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Thread: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

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    Default The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Hello all, Im back for my usual Sunday afternoon Pacers Digest posting.

    Today I want to discuss the preseason games, and how coaches and players use it in different ways. I've been reading everyone's thoughts on our first 2 games so far, including UB's and Peck's takes on the games, and wanted to start a discussion about what preseason is really used for, and what if anything it really means.

    From my perspective, I can tell you that I think most people I read on here are getting way too worked up, both positively and negatively, about what you are seeing.....in some cases your eyes are playing tricks on you in some ways. You guys and gals need to all take a deep breath and relax......

    There are many examples of preseason hysteria being meaningless in not just the NBA but in every other professional sport. Rational people can recognize this, but yet many of those who know it intellectually forget it when it comes to their own teams. How many of you remember now who had the best record or the most home runs or the best batting average in spring training this season in baseball? How many of you could tell in spring training that the Tigers would end up in the World Series?

    In football, the Colts annually look like crap in the preseason, yet always seem to be one of the best teams in the NFL.....and my local IU Hoosiers didnt look that good in their short scrimmage Friday night, but Im not all that worried about it. Basically, there is little a fan can take from preseason games about either a particular player, or a coach, or basically anything you see. This is true in both a positive and negative way.....just because the Jazz looked pretty decent against us the other night, doesnt mean they should start printing playoff tickets in Salt Lake City already does it? Of course not....and we shouldn't be panicking in the streets either.

    As a coach, you arent looking to win these games at all, you are trying to pare down your roster, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own players, and maybe find out some info on your opponents for later use as well. You do your best to show your opposing coaches very little of what you plan to do when the games are real, you always hold back alot of your best plays and strategies.

    For individual players, during games that count your goal as a coach is to always put each individual player in the best possible position to succeed. However, in preseason its quite likely that you may try and do the very opposite thing....in fact, you may intentionally put guys in tough spots, to see how they react to adversity or lack of success. You may play a guy in the preseason out of position, just to see if he can handle that role if you need him to in an emergency sometime in February. You may call plays that you are developing or working on, just to experiment and see if what you've drawn up in the summer will work in real life. You may even intentionally run plays you have no plans to use, just to throw off the opponents scouting and preparations. You may play odd combinations of players that you'd never consider playing as a group if the game counted, just to see what happens. You may try different pregame meals, different warmup procedures, different things during timeouts, different starting lineups, and anything else you want to do to just generate tape for study later, and to try a new approach. Preseason is just one big lab experiment for coaches, so please dont read too much either way in how they interact with each other, who seems to have what role, and how they disperse playing time....it all means nothing. What you are trying to do as a staff however, is establish a winning "mood" and atmosphere, and establishing boundaries, rules, and a method and enthusiasm conducive to winning. You need to get your players to buy into whatever it is you are selling and telling them. Only in that sense is preseason important to a coach, not the win loss record or the box score.

    As a player who is established, preseason also has an different meaning. its the time to work on that new move you've been developing over the summer, its the time to try different ways to guard an opponent you will see again in December, and it may be time to pass the ball to a teammate in a tough spot just to see how he handles the ball or if he can make the shot. its a time for you to communicate with your coaches to identify who your game seems to mesh the best with, what plays and areas of the floor you prefer, and how best your coaching staff can utilize you. Its about gaining your timing with one another again, and getting to know your new teammates better. Its about getting used to the new basketball, any new rules and officials, new arenas, new fans, and in many cases finding a new home and schools and such for your family. Its about getting comfortable and focused on your health, and your attitude.

    For a non established player, its about making the team....if not the one you are with, then another one in the league. Its about playing the right way, working hard, and doing your absolute most in order to keep your job. For almost everyone in the world, being an NBA player would be a dream lifestyle and life accomplishment, so doing whatever is necessary to keep or achieve that goal has to be paramount in your mind. At times in the preseason, its very possible and even likely that you may make plays or do things or try things that you wouldnt otherwise do if you were already on the team for sure. Maybe you take that tough shot attempt, maybe you try and make the spectacular pass, maybe you gamble and go for the steal attempt when you shouldnt.....there are a million different things that can sunconsciously cause you to play for yourself and not always for the team....and that doesnt make you a bad guy, its just the way it is.

