ON THE ANALYSIS OF THE HOFSTRA 2018-19 BASKETBALL SEASON

April 1, 2019

April 1, 2019

Here is part of what I wrote at the start of the Hofstra Men’s 2018-19 basketball season. “The 10/28 Newsday headlines blared away ‘HOFSTRA TARGETS NCAA: WRIGHT-FOREMAN KEY TO MAKING MARCH MADNESS.’ I disagree. Wright-Foreman and defense will send Hofstra to the Promised Land. The backcourt, led by superstar all-American candidate JWF, may be able to carry the club and overcome any deficiencies upfront…and this will be determined as the season goes forward.”

 

Well, what about the players this year? Superman (Justin Wright-Foreman) emerged as a star. My discussions with 7 NBA scouts suggest that he has a 25% chance of making it. His major drawback: physical size and body strength. I like his chances for two reason: backcourt drafts are preferred and JWF has continued to improve with each season. The rest of the team? Buie and Ray also continued to improve and Coburn was the most pleasant of all surprises. To top it all off, Taylor, the center transfer from Purdue, improved significantly as the season progressed; he proved a more than adequate replacement for Rokas with his shot blocking and stellar defensive play, as well as his ability to make layups and foul shots. The team appeared unbeatable midway through the season.

 

And, what about the team’s performance this year? I’ll make this short. The club had what I would consider a turn-around year. They won the CAA Championship but failed to win the tournament, losing to Northeastern in the finals following a lackluster performance in their previous 5 CAA games. They closed the season out with a loss to a quality opponent in the first round of the NIT…an ultra-solid game in which they played great and could have won with a couple of breaks.

 

It is fair to conclude that the personnel was there for the team to go further. Here’s my analysis of reasons on why they didn’t.

 

  1. How many teams that made the Sweet 16 played zone defense? If you answered hardly any, you’d be right. And, there is a reason why the better teams do NOT play zone defense. Over the years, only Syracuse’s zone has withstood the test of time, but they too have fallen by the wayside in recent years as more well-coached teams have figured out how to destroy this defense. Hofstra, once again, committed to a zone defense this season and that, more than anything else, lead to their limited success. Case in point: During the CAA championship game between Hofstra and Northeastern, Mary (my wife) kept questioning why Northeastern was getting so many easy open shots while Hofstra struggled to get a good shot. I explained what happens when a team plays zone defense. Accept it – nothing can replace the intensity of an in-your-face man-to-man defense. NOTHING!!!
  2. I keep repeating this after each season. You are inviting trouble when you commit to a 7-man rotation, with 5 players rotating around 4 positions. A successful team needs season-tested layers not only when players are in foul trouble but also at tournament time when confronting either a 3-game/3-day or 4-game/4-day schedule.
  3. Coach Mikalich and his staff have done a superb job in recruiting — when it comes to offensive players. But defense is as important as offense, right? All coaches agree with this irrefutable statement, but few do anything about it. Bottom line: Recruit for defense as well as offense.
  4. The object every season for any club in a mid-major conference is to win their tournament, NOT their conference. Iona College, with essentially mediocre seasons, has won the MAAC tournament the last 4 years in a row. Does Tim Cluess know something that other coaches don’t know? I believe he has figured out that the corrupt NCAA has stacked the deck against mid-major teams, and the only way to survive and prosper is to win their tournament. Bottom line: Play to win the tournament, NOT conference games during the season. How does a team do this? I discussed this very topic in the 2nd edition of my “Basketball Coaching 101” book.

 

I also noted earlier that this might be a do-or-die season for Hofstra since the club is top-heavy with seniors and only one freshman along with two sophs. But things have changed. My spies have informed me that Buie has been granted another year of stay (eligibility) and Jalen Ray – who continues to grow (physically) – has become as a quality guard/small forward with some defensive skills. Add to this that Pemberton, although short at times on defensive output, will emerge next season as a scoring machine. Also add to this the performance of Coburn this past season. I’m good at math and it seems that they will have an excellent starting 4 that may be devoid of a center. Hopefully, one of the transfers or one of the freshmen or a new recruit will fill this void. Bottom line 1: a quality center could bring another CAA championship next year. Bottom line 2: playing man-to-man may insure 1. In any event, I’ve changed my mind and now believe that 2019-20 will be another good year.

 

I return at the start of next season.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

MAY 1:           On the 2019 East Williston School Vote

JUNE 1:          On the Theodore Healthcare Plan

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVIII

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ON PURELY CHASTE, PRISTINE, AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXVII  

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

Here we go once more…my 27th. This one’s a mixed bag, with both sports and personal commentaries.

