The Art of the Assist
I took in some pretty good basketball last week. I saw the Braves pick up their first win against a feisty Woodlan Warrior team, and the Starfires also kicked off their season with a solid win against a quality Union City Indians squad. Eric had the pleasure of taking in the AC/Norwell contest that went into overtime, but I was told that if I had showed up to the Hangar, there was not a seat left to spare as the Monroe faithful packed the house for the Flying Jets’ opening to a promising season, despite the loss.
The thing that these games had in common in my humble opinion was the passing. I was really impressed with a few of the players in particular due to their court vision. Against Woodlan, the guard duo of Payton Selking and Matt Stidam combined for 11 assists in the game and their unselfish play was one of the main reasons for the Braves run in the second and third quarters of that game giving Bellmont enough breathing room to stretch the floor and play patient basketball in the fourth quarter.
In the South Adams game against UC, it was the role playing guards that found their shooters. Twice senior guard Logan Steiner found three-point threat Scott Hoeppner for wide-open triples in the game, and the rest of the guard tandem at SA found Matt Alig and Mark Smith, the Starfires big men, for easy baskets on several occasions. The same could be said about how Matt Chronister of Bellmont got his team-high 17 against the Warriors; good guard passing on penetration.
So what makes kids good passers?
All most kids learn in the driveway is how to shoot…and that’s a big part of the game. How do they develop the know-how or situational decision-making to be able to deliver the basketball exactly where it needs to be at just the right time for the score?
For me personally, I was never a good shooter (that’s code for “I was not good at basketball”), so passing the ball was a big part of the game for me. But there are many players who are good scorers and still have the talent and vision to be good passers as well (Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Magic Johnson to name a few).
So what is it that makes a player good at passing? I’m not an expert, but I have a theory. Every good passer has had someone to pass the ball to at some point in their career. I think that in the progression of freshman to senior (high school or college), players change from the guy who passes the ball to the star into the guy who gets the ball passed to him. In that time those players have developed their identity to the point of knowing when to shoot and when to pass.
Some of these kids end up being a scoring threat and can draw the attention from the defenders by driving to the basket and dishing to their wide open big men. Other players who are not considerable scoring threats, can still become great passers with their court vision. For me, I think the key is dribbling with your head up. I remember doing dribbling drills at practice and thinking to myself, “Man this is boring.”
And it is.
That’s why I have to give props to these kids who consistently put the basketball exactly where it needs to be. They HAVE put in the time to make themselves better basketball players. That work ethic will help them on and off the court.
Keep up the good work, men. I am a big fan of the assist.