Total Pageviews

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If You're Going Through Hell, Keep on Going (Bad Basketball)

It's going all wrong. Win or lose, the team is playing poorly. What constitutes bad basketball/playing poorly? 

Easy Baskets

Everyone won't agree, but most know bad basketball when they see it. 

1) Surrendering easy baskets. Disallow bad transition defense, poor defensive rebounding, fouling (especially bad shots), layups (no help). "The help cannot be beaten." 

2) Low energy defense (energy crisis). No ball pressure, easy paint penetration, uncontested shots.  

3) Poor shot selection. "Me, too" or "my turn" shots, "shot turnovers", out of range and closely guarded shots. Avoid "Night at the Opera" (me-me-me) basketball. 

4) Ball sticking. High quality chances come from ball and player movement. 

5) Silent movies. "Silent teams are losing teams." - Kevin Eastman   
Back in the day, the 8 mm grainy black and white had no sound. Blind fans should hear the enthusiasm, and deaf ones should see it. 

Roy Williams restates Pete Newell's admonition to get more and better shots than our opponent. 

Respond. Adversity is our companion. Find solutions. "Track practice" isn't the answer. We can condition within drills and scrimmaging. 

A) There are many ways to coach 'shell' defense to emphasize positioning, help, and recovery. 

B) The coach and point guard can NEVER have a low energy day. Create tempo. Three little daughters had great AAU coaches (Shawanda and Eric Brown) who demanded "DON'T BACK DOWN." That meant ball pressure, no free cutters, no free rebounders. 

C) Better passing creates better shots. Every player should know what a good shot is for her and for each teammate. Shots should be player and situationally appropriate. 

D) Use the two-second rule. The ball should be moving every two seconds. Get paint touches and ball reversal. Defenses wear down and make mistakes when the ball moves. 

E) Talk has to be early, loud, and often. This has to be non-negotiable. 

Here's a brief digression to Barry Ritholtz and "what is your value proposition?" It applies to every domain. Basketball is no exception. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Doug Moe Offense

Doug Moe's offense combines three of my favorite basketball aphorisms:

1) Basketball is a game of cutting and passing.
2) Movement kills defenses.
3) Basketball is about creating separation. 

Moe was a two-time All-American at UNC and then played overseas and in the ABA, a three time All-Star. 

He had a solid coaching career, best known for his time in Denver. 

He believed in 'freelance' offense and the transition game. His system was "move the basketball" and "run where it's uncomfortable." Most coaches don't want to implement it...there are no plays. Many players aren't comfortable because it requires too much passing. 

Moe explains his offense. 

The "simplest" explanation comes from an NBA 2K post. 

Ira Winderman wrote (1992) "By design, Moe seeks sharp cuts away from the ball, with a 1-second limit on holding the ball. More often than not, one of the three top scorers will wind up taking the shot. About the only set part of the offense is that after a guard initiates a play, he must cut away from the ball and then swing around to be available for a pass."

This set of coaching notes (via Bob McKillop) discusses freelance offense. 

Key points:

1) Attack space
2) Wings run to the corners in transition
3) First big runs to the rim in transition
4) Finish cuts to three-point line (to clear space)

The notes include two drills (one is a bit reminiscent of a Knight drill)

At the youth level, these actions encourage passing and discourage 'standing around' off the ball. 

If you watch some of the video, you will see mid-range open shots dominate. This would drive the NBA (Nothing But Analytics) crowd wild. Denver was consistently a top four offense during the Moe tenure. 

Full-time freelance isn't coming back to the NBA, but it has value as a teaching tool (even if you use it to drill players to get open without allowing shooting). 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fast Five: What's Your Improvement Process?

We won't become our 'better version' accidentally. As teachers (coaches) we share the opportunity to grow ourselves and others. How? 

Don't reinvent the wheel. Use tools others have developed.

1. Have a process

Brad Stevens has a sensible (and brief) process...emphasizing personal growth, preparation and execution to produce results. 

Day to day, how can we help others find their "secret sauce"? I encourage players to work on their attitude (positivity), choices, and effort. 

