The Player With Ten Hands
High School State Basketball tournaments tip-off around the state shortly, the eight best boys and girls teams vying for the chance to cut down the nets on Saturday night and be called ‘State Champs’ for the rest of their lives.
Boys are to be admired for their superior size, speed, and strength. Most of them have springs for legs. Rosters are chock-full of players who can rise up and drill a jump shot with a hand in their face, and every team has at least one guy who can emphatically slam dunk and bring the crowd to its feet.
Girls, on the other hand, need a teammate to throw them a pass or set a screen to get an open look. It’s a rare sight to see a girl launch a true jump shot, unless it’s very close to the basket. Sometimes one girl’s foot-speed is superior to everyone else’s, and her path to the hoop is unimpeded – but her resulting lay-up is far more uncertain than the boy’s dunk.
Perhaps the most dramatic play in the girls game, the moment that brings the crowd to its feet (and their hearts to their throats), comes when teammates have beautifully passed the ball in such a way as to get it into the hands of their long-range specialist.
From the defense’s bench comes the cry of “shooter”.
The shot is released – it hangs in the air for what can seem an eternity – before it swishes through the net.
While the boys can play at dazzling speeds, above the rim, too much of the time their game deteriorates into individual play, while the girls tend to display more teamwork and cohesion.
In fact, Coach Wooden may have been describing girls basketball perfectly when he said “the player who puts the ball in the basket has ten hands”.
There's no question about it.