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Thread: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

  1. #1
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    From his longer blog:

    http://www.nba.com/2009/news/feature...s=iref:nbahpt1


    Don't Sleep On It

    Bill Sharman may be sad, but Charles Czeisler is happy.

    It was Sharman, the Hall of Famer, who is generally credited with creating the morning shootaround -- the hour-long, day-of-game practice at the arena that has been an NBA staple for most teams since the early 70s, when Sharman coached the Lakers. (Wilt Chamberlain, not a devotee of the practice, was said to have to responded, "you tell Coach I'm coming to that arena once today.") The idea was, and is, that it's good for players to get their blood flowing early on a game day, and get thinking early about what their opponents would be trying to do that night.

    But the shootaround may be going the way of the set shot as more teams are trying to figure out how to get their players more rest.

    The Knicks have eliminated morning shootarounds at home, determining it was too much of a hassle for their players to get to their suburban New York facility, go home for an hour or two, then haul it back downtown to Madison Square Garden for an evening game. The Knicks now have their players come to the Garden an hour or so earlier than their usual 6 p.m. arrival time (for a 7:30 game) for shootaround. The Celtics have eliminated almost all shootarounds and pushed their non-game day practices back to noon, joining the Trail Blazers, who changed their patterns last season, and the Spurs -- who got rid of all shootarounds, home and away, two years ago, and pushed all practices back to 3 p.m. local time.

    It's all music to Czeisler's ears. The Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, he's spent the last quarter century studying the effects of sleep deprivation on an increasingly sleep-deprived world (www.understandingsleep.org). In the NBA, he's known as "The Sleep Doctor," working with the Celtics, Blazers and a handful of other teams in the past couple of years.

    Most people under 30 need between 8.2 and 8.4 hours of sleep every night, but more and more of us are getting fewer and fewer hours. And that's doing a number on our health, Czeisler believes, citing these stats:

    • Sleep-deprived people are five times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to a rhinovirus;

    • If you shave two to three hours of sleep from your normal amount per week, at the end of the week, you have the same level of impairment than if you stayed up all night and didn't sleep the night before. And that is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of .01.

    • Motor skills that are learned as a result of practice or repetition -- like, say, learning how to play a piano piece -- are ingrained into the brain during sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, you literally forget how to do what you've just learned. But when you do get enough sleep, according to Czeisler, you can improve your performance at a given task, even if you don't practice it any more, by 20 to 30 percent. This would come in handy if you were, say, trying to improve your crossover.

    But almost every innovation of the last two decades, from the Internet to i-Pods to Blackberrys and big screen TVs, have conspired to keep us up later, and sleep fewer hours. We Tweet all night, never turn off our computers or televisions and wonder why we're so tired when the kids wake up the next morning.

    "We are a 24/7 society," Czeisler said by telephone Thursday. "Nobody wants to miss anything."

    That includes NBA players, whose workday resembles that of your basic third-shift worker at a plant. They have to be at their most alert late at night. And when they're done working, it's hard to just shut down the brain and go to sleep. Players don't eat meals before a game, so after two hours of running, they're obviously hungry. If they're at home, they'll go out to eat, and after eating a full meal, it's hard to go right to sleep.

    But Czeisler is, slowly, getting NBA teams to change long-established habits. Last year, he convinced Blazers coach Nate McMillian to try to stick to a Pacific time schedule when they came East for a road trip. Instead of leaving Portland early in the morning for their cross-country flight after just a couple of hours of sleep, landing in the late afternoon and immediately going to an off-day practice around 6 p.m. Eastern time, the Blazers slept in, didn't leave Portland until noon local time, got to Orlando (their first stop on a five-game road trip) around 9 p.m. and went straight to practice, around 10 p.m.

    The practice lasted a couple of hours, as McMillian put in all the things he normally would have done at shootaround the next morning. But when it was over, around midnight Eastern, it was only 9 p.m. Pacific time. The players were encouraged to stay up until the time they would normally go to bed at home. If they went to sleep at 1 a.m. Pacific, they should do the same in Orlando (4 a.m. Eastern). There was no worry about missing shootaround the next morning, because there was no shootaround the next morning. The Blazers wound up winning seven of their nine games in the East last season, their best showing in years.

