Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fast Five: Defensive Philosophy

Players can't follow instructions without clarity and specificity. Today's "Fast Five" shares our defensive philosophy. 



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

BOB 15 Options

We had some success with our 15 BOB play this year. As our players grow their basketball ken, they should develop options off, improvise and adapt. 

During voluntary off-season workouts, we can implement some new with the old. 




Left, we have the base entry and pick-and-roll option or a three from the top. 

Right, that should logically evolve into alternative off-ball screening and cutting. 

On an ad hoc basis, I envision a 'call' for a screen by 1 of any of the perimeter players or screen-the-screener action where 4 screens for 3 (e.g. cutting to the elbow) and 1 screens 4. 

Fast Five: In Game Assessment


Fast five in game assessment from Ronald Sen

Coaches have a variety of options and opportunities to intervene on behalf of their teams. Bossidy and Charan classify execution in their excellent work,  Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

An excerpt: Leaders Get the Behavior They Exhibit and Tolerate “the culture of a company is the behavior of its leaders. Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. You change the culture of a company by changing the behavior of its leaders. You measure the change in culture by measuring the change in the personal behavior of its leaders and the performance of the business.” 

How we lead, make decisions, and communicate with our team always matters. 



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Becoming Mentally Strong



Avoid self-destructive thoughts. Make better choices. Maintain control. Establish good habits. 

1) Unhealthy beliefs about ourselves. This is self-defeating. Control yourself to yesterday's you...
2) Unhealthy beliefs about others. Others do not control us. Do not give away your power. Do not compare yourself with others. 
3) Unhealthy beliefs about the world. The world does not owe us anything. 

How am I going to get through this? Why does this happen to me? 

"The secret to being mentally strong is giving up bad mental habits." You need to amass both positive good habits (like practicing gratitude) and eliminating poor ones (e.g. resenting others' success). 

Big changes can start with a small one. Consider what poor habits or beliefs are limiting you and what ONE STEP you can adopt TODAY to improve.

Replace unhealthy beliefs with better ones. 



Fast Five: Better Practice

"You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you 

become is very good at shooting the wrong way." - Michael Jordan


John Wooden taught eight steps in his Laws of Learning



  • Repetition is the core of learning.

Explanation

Demonstration

Imitation

Repetition

Repetition

Repetition

Repetition

Repetition


  • Use the '80-20 rule'. Spend 80 percent of the time on the most important 20 percent of the task. We can't realistically do that, be we can spend a disproportionate time on critical tasks including finishing and free throws. 
  • Use "nonverbal correction". Signal players (students) with a sign representing both correction and redirection ("move on", "next play").


  • Model excellence. Watch other successful practices to improve your own. We can always find steal other great ideas and make them our own share. Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe criticized UCONN's excellence. That's disrespecting greatness. UCONN raises the bar demanding others to elevate their game. 
  • Create a "performance-focused, feedback-rich" culture. To become transformative, we need clarity, communication, and connection. Players need to understand the priorities and emphasis of each evolution. Saying, "get back in defense" isn't detailed enough. We need to explain full engagement, positioning, protecting the basket, stopping the ball, "shaping up", and each specific we want executed. 


Practice Perfect by Lemov et al. is an excellent resource for implementing better practice

concepts. 


Monday, March 28, 2016

Success is a Choice

Develop better habits every day

A few excerpts:

1. THEY’RE ALWAYS HUNTING FOR SOLUTIONS.

Highly successful people look for, and find, opportunities where others see problems.

6. THEY’RE AUTHENTIC.

Highly successful people innovate rather than imitate. They know that the biggest opportunities lie in originality.

10. THEY PERSIST.

The road to success is cut through failure. Highly successful individuals must make being resilient a habit. When most would throw in the towel, they are just getting started.

13. THEY MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES.

Most successful people know to stay in shape and understand the importance of physical health. They know their creative power and business ability is directly linked to their own physical well-being.

