Thursday, February 26, 2009

Big 12 men’s roundup: Missouri routs K-State

Missouri's DeMarre Carroll, left, tries to pass the ball as Kansas State's Jamar Samuels, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri's DeMarre Carroll, left, tries to pass the ball as Kansas State's Jamar Samuels, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, in Columbia, Mo.


No. 11 Missouri 94, Kansas State 74

Columbia, Mo. — DeMarre Carroll had 21 points and a career-best 14 rebounds as Missouri improved to 17-0 at home.

No. 25 Texas 87, Texas Tech 81

Austin, Texas — Damion James had 20 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double for Texas.

Oklahoma State 76, Colorado 55

Boulder, Colo. — James Anderson scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.


Chris Shaw 12 years, 1 month ago

Well, I watched the K-State/Missouri game (Well, at least until it was a Blowout) and I'm came away pretty impressed. Missouri absolutely embarassed K-State on the road. With Missouri winning, this makes the game on Sunday "Huge" with a capital "H" baby! Missouri is the real deal, but if KU cuts down just a 1/3 of their 27 turnovers from the first game, they will be fine. Focus, Communication, and ball possession are the keys to the game. KU will be fine as long as they do those things.

Chris Shaw 12 years, 1 month ago

I meant to say that K-State was on the road, but either way Missouri played at home.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

"More Ideas on Preparing to Break a Zone Press"

Bringing the ball up court against a zone press is a bit like Chinese Checkers; that is, it is almost all 45 degree moves forward from seam to seam in the zone, metaphorically hopping round defenders and offenders. The difference is, a zone press is dynamically elastic backwards; that is, the zone is continually redistributing backwards into a smaller and smaller area, so that seams in the zone and the advances possible actually get harder and harder to make as one approaches mid court...unless one gets behind the front two zone defenders quickly, without their ability to run back and get in front of the ball again, in which case, three defenders suddenly have to defend 3/4s of the court; this implies the possibility of big seams and long passes. But that all depends on getting past the first two defenders quickly enough that they cannot keep up with the forward motion of the ball and fall back and fill so create smaller zones and shorter seams. If you fail to get quickly past the first two defenders, it gets harder and harder to bring the ball to the mid court stripe without a TO, because the zone back pedals and contracts into smaller and smaller zones requiring more and more shorter and shorter 45 degree moves to penetrate.

A way for coaches to prepare players for this environment of 45 degree angular movement is to set up 4x8 plywood barriers on rollers in the configuration of a 2-2-1 zone press (or whatever press the opponent plays). Each backup player on the team operates a separate barrier. Offensive players can't run, they can only walk. Forcing play into slow motion with these barriers conditions the players to forget zero degree forward movement (what the zone is always trying to sucker you into) and to have to look and move forward at 45 degree angles, because they can't see straight ahead.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

Acted out at a walk with these barriers, the players also begin to visualize how the zone has to respond in an interconnected way to their 45 degree angle walking/dribbling/passing. What you are trying to get your players to do is visualize in slow motion not just their move (they can do that pretty easily without any training), but the likely series of moves down the floor that will unfold. The good Chinese checker player never concentrates on one move, but sees the board in an emerging pattern of moves. He does not think through sequentially every possible move (the way computers would), rather he "sees" the pattern and the angular tendencies. Same for the basketball player. He is not being taught to think so much as to see. Zones presses not only put pressure on the ball and on ball movement: they break down the players' conventional visualization of how the ball will move down the floor. Players have to be conditioned into a visualization of how ball movement can and should unfold in order to go into read and react mode about how to actually make choices in the moment to achieve the visualization of 45 degree angular movement as frequently and as risk free as possible.

A player conditioned to expect to consider not one straight ahead look at all, but two 45 degree angles of movement at each node of unfolding choice begins to quickly and instinctively gauge not only which 45 degree angle of motion that offers optimal initial benefit on the first pass, but on the next pass as well. Basically, the player is being conditioned to see a branching tree diagram of 45 degree movement options down the floor and being conditioned out of seeing straight ahead movements, or chaotic movements, which the zone is most adroit at encouraging and then disrupting.