2. Attitude comes first

We can't change the world until we change ourselves. Attitude provides direction. In pulmonary training, we talked about the "Bruce Jenner" protocol, five components to optimization. Bruce Jenner was a gold medal Olympic decathlete. The process included exercise, nutrition, rest, 'supplements' (medication/motivation), and special people in our lives. 

Jon Gordon and John Maxwell are two authors who develop leadership and attitude themes. 

3. Use time better.  

We choose whether and how to invest or to spend our time. Personal growth takes time, meaning commitment, discipline, and sacrifice (among other possibilities). 

4. Learn every day. I believe that "the difference between the persons we are today and who we become in five years are the people we meet and the books we read." I authentically recommend at least thirty minutes daily reading. At any given time, I'm reading a few books, currently How to Win in the Game of Life (Christian Klemash), Leading Minds (Howard Gardner), and Man-to-Man Defense and Attack (Clair Bee). Reading can help us to refine our process by gaining insight from other achievers. 

Other educational inputs (podcasts, videos) facilitate growth. As I write, I'm listening to the Tim Ferriss Podcast, as he interviews Senator Cory Booker, discussing his education, nutrition, comparative religion, behavioral experiments (e.g. the Stanford Prison Experiment), and more. "Before you tell me about your religion, show me how you treat other people." 

5. Share something great. Everyone has skills and can add value to others. What knowledge or skills can you share? Tell someone about a great book, a great recipe, or an important lesson. 

Challenge players to create a process and the discipline to follow it. 


Celtics' Backscreen Slip (from 4 out, 1 in set) 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Coaching Profile: Tara Vanderveer

What makes great coaches great? We benefit most not from knowing what others achieved, but the process that delivered the accomplishments. 

Tara Vanderveer has coached at Stanford for over 30 years. During her coaching career, her teams have won over 1000 games (one of only three D1 men's or women's coaches to do so), won two National Championships, and has earned PAC-12 Coach of the Year a dozen times. She coached the US Olympic team to gold in 1996.  

Some call her the most underrated coach ever, because she's not much of a self-promoter.

Vanderveer was born in Melrose, was I. 

Coaching philosophy. Coach Vanderveer has a secret weapon. Joy. But she also knows harshness, as while at Indiana, she literally studied Coach Bob Knight's practices, from the stands...with a notebook. Vanderveer said, "What I’ve discovered over the years is that success is rooted not only in confidence and hard work but in joy. Passion produces its own energy."

This converges with my belief that outstanding teams don't work basketball; they play basketball. 

Great coaches share quality and qualities.

"Knowledge of the game is obviously key - the more you know, the more there is to know. You need passion for the game, organizational skills, and people skills. There is a lot of delegating. You work with a lot of different people in different roles: assistants, trainers, managers, administrators, and officials.

I think being really determined helps. You have to put a lot of time in. You really have to love basketball. I mean you put so much time into watching basketball, teaching basketball. I think it's helpful to be creative, to have new ideas, and to be flexible since you work with different groups, different teams every year. Stamina is big. You work hard every day, whether it's recruiting, whether it's watching video. You need to be open to a lot of new ideas all the time, ready to learn new things."

Coaching notes: via Wes Kosel

Stanford 3 line fast break drill - simple and elegant. 

Multiple coaches clinic notes, includes Vanderveer and other elite coaches

1. Make your drills specific to what you do in your offense: no fluff drills
2. Make your practices more challenging than the games

Depending on how you deploy personnel, you could also use to set up post action or 'triangle' action. Vanderveer ran the Triangle Offense for over a decade. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hustle Statistics Stat Spreadsheet

Brook Kohlheim shared a spreadsheet from Coach Bob Hurley of Saint Anthony's. Here's a slightly modified version. 

Image (above)

Fast Five: Know Thyself

"Nosce te ipsum." (Know thyself.)

First, I suggest coaches watch the Gregg Popovich exit interview

Players create themselves...and often reinvent themselves to adjust. Youth doesn't know the game, relationships on and off the court, and lacks skills. Mostly, coaches fill 'empty vessels'. That evolves with game knowledge, shared experience, skill development, but in the critical ability to develop process and habits

John Wooden's core from the "Pyramid of Success" isn't accidental tourism. 

