Friday, November 17, 2017

Basketball Offense: Reading Lessons

"See the game." Vision heralds solid decisions and execution. Make the right decision at the right time. Reviewing all possible offensive decisions would be impossible. 

Read defenders quickly and accurately. They almost always give you something. Young players often cannot picture the decision to be made. 

Individual moves are words. Combination actions are phrases. An offensive play is a sentence. Exceptional offense creates poetry. Examples:

Individual moves:

1. Defender plays high or low (off the ball) dictating back or front cuts. 
2. Attack the front hand, front foot. Defenders must drop step versus slide. 
3. Head turners...basket cut
4. Defender up, shot. 
5. Establish "Go-to" and counter moves.
6. Find four ways to score (appropriate for you) - post-midrange-perimeter, driving game, putbacks, transition, free throws 

Combination moves:
1. Give-and-go.
2. Pick-and-roll.
3. Off-ball screens - curl, back cut, bump, slip

4. Three-on-three actions (above and below)

5. Numbers: 2-on-1s, Transition 3-on-2

Be aware of 'sometimes' high risk/low-reward passes
1. Wing-to-top 
2. Top-to-low post

Shot selection: "Know Thyself" 
1. Open, rhythm, range, situation
2. Know each teammates' range and proficiency "nonshooters are always open"

Halfcourt offense: Phrases into Sentences

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Everything is awesome. <well, it's not THAT easy>

Give more. We're all team members, whether family, work, community, or other organizations.

Primary resources for execution are strategy, personnel, and operations, and motivation stands as critical driver for personnel. Each of us is our best motivator

Can we make 'happiness' our team strategyTony Hsieh wrote Delivering Happiness, exploring the art and science of happiness within an organization. He shares a few excerpts: 
  • Happiness comes from experiences and perspective, not from things
  • Higher purpose matters a lot more than immediate pleasure.
  • Customers are king
Hsieh argues that purpose is the most sustainable motivational driver, fostering actions that have greater meaning. 


How could we coach happiness? As a coach, I'm happier when we're play hard, play "quality" basketball, playing the right way, make basketball plays, and limit mistakes. Therefore, good process triggers happiness, not wins. Promoting happiness for our customers makes sense. 

Who are our customers? Parental support matters and I emphasize tripartite goals - your child as 'team member' at home, scholarship, and improvement at basketball. The entire family belongs in the developmental program. We can all become our BETTER VERSIONS.

Stay on message. "Play for each other." "Help your teammate" applies at home, school, and on the court. 

Intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation and especially when tasks involve creativity like basketball. 

"More than three decades of research have shown that people are most likely to be creative when they’re intrinsically motivated by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself."

A culture that challenges without excessive pressure and sets standards for effort within a growth mindset gives us a chance to improve.  

Last night I reminded players that Hall of Famer John Stockton gave the effort to win every sprint, regardless of how he felt. The players clearly heard the message. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Basketball Wisdom from 'The White Mamba"

Celtics' color man Brian Scalabrine shares his first half insights...

On interior defense: "Baynes excels at the rule of verticality." He doesn't initiate the contact and makes players finish over him.

On strategy: "Nets will look to go 2 for 1." Situational basketball - not only did they fail to do so, they turned the ball over. 

On final possession: "Celtics will play 2 man game with Kyrie." Ball screen comes, defender goes under and Kyrie (reads the defender) fires in a trey to end the quarter. 

On Marcus Smart: "He needs to get better at the in-between game, floaters, not pull-ups or going all the way to the basket." 

On Aron Baynes: "It's so underrated to be able to defend without fouling." "He's one of my guys." 

On Jayson Tatum: "He can go left and finish with his right hand." Versatility in finishing distinguishes excellent from good scorers.

On fouling the three-point shooter, "you're not allowed to kick out your leg on the shot to draw contact." 

Bonus Quick Hitter: Nets Staggered screen and roll

Fast Five: Measuring Progress Qualitatively

"Truly special players figure out how to compete (against another player) within the system." - Kyrie Irving

How do we measure progress as a team? We don't have the personnel (e.g. manager) to track practice stats. With a new team we should see progress in process first...getting in and out of drills quickly, hustling over to the whistle, operating at higher tempo and executing drills more efficiently. 

Movement without the ball informs gains. 

