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Monday, June 17, 2019

Basketball: Turnovers Kill Coaches

Turnovers drive every coach nuts. Ball security is the seat belt and air bag of basketball. Win or lose, turnovers age coaches. 

Losses often feel like chance discarded. We lament close losses more than we question close wins (we're entitled to close wins and undeserving of close losses?).  I know how often we lost close games...yet conveniently forget close wins. 

Study turnovers seeking low hanging fruit. Turnovers compound low shooting percentages to cripple offense in youth basketball...Scylla and Charybdis. 

I think these are the most common youth basketball turnovers. 

These were the highest frequency NBA turnovers during the past season up to January 27, 2019. 

Shot turnovers are especially vexing, whether skill-based or decision-based. Each player should know what shots are good shots for every teammate. In a "numbers" advantage, players need to vet the best shooters/finishers to decide the highest percentage play. We evaluate this during practice continually during the 3-on-3 chase drill. 

Adam Grant's Give and Take explores reciprocity styles - takers, matchers, and givers. Givers bring energy to the court and energize teammates. Givers are about helping. A team of givers moves without the ball helping to limit turnovers and moves on the pass to create takeaways. Givers make everything possible

Winning the turnover battle matters. "The NBA team with fewer turnovers wins about 58 percent of the time. If field goal percentages are about equal, the team with fewer turnovers wins 69 percent of the time."

We focus excessively on what happens late in games. Train teams to win this possession. A turnover or poorest quality shot automatically loses a possession

I define a close game as a margin of six or fewer points (two possessions). I suspect that in two possession games, turnover margin is second to field goal percentage in determining outcome in youth games. 

Lagniappe: How do you ruin your excellent defense? 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Basketball: Leadership is a Sine Qua Non of Coaching Excellence

Coaches lead and teach leadership. There's no shortcut, no cookie cutter leadership course. Studies have never shown an ideal skillset or pathway. Leadership books fill libraries but each of us defines our leadership vision. 

We know authentic leadership when we see it. Every great coach excels at leadership. 

Ethical leadership translates into positive actions. Authentic leadership gets the buy in making David Cottrell's "the main thing is the main thing." The main thing informs values and elevates organizations (family, team, community, business, government). It takes little imagination to recite toppled dictators and messianic "leaders" - Hitler, Duvalier, Ceausescu, Jim Jones, David Koresh. 

Unethical leadership collapses under its own weight. As Lincoln said, "you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time." 

Leaders have stories. They often overcame difficult circumstances. Son of Greek immigrants, P. Roy Vagelos grew up during the depression. After a research career in medicine, he became CEO of Merck. Merck developed and distributed freely a drug to treat River Blindness (Onchocerciasis) in Africa. Patients couldn't afford ivermectin but Vagelos made an unpopular (among shareholders) executive decision to give the drug away, extinguishing River Blindness as a public health problem for tens of millions of Africans. In the end, Merck's philanthropy also opened new markets (including Japan) that led to profits that dwarfed Merck's generosity. Doing the right thing led the company to be seen as doing business right. 

Leaders are consistent. Their private actions do not shame their public behavior. Leaders collaborate and balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. "Are we building a program or a statue?" 

Leaders make leaders. Leaders have a vision of both successful end state and intermediate stages. Followers adopt both the vision and the know how to fulfill the execution combining people, strategy, and operations. 

In Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink shares the distributed leadership concepts of the Navy SEALs that make their operations so successful. 

Leaders work on themselves. Most of us have experienced working with excellent coaches and leaders. They led from the front, developing their craft in education, business, or sport through study and metacognition. "Metacognition is, put simply, thinking about one’s thinking.  More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner." Analyze our inventory of strengths and weaknesses and how we enhance our strengths and mitigate our weaknesses. 

Leaders are positive and optimistic. No great leader traffics in negativity and derision. Optimism drives experience and expectations. Optimism helps defeat fear and anxiety. Optimists perform better under pressure and live longer. Optimists focus on solutions not problems. 