20. THEY’RE OPTIMISTS.

They are not overtaken by doubt, they believe in their own ability and that the best is yet to come.

Fast Five Plus: Ken Loeffler, the Kingmaker

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana

Past and present coaches have plenty to teach us. LaSalle's Ken Loeffler is a great example of an outspoken coach from the 1950's and 1960's whose wisdom transcends time. He coached Tom Gola, one of the top collegiate players in history. 



His teams won the NIT in 1952, the NCAA championship in 1954, and were runnerup to the Dons (and Bill Russell) in 1955. 


My copy of Ken Loeffler on Basketball (1955)

After losing a game at NC State, Loeffler remarked, "This is the biggest steal since the Louisiana Purchase." He considered himself confident, but many in the coaching community found him arrogant. "Coaching is no popularity contest" and "I've never said anything that I didn't believe" were two of his other notable quotes. After Utah ended his team's twenty-one game winning streak at Madison Square Garden, the irascible Loeffler groused, "I'm sick and tired of losing." 




  1. Loeffler believed in two types of mistakes - intelligent mistakes (good decision with failed execution) and wild mistakes (poor decisions). 
  2. Loeffler wrote a letter to referee Phil Fox (whom he felt persecuted by in the NC State loss) and pledged to film all fouls and distribute the images in 'coaching schools' and 'demonstrations'. Despite Fox's protests, Loeffler didn't back down, and furthermore, felt he subsequently got fair but not favored treatment from Fox. 
  3. He believed in "incentive basketball"; "each man is required to execute every skill: screening, shooting, flash-pivot play, and rebounding...he is not a supporting actor. He too is a king."
  4. "...three distinctive elements necessary to make up a prime college prospect: namely, 1) extreme size, 2) extreme mobility, and 3) extreme shooting ability." That's the reality check that we can introduce to our 'families'. He believed that zone defenses impaired the ability to judge player's overall game. 
  5. He believed in teaching "when to shoot and when not to" before discussing mechanics.
  6. Without the ball, your role varies...from setting up yourself with cuts, to teammates by screening, or simply occupying a defender to prevent help or double-teaming. 
  7. Loeffler was not a believer in a "set pivot" focused offense. He argued the following: excess combination of intercepted passes to the pivot, missed shots from the pivot, poor rebounding position of the pivot man, and tendency to induce "watching" from other players. He preferred a "flash pivot" off a fake or screen. 




Sunday, March 27, 2016

Insight from Tom Izzo

Success interview with Tom Izzo.

Notes:

Persistence started his career when he took a job at MSU as a Graduate Assistant. 

Worked for Jud Heathcote for twelve years (nine as an assistant). This helped him learn how to handle the media. 

"Great coaches don't motivate, they inspire." Encourages players to take ownership. Inspired people have more durability. 

How do you inspire? Former players help a lot (e.g. Magic Johnson, Scott Skiles, Draymond Green)

What inspires you? His best friend is Steve Mariucci. He is inspired by 'sustained success' of Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick. 

"I steal from a lot of people." 

He spends time with players and that their dreams as individuals matter in addition to team accomplishments. He gives each player a notecard and asks each player to put down five individual goals. He then addresses with them whether they understand the difficulty involved. "What would make me a great coach?" He then acts to empower them with that reality. 

He appreciates that cultural differences shouldn't be barriers to working together. 

Identifying "cracks" in teams isn't always easy, but he has 'eyes and ears' on the staff to help him keep the pulse of the team. "Learn to listen and listen to learn." He has eight student managers and 'girl assistants' who facilitate communication. 

"Do you want to build a team or build a program?" He says that a "player coached team is better than a coach coached team." (References engagement and empowerment)

How do you stay happy? Family (tries to bring normalcy), jogging, mentors and friends, and "be sure of yourself but not have a big ego". He would like to have a legacy of consistency, hasn't sacrificed values that he believes, and is loyal to the program (entire university). 

Like the vast majority of successful people, he says the secret is in the work. 