Better play demonstrates vision, decision, and execution. Therefore progress occurs with players seeing the floor, reading offense and defense, making more right plays, and executing more consistently. 

At the first practice, spacing was poor. We can envision 'spacing zones.' In transition, "run wide."  Young players don't grasp the value of opening passing and driving lanes and stressing defenses who want to double team. 

Better passers pass away from defenders and see the help defender. Improved offense means better quality passing to create higher quality shots

Shot selection informs progress. Novices overrepresent forced shots and "shot turnovers." 

Defensive progress demands CARE - concentration, attention, reaction, execution. Successful teams TALK. "I've got ball," "screen left," "help on your right," or "cutter coming." Silent teams lose. Girls may hesitate to communicate to avoid being "bossy" or because of lack of confidence. Reinforce TALK. 

Gains should appear in confidence. Bill Parcells says, "confidence comes from proven success." But improvement should still manifest humility. Dean Smith noted, "a lion never roars after a kill.

Flanking the top of Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success are "faith" and "patience." Trust the process (believe) and invest the time. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teaching Basketball. Day 1.

Practice started last night. Tabula rasa. A blank slate. Fresh faces, eager to learn. Make it simpler (usually) but the first night always overwhelms with tempo and introducing concepts...and learning names. It gets easier.

"Basketball is sharing." - Phil Jackson

"Basketball is eighty percent mental." 
"Basketball is a game of cutting and passing."
"Basketball is a game of mistakes."
"Movement kills defense."
"Spacing is offense and offense is spacing."

Too much, too soon. I've got to dial back the number of drills.

Early observations
  • The enthusiasm and effort within the group excites me.
  • I almost have the names and faces down. 
  • Never forget the age and inexperience of the group.
  • Worst habit to break? Two-handed shooting. 
  • Their grasp of 'shell drill' was better than I expected. 
"Thou shalt not:"
Dribble the air out of the basketball. 
Catch and immediately put the ball on the floor. 

"Ecoutez et Repetez" (listen and repeat)
"Basketball is not a running game. It's a SPRINTING game."
"Basketball is not a contact sport; it's a collision sport."
"The game honors toughness." Toughness is a skill. 
"Communication intimidates." 

These are kids. Teach joyfully, encourage them to play with joy. 

Somebody remarked about every book ever written, "someone is looking for something." What are we looking for? 

1. We want players who make everyone around them better, better players, better people. We want commitment, discipline, and effort. These girls are too young to understand or demand sacrifice. 

2. Eighty percent of offense is played without the ball. Help your teammates by doing your job both with and without the ball. 

3. Spacing. "Spacing is offense and offense is spacing." 

4. Relocating is pivotal to provide spacing. "The ball is a camera." It has to see you to find you. Move purposefully. 

5. Layups, layups, layups. We're going to spend more time on this within the shooting segment. 

6. Ball-you-man. Basket-you-man. Blank slate. 

7. Individual moves. Where do you begin? "Good players need two dribbles, excellent players need one, elite players don't need to dribble." Klay Thompson scored 60 points in a game last year with TWELVE dribbles. 

I'm sure that it seemed like a blur at times last night. Two hours seemed like minutes to me. 

Notebook material? 

What about BOB? Different formations, same baseline out of bounds action. 

SLOB. First look at base sideline out of bounds play. 

Excellent teams are family. "We do what we do and we do it together." 

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Repetitions Make Reputations"

Morse Code: TTP

Trust the process. Focus on your process, not the results. Bill Walsh's magnificent book, The Score Takes Care of Itself highlights that truth.


Practice versus games. You're playing an AAU weekend, four games. If you're a primary scorer, maybe you get 12-15 shots per game, tops 60 shots in a weekend, plus limited warmup. Every practice, we plan every player to get over 125 shots. 

History lesson. During a summer, Kobe Bryant would get a 1000 makes each day for a hundred days. 100,000 makes. Larry Bird took 500 free throws daily before school. Ray Allen would shoot 300 jumpshots during shootarounds before games. "Perfect practice makes perfect." 

Focus drives attention. Process drives results. 

Character drives process. From Brett Ledbetter, What Drives Winning.

It's also quality not just quantity. Don't take 100 shots; strive to take one perfect form shot a hundred times. Track results. Trackers do better. Darren Hardy wrote The Compound Effect

"Deliberate practice is focused practice." Minimize the killer "L's" - lines, laps, and lectures.