Leaders derive strength and support from others. John Calipari has his Personal Board of Directors. Bill Belichick has Ernie Adams.** Nick Saban has Jimmy Sexton. Steve Kerr shares the importance of mentors. Bill Walsh had a love-hate relationship with Paul Brown. In Gridiron Genius, Mike Lombardi shares thirty years of experience working with Al Davis, Bill Walsh, and Bill Belichick. 

If we want to be better, invest time with better people, better learners, better teachers. 

There's no Holy Grail of leadership training. Earn leadership every day. 

Lagniappe: "Failure is an option." To move ahead, overcome failure.

Happy Father's Day! 

** I played baseball with Milt Holt in college. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Basketball: A Game of Information, Plus Steph Curry Lagniappe

"When people have a big hand, they don't have to look down at their stack." - Phil Ivey

You know what you have...the players, their integration, their strengths and their weaknesses. We see how the opposing coach reacts and the opponent's organization. 

The opponent comes out with a spread (5-0) formation and we should expect give-and-go, back door cutting, and isolation. Maybe the ballhandler will pass and screen away. I won't adjust (e.g. play zone) to this because the players have to learn man principles, even if it costs us in middle school. For youth ball, if it's all about winning, then it's not all about learning. 

As a player, at some point, the switch has to flip automatically. The information barrage translates to help and recover, rotate and recover, automatic switching. Know that becomes know how. Attitude promotes aptitude

Expect better coaches to change up after time outs and to play multiple defenses. In key situations, they'll switch the pick-and-roll and live with mismatches instead of open shots. They'll also work to create mismatches or maybe wait for substitutions if we're predictable (we are, because everyone plays). 

Switching late? "Fortune favors the bold" or "chance favors the prepared mind?" 

Outstanding teams succeed with execution not trickery. UCLA had the 2-2-1 and two-guard offense with elite post players. Carolina leveraged their Passing Game with high quality shot selection and finished teams off with the 4 Corners. Virginia wins with their Packline. The Celtics dynasty used six plays. 

Basketball players read the situation, their defender, and know whether they've got a head turner, a gambler (ready to be fleeced), tight defense (vulnerable to screens, slips, and back cuts), or a dilettante who can be beaten. 

Phil Ivey knows how to 'read the table'. Do we? 

Lagniappe: Breaking down the Curry details into actions you can use. 

Players, learn balance, quickness into the shot pocket, and separation via change of pace and change of direction. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Basketball: Crafting Your Story, Intent and Obstacle

Life cycles show inexorable pursuit of growth and territory. Drama evolves at the intersection of intent and obstacle. What do we want? What stops us? 

As basketball coaches (or players), what is our intent and what blocks us from achieving it? 

If we overreach for intent, we likely get what we 'deserve'. Legendary coach Chuck Daly remarked, "Never never get in a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel." 

Intent states, "This is who we are. This is what we do." We're not the Patriots who are a power running team one week, a West Coast offense team the next, and hybrids the third. Most teams lack the personnel, experience, and practice time to implement chimeric schemes. Plus it returns the Steve Kerr principle, "Run six or eight things really well, instead of 20 things in a mediocre fashion."

Intent favors simplicity and clarity. Years ago on our cable sports show, we interviewed Richard Barton, an area Hall of Fame volleyball coach. He explained how he teaches hitting - emphasizing intent. "Hit the ball as hard you can. Figure out where it's going later." 

Barton's teams won the Division 1 State Championship three of the past five years. His offseason program is called SMASH.

The corollary to intent is understanding the inverse. "This is not who we are, that is not what we do." Mental toughness and lack of sportsmanship don't overlap. 

If we're a speed and finesse team, don't play like we're a power, brute force team. Do well what we do a lot. Edit and delete practices, strategies, and drills that don't advance the story. As Ron Howard says, "the movie is made in the cutting room." 

