Monday, October 31, 2016

Distribution Channels and the Playbook

Communication should be clear and thorough but not burdensome in length or frequency. I've written about The Notebook and Handouts. In addition, how should we communicate with players? 

I send every new communication via parental email. That doesn't guarantee communication but it avoids miscommunication. If there are more serious issues (this is rare), information gets communicated directly to the player with a parent present. Older players can get group email or text distribution. 

I've considered having a team website but don't choose to do so. 

Carl Pierson, in his excellent book, The Politics of Coaching, discusses the importance of having another adult present when counseling and correcting players. There is no reason to be ensnared in "he said, she said" situations. I welcome parents at practice to promote additional transparency. 

How do we 'select' players? After tryouts, we rank every player from top to bottom and transmit the list to the recreation department. They send 'selectees' an offer to participate and non-selectees information about alternates and alternative teams (e.g. YMCA and the Recreation Department league). Parents 'confirm' by paying a deposit toward fees. If a player declines acceptance, the next on the alternate list is extended an offer. There is no great way to tell a youngster they haven't made the team. 

Players and families receive the program philosophy, priorities, and playbook. I distribute this by email. The playbook contains general information, defenses, offenses, press breaks, and commonly used specialty plays (e.g. BOBs and SLOBs). 

Here is the first page:

Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” - Picasso

My goal is to create an environment where players learn basketball principles, individual skills, and team concepts. Because basketball is 80 percent MENTAL, players who grasp and execute concepts have a major advantage. This online playbook comes many sources, including professional and major college basketball teams.

Priorities for players are:
  1. Family
  2. School
  3. Basketball

Winning is great and I’m a competitive person, but winning is NOT the top priority. I want players to love the game, learn the game, and share their knowledge to become teachers of the game. My ego isn’t tied to little kids winning or losing. Seeing players grow in athleticism and skill, emotionally, psychologically, and (TEAM) spiritually is what counts. You play for your teammates, not your family, coaches, school, or community. TEAM comes first.

Words like commitment, discipline, and sacrifice have meaning off the court. High character players with these values will succeed OFF the court.

My emphasis is: (to do your job you must know your job)
  • Explicit instruction/attention to detail
  • Expectations (high) of effective process
  • Energy
  • Execution with constant challenge to improve (‘Kaizen’)

We incorporate drills that apply to our basketball offenses and defenses. As players gain competence and confidence to run a few plays we will add more. I will limit the overall number to as small as needed. The World Champion Boston Celtics of the 1960s ran six basic offensive plays with options.




Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fast Five: Answers from Annapolis


Young players have to "figure it out". 

Plebes start the path to understanding at the Naval Academy by learning five critical answers: Yes, Sir.    No, Sir.    Aye, Aye, Sir.    Right away, Sir.    I don't know but I'll find out, Sir. These answers are simple, clear, and show deference. They are not 'academic' as each has specific usage. 

We don't have to agree with someone to respect them. In the military, everyone understands the chain of command. But we can also respect both people and opinions as a courtesy, regardless of their correctness. Work to earn respect so if someone speaks ill of us, others will know our character as worthy. 

"Yes, Sir." I hear and I understand. Our place is not to agree or disagree but know the policy. 

"No, Sir."  ...without equivocation or hesitation. 

"Aye, Aye, Sir." Some say the repetition clarifies in noisy conditions. This means that an order is understood and will be carried out. It transcends simple acknowledgement. 

"Right away, Sir." This implies immediacy, a sense of urgency. Do it now. 

"I don't know but I'll find out, Sir." This response shows intent to follow-through by getting more information.  

Make a Difference



What Are You Willing to Fight For?

"Man is pushed by drives, but he is pulled by values." - Viktor Frankl 


If you stand for anything, then you stand for nothing. That is, if you put up with a lot of nonsense, you and your team have no self-respect. We decide what rules our aspirations...ego or values.

What are the beliefs, attitudes, and values that you're willing to fight for? As a coach and as a team, you develop an ethos, a raison d'etre, an uncompromising identity. "This is who we are, what we represent." We lead, teach, mentor, inspire, and facilitate growth for our players and teams. The experience must transcend basketball. 

