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Rockets website - Trevor Ariza and the art of the steal

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by stobbartjohn, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. stobbartjohn

    stobbartjohn Member

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    Lock if posted

    HOUSTON - It always begins with the eyes.

    A glance. A hint. A clue. Anything that might indicate or otherwise tip-off the when and where of the next pass. The subtle tells are everywhere, you just have to know where to look. But it always, always, begins with the eyes.

    Meanwhile, he waits. Lying low, limbs loose, doing his best to blend in with the crowd until the moment is right. And that’s when he sees it – the look; the one that says the seed of thought is sprouting, telling the passer that the coast is clear, the waters are safe.

    Trap set, Trevor Ariza springs into action, all lean muscle and fast twitch fibers firing as he bursts into the passing lane to lay claim to his latest victim. His is the art of risk and reward, crime and punishment. He is a basketball thief by trade and these days business is booming.

    Ariza currently ranks among the league’s top-5 in steals, averaging 2.2 per game. He is built perfectly for the task - 6-8, quick feet, long limbs and fast hands – and blessed with the sort of finely-honed instincts which make him such a ball-hawking menace on the defensive end.

    “Whoever has the ball, you try to read their eyes,” he says, explaining his technique. “You just try to think how they think and try to get in their head a little bit and anticipate.

    “You have to know who you’re playing against. When a guy like Jason Kidd has the ball, you have to see his eyes before he ever gets into the passing motion; see where everybody is on the floor and see who will be open, and try to see where he’s going to go before even he does. You have to know where your guy is but you also have to know where the double-team is coming from and everything else. You take all that into consideration before you make the decision to go for it.”

    When the stars align themselves and everything comes together perfectly, Ariza’s thefts typically translate into uncontested fastbreak dunks. He refers to these as “pick-6s,” no surprise given his fondness for football and his background as a defensive back in high school.

    In fact, the football analogy is an apt one, given the gambling nature of Ariza’s defensive style. There is the film study he uses to glean information on opponent’s tendencies. There are the tricks of the trade he employs in an effort to bait opponent’s into thinking he’s out of position or unable to make a play on the ball. And there is, of course, the short memory required for when the inevitable scorching takes place after a mistimed or ill-advised steal attempt goes awry.

    “It’s very similar,” agrees Shane Battier, Ariza’s alter ego of sorts on the defensive end. “Sometimes you get burned and that’s when you give up the touchdown on the double hitch. I think for the most part Trevor’s been pretty good at it. I wish I could have some of his aggressiveness and I wish he could have some of my conservatism. I think somewhere in the middle there’s a perfect mix of both but it works for him.

    “It boils down to anticipation. I think Trevor has some of the best anticipation that I’ve played with and you have to have the physical tools to back it up. I read passes and I know where the next pass is going but I don’t have the physical tools, the physical burst to go and get it, unless I’m really close to the passing lane. Trevor almost baits the pass. He anticipates passes well and he’s so good at getting a hand into the lane and going the other way and that’s what makes a great steals person in this league.”

    To be sure, Ariza’s proclivity toward playing the passing lane brings a unique element to the Rockets’ reconstructed defense, one which is still very much a work in progress. Due in part to his presence, team deflections are up, which in turn trigger the transition game Houston so desperately desires. For that reason the Rockets are reluctant to rein in Ariza’s gambling tendencies, though head coach Rick Adelman does issue the caveat that the UCLA-product needs to make sure his risks are reasonable, not reckless.

    “I think he’s got to be smart enough to understand that if you are gambling and getting into the passing lane, you better have somebody who has your back,” says Adelman. “For instance, if LeBron posts him up and he goes for a steal there, we can’t help him. So he’s got to be smart about what type of play he’s going to get into the passing lane on and make sure he’s got somebody who’s got his back because we can’t afford to give people wide-open opportunities.”

    Such is the business of being a thief. You must be equal parts riverboat gambler, mind reader and master of risk assessment. You have to pick your spots and choose them wisely. Your calculations must be cat quick and razor sharp. The integrity of the team hinges upon it. As Battier adds, “It’s a fine balance knowing that when you are playing a great passer, if you only try by reading his eyes, just like Peyton Manning, he’s going to make you pay for it.”

    In other words, while the eyes might be the beginning, they merely serve as the start of the story, the genesis of a game of cat and mouse in which the participants constantly switch roles, often unknowingly. Ariza’s art, therefore, lies in his ability to portray himself as the harmless mouse, albeit one capable of transforming into feline form at a moment’s notice. For him, it all begins with a look. The rest lies in the eye of the beholder.

    http://www.nba.com/rockets/news/trevor_ariza_the_art_the_steal_2009_12_08.html
     
  2. baller4life315

    baller4life315 Contributing Member

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    One of my favorite reoccurring moments with this year's squad is whenever Ariza nails one of the passing lanes for a "pick-6" and goes down for an uncontested layup. It's really amazing how much ground he covers with so few leg strides given his ridiculous length and lanky figure.

    Of course, this is about the ONLY time whenever I can actually tolerate him trying to dribble the ball. But hey, I'll take it. ;)
     
  3. Tenchi

    Tenchi Contributing Member

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    Makes me think of what Battier was saying about how he wasn't as aggressive on D in Memphis because he didn't have someone to back him up, but once he came here he had Yao. I'm thinking once Yao gets back Ariza's gambles won't be as risky.
     
  4. Dave_78

    Dave_78 Member

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    Where is the part of the article that mentions for every steal he gets he gets burned twice and gives up layups to the guy he is guarding?
     
  5. StevieFlight3

    StevieFlight3 Member

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    He was attempting to strip Roy on that last play he should've played him straight up like Battier does.
     
  6. 523744

    523744 Member

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    Where are the statistics that prove that? Would like to see
     
  7. Dave_78

    Dave_78 Member

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    Watch the games.
     

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