    Preseason is for all of that you guys.....the results and the wins and losses, the scores and the stats, they all are meaningless. Don't worry so much about how we look offensively, or how each individual player looks, or whatever.....it doesnt mean anything positively or negatively.

    Everybody relax and enjoy basketball again, and quit worrying about everything. After about 15 games or so, then we can make a preliminary judgement, anything before that is just too short a sample.

    JMO, as always.

  2. #2
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    I really like your posts! You and Naptown Seth are good additions to this forum! There's others but I don't remember their names right now.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    Everybody relax and enjoy basketball again, and quit worrying about everything. After about 15 games or so, then we can make a preliminary judgement, anything before that is just too short a sample.

    JMO, as always.


    I agree, but in my defense I thought Tinsley's and Saras' defense last year weren't very good, it isn't like they are new players and it isn't like I formed my opinion on these two guys based upon one meaningless preseason game. Last preseason I was giving Saras a lot of the benefit of the doubt up until about January because he was new.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    I agree, but in my defense I thought Tinsley's and Saras' defense last year weren't very good, it isn't like they are new players and it isn't like I formed my opinion on these two guys based upon one meaningless preseason game. Last preseason I was giving Saras a lot of the benefit of the doubt up until about January because he was new.

    We dont have any particular difference in opinion on the defensive merits and abilities of these 2 players UB....people who know me and my preferred style of play know I prefer a defensive first point guard (hence my love for the game of Haywoode Workman back in the day). The relative lack of defensive pressure on the ball by Tinsley and especially Sarunas drives me nuts as I watch them. I even posted a few days ago (in my thread about the incident's aftermath) that I think my preferred starting lineup at this very moment was Darrell Armstrong at point guard, just to establish the defensive and leadership/attitude mindset to start the season and each game.

    With that in mind, you still can't look to put any meaning in these games at all....none whatsoever. Just like in the NFL, these games are nothing but a moneygrab by the owners, and in both personnel and style and intensity bear little resemblance to what the regular season will look like.

    Our first game against New Jersey when we won, people were on here almost giddy about style of play, Oriene Greene (who I like also, to be fair), and how athletic we looked. A few nights later, we lose and play poorly, and everyone thinks the sky is falling and we are bound for the lottery.....my point in starting this thread was to just get everyone to chill out a little, and not get high or low about what you see in these games.

    JMO

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    The best way to use pre-season is to start a panick about as many things as possible, thus making any kind of above .500 performance a success.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    I dug this thread up from the archives, rather than trying to write a similar thread today. Most of my original post I think is still pertinant today.

    Basically, let's remember to try and not get either too high or too low on how the rest of the preseason goes....maybe a little friendly reminder might make everyone relax a bit, and not to either drink the kool aid or to start counting down until the lottery in 08.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Tbird

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I dug this thread up from the archives, rather than trying to write a similar thread today. Most of my original post I think is still pertinant today.

    Basically, let's remember to try and not get either too high or too low on how the rest of the preseason goes....maybe a little friendly reminder might make everyone relax a bit, and not to either drink the kool aid or to start counting down until the lottery in 08.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Tbird

    Its a little different this year because we are observing a new system. I agree that you cannot judge a team in terms of potential wins and losses and/or player performance in the preseason, but I believe that it is acceptible to judge a system in terms of entertainment.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    i hate preseason as a spectator. Even if I look through the eyes of a person trying to see situational play I am still a fan. I get excited when Diogu goes nuts in the 4th. I get angry when we have players fouling out only playing 20 minuets. I know it may be because he is the only true post defender on the court or he is guarding a permiter player just so the coach can assess.

    All in all I want to see effort. That is why I am excited about the preseaon. The effort is there. Can this effort persist in the regular season? Will it arise when most needed in the 4th quarter? When April looms around can this energy remain? Will injuries kill it? Will trials and tribulations damage it? Is this energy just a mirage of the preseason? Where are we? What am I doing? Did I just eat lunch?

