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Sunday, April 30, 2017

More from Dean Smith

"Color seems more like a disguise, for as we become better acquainted, we affirm each other as fellow human beings with a common goal. One thing I have greatly enjoyed as a coach is attending the weddings of many of our players because all such events bring blacks and whites together in such a beautiful way."  - Dean Smith in A Coach's Life

Dean Smith meant so much to the game of basketball, but more to what America became. Although he may be known best as Michael Jordan's coach, he was first Charles Scott's coach. Smith had tried to recruit Lou Hudson, who barely missed Carolina's academic standards. Smith noted, "I became certain the SATs were culturally and economically biased-a suspicion that was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court."

At a previous crossroads in his career, Smith wrote the words of Catherine Marshall, "Crisis brings us face to face with our inadequacy, and our inadequacy in turn leads us to the inexhaustible sufficiency of God."

Smith sprinkles a lot of wisdom, the value of great assistants (e.g. Larry Brown), making other teams adjust to you (pressure takes them out of set plays), sticking with principles, and picturing success instead of struggles.

He was more concerned with what was right than with appearances. In addition to pioneering ACC basketball integration, he integrated local restaurants, bringing in Carolina players.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Basketball independence is a myth. Because our success depends on relationships, how we cultivate them defines us.

Coaches rely on players. Players rely on complex networks of family, teammates, coaching, and teachers. Entire programs need administrative support; they flourish with community and fan loyalty.

Our in-house program requires effective culture to build an identity. Kevin Eastman says, "fight for your culture every day." Great culture includes commitment, respect, accountability, learning mindset, teamwork, opportunity, and defined roles. Players and assistants must be valued to feel valued. We feel valued when people listen and thank us for our contributions.

We create and enhance our public face, our brand, according to our process, product, consistency, and perception. Transparency helps us 'get to' acceptance. In The Politics of Coaching, Carl Pierson addressed a parental concern about team selection. He showed the parent that their daughter was at the bottom (among over forty players) of the three measured dimensions - speed, strength, and jumping.

I've wrestled with how to evaluate players with learning disabilities. An athlete with some athleticism and skill may struggle to understand the game and their assignments, despite having a good attitude. That's another dependency variable. When games reach critical stages, dependability matters.

Our process isn't just wins and losses. How we carry ourselves, practice, compete, and communicate with each other and community matters. Communities can't support low character teams. Sports allows us to be part of something greater than ourselves. We can't allow counterfeit emotions to overrule interdependence.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." Abraham Lincoln

"Tell me something I don't know." - Everyone ever born

Who am I? Who do I want to become? What adversity must I overcome? 

A minor example of 'Charlie Hustle'. 

LeBron is known for "the block" but he deserves credit for many more "moments." 

Go to 1:55 of the video. 

Hustle translates state of mind into state of being. Hustle encapsulates preparation, effort, and action. Unless we focus, we can't inform our plan with effort. 

Consider examples of "failed hustle." 
  • Not listening when coaches speak, teach, and motivate
  • Reading but not studying the scouting report 
  • "Buddy running" in transition defense (running with the player)
  • "Cheating a drill", not giving maximal effort
  • Running wind sprints to beat your neighbor, not to be your best
  • "Dead man's defense" played six-feet under the ballhandler 
We know hustle when we see it. Years ago, I was at Fenway Park for a meaningless game 161 against the Orioles. The Red Sox led 8-3 in the eighth inning with a man on first. The Sox singled to right and left fielder B.J. Surhoff backed up at third base. Maybe it didn't matter, but it mattered to him and for me. 

Functional Basketball Coaching discusses possible 'hustle statistics'. 

Play like your hair's afire. Don't hustle for your town, fans, school, family, or coaches. Hustle for your teammates. You are accountable to them first. 

On "A Coach's Life" and Shuffle Offense

"One of the greatest gifts you can share with somebody is the knowledge that you have." - John Thompson in Praise for Dean Smith in A Coach's Life. 

