Tuesday, August 26, 2014

China's Horns Early Offense

Image from Youtube.com
I spent a lot of today watching China vs Philippines as part of FIBA's Asia Cup on Youtube. I was really
impressed with the Xs and Os of both teams and will be adding some other content from the game over the next few days. There was some really good stuff on both sides - Philippines ran some good DDM entries and ran the floor well. China ran some horns and a few other good sets that I will post later. Today we are going to talk about China's Horns set they ran as their early offense.


Point Guard Option Horns Set
This was the best thing they ran out of their Horns look. In the clips it's a little sloppy, but I thought the actions were pretty darn good.

The offense was usually ran in a dead ball situation. The point guard brings the the ball up, and the other players get into a horns formation. The right side post (4) screens across for the left side (5). The left side (5) cuts across the lane and receives the pass on the three point line.

 The point guard then makes a read. He either follows his pass and takes the hand off or comes off a flair screen by the other post (4).

If the point takes the handoff, he first looks to drive. The opposite post (4) sets a back screen for the post who is handing the ball of (5).

Here is what the handoff option looks like in real time. 
video


If the point guard comes off the screen by the opposite post (4), he wraps the flair screen to the basket. As he cuts to the rim, the post with the ball (5) dribbles at the corner and hands off with the corner player (3). The opposite post (4) starts to follow the dribble.

On the hand off, the point guard (1) sets a back screen for the 5 handing off the ball. The 5 cuts to the rim. Also as the hand off occurs, the opposite post (4) is coming across to set a ball screen for the wing (3) coming off the hand off. The screener (4) pops and the wing (3) looks to drive. If it's not there he throws back and the 1 goes 1 on 1 on the wing.

Here is a quick clip of the point guard cut away option.
video


In the last option, the point guard makes the pass and cuts to the rim. He gets to the rim and then starts to fill out toward the back side corner.

The point guard sets a flex type screen for the corner perimeter (2) and then receive a down screen from the opposite post (5). The ball is reversed to the 1 and the flex action is run again. 

 Here is a quick shot of China running the set. They didn't quite run the second flex action, but it's what I believe they were looking for. If not, then it was a fake flex and come off the down screen.
video


I like this as early offense because you get a few different looks early. It's also an offense that you as a coach don't have to call out - you can simply have your point guard pick and option and go. I'm a big fan of back screening the screener and hand off man - and this set has both of those options.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Never Stop Exploring

Someone on Twitter retweeted something from the North Face's Twitter feed the other day. I happened to click on it and the hashtag on The North Face's profile was #neverstopexploring. For whatever reason that struck a cord with me, it's a great approach to living life! It needs  to be a motto for coaches. We should always be exploring the game, teaching methods, motivation, working with people, leading, and a variety of other topics. If we are done exploring the game then what do we have? Where is the excitement and growth? And what type of example does that set for our players? I know that I use Twitter, Youtube, the internet, talking to other coaches, clinics, and round tables to explore the game. How do you do it?

Your One Thing

Below is a clip from the classic move "City Slickers". We used it today in teaching professional development. and it got me thinking about my coaching as well as my teaching.



It's just as important for coaches to find their "one thing" as it is teachers. When I talk about "one thing", I'm not talking about tactical stuff such as "not giving up layups" or "we always work hard", it's more than that. It is about your purpose or why you coach. We all started coaching for a reason, and not always the same one. There are many reasons to coach and mine is simple - I want to help young people find success. That's the reason I started coaching, and why I continue to coach. That's why I strive to teach more than basketball and also focus on player development. That one thing shapes everything with my philosophy. What is your "one thing" and why? I think when you identify your one thing it really helps you drill down your coaching philosophy. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Point in the Paint Small Sided Game

I got to spend my afternoon with Chris Hopkins (@coachhop21). Chris is an assistant at Edina and has spent time in the college ranks. He's one of the better young basketball minds in the Twin Cities and I always learn something when we get together. He also writes a pretty good blog that covers a wide variety of topics -  http://coachhop.blogspot.com

Along with all the Beilein stuff, Princeton stuff, and whatever else we talked about, he shared a small sided game with me that I really loved. With my transition to games based teaching, I am always looking for more, new, better ways to teach the game.

The game is called Point in the Paint and the objective is simple, get the ball into the paint. Teams have one full shot clock (35) seconds on offense and get a point each time they get the ball in the paint. The defense's job is to stop them from getting the ball in there. Play X number of possessions each team and determine a winner and a loser.

It's a very simple game, but obviously very powerful. What's the best way to score - get the ball inside! This is a game that emphasizes exactly what we want offensively while training our defense to prevent that from happening. You can teach the defense all the different stuff to take away paint touches while helping the offense creative ways to do it. Coach Hopkins talked about how competitive the game became, which I also love. I can't wait to try it out this season!


***Edit:
On Twitter Coach Eason (@GLbball) added that he plays this game and also gives a point for a ball reversal because it's what he wants his team to do as well. Thought that was a nice tweak.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Motor Learning and Basketball with Trevor Ragan

I was lucky enough last week to be able to Skype with Trevor Ragan (@bball_school) of Championship Basketball School. The guy is one of the best in terms of teaching game like basketball skills. I have never been to a camp, but from the video I have seen it's unbelievable what he does. He's great at creating environments for players to grow.  As I've added a lot of small sided games (SSGs) to my tool belt, I've stolen a lot of what Coach Ragan and Coach Brian McCormick have done in terms of using small sided games, making it competitive, making it game like, and so on.  