Credentials and Coaching



Performance begins with passion...not saying that it ends there. 

Fast Five: Coming Off Screens

Happy Easter!

The great Pete Newell taught that the coach's primary responsibility is helping players "see the game." We teach CARE, an acronym for concentrate, anticipate, react, and execute. 

It's not perfect. Will Smith helped out with that, yesterday. I discussed a few points about setting screens...with the followup on coming off them today. I only made a few points, saying nothing about drag screens in transition, angles, defending screens, the many types of screens, et cetera. 

Equally important is the player receiving the screen. She may or may not have 'called for' the screen, but she must work to create separation


  1. Read the screen. If she has the ball, she must be able to go DOWNHILL and assess the defensive reaction. Will she drive, shoot if the defense goes under, split if a hedger overcommits, and can she make the passes on the roll, slip, or pop? 
  2. If she's receiving an off-the ball screen, if the defender trails, will she curl. If the defender is too aggressive, will she back cut, and when the defender gets tied up, can she 'bump', catch, and score? 
  3. The recipient must set up the cut
  4. "It's better to be too late than too early." So often we see players anxious to come off the screen who don't allow it to be set properly. Each time we allow this to happen in practice (I'm guilty, too), we encourage bad habits. 
  5. "Wait, wait, wait." Don Meyer told players to tell themselves this to encourage patience. 

A few of Coach Wooden's core values show up in the screen game. 



  1. Be true to yourself. 
  2. Help others (reminder: the screener is the second cutter)
  3. Make each day your masterpiece. 

Bonus: I teach players coming off the screen to grab your teammate (gently) and turn her into the play (guarantees correct rolling). Will Smith can help us on that one, too!

What is the best two minutes in sports...not the Kentucky Derby.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fast Five: Setting Screens

The core of excellent offense includes spacing, cutting, passing, and screening. Coaches have a tendency to prefer a screen-based system or a dribble-drive and pass system depending on talent and personal experience. 

The players I have and my preference favor a screen-based offense. Of course, sometimes what happens doesn't go as I envision it. 




  1. The screener has to know some of the Six Honest Serving Men: when, where, and how? I want screeners to headhunt (screen the body, not foul) not screen an area. 
  2. Use misdirection. I want screeners (like cutters) to set up the screen with an angled screen to limit the communication and time that defenders have to communicate and react. 
  3. Screening is an opportunity, not an obligation. "The screener is the second cutter." The screener is often more open than the cutter. 
  4. Sprint into the screen. This also limits defensive response time. 
  5. Protect yourself and don't foul. I encourage players to grab their wrist with their dominant hand which helps lock the arms in (it's not perfect). 

The Interplay of Strength and Weakness: 500th Post

"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet." - Damon Runyon


How our teams function sits at the intersection of strength and weakness. We can sometimes derive ideas from other disciplines. For example, we may have a 'good' offensive player who is a severe defensive liability. Or we have a powerful player who is a poor free throw shooter leading to Hack-a-Shaq strategy. We need to determine whether one skill offsets the corresponding weakness.



Finding solutions informs our job. Because the game is eighty percent mental, a player's "basketball IQ" matters. 

I Keep Six Honest Serving Men

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes
One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
- Rudyard Kipling


Be objective. How? I sometimes ask the players to 'tell me'. Who moves best without the ball? Who rebounds best? Let them model the best practices for each other.

Leverage and maintain strength. We're small, fast, and athletic. We have to play fast, extend our defense, and dominate foul-line to foul-line. Because we play fast, we need superior conditioning.

Camouflage weakness. Everyone has to rebound. We can't leak out players in transition...we need the ball first.

Improve weakness (skill, conditioning, teamwork, mental toughness). The middle block of the 'Pyramid of Success' defines an important core identity. You will never find a shortcut to success.

Limit opponent's strength. We will never be able to completely arrest what our opponent wants to do or does best. But if they want to pound the ball inside, we need more ball pressure, better post defense even though it may mean fronting with better backside help. We can't afford the charity of undisciplined fouls.