 

  • Still fighting to keep my weight down. My diet, described in an earlier newsletter, has really helped.
  • Humanity can survive without numerous amenities. However, it cannot survive without energy or potable water.
  • Had a successful visit with three of my guys to the simulcast facility at Monmouth Park Racetrack and (naturally) dropped by their Sport Book. My bets? The Nets (750-1) to win it all. The Mets (22-1), Atlanta (18-1), and Diamondback (750-1) to win it all. Virginia (15-1), Buffalo (75-1), Tennessee (16-1), Kentucky (17-1) and we have Marquette (25-1) to win the NCAA. Partners with two others. Wish me luck.
  • Working on desalination projects. Hoping to come up with a viable economic process that will provide potable water. Someone is going to get rich in this area but it won’t be me. My best so far involves geothermal energy. My associate and former classmate is working on mangroves and hybrid processes.
  • I’m also still working on accident and emergency planning/response issues, particularly as they apply to terrorism. Stopped giving seminars but my book is still selling.
  • NYRA is a disaster; they have effectively destroyed Belmont Park, the most beautiful racetrack in the world. But hope springs eternal. Kay, the CEO, has thankfully left. We now await another Cuomo political appointment who no doubt will also fail to right the ship.
  • I used to think that energy and water were the critical issues that mankind needed to address this century. Nope! It’s water, and solely water.
  • Go Mets!
  • I should stop complaining. I still go out for dinner, walk almost 2 miles a day, do 8 pushups on awakening, write books, keep pace with my newsletter, go to the track several days a week, bet horses every day, etc.
  • A few of my guys are now claiming they have property in Oz.
  • Insecure people use profanity.
  • There are days when I wish I could go back in time and relive my Killen’s Tavern basketball memories.
  • I have tremendous difficulty throwing anything away, particularly things related to my books. And yet, when I go, they will certainly find a home in a circular file.
  • I’m still addicted to hot pastrami sandwiches, hot dogs with kraut and mustard and hamburgers. Perhaps Trump and I have something in common.
  • People continue to ask me out to lunch or dinner. My usual response: “Can I have the money instead?”
  • Please remember that the fanatical green environmental self-defined experts-engineers and scientists alike – who have certified (*!*$#%*) the existence of a global climate/warming problem would be out of business if no problem actually existed.
  • I’m often asked: How am I doing? I often respond with “How good could I be doing if I’m talking to you?” Is that a politically incorrect response?
  • I’ll be 85 come April. Hard to believe! But I’m still good looking…well, sort of.
  • The major effect of breaking my back (fractured vertebrae) 1 ½ years ago is that I am now 2 inches shorter. Not good for a guy like me.
  • Let’s hope one of the sports will ban players from spitting. It’s disgusting, particularly in baseball.
  • The second edition of my Basketball Coaching 101 book is now officially on hold due to numerous other commitments.
  • I hope to soon publish details on my basketball “umbrella offense.”
  • Travel has now become such a hassle. Visiting Florida is the only place that has been acceptable. There obviously will be less travel in the days ahead.
  • I’m hoping to do an article on taxes in the near future. Here is a checkbook list of mine: Federal, State, County (Nassau), Town (North Hempstead), Village (East Williston), and School (East Williston). Add to this sales, gasoline, gambling (when I occasionally win), etc. Twenty percent tipping has added to my woes.
  • Legendary sports historian Art Lovely (my dear friend) recently celebrated his 90th birthday with his beloved Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series. Unfortunately, I needed the Dodgers at 8-1.
  • Kudos to yours truly. I hope sports officienadoes will finally come to agree with me that Eli Manning is the luckiest and most overrated athlete (not just quarterback) of all time. Thank you Lou for letting us know early on.
  • Blew a couple of big consulting jobs as an expert witness…more and more people are apparently questioning my claim to be the world’s premier environmental authority.
  • Every time I meet someone socially, I ask about the $20 they owe me. One guy recently and a gal sometime back took me seriously.
  • Every one of us is aware of the lazy, indifferent conduct of government employees…and most of us accept it. But now, their conduct has expanded to include criminality. The best way to solve the problem is to eliminate most of these positions.
  • Baseball pitchers (and managers) have yet to figure out the truly negative results produced by walks.
  • Hunkered down for another winter. Ouch! But I still have The Queen, the kids, and the grandkids, along with my other activities.

 

Feel free to get back to me whether you agree or disagree with my comments. Happy hunting till XXVIII.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

APRIL 1:                     On the Analysis of the Hofstra 2018-19 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                       On the 2019 East Williston School Vote

JUNE 1:                      On the Theodore Healthcare Plan


ON BASKETBALL COACHING 101- 2nd EDITION

February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

My book “Basketball Coaching 101” arrived on the scene in mid-2015. The bulk of the book was written in early 2012, and completed (well, sort of) in the spring of that year at the beautiful Sandcastle Resort in Sarasota, Florida. Some token additions were made in 2013, 2014, and in March 2015 at The Sandcastle. The manuscript was finally sent to the printer in mid-April 2015 after some unexpected (and long) delays.

