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View Full Version : Pacers coaching staff strategy....How to best use Harrison?



thunderbird1245
10-01-2006, 01:02 PM
Last week I posted on some better ways the Pacers coaching staff can use Sarunas. Now, I wanted to talk about some of the strategic things I think Rick Carlisle might do to get the most out of David Harrison this season.

First of all, let me say that I am a fan of Harrison's game and skills, so I look at him in a mostly positive way. While I realize he has some obvious weaknesses too, I think if used properly, Harrison can be a very big part of our success this season. Here are some things I think we can do to maximize his talents:

1. We need to play David in longer stretches, and regular minutes. My recommendation if asked would be to every game, enter Harrison at the beginning of the second quarter and play him the entire 12 minutes, regardless of foul trouble. Big men often need time in a game to develop a rhythm, and Harrison's own foul trouble has been a complex problem RC has had a hard time solving. I think its now time to make a commitment to use Harrison in a much more prominent, regular role. In the second half obvioulsy you have to play it by ear on playing time for everyone, but Id expect him to approximatly 10 minutes or so in the second half as well on average.

2. When Harrison is in, run plays for him regularly, and make sure he gets touches and doesnt get lost offensively. This takes some managing both from the coaching staff and from the point guard playing with him....to keep a big man involved and playing well and harder, its important to feed him the ball when possible. Harrison will most likely not be double teamed, so he will have an advantage most times I think offensively against an opponents second team center.

3. Use him as a screener more. David is huge, and the Pacers lack good screeners in general. Harrison can really help our offense even if he isnt scoring by getting others open better. I like the idea as Ive said before of using Harrison in ballscreen situations, in "big on small/ small on big" screen situations away from the ball, and also very importantly, he needs to be able to SCREEN FOR HARRINGTON AND JO IN THE PAINT. I dont want to see JO as often have to fight for position to get open on the block, Id like him to be leaner, and be used as a quick cutter off of a Harrison screen....and the same goes for Harrington.

4. Along with the number 3, Harrison needs to be able to roll to the ball after screening and hit the open 15 ft high post jumper. I believe in Harrisons ability to make this shot....and if we play this way Im sure teams will make him prove he can make it. IF IF IF IF IF we can establish Harrison making this shot, then we gain a huge tactical advantage to do the next key on my list.

5. Use Harrison more as a post feeder. I love the high low possibilities of using David at the high post, and feeding either Harrington or JO on the low blocks. Again, I am projecting Harrisons skill in this, as he really hasnt proven it to me, but I think he can do this well if asked to do so. I will really be interested to see if we use him this way, because I currently see feeding the post as a big overall team weakness.

6. Harrison can play defense against the opponents best post threat, keeping JO and Harrington out of foul trouble and free to roam and do other things defensively. Yes, id expect Harrison to get in some foul trouble....but so what? Id let him play thru it in that second quarter, even after he picks 2 fouls, or even 3....you know if you are the Pacers roughly when he is going to play and how many minutes, he just needs to play thru it. If he gets 4 fouls even in a second quarter....so what? I think him knowing his role as essentially a "second quarter starter" every night, will help him especially if he knows he doesnt have to worry about being replaced in that quarter.

7. We can use Harrison as a "trailer" on early offensive structures. If the Pacers truly intend to run more, that means they will likely try and post up JO or Harrington very quickly on the low box before the defense is set...if that doesnt work, one key way to play and reverse the basketball to the other side is to hit your center around the key area with the ball, and use him to pass the ball to the opposite side. For you college fans, think of how North Carolina plays.....in the pro game, Larry Brown and George Karl have often used "early" offense or a "secondary break" in using their respective centers this way.....when Brown was here, he sometimes used this, but because Smits was so clumsy, he had to structure things to where Dale Davis was the trailer....I believe we can play offense this way and that Harrison would be very good at it.

8. We've got to teach David to better throw the outlet pass....the 2 handed overhead outlet pass is often the key beginning to being able to break. So far he hasnt shown this skill, but its one he should be able to have the physical attributes to master.

