Ask the Czar

Jonathan from Washington D.C. has a question about sideline strategies:

I notice for most NBA games the visiting team selects to shoot at its own basket in the first half compared to high school or college when teams don’t shoot at their own basket until the second half. What is the competitive advantage gained by a team shooting at its own basket in the first half compared to waiting until the second half?

It boils down to whether the coaching staff would rather have their own offense or the opposing team’s offense in front of their bench during the second half so they can yell out calls to their players and help them out in critical moments.

Some coaches feel it is more important to direct their team’s offense at the end of the game when execution potentially matters most. However, when I was coaching I usually preferred to have our defense in front of us so that we could communicate with our guys after the opposing guard called out a play. Once we knew what was coming we could signal from the sidelines to help our team make defensive stops and prevent game-winning baskets.

From the Booth

Mike Fratello and Ian Eagle recap the Nets’ 105-84 loss to the Utah Jazz.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Ramon Sessions

When GM Mitch Kupchak dealt longtime Laker PG Derek Fisher to Houston at the trade deadline many hoops heads were baffled. After all, the 16th-year co-captain came into the league at the same time as backcourt mate Kobe Bryant and was a key contributor in five successful championship campaigns.

But like a lot of squads in the NBA, Los Angeles is looking to get younger and shake things up a bit. They want another shot at the title and realize that the landscape is full of hungry, talented, no-ring teams who are gunning for the glitzy Goliaths.

Queue the spotlight on newly acquired point man 25-year-old Ramon Sessions. Coming from Cleveland in a trade that sent a 2012 first round draft pick, Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to the Cavs, Sessions has quickly supplanted Steve Blake as the starting 1-guard for coach Mike Brown. The hard-working, 5th-year playmaker gives LA atheticism and will take some of the load off of Kobe in helping to create shots for his teammates. The Lakers also like the fact that Sessions can play pick-and-roll basketball.

In his six games as a Laker, Sessions has recorded 19, 23, 29, 29, 36 and 36 minutes – see a trend? In the purple and gold, he is averaging 14.3 ppg, 6.66 apg and 3.5 rpg compared to his overall season averages of 11 ppg, 5.4 apg and 3.1 rpg. As Sessions gets more comfortable in coach Brown’s system and starts gelling with his teammates, his numbers should increase across the board.

In addition, this opportunity with the always-in-the-hunt Lakers represents the first time in Sessions’ budding pro career that he’s balling with multiple All-Stars and that his team has a legit shot at going deep in the postseason. Expect the University of Nevada product to embrace his chance to contribute to this storied franchise.

The CzarFather: NBA Survival Tips

In the third quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards, Deron Williams was hit with consecutive technical fouls and ejected from the game after arguing a no-call with the officials. Coach Avery Johnson reacted to losing his All-Star starting point guard and wound up joining Williams in the Nets’ locker room after getting tossed during the same timeout.

When your star player is thrown out of a game, as head coach you have to deal with the aftermath and decide how to react to the referee’s decision, bearing your team’s best interest in mind. Sometimes your emotions will get the best of you, but you must try to keep them in check and figure out what will ultimately benefit your team. Does your team need you on the court? Or is there more value in making a statement by venting your frustrations?

Though I earned more than my fair share of technicals when I was coaching, I seldom got myself thrown out of a game intentionally. However, it did happen on occasion. There were nights when I decided enough was enough, and I made my point. I also paid some hefty fines to the league as a result. But for the most part I felt my job was to guide my team down the stretch. Players expect their coach to be there for them when the going gets tough.

Of course keeping your cool while doing battle on the NBA hardwood is far easier said than done. But if you want to stay on the sidelines and guide your guys to a win, you’ve got to regroup, get your emotions under control and lay off the officials. Your team will only get back in the game by playing good basketball.

From the Booth

Fratello and Ruocco break down the New Jersey Nets’ performance following Friday night’s 93-84 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.