Coach Popovich's comments on Jonathan Simmons resonate praise of player effort and added value. 

1) Do what is required to "have a career." Or as Charles Barkley noted, "have an NBA skill." 
2) Develop professionalism. Professionalism is the series of behaviors, habits, and process needed to learn and grow. As Aristotle said, "excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
3) Become consistent. Professionals are consistent in their conditioning, study, nutrition, and rest. Performance begins with identity and grows according to process. 
4) Be relentless. We cannot grow until our work exceeds our hopes and dreams. 
5) Make a difference. Choose excellence. Choose to learn. Choose to be more. 

Be as interested in listening as being heard. 


Spurs shooting drill

Etorre Messina shell penetrate and pitch drill. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Court Education

"Education implies teaching. Teaching implies knowledge. Knowledge is truth. The truth is everywhere the same. Hence education should be everywhere the same.' - Robert Hutchins, President, University of Chicago 

We don't inquire often about the purpose of sport. Arguments about having a sound mind in a sound body darken in a world of concussions and a specialty devoted to injury (sports medicine). 

Basketball teachers espouse accountability, commitment, discipline, effort, sacrifice, and teamwork. All translate well to personal and professional development. 

Coaches come from various backgrounds and traditions with different identities and philosophies. Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr share far different zeitgeist than Bob Knight or Mike Krzyzewski. Fortunately, we have no political litmus test to determine the fitness of basketball coaches. 

At the professional level, the Lombardi principles rules, "winning isn't everything; it is the only thing." In college, institutions make education a "priority", except when it isn't, when winning basketball games (one-and-done) or sacrificing institutional control (Baylor football) happen. How many college programs believe they have a legitimate (recruiting, talent, coaching, infrastructure, support) chance to win a national title? 

What is the coach's job in high school? If "truth is everywhere the same", then everyone would acknowledge that winning matters or being competitive matters. Some might argue that growing culture and team building are priorities, or appeasing parents and players. Winning coaches resign or are forced out because Anson Dorrance's "competitive cauldron" either gets too hot or cooks a strange brew of dissatisfaction about minutes, roles, and credit.  

At the developmental level, I favor a holistic approach. Teach players how to think. 'Styles of play' share common domains with military doctrine - infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The infantry pounds the action inside, cavalry reflects speed (transition), and artillery the perimeter attack, long-range bombing the contemporary analytic darling. 

Priorities for young players should be family and academics first and extra-curricular activities next. Self-worth, the value of women, and adventure flow easily from the story of Annapurna and Arlene Blum. Overcoming adversity in sport recalls Lee's heroic victory against overwhelming force at Chancellorsville. Bowdoin professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain illustrates how education translates to service and victory at Gettysburg, en route to winning a Congressional Medal of Honor. The treatment of J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, shows how perception changes despite epic performance. Hutchins' quote in the introduction sparks controversy in higher education to this day, eighty years later. 

Do digressions into history and biography advance court education? Encouraging court awareness might not have changed Chris Webber's 1993 timeout. Knowing the battle does not always go to the strongest (and why) gets proven by 1996 Princeton. 4.8 seconds is a long time in 1995 and today. 

Developing consensus presents challenges when so many believe they are "the smartest guy in the room." When we encourage our players to become not the best but their best, then we add value to their court education. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Message

Many of us work with 'new' teams this offseason. What messages do we send and what messages will they receive? 

Younger players need definitions. Twelve-year olds don't understand accountability. Get feedback and give feedback in a "performance-focused, feedback-rich" environment.

"The magic is in the work." We can give more. Excellent players understand that achievement has no shortcuts. Ben Franklin chose a nine-year apprenticeship (printing) to develop his craft (writing). 

"Do more to become more; become more to do more." In Relentless, Tim S. Grover chronicles what it takes, and guys who paid the price (Kobe, D-Wade) to become champions. 

"Win this possession." Live in the moment; play in the moment. Many players concern themselves with their vision of winning. Great players do whatever it takes to succeed this possession. Brad Stevens reminds, “I just wanted to play with a real purpose possession to possession..."