Basketball is one of the most spatially rich, intensive and fluid games in the world. Guys who score low on spatial reasoning and pattern recognition probably tend not to be good at breaking presses and need a lot of this sort of mental conditioning.

But so do the ones who are good at spatial reasoning and pattern recognition. Why?

Because half court teams are ubiquitous and this ubiquity conditions players visualization of inbounding and ball movement forward toward the mid court line into a very simple, linear, straightforward, and low-choice imagery.

To play a zone pressing team, say three times a season, a team must not only be taught the techniques of how to pass and move. Their visualization also has to be reconditioned for each encounter with zone pressing. Visualization of any intensely spatial and dynamic process is critical to getting effective interplay of actors within it.

Incidentally, the barriers should be painted with "Move Forward to Seams/at 45 Degrees!" to reinforce this message.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

Once they learn to move away from the barriers to seams at 45 degrees, then they will see how the barriers respond. And then they will begin to anticipate the defensive tendenancy of counter movement and to move between it. Follow this with live practice at half speed, and then live practice at full speed and the neural nets should be burned in within two, maybe three days of repetition of the drill.

But just casually running some press breaking strategies and tactics periodically, or even every practice, cannot really break down the relentless conditioning and reinforcements the players get from extended doses of half court ball in practices and games. The players have to be proactively reconditioned to visualize correctly--to see and assess, in 45 degree angular forward movement expectations, and to see ensuing probabilities of movements, before each encounter with a zone pressing team.

The techniques of physical action (running, dribbling, passing) suitable against a zone press must be reinforced.

But the technique of seeing suitable against a zone press must also be reinforced.

One without the other is inadequate and probably lays at the heart of TOs.

And there must be measuring of progress in practice to give the players a sense of improvement, so their confidence at task is brimming when they hit the floor and begin slicing apart the zone press.

Posters, players and many coaches will roll their eyes at this suggestion as being too remedial for D1 basketball players. But look at how poorly most teams handle pressing and you know that most coaches are not really getting their players to "see" the pressing game. At most they are getting them to think to much about how to break it with certain programmed movements. Movement without vision in a battlefield spells doom.

A corresponding skill you are trying to develop is how to recognize quickly, almost instantly, which is the nearest seam accessible at a 45 degree angle from where ever a player is.

A drill that would be very good would be setting up 4 defenders in the 2-2-1 pattern and placing an offensive player with a blindfold at a certain point on the floor among them. Then while still blind folded, place two offensive players at unpredictable locations. Then the coach holding the ball, pops it hard enough to be heard, the coach passes the ball to one of the offenders, as the player rips the blindfold off, assesses the situation and runs to the "nearest" unoccupied seam. An assistant coach runs the stop watch. The player is graded on two things: a) did he choose the nearest open seam; and b) how fast did he get there. The player repeats the drill three times and then rotates out for another player. This drill reveals who can and who cannot do the task and it creates repetition for getting better at it. Players who can do it in a reasonable amount of time graduate to other tasks. Players who cannot get more reps.

Lance Hobson 12 years, 1 month ago

I don't see what the big deal is with Mizzou, we had them beat at their place and should coast to a win with a sold effort Sunday. I don't like to complain about officiating, but in a game as close as the last one if the ref hadn't made that 5-second call against Reed when he only held the ball for about 3.9 seconds, we win.

lance1jhawk 12 years, 1 month ago

Muck Fizzou! There I said it, and I feel much better now. (cell phone ringing) It's Lew Perkins? What could he want? Uh Ohhh....

FSUJHAWK 12 years, 1 month ago

Misery has and always will be a pretender. KU will prove this point come Sunday.

trader 12 years, 1 month ago

So, Jaybate, i know coaches will review the video of the first game one on one with each player. Then, a few sessions on the court and right brain angle pattern recognition will promptly kick in as you suggest resulting in a win at our house...provided they handle the "pressure" (small detail).

omng392 12 years, 1 month ago

Jaybait, I for one appreciate your insight on how to break the zone.. Good analysis.