Dean Smith shares his experience in A Coach's Life. He explains how a Mathematics major led him to quantitative measures in coaching. He discusses the origins of the "Run and Jump" defense (he preferred the term "Run and Surprise") and how it came about...a six-foot-one guard at Kansas named Al Kelley would inexplicably leave his man to attack the dribbler. He added they initially limited its use to after free throws and in the comeback game. 

And Smith notes that Run and Jump became "Scramble" at Carolina when they elected to double team the ballhandler. 

His first "big break" came while assisting Bob Spear at the Air Force Academy where necessity forced them to compete with no players taller than six-foot-four (aircraft cockpit size limited height). USAF had to find ways to win without size. Enter the Shuffle.

Air Force used the "Shuffle Offense" pioneered by Bruce Drake, and defeated Al McGuire's Marquette, a Cal power under Pete Newell, and lost by 2 to UCLA's Bruins under John Wooden. Later, Coach Smith explains how the Cadets upset Henry Iba's Oklahoma State. 

I digress. Coach Jackson shares the Shuffle here. Naturally the eponymous cut (The Shuffle Cut) is a key component, along with ball reversal and movement. 

He writes, "The Post man is basically a picking machine who sets up at the elbow of the key on the opposite side to the feeder and the same side as the first and second cutters. His job as a picking machine is to head hunt the 1st and 2nd cutters defensive man."

Many offenses use the "Shuffle cut" as a component. FastModelSports shares examples. 

I've written before how "Geno knows Xs and Os" and here's a UCONN shuffle action. 

We can envision running Triangle into shuffle action. 

Here's extensive video illustrating the Shuffle in action at BC: 

What you see a lot of is: 1) pass and 'bury' (cut to near corner), 2) Shuffle cut, 3) Ball reversal through 5, 4) second cut 

The video shows numerous examples of failure. What the video show is 'marginal' cutting, absence of "head hunting screens" (body on body), and ineffective use of off-ball screens by cutters. Sometimes they're running the first pass from the hash, which creates long passes and bad angles. All of which explains why the BC offense didn't execute well. In the video, it worked better with 'freelance' action against overplays and help. 

As Coach Newell would say, reproductions are often poor copies of the original.

Conversely, with elite talents executing well, note the difference. The Spurs favored dribble handoff to start the Shuffle. 

See 1:20 of the video with this DHO, Shuffle into back cut action. Later, they don't run the 2 through, and run the second Shuffle cut by screening the 5 (Duncan) with the 3. 

Coach Smith had numerous offensive styles, the Four Corners, 1-4 high, and Passing Game offense. He analyzed points per possession before fashionable, and sometimes scored practice scrimmages by shot quality instead of results. This led to the Tarheels almost always leading the ACC in field goal percentage during his tenure. 

His dignity and class within the coaching profession are examples for us all. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Ego Blindness"

"Virtue begins with understanding and is fulfilled by courage." - Demosthenes

Ego blinds us. Being a know-it-all prevents from us from becoming a "learn-it-all." 

Ryan Holiday wrote Ego Is the Enemy. Here are some quotes that help remind us about the damage potential of ego. 

"We can't work with other people if we've put up walls."

"Replace the temptations of ego with humility and discipline when we experience success." 

"Your ego is not some power you're forced to satiate at every turn. It can be managed." 

"What replaces ego is humility, yes- but rock-hard humility and confidence."

On (General) Sherman, "His realism allowed him to see a path through the South that others thought impossible. His entire theory of maneuver warfare rested on deliberately avoiding frontal assaults or shows of strength in the form of pitched battles." 

"Among men who rise to fame and leadership two types are recognizable-those who are born with a belief in themselves and those in whom it is a slow growth dependent on actual achievement. To the men of the last type their own success is a constant surprise, and its fruits the more delicious."

"Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth." (We all know the expression, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." 

"Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know." - Lao Tzu

"Strategic flexibility is not the only benefit of silence."