If we advocate for a hundred positions, we water down the commitment to any. 

Players. Players need to feel valued with practice time, individual attention, roles, and "performance-focused, feedback-rich" communication. Asking for a buy in without connection is unrealistic. 

Culture. "You fight for your culture every day." There's a distinction between slogans and action. I respect parental input, but the experience has to be about the players. The good of the team takes precedence. We aim for a "One Band, One Sound" mentality. 

Process. We can't deviate from a process developed to improve players (on and off the court) and teams. We need relentless focus on preparation and practice activities that translate directly to how we play. "Movement kills defenses" and "no easy shots" are core beliefs. 

Respect. "This is how we play." Our play should speak for itself. Respect yourself, your teammates, your opponent, the officials, and The Game. I was assisting at a game this summer when an older boys team literally started encroaching on the court and dribbling balls on the court with about five minutes remaining. I spoke to a young man (who looked like a leader) on the team and explained that our girls would never disrespect his team and the game that way. I politely asked him to ask his teammates to respect the game. He understood. Play hard but not "prison ball". Go to the floor. Value the ball. Share the ball. Represent. 

Improvement. Every day needs meaning. Be grateful and express gratitude. How did I invest my time today? What lessons did life teach? What did I give? Become your "better version." 

Awareness. Play smart. Etorre Messina emphasizes "0.5". You get 0.5 seconds to make a decision. Move the ball and yourself. See opportunity, create chances. 

We're teaching children. These core attitudes, beliefs, and values aren't second nature. Children are inherently egocentric (self-focused). Education changes behavior. Make a difference. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Etorre Messina Principles and a Movement/Spacing Drill

So many great videos share elite coaching and concepts. FIBA has amazing video. I continually remind players that basketball is a game of "cutting and passing." Sometimes showing them means more. We all have to decide which drills apply for our purposes. 


Etorre Messina was phenomenally successful in Europe and has a big role for the Spurs. He emphasizes ball movement, communicating, shooting. "You have moments for teaching and moments for competing." 

Penetrate, kick, and space. 

He emphasizes communication needs within drills...encouragement and expectations. He wants to know what makes here (Spurs) unique. 

Competitive shooting drill:

Shoot from different spots (corner, elbow, wing, top of key, bank shots) 

Turning Good into Great? Post 800.

"Craziness can pass for audaciousness. Delusions can pass for confidence, ignorance for courage." - Ryan Holiday in Ego is the Enemy

Most people want to do good work. Some willingly sacrifice to achieve excellence. A very few become exceptional. What transforms good to excellent to exceptional? 


Steven M.R. Covey examines trust. Leadership inspires trust. Character and competence point you in the right direction. Capabilities and results can prove disastrous (dictators, strongmen, tyrants) without integrity and positive intent. All the integrity and good intent in the world without work and skill accomplish nothing. 

"Many people" seek shortcuts to fame and fortune. Most likely, that produces infamy and disrepute. Consider the story of Rosie Ruiz and the Boston Marathon. She finished first by skipping most of the course and ended up exposed as a fraud. Her false pretense to be great recalls Shakespeare's words, "This above all to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." 

How do the character dimensions (integrity and intent) translate into function (results)? Plenty of authors have examined the 'success growers', Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code, Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, Carol Dweck in Mindset. Included by Coyle is the dominance of technique, Gladwell shares "10,000 hours", and Dweck emphasizes a 'growth' mindset of challenges over a fixed mindset of innate ability. Indeed, "the magic is in the work." 

Ultimately, excellence follows process. Warren Buffett succeeds at the intersection of "margin of safety" value, growth, and efficient capital deployment. Jack Clark leads Cal's rugby program based upon a "performance culture." Bill Walsh, architect of the 49ers had his "Standards of Performance." Bill Belichick, who has earned six NFL title rings has "The Patriot Way." Nick Saban has authored five NCAA Championships in football using "The Process." And John Wooden led the UCLA Bruins to ten basketball championships built around the "Pyramid of Success." Exceptional performance follows exceptional preparation leading to consistent execution. 

The Japanese have a word for the improvement process: "kaizen".

