Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Triangle Offense: No Rocket Science

Recreation, Health, Fitness, Sports ----

The Knicks have pretty much packed it in for the season. Phil Jackson and his fabled Triangle Offense (reasons for the Bulls and Lakers' success) were supposed to take them to the promised land of an NBA Championship title. However, the Knicks either refused to buy in to the new offensive scheme or were themselves victims of the hype of the difficulty in comprehending it. Both the Lakers and the Bulls demonstrated that it was indeed possible to learn the Triangle Offense and to master it, but that fact did not put an end to its inscrutability and the resistance it seems to pose to the human mind. Talks about the difficulty of its appropriation continue to persist.

I must admit that several of my own forays into trying to understand the Triangle offense proved fruitless, and I almost acquiesced to the conclusions of the status quo. I remained resilient, refusing to give in. I reminded myself that there was nothing wrong with my mind and that it was quite possible that the problem lay in the mode of its presentation. The explanations I found merely describe what the Triangle offense is, throwing a lot of confusing diagrams at the readers and emphasizing that it was a "read and react" offense. Those explanations moved me no closer to understanding the system. They described for me what the system would look like when implemented but taught me nothing of its essence.

The way my mind works, the way I tend to grasp things is by understanding the essence of things. My mind does not merely accept that a thing is done a certain way, but wants to understand why it is done that way. For example, it does not want to know that order of operations (in Math) is done by following PEMDAS, but why. It desires to understand the underlying principle. So, to understand the Triangle offense I needed to understand its essence. And once I found the answer I wanted to teach it to the basketball team I co-coach.

What I figured out eventually was that the Triangle offense was not so much about triangles, but that there were five particular positions on one or the other side of the half court that must be occupied at all times. Once that is understood, everything's else becomes clear. The the ball is passed, the passer cuts to the basket expecting the pass. The cutter's vacant position is then filled by the player closest to that position, and if the cutter does not receive the pass on his cut he fills the position vacated by the player who filled his empty spot. By following the pass-cut-fill sequence, the five positions will be occupied at all times. The constant movement of ball and personnel will keep any defense off-balance. My co-coach and I have been able to teach the Triangle offense to our high school basketball team. They grasped it from the start. It's not rocket science.