"Having authority is not the same as being an authority. Having the right and being right are not the same either." 

"A nation is born stoic and dies epicurean." - Will Durant 

"It is not 'Who do I want to be in life?" but "What is it that I want to accomplish in life?" 

"The power of being a student is not just that it is an extended period of instruction, it also places the ego and ambition in someone else's hands." 

"A real student is also his own teacher and his own critic." 

"You can't learn if you think you already know." 

"Passion typically masks a weakness. Its breathlessness and impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, for mastery, for strength, and perseverance." (Purpose over passion) 

"Make the other people look good and you will do well." 

Do the Right Thing

In Toughness, Jay Bilas shared an incident from his teen years. His father asked him to change the contact paper from his sister's vanity. It was a difficult task, and Bilas described doing it poorly. When his father return home late from work, he inspected it, said nothing, and spent a couple of hours doing it right. Bilas felt shamed, because after a hard day's work, his father did it over...and right. Bilas described his dad as the toughest man he knew. 

Example 1. You're the new coach at XYZ High School. Your school has a summer league program, but state rules prohibit your direct coaching. The middle school's eighth grade team was undefeated. Incoming freshmen are permitted in the league, but parents in the program are lobbying for a roster of only current high school players. What do you recommend? 

Example 2. You're the established coach at XYZ. Your team is undefeated and in the mix for a state championship. One of your starters informs you she is going on a school trip overseas and will miss ten days of practice and games. Does she retain her starting position when she returns? 

We know there's right and wrong, but there's plenty of gray, too. 

Doing the 'right thing' depends on perception. What's best for the team, the coach, a given player, and their family? In example 1, blocking access for rising frosh is a common technique seen to 'protect' older players. The opportunity for one group occurs at the expense of the other. 

Example 2, illustrates concerns about the commitment of a player to the basketball program versus another opportunity or organization. 

In his 1972 letter to players, Coach John Wooden wrote, "You may feel, at times, that I have double standards as I certainly will not treat you all the same. However, I will attempt to give each player the treatment he earns and deserves according to my judgment  and in keeping with what I consider to be the best interest of the team. I know I will not be right in all my decisions, but I will attempt to be both right and fair."

The coach wears many leadership hats - mentor, teacher, organizer, jurist, disciplinarian. Our imperfections reflect our humanity, not indifference or favoritism.

But we approach the truth by asking, "what does my team need now?" In example 1, the coach can clarify his commitment to "Team First." That means opportunity for everyone. In example 2, the coach could meet with the player and family and assert the need for the player to reclaim her position that she gave away for another priority. It's basketball, not Sophie's Choice. 

When I hear "do the right thing", I think "be professional, be an example." Everyone won't agree with our decisions; but communication builds trust and trust builds loyalty. And that is the right path.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ATO Actions

Here are three ATO sequences that worked well in the NBA. I picked these because they had some general principles with some 'wrinkles'. 

The Celtics ran this to get ball reversal into reverse action into either a lob or a three. (From 

The Hawks used "zipper" action to clear the elbow for an isolation.

The Spurs work multiple actions that set up three possible scoring sequences:
1) Ginobili off the staggered screen
2) Parker and Duncan off the high ball screen
3) Leonard off wing isolation 

Scut Work

Medical training popularized the term "scut work", the unglamorous tasks like drawing blood, booking consults, running down lab data, retracting instruments during surgery. But the mundane, unheralded work cultivates attention to detail leading to better diagnoses and outcomes. 

Coach John Wooden believed that Bill Walton's focus on the details of footwork and balance made him a Hall of Famer. The venerable Curt Gowdy had the call of the 1973 title game. 

Everyone has unrecognized duties essential to the process. 

Michelangelo began as an apprentice at age 6, working ten hours a day. By age 26, he crafted the pieta. 