We can improve. This is how. You matter. Let's do it together. 


Cal Rugby coach Jack Clark believes that teams need "shared vocabulary", which is really about core values. His culture emphasizes accountability, competence, shared leadership, and commitment with a strong focus on building on "what went well."

What do I believe is most critical within our process?

1. Team first. "It's about us not me." 
2. Practice, not games, lies at the root of improvement. 
3. Model excellence and get the best staff you can. 
4. Make practice hard so that games are easier. 
5. Learn to apply and overcome pressure (constraints, numerical disadvantage).
6. Give and get feedback to provide challenges and clarity. 
7. Make practice as competitive as possible. 
8. Push tempo and condition within drills and scrimmages. 
9. Share skills that will translate into daily activity ("Above the Line" behavior).
10. Create high expectations. Everyone should be on the honor roll. 







Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fast Five: Pat Summitt on Attitude

Greg Brown's The Best Things I've Seen in Coaching features the teachings of Pat Summitt and Don Meyer. 

Here are a few (annotated) excerpts from the chapter Make Winning an Attitude

1. "Attitude is a choice." Attitude reflects the message we tell ourselves. Attitude appears in our physical appearance, the content and tone of our speech, and in our body language.

2. "No one has ever gotten anywhere by being negative." Henry Ford said, "whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right." Negative people lower the energy level. Negative people aren't about sharing.

3. "Belief in yourself is what happens when you know you've done the things that entitle you to success." This mirrors Coach Wooden's definition of success. 



We can also instill confidence. We empower another when we say "I believe in you." But work bridges the difference between an idea and its fruition. 

4. "You find your leaders through adversity." We write our narrative according to our ability to respond to challenges. Do we redouble our effort or quit? "Are you going to get up and get in or give up and get out?" 

5. "You have 24 hours to celebrate a win or recover from a loss." After the first night of tryouts this week I shared this Bill Belichick quote with the girls, "If you live in the past, you are condemned to die in the present." Every practice is a learning experience. The most important game is the next game. We need to "play present" and use prior experience to grow our future. 

Drill: Action against the 2-3 Zone Top

"Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't make excuses." - John Wooden

Zone defenses have advantages...and weaknesses. We need to focus on their weaknesses - vulnerability to transition, no defined rebounding player coverage, our ability to choose where to attack, the potential to be outnumbered (overload) or deformed (by shot fakes and pass fakes). 


This drill sets up three offensive players against the top of the 2-3 zone and adds a (constraint) rule that X5 cannot move above the bottom of the circle. 

The goal of the offense is to create an open shot. We can build in additional constraints, such as 'x number of passes' before a shot. 



Use screens to open the middle. 

Use screens to reverse the ball and frustrate defenders. 


Use the dribble and cutting to move the defense. 

Get players to use their imagination. 

You can have a set number of possessions or have offense stay if they score.  



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fast Five Plus One: Breaking the Press

Every successful team finds solutions to pressure...without exception. Every team needs a philosophy and the skill, confidence, and organization to make it work. 


What 'general principles' (reductionist) apply? Not every team will agree on each. 

1. Is it more important to get the ball in quickly or to set up your press break? This is very much an individual coaching decision. Generally, I believe in that "Golden Moment" when the defense is not organized and can be beaten early. If that is the case, having a designated inbounder is less important. 

2. Space the floor. When the defense chooses to defend the whole court, give them the chance. We want to play fast, so our mindset is "let's play fast." 

3. Attack with the pass...short, quick passes to open areas. After getting you to hold the ball, the defense wants you to dribble, preferably with non-dominant hands and non-dominant players. The especially want to create the 'dead dribble'. The easiest passes to steal are the L's - long or lobs. 

4. Look to establish triangles. We practice "no dribble full court" and "no dribble advantage-disadvantage" (e.g. 5 on 7 or 5 on 8) to simulate the press. 

5. Play under control and read the defensive intent. Will they continue to trap, demanding quick adjustments or do they retreat to a more passive defense (allowing you to establish your offense)? 