 

The writing of this non-fiction basketball book was particularly exciting. It took me out of my 60 plus year comfort zone of doing my own thing and forced me to interact with nearly 100 basketball people; many of these legendary individuals were total strangers. The project was also a rather unique undertaking. Rather than prepare a book on coaching in the usual and traditional format, I considered writing a book that highlighted the expertise of those involved with basketball. The book would hopefully serve as a manual and/or training tool for those individuals involved directly or indirectly with coaching basketball. Because of the pragmatic approach employed, it provided both on-the-court and off-the-court information in this field. Thus, this is a book that was primarily written for those of you who love the game, but in particular, for those of you who are or have been or will be involved with coaching.

 

Early reviews? Here is what Jack Powers had to say: “The basketball world can now formally welcome to its midst one of the game’s brilliant strategists. His name is Dr. Lou Theodore, and his new book – Basketball Coaching 101 – has established him as one of the premier authorities in the game. The book has it all: coaching hints/strategies that can be employed to achieve a successful and winning program; history of the game; literary revival of the fabulous 1950s and 60s; historical tales of the Killeen’s Tavern basketball team; discussion of the dark side of the NCAA; prospects on the future of the game; etc. There are dozens of stories never told before, many of which are absolutely hilarious. But, more than anything else, this is a book about coaching basketball, and it is a book that will serve as a valuable resource for those who are presently, or will be in the future, involved with this wonderful game.” Here is a part of the write-up from the flier for the book signing: “This unique book is about basketball coaching and includes direct input from coaches, recruiters, conference commissioners, athletic directors, players, university presidents, officials, journalists, media announcers, and fans regarding the qualities that define winning coaches, as well as the qualities a coach should possess in order to create a winning basketball program. The book also addresses hot topics, such as paying student athletes, the dark side of the NCAA, and the future concerns of the game. There are dozens of stories and photographs about the history of the game. This book is designed to help coaches as well as aspiring coaches, to excel at a job that leans more towards a multifaceted and highly challenging vocation. It will also help the average fan better appreciate what the game and what coaching is all about. Don’t miss this special opportunity to purchase a copy of his book and have it autographed! It makes a great gift! If you are unable to attend, you can still purchase the book by going online and ordering it through AMAZON. Refreshments will be served.” I had to get both these quotes in… just to satisfy my ego.

 

It’s been seven years since I decided to write “BASKETBALL COACHING 101.” The first edition was a first go-around for me since I had only written technical books. The objective was to put into print all the aforementioned topics. But then my ego took over and it was decided to include my basketball journey and details of the legendary Killeen’s Tavern basketball team that I coached during the 50s and 60s.

 

A lot has transpired at my end since then, including outlining new offensive and defensive strategies. Of particular interest has been the movement toward an offensive that has been defined as the “triangle offense.” Quite frankly, I couldn’t figure it out after reviewing the literature, but it appears to involve some sort of semi-isolation play. So naturally, I decided to look into it further and came up with what may become the offensive of the future. I refer to it as the “umbrella offense,” and it is based on isolation play.  Introductory details follow.

 

Well, what about the aforementioned umbrella offensive. It is based on player movement and location that leads to a situation where the offensive player only has to contend with one defensive player, i.e., a one-on-one (1×1) situation (The reader should note that it is easier to score in a 5×1 solution as opposed to a 1 x 5; similarly scoring in a 1×1 situation is easier than when it is 5×5). How is an ideal 1×1 situation produced? There are obviously a number of possible 1×1 possibilities that can be set up. 12.3 in the new edition,

 

The umbrella offense obviously would work best against teams that play man-to-man defense. Furthermore, if the defense is geared to play each man close (tight), the adaptability of the umbrella offense becomes more pronounced. Also obvious is that the offense would be less adaptable to a zone defense, but that is another matter that is addressed elsewhere in the new edition.

 

P.S. On the home front, i.e., Hofstra basketball is really rolling (19-3 as of 1/30/19) and the team is performing beyond my earlier expectations (see also 12/1/18 article), blowing away opponents, and appears to be heading toward a CAA conference championship.  Look for opponents in the future to offer challenges that will include slow down offenses, a box-and-l defense of Wright-Forman), and the triangle-and-2 defense (Wright-Forman and Pemberton), etc.  Their all-star Justin Wright-Forman has been unbelievable. I refer to him as “Superman.” One of my players refers to him as “The Magician” while his wife calls him “The Sorcerer.” But off-guard /small forward Tareq Coburn has made the difference; for the 2018-19 team and their NCAA aspirations (as I noted late November), he could play on my club anytime.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

FEBRUARY 1:

MARCH 1:                  On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVII

APRIL 1:                     On the Analysis of the Hofstra 2018-19 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                       On the 2019 East Williston School Vote

JUNE 1:                      On Theodore ??


