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Degree of Difficulty

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High School Basketball: Degree of Difficulty

It’s time for me to rant a little about the current style of play that is dominating high school basketball in central Vermont. Mid-range shooting has all but disappeared. Players like to shoot the three or drive to the hoop drawing 2-3 defensive players and attempting acrobatic feats that rival an Olympic diver on a three meter board. Players make twists, turns, spins, and crash into players in the lane hoping to draw a foul or maybe just chuck up a no-look basket.  The only alternative – a 3-point shot.

Where has the mid-range game gone? The great players know how to “stop and pop” to make a simple 10-12 foot high percentage shot and score an easy two points. It’s rare to see a player make a move that backs up the defense and then quickly stop and shoot an easy uncontested mid-range shot.

What we see instead is a desperate go to the hole move and a low percentage shot. Game scores are low and style of play is hectic. If we gave points for degree of difficulty like in diving then basketball would a very high scoring game.

I think players like Lebron James have had a lot to do with this style of play. James is an incredible athlete and fabulous individual player. He shoots the three or drives to the basket making unbelievable scores. He has never won an NBA championship but he is fun to watch. So are the Harlem Globetrotters.

It’s not fun to watch a young player without James’ abilities try to score with the degree of difficulty seen in a James score.

I think any player that put the mid-range shot into his/her game would dominate today. It’s such a simple move. If you have a 1/2 step advantage on a defensive player, you just slide behind the defender then stop and shoot a simple 10-12 high percentage shot. It’s a two – three dribble drive move and it can’t be stopped 99% of the time. Today the defense would be backing off and waiting to jam you as you start one of those impossible low percentage high degree of difficulty moves.

The only player in central Vermont that I’ve seen effectively use the mid-range shot is U32’s senior guard Karla Clithero. She has quickness and will stop and pop the 10-12 footer occasionally. She’s a very unselfish player and could take over any game if she looked to score more often.

Annie Jones, a junior forward at Montpelier High, is one of the better shooters in girls basketball. She is very athletic and drives strong to the basket from the right. Sometimes she gets caught in traffic and if she ever added a mid-range shot to her game, Montpelier would be a much bigger threat.

Arlo Patterson, MHS senior guard, has a good 3-point shot and makes very aggressive moves to the basket. He’s a player that would really benefit from a high percentage mid-range shot. Because of his quickness, he’s able to get defensive players scrambling backwards when he attacks the basket and with his leaping ability could pull up and take an easy 10 footer for 2 points anytime he wanted.

Basketball is such a simple game when played properly. You pass the ball, you catch the ball, you shoot the ball. Add some team movement, strong rebounding and pressure defense and you’ve got a great game.

My advise to young players is take the easy high percentage shot and take less of those high degree of difficulty shots that result in low percentage attempts. It makes for better basketball.


Written by Roger

January 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM

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