9. We need to figure out who Harrison seems to mesh the best with both at the point guard and wing spots for screen/roll spots (Like most, I think Sarunas and he work well together), and who to pair him inside with the best ( I predict this is likely to be Harrington, but Im not sure). The one great thing I like about Harrison is that I do believe his skills translate and mesh well to our other post players in general. Harrison/Foster, Harrison/JO, and Harrison/Harrington are all combos that I think can have some success playing together.

10. Use our "jumbo" lineup and have success with it. I may be the only fan who necessarily isnt as excited about this "going small" idea. While I understand the reasoning, Im more in favor, at least at times, with trying to be more physical, bigger, and stronger than the teams we play, and we should be trying to make teams match up with us rather than the other way around. One way I think we can really play is to just be the meanest, most physical, strongest team in the league. I like the "jumbo" lineup of Harrison, JO, Harrington, Granger, and Tinsley. I love the ability for us to have a size and strength advantage at every spot on the floor using that group. Time will tell if that grouping is used and if so how it looks together, but I like the idea of making the opponent tremble with our physicality.

11. Going with number 10, we will need to play some zone with Harrison in there. He can anchor our post defense for a few minutes at a time, and enable our bigger, rangiest defender (JO), be able to contest more perimeter type shots....or even play the top of the zone if we'd play my recommended 3-2......but thats another thread topic ive already covered.

12. Harrison has to play with a positive and enthusiastic energy, and not be griping at officials and getting down. I think RC has to really brag about Harrison publically, because I view him as a guy who needs alot of positive reinforcement to play well. It needs to be a constant focus of our staff and veteran leaders (Armstrong, Harrington, etc) to be really diligent in monitoring this kid and keeping his head on straight. If I were in charge of the Pacers, one harmless thing I think they can do to help the kid mentally is to list him on our All Star ballot as our nominee for Center.......obviously he wont make the team or even start for us, but its that type stuff that I think might help a kid like Harrison. RC, Bird, and Walsh need in my judgment to talk him up publically as much as they can at all times...I think a little "sugar" and sweetener might really help David's development for this season.


Ok fans, any other strategic or mental things we think the Pacers should try to get the maximum amount of production and effort out of Harrison? Any disagreements on anything I wrote today? Lets see if we cant figure out the best way to use this big guy help us win as much as we all hope we do this season.

indyman37
10-01-2006, 02:37 PM
lineup of Harrison, JO, Harrington, Granger, and Tinsley.

I really like the small lineup of Granger/Al/JO but I would love this bigger lineup.

BlueNGold
10-01-2006, 02:41 PM
I really like the idea of DH being at the high post. He can already hit the mid range shot at a good percentage. It keeps him out of foul trouble (or at least lessens it). It opens up the post for JO and Al (ie. reduces double teams), who happened to have better post skills than DH. It stretches the interior defense allowing more openings for our mid range game and drives to the bucket. This should benefit Quis, Granger and White.

Not saying DH should never post up. The idea is to post up either Al or DH depending on matchups. Fortunately, both of them, including JO, can hit the mid range shot. In contrast, when Foster is in there, his defender is an "extra" who can jam up the middle and double the post resulting in offensive fouls and turnovers. Foster should take the bench and let DH develop his game.

EDIT: Also, someone large will have to guard DH. This might reduce the pounding JO receives. Maybe the other team doesn't have two players who can adequately defend them at the same time in the post. It might get more of their players in foul trouble. DH is athletic enough to run with smaller players, so the mismatch should be more to our favor.

Unclebuck
10-01-2006, 04:03 PM
I hope DH has a really good season, I'm not going to say anything else, I'm trying to give each and every Pacers player a clean slate entering the new season.

pizza guy
10-01-2006, 05:01 PM
Tbird, those are wonderful ideas. I like the idea of putting Hulk in the high post, for shots and passing. I'm a big Hulk fan, and hope he has his best season yet.

Like your last point says, it all pends on his attitude. If he makes his emotion a positive emotion, he is a real force. Hopefully, the change in atmosphere around here helps in that regard.

thunderbird1245
10-01-2006, 06:00 PM
Bluengold: The benefit of the mismatches created by having Harrison on the floor can't be underestimated, I agree. By making the opponent guard JO with a smaller player, it does enable him to avoid at least some of the physical pounding he is subjected to, and hopefully the total effect of that as it adds up over the course of the season keeps JO healthier and fresher at the end of the year. I'd really really like to limit JO's minutes to around 32 or so this year if possible.

