Pushing the Pace

Chris Lee defends an inbound pass. Courtesy of Melinda Guerrero

Marcus Lee and Hannah Maxwell
Staff Writers

Mathematically speaking, a press shouldn’t work. With only five players allowed on the court at a time, taking those five players and spreading them out across a larger area should give the offense an advantage. But that is not the case. Pressing causes havoc, forces turnovers, and creates a fast pace.
Kayhi boys basketball coach Eric Stockhausen likes to push tempo and has a team that allows him to do that.
“We have a lot of guards that can run and the reason why the press works is because you’re speeding up their thought process.” said Stockhausen. “With our personnel which is small fast guards, we make the game more about decision making, now if we were bigger we would want the opposite and make the game slower.”
The goal in a press is to push pace, create pace, or just wear them down. Kayhi girls basketball coach Kelly Smith uses a press to push the pace of otherwise slow games.
“I played a version of 22 in high school but it wasn’t as aggressive but I really like forcing that tempo and that speed,” Smith said. “There was a year where we graduated our starting five and we averaged 31 points a game, it was just frustrating for everybody. It seemed like we were always fighting an uphill battle and I think the fast game is fun to coach, fun to watch, and it’s fun to play.”
Coach Smith uses presses to control to the pace of games, whether he needs to slow it down or speed it up.
“12 makes us react to what they do so it’s a good change of pace. I’m the type of person that wants to be in control of everything, and 22 puts us in control,” Smith said. “You don’t react on 22 they have to react to you.”  

Full-court pressure in our own words

The goal of our press is to distort the offensive scheme of the other team by switching up defences all game. “12” which is a standard 1-2-1. “22’’- a 2-1-2 with quick guards applying pressure as the “motors” of the press. I’m the “motor” of our 1-2-1, which means I make the other team uncomfortable by forcing them to dribble and force them to make frantic decisions.
It may not be fun and it sure does get a little tiring but the best feeling is when it is working, we might not force a lot of turnovers early, but later in the game when they lose their legs and we go on a run, it’s fun and the work is worth it.
Since we’re not very tall this year we don’t dwell on what we don’t have, but just use it to our advantage. Teams tend to overlook us but not after they watch our press and how aggressive we play. We like the “scrappy’’ play style- diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers. The press definitely gives us that kinda play and gives us the greater advantage when other teams try to play the way we want them too.
My favorite part about the press is the way it gets the crowd excited when scoring two straight layups of a steal and an occasional slam from Chris that gets everyone in the gym of their seats.

“Hunt” is my favorite bit of basketball jargon. It comes from my favorite press, “22” where I am the controller. My job at the front of the press is to force the ball sideline, don’t let them see the floor, get turns, and hunt – pursue anyone who gets past me and tip the ball, even if it’s at the opposite baseline.
If you control the pace of the game, you can impose your will, and win. To do this, we run two presses, the first, “12” is a 1-2-2 in which we are looking to slow the pace and trap the ball at half court. The second is called “22,” it’s a simple 2-2-1 that forces the ball handler to want to go home. We won’t get a steal on every possession, but every opposing player knows that there are two people sprinting full speed right at them.
My favorite part of the press, or even in basketball as a whole, is when Brittany and I get a trap and they think they’ve beat it by throwing it to the middle but Ashley swoops in and is already doing a lay-up on the other end. When it’s all said and done those are the times I will miss the most.


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