After watching high school basketball games this season in person and online, I’ve seen enough bricks — shots that bounce far off the rim — to build a patio with a fireplace.
My initial thought was scoring is down and this was reinforced after looking at high school boys and girls scores of Jan. 9 and 11. Could all of these low scores mean ball control-offenses had returned?
Twenty-four of 38 games played (63.2 percent) had fewer than 40 points scored by losing teams. Thirteen of those games were girls and 11 were boys. One game’s loser was in the teens, nine were in the 20’s and 14 in the 30’s.
After making a few calls, I discovered ball or tempo control was not the reason for the low scores. Teams are trying to score, but the way they are shooting the ball so quickly and poorly means they could play with a 15-second shot clock and not worry about shot-clock violations.
The first reason for the low scores is just plain poor shooting, which is caused by poor shot selection, not being patient on offense, launching too many quick 3-pointers, forcing shots and rushing shots.
Too many of today’s coaches have a tendency to put up with more poor shot selection. A poor shot in my coaching days was often followed by a substitution on the next dead ball.
The second reason for the low scores is turnovers, which limit field-goal attempts. Turnovers many times are just the result of poor basketball decisions because of low basketball IQs.
The third reason for the low scores is poor fundamental shooting habits and techniques. Too many coaches put up with this and don’t seek to improve individual shooting skills. It may be the coaches need some lessons to improve their skills and then help their players improve.
In my coaching days, if a player could not shoot 70 percent from the foul line, we changed his technique so he would improve. Games are won or lost at the charity stripe.
We worked on shooting skills to improve all of our shooting percentages for 2- and 3-pointers and foul shots.
Today, most players just play and don’t work on their shooting on their own enough. Instead, they should realize that correct repetitions build skills.
People will say basketball times have changed, but I don’t agree. I argue it’s the way people coach and play the game that have changed. The basket is still 18 inches in diameter, 10 feet from the floor and the ball is still 9 or 8 1/2 inches in diameter.
Shooting skills can be improved with the right instruction.
The most common shooting errors are: Both feet not squared to the basket, the ball not resting on a complete palm, not enough leg depth, aiming for the wrong target, releasing the ball before or after the legs are straight, and poor follow-through.
Today’s teams have distinct advantages over past teams with the 3-point shot and the clock stopping on every whistle instead of only stopping on fouls, timeouts and jump balls. They now shoot at breakaway rims, which have more give to them than the old bolted-on rims.
These shooting advantages should increase scoring, but that’s not the case.
The old cliche of “good shooters are born, not made” is a misnomer. Correct techniques can be taught if players want to take the time to learn and practice them.