Benjamin Franklin's father wanted him to enter the family candle-making business. Against his father's wishes, Franklin entered his brother's print shop as an apprentice. At age 16, Franklin anonymously wrote the popular Silence Dogood letters, fashioning a literary career en route to becoming an inventor and statesman. 

Players might say, "what mundane tasks fall on you?" These are just a few:

Creating practice schedules
Studying film
Maintaining a drill book
Writing and revising a program manual 
Crafting and editing a playbook 
Reading daily
Improving leadership skills 
Developing better teaching skills 
Analyzing data
Communicating with other coaches 
Organizing off-season activities, and so forth 

Eventually, professionals recognize the continuum from "scut work" to the fine details that drive the process engine. If players want to excel, they should understand early the relevance of detail, the value of continuous training. "The magic is in the work." 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fast Five: Rules?

The game evolves with the rules...and rules and points of emphasis also change. 

I'm no Bill Belichick, I don't know every rule...but we can all learn. 

1. Traveling/sliding. Is sliding on the floor with the ball traveling? 

2. Illegal screens. Aside from moving screens, what constitutes illegal screens? 

Pictures are worth a thousand words. 

3. Illegal screen from behind.

Another example from NBA Video Rule book

4. Inbounding violations. After a violation, the inbounding player may step back but not side-to-side. 

5. Over the backboard

Rule: 7-1-2
ART. 2
The ball is out of bounds:
     a. When it touches or is touched by:
          1. A player who is out of bounds.
          2. Any other person, the floor, or any object on or outside a boundary.
          3. The supports or back of the backboard.
          4. The ceiling, overhead equipment or supports.
     b. When it passes over a rectangular backboard.

May God have mercy on us all. 

Nick Saban: "How Good Do You Want to Be?"

"Eliminate all the clutter..." - Nick Saban 

Any discussion of the most accomplished coaches in America includes Alabama's Nick Saban. Saban is known for his brilliant recruiting, hard-nosed coaching, meticulous "Process", and five National championships. 

Here are a few quotes from his book, How Good Do You Want to Be? 

"Champions take advantage. You have to do everything you can as a team or an individual to put yourself in a position for success-but you also have to close the deal."

"Mental toughness is the ability to keep adversity of all kinds from affecting your attitude and performance." 

"Psychologist Terry Orlick...has determined there are seven components of excellence: commitment, focus, confidence/engagement/belief, positive imagination, mental readiness, controlling distractions and constant learning." 

"Pride is what makes you get off the canvas and fight; it is what pushes you to do your best at whatever you are committed to accomplishing."

1. Invest your time don't spend it.
2. You don't alway get what you want, but you always get what you deserve. 
3. Promise a starting time, but not a quitting time.
4. Patience is a necessity for success.
5. Enjoy your work

Lesson 1. Don't look at the scoreboard.
Lesson 2. Climb the mountain, but watch your step. (The higher you go, the more dangerous it gets.)
Lesson 3. Don't worry about mouse manure when you're up to your ears in elephant do-do.
Lesson 4. Being focused doesn't mean having tunnel vision. (A plea for being well-rounded)
Lesson 5. Focus on the center.
Lesson 6. A lack of focus can be the result of a lack of experience.
Lesson 7. Remember that success is never final and failure is never fatal. 
Lesson 8. Accept that you will make mistakes, and don't dwell on them. (Move on.)
Lesson 9. Lessons should be learned in success and failure. 

"Find honor in how you compete." 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bucks Actions and a Little More

Jason Kidd and the Bucks have a young roster. That makes simplicity and execution imperative. Yesterday, the Bucks didn't execute to the level required to win playoff ball, but they had opportunities. I'm sharing some of their looks and a Toronto SLOB. 

First, a Raptors play off a typical zipper cut, with a ball screen coming from the help sign for a Lowry trey. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled but not for lack of chances. Early on the Bucks ran a Thon Maker-Giannis sideline pick-and-roll, missing a long 2. Not my favorite...