There is also the mental effect that JO seems to be more comfortable with a bigger player playing beside him. I toyed with the idea of recommending starting Harrison even, but didnt like the risk of him picking up quick fouls, having to come out, and destroying our rotations and game plan. I want Harrison to be able to play long continuous stretches, so his strength and size advantages can help wear down the opponent guarding him.....I decided the best way to create that each night would be to start him every night in the second quarter, so thats what Id do....and I wouldnt enter him into the game until that point. If JO or Harrington or someone else gets in foul trouble or is injured, thats the time I'd use Foster I think early in the game.

For those of you worried about it, if I had my way Fosters minutes would be drastically cut to under 15 minutes per game....and if everything worked out in my masterplan he'd even have some DNP-CD's next to his name, but thats just me.

Sticking with Harrison, I love his potential used in this manner, and think he can be a guy who can provide our second unit with scoring punch, and even can play big minutes for us in the 4th quarters some nights.

JMO

Pacesetter
10-01-2006, 06:22 PM
Harrison just needs to act like an adult. If he does that his game will fall into place.

pizza guy
10-01-2006, 06:22 PM
I'd like to see Hulk and JO play next to each other, I think they'd work very well together. But, with Al and Danny likely starting next to JO, Hulk is more likely to get more minutes with the second unit.

Which is fine with me because his best play last year seemed to come with Sarunas at PG. I'd even like to see Foster in at PF (where I feel he should be anyways) with Hulk at C. I think they compliment each other very well; and playing with Sarunas and Quis who appear to compliment each other as well it would be a very cohesive unit.

BlueNGold
10-01-2006, 07:03 PM
I toyed with the idea of recommending starting Harrison even, but didnt like the risk of him picking up quick fouls, having to come out, and destroying our rotations and game plan.

I am a huge DH fan, but I knew there was something about DH starting that bothered me. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Yes, this would disrupt the rotations, which are crucial to the team's success. DH has not proven to be reliable at all.

Now, if he ever becomes able to avoid fouls and control his emotions, a case for him starting suddenly gets very strong. I think he improved a little bit last year in defensive positioning and rebounding, so there is hope. I hope getting rid of Artest, putting a leash on Jack and more maturity on the club in general will help David mature as well.

I remain optimistic on DH.

Jose Slaughter
10-02-2006, 01:01 AM
thunderbird

This is taken from point #1 above...

My recommendation if asked would be to every game, enter Harrison at the beginning of the second quarter and play him the entire 12 minutes, regardless of foul trouble.

My question is, if you intend to play him the entire quarter, regardless of foul trouble, why not play him the first quarter instead of the 2nd?

This also relates to #12 where you are trying show him some "positive reinforcement".

Team Indy
10-02-2006, 03:47 AM
Playing in the second quarter would give him more opportunity to dominate against backups. He would be playing against relatively inferior players and be able to see the ball more with the second unit. Arguably he also won't get into as much foul trouble against backups. This would also allow him and Saras to continue their promising tandem play.

Isaac
10-02-2006, 11:23 AM
9. We need to figure out who Harrison seems to mesh the best with both at the point guard and wing spots for screen/roll spots (Like most, I think Sarunas and he work well together), and who to pair him inside with the best ( I predict this is likely to be Harrington, but Im not sure). The one great thing I like about Harrison is that I do believe his skills translate and mesh well to our other post players in general. Harrison/Foster, Harrison/JO, and Harrison/Harrington are all combos that I think can have some success playing together.

This is definitley the best point. I applaud this part.


5. Use Harrison more as a post feeder. I love the high low possibilities of using David at the high post, and feeding either Harrington or JO on the low blocks. Again, I am projecting Harrisons skill in this, as he really hasnt proven it to me, but I think he can do this well if asked to do so. I will really be interested to see if we use him this way, because I currently see feeding the post as a big overall team weakness.