"Don't cheat the drill." Coaches see everything. Gregg Popovich says you must "pound the rock." You have to keep hitting it until it breaks. 

"Be accountable to your teammates." Accountability means holding yourself and your team to high standards. Kobe Bryant became a great shooter with a thousand makes a day for a hundred days each summer...a hundred thousand makes, that nobody saw. 

"Basketball is sharing." - Phil Jackson    Share by communicating, by moving without the ball, by help and recovery, by moving without the ball, passing unselfishly, setting great screens. 

"Be easy to play with and hard to play against." What makes a player difficult to play against? Physical and mental toughness, conditioning and grit, define you. 

"The game honors toughness." Toughness means playing the right way. Toughness means not taking plays off. Urban Meyer says, "A to B, 4 to 6." You go from point A to point B, in 4 to 6 seconds. 

"The most powerful voice is the one in our head." Work hard to earn your own positive messages. Your identity emerges from your work. 

"How you play reflects how you live." Play with purpose, fully engaged, relentlessly. Let your play speak for you. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fast Five: See Through "Coaches' Eyes"

"You can observe a lot by just watching." - Yogi Berra

Looking isn't enough. You need to retrain yourself to watch the "big picture", the small picture (how individual players set up and execute moves), and action away from the ball. 

Pete Newell says the coach's greatest job is to help players "see the game." That really means to see the game "through coaches' eyes." Remember, "the eyes are the windows of the soul."

Identify "the other side of the trade." Forget about what you want, your family sees, and your friends say. What actions, behaviors, and values does the coach need to get you on the floor? 

Listen better. How do we "see" more? We see more when we talk less. We learn with open ears and closed mouths. 

Respond better.The first price is to pay attention. Early in the season, I do a test asking "I need a volunteer..." to see how players respond. 

Play better defense. Coaches look for stoppers. Stoppers play in a stance, with good position, communication, deny penetration via ball pressure and containment, denial of cuts, challenge shots without fouling, block out, help and recover. Coaches eyes open wide when we see elite defense. 

Move betterRemind players that it's a game of "cutting and passing." It's a game of creating and preventing separation. I've shown this video before, Dwayne Wade cuts. Summarizing:

Blind cuts (head-turning or defender error)
Back cuts (with or without a screen)
Curl cuts (defender locked and trailing) 

Shoot better. Coaches demand quality shot selection. Nothing drives coaches crazier than what Doc Rivers calls "shot turnovers".

The immediate path to improvement is to take better shots. Each player should know what a good shot is for them and every player on the team. Jay Bilas writes in Toughness, "It's not your shot, it's our shot." Some players have a clock in their head that rings, "time to shoot." Get that out of your head. There is no "My Turn"

Become the player that coaches want to see. Show me. 

On Failure

"Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan." - paraphrases roughly to Tacitus, 98 AD

Nobody relishes failure or its halfway house, adversity. Everyone in sports experiences failure. 

Dean Smith was labeled a "failure" until his Tarheels won a national championship. Great players in every sport never grasp the brass ring. Dan Marino, Charles Barkley, and Carl Yastrzemski never won championships. 

Yaz had a 1.047 OPS in seventeen postseason games but still wore the loser's label. 

Fate is a cruel mistress. The Patriots' march to five Super Bowl rings began with a fumble against the Raiders canceled by the "Tuck Rule". The Red Sox had Pedro Martinez on the hill and the Yankees down four runs in 2003 in Game 7 (see above). No matter. 

Cervantes' message that "the journey is greater than the inn," doesn't hold water for many sports fans. For some, it's champs or chumps. 

Failure is the tuition we pay before we sometimes graduate. We all can remember games won with mediocre play and lost despite superb performances. Michael Jordan won six NBA championships...and lost in seven other postseasons. Victory produces convenient amnesia. 

What matters most are our attitudes and responses to failure. We can implode or rise. Donnie Moore committed suicide in 1989 after surrendering playoff homers in 1986. Abraham Lincoln suffered a lifetime of melancholy but channeled that to electoral success and an epic presidency. Coach John Wooden said, "don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses." Urban Meyer preaches "don't blame, complain, and defend yourself." Get better, not bitter. 

