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Hoopin’ it up

Last time I played here in Dallas was almost a month ago. I played really well that day, but my outside shot was hurting and I ran out of gas after about the third game. Today was a lot different, but I mostly played better. Last time I played, we played about 5 games and I finished the day 0-fer from the 3-point line. One thing that contributed to my abysmal 3-point performance was that once of my own teammates was counting (sort of) every time I missed a 3. First, he would moan that I was shooting, then when I missed, he’d add another one to a number that he basically made up (by his count, I missed about 15 3-pointers, but I and my friend only remembered me taking maybe 6; I don’t shoot a lot of I’m not hitting and I can make good passes).

That was all a setup for this: Guess who was guarding me for most of today? That’s right, my good friend with a knack for ficticious counting! And guess who freakin’ lit it up from the 3-point line? Right again! I did, and mostly over this guy. The first couple games we played, he wasn’t guarding me, but he was on the other team. Every time I caught the ball at the 3-point line, he’d encourage his teammates to let me shoot: “Oh yeah! That’s what we wan…”, but then I’d drain it. This happened 3 or 4 times before he stopped encouraging me to score. What I never figured out (and this goes for the rest of the games we played, too) was that no one ever really closed-out on me at the arc. I mean, all in all, I probably hit (conservatively) 7 or 8 3’s today. I did have one blocked (by my counter friend), but that just wised me and my team up to the fact that I was taking too long to load up before I shot. He didn’t get any more blocks and I realized that he was so eager to block me (when he did come outside) that I could head-fake and go in for the easy 10-footer.

Anyway, when the counter was guarding me, I really caught on fire: I had several 3’s (all long-range), a few mid-range jumpers and some good fastbreak points on him. In fact, I had at least 1, maybe 2 game-winners over him. He wasn’t encouraging me to shoot anymore by the time we were done. I think in 6 games, I had at least 2, maybe 3 game-winners. So, that’s the good.

The bad: My defense was sort of weak, but that was mostly because of mismatches. In most of the games I played, I was guarding a guy who was significantly bigger than me and always wanted to post up. I can play decent post defense, but it’s tough when the guy’s got 20 to 30 pounds on me and at least 3 or 4 inches. The good news was that my team was doing a great job with help defense and they were talking me through exactly where they wanted me: “Front him now, I got your back” or “You take his back, I got the front.”

The ugly: This ain’t really for me so much as some of the other dudes I played with today… There was some of the most sissy foul-calls I’ve ever seen. These are a couple that I was either in the play or standing close enough to see what actually happened: Once, I was guarding a guy who plays very physically, but also likes to call “ghost fouls” to bail himself out sometimes. He takes forever to set up for a jumper, so when I see it comin’, I can get my hand up and cause him to change his shot almost every time. Once, he shot it and, after the ball was well gone and the follow-through had ended, my finger tapped is elbow… he called foul and no one could believe it. The play was practically over and he had just shot an awful shot. Second, my friend–the counter–tried a crossover and tripped himself up. His defender was backing away and never touched the guy. I picked up the ball (which he’d unsuccessfully tried to recover), went the other way and had an assist on the fastbreak. Well, the counter decides–well after the ball is gone and we’re about to score–that he, in fact, was fouled on the play. I mean, people have already started walking back to get the ball, so they could inbound at the other end and everything. Anyway, they somehow ended up with the ball after the counter made a 3-pointer (see my last basketball post on the silly methods of conflict resolution they use out here).

So, all in all, I had a great day on the floor. That’s encouraging since our league starts up in a little over a month and I want to be ready to go when it does. My ankle is doing really well and I haven’t had any trouble with it in several weeks. Unfortunately, I have a heel spur (there’s some fancy-pants medical name for it that starts with “plantar fasc…”) that I’m nursing, but I’m thinking it’ll be good to go by the time we start playing in about 5 weeks.

I think this is officially the longest post I’ve written on playing basketball. I’m even boring myself this time.

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