Lin Rahardja 12 years, 1 month ago

Hope we play well against their full court pressure. In the last game, during the second half, we were so focused not to turn the ball over during full court pressure, forgot to attack the basket, attempted to sit on our marginal lead, and lost.

We also must come up with a defensive scheme for Carroll, he likes to spot up and shoots that mid distance, as well as sneaks near the basket. Perhaps Mario can guard him effectively.

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago


I agree about a preference for great defense over flashy stuffs, but the great thing about super team D is that when played by really good athletes, it is often turned into offense for the defending team, sometimes resulting in some of those bodacious (I like that word - super selection drgn) slam dunks, or otherwise easy points, e.g. layups or foul shots, and at the same time takes away the other team's opportunity to score. Who says double dipping is not allowed?

If Missou is on their game and we are on ours, then Sunday's tilt should be a dandy...

AF will be rocking I'm sure, should be a great environment for a college basketball game, it usually is at our house - Rock Chalk!

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago


I am fascinated to hear you say that crowds, in your experience, played such a big role in a team's play.

I never played anything but highschool ball, but I can honestly say I completely tuned the crowd noise out. I admit I have unusually strong powers of concentration, but my brother, another high school player, likewise said he never heard the crowd except during huddles.

I read Larry Bird's book about coaching and playing recently, and he too made a point about how he never heard the crowd.

I can't name further names this moment, but I recall reading other sports bios of legendary athletes in many sports that have said they concentrated so intensely that they never noticed the crowd noise at all either.

No doubt you are much younger than me and a much better basketball player than I ever was, too. But has something happened to more recent generations of athletes? Are the players truly unable to screen out the crowd noise now?

This issue fascinates me.

I have heard that some studies indicate very recent generations of students are testing out as having significantly diminished attention spans attributable to a heavy diet of digital entertainment.

The athletes are so magnificient in their abilities and performances today that I just assumed that their powers of concentration were probably greater than ever before, as well.

Do you have a take on this?

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago


Some players tune out the crowd, some players play to the crowd. I certainly think MJ heard the crowd. I have seen many players cup their hands to their ears upon making a nice play, which is an indication that they aren't blocking out the crowd. A couple of NBA players I think made a big stink a couple of years ago by rushing into the stands to assualt fans, they definitely weren't tuning the crowd out.

I have personally been in the 'zone' on a few occasions in sports, not many, and during that period, I didn't see or hear anything outside of what was on the playing field, but there were also some times that the crowd gave me an adreline boost by showing their appreciation. Otherwise, why have a crowd?

Some people are so good that they can do it all, like Mike, (and unlike me), play great and be aware of the import of the moment and play to the fans, others maybe have that same talent but choose not to. For many, I think tuning out extraneous noise makes the task at hand easier. When I study, I like to be in a quiet environment, so that I'm not distracted, others like to listen to music, etc. My personal choice is at least partially related to hearing loss....

I think each individual finds a comfort zone and plays within that zone, the better the athlete, the more choice one probably has in this regard. I always felt that players benefitted or could get a benefit from a crowd, at least some of the time. If someone was dissing me, I wanted to play better. If someone was cheering for me, sometimes it buoyed me during difficult times and helped me reenergize.

Larry Bird was a super hard worker and I think came as close to maximizing his ability as is possible (at least from my viewpoint from my couch-potato-seat, only he would know for sure if that is true). He never seemed to be the fastest, or strongest, he seemingly couldn't jump a lick, but none of that kept him from being an all-time great, his great mantra seemed to be attention to detail and focus - to help overcome possible star-player-relative athletic deficiencies. Contrast those 'somewhat' limited physical skills with MJ's awesome athleticism, and his attention to detail, and we can see enough difference to say that being individuals they chose different ways to react to the crowd.

Oh, one other thing about tuning in or out...ESPN did an interview recently, I don't recall who the player was, but the story related to a college basketball incident (I think at Duke). The player indicated that he usually had no problem tuning the crowd out, but in this particular instance, he was shooting free throws and one of the crowd took his clothes off and was dancing around in only a speedo, he said that he definitely noticed that, although he said he still hit the freethrows.

