Saturday, March 24, 2018

At the Movies: Watching Basketball Tape to Learn the Game

Many of us have watched basketball and highlights for more than fifty years. But young players have neither that experience nor advantage. 

This article references 'Non-Conscious Behavior Mimicry'. You could rephrase that as "seeing is becoming." 

We can study individual or team play and focus on detailed individual or big picture actions. When we focus on the individual, examine the details...spacing, footwork, ability to separate with or without the dribble. And of course, study finishing. Evaluate decision-making, shot selection, passing timing and targeting, ability to change speeds and impact game tempo. 

Assess defensive positioning, effort, and play within the scheme (switching, communication). 

For example, at 0:16, Russell Westbrook separates with elite speed, crosses over to protect the ball, and finishes with an unorthodox right foot, right-handed layup. Studying Russell Westbrook won't make players run faster or jump higher, but it could inspire them to train harder or work their craft of finishing with either hand off either foot or both feet. 

"Great defense requires multiple efforts." The Celtics have the NBA's highest efficiency defense; ask why?

At 0:06, the OKC Thunder set up a high wing ball screen. Jayson Tatum is defending, and the Celtics use "Ice", with the goal of forcing the driver left, with Al Horford (42) helping low. Markus Morris (13), lower right, sags to the lane, but is in position to closeout on the corner 3. Terry Rozier (12), defends below the level of the ball and Aron Baynes is in proximity to Steven Adams. Horford switches the screen and alters the shot. 

At 0:26, Rozier forces the dribbler weak and Horford sees Adams ready to overpower Tatum in the lane. Horford reacts and creates a deflection leading to a turnover. 

At 0:44, Tatum sees the Adams screen and Baynes is directing traffic. The communication is evident. He stays low and ushers Tatum "through" choosing not to 'jam' the screen. Adams rolls high to set the ball screen for 'Melo and the Celtics switch it to take away the open 3. Baynes has enough quickness and stays vertical to contest the drive. 

At 1:09, Paul George has a major mismatch on Shane Larkin. Ojeleye comes from the 'nail' to stunt at George (Greg Monroe helps low), who gives up the ball. OKC swings the ball, but Tatum's length creates the block. 

At 1:20 Tatum has enough quickness and size to force George low where he turns the ball over. 

At 1:35 Westbrook comes off the screen and Ojeleye reacts quickly to Ice the ball screen. Westbrook's entry pass is deflected and the Celtics are off to the races. 

At 2:40 OKC gets into horns late and Larkin pressures the ball enough to prevent ball screens from either side. Eventually, Ojeleye defends well enough to force a runner late in the shot clock. 

Studying what works and what doesn't helps players 'see the game' to react and execute quicker and execute. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fast Five: Jumping Rope and Basketball

Goal: Discuss how jumping rope helps the basketball athlete and suggest a basic routine.

A lifetime ago (early 1970s), we used to jump rope for five minutes as the warmup at basketball practice. Coach Lane was ahead of his time. 

1. Outstanding players have combinations of elite athleticism, elite size, and elite skill. Players can improve their athleticism and conditioning by jumping rope. 

"Jumping rope showed objective improvement in motor ability in preadolescent soccer players versus control subjects. Children allocated in the EG, received a jump rope training program at the beginning of the soccer training session for a period of 15 min, two days a week. The entire intervention program involved 8 weeks’ in-season from the beginning of October until the end of November (see Table 1). Prior to training, participants were instructed to warm up with general running exercises and dynamic stretching for ten minutes. During the jumping rope training, all the repetitions were guided by metronome rates of 120 rotations per min to ensure equal exercise intensity among children. The Jumping rope intervention consisted of 5 exercises performed with the following order: basic bounce step, double basic bounce step, alternate foot step, scissors step, and double under."

2. Jumping rope improves balance, conditioning, coordination, power, and strength. It's not the best training for vertical jump, but it helps. 