Attack opponent's weakness. Are they slow? How well are they conditioned? Basketball success demands finding a way to attrite our opponent. We have to wear them down with 'body shots' and then finally 'chop down the beanstalk'.

Adapt and overcomeDo more of what's working and less of what isn't. Although we need to do everything better, we definitely need to shoot better. That means both accuracy and range, and versatility within your system. A shooter needs to learn to shoot off the catch and the dribble, off the curl and the downscreen. That demands a wealth of repetitions, a concomitant of commitment and competitiveness. 

What price are you willing to pay to solve the delicate balance of strengths and weaknesses within your available resources? 



Friday, March 25, 2016

Footprints

"Success leaves footprints." - Kevin Eastman

Why is your program special? What do "insiders" say? What would an outsider who watches your program see? What would you want people to notice? What would you want to change? 

If there is anything special about our program, it's the players who have committed to play with high energy, high effort, and high tempo. Many came to twice a week offseason (outdoor) workouts. But it's also the sacrifice made by the parents who pony up significant program fees for gym time, uniforms, and league expenses. We have two sets of twins on the team, so that goes double for them. The enduring answers are WORK and SACRIFICE.

We play our home games in a superior facility. 

In the Navy, we had an expression, "S.I.E.", the Syndrome of Inappropriate Enthusiasm. Two of the three coaches are over sixty and we're not coaching our own children. I say, "I have an extra thirteen granddaughters." People probably wonder 'why'? Teaching basketball well teaches life skills. 

Outsiders would probably say, "This is basketball. Where are all the tall kids?" Seriously, a "blinded" observer should hear the enthusiasm and the hearing-impaired see the enthusiasm. Some could argue that we should be playing a harder schedule or more games. Others might note the lack of program integration with the high school. 

The players can experience a culture of teamwork, quality, and accountability. They should enjoy the game and their teammates. The parents should see growth in their children's willingness to work together, to share sacrifice, and to become 'gym rats'. 

Leave footprints and we won't hear footsteps.  

Fast Five: Winning the Close Game

There is a magic formula for being a better coach - start by acquiring and developing better players. That doesn't mean you'll have better people around you, because sometimes you have a less agreeable individual in the mix. 

But coaches get recognized like Bear Bryant, "he can take your'n and beat his'n, or his'n and beat your'n." Why? They're prepared for special situations. 


  1. You need an offensive and defensive delay game. Whatever your 'call', you need players to understand when and how to shorten the game (leading) and extend the game (steals, fouling, faster play) when trailing. Another pet peeve of mine is a team leading a relatively close game and a player (in my town) comes down and immediately jacks up a shot. Minus 100 in the respect column. It's a coaching problem.
  2. What are your 'go to' plays in a MUST SCORE situation - BOB, SLOB, versus man and versus zone? 
  3. Free throws. We've all seen teams win or lose at the line. It's exhilarating. It's maddening. Local hoop guru Tom Hellen has a saying, "teams that can shoot free throws do as well in the post-season as dogs that chase cars." I believe in "practice pressure" free throws where you can say anything or do anything to the shooter except touch or obstruct. 
  4. Can you value the ball under pressure? You've got to get the ball in, advance, and protect the ball. Do you have an inbounder that makes great decisions and can execute? Fans and coaches will remember the Texas A&M and Northern Iowa game forever for that ending. We play 5 against 7 (or 8) for just that reason. 
  5. Don't waste timeouts. Carolina's Dean Smith always tried to have three timeouts for the final four minutes. That reminds me of Coach Nick Saban's admonition, "invest your time, don't spend it." 



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fast Five: Absolutes


You are all familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. But what belongs in our Basketball Daily Needs? 

Preparation. "Deliberate practice" requires carefully planning into both the elements and the sequence of practice. You wouldn't scrimmage first and then introduce new concepts to be tested during play. Alternating higher and less intense activities gives the players some chance to recover. 