6. Have an 'early offense' to get a 'reasonable quality' shot. If the defensive intent is to lengthen the game, overcome a deficit, or force poor quality shots, don't oblige. Impatience plays into their hands. 






Bad Coaching





"Never be a child's last coach." What makes 'bad' coaching? If we know that, can we avoid falling into 'bad coaching traps'.

We know that bad driving includes distracted driving, diverting attention from traffic, signals, conditions, and other drivers. Why would we allow ourselves that vanity, believing that our immediate need has priority? 


Character

Leadership starts with character. Model character. A coach who disrespects others' time, ideas, effort, and beliefs is flawed. We've all heard that "Sports doesn't build character, it reveals character." In John Wooden's "Letter to Players" he acknowledged that everyone wouldn't always agree with his decisions, but that he made judgments that he believed were in the best interests of the team.

Character reveals itself in our ability to be fair, prepared, and decisive. 


                       
Disrespecting players sends a terrible message. Some might say this coach meant well but was too tough. Would you want your son to play for this coach? 


Competence

Technical ability involves more than Xs and Os. When we watch a game trying to understand a team's emphasis and priorities, sometimes we can't find a direction. Or we see so much 'style drift' that no theme emerges. Is the team motivated and energized? Do they play together and "radiate joy" in Pete Carril parlance? Do they make good individual and collective decisions? Teams should reflect their coaching. 

Execution occurs at the intersection of personnel, strategy, and operations. As we observe an organization over time, does it improve or lag? Are mistakes corrected or tolerated? The sandwich technique (correction amidst recognition of good play) doesn't tear players down.

Do players have and understand roles? When confusion exists about expectations and roles, performance declines. 

Bad coaching produces defective culture and teams without identity. 

Bad coaching yields chaos and confusion. Coach Don Meyer argued for three stages of coaching - blind enthusiasm, sophisticated complexity, and mature simplicity. We need self-awareness and self-examination of reality. When we reflect on ourselves and our program, where are we? Do we sacrifice simplicity on an altar of ego? "Run play 475b".

Process outweighs content. Metacognition means 'thinking about thinking'. Do we model and teach improving at improvement? We can't expect players to know what to do unless we've clarified the process. "These are the best ways to get open when guarded that way."


Connection

Basketball is a game. We play basketball. My mother used to say, "play is children's work." Do we help our players play or obstruct? I teach players that they're not playing for the city, their school, their family, or their coaches. They play for each other. Bad coaching lacks commitment, structure, and communication needed to get players where they can't go alone.

Greet every player by name within the first ten minutes of practice. Bad coaches don't take an interest in player goals, desires, needs, and studies. Bad coaches don't help them achieve those goals (e.g. a letter of recommendation or a phone call when appropriate).
  
Praise energizes. Psychologist Henry Goddard found that "when tired children were given a word of praise or commendation, the ergograph shows an immediate upward surge of energy in the children." Bad coaches pick up a check, not their team. 

Fortunately, we see a lot of great coaches and very few poor ones. Encourage the coaches whom you think are doing good work and encourage young people to get into coaching. It's good work. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Building a Team and a System


How does your behavior reflect your beliefs, attitudes, and values? Who are you and whom do you want to become? 

Your team reflects your people. 

Gregg Popovich clarifies what has made his group special. It starts with character. But you won't win with just character. 

Materiam Superabat Opus

Seek excellence not validation. Look around and see those who strive for recognition yet haven't done the work. 

The Latin phrase "materiam superabat opus" usually translates as "the quality was better than the material." You've heard the statement, "you can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers." But we should ask how we make an end product and end state that exceeds our resources? How can we make more from less

We should read more and not just about basketball. Some messages are universal. 

Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of Chancellorsville, the famous 1863 battle where Robert E. Lee defeated Union General Joseph Hooker despite overwhelming material advantages for Hooker. Hooker's troops more than doubled Lee's and he had tremendous information obtained from hot air balloons. But Lee prevailed tactically as overconfidence proved crippling for Hooker. Leadership and belief go a long way toward overcoming superior force.

Learn from many sources. You have to fish where the fish are

Coach Starkey shares a story about the great Don Meyer and his penchant for note taking. I have the composition books in the back seat of my car, waiting to distribute them to this year's team. An ancient Chinese proverb says, "the faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory." Smarter players make smarter plays. 

