I was listening to some NBA "experts" discussing Dirk Nowitzki's skill set the other day. They discussed how his touches on offense typically occur well outside the lane. Dirk is not alone. It seems that the overwhelming majority of International big men play in this manner. They rely on their ball handling and shooting ability rather then using their size to be dominant in the low post. I think the reason for the lack of dominant foreign post players can be attributed to the design of the International Basketball Federation's (FIBA) court.
19.68 feet). In contrast, the NBA key is only 16 feet. That is only a difference of about 22 inches on either side of the rim. This difference, however minute it may seem, has proven to be a deterrent for international teams and how the develop and implement big guys in the post.
The trapezoid has forced these international teams to become more guard centered, and the big men have been forced to learn better perimeter skills. With the big men being pushed further away from the hoop, the other players on the team also get pushed out further due to the necessary need for spacing. The number of international players is growing quickly in the NBA and the first mock draft for 2011 has seven international guys going in round 1. Several of these guys are listed as C or PF, but these should be considered as exceptions (if they are back to the basketball guys like Enes Kanter) to the rule as they are the best of the best at what they do.
So what was the point of this post? With the Valpo typically bringing in guys from overseas (5 on the roster last season, and probably that many again this coming year) or with international experience I think it's important to understand why we might be lacking an inside presence. They just aren't there for recruiting. Sure we have Kevin Van Wijk, but I don't think anyone would say he arrived at Valpo with a solid post game. This isn't to say these players can't be taught how to play a traditional post position, but more so that we shouldn't expect to find that international big man who can make an instant impact on the inside.
Now FIBA has just recently (October of last year I believe) gone away from the trapezoid for the more recognizable rectangle. Over time this should help teams like Valpo who recruit heavily in foreign countries find those big post players who have been developed to play with their backs to the basket. For the next few years however, I would look for Coach Drew and his staff to look for post players in the States if that is what the new VU Coach's game plan calls for.
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