Monday, March 9, 2009

Australia's PG Dilemma

Will we ever see another pass first PG like Phil Symthe?

From my last post somehow the comments section become a venue for people to discuss the point guard situation of Australia, so I'll discuss a few of the points that have been raised.

First, Eric wanted to know why our leading PG CJ Bruton can only register five and a half assists per game.

Well Eric the days of a traditional pass first PG's are few and far between which will have a drastic effect on assist numbers from this position.

There is no doubting the CJ is still Australia's best answer at this position but I'm not sure where he stands as far as the national team goes.

Is he a pass first point guard?

This is a tough one to answer because he has the ability to score the ball so well. This is proven on an almost nightly basis in the NBL when he takes over the fourth quarter. There is no doubting CJ is thinking score first but he does have the feel and understanding of the game to create opportunities for others. Hell, he was only on of four players to average better than 5 assists per game this year, so he wasn't too bad.

Here is what I feel has had the biggest impact on this stat within the league. The average basketball players skill level in the NBL from the 1980's and early 90's has lifted remarkably.

You think back to the days of Phil Smythe and Gordie McLeod at the point guard spot. These guys were as rare as hen's teeth. The point guard role was dominated (and still is to a point) by imports. Of the top of your head, name another ten Aussie players of that era that dazzled you with their ballhandling. (Scott Ninnis' right hand coast to coast does not count!)

As for today's player, some teams can have three or four guys that can grab a rebound and start the fastbreak.

With better ballhandlers per team, this allows more creativity amongst the team, and your assist leader's total will be a little lower.

An example here is the West Sydney team I played on back in 2004. Both Sam MacKinnon and myself averaged over 5/game, while we had Aaron Trahair, Simon Dwight and Scott MacGregor all having the ability to create for others.

We did not need a dominate ballhandler as we had a squad that had versatility in this area. It was this trait that made us a tough outfit to defend.

I honestly believe the days of seeing someone average 10 assists (it has been done by only three guys; Darryl McDonald (3), Derek Rucker (1) and Gordie McLeod (1) in a NBL season is long gone.

Here is a little evidence to support my statement.

I recently had a very good discussion with AIS coach Marty Clarke. In the discussion we talked about the type of player that gets recruited these days at the junior level.

First, coaches are looking for length and athleticism. Skills that cannot be coached are priority. My argument to this is, we have no specialist players these days and everyone plays with the same skill set. Talk about Groundhog Day and no ability for a team to change their style on the fly.

This leads me to my last rant of the night and in line with what readers were commenting on.

When we go to play at an international competition (WC's or Olympics) we certainly do not have the depth at the PG spot like some power teams do.

I tend to look at it a little differently, though.

I never doubt the skill of these players who fill these positions, they are just not the norm when comparing to other international PG's.

Who's to blame or how do we fix that can be debated until the cows come home.

Where I feel we let ourselves down is we worry way too much about what we don't have instead of maximizing what we have. You can only go with what you have once you get to a tourney, so make the most of it.

As one reader wrote, we play run and gun in the NBL, then we try and play a different style when we play against the rest of the world.

Why don't we run and gun I say? For any team to win a medal you need to find a style that suits your team makeup and you need a little luck along the way. Remember, there is very little that separates most of these great teams from around the world

As the saying goes, a leopard never changes his spots so why do we continue to change our style once we leave our shores?

We need to dare to be different. That is what the Europeans did. They figured out if they wanted to compete with the USA, they needed to create a style of their own. Low and behold, they ended up beating them and making the USA rethink their team structure.

If Australia is to ever become a power on the international stage, we need to step outside the box instead of travelling down the same road.


Anonymous said...

is this post a lead up to a Brett Brown new Australian Head Coach post in the near future

mookie said...

That photo is first class!!

Eric said...

Yeah, To hell with the Phil Smyth retro jerseys, where can we get those shorts.....

BTW JR, thanks for addressing this. I don't necessarily know if basketball is going in the right direction looking for raw athletes, ahead of skills but this is an old debate that has been rehashed many times across many different codes.

I can't recall many Aussie born NBL-ers ever that have "dazzled me" with their ball handling, but players like Darren Perry and Wayne Larkins who were primary ball carriers seems to have largely gone from the game now.

Eric said...

Quick addendum:

Did Derek Rucker really average 10 per game? It says here that he only got 7 on the NBL website, which means actually only 2 have ever done it.

Anonymous said...

well said JR - signed Homicide

Peter said...

Rucker may have averaged 10 in one season when D-Mac got league leader, otherwise he certainly didn't do it when he led the league according to those stats.

Peter said...

Also thought I would post my complete agreement with the currently mentality surrounding the players in the game at the moment. The most successful team I had was run by an exceptional point guard who was not flashy, not an amazing 3 point shooter and in no way was he an amazing athlete. What he was though was an extremely passionate, hard working player who thought completely about getting the game won and worked really hard defensively while focusing on getting the ball into offense on the other end. He would frequently score less than 5 points but was easily one of the best players I had play for me (in NSW State League).

Anonymous said...

The real question should be...
Who is a better looking bald man...Phil Smyth of John Rillie?

Anonymous said...

Its Gordie "McCloud", not MACloud.

DJ Dudd said...

JR wishes he was on the Boomers team. LMAO.

Yeah its McCloud.

Mite something to say about it in the next Basketball Video Show, "The .T.O." when it gets uploaded 2morrow on youtube.

Also the T.O.'S end of year awards are announced. I think DJ Rod wins something.

Anonymous said...

duddy mc dudd dud,

Even though you are using JR's SUCCESSFUL site as a way of publicizing your own show or whatever it is (CHEAT) - theres a problem, you and your show has no talent or potential, therefore your "show" aint going to catch on.

However, your music career looks like its on the rise.........