It sounds simple: A guard brings the ball the down the court and passes the ball to a teammate to start the offense.
Of course, that can and does happen. But a lot of the time it doesn’t for a myriad of reasons including defensive pressure and denial, lackadaisical passer and/or receiver, simple timing between passer and receiver and sometimes even sets that don’t offer enough entry options.
Whatever the case, the importance of entering the ball is often taken for granted and overlooked. Before one can solve the problem, one has to first recognize to what extent the problem exists.
A worthwhile exercise for any coach to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s offense is to chart the correlation between how stress free and quickly (in the case of a shot clock) one’s team enters the ball in their half court possessions.
Charting one or more recent games (or last season’s) will graphically tell the story using several criteria from the list below or better yet some of your own. We’ve expressed a number of times that while all analytical thinking can be useful, the best analytical thinking is one’s own and how your own creative advanced stats can especially hone in specific problems you’re having at any time.
Back to entering:
- Evaluate each entry with a letter or number grade as to how quickly and/or stress free the entry is. In the case of a shot clock-record the time of the entry. Of course, a non-entry turnover gets recorded as such.
- Then record the number of points scored for each entry’s possessions. Recording points is one way to look at a possession.
- Whether or not there are points scored on a possession, evaluate the QUALITY of each possession with a grade or number. (Keeping in mind that sometimes you score on bad possessions and very often you DON’T score on good possessions.)
- Whether or not points are scored, evaluate the QUALITY of each shot with a grade or number.
- Then summarize the results of your possessions by the quality or timing of your entry.
- Your chart would look something like the attachment (I showed 5 sample possessions using Entry Quality and 5 using Entry Time off the shot clock.) Either method will clearly reveal trends that you’ll be able to use as teaching tools. The overriding principle is ANY possession can end well (score or good look) BUT possessions that start well have a much better statistical chance to end well.
In today’s offenses the entry pass is not required. With teams going to motion offenses, dribble penetration is much preferred way to start the offense and have players play off the angle of penetration. The ball going to the top of the key and the other players playing off of that is very passe. Guards (as well as today’s forwards and centers) are so adept at reaching the rim and forcing rotation, offenses now use space (the 3 point line), motion and screens to give players the space they need to get to the rim.