So, perhaps with better athletes, it is a matter of choice whether to tune in or out, without affecting performance, for many of the rest of us, perhaps it is necessary???

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago

Also: If players tune out the crowd, why not play all games at a neutral site (As a sportsfan, I personally think that is a terrible idea, Arrowhead anyone?)? Or put in different way, why do most teams usually seem to play better in their home gym than in away games? This is so much a given that betting lines, and other efforts to predict game outcomes, take into consideration where a game is played....I think at least part of the positive to playing a home game is because of crowd support (anticipated, actual, or perceived).

I think performance is at least partially a mental and emotional management issue which leads to potential physical output issues. Does the crowd affect your play, to diminish or increase it? Is a player able to completely offset or blockout the environment? When a crowd gets 'into' the game it seems that some players, and whole teams at times, seem to 'speed-up', sometimes to their detriment (often the visiting team), sometimes it locks them into a groove and their play improves (often the home team)...

I think after the first trap was successful at MIssou, the crowd getting louder did add to the pressure that at least some of the KU players probably felt. This can be a results driven response. If unsuccessful, players perceive an act(i.e. breaking the press) as being harder to achieve and then any additional stimulation (for example crowd noise) can overload the brain's ability to cope and affect physical action. I believe that perceived support or antagonism affects many players, sometimes without them immediately being aware of it. A jazzed up, pumped up, hyped or however you wish to describe such a basketball player will sometimes start over-shooting shots, a somewhat demoralized player can become tentative and short arm his shots, before becoming aware of his physical state and making a mental adjustment to change his physical output.

Analyzing human and environment interaction is interesting, and probably at least somewhat different for each individual , but the idea of herd mentality does exist and is at least somewhat valid. Emotion sometimes over-rides reason and cognitive function, resulting in sometimes erratic and seemingly inexplicable irrational physical behavior and affecting results.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago


Thanks for that analysis. I understand the concentration thing with more insight and nuance now.

There can be no doubt, for instance that players can straddle concentration and exhorting the crowd.

And I was capable of looking up in the stands during a huddle, especially at good looking girls.

But I am still kind of amazed that any player could be rattled into lack of concentration by crowd noise while in play.

In the heat of battle, I am all focus and, frankly, bombs could be going off around me, and I wouldn't notice. Now if one wounded me, I would probably lose all focus and cry like a baby. :-)

But I've never played in such big venues, so maybe the magnitude of the crowd noice can break a players concentration on the floor.

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago


Were the girls good looking????

I have been somewhat educated to be an educator(ha ha), and part of learning and performing is the amount of info that can be utilized effectively at any given moment or applied to a given situation. Research shows that only so much info can be efficiently utilized, of course that 'amount' will be different for different people. For example, the story of why PIN's are four digits long is because the man who devised the ATM system asked his wife and she supposedly said she could only remember 4 numbers. I don't know how competitive the teams you played on were, or what your role was on those teams, and you don't have to say...but let's look at the case of playing for KU, fighting for minutes under a demanding coach, in a tradition rich program where every move and player are scrutinized to the nth degree...(If that wasn't true, we and so many others wouldn't be doing all of this chatting, which I like to engage in)

If you are Sherron and have secured the coaches confidence and don't have to worry about playing time, confidence should be high (except possible personal pressure felt like when he was in a slight slump earlier this year - or to perform in those last two minutes of the NC title game- in which he performed extremely well in very adverse conditions, IMO) and there should be very little mental baggage that he takes into any play. If he makes a mistake, coach is very unlikely to yank him out. Other players carry a certain amount of mental baggage (which uses up some of those current memory slots) because they aren't assured PT, and some, like TRel have been pulled pretty quickly, so his mind is possibly not as 'free' as Sherron's. The same is true of TReed, the result might be a second's hesitation(to 'think' rather than react), which in the case of the first Missou full-court trap set him up for disaster. I'm talking about the hesitation, which to me was obvious, (rather than any possible mental gear grinding, which can only be inferred or speculated upon). So adding even one more item to 'think' about can undo the best of players. There are two pretty good examples of this in my recollection. First is Chris Webber calling a timeout that they didn't have. I'm sure that his coach probably told him they didn't have a time out, but the pressure of the situation can make even very good players crack on occasion. The second example is the Georgetown player throwing the ball directly to the North Carolina player. I think both of those players felt extreme pressure to perform, and crowd noise could easily be the straw that breaks the camels back...