What obstacles do we face? Overcome existential threats - ego and stubbornness. We've all heard, "those kids will run through a brick wall." That's not the smartest way to go. Is winning a youth basketball game apocalyptic or apocryphal? Don't sacrifice children on phony altars of performance or toughness. We know bad behavior when we see it. "Never be a child's last coach.

Control what we control. We can't control injury, illness, and other force majeure events. We had practice time reduced because of school scheduling changes. Fighting back got additional practice but not previous levels. 

Do we see parental oversight as barrier or opportunity? Parents know their children best. Their support and encouragement help make strong programs succeed. Yes, conflict and rivalries can emerge, when we allow them. Madeleine Blais' In These Girls Hope Is a Muscle chronicles how a team and a community overcame friction to become champions. "We didn't get the encouragement we give you boys. If you were a girl and you liked sports, you could be a cheerleader.” 

We choose our intent and how we minimize obstacles. Choosing well makes everyone's experience better, not perfect. 

Lagniappe: Coach Daniel with the Rockets Attacking the Hard Hedge

You can already see how Harden will read the hard hedge here. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Basketball: Apply Winning Jargon to Craft Your Present and Future (Plus Phil Ivey Lagniappe)

Every profession has shorthand, jargon for consistently approaching their craft. As an ICU attending physician, I used CPRGHINO...cardiac, pulmonary, renal, GI, hematologic, neurologic, and other when evaluating patients. Other included everything from working with nurses and families, shared decision-making, and testing and treatment decisions.

Or when formulating differential diagnosis, create a relevant matrix of pathology/anatomy to come up with a mental list (not all encompassing) or mental model. 

Find an approach that works for you and your team. One word cues redirect our players to what's important. We might emphasize few or tens. Malcolm Gladwell introduces the term, Kaplan-Meier curves to discuss differences in cancer treatment outcomes. 

At a glance, the curves separate early, showing Group 1 outperforms Group 2. Statisticians use other tools also, but you don't need to be a statistician to see differences. 

What are your buzzwords and jargon? Build your "street cred" and relationships with players through constant focus. Here are just a few. 

"Spacing" - during a scrimmage or game, yelling "Spacing" reminds players they're making it too easy for the defense. 

"Pass." Kids get dribble happy ("dribble the air out of the ball"), selfish, or just forget principles of penetrating and reversing passes.  

"Move." We use "camera" (the ball is a camera) or movement ("movement kills defense." 

"Wide." Pat Riley trained players with the Laker Break to have a foot out of bounds at half-court while running the break. Everybody can't run wide but everyone shouldn't run down the middle. 

"Ball." Apply full ball pressure, "don't back down." "Nose on ball" or "crawl up into them" might be better. In high school, we used "red" or "fire" as reminders. 

"Middle" or "paint" as in don't allow dribble or pass penetration. 

"Spain" abbreviates Spain pick-and-roll or "screen the roller." (via Chris Oliver) 

"Pinch." When the dribbler picks up the ball, defender yells pinch and other players go into full denial. Ball defender chests up and straddles the pivot foot to limit the ballhandler's pivoting and vision. 

Keep adding to our arsenal and reinforce teaching and fundamentally sound play. 

Lagniappe: Phil Ivey counsels how to get better (at poker) in his MasterClass. 

1.  Study the pros (who are your role models).
2.  Study your opponents.
3.  See how they are playing differently than you. 
4.  Constantly work on your game.
5.  Collaborate with other players.
6.  You always can get better and others are better at some part of the game.
7.  How would my opponent play different situations?
8.  Embrace the game and take it head-on.
9.  He played many hands in low stakes games to improve. 
10. Focus on the moment, not the stakes. 
11. Poker is poker and you have to make the best possible decisions.
12. What doesn't get shown on TV is guys ruining their lives. You're going to have tough moments. 

