Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bob Knight Explains the Value of the Shot Fake

On ESPN's College Gameday, Bob Knight went on the set's demo court to explain the value of the shot fake and how to properly utilize the shot fake to break down the defense. Hubert Davis served as the designated shooter--stationing himself on the right wing--while Jay Bilas played defense and Knight played the role of point guard at the top of the key. Knight said that the shooter must position himself so that he is ready to catch and shoot. His feet should be pointed toward the rim and his body should be on balance. He should turn from the waist to receive the pass (as opposed to turning his whole body, which would then require him to reset himself before shooting). Knight added that the point guard should help the shooter by dribbling away from him, forcing the defense to shift as well. The point guard should further move the defense by faking a pass to the opposite wing before passing to the shooter. The pass should be chest high, so that the shooter can catch and shoot immediately if he is open. If the defender runs out at the shooter, then the shooter should fake the shot and take an escape dribble into the paint. He now has three options:

(1) Shoot the short jumper if he is open.
(2) Drive all the way to the hoop and finish strongly at the rim
(3) Make a drop pass to a cutter if a help defender cuts him off.

Bilas added that teaching the fundamentals of the shot fake is something that Knight always emphasized during his coaching career, a trait that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up from Knight while playing for him at West Point. Bilas joked that when Krzyzewski taught him the finer points of the shot fake he always told him not to shoot and Knight quipped that Krzyzewski had heard that exact advice from Knight on more than one occasion.

It was fascinating to get a glimpse at the coaching acumen that helped Knight become the NCAA's all-time wins leader but throughout the demonstration one question kept going through my head: Why has Knight been such a boor for most of his adult life? He obviously is very intelligent and he has a passion for teaching basketball--but he is not more knowledgeable or passionate than Dean Smith or John Wooden, neither of whom embarrassed themselves by their personal conduct. I'm sure that there are people who believe that Knight could not have been as successful without being so fiery but Smith and Wooden's achievements refute that notion. Knight accomplished all that he did despite his personality flaws, not because of them. Indeed, if he had possessed less ability then his antics would have gotten him fired very early in his career.

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