Maximize your resources. If "idle hands are the devil's playground," then idle hoops are the devil's closet. 

Own the Tempo. Get as much done in the time available. The lessons from watching the UCONN women practice were 1) we can do more, 2) we can do better, 3) champions don't cut corners, ever. 

"Repetitions make reputations." We can develop skills via training. Attention is a skill. Hard work is a skill. Toughness is a skill. How good do you want to be? 

"That which we are, we are, and if we are to be any better, now is the time to begin." - Tennyson

Tracking and "The Compound Effect"

"Measure a thousand times but cut only once." - Turkish proverb

Fight for your culture of improvement. Darren Hardy wrote The Compound Effect about the merits of incremental gains. The British turned incremental gains into Olympic gold in cycling. 

You've all heard about SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Hardy is about measurable. 

What can we measure? 


Leaving your comfort zone produces stress. But adversity builds resillience. The story of the small child praising the mogul skier stands out. "I love the way you ski; you never fall." The skier realized that she never fell out of caution. She trained harder, accepting more risk and became a champion.

UNC Women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance calls it the "competitive cauldron," and tracks everything from fitness tests to drills.Track consecutive makes during drills. Make drills competitive. Revise drills using time-sensitivity. Use "advantage-disadvantage" principles. Track free throws. 


Tracking during games requires manpower. As an assistant, I tracked team turnovers, shooting percentage, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, held balls forced and allowed, and specials (hustle plays, screens leading to baskets). We saw measurable gains in shooting percentage and reduced turnovers. 

Daily routine

"All winners are trackers." We can monitor our study, our exercise, our mental training (mindfulness), spending (am I spending $3 a day on coffee, $6 on lunch?). Am I winning the day? Our "better version" is always available.  

Bonus: Celtics Flare Floppy (two possible shots for shooter)

Current Piston Avery Bradley would get two chances to score, first off the handback into a flare screen and then into a double stagger away (modified Spurs/old school Pistons) LOOP. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

SLOB "Doubles"

Only our imagination limits the possibilities. 

SLOB Zipper entry followed by inbounder cut off double screen. 

SLOB with entry to 5 instead of zipper. Entry back to inbounder via dribble handoff to get sequential pick-and-roll option. 

What Makes an Excellent Defense Effective?

We see "excellent" defenses; what made them effective? There is no "secret sauce." Players combine awareness, alertness, effort, and technique to bake execution (SKILL AND WILL). 

We need the personnel, strategy, and operations to execute. 

Account for pace. Points per 100 possessions does that. A slowdown team will allow fewer points solely because of pace. Break down how many came on free throws, transition, threes, layups, offensive rebounds, et cetera. If we want to be better, correct weakness like poor closeouts, bad fouls, and poor rebounding. 

Master individual technique. Gregg Popovich remarks, "technique beats tactics." It demands playing from a stance, good position, interior and perimeter technique, multiple efforts, ball pressure, effective closeouts, contesting shots without fouling, and solid defensive rebounding. 

Get everyone on the same page with CORE VALUES. Starting players didn't know the team offense or defense. The coach explained there would be a test and players who didn't pass wouldn't start. Guess what? They learned. Create higher expectations. There's literally only one rocket scientist in my house (my wife). 

"Know your NOs."  

Attitude. Get your head right. "Attitude reflects leadership." Defensive mindset instills controlled aggression. 

Attack the ball. Defensive excellence begins with ball pressure. Have no fear. "Play the coverage and trust the protection." 

Reverse engineer success. Brian Robb discusses the Celtics' defense at "Special things are happening already. The Celtics have the third-best field goal defense and the top 3-point defense in the league. They rank sixth in defensive rebounding. They don’t send opponents to the free-throw line at a high clip (third-fewest attempts allowed in NBA). There just aren’t any glaring weaknesses in either of these groups, whether it’s the starters or second unit out there."

Fast Five: The Right Play

Difference making plays aren't always flashy; sometimes they're so nuanced that many will not notice them. 

In the fourth quarter against Charlotte (7:21 of video), off inside-outside action, deep reserve Guerschon Yabusele had an open three point look above the break. But he made the extra pass to Daniel Theis in the corner who buried the shot. Later, on the defensive glass, Jayson Tatum couldn't corral the rebound but tipped it to a teammate to end the Hornets' possession.

