The System

Just wanted to add a few comments to what Sriram said about last night’s 30 for 30 entry “The Guru of Go.”  I agree with his general thought that the filmmaker’s overlapping storylines is what held this entry back.  A quick introduction of the “system” could have ceded to the real star of this story, the 1990 Loyola Marymount team, and its stars Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers.  Other thoughts:

  • The Shakespeare transitions were contrived; moreover they’ve been done before in a documentary to much greater effect, see the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury.
  • The segment at the end about Westphal coaching the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and instituting the “system” there was, well, unnecessary.  I had to look this up, but in their best season with Westphal, they averaged 89 points.  Sorry, the “system” did not produce point averages that low, even if it is the WNBA.
  • One last nitpick, but rather than that last segment about Westphal’s travels since LMU, I was more interested in what happened to the other guys on the 90 LMU team.
  • Westphal’s “system” was premised on being in great shape, run, get up more shots than your opponent, and trick the other team into playing at your pace where they will inevitably either get sloppy or just plain run out of gas.  It’s quite simple, and from playing a lot of pickup ball in my day, is how I approached those type of games.  Being small and quick, and generally being able to run for much longer than my opponent, my goal was to run a fast break every time my team had the ball.  Whether that meant immediately sprinting downcourt any time an opponent’s shot went up and waiting for the long bomb pass and easy layup, or pushing the ball as soon as I got it, it worked a lot.  So, I’ve always enjoyed teams and coaches that take this approach, as opposed to the boring halfcourt game that many coaches run.
  • Hank Gathers’ death was sad, and seeing the footage last night made me sad again.  It appears that Gathers felt the need to continue playing, and to make it to the NBA, after his first collapse and that desire to “make it” and provide for his family led to his death.  The resiliency of his teammates and the incredible run they made in his honor got short shrift and should have been the focus of this documentary.
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