Detail-orientation. "Little things make big things happen," reminds Coach Wooden. Setting screens properly, waiting for them, setting up cuts, "shaping up" in transition, and being properly positioned defensively every possession matter. Last night I saw Amir Johnson get back to stop the ball in transition against a guard. But Marcus Smart, who was miserable most of the game, flew by him to protect the basket if Johnson got beat off the dribble. Smart's presence simply discouraged the guard from even trying it. 

Energy. "Nothing great is accomplished without enthusiasm." It's no accident that ENTHUSIASM and INDUSTRIOUSNESS are the cornerstones of Coach Wooden's 'Pyramid of Success'. 

Concentration. Most coaches share the admonition of play hard, play smart, and play together. Because eighty percent of the game is mental, without concentration, players will make mental mistakes...no coach every said, "don't just do something, stand there." CARE. "Concentration leads to anticipation, leading to reaction and execution." Concentration leads to 'engagement' or "getting in the fight". 

"TEAM First." This message gets expressed in different ways by many leaders. Don Meyer shared "Passion, UNITY, servant leadership, humility, and thankfulness." Coach Wooden's central block contains condition, skill, and TEAM SPIRIT. Shaka Smart's core values are: "appreciation, enthusiasm, competitiveness, accountability, and TEAMSHIP." However diligently one enhances their skills, they are incomplete or wasted without sacrifice to the TEAM. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Developing More Motion in Your Offense

"Spacing is offense and offense is spacing." - Chuck Daly

"Just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean I want you to shoot." - Bob Knight

"Basketball is a game of cutting and passing." 

While the 'ideal' offense allows freedom of movement and development of decision-making, the reality requires "automating" (forcing) passing and cutting or building in those actions. While excellent defense always requires five player participation, successful offense more often gets played in 'chunks' (two-on-two, three-on-three) and with players separating or occupying (defenders) on either the ball side or the help side. 

Every offense requires spacing to facilitate driving and cutting, open passing lanes, and limit both help and trapping. Because we have minimal height, I also want to move the opposition bigs away from the basket. 

What kind of actions might we build into our offense? Here are some obvious choices:


  • Isolations (doesn't get everyone involved)
  • Give-and-go (two players)
  • On-the-ball screens (two players)
  • Post flash with wing back cut ("blind pig", "pivot play", isolation - three players)
  • PG pseudo-bury into Flex (four players)
  • PG screen away (three players)
We can inform our player and ball movement according to our personnel and skills...and drill to execute these actions better. Note, these are only my random musings...not an established offense. 

Let's consider some specifics. 

 Left, five out, with a wing pass sets up a give-and-go. 4 and 2 fill up. 

Right, 2 screens away for 4 on "shuffle like" action. 
This continues into ball reversal to the top with 'flex' action for 5 and 4. If 4 doesn't have the shot, the action can 'reset' with 2 cutting through as the action can restart...or if 2 is overplayed, she can back cut and attack the basket. 


Fast Five: Motivating

Players can respond to both internal and external motivation. Search for new and better tools and opportunities to use them. 

Set high expectations. We create expectations. One of the best ways to 'get more' is to ask for more. We were missing a key player who was our leading rebounder. I asked every player to get 'one more' rebound. They got enough for us to win, the difference between a league championship and second place. 

Connect every day. I work to greet every player by name when they arrive and encourage them. Nothing is more personal than your name. 

Praise effort of 'unsung' contributors within the group. The scorers and rebounders garner plenty of accolades. But defenders and screeners deserve recognition, too. Water the flowers

Spread the news. Share your praise outside the immediate circle. Recognize the players' contributions in the media or official team publications. 

Celebrate TEAM. The indefatigable Kevin Sivils reminds us about the vitality of TEAM by capitalizing it. He wrote the book...Teaching the TEAM Concept in Sports. Constantly reinforce TEAM and the importance of every member. 

