“The smart approach with the game on the line is to assume that the referees won't call anything.” This was almost a throw-away line from Henry Abbott this morning, but it got me thinking. Wouldn't this be a smart approach all the time? On offense as well as defense? Is there too much focus on “getting the call” or “avoiding the call”? Are the Blazers tentative because of this?
I'm coming at this with complete innocence, never having been a coach or player. I'm throwing it out here so I can learn. I guess what I'm really looking for are good reasons why this would not be a good whole-game approach.
I've heard MB say some players (not specifically Blazers) are “worried about getting his shot blocked”. Do you play differently when there's a proven shot blocker on the opposition? Doesn't his presence mean different game strategy to begin with? Why would you be concerned about getting a shot blocked? It that more shameful than missing a ten foot jump shot?
I've seen comments here, and noticed it myself, that Brandon is now arguing (or commenting on) more non-calls. I think it was even a subject of an Oregonian story – his becoming more vocal with the refs. Unfortunately it puts me in mind of Zach Randolph who often would be slow getting back on defense by arguing with the refs about a non-call. I'm not saying the commenting slows Brandon down, but if he continues to question every non-call it eventually will, particularly when we start playing faster. Wouldn't it be smarter “to assume that referees won't call anything”?
I've noticed that Oden & Przybilla both play more tentative defense when they have a couple of fouls. Travis too. Is this something that is taught? Are you really supposed to ease up a little when you have 3 fouls? Joel certainly learned to avoid his bear hug fouls (remember a couple of years ago when he'd start every game with 2 or 3?) Greg is learning to keep his arms UP. Isn't it more about learning to play better rather than playing to avoid fouling? (These are two different things in my opinion, though playing better can include avoiding fouling.) Again, shouldn't you play assuming that nothing will be called? (Not advocating mean & nasty, just legal defense.)
It seems to me that the only guy who doesn't seem to be thinking much about fouls is Bayless who plays with reckless abandon. And I guess I'll add Blake to that. BRoy is thinking about drawing a foul every time he drives, but he's not assuming nothing will be called - quite the contrary. Is LMA one of the players who doesn't want his shot blocked - is that one reason he settles for jumpers too often?