THE 2018-19 HOFSTRA MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON

November 30, 2018

 

 

 

December 1, 2018

The 10/28 Newsday headlines blared away: “HOFSTRA TARGETS NCAA: WRIGHT-FOREMAN KEY TO MAKING MARCH MADNESS.” I disagree. Wright-Foreman and defense will send Hofstra to the Promised Land.

I offer the following two comments before proceeding to an analysis of this and last year’s team.

  1. Although the team’s goal should be to win games, the ultimate goal is to win the CAA tournament – and that should be reflected in the team’s philosophy and overall preparation during the season.
  2. Players should understand that the magic word in defense is INTENSITY! And this is where bench help comes into play.

Well, what about last year? They had close to a dream team – Rokas (leading rebounder in the country), Wright-Foreman (CAA Player of Year), Pemberton…etc. It was indeed a dream team, but perhaps from an offensive perspective. They went 19-12, finished third in the CAA, and got knocked out in the first round. Scoring during the season was not a problem but they were consistently inconsistent when it came to defense. The team was further hampered by Rokas’s poor defensive play and his inability to shoot fouls and make layups.

I’ve come to believe that most teams still don’t get it about defense. Case in point: The Knicks recently realized that the team performed better with a defensive guard as opposed to their offensive guard. HELLO! The Nets had the same problem several years ago with their outstanding offensive player Williams who couldn’t guard his grandmother.

Well, what about this year’s team? The back court with Justin Wright-Foreman (JWF), Buie, and Ray is dynamic and absolutely solid. Small forward Pennington is a scoring machine but has yet to prove himself defensively. The forecourt is questionable: transfers 6’10” Jacquil Taylor and 6’8” Dan Dwyer along with returnee Trueheart provide little to the offensive with questionable defense. The back court led by superstar all-American candidate JWF may be able to carry the club and overcome any deficiencies upfront…and this will be determined as the season goes forward.

The club’s record at the time of the preparation of this article was 4-2 with two tough losses coming against NCAA ranked opponents. The back court tandem of JWF and Buie (who I touted three years ago) probably ranks near the top in the nation. Buie’s defensive play has made a significant impact. Taylor may be able to hold his own in the middle against the other big men in the CAA. The team is also playing some man-to-man offensive which is good news since a well-coached opponent would again decimate their zone defense as was demonstrated in their win over Cal State Fulterton where a guard scored 38 points, including 8 open 3-pointers.  Coach Mihalich has apparently settled on a 8-man rotation which will hopefully be enough to carry the team. Bottom line: I’ve gone from being concerned to being cautiously optimistic. It should be an interesting and exciting 3+ months.

I should note that this may be a do-or-die year since the club is top-heavy with upperclassmen and only one freshman along with three sophs. Furthermore, unless Coach Mihalich and his staff have a significantly above-par recruiting year, the team’s front court will have difficulty competing against Division III opponents next year.

Attending Hofstra games for me still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; it’s even cheaper than going to the movies. There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Mack Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.50 for a dog, $3.00 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Did I mention that its $6 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance? Many home games last year turned out to be thrillers. Share it this year with someone you care about.

In the meantime, my “Basketball Coaching 101” book is still out in the marketplace at either amazon.com or createspace.com for $17.95. It makes an excellent New Year’s/Christmas gift. Consider buying the book – I really do need the royalty money to help subsidize my gambling habits.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

JANUARY 1:              On Liberal News Highlights

FEBRUARY 1:            On Basketball Coaching 101 II

MARCH 1:                 On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVII

APRIL 1                     On the Analysis of the Hofstra 2018019 Basketball Season

MAY 1                        On the 2019 East Williston School Budget Vote

 

 


ON THE NEW YORK RACING ASSOCIATION (NYRA)

September 30, 2018

OCTOBER 1, 2018

Saratoga. Saratoga Springs. Thoroughbred racing. The Mecca of thoroughbred racing. The summer vacation spot to be in August. The grand old lady. Streets lined with historic homes. Sweet corn and tomatoes practically off the vine. Etc. etc. Sounds great. Well, there’s only one problem: The New York Racing Association (NYRA). NYRA runs thoroughbred racing in Saratoga (as well as Belmont and Aqueduct).

 

The thoroughbred racing meeting ended on September 7, so I figured it was time to release some of my earlier thoughts, comments, recommendations, etc., about NYRA. Here are three of my oldies but beauties from the past when I had predicted that weekday attendance would drop from 15,000 to 2,000. How little did I know.  And how wrong could I be?  It is now under 1,000.  I’m certain two absolutely beautiful 750 Fall days (9/26-7) had less than 250 betting fans  at Belmont.!

