Friday, January 9, 2009

Why spacing matters

Was flipping through Ron Higgins' 2006 book "Tales from the Memphis Grizzlies Hardwood" last night and came across a good passage about Hubie Brown's return to coaching at the age of 69.

What MEM players remembered most about Coach Brown was his intensity, demand for perfection, and incredible attention to detail:

"At our first practice, no one knew how to take him," [Lorenzen] Wright recalled. "He was yelling, he was cursing. He was screaming, 'Get to this spot, get to that spot, get to this spot.' Nobody knew the reason those first few practices. Then, we started playing games. You get to those spots. You have open shots."

Griz swingman Shane Battier loved Brown's attention to detail.

"He always talked about spacing," Battier said. "On certain plays, he wanted us three feet from the free throw line -- not four feet, not two feet. If we got it wrong, he'd stop practice and correct that one foot."

His team started to believe, even guard Jason Williams, whose lousy shot selection, wild passing, and penchant for playing soft defense got him benched in Sacramento, then traded.

He and Brown came to a quick understanding.

"I don't care if a player has got a style, as long as he makes no turnovers," Brown said. "As soon as you turn the ball [over], then you've got to be accountable."

Williams responded with the lowest assist-to-turnover ratio of his career.