Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New (to me) faces dot the landscape during week 1 of Fall League action

Followers of the AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts have seen my features of Rahim McCorkle (above) of Silver Bluff, and Zayveon Williams (below) of Burke County. During the first session of PQ Sports Fall League play, McCorkle played with tons of competitive spirit and looked like he had plenty of fun as he led his Aiken Select team to wins over Thomson and Evans. And Williams, who I learned sports a 4.0 GPA in our post game interview, scored 6 straight points for Sports Academy South to cut Team Power's second half lead to 1 point with 3 minutes remaining before the Power prevailed.

Silver Bluff and Burke County are teams I didn't see play last season, so McCorkle and Williams are new faces at AugBball. So are several other standouts from Saturday's action at Evans Middle School, including Kevin Williamson (Aiken), Deaontae Carter (Burke County), Emmanuel Bryson (Grovetown), Chance Fugghett (Grovetown), Tim Williamson (Hephzibah), Jonquez Smith (Hephzibah), Dajuan Hill (Aquinas), Gerald Merriweather (Aquinas), Duvall Cardwell (Evans), and Kyle Driscoll (Evans).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Team USA doesn't have to paint a masterpiece on offense to win. Almost no team ever does

People complaining about Team USA's ball movement are missing something. They want to see the ball and the bodies zip around like the Spurs and Warriors make it do when they are rolling, missing the fact that those are the only teams in the world who do that somewhat frequently against the world's best (NBA teams). And even San Antonio and Golden State's fluid dances stall at the highest levels of competition.

Where was San Antonio's passing exhibition when Oklahoma City locked in to what the Spurs were doing and imposed their will, winning four straight playoff games to close out the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals during last season's playoffs? After a scorching start to the series, the Spurs' offense quickly evolved into an isolation heavy attack which first featured LaMarcus Aldridge making circus shots, and eventually after that well ran dry used Kawhi Leonard in countless late shot clock, one-on-one attempts versus Andre Roberson or Kevin Durant. No wonder the Spurs fell way short.

And the mighty Warriors, winners of a record 73 regular season games and owners of the most fluid and impressive offensive attack we've seen (including the best pair of shooters we've seen) needed a ridiculous string of Klay Thompson heaves in game 6 against that same Thunder team to even survive long enough to advance to the NBA Finals.

Nothing about Thompson's heroic performance could have been attributed to solid team offense. Almost every shot he took, and for that matter almost every shot he and his fellow splash brother took between that game and the entire Finals versus the Cavs, would be more the result of "hero ball" than the kind of "holy offense" the commentators criticized this Team USA squad for not playing as they ran through the Olympic field.

It is difficult to paint a masterpiece on the offensive side of the basketball court. It happens in exceptional cases. San Antonio's 2014 work of art against the Thunder (Conference Finals) and especially the Heat during their last title run passes with flying colors. And of course so does Golden State's 73 win regular season run. But I struggle to remember another time when this kind of offense was sustained against the world's best.

Playing great defense, rebounding relentlessly, limiting turnovers, and maybe most importantly getting the best players the best shots possible (even if those shots don't come after a series of ooh and ah passes) is much more realistic. And those fundamentals have led to many more wins and championships, than any other methods.

Team USA followed this formula. So when the day came when Durant scored 30 points in three quarters, including a 4-6 start from deep, and Klay Thompson made the shots he takes, and everybody else swarmed on defense and ate glass, Team USA won by a million. And they didn't even have to look pretty doing it.