Keeping Up with the Joneses: Part 5 - New Year, New Team?

January 5  

We had a decent practice that focused on spacing in our half court offense. Coach G put tape on the floor to make players cut to the right spots and we had more room  without getting double teamed or bumped. I put in a new continuity set based on spacing and simple cuts similar to what pro teams run. The players seemed to get it quickly and we will review it in practice tomorrow to see if we can use it in the game Wednesday. We also worked on free throws and ran sprints and suicides on misses; surprisingly we shot them better. We also worked on skip passing and screening against zones, so we covered a lot in an hour and a half. Very productive day. 

January 7

The Chicago Public Schools are closed due to frigid weather, so we did not have practice today and will not have one tomorrow. I didn't go to practice Tuesday because I had a baseball meeting (I'm the varsity baseball coach), but Coach G said the practice was so bad he ended it early. They forgot the skip zone offense they learned on Monday and he got so frustrated with the team's lack of basketball smarts that he kicked them out of the gym.

I watch a lot of basketball, both college and pro, to see how they run their offenses, defenses, OB plays, and specials to see if we can use anything. I watched the Bulls get clobbered tonight by Utah, a bad team, but every NBA team has good players and once in awhile bad teams beat good teams. The most disturbing vision was watching the latest version of Derrick Rose. He's a enigma and his play should piss his teammates off, because it looks like he's not giving it his all. Tuesday we practiced like Derrick Rose has been playing according to G, and that's unacceptable. Home game on Friday. We'll see how we play with limited practice time this week.

January 9

Blue Central Conference game @ Jones; Jones 73, Bronzeville 57
Leading scorers: Adrien 17, Bryson 14 
Record 11-3, 4-0 in Blue Central

The game started out poorly. We looked lethargic from lack of serious practice time and Bronzeville went out to a 10-0 lead. Coach then switched to a 3/4 court trap and we scored 15 straight and then cruised, leading by as many as 27 points at one point. Adrien played great, distributed the ball well, got several offensive rebounds, and shot well after a slow start. More importantly he got into our offensive sets and showed signs of being a coach on the floor. Considering our offensive trouble, this was a welcome development. Bryson took better shots and made them when the score was close. We have a makeup game Monday from last Wednesday and no practice time because our gym is being used. This might be a problem getting off to a good start in the game, again.

 January 12

Blue Central Conference game vs Hope @ Jones
Jones 54, Hope 37
Leading scorer: Chidi 16
Record 12-3, 5-0 in the Blue Central

Predictably we played our worst game of the year, as the lack of practice hurt our man-to-man defense and offense. We couldn't execute properly or get in the right spots. We played with no passion or enjoyment. Players were pouting for being taken out of the game because of a lack of concentration or hustle. And Hope's point guard went through our defense like we were standing still, which we were. Collectively we were reaching, not staying in front of him by moving our feet, playing him too tight.

We had to switch to a zone trap and half-court zone to stop him from setting up his teammates and try to keep the ball out of his hands once he passed. We started getting steals because the other players couldn't handle the ball and made poor passing decisions. We finally strung together some layups and had an eight point lead at the half. In the second half we slowly extended our lead, but not because we were playing better. Hope struggled to score and we were able to get some offensive rebounds and put-backs. Chidi was 8-8 in free throws, Ellington played a good all around game, and Gabe hit 5 quick points to help open up the offense because they had to go out and challenge his jump shot. Glad the game is over. We finished the first half of conference play with a 5-0 record, but we play every game in the second half on the road due to scheduling quirks and court availability. If we keep playing without an urgency to improve or compete we are in trouble.

January 13 

We had a decent practice today and had fun. We had a brief meeting after warmups emphasizing the need to enjoy the game and be men. We played a sport today without making it look like work. Bodes well for tomorrow.

NEXT WEEK: Part 6 - Continuing Conference Play