New readers –
This is launch week on Tobacco Road Blues, the new site dedicated to Duke and UNC sports. This afternoon's post comes from Adrian Atkinson, a contributing writer. He'll be covering UNC sports, and basketball in particular. If you're interested in writing for TRB, follow the contact link to the right. Enjoy.
A Quantitative Look at Defensive Development in the Carolina System
Conventional wisdom declares that experience matters in college basketball, especially on the defensive end of the court. While effective defense is a function of myriad physical traits—lateral quickness, length/wingspan, and strength, to name three—it is also heavily dependent on a player’s mental attributes. The ability to communicate with teammates, to make crisp and timely help rotations, and to execute the nuances of a complicated defensive scheme are all things that can be mastered irrespective of a player’s level of athleticism. But they can rarely be mastered without a healthy dose of experience. Shared court time with teammates—both on the practice floor and in game situations—is essential for developing the type of defensive IQ and chemistry that all championship-caliber teams have.
Moreover, there is an interaction effect between a player’s experience and his physical traits. By reacting instinctively rather than thinking, a defender can gain a half-step of quickness that might be the difference between a successful help rotation and an unsuccessful one. On the other hand, a player who is not yet acclimated with a defensive scheme can often look paralyzed with indecision on the court. This lack of experience and defensive understanding can erroneously manifest itself as a lack of quickness or effort.