Often in basketball, the head coach will find eight or nine guys and rotate them in and out to find the best fit throughout the game, with athletes playing alongside many different teammates.
However, Pleasant Grove head coach Randy McAllister runs a hockey-esque rotation, with two groups of five rotating in and out in attempts to always have fresh legs.
The Vikings’ dual-lineup rotation proved effective in its 66-57 win over the Brighton Bengals in the Utah Autism Holiday Classic.
“We have a deep roster, which helps,” said McAllister. “You can’t do that kind of style without having at least 10 guys. We think we’ve got 16 guys that are capable.
“Without any presence in the post this season, we just don’t have any post presence at all, we just think the best chance for us to win ball games is to play fast and shoot 3-point shots. Playing that fast style wears people out, including ourselves. So, we go in short spurts, and we get fresh legs in there five at a time and hopefully that wears on teams over the course of the 32-minute game.”
The benefit of constantly having fresh legs is you can often control the pace of the game, and that’s exactly what Pleasant Grove did early.
It played a full-court press defense, which forced Brighton to turn the ball over while the Vikings sunk four 3-point shots in the first quarter for a 22-9 lead.
“You never know how the team is going to handle the press at the beginning of the game,” said McAllister. “(Brighton) did turn it over a few times and we created a few turnovers, which is great to get off to that kind of start.”
Brighton knew that it couldn’t let the Vikings control the speed of its offense. So, it slowed things down and packed the paint.
The Bengals didn’t connect on one 3-point shot in the second quarter, but they did pile on 14 points in the paint to bring the score within 36-29 at halftime. Brighton’s Nash Matheson stood out with 10 points in the quarter and 29 points on the night.
“We got to make adjustments,” said McAllister. “Every team’s got to make adjustments to what the other team is doing well, and we didn’t do a very good job of stopping them. (Matheson) was doing so well and he just penetrated at will and created a lot of offense for them. So, it’s something we’ve got to work on.”
Pleasant Grove’s defense was strong out of the half, and once again held Brighton to just nine third quarter points.
However, Brighton’s Matheson got going again in the fourth quarter, scoring another 10 points, and brought the game within single digits.
The Vikings’ Clay Hansen nailed back-to-back 3-point shots to keep the game away from Brighton. Hansen led Pleasant Grove in scoring with 16 points with four 3-pointers.
“I missed a lot at the start,” said Hansen. “I was bricking shots, but they just tell us to just keep shooting, even if you’re missing, just keep shooting. At the end its just confidence, it comes down to that and your teammates to give the right pass.”
Hansen says playing a strict five in, five out rotation can hinder a shooter, but says his team has made it work.
“Especially now that we’ve got it going, it helps to be with the same group of guys,” said Hansen. “You just get used to playing with them. But, sometimes with the five in and five out it’s hard to get in a rhythm. You can get hot and then you just get right back in two minutes later and still be hot.”
“We have those 10 guys we rotate in and out and every single one of them can score. Everyone can get whatever shot they want, especially with how we play together. We always get each other open shots.”