Great effort might not yield success, but isn't failure. We fail when we quit, disengage, or have no process. Sometimes we fail because we lack self-awareness or self-analysis. Einstein noted "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." We have to do more of what works and less of what doesn't. 

When we hone our craft, we succeed. When we learn from failure and correct our process and choices, we succeed. Failure is our best teacher, but never our favorite. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fast Five: Iconic Basketball Quotes

There's great and there's everything else.

"Goodness gracious, sakes alive." - John Wooden 

"Basketball is sharing." - Phil Jackson

"It doesn't matter who you play; it matters how you play." - Don Meyer

"Basketball isn't about running plays; it's about making plays." - Mike Krzyzewski

'The game honors toughness." - Brad Stevens (I think Don Meyer may have originated but Stevens is widely credited) 

What Makes a Basketball Drill Good?

"Repetitions make reputations." Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 Hours" chapter in Outliers relates time in 'deliberate practice' to mastery. Mozart grew up surrounded by music, ignited by passion to play like his sister. Brazil rose to soccer practice via futsal, small-sided games in alleys...more touches and more skill. This Kobe Bryant story illustrates his commitment and discipline

We spend time developing and implementing drills to change behaviors and enhance skill. What makes drills good?

Translation to game activity. Distinguish skill building from conditioning and training. We don't jump rope during games, but jumping rope conditions and builds quickness. Brian McCormick distinguishes "block practice" from "random practice". Typical dribbling drills are block practice. Dribble tag is random. 

Details (correct fundamentals). If we're teaching shooting, we should analyze everything from shot selection to pre-shot preparation, footwork, alignment, targeting, release, and follow-through. We should explain both the how and the why. 

Effort. Dean Smith said, "I don't teach effort; I teach execution." We don't have that luxury. "Don't cheat the drill. Don't cheat your teammate." Lackadaisical drilling produces casual play. Casual play produces limitations.  

Offense and defense. The best drills teach offense and defense, decision-making, and better habits. We can make 'good' drills even better with constraints (time, space, conditions - e.g. limiting dribbles). 

Multiple skills. "Great offense is multiple actions." The drills referenced below include dribbling, footwork (jump stop and pivoting), passing, receiving, and finishing. 

Efficiency. We want as little 'standing around' as possible. We also want clear rotations (e.g. offense to defense). 

Competition. Low point games (e.g. games to three), situational starts (e.g. free throws, SLOB, BOB), and O-D-O (offense-defense-offense) simulate game action and create competition. 

Appropriateness. We want to challenge players without completely frustrating them. Having most twelve year-old girls practice three-point shots creates more bad habits than good. I want players with ability to score with one dribble from the three-point line by the time they enter high school. Expecting twelves to do that isn't reasonable. 

Conditioning. Pete Carril saw the future. He conditioned within drills and scrimmaging. We have enough transition, conversion, pressing and press breaking drills to accomplish that. 

Sample multipurpose drills. 

Progression: add defense on wing; rotates offense to defense. 

Progression into 4 on 4. Build in constraints of your choice. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Coaching Profile: Tubby Smith

First, you might ask why discuss Tubby Smith? Tubby Smith has enjoyed unusual success as a basketball nomad...only the second coach to take five different teams to NCAA berths. His Kentucky Wildcats won the 1998 NCAA title and his teams have won over 500 games

One of seventeen children, raised in poverty in rural southern Maryland, he got his nickname from bathing in a utility tub. Smith earned All-State distinction in 1969, and graduated from High Point College with a teaching degree. 

Coaching philosophy: Although he served as a Rick Pitino assistant, Coach Smith had his own approach. He doesn't feign a down-home style, "It takes patience not to give upon players, to wait for them to grow," Smith says. "It's like a crop. You weed it properly, and hoe it, and nurture and cultivate it."

His teams played a variety of defenses, but prioritizes half-court sagging man-to-man defense. "No layups, no easy second shots, contest all shots, make the offense make plays off the move."