Trevor and I spent a lot of time talking about motor learning. It's the idea that the real learning of how to play doesn't come from dummy defense or ___ on 0. It comes for a series of scientific steps that help the athlete understand what is going on. Below are the basic motor learning steps that we discussed. 

1. Goal Presentation
     -Start by showing them what you want them to do. Be it
      a skill, offensive action etc. Demonstrate it, show some 
      video of it, just give them a sense of what they should do. 
     -A huge piece of this is creating skill keys. The skill keys 
      are short phrases that strike a cord with the athlete. You 
      should have no more than 3 skill keys for a skill. For 
      shooting it might be as simple as "aim your hip, dip,
      and snap the follow through". Now what you think
      of pro shot is up for debate, but if I was teaching shooting
      there are three things I can tell the player to repeat over 
      and over again. It is also a quick way to check the player. 
    -After you create the skill keys, you demonstrate again
     using the skill keys while they see the demo. 
    
2. Skill - Doing It
    -Once players have seen the demo, it's now time for them
     to do it on their own. 
    -Use the skill keys when working with them. 
    -Best practice is:
           *10-20 block practice reps on air. 
           *Play game like small sided games for quite some time. 
                 -Monitor games and look for where they are not
                  doing it correctly. 
           *Play a short full game or two. 

3. Feedback
     -This is where you give them knowledge of WHY things
       happened in the small sided and full games. 
     -Explain what they need to do better the next time with that
       skill or piece from the offense/defense. 

You then repeat the cycle after giving the feedback. You can skip the block practice if it's not needed. The feedback might be as simple as stopping for 30 seconds after a game of defensive cutthroat and explaining that the defense needs to do a better job of getting on the help side - or whatever. Remember it's better to teach in bullets, not paragraphs. Also use the skill keys during feed back. 

Understanding of motor learning can be a powerful tool, I know it is for me. One of the things that Coach Ragan said was a big leap for him this year was the feedback. They actually have Apple TVs set up in the gym and after a player is done with a skill he goes to an Apple TV, the coach at that basket beams int he video, and he can get visual feedback on himself. We might not be able to get that cool, but it does make me think about more ways that we can give immediate and visual feedback to our guys during practice. 



Friday, August 15, 2014

Guard the Tunnel

I was fortunate enough to spend some time yesterday with Brian LePlante from Rochester Community and Technical College (Rochester, MN). Coach LePlante's teams are known for their hard nosed, aggressive defense so we spent some time on that topic. One of my favorite pieces of knowledge was that he has his players "guard the tunnel". Coach is a big fan of pressure man and believes that too many players over help. His philosophy is that players are responsible for guarding their tunnel, an area 2-3 feet on each side, when guarding the ball. As the on ball defender you responsibility is to get the ball out of the tunnel. That means you have to defend the first 1-2 dribbles and push them sideways at least a little. You also are not going to get a ton of help in your tunnel. And if you get the ball out of the tunnel you shouldn't have to have too much help because you are pushing the ball handler on a trajectory away from the basket. This philosophy allows RCTC to deny the passing lanes very well. And when you deny passing lanes, you force offense to run much farther from the rim, making your defense more effective.

I love it because the terminology is simple and it strikes a visual cord. We can all imagine trying to guard someone in a tunnel and what that would look like. That visual/motor connection to me is very powerful. Whether I was teaching pressure man, pack man, or zone it is a term that I would definitely use.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your Drills: Kim Kardashian or Steve Buscemi?

At our coaching round table last week, Scott Savor of Secrets in Sports (secretsinsports.com) was kind enough to speak. One of the things that stuck with me was when he talked about the "Kim Kardashian Syndrome" - when something looks good but doesn't really provide anything of value. 

It immediately made me think of a lot of the "drills" coaches run that look good but aren't game like, are not accomplishing anything, and really aren't building game habits. For example, my favorite one is the basic three man weave. It's a fine warm up to get guys moving and shooting layups, but it doesn't really accomplish anything game like. It's not a terrible drill, but there are a lot of better alternatives that provide a whole lot more value. Another one is the classic box passing where a bunch of guys are in a box, you pass, follow it get it back hand it off, and the next guy passes. Never seen anyone run offense like that but it sure does look cool. 

While thinking about Kim Kardashian drills, I started wondering who the opposite of Kim Kardashian is in the entertainment world. Steve Buscemi immediately came to mind. If you haven't watched Boardwalk Empire you are missing out. The guy can play roles, from comedic to serious, extremely well. He makes bit parts memorable (see Big Daddy) and can carry a show. And let's be honest, he's not getting roles because of his dashing good looks - he's getting them because he is great at getting the job done!

With that said, what are your Steve Buscemi drills? What drills might be a little bit less aesthetically pleasing, but really develop some good habits in your players? For me, cutthroat, sudden change, and any 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 game are all Buscemi's. They teach kids how to play, no matter the situation. 

In closing I would urge you to examine your drills. Are they Kardashians or Buscemis? Are they really doing anything or just making practice look good in case a parent, teacher, or administrator walks in? You'll find the more Buscemi drills you do in practice the more Kardashian your team will look like on game days.