Cherry picking (basketball)
Cherry picking is a strategic act sometimes used in basketball to give a team a higher scoring chance. A player who performs this act is known as a cherry picker. It is sometimes frowned upon, and in some cases it is considered "cheating", even though there is usually not a rule against it. The purpose in this is to create a likely easy scoring opportunity when the defensive team obtains the ball from the offensive team via defensive rebound, steal, or other turnover. Supposedly when a teammate of the cherry picker obtains the ball, he or she should then make a long pass or heave to the cherry picker who will likely make an easy two point basket (usually a layup or dunk).
Cherry picking itself is typically legal in most forms of official organized league basketball, even though it is not used that often. Sometimes, in recreational or amateur basketball, rules will be employed outlawing cherry picking. Cherry picking in rules is defined as a defensive player being on his or her offensive half of the court when the opposing team is in possession of the ball. Usually that rule is that any points scored by a cherry picker as a result of cherry picking are disallowed and the opposing team gets possession of the ball.
There are two main methods of cherry picking. The first is the "camping out" method. In the "camping out" method, a player does not play defense and "camps out" on his or her offensive. The cherry picker waits for a teammate to obtain the ball and then heave it to him or her for a very high percentage shot due to being a fast break.
The second is the "bolting" or "breaking" method. In the "bolting" or "breaking" method, a defensive player "bolts" or "breaks" down the court as soon as the offensive team shoots the ball towards the basket. This is done mostly on jump shots, as it allows sufficient time to run while the ball is in the air. If and when the cherry picker's team retrieves the ball on defense, the teammate will throw the ball to the cherry picker who is usually running while making the catch, who then will usually make the easy basket.
Cherry picking is controversial to some players, coaches and spectators. It is sometimes considered to be a violation of an unwritten rule. A cherry picker may become unpopular among teammates, opponents, and fans.
Teammates may not throw the ball to would-be cherry pickers to show what they consider to be proper sportsmanship. Additionally, teammates may not throw the ball to a cherry picker because they feel that he does not "deserve" to get the ball because he is "slacking", being lazy, and not playing defense.
Opposing players may resent the cherry picking player. Fans may also dislike cherry picking players, if they subscribe to this point of view as being an unwritten rule, similar to the unwritten rule of not running up the score needlessly in the closing moments of a game.
Coaches on some official league teams may bench a player who attempts to cherry pick, or may kick him or her off the team. Such coaches also do not accept cherry picking, and likewise consider it to be refraining from defense, and lazy and slacking play.
However, in other official leagues, it is considered just one more legal play in intense competition. In basketball, cherry picking cannot be successfully executed by a single player, as can be seen from the definition of the play. Someone must agree to make an outlet pass to the cherry picker, for the strategy to be effectual.
The argument that a cherry picker is not playing defense can be countered by the fact that a cherry picker must be defended by the opposite team, or it risks having the play be successfully run. Hence it provides defensive assistance to teammates of the cherry picker at the other end by removing one of the opponent's players from the cherry picker's team's backcourt. However, it can also be utilized as an excuse by a player to avoid having to run baseline to baseline. To be meaningful, a cherry picking play must be a part of the team's repertoire, not just a single player play, similar to a slam dunk.
Similarly, where the play is not against the rules, anyone arguing, fighting or brawling over the play would be considered an example of poor sportsmanship, as a reaction to being outplayed and possibly embarrassed by the cherry picker. To object to this in a league where it is legal would often be considered as anachronistic as objecting to the use of a zone defense as being "lazy" or "unfair" just because it was once illegal.
Although it is impossible for a player to unilaterally score as a cherry picker, it can, and sometimes does, provide a convenient excuse for a player too lazy to run downcourt to play defense. It is likely that this pseudo-cherry picking is what gives rise to the belief that it is an act of laziness, "slacking", and/or not playing defense.
Usage in other sports
Although cherry picking is most common in basketball, it is also sometimes used in other sports.
Cherry picking is somewhat common in water polo, where it may also be referred to as "sea-gulling". Cherry picking in water polo uses a similar strategy as that of basketball where a swimmer of the defensive team hangs out on his or her offensive end and awaits a pass from his or her teammate once they get the ball back. This increases the likelihood of scoring for the cherry picking team.
Cherry picking is against the rules in association football, where an offside rule prevents this. In indoor football in many European countries, a rule named "Man over the line" prevents any player crossing the middle of the court, apparently to encourage more play in attack, and make it easier to score. In Britain staying near the goal is informally called "goal hanging".
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