"The people that are there from day one, you have to appreciate them."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Attitude: The Jay Wright Stuff

Consensus has Jay Wright among the top coaches in NCAA Men's college basketball. His book, Attitude shares the Wright stuff. 

Charles Barkley pens the foreward. "If you go to Villanova, you aren't going to a place where basketball is the most important thing. You are going there for an education. Jay is a great caretaker of the Villanova culture."

Wright emphasizes, "our attitude sustains us and is the foundation for all that we do - off and on the court." 

"Everyone's role is different but their status is the same." At their basketball awards ceremony each year, each player and a representative of the student managers speaks.

"Shoot 'em up, sleep in the streets." That's the 'Nova message for take the shot and live with the consequences. We used to say "fire and forget." 

The 2015 NCAA Tournament shot didn't drop and East Region one seed Villanova was left with the crying piccolo player meme. Wright instructed, "Never fear failure. Think of it as an opportunity to learn." 

Wright discusses his father's approach coaching Little League, "it wasn't just about winning games, it was about teaching us the importance of being a team." The coach's job meant improving every player.

"We all have a role to play" his father told him. 

During his first job as a Rochester assistant, he coached JV against Bill Van Gundy, father of SVG and JVG. During a scrimmage, Coach Van Gundy held the ball out. Wright learned, "A coach is going to take every opportunity to get his team a win." Even in a scrimmage.

Later, Wright wrangled a job at the Villanova summer basketball camp, which led him to an assistant job at Nova. That introduced him to the Villanova culture of love, respect, service, and compassion...values associated with St. Augustine. 

Chaplain Lazor "made it clear that working at Villanova was a privilege, so maybe we ought to stop complaining." Wright adopted Father Lazor's acronym TOP - Talent, Opportunity, Perseverance. 

He moved back east to Hofstra with his first D1 head job. "I wasn't focused as much on winning championships as much as building a culture." Wright's "Pride" won a pair of America East titles and propelled him to the Villanova job in March 2001. 

Lagniappe 1: Wright guard rip and drive.

Toughness, ball protection, and quick to the basket with a two-footed finish. 

Lagniappe 2: David Brooks' Road to Character challenges us to be transformative. It's a tough read...harder to pick up than to put down.

Brooks argues that we should distinguish between resume' virtues and eulogy virtues“Adam II wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong—not only to do good, but to be good.” 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Basketball: Enduring Lessons Basketball Teaches

"Whether it's good or bad, it's art." - Martin Scorsese

The game etches indelible lessons. Michael Useem's "The Leadership Moment" asks critical questions:

1. What went well?
2. What went poorly?
3. What can we do better? 
4. What are the enduring lessons

Power through right now. Productive habits change everything. Win the morning to win the day. "There are no unimportant minutes.

Leaders make leaders. "Useem defines leadership as the act of making a difference." Remember your best coaches. They inspired, taught, and encouraged. They didn't belittle, deceive, or demean. If we're not living a positive agenda, why not?

Develop the vision of champions. Have a vision of what the game should look like. Teach our players to acquire the same images, the clarity between good and bad basketball. Find ways to contribute when part of your game is 'off'. 

Set the bar high. Accountability means holding to high standards. Outcomes intersect both skill and luck; remember Pasteur's advice, "chance favors the prepared mind." 

Become the person that you want to become. We choose how to work on ourselves - our attitude, focus, effort, and response to success and to adversity. We choose our response in every situation. Adversity is our companion not our enemy. 

Lagniappe: from Phil Ivey, MasterClass 

"The most important thing in poker is awareness, to be constantly aware of yourself and your surroundings."

"You don't want to make decisions based on emotion...making decisions off emotion can be disastrous."

"What is in your control...make your decisions off of logic...the hands you play...doing your best...staying present...putting your best foot forward."  