These aren't the only measures available. Before an especially big game, I've asked players to sign a pledge that they would give their highest effort today. That's a one-time stimulus. As I recall, Sylvia Hatchell once asked her team at halftime to put a hand over their hearts. She asked if anyone felt a heartbeat, because she hadn't seen any signs in the first half. Her Lady Tarheels rallied to win. Whatever it takes...


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thanks






Make Up Your Summer Practice "To Do" List

The offseason is here. What have you planned today to make your team better? The practice schedule should point us in the right direction and a brief self-examination after practice should confirm progress. If only one player shows, she should be better than she was before. We have to practice with even more tempo, "go hard or go home." 

We need to improve in every area - game understanding, skill, teamwork. We still need to value SIMPLICITY with teaching over coaching. Resist the temptation to OVERFEED. The highest priority (for us) belongs to scoring the ball. 

Highest priority areas: 

I. Shooting 
    A. Technique ("Technique beats tactics")
    B. Perimeter - "Repetitions make reputations"
         1. 30 buckets
         2. Introduce '168' (Pitino)
         3. 4 Minute shooting
         4. Ortega sequences
         5. Combo drills (conditioning - shooting)
         6. Star drill
    C. Finishing inside*** 
         1. Hinkle layup radians
         2. Reverse (from multiple angles)
         3. Two footed finishing 

II. Zone Offense 
   A. Review general concepts***
   B. Detailed execution
          1. Clock
          2. Down (and modifications)
          3. Side ball screen 
          4. X concepts

III.Passing/cutting/finishing
   A. Shivek basic
   B. Shivek advanced
   C. 4 on 4 no dribble
   D. Indiana (small-sided game - tunnel)
   E. Stanford (small-sided game - from split)

Secondary priority areas:

 I. Early Offense
   A. 5
   B. Horns 
   C. DHO

II. Individual defense 
   A. One on one (Full) 
   B. Closeouts
   C. Post (2 man game) 

III.Team Defense
   A. Introduce new press

IV. Introduction to Film Study (Email annotated clips) 

Bare Necessities

From Up the Organization, "If you're a small or medium-size business trying to make the grade, you're going to have to take on a few of the burdens of the publicly owned companies. But only a few. And for that reason carefully examine every new expense and activity to see whether it's a necessity or an ornament."

Does that resonate? The saying "make the big time where you are" can't start with ego and expense but should seek energy and excellence. If we're doing a good job, then those we serve will recognize the obvious. If we're not, why advertise? 

Within the hospital, I've advocated for the "patient experience." What went well, what needs improvement? Within the team, what was the "player experience"? What was the philosophy taught, the culture, and the identity? Who are we and how do we play? Would you want your son or daughter to play for this (fill in the blank)? 

The problem we all face is "how do I make this simpler?" For example, let's examine defense. I'm pretty sure that nobody on my team would answer the "5 Tasks" correctly:

Pressure the Ball
Deny Lane Entry
Deny Access (cutters, post)
Contest Shots without Fouling
Defensive Rebounding

I want to believe that everyone would know, "No Easy Baskets" or the more cryptic "Hard 2s". But wanting comes in the not having. 

The "symmetry principle" of basketball might say:

Take Care of the Basketball
Penetrate (and Pass)
Move without the Ball
Quality Shots
Offensive Rebounding

But the legendary Pete Newell distills that to "get more and better shots than your opponent." Simple. Elegant. Timeless. 


Monday, March 21, 2016

Wise Advice

Robert Townsend's Up the Organization shares many terrific ideas. Consider the following. You are asked for an interview on an issue in your specialty. Townsend suggests three specific rules:


  1. Be honest. 
  2. Pretend your competition is listening. 
  3. Don't forecast. 
"Discuss your season and the upcoming post-season."