'We're trying to deny every penetrating pass."

Clinic notes:

Hoopsplaybook shares his defensive rules:

Ten rules of the "5" defense: 
1. constant ball pressure 
2. contest every shot 
3. retreat to the ball line 
4. do not allow penetrating passes or dribble penetration 
5. allow non-penetrating passes 
6. always see the ball and your man 
7. stay up the court, playing as close to the ball as possible 
8. attempt to intercept all lob and bounce passes 
9. jump to the ball on every pass 
10. communicate and talk at all times

"Mismatches don't beat you; open shots do." 

Here are additional Tubby Smith Clinic Notes (with excerpts)
1) Believe in yourself
2) Have a philosophy
3) Do the right thing

Full clinic notes TABC 


Basic Flex Offense

And you want some passion about Tubby Smith? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celtics Win with Screen-the-Screener Action

Game Changing: Using Football Lessons Across Sports

In 2011, former NFL quarterback and current analyst Ron Jaworski wrote The Games That Changed the Game. He examines transformative offensive and defensive innovation in pro football. Why should we care? Our thinking, literally our brain structure and chemistry, changes according to inputs like diet, exercise, sleep, and stimulation. Learning changes our thinking by changing our brains. 

In the final chapter, "Jaws" analyzes the Patriots' 2002 Super Bowl game plan against the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf". He breaks down key moments and how innovation and departure from conventional wisdom brought victory. 

He begins with a digression to the 1976 season, where lowly Detroit assistant Bill Belichick helps inspire a game plan to defeat the 1976 Patriots, a team that defeated both Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" and the eventual Super Bowl titlest Raiders. The Lions used a two-tight end, two wide offense that stymied the Patriots 30-10, the week after the Pats beat the Raiders 48-16. 

Jaworski indulges readers in an understanding of the chimeric Belichick, who stresses forward thinking, not dwelling on last week's results. His primary intent is to neutralize what you do well, seemingly impossible while outmanned and outgunned against future Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. 

For example, on Ty Law's interception (above), Richard Seymour (93) lines up over center and rushes to attack the right tackle (in twist action), resulting in confusion and pressure from outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. 

Belichick commits to hitting Faulk on every play, pressing the wide receivers while playing extra DBs, and severely limiting blitzing, the opposite of what Belichick orchestrated in a 24-17 regular season loss to the Rams. 

The overarching themes of the "Bull's-Eye Game Plan" were change and creativity. Belichick feels unfettered by convention. Rams' coach Mike Martz wanted to win "his way", with an explosive passing attack, reminiscent of the Falcons' 2017 offense, whose pass-happiness eventually led to unhappiness. 

None of this entitles us to believe we belong in Belichick's class. But it suggests that when facing unfavorable size and skill matchups, that we embrace curiosity and creativity. Developing solutions requires openness and willingness to change. 

Basketball matchups seldom allow as much tactical change. Nobody in the NBA can handle LeBron one-on-one. 

The Celtics tried to give Jae Crowder (x3) 'extreme help' choosing their poison...a hail of three-pointers from Cavalier perimeter shooters like Kevin Love (5) or Kyrie Irving (1). 

The Celtics chose this strategy because James torched them in Game 1 getting to the rim relentlessly regardless of his defender. 

(48 + (0.5 x 19))/85 = 57.5/85 yields a blistering 67.6 effective field goal percentage for Cleveland in Game 2. 

The more we learn, the better our chance to compete, providing that we can execute competently. 

Fast Five Plus: Core Principles for Players or Coaches

Successful coaches add value to their situation and team. General Ray Odierno's statement that leadership reflects character, commitment, and competence resonates. Success demands great character and process. 

A couple of diagrams apply. 

The first is from Brett Ledbetter, who wrote What Drives Winning. With young players in development, I emphasize the process needed for success, not outcomes. Who we are defines us, not our record, although we want to become our "better version." 

The second is from Stephen M.R. Covey and The Speed of Trust. Here's an excellent book summary. What people see is 'above ground'. What we are forms the base. Some powerful and influential people lack integrity and positive intent, like dictators, career criminals, and some professionals. Warren Buffett said, "Success demands intelligence, energy, and integrity. But the first two without the latter are dangerous." 

