Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's the execution of the skills necessary to make the system function

In its Friday edition, the Long Beach Post had a Q&A with 87-year-old Lakers assistant Tex Winter, who's best known for his Triangle/Triple Post Offense and nine NBA championship rings, but who also coached college ball at Long Beach State, Northwestern, Marquette, Kansas State (where he went 261-118 in 15 seasons), and Washington.

A couple of highlights from the interview:


"[The Triangle Offense] evolves all the time. Phil [Jackson] had put in some of his wrinkles, tweaking it here and there. But basically our concepts, the principles of the offense have remained the same over the years. They don’t change. What matters is not the system so much, it’s the execution of the skills necessary to make the system function – that’s really the key to it. So we’ve always spent a lot of time on the fundamental skills, basic skills of the game. My methodology is such that everything sort of works itself out.

If you have time to teach it, I think it’s better suited for college. They’re at the stage where they really need development, and work on their fundamental skills. If they can learn to execute the skills necessary to make it function, they can be reasonably successful with it. I think it’s a very sound offense, that’s the reason we’ve stuck to it all these years. I still preach that.

[Over the years] they’ve bastardized it – that’s the way I put it. They use parts of it, but they don’t use the total system of play or philosophy of play. Because I don’t think they know how. If they’re going to be successful with it, you have to spend a lot more time on the drills necessary and sometimes I think – particularly in pro ball – coaches don’t feel like that’s necessary. And to an extent, it’s not. These players have so much natural ability, they more or less like to just run the screen and rolls, something very simple and forget the execution.

Seems to me that an awful lot of [teams], in the NBA anyway and I notice it in the college games I’m watching, we’re all playing pretty much with the same thing. Spacing the floor and running a side screen and roll out of it or a top screen and roll out of it, that’s got to be the most common thing I see. They’ve become very stereotyped in my mind, that’s one reason I think we’ve had the kind of success we’ve had with the Triangle. It’s different. It’s not stereotyped. It’s continuity. We try to react to the defense a little bit more. You have to read the defense. Some players can do that a lot better than others."