Hey kids - finish what you start!
For the past too many years watching hundreds of high school basketball games, I canít comprehend how and why so many players miss easy close-in shots and too often canít even make a lay-up or a put-back.
Boys, girls, it doesnít matter. The chart in my head tells me the odds of a miss of those easiest shots in the game are much greater than a make. No doubt about it. Watch the games. Watch the film.
The practice and pre-game lay-up line is not only a good warm-up routine, it was designed to force players to focus on finishing a shot. Too many kids today view the lay-up line as silly and a time to show off, and basically go through the drill more focused on some meaningless dipsy-doodles trying to impress their parents, boyfriends or girlfriends, or tugging on their uniforms or decorative, attention-seeking spandex sleeves or leggings.
Iíll put it in Rap terms so maybe the kids will get it: Iím lookiní fine and you butts on the pine see me rise and shine and wine and dine like a stop and go sign cuz my mind donít bind if Iím nasty or kind itís mine all mine Iím a Glock Carbine in this freakiní lay-up line!
The real downside here is to watch a player dribble like a Globetrotter, juke a defender, cut and weave through the crowded lane, and then blow the bunny shot. It happens ALL the time! They did the hardest part and blew the easiest. And itís all because they either havenít been coached on sinking the bunnies, or donít take seriously any related drills in practice or pre-game.
And donít even get me started on players working on developing their off hand. Itís quite evident very few do. But it makes all the difference in close for bunnies, put-backs, and lay-ups. Boys and girls, guess the best place is to work on that stuff? The lay-up line!
When I played, that lay-up line meant something. Our coaches monitored it in practice and in pre-game and halftime warm-ups. If any one of us jacked around or worried more about our hair or sock height, we got chewed out and our behind was on the pine just like that.
Iíll never forget the night my mighty 13-2 Storm Lake St. Maryís Panthers played an out-manned team. A student teacher-coach from Buena Vista College brought a can of stick-em in the medicine kit in the locker room before the game. A couple of us big-time starters smeared it on our hands so we could better palm the ball and we tried to dunk during the lay-up line. We had a wee old time showing off for the fans. But when coach announced the starting line-up in the locker room before the game, we ďdunkersĒ werenít in it.
ďYou act like fools, you play like fools,Ē said an angry coach. ďEvery drill means something. If making lay-ups donít mean anything to you, what else doesnít? Weíll play without you.Ē
I sat head down, crushed and bleary-eyed with a towel trying to rub that #@#$%^ stick-em off my hands. I sat the whole first quarter in one of our few remaining games my senior season. When coach put me in to start the second quarter I played as hard as I ever had and lit Ďem up and we won the game.
But what we really won was a hard lesson learned.
I havenít missed a lay-up since.
With either hand.