What say you, antithetical man???

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

Let me summarize our path of discourse and then clarify where you are narrowing your focus down to presently before trying to go there with you a bit.

Initially, the assertion by a third party was: crowds rattle players (e.g., MU press working better at MU because MU savages acting like jackels at a carcuss can be very loudd)?

Subsequently, my question asked: are contemporary players unable to concentrate through crowd noise, as I believe players in my time were able to do, and as I had still assumed them to be able to do today?

Subsequently, you distinguished, persuasively I think, certain kinds of situations where players could both concentrate intensely and at the same time exhibit crowd awareness in the form of exhorting the crowd.

Subsequently, I agreed that this was so and noted that my concentration lessoned during huddles enough for me to look at nubile creatures soon to bring great pleasure and heart break to males of many ages. I also re-asserted, however, that out on the floor crowd noise (and nubile creatures by implication) had been something that I could concentrate through, that most I had known said they could concentrate through them, and that I had read sports bios that indicated that superstars also commented on their ability to concentrate through same (at least while playing the game).

Now, you have narrowed down discourse to the issue of whether or not there is a limit to a person's ability to concentrate through stress, while leaving the word limit implicit. Let me immediately commend you on using limit in a way that I think has, or at least could be measured to have, some empirical basis.

The short answer is: yes, persons brains can get overloaded with so much stimulus, or so little (sensory deprivation), that the neural nets cease to fire in patterns that manifest effective, or at least sensible, choices.

Intense concentration is a kind of psychological rule-making that persons engage in to help them screen out overstimulation.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

We use this facility all the time in our every day lives. We screen out an enormous amount of sensory input through focus. We listen to one conversation in a restaurant full of conversations. After first failing at rationalizing the US military's torture of innocents, most of the time we tune our awareness of it out, so that we can go on living our lives without being paralyzed with shame and guilt (unless of course we are sadists, or fool ourselves into thinking torture can provide reliable information).

We can in short tune out an enormous amount of stimulus in any situation, especially if our self interest tends to be rewarded for doing so.

Athletes play better when they concentrate intensely and they get rewarded for it with surviving and advancing in the sport.

Even by highschool, athletes are exceptional at tuning out stimulus that detracts from performance.

By college, they appear to be exceptional at doing so.

By the pros, they appear even better.

The superstars seem almost super human at doing it.

But screening out stimulus clearly has limits.

Clearly, the immoral barbarism of torture and associated depatterning experiments prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is so. Even the strongest can be broken.

There is also a lot of less hideous psychological research, especially in the field of sports psychology, that indicates that there are various kinds of focus (e.g., broad and narrow) and that too much of one, or too much of the other, or not of enough of one, or not enough of the other, deteriorate performance.

But you are getting at some thing more specific. You are asking if a player can be effectively screening out very high levels of environmental stimulus via use of broad and narrow focus and then suddenly fritz, so to speak, because of a crowd amping up at a big moment in the game?

First, I would say yes, it is possible.

Second, I would ask: but is it probable? Or is there a more likely trigger of the breakdown in performance?

Here is what I observed and experienced over the years of my playing the game. I saw players make bone headed plays in empty gyms, in crowded arenas, and everywhere in between.

jaybate 12 years, 1 month ago

This anecdotal observation leads me to think that crowd stimulus, while possibly the straw that breaks the camels back in some rare situations, is probably not mostly the trigger responsible for things like Chris Webber's goof, or the Georgetown player's throwing the ball to the wrong player. Or my personal favorite, the time in little league when I fielded a tip off in a nearly empty grade school gymnasium and dribbled the wrong way for a layup. Man did I finish on that baby! And the silence was deafening. :-)

If you will indulge me in a little neuroscience here for a moment, I will suggest what I think is more probably the trigger of the booboos you point to in big moments, as well as in little moments in college basketball and below it.