Don't make your task harder than it already is. Use your assets wisely. What's your desired "end state"? Sherman's march to the sea intentionally avoided great, self-destructive battles. Sherman's end state was depleting Georgia's morale and resources, not indulging his ego or sacrificing troops. Under ideal circumstances, we coach teams that are hard to play against.




Nolan Richardson explains. 

Super Seven Plus: Servant Leadership from Don Meyer

Our job is about building community, using basketball as a vehicle. Greg Brown wrote The Best Things I've Seen in Coaching. He shares a lot of the philosophy of Don Meyer and Pat Summitt. 

One of his chapters shares Don Meyer ideas on Servant Leadership. Here are seven excerpts:

1. "Do good things because it's the right thing to do." 

2. "It is foolish to expect a young person to respect your advice and ignore your example." 

3. "I have decide to let my life be my argument." - Albert Schweitzer

4. "Make everyone else better." 

5. "Winning is giving...winning is a by-product of giving." 

6. "Courtesy is the oil that makes things go smoothly in life." 

7. "Give yourself to the kids." 

Bonus: Multipurpose Transition Finishing 

Full court, both sides of floor:

1. Outlet pass, crisp
2. Guard cuts to receive, back to sideline, pivot into second pass
3. Second pass to frontcourt, 2 dribble finish alternate crossover/spin
4. Follow pass to next (short) line 

Intent is for drill to be run at high tempo. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fast Five: Tryouts This Week



ABCs...another basketball campaign. It can't be a mission, a crusade, a quixotic quest. What goals are worthy? 

1. "This is who we are and this is how we play." If players learn that we cannot separate our approach to life and how we play, then they have received the message. Phil Jackson reminds us, "Basketball is sharing." 

2. "Keep your priorities straight." For the two hours you're on the court, commitment, discipline, effort, and teamwork come first. But family and schoolwork are your first priorities. 

3. "Everyone can't be a great player; everyone can be a great teammate." WE before ME. Are you making everyone around you better - a better person, a better student, a better player? You don't have to think less of yourself to think about yourself less. 


4. "Be a constant learner." The paradox of basketball is that when you leave everything on the court that you take more away than you brought. Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. 

5. "The magic is in the work." 

Work to become a better version of yourself every day. 




Del Harris Zone Offense Drill

Del Harris suggests this drill in Coaching Basketball's Zone Offenses (1976)

First, he builds in constraints...(from the split over). The defense moves and reacts as a conventional zone would. 

Next, he encourages cutting with passing (give-and-go, v-cuts, circle/bury) 

He allows dribbling into gaps (punching) and driving. Although he doesn't specifically address screening, we can use or limit it according to our preferences. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Overload BLOB

You've seen this recently, right? Sets can become specialty plays and vice versa. 



Most teams zone baseline out of bounds plays. 

2 may get a clean look at a 3, depending on how X3 reacts. 

We apply our usual principles (spacing, screening, cutting, and passing) to create quality scoring opportunities. The separation here comes from overload and screening. 

Fast Five Plus: Become a Better Offensive Player Today

"Do more to become more; become more to do more." If you're not happy with your offensive role and your playing time, that's on you. Kevin Eastman suggests, "you are responsible for your paycheck." 

If we drill down on 'controlling what you can control' that encompasses attitude, choices, and effort. 

1. Make a commitment to invest your time not spend it. What any of us doesn't know about basketball can fill volumes. Becoming a lifelong learner means "start today". 

2. Location, location, location
Relocate. You want the ball more. Become visible. Imagine that the ball is a camera; it can't find you if it can't see you. 

3. Read the defense. READ THE DEFENSE. If you're one-on-one, attack the front foot (or hand). If your defender is a head turner, you'll get open cuts. More aggressive defense encourages drives, screens, and back cuts. 

4. Screen according to ball position
Away from the ball, if 5 screens x4 (above the ball), she screens the low side. If 5 screens x2 (below the ball), she screens above the defender. 