"It's how you play when you're losing that shows the mark of a champion." 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Basketball: Team-Building Strategies from Steve Kerr (plus triple Lagniappe)

Steve Kerr has a championship pedigree, earning five as a player with the Bulls and Spurs and three coaching the Warriors. He holds the NBA single-season three-point percentage record (.524) and career (minimum 250 made) at .454. He also set the NCAA single-season three-point percentage at Arizona (.573). He recognizes that the NBA game is about the players. 

Develop an eclectic philosophy, borrowing the best ideas from anywhere. Buying into them might be life changing. Here are some from Team Building Strategies of Steve Kerr

"Run six or eight things really well, instead of 20 things in a mediocre fashion."

"Write down everything. Everything you've learned, everything you want to do. Everything you'd change. It'll organize your thoughts. Develop your philosophy."

"How much extra work are you putting into learning about your craft?" 

"What are the core values of your organization?" 

"One of the top priorities of any leader is to get everyone to buy into a set of core values." 

"Do you understand that you can take your craft seriously and still have perspective?" 

"Working to create a strong team not only makes the team better, it also makes you better." 

"...he really cherished the couple voices he had around him that would keep it straight with him, no matter how big his name got." 
"Develop your management philosophy before you become a manager." 

"Good ideas can come from anywhere. Don't let your ego prevent you from getting advice or counsel from others." 

Lagniappe 1: Kerr used to practice coming in "cold" off the bench to shoot threes. 

Lagniappe 2: More Kerr philosophies (not sure who "Draymond Lee" is...a hybrid of Draymond Green and David Lee?)

Champion individual excellence within the team open-minded and keep it light. 

Lagniappe 3: Elbow Split Elevator

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Basketball Coaching: Tell the Story You Want to Tell, Plus Coaching Notes

Family and academics come first. Offseason outdoor workouts start soon (weather permitting). Families are reluctant to sacrifice study time with finals ongoing.

Let's discuss inclusiveness. In Carl Pierson's excellent book, The Politics of Coaching, he shares how some high school offseason programs exclude incoming freshmen, a strategy protecting the interests of existing high school players and their families. 

You make yourself a player. But coaches develop themes. Bob Ryan asks "how much coaches really matter in pro sports." In youth sports, coaches own primary responsibility for fundamental teaching and team culture. Our program emphasizes teamwork, improvement, and accountability

Elite skill development is all encompassing, many trainers working over twelve hours a day. Players invest time on purposeful actions to score.

In The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey outlines  '4 cores of credibility' illustrating the dimensions constructing elite players. 

What do scorers prioritize? 

1-2 dribble separating moves to attack the basket
Basket attack from specific areas (e.g. box drills footwork)
Three-point shooting
Finishing at the rim 
Competition against defense

"Winners are trackers." - Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

Build winning habits - consistency, fundamentals, attention to detail, tracking (measure progress) earn a chance at success. It takes three weeks of daily commitment to build a habit. 

Lagniappe: Florida Coaches Clinic notes excerpts

If you stop learning, you’re done - Bruce Weber
Only game-like practice is offense vs. defense - Chris Oliver
100% survival at NBA level—MUST be honest with these guys - Mike Procopio
Be the expert in the room with your tasks - Mike Weiner
Sport psychology isn’t THE answer but it is part of the answer - Don Kalkstein
On Point – coach your players so that they could be friends of yours 50 years later - Del Harris
Everything is stolen - Micah Shrewsberry
"Yelling, abrasive coaching style isn’t as effective anymore" - Players panel

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Basketball: Keen Sense of the Obvious

"You don't get what you want. You get what you believe." - Oprah Winfrey 

"Everyone knows that." Well, everyone doesn't. 

Coaches' keen sense of the obvious frequently escapes the eye of the neophyte or young player. Experience via play, reading, film study, training, and the teaching by losses change the player's hardware and software. 

1. Valuable players impact the game through their ability to make everyone around them better. Players who measure their worth solely via the scorebook devalue TEAM. Forget Night at the Opera, me, me. 