This is a staple with multiple actions. It sets up Giannis going to the hoop, and if the initial action doesn't work, they have "dribble pitch" action with the off guard coming to the ball and Giannis cutting through. 

The Bucks go from their base lineup to "hustle and muscle." Greg Monroe can set an elbow pick-and-roll or get an iso from the elbow area. 

Milwaukee also ran typical staggered screen action. Snell (or Middleton) can come off the screen for a perimeter shot or a drive. 

The Bucks shot 30-81 (5 for 21 treys) and only 23 for 69 (33%) if one subtracts Tony Snell's day. Add in eight more turnovers and it's easy to see why the Raptors evened the series. As Jason Kidd answered at the half, "we have to put the ball in the basket." 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mohammed Sanu Sets an Example for Us All and Gets Noticed

Into the "Jar of Awesome"...

Fast Five: Breathing and Basketball

"Everyone's last breath is out." - Dalai Lama

We take breathing for granted, but breathing and basketball are inextricably linked. I'm not so self-absorbed to believe that there is only one way or a best way, but share what I've found helped players who are willing to take instruction. 

"the more deeply you exhale, the calmer and more capable you become..." - Jocelyn Glei

1. Centering breaths are part of Jason Selk's recommended "Ten-Minute Toughness" sports psychology routine. The broader routine includes centering breath, identity statement (this is who I am), mental highlight reel, performance statement (this is how I play), and centering breath. 

Air doesn't "enter" the diaphragm, which is a muscle. The diaphragm contracts (shortens), which lifts and spreads the chest cavity and produces negative pressure in the space between the lungs and chest wall. This allows air to flow passively into the chest. Controlled breathing tends to reduce anxiety and accompanying shortness of breath. 

2. Quick Physiology lesson. Heart and lung performance are linked to provide oxygen to working muscles. This can be measured with a "metabolic cart" measuring expired gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) to calculate 'oxygen consumption' (VO2) and examine the relationships between heart and lung performance. Ordinarily, we are NOT limited by breathing but by our ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles, a function of heart performance. When our metabolism becomes anaerobic (not enough oxygen delivered), lactic acid builds in muscle (burning feeling in the legs), and we compensate by breathing faster (hyperventilation) to eliminate carbon dioxide and control body acidity (pH). 

3. The Cooper 12-minute run correlates with VO2max, the number that is the best measurement for cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness. The last time I did this (age 59), I overtaxed my ankles and actually had a health setback...and obviously this can set off problems for individuals with heart, lung, or orthopedic issues. Check with your physician...

There are 1609 meters in a mile. If you were over fifty and had outstanding performance by Cooper testing, you would have to run about 1.5 miles in 12 minutes...meaning on a treadmill, you'd run the twelve minutes at about 7.5 mph. That's pretty demanding for most fifty year-olds. 

4. We differential abdominal versus thoracic breathing. Abdominal breathing tends to be deeper and slower. Abdominal or 'diaphragmatic' breathing is believed to aid in relaxation. 

We use the expression: "take a breath", meaning slow down and don't get ahead of yourself. 

5. Practical application. Free throw shooting. Aside from the mechanics itself, this is how I teach young players to approach a free throw. Do not go to the line until you are ready to receive the ball. This helps avoid "freezing up." Visualize the shot going in. Receive the ball and take your pre-shot routine. I favor three dribbles and a good breath and full exhalation. 

Targeting happens simultaneously. I don't like players 'spinning' the ball. I don't want players 'actively breathing' (inhaling or exhaling) during the shot itself. Every shot is therefore taken after full exhalation. Get players to focus on the 'process' not the outcome of the shot.

Ronald Paul Sen, M.D., F.C.C.P. (Fellow, American College of Chest Physicians) 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fast Five: Finding Excellence

"The conviction of your vision is the sine qua non for its achievement. Without a clear-minded fix on where you want to get, the opportunities and pressures for diverting from it will ensure you will not arrive there." - Michael Useem in The Leadership Moment

Vision alone won't fulfill dreams. Before reading on, what dimensions belong on your list of desired coaching qualities? Pick 5. 