I agree that Harrison should work on the 14-17 foot jumper more, and really establish that, but I just don't really have the faith in his passing skill to use him as a post feeder, but I'm ok with that. I want to teach Hulk to make a living on the low block and become an unstoppable force down there. I don't think we should try and make a primary part of his game something that simply isn't there, that sort of reminds me of JO trying to bulk up and bang. Harrison is a banger, and he should use that to his advantage.

One play I would really like to see would be JO at the extended elbow and Harrison on the low block. Jermaine feeds David and quickly cuts to the hole. JO hands David the ball while screening JO's man off of him. JO will either have an easy dunk or Hulks man will rotate to Jermaine to try and cut off his lane to the basket. If Hulk sees his man rotating to JO he goes hard to the rim and JO dumps it back to him. Hulk will get 2 or go to the line every time. The positive of this play is that teams will have to have guys who are solid post defenders at both the 4 and 5 in order to body up and stop it from materializing.

BillS
10-02-2006, 11:37 AM
For me, Harrison has a bigger issue even than fouls, and that is his ability to make a catch when covered up. His hands have seemed "hard", meaning the ball has to be exactly in the right place or he may fumble it.

Having lacked Tinsley or another extremely skilled into-traffic passer (and, apologies to Saras fans, but Saras often throws WAY too hard) may mean this is not be as big an issue as I have thought, but it is a concern of mine until I see Hulk go through a streak of good ball receipt in a quick-pass situation.

Isaac
10-02-2006, 11:41 AM
Bill, I know what you're saying, but I don't think Sarunas throws way too hard, at least to Harrison. Harrison was a far better player when Sarunas was on the court.

ChicagoJ
10-02-2006, 12:21 PM
All of your points are valid. I don't think this is a coaching issue, though. I think we generally want the same things when JO is in the game playing center.

These are just useful ways to keep your center (be it JO or David) on the court and playing effectively without foul trouble.

In the case of David, he needs his teammates to "buy into" what he's doing. When David plays with the second unit, especially last season, the second-unit chemsitry was just a freakin' disaster. Guys looking for their own shots/opportunites. AJ was not commited (not capable) of feeding the post. Fred Jones had his head down looking to drive.

When you play a legit post player with the second unit, the rest of the second unit must be committed to running the offense into him first. And David (and also JO) must be committed to moving the ball out of the post quickly if they can't get right into one of their preferrred moves.

ChicagoJ
10-02-2006, 12:23 PM
For those of you worried about it, if I had my way Fosters minutes would be drastically cut to under 15 minutes per game....and if everything worked out in my masterplan he'd even have some DNP-CD's next to his name, but thats just me.

You're a smart guy. Don't ever let UncleBuck tell you otherwise. :D

Unclebuck
10-02-2006, 01:44 PM
OK, who got to Thunderbird. Jay was that you.

Seed
10-02-2006, 02:31 PM
Actually, 2 of our front court subs, Harrison & Baston, are a foul waiting to happen. Both need to be guided how to avoid foul trouble.

Putnam
10-02-2006, 05:08 PM
Actually, 2 of our front court subs, Harrison & Baston, are a foul waiting to happen. Both need to be guided how to avoid foul trouble.


At the rate Harrison committed fouls last season, he could stay on the floor for almost 30 minutes before fouling out. Yes, it was very common for him to get into "foul trouble," but he usually sat down for good with only 3-4 fouls.

My point is simply that it is wrong to say, "Harrison can't stay on the floor" because of fouls. He commits too many fouls, but not so many that he cannot give 20 in the rotation. And that is assuming the quality of play he gave last year. Even if he doesn't get any better at defending without fouling, he can be a 20-25 minute per game rotation player.

Do those fouls hurt the team more than the rest of Harrison's game (scoring, setting picks, etc.) helps? Probably not.

ChicagoJ
10-02-2006, 05:27 PM
that's a key point.

Said another way, David was one of the few players in the league that would foul out on two fouls per half or four fouls per game.

If Rick didn't intent to bring him back into the game later, there was no reason to pull him after his second foul of each half. One extra foul per half of a regular season game was not going to cause any permanent damage and might've helped David get beyond this foul-magnet stage that so many young centers go through.