At 1:38 Tatum receives the ball near the arc with textbook footwork using the 'right' pivot foot. Watch the shoulder-hip-ball progression to separate for a layup. 

Near the end, (8:57 of video) Marcus Morris clamps Kemba Walker and 'stayed home' instead of picking up a foul. Conversely, Walker doesn't spot the mismatch (Zeller/Smart) in the paint. Morris' length bothers Walker, and Morris stays out of the "popcorn popper" to avoid fouling. 

Making the right play separates success from failure. Getting the 50-50 ball, a deflection in transition, setting a key screen, blocking out, or a cut to move a defender can define success or failure. 

Fouling three point shots (increasingly common), missed free throws (Dwight Howard 2-9 last night), and turnovers (Howard, 7) inform defeat. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fast Ten: Basketball "Cheats" for Young Players

Coaches love smart players. I don't mean "book smart" but "court smart." What makes a 'smart' player? Smart players take what you give them. 

1) Teams that play tight man-to-man often get exposed by back cuts and screens

2) Players are taught to 'see both' the ball and your defensive assignment. Many don't. Burn "head turners"; you can cut to an open spot for a basket cut or an open shot.

3) Take what they give you AND use what they are taught against them (above, right). 

4) Chasing players who constantly move, set up cuts, cut hard, and run you into screens (or even officials) is tough (and annoying). 

5) Smart players know the value of layups and free throws. Learn to finish with both hands on both sides of the rim. 

One of Kyrie Irving's 'trademarks' is finishing with either hand on either side of the rim. 

6. Smart players take better shots. UNC Coach Dean Smith occasionally had scrimmages with scoring based on shot quality. Layups and open shots were positive; forced shots and turnovers counted negative. UNC invariably led the ACC in shooting percentage. 

7. Smart players don't foul jump shooters, bad shots (e.g. runners from the corner), or three-point shots. 

8. Value the ball. The surest way to "lose" an offensive possession is a turnover. 

9. Be here now. The game isn't about quarters or halves but having quality possessions, one at a time. 

10.Keys to rebounding. On defense, position and toughness; on offense, anticipation and quickness to the ball...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Motivational Speaking

Warning: harsh language. 

Chuck Daly boasted, "I'm a salesman." We all are. We effect change. We change strategy, we change personnel, we change motivation. Kevin Eastman says it another way, "do it harder, do it better, do it with different people." Then, "#$&@, it ain't working."

UNC Women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell asked her players to place a hand over their hearts during her halftime speech. "Does anyone feel it beating?" Her team rallied to win. 

Acquire tools to become more convincing, more powerful, more effective. Use the power of rhetoric, taught only at the finest schools. 19 of the last 50 British Prime Ministers were educated at Eton. That is no coincidence. 

To succeed, we need our team's trust. We layer logos (logic), pathos (emotion), and ethos (character/credibility) into our appeals. Sticky ideas invade the emotional hub of the brain, not the overrated periphery. 

Use threes. Three has magic. Rhetorical 'tricolon' uses groups of threes. The Holy Trinity. Primary colors. Tripartite government. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people..." "Duty, honor, country." "Veni, vidi, vici." Offense, defense, special teams. The three-point shot. "Good morning, good afternoon, goodnight" (baseball for 1-2-3 strikes). 

Breathlessness. Apply emotion. "We can do this, we have done this, we will do this..." building to a crescendo. "We win at home, we win on the road, we win at neutral sites." 

Repetition. "Are you with me, are you with me, are YOU with ME?" "We have the TALENT, we have the SKILL, we have the WILL." (Also takes advantage of rhyme). "On this team we fight for that inch." 

Balance. "We will win on offense, win on defense, win on the glass." "Attack the basket, attack the ball, attack from the time you step on the floor." "Either we heal now as a team or we will die as individuals." This also employs losing as a death metaphor. People attach credibility to balance. 

Metaphor. "Play like wild dogs." "Let loose the wolves on the boards." "Play like your hair is on fire." "Soar like eagles."

Hyperbole (exaggeration). "I don't want them to gain another yard." "You find out life's a game of inches." " "Stop crawling; start sprinting (you're not babies)." "I am the greatest." 