 

“On NYRA” (The Williston Times, 9/16/96):

“Quite frankly, I am both flabbergasted and disappointed in the media’s coverage of NYRA and NYRA-related activities. There appears to be an unwritten law among turf writers not to provide any bad press on NYRA. As indicated earlier, the two words commonly used by the racing group I associate with to describe NYRA is incompetence and arrogance. The net result of NYRA policies is that more and more of the fans are not coming back. The two extremes – the young and the old fan – no longer find a day at the NYRA races a pleasurable experience. More than anything else, the writing of this article was prompted by my participation in the 1976 National Crime Commission Hearings (President Ford) as a representative of the horseplayer”.

 

“There’s Another Side to Saratoga” (Daily Racing Form, 7/27/97):

“Á significant portion of the racetrack is a firetrap. Standing in line is a ritual that NYRA has come to expect from its customers. The track contains the most uncomfortable seats I have ever encountered at a racetrack. In addition, the spacing between rows is so narrow that it is extremely difficult to navigate. Expect to be gouged. Here is what Bill Finley and Surabhi Avasthi had to say in their May 5, 1996, Daily News article titled “A-Z Guide to Horse Racing in New York.” “G is for Gouged. What you will get in Saratoga Springs. The local businesses – which only have six weeks to capitalize on tourist dollars – usually jack up prices during racing season. Expect to fork over an ample portion of your winnings for a good dinner and a hotel room.”

 

“Blame NYRA for Empty Plants” (Daily Racing Form, 4/26/98):

“The players major concern was that  NYRA has chosen to squash the betting public into a cramped space with poor lighting, lousy TV monitors and limited seating for simulcasting. They also cited long betting lines and the unkempt filthy conditions of the whole area. If NYRA could somehow treat its customers like it treats breeders, owners, jockeys, politicians and the media, the racing industry will be on its way to solving its problem at the turnstiles.”

 

The Queen and I along with the kids and grandkids visited Saratoga late this month and spent two days there. As usual, the experience at this dilapidated firetrap track featured the aforementioned long lines, $5 admission, $10 parking, concession rip-offs, uncomfortable seating and standing, poor race viewing, 38 minutes in between races, etc. etc. To make matters worse, the ass who runs the place (where do they find these people??) essentially closed off the seating in the upper stretch of the grandstand for most racing days. Fans did have the option of sitting on the grass or standing for 5 hours. Thank you NYRA management.

 

We stayed at the Gideon Putnam – a historic landmark – and the entire family (but not me) loved it. Notwithstanding my feelings, it was my 64th straight year (this has to be a record) of attending the races at the Toga. I stayed at John’s Farm in the Catskills in 1955 and the Holiday Inn ($19 /night) in 1956. As always, dinner the first night was at Parnell’s and a brief chat with owner/chef Bruce followed by breakfast the next morning at the Triangle Diner.

 

After reading the last paragraph, you would have to conclude that I am a glutton for punishment. And, you would be right, but old habits don’t die easily. I said good riddance on leaving Saratoga but will be back (God willing) next year. Don’t say it. I can’t be that bright, but then again, those others in attendance can’t be too bright either.

 

So, it’s now back to Belmont for nearly two months followed by the Aqueduct winter meeting where NYRA will once again continue to exploit the hapless horse player. Attending has dropped below 1,000 on weekdays and the idiot in charge has yet to figure out how to fix the problem. But dozens of “suits” regularly patrol the stands and I can’t figure out what they do. Ordinarily, the individual in charge would be fired…but this is NYRA.  The end result is that the most beautiful of ALL racetracks is essentially barren during racing days.

 

I close with a tale (without details) about NYRA’s arrogance . . . they are more than just incompetent.  I sued NYRA in small claims court for $22 in 2010.  They were a no-show on trial date.  The judge rescheduled the trial.  Once again they were a no-show.  The judge found in my favor.  NYRA chose not to mail me the judgement.  I had to hire a sheriff to collect.  They sheriff walked into one of their offices and requested the money.  They informed him that it was impossible but they would mail it to me in due time.  He started walking out with two of their computers.  Fifteen minutes later they gave him a check for ALL the charges.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

NOVEMBER 1:          On the OHI Day III

DECEMBER 1:          On the 2018-19 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Team

JANUARY 1:              On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVII

FEBRUARY 1:           On Basketball Coaching 101 II

 

 

 


ON THE ANALYSIS OF THE HOFSTRA 2017-18 BASKETBALL SEASON

April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018

Last year, I described Hofstra’s 2016-17 season with one word: underperformance. Here are some of my bullet pointers from last year.

  • Once again (as with last year) defense was woefully weak.
  • Once again, bench help was essentially non-existent.
  • Sabathy (the reserve center) was underutilized.
  • Rokas had a disappointing season; his defense play was often missing and also had a poor shooting season.
  • Foreman emerged as a force to be reckoned with the next two years.
  • The club lacked a floor leader.
  • I don’t see a leader emerging next year; this should be potentially worrisome.
  • Hire an assistant coach to help reduce/eliminate defensive problems.
  • STOP playing zone; Wisconsin had several players who couldn’t guard one-on-one and yet played a solid man-to-man defense.
  • Recruit players who play stellar defense.
  • Although the team’s goal should be to win games, the ultimate goal is to win the CAA tournament – and that should be reflected in the team’s philosophy and overall preparation during the season.
  • Players should understand that the magic word in defense is INTENSITY! And this is where bench help comes into play.