3. Jumping rope burns 10-16 calories per minute. A ten-minute workout daily could potentially reduce about 15 pounds in a year. 

4. Jumping rope offers variety. Pick out a few techniques that appeal to you. 

5. There are inconsistent data on jumping rope and speed. On balance, the data trend toward improvement. I'm a believer. Rope jumping can increase vertical leap.  Researchers have shown gains in maximal oxygen consumption, the purest measurement of cardiovascular fitness, in pre-adolescent males who trained with jump ropes. 

How long should you jump? It depends on your purpose. For modest gains, modest amounts 5-10 minutes per day as part of a workout can suffice. If you want bigger gains, then 20-30 minutes per day are needed. 

Bottom line: Jumping rope is fun, improves balance, coordination, and conditioning, and can be a part of plyometric, strength, and stamina training. Find a regimen that works for you (e.g. 10 minutes of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, or something more if we can build up to it). 

Something different, staggered screen into wing ballscreen.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Backdoor Plays: Define, Diagram, Drill, and Demonstrate on Video

Goal: explain, demonstrate, and train backdoor plays for offensive development.

Ask players to define a "backdoor cut." They should say "a cut to the basketball, then away from the ball." 

Brett Brown explains the drill. In this action, spacing, timing, and acting create the separation. 

From FastModel sports...from Albany

0:45 Backcuts work well against "head turners," against pressure defense, and when defenders simply get out of position. Gordon Hayward is cleared out on the perimeter and being denied two passes away. Ruh roh. 
1:06 LeBron's defender inexplicably leaves and LeBron makes him pay. "Great players play in space.
1:18 Steph Curry looks like he's worried about the Adams down screen. But his assignment cuts across and Curry loses position. OKC reverses the Ball, Durant's assignment clears (Durant loses sight of the ball), and they execute beautiful backdoor action .

"Multiple actions make great offense." 
0:18 The staggered screen sets the trap and the flash to the elbow springs it. 

Phase 1. Staggered screen for shot or two-man game? 

Phase 2. Flash and back cut. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Podcast Excerpts: CoachingULive Brendan Suhr and Amanda Butler

Goal: Mine information from every available source to improve ourselves and our teams. 

Podcast Coaching U Live (Notes from Brendan Suhr and Amanda Butler)

Focus on helping others, because you will go through hard times in coaching. 

"How did you get past mad?" 
1.Coach Amanda Butler first thought about others (e.g. asst coaches, players) affected.
2.Gratitude was a big part of their (Florida) practices. 
3.Wanted energy to be positive. 

"What did you learn about yourself?"
1.Need to do a good job sharing (coaching information) with others
2."Big idea." Maximize learning during time off (from excellent coaches) spending weeks with mentors (Jay Hernandez, Frank Vogel...Orlando Magic, Billy Donovan...OKC, Mark Daigneault...G League, Brad Stevens...Celtics) 

What durable lessons dlid you learn?
Character development for young players (G League)
What is means to be a professional (G League)
Exposure to different ideas and concepts (Coach Butler's journey)
Learn to be precise with teaching (Celtics' coaching efficiency)
NBA practice...communication not yelling; it's a partnership. 
Specificity of fundamentals...e.g. hard cuts (Celtics)
High level of respect for players' experience and craft...
"Let's have a conversation about what's going on." 
"What do you see?" 
"When they stop listening, it's over for you." - Chuck Daly
"His level of sincerity is through the roof." - re: Brad Stevens
"Television is another great way for coaches to gain visibility." - Suhr

- quote from Jon Gordon

Coach Butler's article and major takeaways...

1. Fundamentals are fundamentals. 
2. Team issues and adversity exist everywhere. There are continuing efforts at all levels to build skills to promote better life choices, communication, chemistry, and consistency. 
3. After twelve years as a head coach,it was so beneficial to attend practices and meetings just to observe, just to listen, take notes and ask impactful questions. 
4. There is no other form of influence more powerful than authentic leadership.