1. Competence within The Big Picture. The coach owns the structure, planning, teaching, and implementation of their system. 

2. Problem solving. Basketball creates challenges offensively, defensively, and in special situations dictated by time and score. Players must adjust to different styles, athletes, and officiating. If we don't teach them, they will not learn. 

3. Leadership. Leaders serve. They inspire trust and earn loyalty. Leaders add value to everyone in the program. People gravitate to leaders and shrink from despots.

4. Motivation. Players can give more; effective coaches get more by giving more. Dean Smith said, "I don't teach effort; I teach execution." We don't have Dean Smith's players. 

5. Persistence. Life interferes with preconceived plans. Adversity is our teacher not our enemy. Coaches and players must endure. 

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

Coaching Toolbox shares thirty-five qualities of an outstanding basketball coach. Which do we need to grow? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Screening Zone Defenses

Teach players core values of spacing, screening, cutting, and passing. Zone defenses have weaknesses and screening informs parts of good zone offense. 

The most common zone defense we see is 2-3. Coaches choose where and whom they wish to attack in the zone...and whom they want to get the lion's share of the scoring chances. Basketball is not a democracy. 

Use screens to set up 'quick hitters' or create defensive indecision. We can categorize "zone screening" design to screen ball side, help side, or middle. 

This FastModel play screens both the top and the bottom of the zone and occupies the other defender with the dribble. In addition to setting the quick 3, the play offers 4 off the roll. 

Ball side and help side screens set up the skip pass, with closeouts limited by screens. 

Screening both top defenders can free the point guard for midrange shots or to attack the 5. 

Michigan State's Tom Izzo uses a pair of diagonal screens in "X" to create a lane for attacking the middle of the zone. 2 may have a shot, a pass across, or 5 on the roll for a bounce pass. 

Another MSU play (Fist Down) screens the middle of the 2-3 with the goal to get the ball inside to the 3 who can score, or drop to the 5 or the 2. 

Florida Gulf creates an overload situation and then (from a stack) screens both the middle and the top of the 2-3 to establish a driving situation or drive and kick for the three. 

I like "Horns." Here's a horns sets versus the 2-3. 

Regardless of what we teach, nothing works unless players can make shots, space the floor properly, and move the ball crisply. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Unconventional Offense: Two-on-Two

Team defense demands five person effort, beginning with competing in individual battles and communicating defensive intent (coverage, protection). 

But team offense (distinguished from one-on-one play) starts two-on-two. 

Two man actions begin with give-and-go and the panoply of pick-and-roll options. 

Today I focus on less common two-on-two play and variations. 

Dribble handoff/dribble pitch

Basic dribble handoff into downhill drive. 

Dribble 'at' into back cut. 

The next iteration becomes "dribble at' into off-ball screen (3 player action). 

Dribble handoff/pitch was the precursor to the pick-and-roll. Coach Nick of BBallBreakdown illustrates how ICE defense limits the roller but evolves into dribble pitch. 

Pass and follow

This action flows from an elementary youth basketball drill...pass and follow...teaching players to pass and move. 

The ball handler can pass and follow her own pass using the receiver for a return handoff or use the receiver as a screener. 

Give and go variation using receiver as screener/passer. 

Two-man game with handoff and pass options. 

Complications? Screening sacrifices some spacing.

Bill Walton and Larry Bird demonstrate this at 40 seconds and extensively at 1:32 of this video and beyond. 

The girls that I've coached haven't played that much 'playground' ball. That's still the best arena for this type of education. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Value of Spacing and Timing

"Spacing is offense and offense is spacing." - Chuck Daly

The goal of this message is to help young coaches and young players understand the value and technique of spacing. How I teach may not be relevant to how you do. 

The basketball is a magnet. But remember the experiments at school, where a magnet can attract or repel another magnet?

How do magnets know? How do players know? 