Brain scanning has improved by leaps and bounds that last ten years and there has been research published in such respected journals as Science indicating that human brains do not reach full physical development until about age 23.

The importance of this discovery is hard to overestimate.

It means that children literally are not dealing off a full deck of neurological cards until they reach around 23.

It means there is a reason Bill Self wants to pull his hair out, because players, who seem to be doing stupid things that their coaching should have prevented. Not all of KU basketball players are operating with all circuits grown in yet. You can't burn in a neural net pattern, afterall, when it isn't even there!

At different stages of a young life, there are literally things one cannot learn, or consistently master. There are mistakes a young person cannot necessarily avoid.

It is also possible with in this understanding of the minds development to say that, well, these kids just have insufficiently developed neural nets to handle the intense stimulation of MU's press in MU's crib.

But again, since I have seen young people make these sorts of mistakes in empty gyms, I am inclined, without empirically verified research to the contrary, to attribute, say, the Georgetown player's pass to the opponent, to an inadequately developed brain at that age that when stressed by competition, rather than by crowd noise, goofed.

But it could just as easily be as you say: it could be that in an empty gym he might not have passed to the wrong guy.

My only response would be: I have seen guys pass it to the wrong guy in empty gyms.

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago


Agreed. As you say such miscues could be the result of a less-than-fully developed brain, or another possibility is that of a brain that isn't quite geared for the pressure, even if fully developed, or it may be a matter of which part of the brain is ascendant in a particular situation, or other possibilities, such as any particular extraneous input in a time of stress, the example I gave was crowd noise, there are numerous possibilites, some of which science has uncovered and more that are likely as yet undiscovered. As you note research says that brains reach full development at about 23. Now that is the kind of number you like to talk about, an average kind of number, (and which you worked vigorously to change some of my earlier general remarks into the realm of mathematical singularity rather than the more common usage I intended, whether it fit your logic or not, but I digress). The research would also show that some brains would achieve full functioning earlier and later, and some never do, unfortunately,under some circumstances some brains have no chance because of really terrible wiring, or missing pieces. On the other side would be at least one form of genius, that of a fully developed brain at an un-naturally early age, as in the instance of a young child at the age of 10 being able to earn a MD, this is a truly rare occurrence, but possible, and such cases are documented. The physical corollary is as true as the mental growth we are discussing. Thus some seventh grade kids getting noticed for their athletic ability by college coaches.... and others are gangling galoots and uncoordinated seemingly forever...those that can't walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

Now, you and I have engaged in several different dialogues, (or maybe mutual monologic cyber discourse is more accurate) which I have found stimulating and very interesting. Perhaps our disputations have been sufficient for me to say that you and I seem to approach situations differently. My interpretation of your positions is that you choose to primarily see most events from a logical-rational-technical framework (correct me if I am wrong), in which the primary factors are logic, reason, and technical functionality and other possible factors seem to not have as much weight, or they have to work overtime to get notice or consideration (attempt to add some levity). Nothing wrong with your approach, it's just different than mine.

I see events created as a more equal dynamic between what is usually more controllable and knowable (logic, reason and technical aspects of a situation) and that which is less controllable - one example is emotion, of which, aspects are perhaps less knowable at the current level of human development.

kvskubball 12 years, 1 month ago


more of course....

I'm saying that you and I seem to start from different perspectives of the reality we inhabit. Neither of which is inherently right or wrong, just very different starting points. At least I don't think it can be proven in any measurable way that one approach or perspective is more accurate, just how each individual prefers to perceive our existence. It has been posited by others that at times emotion rules reason...I know that is illogical, but I know I can and have proven the statement to be correct, as you did, with an earlier tart reply to another poster on this thread.

Some people like to see the world around them as something that is fully-controllable and explainable. Anything less than that makes them uncomfortable and results in a kind of cognitive dissonance, which is disconcerting because it seems to confirm that there are things that aren't controllable and knowable. The fact that sh*t happens drives these people bananas. Does that apply to you?

I am enjoying the cyber discourse, do continue!

What say you antithetical man?

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