5. Choose a group of people that you openly trust as collaborators and workers. I loved the spirit of partnership in the NBA.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Basketball Effective Field Goal Percentage: A Method to the Madness

Of the first forty games in the NCAA Men's tournament, thirty-three (82.5%) were won by the team winning the effective field goal percentage (EFG%) battle. The NBA is not the only MAKE OR MISS league

Effective field goal percentage corrects for three-point shot attempts. If you make a high percentage of threes, you have a higher EFG%. 

This extends Dean Oliver's concept (Basketball on Paper) about the value of winning the field goal percentage battle. It's the corollary of Papa John's, Better Ingredients, Better Basketball

EFG% captures most of the best teams in the NBA. 

EFG% also informs many of the NCAA Men's basketball bluebloods. By comparison, the UCONN women have an EFG% of 59.6% , the Baylor Bears are 54.5%, Notre Dame is 54.3, and Mississippi State is 52.8%. 

Statistics further breakdown by type of play. For example, Portland has scored the most points via pick-and-roll offense (above). Teams analyze how they are scoring most efficiently and where they struggle offensively and defensively.  

For example, Denver leads the league defensively in allowing fewest points on points per possession against the cut. 

The Celtics don't appear among the team EFG% leaders, but they are the leader in opponents' EFG% (above). The Eastern Conference leading Raptors appear high on both lists as do the NBA title defending Warriors. 

The Celtics also lead the league in lowest 3-point percentage allowed. 

NBA analytics staff breaks down scoring (and defensive efficiency) in numerous ways, varying from 3-point percentage, EFG%, transition points, points in the paint, scoring versus pick-and-roll, via cutting, etc. 

On an individual basis it identifies big men who shoot high percentages near the basket and other players who score efficiently inside or out. The less familiar names within the group probably deserve more attention. 

For our (younger) players, EFG% still matters, but they derive higher EFG% by improving shot quality, shooting ability, and passing to create easier shots

Defensively, our goal is lowering the opposition EFG%. At higher levels of basketball, reducing three-point shooting percentage is key while at lower levels, challenging shots, "rim protection", and reducing putbacks and transition baskets are critical. 

Educate players SPECIFICALLY about EFG% and the means to increase it offensively and decrease it defensively. It's the first driver of success. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Building Your Basketball Offense: Time, Space, Movement

Our offseason program prioritizes fundamental skill development, education of core offensive and defensive concepts, and combining the two. Better players understand offense; experience translates to better defensive recognition. 

What actions belong in our offense and how can we best teach and implement them? We want players mentally and physically prepared for high school basketball. They shouldn't encounter anything they haven't seen before. 

How do you expect to score? The UCONN women plan to score a third in transition, a third on sets, and a third on threes. 

Execution means commitment to understanding space, time, and movement. Every team must decide how much to emphasize transition. For middle schoolers, we teach execution of major concepts. That includes reading individual and team defense. 

1. Pick-and-roll/ball screens with major variations. 
Ballhandlers drive or shoot; screeners roll, pop, and slip.  

2. Reading and executing off-ball screens.
Curl, back cut, bump and using back/cross/diagonal/flare/scissors/elevator screens.

3. Screen-the-screener. 
E.g. special situations, Flex, and Spain pick-and-roll. 

4. Spread offense core actions.
Dribble attack, give-and-go, dribble at back cut, pass and screen away.

5. Advanced cuts.
UCLA, Zipper, Shuffle, Flex, Iverson. 

6. Dribble handoff and combinations. 

7. Staggered, sequential, and double screens. 

8. Isolation. Do you have the one-on-one players to isolate? 

9. Motion. Do you want to develop a continuity motion, teach freelance motion, or inform players via small sided group play? 

Sets offer flexibility to create multiple options...

This US Women's National Team starts with high post entry and possible back cut (3).
3 then gets a staggered screen which can create a three-point shot. 
It continues into pick-and-roll. "Great offense is multiple actions." 