Pick-and-Roll Coverage

We coach younger players, so prioritizing CLARITY and SIMPLICITY rule. This applies not only to pick-and-roll but everything. 

We never have GREAT PLAYERS to limit. A few very good youth teams have decent pick-and-roll action, generally because of the DRIVER. Yes, zone defense limits pick-and-roll but we don't play half-court zone defense. 

Goals: No easy shots, no middle, no penetration. The ballhandler should never get a free drive.  

Definitions: Coverage (2 players on-ball), Protection (3 players off the ball)

Defensive Setup: Ball pressure, continuous communication (early, loud, often). Back defenders must make calls. "Not said is not done." 

Side pick-and-roll (ICE, BLUE, DOWN). We must keep the ball out of the middle, but we can't give direct drive baseline. Don't let the ball handler beat you. .x3 has to prevent separation...stay on 3's hip (lock and trail). If x3 gets beaten, she must recover. x3 has to establish side position to force down. With young players, 3 can't pass from the corner to 1 and 1 can't make many threes. 

High pick-and-roll (HIGH). Most teams are trying to score the driver first, the roller second, and the perimeter players far less often. Taking away the driver is huge. Coach Krzyzewski likes the term "fake trap" instead of show or hedge. Our first priority is delaying the driver, forcing her wide with x5. I teach x1 to attack the ballhandler on the PnR call, trying to force her even before the screen is set. This pressures the ball handler and may cause the screener to set a moving screen. Sometimes x1 can "beat the pick" but if not she has to scramble back to 1. 

Young players usually can't/won't rescreen. x5 has to get one hand up to discourage the roll pass and then recover to 5. Help side defenders should be moving into the "Helpside I" (yellow rectangle). Precious few younger players are going to make the corner pass to 3. 

Getting the ball out of 1's hands is an option with trap (blitz) and I try to avoid teaching "under" for x1 early, because I think it creates bad habits and passivity. 

Yes, this is incomplete, but we haven't even had our first practice yet. The core principles of ball pressure, no middle, no penetration, communication, and multiple effort with help and recovery are the emphasis. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Simplifying Screening

Screening has many advantages - obtaining separation, generating mismatches, hard to defend, multiple options for both players involved. The principal downsides are poor technique (leaving gaps, challenging reads for young players, offensive fouls) and compromising spacing.  

With many iterations of decisions, we shouldn't confuse players. Splitting defenders, setting up corner 3s, rescreening, etc. belong to another discussion as does defending screens.  

What essences can we embrace?

1. Sprint to the screen (whether directly or angled, your choice). 
2. Protect yourself when screening. Have knees bent to absorb the contact.
3. Better to be late than early coming off screens. "Wait, wait, wait." - Don Meyer
4. Set up your cut. 
5. Know SOME READ options, you don't need to know them all to start (videos above). 
6. More commonly, ball side screen the ball, help side screen your buddy. Away from the ball, "the screener is the second cutter." 
7. Ballhandler first PERSONAL option - think drive for layup, second is shot if defender goes under. 

When the defender goes under, she "invites" you to shoot. That's always discretionary for younger players without range (or accuracy). It's good defense for non-shooters, too. 
8. Screener options - EARLIEST is slipping the screen if the screener defender cheats past you looking to hard show (fake trap) or trap (blitz). Commonest is roll (open to the ball to the basket, presenting a target.) Occasional is pop (looking for perimeter shot). 
9. Key point: Screening isn't "grunt work." Screening is opportunity to get open to score.

10.Tight defense favors back screens. Looser coverage favors down screens. 

Contrary Agendas

I've discussed the UNC women's soccer slogan, "We have one agenda: excellence." What other agendas plague teams? 

Ryan Holiday wrote Ego Is the Enemy. "The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.” Ego and validation go hand in glove. Pat Riley called it "The Disease of Me." 

Other agendas can include playing time, publicity (notoriety), role (shots, touches), and money (scholarships). 

Playing time. Everyone wants to play. "User fees" (participation fees) complicate 'minutes' as some coaches feel obligated to play everyone because parents have paid to participate. At the varsity level, fees are for participation not a guarantee to play. 

Publicity and credit. Nick Saban remarked, "the players who suffer from the “disease of me” syndrome constantly feel that they are overlooked in praise." Dean Smith carefully credited players who got less publicity for scoring but helped the team in other ways. I remind younger players that if they are asked about their performance, to deflect credit to teammates and the team itself. An outstanding area coach was fired and ultimately rehired after parental pressure. Part of their criticism was lack of publicity about their daughters. 