5. Cut to score, screen, and move defenders. Sometimes you help a teammate most by leaving. "Emptying" a space may be the best way to help a teammate. 

6. Be an offensive 'nerd'. Know the percentages. Pete Carril noted, "non-shooters are always open." Bobby Knight says, "just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean I want you to shoot." And Jay Bilas' iconic Toughness rule is "it's not your shot, it's our shot." Just because you're open doesn't make your shot a good shot. Clarify your offensive role - scorer, facilitator, screener. Make the TEAM better when you're on the floor. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Be the Bee - Become a Pollinator

Bees have a vital role in producing more and better food. We become 'pollinators' when we increase 'crop yields'. More pollen creates larger, tastier, more shapely, and better fruit. Because "ideas are the currency of the future" we produce better future when we freely share ideas. 

Pollinators are sharers. Early in our careers, most of us experience an apprenticeship, which might have a lowly title like internship, associate, or trainee. We have the opportunity to grow our knowledge and experience, but usually have some menial tasks...the 'scut' or grunt work. Our supervisors ideally share tactics and techniques but also receive the credit. 

During internship in medicine, the interns present 'cases' at "Morning Report" with the Junior resident the immediate supervisor, but the Senior refining the narratives. I would inform the intern that "your job is to make the Junior look good." In other words, the young trainee 'cleared the path'. In Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday calls it the "canvas strategy", finding a canvas for the artist to paint. The better the work of the 'Indians' becomes, the better the reputation and recognition of the 'Chiefs'. That extends to the department level, the hospital level, and the 'organizational' level. 

Benjamin Franklin rejected the family business (candlemaking) for the longer, more arduous apprentice ship in printing. Why? He wanted to become a writer and have the opportunity to entertain and educate. He became a pollinator (more than rhetorically and in multiple ways). 

And basketball? Coaches have a myriad of tasks: 


Communications excellence lies at the root of each of the above. Our connection determines our pollination. Each player and team become 'fruit' and the bigger picture defines our 'coaching tree'. Clarity and simplicity pollinate better than pontification. 

As we head into the season, we need priorities and points of emphasis. I'm working on streamlining sets and their options and how to teach and implement zone offense and zone quick hitters. But it's not about building a statue, it's about helping players to see and anticipate opportunities and threats real time. The better we pollinate, the better our fruits will be. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Honest Serving Men: What, Why, How

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

Brian Sass shared a great post on the Austin (TX) Basketball Coaches Group. Coaches are our mentors...online, occasionally in person, and often in print. 

It reminded me of Kipling's Six Honest Serving Men


We need to avoid "speak fatigue"...that is, players getting tired of hearing us talk. 

Explain WHAT we're doing (name as many drills as possible...saves time).

Remind WHY we're drilling it...e.g. "this helps us overcome pressure." 

Share tips about HOW it should run (demonstration). 

Give and get feedback

Practice at a high tempo. Accomplish more in less time. Train more, talk less. 

Use the four E's - have an edge, execute, bring your energy, and energize the group. 


More Kresse Continuity

I don't embrace zone defense for youth basketball. Which reminds me of my mother's words, "who died and made you king?" 

Another John Kresse and Richard Jablonski offense from Attacking Zone Defenses (The Art & Science of Coaching series) is what I call Hover (Horns Overload)...because it starts from a "Horns" look. 

The principle behind Hover is screening the low defender and cutting. The initial action opens up a series of options and patience allows the offense to work a quality shot. 


Okay, so it's not exactly horns. 1 initiates the overload with the dribble, 3 runs the baseline, and 2 cuts through using a screen from 4. The immediately look is 2 and x3 has to chase. A quick pass may be available to 3, 4, or 5. Remember, offense is a democracy and one of those players may be your best scorer. 

When it's not available, 2 can reverse the ball (to 1) which triggers the continuity...4 and 5 end up exchanged and 3 is still running the baseline. 

Remember to remind the players of the 'camera' principle. "The ball is a camera and you have to relocate to where it can see you." 

