Many basketball experts feel back-to-the-basket low post players are extinct and are no longer needed in today’s game at any level.
Let me eliminate that fallacy by offering this season’s Final Four teams — Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke and Michigan State — as evidence.
All four teams had above-average bigs who were pivotal in them reaching the Final Four.
These teams went to their big men continually to get close high percentage shots when they were defended one-on-one in the post. The reason they went that route is because one-on-one on that spot on the floor is the hardest to defend. The player with the ball knows when he is going to leave the floor to shoot and the defender doesn’t. Good ball and head fakes are effective in getting the old fashioned three-point play.
This forces teams to double the post, which open up 3-point shots and penetration layups to the player whose man left him to double the post. This is known as going inside-outside.
Shooting percentages for the 3-pointer are highest when the ball is fed to the post because perimeter players are already squared facing the basket. Teams that go inside first usually get to the foul line more than teams that don’t and teams with bigs usually are strong rebounding teams.
Any player can develop back-to-the-basket low post skills. They have to learn how to work to get position, to seal their defender in one of four ways: from behind, in front or on either side.
They have to show the passer where they want the ball and when they want the ball. They have to know what to do if there is denial defense on the post. They have to know how to get free when being fronted so they are not called for an offensive push-off foul.
To be effective offensively, a big post player will have to fight for position, seal properly, catch the ball, square, shoot the power layup, foul shots, and find the open man when double teamed.
Correct offensive player floor spacing allows for one defender and one offensive player below the free-throw line extended so contact in the the low block area by these two players is obvious to the lead official to see and make a call.
This floor spacing forces the defense to pay a big price for a wide open 3-pointer or an uncontested layup when the double down comes to the low block player with the ball.
Coaches must insist that perimeter players look to get the ball inside to the post.
The reason many teams do not have adequate big back-to-the-basket players is they are harder to find. Many coaches don’t seem to want to take time to find an unschooled big man and take time to develop him.
As a high school coach I always wanted to develop a big first as you can’t grow height, but you can sure coach it properly. Then I wanted a point guard. They are easier to develop because size is not a factor to find one.
To win championships at any level it certainly favors a team with a good inside-outside game and that takes an effective big back-to-the-basket post player.
For further proof, watch Monday night’s championship game between Duke and Wisconsin.
Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: What college team won both the NIT and the NCAA tourneys in the same season? CCNY (City College of New York) in 1950. Former Bangor High School basketball star Bob Simpson (1949-51) was the first to answer the question correctly.