Friday, Mar. 7, 2014
Oh those basketball differences, how they can be diversePosted Thursday, November 1, 2012, at 3:34 PM
Once again the seasons have begun to change.
Not the color of the leaves or anything, but rather the uniforms and equipment.
Yes fans, football is nearly behind us except for the run by the Miners and volleyball has been tucked away into our memory banks.
That means the gyms are ready to come to life for the hoopsters and their followers.
With that in mind, I'd like to reminisce a little bit and give you some perspective on things if you don't mind.
I've had the privilege of covering high school basketball in two states and in two separate and distinct settings.
For those of you who don't know, my professional travels have taken me to a couple of stops in Indiana and one in the south, namely in Clayton and Henry Counties, Ga.
For those of you who are geographically unfamiliar, that's the first county south of Atlanta on I-75.
It includes the cities of Jonesboro, Riverdale, College Park, Lake City, Lovejoy, Morrow and Forest Park.
There's also towns like McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and many others all strung together in the outer limits of the Atlanta Metro area.
With that in mind you must remember that high school basketball is anything but the dominant sport. I would say that likely there is no one dominant sport, but rather several depending on the ethnic background of the neighborhood and the population.
For example in the Asian communities soccer is very popular, while in others football is prevalent, you get the idea.
Anyway to get back on the topic, here in Indiana game night is a ritual for most. First there's the junior varsity game followed by the varsity and with the rare exception, its usually either a boys game or a girls game.
On occasion we've had some boys-girls double dips, but they're still more of a novelty than anything else.
However, when you go to my old coverage area my how things changed and not only at the high school level, but the college as well.
The high school game night featured either a boys or girls junior varsity game to start things off followed by a girls game, then the boys.
Yup, they play on the same night in succession.
The same held true for the NCAA Division II college that I was responsible for covering as well Clayton College and State University.
They would start their game nights with the women's contest followed by the men's.
The second comes in the way the game is played and I may have noted a few differences in columns past, but I figure what the heck there might some who haven't read up.
Without intending to discriminate against the girls, the most significant differences lie in the boys' games, so that's where I'll focus my comments.
Basketball in Indiana is pretty deliberate and for the most part a methodical game. I've always considered high school basketball here to be a contest of strategy, skill in the realm of a chess match-like game.
In the Atlanta metro area it's anything but.
For the most part it's a show of speed, very little passing and a form of school yard basketball with refs that have to work way to hard for the money they make.
For fans it's almost like being at a tennis match on steroids. If you watch one end for very long you'll something.
The ball very rarely stays in one end of the court for more than the time it takes to put up a shot, tip it back in or haul down a rebound and sprint the other way.
Apparently you don't have to enjoy the skills of a great passer for more than a fleeting moment. That's because I don't think I saw more than three passes in a possession in any game I covered.
Most of the passing was done between the 10 second line and the backcourt. Once the basketball crossed the time line it was headed for the hoop regardless of the score.
Just watching the game sometimes made my feet hurt.
The pace usually made for some spectacular dunks or some nice long shots, but for those who enjoy a tactical and well thought out attack -- forget it.
I had a coach down there tell me that while he had a great deal of respect for players from the Midwest and namely Indiana, they couldn't beat a team that played like his did, they were just too quick.
Well, I don't know about the high school, but I did witness a CCSU game against Kennesaw State where the team with the "Indiana" style won.
The coach at KSU was a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle and was from Indiana. So the style he had instituted at KSU was a far cry from the run and gun style that seemed to dominate the area.
For the life of me I can't remember the coach's name, but he proved that slowing things down and slicing and dicing your opposing defense has it's moments.
That moment included as I recall, about an eight- or nine-point win for KSU.
When I asked the high school coach about it later in the year he just chuckled and mumbled something about it being an anomaly and not a constant.
Well, just thought I might pass this along as we sit on the verge of another boring, slow and rather mundane Indiana high school basketball season (wink, wink).
Rick Curl is a sportswriter for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 20. He can also be reached by email at email@example.com.
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