    "If you're going to Europe," Czeisler says, "and if you're up all night, and your reaction time goes from 250 mlliseconds to 750 milliseconds when you're looking at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, it's not that big a deal. But if your reaction time triples when you're an NBA player, that can be the difference between a win and a loss."

    Czeisler got involved with the Celtics this summer, after Boston's athletic trainer, Ed Lacerte, met him at a conference in New York. On the train back to Boston, they compared notes. Lacerte set up a meeting with Doc Rivers.

    "I was like, get the [bleep] out of here," Rivers recalled. "I'm not going to see a sleep doctor. Are you kidding me? Really. I was skeptical as everyone else. And then he told me to call Nate and Monty Williams [the Blazers' assistant coach], who played for me. When I called them, the way they talked about him, they had a lot of passion about it. So I thought, I may need to sit down with this guy."

    When Rivers heard the information, he was sold. But he had to sell it to his players.

    "They didn't want to do it at the beginning," Rivers said. "Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen], they're set in their ways. Now, they love it."

    Said Allen: "We get a lot of rest. You don't wake up in the morning feeling groggy. When you practice in the afternoon, when you got up and you're able to be around the kids early in the morning, take them to school, pick 'em up, whatever it may be, as veteran players, we have an opportunity to watch your body. You've got to take care of your own body, get your running in and get your weights in. We have a pretty mature group of guys. Even the young guys know how to get their workouts in [now]. That's what I really appreciate."

    When Czeisler asked teams why they plan their schedules the way they do, he's gotten a lot of blank stares and muttering about how this is the way we've always done it. He's hoping that these small moves are starting a trend in the other direction.

    "If people are going to be open to modifying their schedule of events in order to get more sleep," he said, "it's a whole new ball game."

    And, before you ask, he gets between 7 1/2 and 8 hours of Zzzs a night.
    I predict we will be one of the last teams to get on board with this unless we have new management that is younger and more open to this change.

    I would love to be proven wrong though because I think this makes a lot of sense and will only help improve the quality of basketball being played.

    The sooner the entire league gets behind this, the sooner the product of the game is improved.

  2. #2
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    I know O'Brien is a big believer in shoot arounds as was larry Bird. But I know O'Brien has cancelled a couple this season already

  3. #3
    100 Miles from the B count55's Avatar
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    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    I know O'Brien is a big believer in shoot arounds as was larry Bird. But I know O'Brien has cancelled a couple this season already
    But, my understanding was that O'Brien ran full practices, instead of the walk-through shoot around that many teams use.

    This would indicate that his tendencies run counter to the trend.

  4. #4
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
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    But, my understanding was that O'Brien ran full practices, instead of the walk-through shoot around that many teams use.

    This would indicate that his tendencies run counter to the trend.
    That's what I thought.

  5. #5
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
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    But, my understanding was that O'Brien ran full practices, instead of the walk-through shoot around that many teams use.

    This would indicate that his tendencies run counter to the trend.
    Yes and Bird did the same thing with a very veteran team. My source for this was Bird's book he wrote while he was our coach. Excellent book by the way. Bird had them taped up and running at practice speed as does O'Brien

    is the trend to end Shoot arounds or just move them to later times.

    I know carlisle went to more and more shootarounds in the late afternoon, i think the players were required to get to the game early for the shoot arounds.

  6. #6
    Member owl's Avatar
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    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    I think the concept makes a lot of sense. Warming up hours before the game and then
    cooling down does not make a lot of sense. Plus a rested body will be physically and mentally more alert and it heals better. Plus it makes for a better life for the players
    and that can only improve morale.
    {o,o}
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  7. #7

    Default Re: David Aldridge and the Demise of the Shootaround

    In the Pacers' case it still is a talent and/or coaching issue no doubt...but I do feel it's more than a coincidence that the Pacers run out of gas in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

    It was also my understanding O'Brien ran full a.m. practices on game day, too. And even if Bird ran game-day practices, apparently most of the league did then...and if the trend is moving away from that, even a little edge another well-rested team had on us could make a difference between a win and loss.

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