 

Here are some earlier comments on defense that appeared in my BASKETBALL COACHING 101 book. “The author repeatedly told basketball aficionados that defense is 50% of the game. And every individual has responded with something to the effect: ‘of course, I (or we) know that’. But really? Who believes them? After all, from the first day a player is introduced to basketball, offense has been stressed. The novice is taught and/or learns how to shoot, dribble, pass, etc. Defense was almost always an afterthought. In fact, the author has repeatedly claimed that it is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that win championships. It is their ability to create havoc on the opponent’s offense that makes the difference.”

“How important is defense? Here is a case in point. Stevie Mejia served as the point (or 1) guard for the 2012-2013 Hofstra team. Some in press row commented on several occasions that Stevie wasn’t playing to his full potential. What they were referring to was his scoring. Yet during the season, he stopped the star guards Scott Machado and Michael Alvarado of Iona and Manhattan College, respectively, COLD! These two players were projected first-round and second-round picks, respectively. Interestingly, Hofstra lost three games during the 2013-2014 season because of an inability to stop the star guard of the opposing team.”

Here was my earlier analysis for the team this year. “They legitimately have a chance to be the premier team in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). But I believe that many of my earlier concerns have carried over to this year, particularly a porous defense. I hope not. On the positive side is Coach Joe Mikalich. He is capable of turning things around if he opts for a man-to-man defense and commits to something more than a 6-man rotation.”

“As for predications, it will probably be another mediocre year for three reasons:

  1. Their defense remains unexplainably weak at times, allowing the opposing team to take layup practice during the course of the game.
  2. The team is devoid of a shot blocker, adding to their defensive woes.
  3. Player attitude problems may have surfaced.

Bottom Line: I’m not too optimistic; hopefully, I’m wrong. The talent is there, but…”

Well, what about this year? They had close to a dream team – Rokas (leading rebounder in the country), Foreman–Wright (CAA Player of Year), Pemberton…etc. It was indeed a dream team, but perhaps from an offensive perspective. They went 19-12 and finished third in the CAA. Scoring during the season was not a problem but they were consistently inconsistent when it came to defense. Still, they had a good shot to win the CAA tournament and go on to the NCAA tournament. What happened? They played one of the weakest teams in the CAA at the start of the tournament and lost 93-88, unable to guard the opposition star who scored 37 points. I mean, this other “weak” team scored nearly 100 points. The offensive scoring machine in this year’s NCAA tournament average under 70 points/game. If that’s not the icing on the cake with regard to defense, I don’t know what is. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call, but I doubt it.

What’s the bottom line regarding Hofstra’s defense? Lowly Wilmington scored 50% above the average scoring of the other 3 quarterfinal games in their game against Hofstra. Do you need anything more? 50% more than the other teams were scoring!! You want more? The next night Wilmington scored 52 points (not 93!) and lost by 27 points. Obviously, the Hofstra players were either never taught how to play defense or don’t care to play defense or don’t realize the importance of defense…or some combination of the above. It’s time for the Hofstra team and Coach Mikalich to rethink their approach to defense; I doubt the end result will change next year unless some action on defense is implemented.

The NY Dodger fans’ motto during the 1950s was: wait till next year. And, indeed, they will have to wait till next year. Next year will bring forth a powerhouse group of guards that will need to be supplemented with a shot-blocking big man who can play defense. But, they will also need to help in two more areas: play a solid defensive guard and stop playing zone defense.

Finally, it is business as usual with the NCAA and, in particular, college basketball. The Feds have now accused numerous key individuals associated with the sport with wrong doings. Yet, nothing has been done and no one really expects anything to be done. There was absolutely no mention of the scandals during any of the NCAA Tournament games or any of the analysis programs, even though all of the participants were aware of the scandals–with the knowledge that there were more on the horizon. CORRUPTION REIGNS! In case you missed it, loveable Rick Pitino has asked for another chance. In the spirit of Easter, I suggest he be brought back to basketball to coach at the J.V. high school level where he will not be in a position to further embarrass our sport.

It was 14 year ago when I started clamoring that the NCAA’s concept of the student-athlete was one of the all-time great scams perpetrated on the public. The NCAA corruption is a cancer that will not go away because of the money involved, and, nearly everybody now knows it. Look for some massive changes (coaches, ADs, presidents, etc.) in the coming months as the rats scurry to the foothills. It will take some time, but ultimately the disgraceful “coaching legends” – Pitino, Calipari, Williams, Smith, Izzo, Calhoun, Boeheim, Krzyzewski, etc. – will hopefully get their due, even though they are/were caught up in a system that requires them to lie, deceive, manipulate, etc., in order to survive.   And, wait until the football bubble bursts; it will be worse than the basketball scams.