As a general philosophy, I want to keep the action simple and allow players to play. If the season goes as I expect, we'll see zone as the lion's share of defense...so we have to have something workable. "Ain't no fun when the rabbit has the gun." 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kresse Continuity Zone Offense

Get over it. Teams play zone because they value winning...whether it's higher level ball or fifth grade. We can blame, complain, and defend (our failure) or we can develop counters. 

I teach the acronym "Dr. FLAPS" about zone attack. Dribble into gaps, Reversal, Flash, Post ups, and Screens. But organized player and ball movement can pressure weak parts of the zone. 

John Kresse and Richard Jablonski wrote Attacking Zone Defenses and I want to share one of their continuity offenses against the 2-3 (which we most often see). I have include an option for the wing to cut through depending on her read. 


Pressure on the top of the zone. If 5 gets the ball, she has a shot, quick look inside, or passes to each wing. I've heard it said that "the ball is a camera and players need to find a way for the camera to see them." 

The weak side wing flash pressures the middle. 

Ball reversal moves the zone and the weak side 'big' cuts to the short corner. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EuroLeague BOB: Mini Loop

The struggle we face is to strength our ethical (character), technical (competence), and personal (connection) trust. All matter. 

Special situations test our technical competence. 

In this BOB, the goal is to get the 3 a trey from the top. 4 uses 5 to screen and 5 continues to screen for the inbounder. 

1 and 2 screen either their defender (usually at least one will be sagging to the middle) and 1 looks to get a piece of X3 (inbounder's defender). 

Cousy Basketball Concepts: Play #6

It's no accident that Celtics' Play 6 went to #6, a bone tossed to William F. Russell. 


In addition to establishing an isolation for Russell, the play brings the strong side wing around a staggered screen for a possible jumper. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cousy Basketball Concepts: 3 Ball

"In a war, you don't give everyone the same amount of bullets."

Basketball is not a democracy. Everyone does not get the same amount of shots. But getting everyone involved has advantages. 

In the next Bob Cousy Basketball Concepts and Techniques, he shares a play for the 2. 


Obviously, many plays have additional options. One obvious one would be 'scissors' action for the 2 and 3 (conventionally, the passer cuts first). A second, would be "triangle" action with the 3 cutting baseline and the 2 to the middle. If nothing emerged, 5 could reverse the ball to 1 and 4 go to the elbow...voila...pinch post. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fast Five Plus: Finding the Triangle (Balance)

Wisdom appears in different forms and at unexpected times. Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett shared his perspective on an equilateral triangle:

“Just having balance whether it’s home, on the field, all aspirations of your life. Everybody’s different. For some people, it may be spiritual, mixed with work and family. For some people, it may be different. Everyone has to find what their balance is for them."



1. Pause and reflect. Bennett discusses having the right focus among work, home, and goals. Freud believed life was about work and relationships. Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning, considered life the intersection of work, love, and suffering. 

We see a minority of athletes and coaches who find balance. We see others, perhaps most notably Johnny Manziel, who spiral out of control in self-indulgent choices. In Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday writes, "why is this happening to me? How do I save this prove to everyone I'm as great as they think. It's the animal fear of even the slightest sign of weakness...it is not the path to great things."

2. Urban Meyer describes it another way in Above the Line, playing "above the line." Above the line action has intent, purpose, and skill. Below the line behavior describes excuse-making, using blame, complain, and defend (your ego) tactics. 

When we find extremes, we live cowardice or recklessness, not courage. When we experience extremes we feel fear or false invincibility, not humility. 

3. The path to better choices demands seeing reality, accepting feedback, and the ability to self-regulate. This translate to "doing more of what is working and less of what isn't." 



The more we know, the less self-absorption we should have as we appreciate how much more there is to know. 

4. We need to help players attain balance, "what are you doing to make teammates better?" That includes quieting your ego. "You don't have to think less of yourself, but need to think about yourself." 

When we have balance, it forces us away from an 'all-or-nothing approach' to life dimensions. It also limits us from ego extremes - entitlement, control, and paranoia. 

5. Controlling our ego keeps us grounded. We can congratulate others sincerely on their success and remain gracious in victory. It demands that we recognize our ignorance and work to learn more and teach better. Balance creates action and encourages learning. It permits us to take criticism and advice.