Posted by abitaamber on 7/3/2012 2:57:00 PM (view original):
BillyG, thought the interview was informative AND entertaining. A good read.
One question to you as a follow-up...when you look are scouting the other team, do you much ---if any--- time looking at the PbPs on their games? Or do you view PbP as primarily window-dressing?
when I am scouting the other team, I do pull up their pbps. i assume this is not exactly what you mean, but for like any NT game, I will often pull up a good dozen (sometimes more, sometimes a little less) of their pbps to check the heading - to see their tempo, +/-, and maybe off/def. this is the most important part - many coaches do the same thing, and then you will know exactly what to expect. most others follow a clear pattern. i often even pull up my opponents opposing teams - to check their 3pta and maybe even sort their scorers, to see the guard/big split. that way i can get a feel for the logic my opponent uses to determine his settings. you can't always get for sure, but you can get it right most of the time, and within a +/- 1 or so over 90%. how can you decide how to face an opponent without knowing what he is throwing at you?
as far as the pbp text itself, there is a lot of window dressing in there. i've always felt you might be able to gean some things by religiously reading and tracking pbps, but that would really be for your own team. i don't really see much to glean from the pbp text itself of your opponents's games. and again, so much of it is window dressing, so even a thorough and rigorous study of the pbp would be more of a hunt for clues (things to research further or ideas to consider), than a place to draw conclusions.
however, there is some useful info within the pbp, that i will regularly look for in the NT. as i explained, its critical to reverse engineer your opponents team game plan, that is one of the first things i do. then, i look at their starters, glance at some stats, and get a feel for the shape of the team. next, ill figure out their depth chart - i haven't lately, but i used to even write it on paper, regularly, for reference (and its easier to figure). now, with more experience, its not hard to do it in my head. either way, it can definitely be significant to understand the scheme your opponent runs. do they run a typical 5 starter 5 core backup set, 1 backup per position? do they run 3 starting and 3 straight backups at the 1/2/3, but then have 2 starters at the 4/5, with 1 major big backing them up, and a secondary backup behind him? or is there a major big backing them up, with two individual bigs behind them, one each at the 4 and 5? well, you can easily find out your opponents depth chart by studying their substitution pattern, and looking at the fatigue reports every 4 minutes, to see who is at what position.
these may sound like details, but especially against man (or playing man yourself), its really important to recognize the matchups. starters don't play starters 100% of the time - depends on their depth chart, stamina, fatigue levels, and yours. its important to know who your starter is going to face. it it 70% a weak def backup and 30% a strong one, or 70% a weak one and 70% a really weak one?
to really assess your opponents's team, you need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and the dynamics of their team. if you have an opponent with 2 starting bigs and 2 fr backups, with no other bigs, you REALLY have the potential to cause them problems, if you have a couple good offensive bigs, especially if they are lined up at the same position (especially if, for example, your opponent runs and uptempo press. you can get those guys in foul trouble a very significant % of the time, with little hit to your offensive efficiency, if you don't have success with fouls). on the other hand, if your opponent has 3 really strong defensive bigs and 2 others, you would go more towards guard offense. so to me, knowing your opponents depth chart is a big deal. and its not just their depth chart - you want to understand how your opponent will be fatigued. if he is playing tired a lot with certain players, you can exploit them further if they are weak defenders, or lock them down harder if they are key scorers. its important to know how things should play out so you can make key adjustments.
anyway, if you work at it, you can pretty accurately come up with EVERY SINGLE SETTING on your opponents team game plan, and on their depth chart. now, some of this might have changed, but the most important stuff, you can accurately predict the current values on. its important to understand your opponents scoring too, although its hard to very precisely put numbers on distro, especially as similar effects can be accomplished with widely different values. so as long as you understand where their scoring comes from, their weight of 3 point shooting vs 2 point shooting, the amount of fouls they draw - that kind of stuff - you really dont need to know exact distro values. you can figure +/- 3 point settings easily as well.
the more you know about your opponent, the better, so i DO strongly recommend checking pbps for the things i mentioned - tempo, +/-, offense, defense, depth chart and substitution patterns, fatigue levels (be sure to look at stamina and depth to make this worth knowing!).
on last note on the depth chart stuff - in the olden days, i would actually take the time to chart my opponents entire depth chart. today, i just get a feel for starters and backup rotations. what i mean by ENTIRE depth chart is, who is 1, 2, 3, 4 at every position. its amazing how many coaches make the mistake of not filling out their chart. many will have say 4 bigs, and put a starting and backup C, and a starting and backup PF, and nobody at 3/4. that is suicide! foul trouble and fatigue problems are now needlessly complicated, and the impacts compounded considerably! when you find coaches in these situations, its just one more thing to take advantage of.
i am sure reading this, you can think, well, a lot of times i might know their starters and it doesn't help me any! or i know their tempo, and don't do anything different. like i mentioned in the interview, id often spend 20 minutes totally analyzing and breaking down my opponent, and not change *anything*. if you have a well crafted team, and a finely tuned strategy, the strong fundamental positives in your setup are often hard to overcome with situational factors. however, the less polished your team and strategy, the more important this detailed game planning is (that is why some of the best coaches find it less important, i think). you don't want to have too heavy a hand, but the more you know about your opponent, what he will do, what makes his team good, what holds them back - the more chances you have to turn a piece of knowledge into an advantage. you might only get a return on some insight one in 10 times - but if you can get 20 or 30 pieces of information on your opponent every game, well, its worth it!
i also think many coaches would really enjoy the activity. a bunch of coaches i have mentored starting analyzing their opponents in detail, for some time, and were amazed how in tune they became with the finer workings of the sim engine, at least compared to their previous experience. it may sound somewhat tedious, but when you are really into a team of yours, it can really be exciting looking at opponents so closely, and trying to (and eventually being able to) predict how you will fare against them, where you will beat them, where they will beat you. it can bring you a lot closer to your team, i swear i can name more players and their stats on some of my great teams of old, than teams i had graduate just months (or even weeks!) ago.