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I dug this thread up from the archives, rather than trying to write a similar thread today. Most of my original post I think is still pertinant today.

    Basically, let's remember to try and not get either too high or too low on how the rest of the preseason goes....maybe a little friendly reminder might make everyone relax a bit, and not to either drink the kool aid or to start counting down until the lottery in 08.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Tbird
    This was a much needed bump.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    I have to agree that we shouldn't look too much into pre-season wins and losses. The thing I have liked so far is the fact that it seems that the players actually care about what is going on. Even though play is a bit sloppy at times, they are picking up the new system pretty well. The defensive end will be the longest to learn because of all of the small details of providing help defense in various situations.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    I'm going to comment here instead of in the Grizz postgame thread because I think this is a better spot to have the discussion.

    I think this year the coach IS looking for wins as well as development. There is a real need to get this city excited about the Pacers again, and an undefeated preseason with an exciting style of play will do some of that, especially for those who don't understand preseason the same as we do.

    I also think that, for the morale of the team, being on the upside of a beatin' will instill a bit of confidence (swagger, as it was put in the other thread) that is required for a team to be aggressive rather than hesitant.

    What I think we're seeing is that JOB has the team going all out in the first half to get well ahead offensively. He then is free to use the second half to play a bit with rotations/matchups/sets/situations. The downside is that it's only half a game to perform those functions rather than the beginning of the game. The upside is that it gets the win as well as the practice.

    It will be interesting to see how the games go this weekend - JOB seems to be talking about resting more players and using more of the game for the bench and subs to work out. It strikes me that even on PD there are those e4xpecting to base their early season opinion of the team on the next few preseason games - what if those are done as tbird explains and are not focused on wins, points, or pretty and easy plays?
    BillS

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    I've been to two preseason games and what I see is a Pacers team that looks about 4 weeks ahead of the teams they have played. The Pacers have a plan on how to play defense and offense, they look like they have been playing about 4 weeks longer than these othere teams. The question is will that "even out" over a longer period of time.

    I'm starting to believe the Pacers will get off to a pretty good start this season - in fact I'm expecting their November record to be quite good. The real test will be later in the season when talent takes over and early coaching is less important.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I dug this thread up from the archives, rather than trying to write a similar thread today. Most of my original post I think is still pertinant today.

    Basically, let's remember to try and not get either too high or too low on how the rest of the preseason goes....maybe a little friendly reminder might make everyone relax a bit, and not to either drink the kool aid or to start counting down until the lottery in 08.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Tbird
    Just for the record T'Bird, this is how I look at preseason for all 3 majors, and all 3 are very differnet in how they are approached. In my roto ball league I've grabbed a ton of successful guys in the draft specifcially from attending 8-10 spring training games and noticing how they played rather than results.

    With the Pacers my concerns are:

    Defense. Despite the focus it's been pretty awful at times, worse than last year. For the most part it seems just like last year, JO saving everyone's butt.

    When the Sonics take the ball out of the net and have a non-cherry pick dunk the other way in 2 seconds, basically just running past all the Pacers, you notice and worry. When it happens again for a layup within 4 seconds of a slow change of possession (vs hard break on steal, long rebound) you really notice.

    If this is what they are working on it hasn't seemed to help. They did disrupt Memphis fairly well in the first half, but nearly 40 points in the 3rd quarter with the starters playing the first half of that quarter? That should kick on the alarm a little.

    4 games left to adjust, plus probably a few weeks into the season as well, just how things go. It just seems behind schedule right now.


    Shooting. This was a big issue and at times the Pacers have solved this with scorching bursts of high make rates. But by the end of the game the team is around 40% which is worse than last year's league low average.

    IMO not everyone yet gets JOB's method and some guys (Danny especially) are forcing their shots. Diener had one great game, but since then is blah. Owens is also spotty. And Tins just handed out another 3-11 from the floor that most fans would consider old news based on the last few years from him.