The Spurs combine an Iverson cut with a diagonal screen from the clearing wing. 

As players learn offensive concepts, they increase the chance to create separation and finish.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Site Specific Basketball Shooting Workout

"What does my team need now?" It's the offseason and mature players ask, "how can I improve?; how can I contribute more to the team?" 

Elite players have at least two of three dimensions - elite size, elite athleticism, and elite skill. And the perishable skill that's highly trainable is shooting. "My team shoots well enough," said no coach ever. You can't progress while not touching a ball between March and October. 

Create an offseason menu of shooting drills for our players. It's on them to do the work (once the snow melts here). I advocate for taking three free throws at a time in-between other shooting. 

Larry Bird shot 500 free throws daily before school. Kobe Bryant shot 1000 shots a day for 100 days in the offseason. That's why they're Hall of Famers. "Repetitions make reputations." I've never met a player who loved to play and didn't want to shoot. 

Work inside to outside. Practice is always better with a rebounder/partner. Plus you build lifelong relationships with your teammate. Are you in the Urban Meyer top 10%? Then drag someone along from the middle 80% into the top 10%. 

At the rim. Warmup underneath Mikan and Reverse Mikan Drills (make 5-10 in a row each side)
Flips (form shooting)

Blocks. “Bradleys” ( hop hop shoot...balance and high release; both blocks off the glass)

Blocks. (McHale Move - up and under, 10 each side)
Free throws (3)

Both short corners (Sikma Move 5 each side...pivot and shoot or pivot into drive...above)
Free throws (3)

Two dribble maximum each side, layups from 3 point line (10 must include hesitation, crossover, or combination)
Free throws (3)

Wings. Two footed finishes after one dribble attack (10)
Free throws (3)

Elbows. Box drills layups (one dribble reverse layups finish each hand both sides 5 each hand = 20 total)
Free throws (3) after each 10

Elbows (one dribble scoring...drop step, upfake, rip through)
Free throws (3) after each set

Elbows. Elbow to elbow catch and shoot. (alternating spots - 5 each side). Serious players have to want and expect to make 8/10. 

Free throws (3)

Short wing backboard shooting (alternating 5 each side)
Free throws (3)

Multiple spots. Star drill above (off the catch, off one dribble right and left)
Free throws (3)

Multiple spots. Beat the Pro (Game to 11...60 second time limit per round). You have to make 11 and miss no more than 3 to "beat the pro" (as a kid, we called this Bill Bradley)
Free throws (3)

Multiple spots. Celtics 32 (5 radians, two free throws) or Menzies 3-2-1 (below)

If you're a small guard, spend less time on post moves and more time on perimeter separate-and-finish moves. Maybe you work in some floaters. 

"Do more to become more; become more to do more." 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fast Five: Geno Auriemma Messaging, Practice, and The Show

Coaching shows are platforms; coaches share ideas and send messages. Coach Auriemma shoots straight at current and future Huskies. 

Coach Auriemma remarked, "if you see me at a game (recruiting) and the average person doesn't know who's going to Connecticut in thirty seconds, that's a problem." 

Great players dominate at lower levels. It's not magic; it's obvious. It's literally child's play. 

To Coach Auriemma, "What has been the biggest takeaway (of coaches) watching your practice?" Coaches discuss the pace, intensity, and sustained accountability. These lessons transfer. When watching the women practice, I noted the tempo of practice, no wasted time. Second, it was the consistency of execution, regardless of the drill or scrimmage against the men. Third, UCONN tracked everything- consecutive scoring in drills, free throw percentage (92% that day), points scored per time allocated to a drill. 

After completing stretching before practice, the players completed two laps around the court. Nobody cut a single corner of the court. Champions don't cut corners

Auriemma likens basketball to a jazz band, where individual excellence blends into collaborative excellence, yet "always coming back to the team." 

