I had the luxury of watching a Sparta Bulldog basketball game this last Saturday night. Sparta verses Chester. Sparta had been beat by Chester by a large margin in the Trico Tournament. This post is entitled “A Basketball Jones” from the Cheech and Chong song. I have always been attracted to basketball and still even play once in a while. It was at Biblesoft that we started having some great games at lunch time that led me to use the “Basketball Jones” song in a Christmas dinner party that almost got me fired. Understanding entered the situation and wisdom prevailed. One of the “delights of the heart” that Jesus has given me is the blessing of coaching high school basketball in Mazabuka, Zambia for 6 years. So I relish this time to watch the game.
The “Basketball Jones” award for this game goes to Chester’s Jack Weir. Some guys just love the game and you can tell it. He played a short forward and showed himself to be the catalyst that makes Chester tick. He easily gets to the basket, head fakes, the defender goes up and comes down and Jack goes up and makes the easy bucket. He did this several times along the baseline. He totaled 13 points and had most of the assists that fed the other two scorers on the Chester team. He wanted the ball and he got it.
The final score, according to my stats, (sorry if I am off, was carrying on conversations also) was 47 to 37 with Chester winning. So the question is what could have Sparta done to win the game? “Come see my zeal for the Lord” is a wonderful call to action in the bible. The Sparta Bulldog who comes across with the most zeal is number 50, Ethan Gwin. The zeal led to the silly fouls that make a difference towards the end of the game. So his zeal needs to be harnessed and used. I don’t see him as able to create his own shot so the zeal must focus on the offensive rebound and put back.
Watching the Sparta team at times reminded me of my first practice with the team in Zambia. First of all I needed to find out why they were wearing only one shoe or none. The answer: they were hoping to make their shoes last through the entire season. I digress. That first practice showed me 5 guys sitting on the perimeter taking turns trying to create a shot or drive. Sparta needs some plays, desperately, or some idea of how to move without the ball. So with that in mind lets look at the players first as we talk strategy.
Who wants the ball the most? To me it looked like number 32, Naseur Hobbs. He was able to play with his back to the basket, a special talent for a high schooler. He could get down low, block out his man and crouch down and ask for the ball. He got it a few times and was able to score 6 points. I would try and run an offense through this guy. Alzye Nesbitt (8 points, 2 three pointers), Alex Bennet (4 points, 1 three pointer), Devin Brown (8 points, 1 3 pointer) and Gabe Yearian (8 points, 4 baskets) can all shoot and would have multiple opportunities if they were to run things through a down low post player and move around to get open.
What I mean by run around is this. Several times the ball got into Naseur, but then the everyone froze right where they were to see what he could do. How about the guy who throws it in goes and picks back up top, that player comes down to the corner and Naseur could pass it back. The picker could then go and pick for someone else or roll to the basket and pick for Mr. Zeal, Ethan Gwin who could come around for a pass or be in great position for an offensive rebound. That is it for starters, from there natural talent (basketball Jones) can make things happen but they need a template from which to operate.
So how could Sparta have won? Put your best defensive player, preferably a guard, on Jack Weir. (Sparta guards were good defensive players). Move around more on offence and learn some plays. They need an in-bounds play. They also need a full court press and a half court press. The game was close with Chester ahead by 8 with 4 minutes to go when they started slowing things down. You have 4 half court corners to try and trap a player, Sparta needs a defensive scheme to accomplish that towards the end of a game they are losing. As it was they played normal defense and allowed Chester to chew up valuable time.
Chester was happy to go home with a win, and I am sure Sparta felt down afterwards, but the talent is there to have a great year. I will try and see more games this year to see how they improve. I tell myself every year I am going to see more games and every year barely make one or two. Maybe I can have a Sparta basketball year this year.