When we watch youth basketball, most players DO NOT UNDERSTAND. They want the ball and don't understand that better spacing helps. 

Why does spacing work

- Spacing opens up driving. 
- Spacing opens up passing lanes. 
- Spacing makes double teaming difficult. 
- Poor spacing allows one to cover two. 

In other words, spacing facilitates driving, cutting, and passing. 

Better spacing allows offense to penalize poor defensive positioning, help, and rotation as defenses forget "the ball scores." 

The Pistons' pick-and-roll goes south immediately. The defense does an adequate job re: ICE but notice - 

1) The help side guard is below the ball and in position to 'tag' the roller
2) The big has some containment on the ball
3) LeBron is in excellent position to handle the roller
4) The helpside corner defender is positioned to help on LeBron's assignment

We have to presume that the Cavs aren't worried about the big at the top of the key. 

Why is spacing harder for younger players? In addition to lack of understanding, most young players have poor shooting range and view themselves as "out of the action" when properly spaced. 

Teaching point. "The three-point line is the spacing line." 

Optional teaching point. Defenders violating the three-point line trigger a cut.

Another way to help students visualize is spacing 'zones'. 

Players are taught not to cluster in one zone. 

Highlights from Spurs' assistant Etorre Messina: 

1. Determine what information works for your system.
2. Players want us to add value. 
3. Optimize the degree of difficulty. 
4. His basic system is about 'spacing and timing'. 5. He demands spacing "corner to corner" and to the baseline. 
6. Spacing plus ball reversal challenges defensive movement. 
7. Open threes demand penetration to force defenses to collapse on the ball.
8. Timing means something is happening while something else is finishing. 
9. You lose the advantage when you wait for one action to complete before starting another.
10.He discusses the symmetry of defense acting to disrupt spacing and timing. 
11.We are better coaches when we correct to our priorities. 
12.He analyzes defense by examining space and time defense arrives relative to the ball. When defense arrives WITH the ball, then offensive timing is broken. 
13.You may not have the treatment, but you have the diagnosis based on spacing and treatment. 
14.Everyone must have the same vision within that team. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Combine Multiple Actions to Develop Offense (Introduction)

Imagine that space aliens (middle schoolers) arrive and we're assigned to teach basketball offense. Their size and athleticism vary, and they commit to build physical and mental skill. They are willing learners, focused, and fully engaged. Where do we begin?

Instill core offensive values

"Play hard, play smart, play together." 
"Maximize every possession." 
"Basketball is a game of cutting and passing." 
"Movement kills defense.
"Get quality shots."
"Value the ball. Take care of the ball. The ball is gold." 

We teach players individual and small group actions. Combine them in different ways to generate quality chances. We know which actions challenge more to stress the defense. 

Better fundamentals accelerate offensive development. Structure actions to test ball containment, defend the post and the perimeter, to defend ball and off-ball screens, to challenge cutters, and close out. 

Determine what works for your personnel and personality. Inform players that skills dictate whether they're scorers, facilitators, or screeners. "Become more to do more; do more to become more." 

We haven't had any size, so we structure offense away from the basket and need to excel in the middle of the court. I don't see that changing. Develop actions on both sides of the floor, to get paint touches and ball reversal. Get everyone involved to the degree their skills permit. 

Simplify the game. 

What core elements belong for our aliens?

Back cuts.
Ball reversal.
UCLA and shuffle cuts.
Off-ball screens (limit implementation early on)
    -back, cross, down, diagonal, elevator, flare, stagger, loop 
Flex cut.

Give and Go. Players "not involved" must learn RELOCATION into passing lanes. 

Ball reversal. 

"We do what we do and we do it together." Our knowledge is only one lever to pull. 

Bonus: understand what motivates - money, power, success, status, and occasionally higher aspirations...

"Why did we fail to achieve something?" We stake a claim on missing resources (which may be true). Robbins argues the key is to maximize our resourcefulness and tap into emotion.