Basketball: Whither the fast break?

Been watching a little college hoops (well my alma mater Florida is in the Final 8), and
once again was reminded of something which has been bugging me for a good while
now: does anyone anymore know how to properly run a fast break? The entire game
with Butler last night I never even saw so much as a hint at a break. Same thing
with pro BB: scoring averages over the past 30 years have dropped close to 15
points per team per game, in concert with like declines in shot percentage and shots
per minute. I swear that even on those rare occasions when a team finds itself
breaking that half the time they don’t seem to know what to do, and toss the ball
away or the guy with the ball swings outside and stops pushing it up the court or
something. Rare is the kind of feed and dunk that Magic Johnson and James Worthy
did to perfection.

So the question is why? I’ve heard that defenses deliberately lay back when the
ball hits the rim/backboard (thus lessening the number of offensive rebounds too).
Well why didn’t they do that back in the 80’s to stop the breaks of Boston, LA,
and Philly, when doing so would have been an obvious way to slow them down?
Seems like too convenient an excuse. I think the 3 point shot is partly to blame:
many teams would rather set up half court and try to work a shooter for a trey
anymore it seems.

Am I insane or does this represent a huge change in how the game is played? I
do know that after the heyday of the above teams passed (and Detroit, a very
defensively-oriented team, gained ascendancy), I started to lose interest in the
sport (esp. the pro version).

Sounds like a return back to the way things were. Maybe it means the epidemic of un-coached, non-disciplined playground antics has finally started to run its course.

You aren’t going to get many fast-break opportunities against a great defense like Butler. I don’t think Florida was even looking for fast breaks. They just tried to get it down to their frontline–all of whom had 3-6 inches on Butler–and when the Bulldogs collapsed too much, Florida found the open guy on the perimeter.

And Butler doesn’t run fast-breaks anyway (unless you hand them one on a platter). That’s how they controlled the pace of nearly every game they played this season.

People know how to run a fast-break, but people know how to defend against it, too.

You still get plenty of playground in the NBA, that’s what it’s there for. But you’ll start to see less and less of it when the Americans play at the international level because the Europeans, South Americans and others are skilled enough now to counter it.

Watch Kansas - UCLA, it’s on right now. Both teams know how to fast break, and play incredible defense.

The above comment about playground basketball in the NBA, while commonly believed, is completely wrong. A bad NBA team would completely shut down the best college team with it’s defense.

IMHO, the general level of play in the NBA is better than it has ever been. Esp on defense. While we may remember fondly Larry Bird dropping in an uncontested lay up or Moses Malone jamming in that 3rd in a row slam dunk, look at the calibre of the competition they faced.

Plus, the game has simply changed. I recall the 1986 playoff series between the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics. A big deal was being made of how good a defense Houston’s Robert Reid was putting up against French Lick Larry (Bird). It was as tho no one expected to see any D being played in a play off NBA game. Of course, that was the era that saw quite a few regular season games (IIRC) with final scores on both sides being in the 130s. (A local Houston fast food joint gave away free chicken to ticket holders if the Rockets scored 135 or more. I was at a couple of the games that cost the place some drumsticks.)

NBA teams are solid all around the league nowadays. For the most part. The game has shifted to a certain style. I can’t exactly say I like it, but there it is. It may yet shift again back to wide open offenses, who can say…