Sunday, April 02, 2006

Oh the games we play, and make up.

One of the great things about being young is, that although you are bombarded with rules from everyone around you, you have a tendency to try and make your own. When a child is uncomfortable with the paradigm, they have a tendency to step outside the lines and create a set of rules to suit their circumstances. As a freshman at St. Joesph’s Prep Seminary in Princeton NJ I had many an opportunity to do just that.

One such circumstance was when a few of my closest friends and I gathered to play basketball. Of all of us, Rob was the best player. He was tallest and could dribble, shoot and defend and no one wanted to play him one on one. We also had Joe and Doc who could shoot, but couldn’t handle the ball well, and so they never wanted to play a game. Most often it was one or two of the above along with Jeff and myself. Freshman year I was six feet tall, and Jeff was just shy of 5 feet. Since then Jeff has grown about a foot and I grew about an inch, those are rules you can’t do anything about. So we never had an even group to play two on two, and Jeff and I never liked to play one on one, so we made our one rules.

Oh Shit! That is the name of the game that Jeff and I invented in the gym on the campus of St. Joe’s. Sure we could have just played H.O.R.S.E but why follow the existing rules? Our game was set up in such a way that almost everyone could play and as few as two or as many as five could compete. After determining the ‘shooting order’ the first player steps to the free throw line.

At the start of each turn the player must state the score. EG: 0 to 0. Or 12 to 4 to 7. Failure to say the score results in loss of that turn, but only if one of the other players calls it.

* Each players first turn starst at the free throw line, this is the qualifying free throw, or qualifier. If the player sinks the shot he gets one point and his turn continues. After the qualifier is made the player now has the option of choosing a free throw for one point or a 3 point shot from anywhere beyond the arch for three points for all following shots in the game, even the first shot in subsequent turns.

* If the shooter misses his qualifier, his turn is over and the next player steps to the line and announces the score and tries his shot. The player that missed the qualifier must try and get it on his next turn before being able to choose a three point shot, or be eligible for continuation.

* If the qualifier is made the shooter now continues to shoot only from the 3 point arch or the foul line until a shot is missed. (If at any point the shooter makes five shots in a row, he has the option to take a layup worth two points. The player must start from outside the three point arch, and traveling can be called.) Once any type of shot is missed the players turn goes into continuation.

* When the shot is missed the player has a chance to add to his point total before handing the ball over to the next player. To do this they must get the rebound prior to the ball bouncing twice, or going out of bounds. If the player gets the ball before it bounces he is allowed to take one dribble to the basket before shooting. If the ball is collected after one bounce the player must set up to shoot from that spot, and must not travel. Pivoting is allowed so the player can face the basket to shoot. The player gets two points for a shot inside the arch and three for one outside it in continuation. When the players turn is over he must announce his total points.

* The object of the game is to end on 21 points exactly. If a player exceeds 21, or goes over, then his score is reset to 17 and his turn is ended immediately, no continuation can be awarded when a player goes over. Example: if a player has 18 points and makes a three, then that player wins. If they miss the three and get the rebound and makes his continuation shot he now has 20. His turn is over and must make a free throw to win on his next turn, if another player hasn’t already won in the mean time. The player can not rebound the missed free throw and shoot for a score of 22 to win.

* If, on any shot, a player misses the rim and back board they get an airball penalty. After an airball the player loses one point and his turn is over with no continuation. An airball can take a player into negative points. If a player wants to miss a shot on purpose they can use a self pass. This is when a player throws the ball against the backboard to set up an easy rebound for a two point shot in continuation.

Example: If a player is on 20 and misses his free throw, but gets the rebound before the second bounce the player can miss the backboard and rim on purpose to cut their score back to 19. On their next turn that player can self pass to set up an easy lay up or short range shot for two points and the win. This move is called check mate.
*If the same players play a second game the shooting order is determined by the finishing order of the first game in descending score order. EG: 21-19-7.

We played this game over and over and I feel it is a good game to play with kids who want to learn the game. It teaches kids to follow their shot and be ready for a rebound. A lot of strategy is involved when deciding what type of shot to take, because it is harder to rebound a three point shot before the second bounce, and you have more of a chance to airball. When sitting on 20 points and getting ready to shoot that free throw, or sitting on 18 and lining up for a three, you would be amazed how much pressure you can feel. Especially if your friends are the types to make fun of you when you miss... which we were.

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