Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Quick Thought

Don't we all have those coach thoughts? Not tactical adjustments, but the big, overarching themes we'd like to tell some coaches so they don't keep screwing up what seems like an easy job?

I do.

One of them goes something like this. If you're in the playoffs, and matched up against a team who has roughly the same "level" - that is, they're not CLEARLY better or worse than you - you can win by taking advantage of their weaknesses.

Doesn't that seem like the easiest thing ever?

But some coaches don't do it, and try to bull their way into victories with the same strategy that got them there - a kind of "Damn the torpedoes!" approach that rarely leads to great results against similarly-matched teams.

Worse, some coaches do what Dan Bylsma did against the Bruins, and try to beat the opponent at their own game. In a playoff series, this is a recipe for disaster. Maybe the Penguins could have outmuscled the Bruins in a meaningless game in February in Pittsburgh, but there was absolutely ZERO chance that the B's, in this postseason, were going to lose to a team who tried to out-tough them. Because, quite frankly, you can't out-tough them.

The Pens should have played their game - speed, skill, and silky passing - and endured the Bruins bruising style. Their snipers would have been able to put a few more goals on the board if they weren't constantly racing to backcheck after another failed dump, chase, and squash against the boards.

A GREAT example of how to do this comes from the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. From Grantland: "The Spurs have rebounded 30.5 percent of their own misses in this series. That would have ranked fourth overall for the season. The Spurs ranked 29th during the year, and they almost take pride in minimizing the importance of crashing the offensive glass." 

The Spurs are not a great offensive rebounding team. HOWEVER, they found a weakness in the Heat, namely that they are lazy and undedicated basketball players who refuse to box out, and are exploiting it to their advantage. 

Go Spurs, and go Bruins. 

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