Like Bill Belichick, he doesn't think he owes you anything. You're at UCONN to compete; he doesn't dance for you. You're dancing in March for yourselves. If you don't want to compete 24/7/365, don't bother going to Storrs. It won't work out. 

The Show never stops. 

Leveraging The Compound Effect, Basketball, and Lagniappe

Darren Hardy wrote The Compound Effect. James Clear summarizes

Overarching themes include the power of incremental gains, the value of persistence, and the need to track progress to achieve your goals. How do we spend our time? How do we spend our money? How much investment do we make in ourselves? 

Quotes and basketball relevance

"Success is doing a half dozen things really well, repeated five thousand times." Do well what you do a lot. Identify what you want to do exceptionally well and focus on excellence in those areas. 

"Knowledge uninvested is wasted." Apply what you know. The RULE OF 2's means that it takes two minutes to study a new skill, two weeks of steady practice to incorporate it, and two months of work before you apply it successfully. 

Link to "Box Drills". Courtesy Herb on Hoops Facebook group. 

"Gratitude is acknowledging there are people in your life who have done things for you that you couldn't do for yourself." Our job as coaches is to help take you where you cannot go by yourselves. Our satisfaction comes from seeing your improvement as a team and individually. 

"All winners are trackers. You cannot improve something until you measure it." SMART actions matter. Specific-measurable-attainable-realistic-timely. Track your time reading, training, free throws made and taken (percentage), your consecutive shots made, your scores in drills like Pitino 168 and "251". 

"The key to success is this: are you learning each day?" Warren Buffett asks, "Do you go to bed smarter than when you woke up?" We cannot accomplish this solely by speaking, but by listening, observing, doing, and reading. 

Bill Parcells remarked, "Confidence comes from proven success." No sixteen seed had ever beaten a top seed in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. That record now stands at 1-135 after the UMBC Retrievers hammered Virginia last night. 


Lunges from Alan Stein. Options include varying the pivot foot, using weighted balls, or weights. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

MSU Half-court Sets

We can examine offensive schemes for spacing, timing and thinking about how we might defend. Here are a few Michigan State actions...

Unusual double screen to set up midrange shot or roll. The set reminds me of a "rocket," so I'd call it rocket. 

Serial screens using the post as screener.

Horns into pindown with slip. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Defending Screens (Annotated)

Annotated highlights from a FIBA teaching video:

Information must be "meaningful and relevant for the players." 
"Play to our strengths." Put your team in a position to succeed.
"Summary information in written...visual...and walking through on the floor." (This accommodates different learning styles.)
How many passes does a team need against us to make before they get a good shot?
Benchmark our team for scoring, rebounding, turnovers.
Our preparation should be able to measurably affect performance.

Four principal ways to defend screens: (Communication central to all...goal is to prevent advantage from the screen).
1. Offense can cut straight, back, curl, or flare. 
2. Screener defender calls technique (over, under, through, switch)...I like to have screener defender call "jam" which triggers "under" action...although for long-term I want bigger wing defenders to be able to switch onto the screener
3. Ball pressure is always central.
4. Against curl must get to the outside hip...
5. Screener defender critical for directing the action

6. Side pick-and-roll (emphasizes weak side help at the split)
7. Against PnR first discusses hard 'show' and over with recovery by screener defender (as readers here known NBA preferred defense on side PnR is 'ice')
8. Under (mild vulnerability to shooters)
9. Through (as screener defender steps off)
11.Blitz (trapping the ball handler)...choice re: personnel involved...for example, teams are trapping Kyrie Irving a lot

This talk shines because it is consistent in emphasizing communication and understanding and allowing coaches at any level to choose their style. "Learning is a change in behavior due to an experience." 

We don't have to teach every technique, but our players need to execute the techniques we teach.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Learning Machine

Warren Buffett partner Charlie Munger describes his colleague as a "learning machine." That allows the octogenarian to remain on top of his game. 

How do we become a "learning machine" - a learn it all, not a know it all?

