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Blue Jay’s Zone Defense

 
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:10 pm    Post subject: Blue Jay’s Zone Defense Reply with quote

Watching March Madness with Syracuse University going down to defeat playing Jim Boeheim’s “patented” 2-3 zone defense, I was reminded of St. Paul’s Blue Jay basketball.

Those who attended St. Paul’s in the 1940s and 50s will remember Prof. Lorenz Wahlers, who was the athletic director then. Known simply as “Coach” to all of the students, he had definite ideas about how basketball should be played.

First of all, he insisted that everyone shoot free throws underhand. He claimed that it was a much more accurate way to shoot them. We all hated that style, feeling that it made us look old-fashioned. I always thought it was harder than the more conventional one-handed shot. But we would practice the underhand shot for hours on end to satisfy him.

At half-time, he would hand out lemons and those dextrose (?) cubes to help our stamina for the rest of the game. (What was in them?)

Finally, he always had the team play zone defense. I particularly remember one game in the first round of the Concordia Invitational Tournament. St. Paul’s was pitted again Knob Noster. St. Paul’s immediately started playing zone which upset the Knob Noster coach. He told his players to stand out close to mid-court until the Blue Jays came out to guard them. But Coach Wahlers told his team to stay packed in on zone defense. The teams just stood there for minutes on end. The crowd began to boo, but the referees were at a loss as to what to do. They were helpless because there was no 35-second shot rule at that time. After the second half tipoff (or was there a tip at each quarter), St. Paul’s fell back into the zone defense. The crowd continued to boo. Many left the stands for popcorn or whatever. Finally, with only a minute or two remaining, Knob Noster started to attack the boards. The final score was something like 13-12 with Knob Noster winning.

Some of you probably remember the low scoring games of the Hank Iba era at Oklahoma A&M (State). Finally, the shot clock was adopted by the NCAA making the games of today much more interesting.

A bit of trivia. Professional basketball’s 24 second shot clock was invented here in Syracuse, NY. It was first used in a Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers) game in 1954. They have even erected at statue with a countdown clock here in Syracuse’s Armory Square not far from where it was first used. (See Shot clock)
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