In fact, with a slighly longer leash, we might not have seen some of the same angry outbursts from David, who seemed equally angry at himself, the coach, the officials, and, of course his mortal enemy, the newspaper dispenser back in Boulder. You know, the one that talks smack to him.

Seed
10-02-2006, 05:34 PM
Do those fouls hurt the team more than the rest of Harrison's game (scoring, setting picks, etc.) helps? Probably not.
About the foul picking rate - well, a player with 4-5 fouls is a defensive problem when other teams are going right at him. That's prolly the reason he's taken out, instead of letting him foul himself out of the game.

Thing is with his physical capabilities, he may become a real factor in this league. More than just a 20 min rotation player. I'm not saying his fouling tendency makes him useless, still, with some guidance (and experience) he might turn to be starting material.

Tyrion
10-02-2006, 05:48 PM
Harrison led the league in fouls per minute played last year. He is awful. Unlike Buck, I am not willing to start clean. The best way Harrison can be used is as trade fodder.

Oh, and I think that he was as much a part of the team chemistry issue as anyone on the team.

pizza guy
10-02-2006, 06:21 PM
that's a key point.

Said another way, David was one of the few players in the league that would foul out on two fouls per half or four fouls per game.

If Rick didn't intent to bring him back into the game later, there was no reason to pull him after his second foul of each half. One extra foul per half of a regular season game was not going to cause any permanent damage and might've helped David get beyond this foul-magnet stage that so many young centers go through.

In fact, with a slighly longer leash, we might not have seen some of the same angry outbursts from David, who seemed equally angry at himself, the coach, the officials, and, of course his mortal enemy, the newspaper dispenser back in Boulder. You know, the one that talks smack to him.

:lol:

I can understand Rick pulling him out after two quick fouls, often times because Hulk got frustrated. But, at sometime, he's got to learn to play through that, and Rick hasn't let him.

CableKC
10-02-2006, 07:49 PM
thunderbird1245, I agree with your comment about matching him up with Sarunas, using him as a screener due to his width and size and ( most importantly ) giving him enough minutes to gain confidence in how he plays without pulling his butt to the bench.

The funny thing about one of the things that I have gotten from both of your "How to use Harrison" and the "How to use Sarunas" posts....is that it almost requires Carlisle to simply trust their players to make mistakes and ( hopefully ) learn from them....simply for the confidence that it instills in them....something that most of us simply think that Sarunas, Harrison and ( even ) Tinsley need.

Part of their likely success will be how less of a control freak that Carlisle can be.

thunderbird1245
10-03-2006, 02:38 AM
Everyone is bringing up very good points in this thread. Let me try to address some of them with my own opinions on things.

Some players I think can handle not having a set role and minutes better than others. Either because of the type of game they play, how their skills translate, their veteran savvy, or whatever other factors you want to talk about. I think a player like Jeff Foster (who I dont mean to be criticizing so much lately, but it seems to be coming out that way) is one of those guys who can play an irregular role.....I see no reason why he can not play one night at all, and then be used for bigger minutes than expected the next if needed. His style it seems to me doesnt need any "rhythm" to be effective if his minutes would happen to be inconsistent.

Harrison on the other hand does need a regular role I think. I don't view David as being the "sharpest knife in the drawer", so to speak, so I think inconsistently in how often and when he plays can effect a player like this more than a smarter more experienced veteran. If I had my way Im choosing the "starting and playing the entire second quarter" thing to solve alot of problems with his game including the lack of regular playing time dilemna. I think doing it this way sets him up for the best chance of succeeding by, as mentioned by some of you, playing him against the opponents second string center, with a player/players he seems to have a good repore with (Sarunas and others), and will allow him the ability to play regular long stretches with little concern for his foul situation.

In regards to that, please realize Im hoping RC just lets the kid play thru the foul trouble in the second quarter. Even if Harrison picks up 3 fouls in that quarter, its unlikely most nights he will be playing a crucial role in the 4th quarter of games, so we need to use him and get the maximum play out of him each night irregardless of him fouling out. Think of in some ways how Avery Johnson used Diop or Dampier this past season. Granted, the Mavs had both players able to rotate with each other if need be while we only have one, but the principle is still the same: use your big guys for as many minutes as you can, and dont really worry about foul issues as much.