Role. It's natural to want a bigger role. But having a greater role demands greater commitment, effort, and sacrifice. Are you prepared to change yourself, to differentiate yourself physically and mentally to assume that responsibility? "Do more to become more; do more to become more." Ask your coach not for more minutes but how you can contribute more to team success. 

Money. Scholarships can become the 'golden ticket' for athletes. They may permit the assiduous student to get an education otherwise impossible. But they demand long hours, distracting from studies and changing the entire educational dynamic. And as hard as getting scholarships is, leveraging that into professional careers remains a long shot. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fast Five: Drills to Apply Pressure

Effective teams excel by applying and defeating pressure. "But it's hard." Get past hard

Advantage-Disadvantage. "Make practice hard so games are easier." 5 on 7 no dribble against the full court press. 

1 on 2 fullcourt pressure (timed). The coach (out of bounds) enters the ball to the offensive player who must beat two players to advance the ball to halfcourt within ten seconds. This demands hard cutting, then a good handle to include backdribble crossovers. 

Carolina...from Sylvia Hatchell. Halfcourt trap drill. The coach hands the ball off to 1, who initially has three feet of space from trappers. 1 must avoid a five-second call or a turnover. x1 and x2 keep her in the 'glass box.' 

Circle trap from Shaka Smart. Trappers (T) and interceptors (I). 

Manmaker. 1 dribble per player each touch. Must advance ball to half court but each player must stay in her lane. Players must work hard to get open. 

Gauntlet. Two players must traverse four pairs of defenders who must stay in their areas. Two dribbles allowed per player per area. Ten second count to halfcourt. Rotation is defense moves up and offense goes to back defensive area. 

Fast Five: Unimportant Minutes

"There are no unimportant minutes." - Brad Stevens

- Tim Ferriss, "Tools of Titans"

Great stories stick; make them stickier. Hoosiers wasn't about Hickory, Indiana but Milan. In real life, the coach was married with two young children. But the movie used poetic license to illustrate "David beats Goliath." 

Preparation. After he 'retired', my high school coach prepared scouting reports with a picture of a key and three "keys to victory." Our local girls' team lost the sectional final by a point (multiple bad decisions in the final minute), but really lost because they doubled the post and failed to rotate THREE times allowing baskets. That was a KEY to victory, undiscovered in the scouting report.  

Study. Study only helps when we're open to seeing the world differently. Watch the video. Flexibility and openness are skills. 

Practice. "What does my team need now?" Practice time is precious. 
  • Speed up the tempo. 
  • Translate everything to game play. 
  • Pass on time and on target. 
  • Dribble purposefully. 
  • Be fully engaged.
 Be here now. Today is the most important day of our life. Practice should be fun but mentally and physically challenging. "Make practice hard so games are easier." 

Time. Games are lost surrendering a score on the opening tap. Early baskets yielded in transition, poorly defending backdoor cuts, or failed blockouts in the first minute count just the same as missed final minute opportunity. I watched our star player (now playing overseas) wait at the table for 90 seconds to come in as a ten-point lead evaporated. Timeouts don't go under the tree at Christmas. 

Persistence. "Get past hard." Excellent basketball is hard. Success demands sacrifice. 

Find a way. 


"There are no unimportant minutes."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Shell Drill for Young Defenders

Teaching team defense efficiently to young players can frustrate even experienced coaches. We can use shell drill and modifications to illustrate the basics. 

The most basic shell emphasizes positioning and communication. "Shell" provides latticework for us to build more complexity. It demonstrates defense on the ball, one and two passes away. 

We increase the degree of difficulty by adding individual passing and cutting (to deny the give-and-go) or passing and screening (on or off the ball). 

Shell principles teach help and rotation. 

Coaches increase the degree of difficulty by adding 'advantage-disadvantage' elements. 

As players become more experienced, they learn to "tag" cutters going through the defense.

Sixers' coach Brett Brown walks us through shell drill and principles:

1) Position
2) Pass and defend pindown
3) Pass and cut through
4) Corner drive with help 
5) Top drive with help from away to protect corner 3
6) Live offense/defense 
"no post, no pick-and-roll" during the drill