One of the (many) good things about basketball is its effectiveness in revisiting the rules in order to stay on course with time passing by. Here you can find the original rules of the game we love, so that you can get a real feel about the rule changes throughout 119 years. By the way, if you have a couple million dollars or so and want to secure the Holy Grail of basketball, go ahead and try to get those original rules. Otherwise, you can discuss here, for free … , the impact of the recently modified rules, especially the new three-point distance. It's definitely way too early to gauge with numbers if and how much the game will be affected by the new arc. But my distinct impression, based on sheer observation, is that the game hasn't changed a lot. I believe rewarding shooters with 3 points only for a more difficult shot from 6.75 meters makes a whole lot of sense, since 6.25 meters was a fairly easy shot indeed. But the increased difficulty in converting the bomb will not necessarily translate into teams attempting fewer threes. After two games, not that much of a measurement, 22 of 24 Euroleague teams have attempted at least 30 triples, converting those shots at rates very comparable with the old 6.25 era. It's true, too, that defenses are helping more aggressively now on drives and screen-and-rolls, the rationale being that it has become less risky to leave an outside shooter open since at a longer distance he might miss more. Is lots of three-point shooting good or bad for the game? I'll borrow my answer from Montepaschi Siena head coach Simone Pianigiani, who when asked if there was too much pick-and-roll basketball in the game, said: "There is no such thing as too much or too little in basketball. There is only well executed or badly executed."
Speaking of Pianigiani, Montepaschi has already lost as many Italian League games as in the previous two seasons (one). Montepaschi got beaten by a single point on a game-ending free throw in Varese on Saturday. The loss came after winning a close game against Lietuvos Rytas in Vilnius and after having needed a furious comeback to win its Italian League opener. While there is little doubt that losing Terrell McIntyre, Romain Sato and Ben Eze to other Euroleague teams left a big void in a well-oiled basketball machine, Siena is still a team to watch. First, when the Montepaschi juggernaut formed some four years ago it took time to get the team to jell together (as they say, Rome was not built in a day). Second, I really believe Malik Hairston can be a difference-maker when in a month or so he'll be finally able to come back. Obviously, the former San Antonio Spur will need time to adjust, but his quality is outstanding, and coupling him with Rimantas Kaukenas will definitely add the much-needed firepower that David Moss is unable to provide. I'm very curious to see how Siena plays vs. Cibona, a young team with very little to lose this coming Wednesday in Siena. Take a close look at Radosevic and Bogdanovic if you want to see a couple of hungry young players looking to make their marks in the Euroleague.
Still talking about Siena, a player who is sorely missed is Romain Sato, who nonetheless continues to wear green after taking his talents to Athens and Panathinaikos. Sato and Drew Nicholas combined for 35 points in Panathinakos's win vs. CSKA last week, a game that left injury-depleted Moscow in a 0-2 hole. More than the Russian counterpart's blues (without Khryapa and Siskauskas they are not the team they will eventually be), I'm interested in Pana's brilliant start. I would not like to play a team coached by Obradovic the season after they missed their main goal, a trip to the Final Four. This year's team might be slightly less spectacular than some of its predecessors, but it plays a very balanced and solid brand of basketball. The key here is experience, especially for the U.S. imports. Sato and Nicholas started out in Italy after good college careers, slowly but constantly climbing the ladder one season at a time. Nicholas started in small Fabriano, in Italy's second division, and many observers were highly skeptical he could make it to the first. He did, going to Livorno and gaining more experience before proving more nay-sayers wrong by moving to Treviso, his first experience on the big stage before Efes Pilsen and Panathinaikos. Same pattern for Sato, who started in small Jesi, where he intrigued the Siena brass. They gave him a chance and shaped his game practice after practice, letting him gain minutes and exposure through hard work. The trend here is very clear to me: to succeed in Europe as a player coming from the U.S., being good is necessary but it's not enough. To really maximize your potential, you had better understand and embrace the European game. And to do so, you had better give yourself a chance to grow, one step a time.
Flavio Tranquillo - Milan, Italy
Monday, November 01, 2010