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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sit On Your Couch, Improve Your Hoops Game

As your basketball season ramps up, you have a chance to get better by…. Sitting on your couch!

Not conventional advice, but if you happen to take in an NCAA basketball game, there is lots you can learn by watching college kids that can translate into your game.

Odds are that you don’t have the inside game of North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough nor the shooting ability of Davidson’s Stephen Curry (if you do, you may want to call up the local coach), but there is lots to learn from watching their games.

More so in college than the pros, you can see pure basketball fundamentals. College hoopsters aren’t yet millionaire athletes who do their own thing and think they are bigger than the game. They are generally a bunch of grounded, attentive young men and women who will be benched for under performance, or not following the rules their coach laid out.

So next time you watch your local or favorite (Go Mizzou!) college hoops program pay attention to the following fundamentals.

1. Box out – Get back to basics and box the guy you are guarding out. If he cannot get to the ball, and you can, you win. Don’t be afraid of contact, contrary to popular belief, basketball is a contact sports, so make sure your opponent cannot get to the ball.

2. Make the extra pass – Always be on the look out for your teammates. You might be have a slight opening to take a 3, but quickly look inside for your big man, who may be wide open for an easy lay up. Likewise, if you have been hitting shots all night, other defenders may collapse on you, leaving a guy open at the top of the key for a wide open J.

3. Pump fake – A simple pump fake will get your defender off the balls of his feet and will give you an opportunity to skate around him and either drive the lane or punch the ball out to an open teammate whose defender had to collapse to help on you.

4. Play tight D – In college you will see tight D the entire game (as opposed to only the final 3 minutes of a pro game). Lots of recreational basketball games are decided by 10 points or less, if you have stopped your opponents on multiple occasions with your stringent D then you have a better chance of winning than losing.

5. Look inside – There is a reason that big men lead the country in field-goal percentage each year, and that is because a 2 foot shot is easier to make than an 18 footer. If you can get the ball inside, either to one of your bigs, or a cutting guard, then you will have a better chance of making your shot.

6. Free throws – Games are won and lost at the free throw line. If you can hit 75% of your shots (not a terribly difficult task, unless you are Shaq) then you are in a good boat to win your game. If you hit the gym to shoot around, make sure to leave enough time to practice free throw shooting at the end of your shoot-around.

Basketball is not always just about who can jump the highest or run the fastest. If you go back to the fundamentals that you see each night in the college game, you will put your team in a position to win.

If you pay attention to other things while watching an college game, tell us about them in the comments section.

Keep sporting!

- Who’s In First

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