  1. We enjoyed a really productive season aligned along our culture of teamwork, quality, and accountability. The players embraced working hard, practicing and playing at a high tempo. We had some good bounces and we were fortunate to make some plays during close games. I'm proud of our kids' effort because they never quit. 
  2. There are a lot of very good players and dedicated coaches that we'll be seeing. It's important to respect their preparation and experience and recognize they've all improved this season. We know that we have a lot to learn and the post-season always disburses valuable lessons. 
  3. The regular season is meaningless when you go into the tournament. The intensity level ramps up and players need to compete every possession if they want to be successful. Coach Don Meyer had it right - "it doesn't matter who you play; it matters how you play." 

History Lesson: Ken Loeffler

Ken Loeffler coached in the 1950s (La Salle, Texas A&M) with innovative 'motion oriented' ideas. He believed in the primacy of spacing, running offense from the center of the court, and passing and cutting over dribbling. He highly valued movement without the ball. 

He believed that in 'equal opportunity' (incentive-based) offense, where every player could have the opportunity to score if they had the requisite skills. "Every player is a king." 

His "Screen-Weave" offense began with decision-execution options for his point guard.

The PG could drive or pass and screen on the ball side. 

 Conversely, with overplay, he could slip the ball screen. 

With hard overplay, the wing had a back cut option.

A post "flash" set up actions on both sides with the PG screening away and an option for 'blind pig' action on the ball side. If nothing materializes, then the 5 has the one-on-one opportunity. 

Loeffler didn't complete eschew set offenses, but believed that freelance execution was harder to defend. 

Something of a Renaissance Man, Loeffler also had a law degree and served in the Army as a Major. 

Fast Five: The Art of Personal Efficiency

Wilferd Peterson's "Art of Living" shares concepts for better living. Highlights from another chapter:

"Personal efficiency is creative self-management. It is not getting ahead of others, but getting ahead of yourself." 

"It is putting first things first, getting one thing done at a time and developing the art of intensive concentration."

"It is using Kipling's "six honest serving men" - What and Why and When and How and Who and Where."

"It is setting up personal incentives - promising yourself rewards for work completed."

"It is seeking the counsel of wise men in person and through their writings and using their wisdom and experience to help you live efficiently." 

Peterson simplified, "What do I need to do now? How can I do it better and whom can I call upon as a resource?" 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Final Exam

Joshua Wooden

Today is the final day I'll be assisting with one of our groups. I had assisted with this group for two years, and then our local Recreation Department insisted that the head coach and I divide our coaching among two separate groups. Apparently parents complained (backhanded compliment) that they wanted more 'coaching equality' among the different grades. 

I'm asking for a few minutes to make a few observations. 

"The game honors toughness." - Brad Stevens
Toughness, physical and mental expresses itself on every play, on every day in class, homework assignment, piano lesson or dance class, how you clean your room. The most dreaded words (for me) in sports are "soft" and "quitter." They're the opposite sides of the same coin. 

"Basketball is sharing." - Phil Jackson
Not everyone will be a great player, but everyone can be a great teammate. Playing unselfishly, supporting your teammates, energizing your TEAM may not come naturally. But it's worth the effort. Would you want to be on a team where everyone didn't feel that way? 

"Never confuse achievement with activity." - John Wooden
How good can I be? What must I do to improve? What price will I pay? Am I investing my time or spending it? Decisions determine destiny. 

"A lion never roars after a kill." - Dean Smith
Basketball doses all of us with adversity and failure. How do I respond to success and failure? Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. 

"Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin
We get a chance to model excellence and become a better version of ourselves every day. Don't be a person who revisits their life saying, "If only..." Take control of what you can control and follow Joshua Wooden's advice, "Make every day your masterpiece." 

More Zak Boisvert Zone Offense Breakdown

"Good artists borrow; great artists steal." - Picasso



See 1:15 (Warrior) This action is very similar to the MSU (Izzo) 'Down' set but it enters the ball from the top. 

Screening the middle of the zone is a regular theme.