Intent. Kevin Durant awakens and asks, "how can I get better today?" Kevin Eastman reads a minimum of two hours a day. Steve Forbes reads at least fifty pages a day. Thirst for knowledge and perspective. We can't change the world unless we change ourselves.  

Process. Seeking improvement isn't enough. Read thoughtfully and critically. Farnham Street Blog details better reading (I've read this article four times). The author suggests that we create mental pictures and mental models (biases about how we and the world work). Make our process vivid and clear. 

Preparation. Games structure situations that challenge coaches and players to choreograph solutions. Our 'why' dictates the who, what, and where. One end-of-game situation illustrates. Leading by one (against an undefeated team) with five seconds to go, we had a sideline out of bounds (SLOB). The solution didn't demand genius only dodging disaster.  

1) Inbound the ball safely.
2) Do not foul.
3) Get the ball to a preferred free throw shooter. 
4) Do not inbound closer to our own basket (make it tough for the opponent to score).
5) Avoid deflections on the inbound (easier to the corner or backcourt).
6) Manage risk. If we lose the ball, where do we leave hard conversion and scoring? 

The opposing coach is yelling "switch all screens." I'm okay with that as we designed big on small. We inbounded to the corner but lost the ball after a couple of seconds. We didn't foul and the opponents never advanced the ball to where they could shoot (despite the home timekeeper). The execution wasn't ideal but adequate. 

If we needed a three, then I prefer this type of action (to the ball) because we can't consistently make long passes. 

"Orange School" designs structural and situational teaching. Do you have clips that you'd share with your team? I plan to start with our high school's semifinal loss, showing plays that demonstrate core principles. 

Lagniappe: excerpts from an essay by John Celestand

"The day you make the decision to be successful is a day in history for any human being. It is the most important day of your life. This is a day that is more important than a birthday, an anniversary and any other holiday that you can imagine. In fact, the day that you decide to become successful should be marked in your own calendar and celebrated annually. 

Successful people think alike. They behave alike. They have the same habits. Similarly, unsuccessful people behave in a like manner. Success is not an accident, luck or a gift. Success is a mind frame. Money, material possessions and fame don't have anything to do with success. They are simply the results of the decision. 

Those who are successful, carve out "time to be successful." That is part of their week. Many times people tell me they don't have time to read during the week. Some of you won't have "time" to read this article. That is absurd! I have never heard anyone tell me they don't have time to eat during the week. Why starve the mind? The information and education that comes from reading can't be put on the back burner. This is one of the great crimes of humanity. If you are not dedicating yourself to learning and participating in some type of self-improvement every day of your life, then you are severely hampering your existence.

Success is a mind frame. It's never easy or in clear view. Success hides in dark crevices, under rocks and around corners. Only those who dare, who have courage and once in a while, gaze off into the horizon, ever seem to find it." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fast Five: How Do You Get an "A" in Basketball?

How do we grade our students? Irony dictates that your grade depends mostly upon what you did for your teammates.

We may not give formal grades, but we constantly assess players and teams. How do you earn an 'A' in basketball?

First, consider inversion...the opposite of excellence. What deconstructs success? 

The self-destructive player commits mental errors, especially repetitive ones. Common mistakes include missed defensive individual assignments, lack of help, poor communication, and bad shot selection. Everyone commits physical errors, like bad passes, missed layups, and fouling. But quality players seldom make mental mistakes. 

Second, what positive attitudes are overrepresented among excellence?

Basketball is important to superior players. By definition, extracurricular activities are optional. Superior players invest mental and physical energy. "Success leaves footprints" with better attention, commitment, discipline, and preparation among the most effective players. Every excellent player wants coaching.

Third, "A" players make better decisions. They don't focus on their glass isn't half empty or half full; they're constantly filling it. Decision-making includes both their off court behavior (rest, exercise, diet, study) and on-court offensive and defensive reads. 