In the meantime, coaches like Bob McKillop (Davidson), Jim Jones (Yale),   DeChellis (Navy), etc., remain on the sidelines in semi-obscurity even though they are legitimately the true legends of the game. In fact, I continue to claim that BMCK is the premiere coach in the country because of what he has been able to accomplish while playing by the rules.

On a sad side, Jeff Hathaway—one of the good guys in our sport—has resigned (?) as AD, and Rick Cole will be replacing him. President Rabinowitz tells us that Cole is “the one to take us to the next level.” I can guarantee both of them that the next level will not become a reality in Hofstra’s mens basketball future unless defensive issues are addressed . . . immediately . . . and you can take that to the bank.

P.S.  A 13 member class headlined the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, including such “greats” as Katie Smith, Charlie Scott, Rod Thorn, Lofty Driesell, Tina Thompson, Rick Welts, Dino Radja, and Ora Washington.  And how did my nominations–Jack Powers (NIT), Eddie Corbett (referee), and BMCK (coach) fare?  You guessed it.  They simply don’t fit into the HOF committee’s concept of legends.  Some of those selected are embarrassing.   Nearly everybody told me that the selection process was a joke.  I now have come to believe this as fact.  Sad Stuff!

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

MAY 1:           On 2018 East Williston School Budget Vote

JUNE 1:          On Great Eats III: Greek – Edition

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXV1

 


ON BASEBALL STRATEGIES

March 1, 2018

March 1, 2018

Most of you already know that I consider myself an authority on basketball coaching. After all, I did publish a book titled Basketball Coaching 101(Amazon) – and that, by definition, makes me a basketball expert. Well, I have some news for you: I’m also an authority on baseball . . . and Modesty is not my middle name.

 

I became a baseball fan around 10 years of age. Not just a fan. A Yankee fan! I lived and died with them. Charlie (King Kong) Keller, Joe Page, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, etc., were my heroes. I remember paying 60¢ for bleacher seats and sitting on hard wooden benches for a doubleheader in torrid heat… and loving it. I then became a Yankee hater and a Mets fan, and have remained a Met fan since the team’s inception. And during this time, I have watched thousands of games on TV (rarely going to Shea or Citi Field). The net result? You guessed it. I am now a baseball authority and qualified to provide meaningful instructional analysis on the game.

 

But what does meaningful instructional analysis mean? Simply that I can provide those involved with baseball at any level – manager, coach, player, front office personnel, etc., – with suggestions on how to enhance and improve a team’s ability to win games on the field. That being said, here are tidbits drawn from my baseball file on 10 different categories: infielders, outfielders, catchers, pitchers, batters, base runners, coaches, managers, general managers, and (of course) owners.

 

Infielders

Each of the four infielders, but shortstops in particular, should be aware of the speed of the both the batter and runners on base. The infielders should play deeper, particularly the second baseman, if the batter is a slow runner; I would even advise playing on the outfield grass. The shortstop and second baseman should also be aware of a batters tendency to pull curveballs or fastballs and adjust their position on the pitch. The two should also communicate on who will cover second in steal situations.

 

Outfielders

Much of the above for infielders also applies to outfielders. Outfielders presently play too deep, particularly the left and right fielders. The outfielder should think and be aware of all the possible scenarios that may arise if the ball is hit to the outfield, particularly with men on base. The scenarios would vary depending on the number of outs, the score, and the inning.

 

Catchers

Catchers should know the strengths and weaknesses of the pitchers and all the opposing batters he will face. Knowing the disposition of the umpire calling balls and strikes would also help; e.g., does it help complaining on balls and strikes, etc.? Knowing the speed of runners on base is an absolute must. Many catchers today provide encouragement to the pitcher. I think there can be more of this. There should be more face-to-face discussions, e.g., put the ball over the plate and definitely don’t walk a batter. I believe the catcher should be the field general and run the defense. He should also be aware of all the points raised earlier for infielders and outfielders, as well as pitchers. Finally, a high I.Q. catcher is a definite plus. He should dish out instructions to outfielders, infielders, and the pitcher on what to do if . . . e.g., a double steal, a ground ball to the right side, etc.