2. Meaning is no monolith. Impact on the team transcends "minutes". You make the team better when you support teammates (including academically), communicate, practice hard, focus, and consistently put the welfare of teammates first.  

3. We don't go "back to basics." Never abandon them. Attention to fundamentals - footwork, balance, maneuvering speed - is attention to process. "Technique beats tactics."

4. Be detail-oriented. Basketball IQ doesn't always converge with grades. Intelligent play means street smarts, the difference between know that and KNOW HOW

5. Understand situations. During four quarters, the end of each quarter offers a potential six point swing (plus or minus three at each end). A bad decision at one end has changed many games. In a sectional championship game, a team led 15-7 with ten seconds left in the first period. A bad shot turned into a transition three and a possible double digit advantage became a momentum-changing five point lead. This sparked a run by the trailing team and a painful loss. 

6. Space and time inform many sports. Chuck Daly immortalized, "spacing is offense and offense is spacing." Passes must be on time and on target. Excellent teams have noticeable spacing excellence. Spacing stresses defenses and opens dribble penetration, cutting, and passing lanes. 

7. Possession and possessions. Success on this possession matters. More possession (e.g. by rebounding and turnover differential) and better quality possessions define success and failure. 

8. "There is no My Turn." Every player must understand what a good shot is for her and for each of her teammates. The quickest path for team improvement traverses better shot selection. The quality of shots directly reflects the quality of cutting and passing. 

9. "Do well what you do a lot." Charles Barkley asks, "what is your NBA skill?" Many players carve out careers by doing fewer actions exceptionally well. Terms like 3 and D, stretch 4, rim protector, point forward, or distributor reflect their reality. Be great in your role. Every champion finds ways to wear down his opponent. 

10. Don't cut corners. When the UCONN women warmup with laps around the court, nobody cuts corners. You can't skip steps. Spurs' Coach Gregg Popovich says, "pound the rock." If it takes 100 hits to break the rock, keep pounding. 

Lagniappe: The race may go to the most persistent not the fastest. 61 year-old ultramarathoner Cliff Young won the Sydney to Melbourne 543 mile race not by running faster but by running while others slept

"You just gotta keep going." 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Basketball, Escalation of Commitment, and Ego Threat

"Listen for the problem, not the solution." - Aaron Sorkin 

To find a solution, understand the problem. Listen to the problem; accept the problem. Life tests our intentions with obstacles. We all remember the Pogo cartoon, "we have met the enemy and he is us." 

Have we ever missed our exit ramp on the highway? Do we replan and find the next exit or stay wrong? When we err and stay wrong, we double down on mistakes. It's common in business, in sports, in trading, in education (test taking). 

Escalation of commitment loses time, money, and opportunity. A professional team drafts a player ("bonus baby") and he can't play. He can't hit the curve ball, drinks too much, or views the game as secondary to 'the life'. But the team keeps giving him opportunity, minutes, and a role. Or an owner hires a coach who's over his head. Rather than cutting bait, management stays the course

We know this as "sunk cost", the strategy (above) of investing in a losing proposition. It's particularly dramatic in medicine. Decades ago, I cared for an ICU patient with terminal illness and organ failure, and his doctor asked me about prognosis. I told him that if the patient did spectacularly well, he might live a few weeks. He died in three days. Six months later, the physician told me that he thought I was crazy at the time, because he had cared for the patient for years. But he realized that he was so invested in the patient recovering, that he lost all perspective. 

Ask ourselves, if we faced this problem now, what would we choose? 

Leeds et al. ask whether sunk costs are irrelevant in the NBA. They analyze whether lottery picks and first round choices get more opportunity than less pricey acquisitions with similar levels of performance. We know from data from psychologists in the 1980s that prior financial commitment impacts our decisions. 
Previous work from Staw and Hoang (above) analyzing first and second round choices showed, "draft position has a negative and significant impact on playing time, meaning that a player with a lower draft number (picked earlier) gets more playing time" even when underachieving. 