Fourth, successful players uniformly see their work as craft, elevate their game, and seek mastery. They add layers to their game and build a portfolio tiered upon physical and mental skills.

Finally, the best players execute at a consistently high level. They find ways to contribute when parts of their game aren't working. They force coaches to put them on the floor because they are success machines. Pete Carril called some players "light bulbs." "They walk on the floor, the light goes on." - February 6, 1991. 

I call them transitional objects as we coaches can't do without them

Lagniappe: (a reminder that Lagniappe is 'something extra, unexpected, a little special"

More from the Xavier (top four seed) basketball newsletter...

Even better, don't use chairs or cones, include a defender. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Captain Obvious: A Few Thoughts on Defensive Teaching

Coaches help players see the game. We can't teach unless we have a coherent and unifying perspective. The ability to create and deny separation constitutes an important symmetrical theme. 

We can divide individual teaching into ball skills (e.g. dribbling, passing, shooting) and off-ball skills. We can't teach ball skills without the ball. Generically, players perform NINETY percent of the time without the ball. Players can learn a lot of the decision-making off-ball theory through film study. They then translate them into practice during drills and scrimmaging. 

Take any subject, like post defense. Ask a player their job and they may say, "prevent the post player from scoring." Factually true, tactically useless. We can follow through by asking "inversion" questions. 

In a classroom setting, we can ask:
1) where does the offensive player want to post?
2) how do they get the ball?
3) once they get the ball, what are our options?

We ask defenders, how could we defend (front, 3/4, behind) and the advantages and limitations of each. I teach post denial via ball pressure (lack of it encourages entry) and individual technique because problems (scoring and fouling) occur after entry. 

We can ask about digging and doubling (defending AFTER entry).

We can double and rotate (left) or double without rotation (my preference), because I consider it less risky. With younger players, we rarely encounter skilled post players.

Ball pressure. Defenders may hesitate to apply ball pressure through fear of getting beaten off the dribble. That can be a legitimate concern. How can we encourage perimeter defenders?

Consistency. Share persistent messaging. "Be the same guy." 
1. Attack mentality. Have a consistent mindset offensively and defensively.
2. Practice. Half and full court one-on-one defense. Two useful drills above.
3. Protection. Defense is 5-on-5. You will get protection from backside defenders.
4. Communication. Insist on talk, so defenders avoid 'wipeouts' from hard screens.
5. Pavlovian Conditioning. "Don't back down." "Nose on chest." "Head on ball." "Crawl into them."
6. Confidence. "I believe in you." Praise the praiseworthy. 

Feedback. Do players understand and practice what we preach? Soliciting and giving feedback is another central process. 

Priority. Is defense a priority (the techniques are emphasis) or lip service? I started one player each game because I valued her as our best on ball defender. But early in the season, I told her that she had earned that opportunity through her actions. That reinforces the value (minutes and contribution to team success) attached to defensive effort, technique, and tactics. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Postseason Plays Informing Winning and Losing

What distinguishes our team's individual and collective performance, especially in big moments? Yes, talent matters, but talent reflects not just skill, athleticism, and resilience, but Pete Newell's designation, the ability to "see the game." 

Here are a few plays that defined results because of design, execution, and the defense's inability to respond. A small number of plays often define outcomes. 

After the opening tap, the offense ran ball reversal into a diagonal screen (a reverse action) for a layup. Defensively, you need great communication (from x3) to allow x5 to stay with her assignment by "going under" the off-ball screen. 

Similar action off 1-4 (or horns). High ball screen into diagonal screen setting up a high quality layup or postup. 

BOB "Mousetrap" as two defenders go for the cheese. Offense springs the trap by screening the middle of the 2-3. 

Classic "Iverson cut". First, the alignment (1-4) limits "weakside help." It also informs the defense about the intent of clearing space in the lane. 

Here's how it played out in a Massachusetts sectional semifinal game. 

I intend to offer players periodic "Orange School" film study to help see through 'coach's eyes.'