Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Seal Zone Offense

This offense comes from Karl Salscheider, who was the former head coach of Bemidji State University. I got the notes from this video that Coach Salscheider did.  I've had the video in my collection for a while and hadn't watched it. Today I finally did and am glad that I did. It's a great offense that I think I'm going to run this year.

It's a simple, yet deadly, zone offense that is predicated on sealing the middle of the zone and trying to get the ball inside. It might be one of the better zone offenses I've seen, especially because of it's simplicity and the emphasis on inside play.

Basic Action
The offense is run from a basic 3 out 2 in look.

The point should attack and try to engage both the top defenders. The easiest way is to attack one and then attack the gap forcing the other one to commit to a pseudo trap. It will force the defensive wing to guard the first pass. The guard is looking to try and get to the rim here.

The point guard then fakes a pass and makes a pass out of the double. The guard can pass either way. If he's only being guarded by one of the top defenders, then he should go to the side that is guarding him.

As the ball is on the way to the wing, the ball side post steps in and seals the middle of the zone. The opposite post then comes across UNDER the sealing player and looks for the ball.

The wing can pass to the sealer, the cutter, or skip to the backside if X4 were to come across to take the cutting 5.

If there is no play there, The 1 steps out and gets the ball, the posts separate out. The ball is reversed to 1 who attacks the opposite way.

The ball gets swung to the backside wing. The action repeats.

If the wing drives, the ball side still seals and the backside seals on the backside.

This is a GREAT counter to the offense, called "Twist". The offense starts the same way. The guard attacks the top and forces the double. He then pitches to the wing. The ball side player runs at the middle hard like he's going to seal, but he runs by. He then runs and seals the opposite wing. As this happens the backside post cuts up to the mid-post and gets the ball. He can score or dump it in.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The ONLY Two Things That Matter

Photo courtesy of trem.org
I've been thinking a lot lately about what "coaching" is really about. When you Google the definition of "Coach" all the definitions are about modes of transportation. And for me that's what coaching is - getting a group of people from one place to another place. It might not be from one physical place to another but more from one place to another as a group of people working together.

Along with that, I've been thinking a lot about "great coaches" and the common threads that bind them. Honestly when you look at great basketball coaches at any level, and coaches at any sport, there are two consistent threads. These two common threads are relationships and high expectations, in that order. If you don't have relationships with your players, especially today's players, you are going to struggle to do what needs to be done.

Great coaches come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and philosophies. There are great coaches who were great players, terrible players and everything in between. There are great coaches who are player centered and coach centered. There are great coaches who are stern disciplinarians and some who are loosey-goosey. Some great coaches love defense and some love offense. Some play fast and some play slow.

All the different coaching philosophies listed above, to me, are not important. You could be a disciplinarian who plays fast or a "players coach" who plays slow. You could be a defensive minded coach who was a former NBA player or an offensive genius who got cut from the JV team in high school. What's truly important is what I mentioned above. Do your players know you care about them and have you built a culture of high standards? If you do those two things, that's where the magic is.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Importance of Shooting

Image courtesy of
We all know shooting is important, but do we really mean it? Lately, shooting in practice has been a reoccurring theme. I had an amazing opportunity to drive down to Iowa with fellow basketball coach and junkie Mike Holmquist. We drove around and visited three of the best coaches in the state. And every single one of them talked about the importance of working on shooting during the year. Then later we had a round table with a very successful small college coach who's an unbelievable teacher of the game. During his presentation he talked about the importance of shooting during practice. We then had a round table with a very successful NBA assistant coach who said the cornerstone of their development process was shooting.

With all that said, it's hard to shoot in our current situation. We usually have 10-12 players and two baskets. So that makes it really hard. But because I keep hearing it as a theme I am going to start working 15-30 minutes of daily shooting into our practices. I just think that it needs to happen!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adjust vs. Change

Photo courtesy of aragec.com
Last week I was having lunch with Coach Kyle Kurz (@kylekurz14) of Christian Life School in Farmington, MN. We were talking about shooting and he brought up how you talk to kids about changing their shot. He said he uses the word "adjust" instead of "change". He mentioned how when you say "change" it has a negative connotation for players - and it sounds like it's going to be really hard to do. When you say "adjust" the connotation is that they are already doing things right and we are only going to slightly change it. Using the word adjust makes them feel more positive about the changes. I'm going to try changing "change" to "adjust" this season and am going to look at how players respond.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Communicated vs. Revealed Knowledge

Image courtesy of southsouth.info
At our round table last Monday we were lucky enough to have Doug Novak of Bethel College (MN) speak. Coach Novak did an outstanding job of sharing his basketball philosophy. I came away very impressed with his approach to teaching the game - and got a lot of notes in the process. Among many things that he talked about was the concept of communicated vs. revealed knowledge. 