Interestingly however, ive found thru my coaching career that some kids and players are really devastated more than others when they foul out of a game. Some can play like warriors, playing hard the entire way and if they foul out, they understand and deal with it. Others for some reason seem to think thats the worst possible thing that can happen to them and play incredibly tentatively in foul difficulty, to avoid the shame of it I guess. If RC thinks Harrison is the type that actually getting 6 fouls would devastate him emotionally like it does some players, then maybe that explains why he gives him the quicker hook and seems to take great pains in order to protect him from that. It can't be in the past or even now that RC plans on using him in close games down the stretch, because he never plays then anyway. Thats one question that if I ever for some reason got to ask Carlisle about philosophically that I'd inquire about.

There are of course some other defensive strategies that we could use to protect David a little. I mentioned playing some zone in my original post, but what about these?:

1: Immediately when he is posted up doubling down hard with another big he is paired with. (JO, Harrington, Foster, Baston, Granger if we go small)

2. Have those above listed players if the matchups allow it guard the opponents best post up guy and use HARRISON AS THE DOUBLE TEAMER ON THE LOW BLOCK. Does David have the nimbleness and quickness to be used this way?.....I think he does. Is he smart and intelligent enough to handle it?.....I don't know, but I think I'd try it and find out.

To Isaac: I don't know how good Harrison would be as a post feeder either. I just in general really like a "high/low" game with post players, and have studied this idea alot for us after we acquired Harrington and made the other moves we've made. Its too easy to guard us and scout us if we just simply plant any of our post guys on the block and keep them stationary mostly, so I think whichever 2 post players are in the game if we are playing offense that way are going to have to be able to do a multitude of things as basketball players, including being ablie to feed the low post from the high post area to each other. If Harrison can't do this, to me it really puts a serious cramp on his playing time and what we can run with him in the game. It also would be devastating to my idea of David meshing well with all of our other post players in offensive style and schemes. If David can't do anything but play the low block offensively, then you can't really play him with with Foster or JO as easily or as often. If David can't play the high post well, you are forced to run either a much more predictable and easily defended high/low game lacking much movement from your post guys (not what I really like or want), or you are foced to only play a "4 out 1 in" scheme with Harrison as your solo inside guy. Thats fine I think too, except then you can't really play Oneal or Foster with him in that alignment. Harrington of course is our one big guy who can drift outside and be effective, which is why I said originally I see him pairing with Harrison well.

I see the inability to feed the low post as the single biggest offensive problem RC will have to solve this season. Playing much more high/low game is the most obvious solution Ive come up with. If we don't play that way, I really really worry about our offense grinding to a halt at times because we lack good post feeders from the wings, and we lack good shooters to kick it back out to. Id be shocked really if we dont do much more of this this season. of course, Ive been shocked before.....

For arguments sake, let me say I love the 4 out 1 in alignment for us when Harrison is in the game and would expect to use it quite often during those times, and even when JO is in the game with Harrington as well. I just don't want to be married to it totally....I want alot of variety and movement in our motion sets (which Im going to be really really curious to see if RC goes to this season much more often). I want to run some "3 out/2 in", I want to see us run some "pairs" (1-2-2 trapezoid set with lots of downscreens and flare screens), I want to see us run alot of " 2 out 3 in", I want to see some "4 out 1 in", and I want to see some 1-4 high stuff too. Mix in some quickhitters (designed organized called plays from the bench every so often) and some screen/roll situations, and you have my general idea on how Id play offense if I was coaching this team. I'd even run some "2-3 high" stuff to help set up some backcuts (New Jersey and Sacramento do this some), and Id run some isolation postups for Tinsley (like we used to use Mark Jackson).

Can our guys handle the responsibility of a more read and react scheme? Who knows........ Is this what Carlisle and Bird are envisioning for the new way our team plays this season? Who knows.......Will we just instead run the same basic stuff but allow Tinsley and Sarunas to just call the plays themselves instead of having RC do it? Who knows....... these are all questions I can't wait to find out.

JMO