Young people need positive role models. When they see selfishness, disrespect, and unfairness, they either quit or are influenced by that dark side. 

We create the "workplace culture' consistent with our attitude, beliefs, and values.

1. Punctuality. I believe in "Dean Smith Time". Show up ready to go before 'official' practice time. A former player who got accepted to the US Naval Academy immediately comes to mind. Young players depend on others for transportation, so there's no consequence. 

2. Preparedness. We had evening practice. Prepared players completed other obligations (chores, schoolwork), and were physically (rested, stretched) and mentally (engaged) ready to go. Coaches are prepared via our practice schedule, reflecting process clarity and simplicity. 

3. Persistence. Coolidge summarized. 

As does Churchill's "Harrow Hall" address:

"Never give in; never give in, never, never, never. In nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in." Persistence can overcome and outlast adversity. 

4. Perspiration. "The magic is in the work." We choose whether to invest or to spend our time and our energy. "Don't cheat the drill" means don't cheat your teammates. 

5. Performance-focused. Ohio State football Coach Urban Meyer reminds, "A to B, 4 to 6." On a given play, a player goes from point A to point B, for 4 to 6 seconds." Then, they do it over. Aristotle said it differently, "Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." Compete to your fullest this possession...and again. 

6. Positivity. Positive people believe in themselves, live and play purposefully. We choose whether to be positive and spread positive thoughts and behaviors. Remind players "you can do this" and "I believe in you." 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fast Five: Man-to-Man Defense: Why or Why Not?

Heredity or environment? Task-oriented or relationship-oriented coach? Size or speed? 

"Do more of what is working and less of what is not." We work in a bottom-line, results-oriented world. Whatever it takes.

There's room for both man-to-man (in Pete Newell terms, individual assignment) and zone defense. Let's discuss advantages and limitations. 

I. Advantages:

1. We set the matchups we like. 
2. Responsibility is clear. Your primary responsibility is your assignment. (Corollary: if you do not know your assignment, then you can't be on the floor)
3. The defense directly accounts for everyone. 
4. The defense maintains flexibility. We can play tight with full denial, sag and protect the paint, help off weak players, et cetera.
5. We can 'sag' off weak offensive players, allowing additional help. 
6. In developmental (youth) settings, practice builds fundamentals. 

II. Disadvantages:

1. High fundamental skill is required at every matchup. 
2. Defense is vulnerable to screens and back cuts. 
3. The primary responsibility is each assignment instead of the ball. 
4. Defense may be susceptible to fouling. 
5. Transition offense is more difficult. 
6. Not designed to cope with 'star' player mismatch.
7. Has potential weakness against pick-and-roll. 

Comments and priorities:

III. Whether on or off the ball, every player must have proper stance and positioning.

IV. No easy shots is first priority. That means limiting penetration and challenging shots without fouling. 

V. Great 'man' defense pressures the ball but resembles zone away from the ball. Great zone defense still provides pressure on the ball and has some man features away from the ball (communication, especially coping with cutters). 

"The help cannot get beat." 

We need a 'system' of help, communication, and movement on the pass. 

Sophisticated defenses "tag" the cutter. "No free passes."

Players must understand the assignments. Does x2 slide down to 'bother' the cut? Does x4 "lock and trail" or go over? Is there an automatic situational switch- late in shot clock or the period? Players don't know without instruction, repetition, and feedback. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fast Five: Iconic Basketball Photographs

"A picture is worth a thousand words." 

James Naismith, founder of basketball...with his peach basket...Naismith was a physician, chaplain, coached at Kansas, and one of his players was the legendary Phog Allen. Naismith's coaching record at Kansas was under .500, so there's hope for all of us. 

How draining is an NCAA title run? This classic 1982 image shows Dean Smith after winning...

The greatest one-on-one matchup in NBA history, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. 
"The Logo."

1972 Olympics. USA Men's Basketball boycotts the medal ceremony after officiating malfeasance gives Russia the gold.