The Story of Moses

Posted: January 26, 2020 in Memories, Sports, Things I Love
Tags: , ,

Nope. Not that Moses. There’s another one.

It all started way back in 1983, when my my brother-in-law and great friend Jigger asked me to coach the 7th grade basketball team at Paint Valley. Jigger had coached high school basketball at Bishop Flaget in the early 70s, and since this was my very first coaching job he gave me some old books about coaching.

Now, when I say old I mean old, like 1940s old. They were so old in fact that I put them on the shelf, only occasionally glancing through them. I mean, what could I possibly learn from a book that was written when coaches weren’t allowed to talk to their teams during timeouts?*

*Dead serious. Coaches weren’t allowed to do this until the 1948-49 season. Look it up. 

Anyway, at some point during that first year I coached we needed a baseline out of bounds play (a BLOB – sideline out of bounds is a SLOB) and on a whim I revisited a couple of those books. Low and behold, in one I found a BLOB that looked pretty damn good. It was fairly unique because it was a BLOB that flooded the baseline. At the time everyone played zone defense while defending out-of-bounds plays, although that’s completely changed over the years. Because of this the top guys on the zone weren’t used to coming all the way down to the baseline and by flooding it with your players you could catch your opponent off guard. Here’s the initial setup, as drawn on an idex card by me a million years ago:

When the play started this was the initial movement, although we added wrinkles that I’ll talk about in a bit:

You put your shooters on the blocks, and they would sprint to the corners. We’d put our best shooter on the opposite block because the corner he ran to seemed to be the one that was open the most. The player in the middle was our best post man and the player at the top of the key was usually our point guard. When the post player screened the point guard, the opponent had to either switch or not switch. If they switched the post man would be open and roll straight to the basket. If they didn’t switch the point guard would be open. If defenders sagged to help that action one or both of the corners would be open. Simple but effective, and it was just as efficient against zones as it was against man-to-man.

Over the years we added wrinkles, such as having the players on the blocks cross and go to opposite corners, or moving the two players in the middle to different spots. We also added extra movement if nobody was open, but to be honest that rarely happened.

I can’t recall what we called the play in its early years, but I do know how the name that stuck came to be. It was in my first year at Paint Valley and of course I was showing it to my players. After explaining how it worked I asked the team what they wanted to name it, and my all-league point guard Todd Shoemaker said something like this:

“Everybody parts like the Red Sea and I go right down the middle. Let’s call it Moses.”

And so it came to pass.

I’ve had a lot of former players become coaches, guys like the aforementioned Todd, Craig Kerns, Josh Case, Clay Archer and others. Many of them have used it and used it effectively. Hey, my team from Montserrat has used it as well.

Not only that, and I won’t name names but college coaches have watched the play at camps, asked about it, and have used it over the years. I’m talking Division 1, big-time Top 10 college programs. Some even call it Moses. In fact, next time you watch a college game look for the set I showed you on a baseline out of bounds play and see if you can hear the player taking the ball out yell “Moses!”

It happens. True story.

I don’t know how many points my teams scored on Moses over the years but I do know it was a lot. It got to the point where our opponents knew the play, so we disguised it. Anytime we yelled Noah, Abraham, Abel, Adam or any other biblical name it was essentially Moses. In reality though, it didn’t matter if they knew. It was that effective.

Yep, a simple little play I got from a book written in the 1940s is still used today in all levels of basketball. And you know why?

Because it works.

 

Gimme a holler.

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