Harley Hahn's

What should fans know about watching Basketball?

There are two types of basketball teams: those that are built around a single star player, and those that have a group of players of more or less equal ability. The secret to understanding a basketball game is to watch the game in a way that depends on the types of teams that are playing.

When the offensive team (the team with the ball) has a star player who is good enough to dominate the game, the defensive team must use a strategy in which the star is covered by two defensive players at the same time. (We say that the star is "double-teamed".) This means that the other four offensive players will be covered less tightly, which creates an imbalance. It is this imbalance that sets the tone for the game.

In such a case, when the star's team has the ball, make a point of watching the other four offensive players. Notice what they do to take advantage of their situation, and see if you can analyze how they maneuver themselves into a position in which they will be free to get the ball and try to score.

When the offensive team does not have a star player, the players must be more cohesive and use better teamwork, because they can't depend on simply feeding the ball to one person. When you watch a game of this type, don't concentrate on individual players. Look at the team as a whole and the pattern they create as they play. Notice the ways in which all five offensive players work together as a unit.

When you watch a basketball game in this way — by looking for patterns and analyzing the strategy — you will be thinking about the action in the same way as the players do as they are playing, and your enjoyment as a fan will be increased. This is because, instead of concentrating only on individual players or simply following the ball, you will be watching the game.