Basketball and the Night Watch.
When I was a much, much younger coach, I had this weird ability to be reading something like the back of a Cheerios box and come up with basketball play inspired by something I had read. I went through a pretty rough patch these last few years with my wife leaving me and later dying of brain cancer and my mom developing heart problems at the same time that I was dealing with my father's dementia. I couldn't afford therapy, they wanted $400 a month that I didn't have, so I did what most American males do in such situations which was try to fix things on my own. I made a hobby out of reading books about psychology, mythology, self-help, and spirituality.
I began to see a lot of weird patterns and how a lot of things we often take for granted in the material world are actually based on the laws of energy, biology and physics. There is book entitled The Master and His Emissary about brain structure written by a professor named Ian McGilchrist who argues that the more analytical left-side of the brain is jealous of the slightly larger right-side of the brain and will lie and manipulate things in order to seize command of our thought processes. The more spiritual, big-picture right-side is ousted in a type of coup and afterwards the left, now unable to understanding the meaning of things, will run shit right into the ground until it is necessary to hand the reigns back over to the right side to restore the proper balance. McGilchrist points out the ancients seemed to be aware of this situation and encoded it in their myths. He also argues that it is possible to look at history and recognize which societies were working with functional bi-cameral thinking and those time periods where all social activity was being governed by the left side only.
The other day I wrote an article triggered by my efforts to explain to our players how their offensive thinking should be integrated with their defensive thinking. For example, they should regard defensive rebounding as the beginning of the offense, and their offensive efforts should in some way be governed by what the needs of the defense are. I swiftly recognized this as an example of bicameral thinking, and then I noticed that the outline of the basketball court closely resembles the make-up of the human brain.
The American government for example is set up to resemble the bi-cameral brain as does our two party system. There is supposed to be a middle ground performing the function of the corpus callosum, a flat, thick bundle of nerves that exists between the hemispheres and enables the communication between them, where the two parties meet to hammer things out. Our current lack of the middle ground in American politics and political polarization that we are now experiencing seems to support McGilchrist's thesis very well.
The basketball court has two sides, an offensive side and a defensive side and the half-court line acts much like a corpus callosum in that it governs the interplay between the two sides. If the player is on one half of the court, they are in an offensive mindset, but the moment they cross the line, they instantly switch to a defensive mindset. If a coach only focuses on one side of the game, say the offensive side, it could lead to an imbalance where their defensive choices are what gets them beat. A perfect example would be when a team keeps shooting threes when they are not dropping and suddenly a few long rebounds leads to their defense being overwhelmed in transition. This makes the case for thinking in an integrative way where you need select an offense that serves the needs of your defense, and vice versa. Some people might say, "Well duh, that's totally obvious," but I don't think that's the case though, over the years that I have coached, I've seen many, many instances where a coach seemed to have selected his/her defensive planning without much thought on how it would benefit the offense.
It is obvious how running a defense that limits your opponent's possessions is beneficial to your team's efforts to outscore the opposite team. Possessing the ball is clearly the best defensive strategy there is. But what do you do when your team is made to run? The faster you go, the more possessions and scoring opportunities the other team gets. Therefore, there would need to be some concessions made to offset those increased opportunities. I think on the offensive end they would come from an emphasis on not turning the ball over, not taking bad shots, and extending the possession getting offensive rebounds. On the defensive side, you would need to emphasize the need to force turn-overs, create steals, not foul, and control the defensive boards. Nothing too ground shaking here.
Understanding how defenses and offenses mesh and work together could help a coach when scouting the opponent. A key question that could be asked would be, "Does their choice of defense help their offense? If so, how? The right answer could give an idea of where to attack in order to disrupt this coordination. For example, say they run a fast paced offense but take bad shots and make risky passes and their defense doesn't put any pressure on the ball. A coach could counter by hanging on to the ball and running time off the clock limiting the opponent's possessions and dropping two back to safety positions on shots to neutralize the running game.