 

Pitchers

It goes without saying that pitchers must have an idea of each hitter’s prowess. Some can’t hit curveballs. Some can’t hit fastballs. Some like it inside, and others don’t. Some of their preferences change with pitch count. Runners on base have to be carefully monitored. He should be aware of the likelihood of a steal. He should also know beforehand what to do on a bunt or a comebacker with a man (or men) on base. His own pitching limitations is a concern; it’s no secret that starting pitchers weaken in the latter innings. Although much of what will follow applies to starting pitchers, it also applies to relief pitchers. Since the mound is approximately one foot above ground level, a 100 pitch outing (plus bullpen, warmups, etc.) results in a pitcher effectively walking up a 20 story building; this may explain, in part, why pitchers do not perform as well later in a game. Older pitchers should seriously consider minimizing movements off the mound and, for goodness sake, try not to walk batters – put the ball over the plate and take your chances. I would replace any pitcher who walks a batter late in the game if ahead by more than one run. Finally, pitchers should try to avoid 3-2 counts with runners on base and 2 out.

 

Batters

Batters need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both the starting pitcher and relief pitchers. How often does he throw fastballs? Does he prefer pitching inside or outside? Does he hold runners on base? Does he tire in later innings? Does he throw strikes on the first pitch? Does he change his pitching approach when behind the count? These questions need to be considered. But the batter also needs to realize that a walk is just about as good as a single. Batters need to consider changing their batting philosophy when behind in the count. More importantly, a batter should NOT be swinging for the fences in the last inning when trailing by more than one run with nobody on base; the objective should be to get on base, and the easiest way to accomplish this is via a walk. Keep in mind that home run swings significantly reduce one’s ability to check a swing on a pitch that is outside the strike zone…thus reducing the probability of a walk. Finally, batters (as well as base runners) should HUSTLE at all times; hell, you are exerting yourself less than ten minutes per game.

 

Base Runners

The coaches usually remind the runners of the scenario at hand but the runner must also be alert. On a single to left field, he should run top speed and ALWAYS consider going to second base since he is in a direct line with the left fielder’s throw to second base. Any throw to the left or right of second base should serve as a green light to consider going to second base. While on base, he should ALWAYS be prepared and consider taking an extra base if the catcher doesn’t field the pitch cleanly. He also should practice sliding techniques whenever possible.

 

Coaches

Coaches play the least significant role of the major players. Nonetheless, they should provide encouragement and support while on offense. Most importantly, they should know the limitations of the players on base and the strengths/weaknesses of the outfielders (but to a lesser extent of infielders).

 

Managers

For the most part, managers are overrated. And, most overmanage. Some are liabilities. Some are major liabilities, e.g., Terry Collins (in particular) of the Mets and Joe Girardi of the Yanks. The manager’s main job is to instill the basics to the entire team. Practice makes perfect and relays, double plays, bunting, and hitting to the opposite field should be practiced regularly. I would require each batter to hit to the opposite field when confronted with a defensive shift to one side. Players also MUST understand that a walk is just about as good as a single…and sometimes a double. I would have every batter prior to every game draw a red or black marble out of a hat. Those who draw a black marble would be required to take the first pitch, or when the count is 2-0, 3-1, or 3-0. Red marble selectors can do as they wish. However everyone must take on a 3-1 count with the bases loaded and two outs. Some of the above can be altered during late innings. The manager also needs to realize that when a relief pitcher comes in and gets a batter out that he has not thrown two pitches but probably fifty pitches when bullpen and warmup throws are counted. Since these additional pitches can take their toll, managers need to give consideration to their sometime reckless indiscriminant use of relief pitchers. Finally, he should require (with NO exceptions) every batter RUN out every ground ball or fly ball. One added point: He should not select cronies for coaches and I would allow my bench coaches to occasionally serve as manager for certain games.

 

General Manager

Most general managers (GMs) are not too bright and not capable of making intelligent baseball decisions. Most of the GMs are just like many of the players and coaches. There are a handful (not many) who know what’s going on. Few of the players have college degrees, unlike some football players. Joe Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern (in my opinion, the most prestigious university in our country) and he has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to make sound, rational baseball decisions. In any event, the GM needs to know both the capabilities of his players and those that are on the market. It’s a given that the GM should work closely with the manager; his cronies must not come into play in any of his decisions and actions.

 

Owners

They are in the baseball business for either or both of the following reasons: ego and/or to make money. He should understand the meaning of risk. He should also understand the meaning of optimization. He should also understand how risk and optimization affect each other. Bottom line: he has to make intelligent decisions from a risk and/or optimization prospective when it comes time to hiring, firing and managing his business; as with both managers and GMs, he should not hire cronies.

 

Note: I have attached two recent photos of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets legendary third baseman Ed Charles celebrating his 83rd birthday. Unknowingly to us, the 1969 Mets batboy was also in attendance; his presence added to the festivities. Ed also reminisced about growing up in Florida and preseason games. He’d track down baseballs in the outfield, get someone like Joe DiMaggio to autograph the ball, and then sell if for $5.00 – a windfall profit in those days.

Ed Charles and Lou

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

APRIL 1:         On 2017-18 Men’s Hofstra Basketball Revisited

MAY 1:           On 2018 East Williston School Budget Vote

JUNE 1:          On Great Eats III: Greek – Edition

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXV1