man defense that is of vital importance is “early help”.  We provide early help in order to deny dribble penetration and to help deny ball screen actions.  In providing early help on dribble penetration we ask our players to be on the line and up the line so that he can jump into the lane of penetration with his body.  For ball screen actions we ask the man defending the ball to get over the top of the screen and for the man defending the screener to call the screen and show early and straight.  Taking the short cuts of reaching into the penetration lane, going under the ball screen, not calling out the ball screen, and showing late or wide dramatically cuts down our ability as a team to defend.

Regardless of the type of offense a team runs, screening and using screens becomes of extreme value for efficient offense.  When defenders play aggressively off the ball, it takes determination and toughness to run the defender into the screen.  Good defenders often try to keep players from running off screens by being physical.  When the defense gets physical, it becomes appealing to take the short cut and not exert the effort needed to set the defender up and RUN him into the screen.  Also, a screener can easily set a soft screen or a non-head-hunting screen.  Obviously, setting a good, solid, hard screen generates contact that frees a teammate – it is much easier to take the short cut and miss screening opportunities.

Good teams do not give into the temptation to take “the short cut”; instead they choose to consistently sacrifice the extra effort that ultimately leads to extra special seasons.