My “Pet” pet peeve

The Tank

“Pressing when you are up by 23 points, really?”

That earned me a trip back to the bench and a stern lecture from my coach after the game. But the fact of the matter is, I meant what I said, and thus was born my biggest pet peeve: basketball teams pressing late in games when the outcome has already been decided.

Having covered hoops for a while, you see it at least once each year and it just blows my mind. I honestly shake when I see it happen, and I still have not learned how to keep my mouth shut about it, whether its covering a varsity basketball game or watching the JV or modified game taking place before my assignment.

I do understand that it happens more frequently in varsity, and I am a proponent of when you get to playoffs, it’s about winning. But pressing when a game is decided at any level just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially the instructional levels (biddy and modified).

Having coached youth levels in basketball, I feel that pressing with the game in hand teaches nothing that I want one of my players learning during the years where the goal is to develop skills. Everything that you needed to prove about being the better team has already been done. There is no more statement that needs to be made. No “learning” is going to happen. Your making a team that already feels defeated feel even worse and, honestly, your team is learning that winning at all costs trumps sportsmanship.

In local modified, you can only press in the final two minutes of the game. Ironically, another pet peeve of mine is this rule — you should be able to press from the beginning of the game. It leads to a situation where a team who has definitely proven their superiority without pressing and then does it because they can, even though the game is decided. Again, there’s no “learning” in that for either team.

I know there are other coaches, some I respect, that see this differently. All I know is, when I see it happen, it just sends chills up and down my spine.

So please, if you’re up big late, call the dogs off.

Reach the writer at keith@denpubs.com

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