Comparing High School Basketball of the 50’s to Basketball Today

After evaluating the 12 Eastern Maine Class B C and D Boys Quarter-final games, 4 Class A Boys and girls semi-finals and Class D Boys and Girls semi-finals a question kept bothering me.

Could the high school teams of the 50’s compete with today’s high school teams?

Considering that there was no 3 point line, and the clock only stopped on fouls, timeouts and jump balls and today the clock stops every time the whistle blows which certainly adds more playing time to the game time.

Teams that played in each decade since the 50’s have gotten away from fundamental physical and mental skills as each decade has flown bye.

Teams in the 50’s scored as many if not more points, committed fewer turnovers, played more from the shoulders up, had higher basketball IQ’s which allowed them to make better basketball decisions and relied more on their basketball skills then their athletic skills.

Over the past 7 decades, fundamental basketball skills have decreased some each decade until where we are today.

With the passing of each decade the above mentioned things have digressed a little each decade.

Today’s game, is not as much of a game of basketball players playing basketball, but athletes playing basketball.

This is at all levels and because many players, coaches, fans, parents, etc. watching the NBA and D-1 College basketball which is dominated by great athletes playing basketball feel that this is the way the game should be played today.

This is not benefical for the many high school players who do not have the athletic ability, but still try to play as athletes, not as basketball players.

Many high school teams today cannot shoot as well as past teams, do not pass the ball as well, dribble too much, try to go one on one too much, rely on the 3 point shot too much, play from the shoulders down more, which makes for lower basketball IQ’s which leads to poorer basketball decision making like the following.

1. Poor Shot Selection by forcing shots that they don’t have.
2. Leaving their feet and then not shooting the ball which leads to turnovers and player control or charging fouls.
3. Leaving their feet when guarding a player with the ball leaves their feet which results in many fouls and easy baskets
4. Blocking the ball before it leaves a players hands which leads to fouls
5. Passing off the dribble which leads to turnovers
6. Ignoring the post players on the block by not getting them the ball enough
7. Dribbling immediately after catching the ball thus missing many open teammates
8. Driving or dribbling to the hoop out of control
9. Not valuing the ball on each possession
10. Not knowing the rules of the game so as to take advantage of them
11. Not Keeping the triangle on defense when guarding a player without the ball. You, the ball and the man you were guarding without the ball
12. Not being in position to help out on dribble penetration
13. Reaching and not moving the feet
14. Not finding their man to box out on the defensive boards.
15. Not Using enough legs in shots
16. Not Aiming for the right target when shooting
17. Not keeping the ball completely on the palm of the shooting hand when shooting
18. Not releasing the ball on shots when the legs are straight
19. Not having the hands in the shooting position when receiving a perimeter pass
20. Not squaring the feet to the basket on perimeter and foul shots

Most of these skills require very little athletic talent, they just require the knowledge of them and the discipline to use these skills to play the game.

These are some of the fundamentals of game that our Bangor High School Coach, Fred “Red” Barry expected of us if we wanted playing time which. Bangor went 15-1 in the regular season, won the Eastern Maine Class L (Now class A) Tournament, won the State Class L Championship and finished 3rd in the New England Schoolboy Tournament held in the Old Boston Garden to finish 21 and 2.

Learning all these fundamental skills and how to play the game as a basketball player playing basketball really helped in my coaching career.

These basic basketball fundamentals and the teams of today that use more of these fundamentals are in better position to win a tournament then those that are more athletic but rely more on their athletic skills not their basketball IQ’s which lead to good basketball decisions which lead to excellent fundamentals of the game, which leads to wins.

I have always thought that basketball was/is a 6 inch game. 6 inches from the throat up to the brain and 6 inches down from the throat to the heart and anything below the waist was athleticism where jumping ability, quickness and speed comes from the legs.

Yes, I believe that the teams of the 50’s could compete with the teams of today in all 4 classes, especially our Bangor team which has been considered by many Bangor experts as one of the best, if not the best Bangor High School basketball team of all time.