    Bench depth To me there has been a big drop off in play between starters and bench. Ike worries me because I'm not sold that I've seen more from him than we saw last year. Danny is a starter but I have a similar worry on him (3 ball sure, but overall not smooth). Diener seems fine, definitely better than Saras as far as I can tell. Owens off and on, I do like the quickness but he's a little rough still as far as I can make out.



    The good


    JO is on track. Quis is on track. Foster is on track. Dunleavy is on track PLUS has the 3ball going so far (early but hopeful)

    Offensive movement
    They work the ball around fairly well, no PERIMETER ball holding that used to plague them. For all the rants on JO, IMO it was always the outside guys jab stepping and stuff in iso that halted the flow.

    There is little of this and my guess is that JOB is saying "either you've got the space to go, the shot to take, or you don't, and if you don't then keep the ball moving till it gets to someone who does". To me that's what the ball movement and rotations have looked like.

    Plus off the ball you are getting really strong 3 man games, screening for all sorts of other spacing. And you are seeing new angles coming to the low and midpost. When you see JO at the high post feeding guys coming at an angle to the midpost in the lane you know things are different in the playbook.


    The energy It's up over last spring, but to be fair it was up last fall too with the promise of running and their sloppy attempts to do so. One difference here is that when they push the ball to the front court it actually has gotten done smoothly. It's not the messy, misdirected energy of last year. They haven't rushed up for a full break, they more typically just hurry over the timeline and quickly get their first offensive pass in place even if a shot is still 10-12 seconds away.


    As mentioned it is a NEW SYSTEM, and that makes it tough to sort out the player vs system awareness issues. Am I seeing the system run correctly but failing (or succeeding) or is the failure/success stemming from them not doing it correctly.

    My gut on this so far is that the system isn't really in place correctly at all, that this is just a skewed version of it. I can agree with Buck that they've been ahead of the teams they've seen so far, but I'm not sure it's as close as it needs to be.

    Plus Seattle did have a solid offensive gameplan in place, often slowing down to rotate the ball and look for something different, mixed in with quick, effective attacks as a counter. Their ability to score was based on the system and their ability to execute often fell on guys missing open shots, guys who normally wouldn't get that shot I think.

    But regardless the Pacers do have some sort of focus on offense, defense seems more confused though last night may have looked better based on the steals/deflections aspects.



    One final note - preseason NBA is not as easily dismissed as the NFL or MLB. First off MLB pitchers do work on pitches more than they try to set up batters, so you can't gauge their results at all other than how their stuff looked overall (huge, hard breaking curve, good heat, variety or command of pitches, etc)

    The NFL you just only see the starters out there for maybe 6 quarters total out of 16-20. The rest is bench, and typically guys that might not play at all during games. The backup DL gets in from time to time, but not like the 8th man on a basketball team gets into games.

    In the NBA starters typically play a decent amount of minutes scattered throughout the game. Tins just went the entire 4th, JO started both the 3rd and 4th quarter of a blowout. The same is true for other teams.

    Sometimes it's guys 10-15 on the bench, but it's far more than 50% of the time that it's not this way, unlike the NFL.

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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    I've been to two preseason games and what I see is a Pacers team that looks about 4 weeks ahead of the teams they have played. The Pacers have a plan on how to play defense and offense, they look like they have been playing about 4 weeks longer than these othere teams. The question is will that "even out" over a longer period of time.

    I'm starting to believe the Pacers will get off to a pretty good start this season - in fact I'm expecting their November record to be quite good. The real test will be later in the season when talent takes over and early coaching is less important.
    or the annual JO injury occurs right Seth?

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    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: The meaning of preseason, and how to use it effectively

    Quote Originally Posted by intridcold View Post
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    or the annual JO injury occurs right Seth?
    I think he's outstanding, but there is no avoiding this concern now. Maybe if the rest of the team gets it done more often it will relieve some of the physical demands put on him. Taking charges is great, but the guy shouldn't have to take 40-50 a year, maybe do something to keep the guy from getting there in the first place.

    And those double and triples on the other end. Sheesh, keep moving and give him options to burn those (so far they have been doing this fairly well).

    Imagine you are a Suns fans and don't wring your hands in worry that Nash will yet again miss 20 games. That would be really nice.

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