Leeds reports, "We find no evidence that NBA teams exhibit discontinuous commitment to players whom they draft in the first round or in the lottery over those drafted later. Our RD results show that players drafted in the above positions receive no more playing time – and, in some situations, receive less playing time – than other players."

Leeds argues that their analysis looks at wins added versus other performance metrics to explain the difference. We might wonder whether teams learned from their mistakes and have less commitment to failed projects (e.g. Kwame Brown) and move on when decisions fail. 

"When people focus on others, as givers do naturally, they’re less likely to worry about egos and minuscule details; they look at the big picture and prioritize what matters most to others." - Adam Grant

"Openness to criticism" affects our behavior. The scene from "Steve Jobs" illustrates one maladaptive style. By the way, the scene was suggested by Andy Hertzfeld, Jobs' target. 

Threats to our ego push us to recommit to flawed decisions. Do we find "sunk cost fallacy" at work in our decisions? Sorkin advises us to ignore the non-experts commentary, but see real problems and fix them.

Lagniappe: Raptors Spain PnR (screen-the-roller)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Basketball: Box and One Offenses

Teams with exceptional players may face "junk" defenses like Box and 1, Diamond and 1, and Triangle and 2. Defenses bet that limiting the 'star' pays beats disruption of their normal defense. 

There's also a possible psychological toll on the star, who may force shots, commit mistakes (like bad passes), or take frustration fouls. 

There's value in preparing the team and skilled player to face alternatives, especially box and 1. If we don't have an 'exceptional' player, especially in a developmental program, worrying about this is just a distraction

As an aside, many of the better teams we face in middle school play 2-3 zone almost exclusively, whether falling back after pressing or defending the half court. The difference is that the better teams extend defenses and trap the first pass or trap the ball over half court, trying to force bad decisions. The bad teams tend to play sagging vanilla 2-3 zone. 

We need something in our arsenal that our players understand and execute. If we had young players who could make corner 3s, spreading out the defense with paired corner shooter would be simple. I haven't seen many 12-13 year-olds who consistently do...although maybe that will change. 

Staggered screens create options and punish the defender

Screening weak side defenders stresses the middle of the box. 

The high ball screen creates mismatches and sometimes 2 on 1s against the low defender (here x5) . 

Fran Fraschilla shares a continuity offense off staggered screens

The above decoy action from reminds me of Tom Izzo's "X" against the 2-3 zone (below)...

As youth coaches, we don't spend much time on exotica. Executing one or two actions well outperforms a basket of mediocrity. 

Lagniappe: "the King is dead. Long live the King." 

Ready to write off the King? Not so fast. Youtube video examines LeBron's defense. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Basketball: The No Look Pass from Ernie D to LBJ and Harvard

Rule 1. "Don't be boring." - David Mamet

Rule 2. "Every article should have at least six pieces of reporting information." - Investigative journalist Bob Woodward.

The no look pass (NLP) is a misnomer because the passer saw the receiver. Rephrase it as a look away or look off pass that disguises the passer’s intent.

The NLP requires the same on time, on target delivery, and awareness by the passer but alert receivers. It adds value during inbounding and reminds us that eye fakes move and hold defenders.

We associate the NLP with crafty passers like Magic Johnson and Avrydas Sabonis and flamboyant ones like Pete Maravich or Ernie DiGregorio. But an unappreciated NLP wizard is LeBron James

Not so many associate No Look Pass with the eponymous documentary about Emily Tay, a Burmese woman who earned All-Ivy honors after growing up watching Allen Iverson tapes. 

Don't be watching with your youth team as the language approaches that of a longshoreman. Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith remarked, "I'm working on it." 

Some "touch passes" are variants of the NLP

Great passes make three people happy - the receiver, passer, and coach. 

Lagniappe: Pete Maravich explains the "wrist pass" while Red Auerbach cautions, "don't do it."