Statistics don't always tell the story. Recently I've been reading all the hoopla over Kevin Love's super rebounding feats. He's a tough hombre all right, but his rebounding totals are misleading as are the rebounding totals of most basketball players, from high school to the pros. Here's the way I see it: There are two kinds of defensive rebounds - the ones that are uncontested and the ones that are contested. Why should uncontested rebounds, those that fall into a player's hands or the ones that inside defenders during free- throws usually get for free, two or three times a game. For those easy rebounds, a player should be awarded half a rebound. The player would have to acquire two halves before one full board would be recorded in the stats book.
The contested rebound, one that a player struggles with one or more opponents to control, is the only one worthy of an immediate full recorded rebound. All offensive boards would receive a full recorded rebound because offensive boards have a lot more to do with hustle and positioning than luck. Perhaps you're saying, is this guy serious? You bet I am. It's not Kevin Love I'm thinking of so much as I am about Dwight Howard and an earlier Shaquille O'Neil. Most opponents, once they see Dwight going for the rebound don't even try to contest him. So what kind of an effort is that, considering he can jump effortlessly over tall buildings? While Pau Gasol simply extends his ten foot long arms and voila, he's got the ball. Lot's of effort there.
And how about assists? Could the same criteria apply? So often I see a passer receive an assist for a simple straightforward pass to a standing shooter. For what? I'm not even sure if a dribble-drive through the paint and a kick-out pass to a waiting shooter should be awarded an assist, at least not a full assist. Only those passes that set up a shot that would not have been there otherwise should be awarded a full assist. All the rest should be awarded a half.
Now that I'm on a roll, I also believe that the NBA should adopt the European slanted lanes for the key. Let's force the giant centers and no-talent low-post players to be more mobile and learn some post moves instead of encouraging them to simply back their defenders, most of whom have already established good defensive positions, into the paint with their butts often knocking the hell out of them. OK, OK, I understand the NBA has too much pride to admit the Europeans are right, so I'll settle for more fouls called on those types of low post players.
Here's a fun poem for all of you who played basketball by yourselves on your driveway court.
Air Ball by Peter Sears
Here on the driveway basketball court, I loft
a soft jumper: good arc, nice back-spin, but
it falls short, touching nothing. Air ball lands
on the end of the gutter pipe, caroms into
the street, and rolls down the hill. Nuts!
I go get it and dribble on back, imagining
the seconds ticking down - 10,9,8 - I'm
struggling to pick my man off - 7,6,5 -
finally, daylight! - 3.2.1 - hoist! Up goes
the shot, just in time. It clangs the back
of the rim. I'll try again -6,5,4, - I take
my man off the dribble, break clear, lift
a running onehander, in and out. But refs reset
the time clock. 5 seconds. I look my defender
in the eyes and go straight up over him.
The shot doesn't reach the rim. One bounce
and the ball is arcing out-of-bounds. I leap
for it, teeter on the out-of-bounds line.
The pricker bush won't hold me up. I topple
into the bush. A whistle! Maybe I was pushed
out. Refs are putting a few seconds back
on the clock. I pull prickers from my shooting
hand. After the time-out I'll probably be
double-teamed. that's O.K. There'll be time.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.