Later, (at 2:04 in the video), they run a higher ball screen from below. 4 and 5 set up below the blocks (behind the zone) and are "invisible". They screen X2 pressuring X4 having to cover both penetration and perimeter shooting. That leaves 5 or 3 potentially open. Providence used this to screen different players (e.g. the top) in different zones, e.g. against the 3-2. 


Yes, you need good decisions, passing, and finishing. But it returns us to core principles against zone defense:

1) Dribble into gaps looking to confuse defenses and pass
2) Reverse the ball and deform the zone
3) Flash to open shots 
4) Post up when available
5) Screen 

Zone Quick Hitter from Zak Boisvert: Delenda est Carthago

"Delenda est Carthago." - Cato

Zak Boisvert, like Wes Kosel and others, is indefatigable in identifying AND sharing basketball concepts. I admire such single-minded educators. 



My team is tiny and we face almost exclusively zone. We need to improve our transition, shooting, toughness, intelligence, and zone offense concepts if we want to compete better against bigger, stronger teams. 

At 1:47 of the video, Zak shares one approach to get paint penetration. 

Providence works three on two with a side ball screen to initiate the play...and then pins the middle defender with a screen. Nice. 

I need to find taller parents...


Fast Five: Footwork Advantages

Pete Newell would remind 'students' of the importance of FOOTWORK, BALANCE, and MANEUVERING SPEED. Footwork develops under the harsh light of repetition. 

In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle streamlines the process. 

The neuroplasticity of the process gets expressed with deposition of myelin, a nerve coating, which increases the SPEED and RELIABILITY of signal transmission.  "Muscle memory" is really "myelin memory." 

Day to day, here are a FAST FIVE of footwork that can help develop better players. 


  1. When the upon the ball defender forces a 'dead dribble', surround the ballhandler's pivot foot. This limits her escape options and ability to create passing angles. 
  2. Teach players with the ball to attack the front foot (hand). When the defender is 'angled' instead of straight up (e.g. the right foot is ahead), she slides quickly with the left foot when going left, but will have to 'drop step' if the ballhandler goes left. 
  3. When the post player comes up to the elbow, looking to pass to a back cutter (e.g. blind pig), if she catches the ball with her feet at a forty-five-degree angle to the lane, the pass will be easier to complete. 
  4. When defending the pick and roll, the picker's defender should align her feet in the same plane as the screener...whether hedging or trapping. This doesn't apply to "ICE". 
  5. Coaches go "mental" when traps get split or defeated up the sideline. In a trap, I believe the defenders' feet should 'touch' and when denying the sideline advance, I don't care if the defender has to stand with one foot out of bounds to deny the dribble. Don't give the sideline. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shooting (Annotated) from Juan Ortega



IMO, shooting is the most important and worst taught element of basketball. Juan Ortega shares a FIBA shooting clinic. 


  • You shoot with your whole body. 
  • He reviews hand, foot, and knee position and alignment
  • "Shoot to the sky" (arc development) 
  • Steve Nash shows us that the elbow is in

  • 10:15 Coach emphasizes shooting off the dribble and separating
  • 11:10 Demonstrates drill with pivot into dribble stepback
  • 13:15 DRILL - Form, rebound, outlet, cut around screen, catch and shoot (good drill with a partner)
  • 14:38 Modifies to fake, cross, shoot
  • Detail-oriented, correct execution
  • Technique, repetition, variety but always remember technique
  • Emphasizes building in pressure elements (e.g. how many shots to make 10)
  • 22:10 DRILL - 2 line pass, cut, and shoot (rebound your shot), modify into fake and one dribble shot.     
  • Reminder: "set up your cut...'true and false' game"
  • Fake slow to go fast
  • DRILL 28:18 Low cut to high (elbow), work shot and/or fake into drive
  • DRILL 31:00 Catch and shoot into opposite backscreen/flare screen shot
  • DRILL 37:30 Simulate scoring off screens   
  • Adjust drills, range to level of players
  • Drill can simulate and practice multiple actions