Anything I write that has to do with writing will be in From Pico's Pen, my author's blog. Everything that doesn't fit any of the sites I write on will be here. This is my practice. I could have kept it private and farmed out the good stuff but I found my readers like too much of it to do that. It isn't a diary because there are things I keep to myself but you can learn a great deal about me from the randomness you will find here.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Basketball Player: Unorthodox, Short Winded, Canadian

Courtesy Pixabay

Three strikes, you're out! I thought it would be kind of fun to write an analysis of myself as a basketball player during my college days. In some ways the title says it all. I think I had a pretty good idea of my strengths and weaknesses. Maybe some of my former teammates will read this and disagree but this might make a fun discussion.


My offensive game through almost the entirety of my college stay was back to the basket in the low post. Against smaller opponents, I used a spin around jump shot to great effect. I could spin either direction. Similar size players with good leaping ability could block that though. Against someone like my teammate Donald Campbell that move was almost useless. There were other moves I could fall back on. I could pivot and face an opponent and let fly with a hesitation set shot that was all wrist. It was hard to block because it was very difficult to know when I would let go of it. I was accurate within fifteen feet of the basket. Complimenting that was a fake that would allow me to go under my opponents arm. I could score off that provided one of the opposing team players didn't help my man out. Last off I had a reliable/unreliable hook shot. When that was on the mark I was an offensive one on one match for anyone. Unfortunately it did at times desert me.

Outside of the post I did have an effective outside shot clear out to the three point line. I was taught all through high school that as a big man I did not have the green light to shoot those. That carried over to my college thinking. The only three pointers I ever took were in the waning minutes of games in which we were playing catch up. The concept of a three point shooting big man hadn't come of age yet, but I am glad Alan Dance the coach let me prove I could do it my sophomore year.

Last move of note was my favorite one on one playground move. I liked to get the ball on a short wing on the left side and roll into the key with a right-handed hook shot. Used it to impressive effect in pick up matches but it rarely came up in a real game. I didn't play that position. Only came up once on some kind of defensive mix up. Somehow I ended up in that spot with Donald's younger brother Earl guarding me. He was not my usual man and I rolled it in on him beautifully.


My weaknesses as a player were a great deal more evident on the defensive end of the court. I had some lateral movement problems, which I did my darnedest to conceal. Any player who could handle the ball well could get past me. I only stayed with people second guessing what they were trying to do. A player didn't have to catch me going the wrong way, they just had to catch me not moving the right direction fast enough.

I did somethings very well though. I'm Canadian and I know how to zone defense even in man to man coverage. In “B” division ball nobody scored a reverse layup driving baseline, while I was on the court. I was also quite adept at screwing up offensive timing by getting in the way.

My biggest weakness can summed up with one word: Asthma. Americans like to turn their basketball games into track meets and with that kind of tempo in Los Angeles air you may as well park me on the bench. I can run and plenty fast. I just can't keep doing it. This was also my biggest college secret. I knew I was asthmatic, but it was not officially diagnosed at the time. Had that shown on my application I suspect I would not have been accepted at all. I should have been found out in jogging and conditioning class. My results clearly pointed in that direction. Mr. Petty even commented on my weird graphs but never put it together. Years later I discussed this with my family doctor and she confirmed that my results should have given me away.

In “A” division ball most of my shortcomings were well concealed by my team mates. Who wants to break past me so that Donald or Paulbo could ram the ball down their throats when they got to the basket. They were far better rebounders than me so my real concentration was to just make sure my man wasn't the guy who got the ball. Because we had a short bench, we slowed the game down to a tempo I could handle. I had a very good year that season. A lot of players had sub par outings against me and probably didn't know why.

I'm not as weak a defender as some people might have thought. I'll illustrate this by highlighting one outing. We had a game against the faculty. My opponent for the night was Mr. Jim Petty, head of the physical education department. I heard he had played pro ball at one time, but I was never able to confirm that. He was crafty and averaged twenty points a night. He had his absolute worst game of the season against me and it's because I don't play defense like an American. He did not physically over match me. His game relied on losing his man. If you took your eyes off this guy for a split second he was gone and while you were busy looking for him he'd be on the other side of the basket scoring a layup. I'm Canadian and zone defense in those days got drilled into our brains, not only that we were taught if you lose your man don't look for him go straight to the basket. If you don't meet him there you probably have nothing to worry about. I don't think even he understood why he couldn't lose me long enough to get those easy buckets. After all I wasn't considered fast enough to cover him that well - I gloat to this day.

Courtesy Pixabay