As part of my winter basketball routine, every Friday night I travel somewhere in the state to watch a high school game. Last night was no different and took me just 9 miles to the east to Nevada HS. Their opponent were the Hawks of South Hamilton HS.
Being that I work with the SH team in the off-season I’m very familiar with them, the personalities, and their game. What I saw was a big surprise to me for sure.
I knew this was a good, well-coached team with seasoned players, having tasted the State Tournament experience last March. What I didn’t know was how well this team passed the ball. It’s one thing to be unselfish, but it’s another to be unselfish and know exactly when and how to pass the ball to aid a teammate who is open. Getting a team to be this proficient with their passing game takes patience and a commitment in practice to excel in that area. The results can literally break the back and spirit of the opponent’s defenders.
Later I thought about the advantages of being a great passing team. Other than the basic idea of the pass leading to the basket, there are other features. (Note: The Hawks had 18 assists last night which is a sign of superb passing).
- Passing can riddle defenses due to the speed the ball moves around the court. A slow passing, methodical team gives the defense time to adjust defensively. This is not the case with defending a great passing unit because you are constantly moving and reacting to the location of the ball and your man. Things move quickly.
- I noticed a lack of vision by defenders which allowed passes to hit their mark. In several instances it was a second or two of non-vision that allowed the Hawks to thread the needle to a teammate.
- Great passing teams usually are good, crisp cutting teams. The motivation is obvious for players to cut with purpose when away from the ball. Just an inch of separation can be enough to create a catch and score due to a pinpoint pass.
- Spacing and movement is enhanced with good passing. Again, the ball doesn’t stick in the hands of offensive players. The ball is moved quickly, as cutters fill open spots on the floor creating favorable spacing.
- A great pass can kill the spirit of team defense. There were many good and lengthly defensive possessions in the game, only to be shattered by a pass at the right time for a scoring opportunity or lay up. At any level, that hurts!
- Lastly, to me great passing is an indicator of attentive players, solid programs, and excellent coaching. It’s a difficult task due to the timing, cutting, and perfect passing that has to take place which is why I was so impressed. Many college teams struggle to become proficient at moving the ball with precision. When you see a passing display enjoy it, because they don’t come around that often.