Communicated knowledge is the knowledge we get by reading it or hearing it from others. Revealed knowledge on the other hand comes from real world experience that you have applied. Revealed knowledge is far more valuable than communicated knowledge in the long run.

Coach Novak shared a story to outline his point. He talked about how early in his career he studied Dean Smith and ran the Carolina Break with his 4 man always taking it out. He did it because Coach Smith was successful at it. This was an example of using communicated knowledge. He then ran into a pressing team that forced the ball back to his inbounder (his 4 man) and then forced the four to bring the ball up. This didn't go well for his team. Because of his experience he started having his 2 man take the ball out so there was another ball handler in the back court. His knowledge went from communicated to revealed.

Another example he used to illustrate the point was how player's stop. Everyone has always taught the jump stop - as did he. But Coach Novak found that players had a hard time balancing when they stopped with a traditional jump stop. When he watched tape of NBA players he saw them using the "stride stop" method. Because of the film study (revealed knowledge) he started teaching the stride stop method instead of the jump stop.

I think it's important to examine what you teach - is it communicated or revealed knowledge? If it's communicated - then you'd better spend some time critically evaluating it so it becomes revealed knowledge. Ask yourself how you can tweak what you teach to make it better or fit your players better - that's how you turn it into revealed knowledge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Jump Switching the Dribble at Back Cut?

Photo courtesy of eylean.com
As you can see by the last blog post, I've spent some time recently breaking down some of Greece's U19 offensive actions. As I did the breakdown, something that Serbia's team did defensively caught my eye. Greece runs some dribble at, back door cut actions within their offense. In this game they burned Serbia a few times early for layups. Serbia then did something that at first I couldn't believe, but it was clearly there on film. They were jump switching the back cut. Now I only saw it once so far - but am going to go back and look at this game and others to see if I can catch it again. Below is some video of them using the jump switch to defend the dribble at and back cut.

When you really think about it, it shouldn't work, right? I mean you are running away from the ball AND the cutter. That just smells like a disaster, doesn't it? Well at least in this situation it worked, I think because the guy on the ball took the passing angle away and the player running at the ball may have caused him to hesitate long enough for everyone to get into position. Either way it definitely has my wheels turning about how to defend this action.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Greece U19 Offense

Image courtesy of FIBA.com
I've been watching a lot of U19 FIBA recently and one of my favorite Xs and Os teams so far has been Greece. They run a lot of really good set stuff, which I am going to share. Much of the offense comes out of Horns. One of the interesting parts of the horns sets that Greece ran was that a few involved a post/post cross screen. That in itself isn't weird, but they put a perimeter on the  block and screened for him to get open. That's a new wrinkle that I like.

Horns Sets
Horns Flair to Back Door
In this horns set, the posts screen across, one pops out, and gets the ball. The point guard comes back and gets a dribble handoff. The post who set the cross screen comes back and sets a flair for the player who just made the handoff.
The point skips the ball to the player coming off the flair screen. He dribbles at the wing then who back cuts for a layup.


Horns Iverson
Not entirely sure if they ran it out of Horns, but they could have so I'm putting it in! It's a very simple take on the classic "Iverson" set. The wings circle - one over the top and one under. In this set the post who's on the back side of the player going over the top steps out and catches the ball. As he does the player going over the top wraps his cut to the basket. 


If the player who wraps doesn't get the pass for a layup, the post on his side down screens for him and he pops out for the shot. 


Basic Horns Action
This was a basic horns action that they ran consistently. The elbow players would be one post and on guard. The post would cross screen for the guard who pops out and gets the ball. The point cuts and the post trails into a ball screen. The point comes back and back screens the screener on the ball screen. The point also could pop out, get the ball, and look inside to the big posting up off the screen.


Point Guard Corner
This set is pretty similar to the one above. The post cross screens the guard who flashes out and catches it. The point cuts to the corner, the wing moves up. The post who set the cross screen follows and ball screens. The guard dribbles across the top, the other wing rises and then back cuts. 

 If the back cut isn't there, the post re-screens and they come off the ball screen hard to the middle. It would be a great entry for a Euro Ball Screen team.


Double Down Screen
This might be my favorite set. The set starts with the high post down screening down for the wing. The point dribbles over to the wing on the screen's side. The wing cuts up to the top of the key. The point passes to the cutting wing. The opposite post steps out and the wing reverses the ball to him. As he catches the pass, the wing who made the pass now re-screens for the post who first screened for him. 

The post pops, catches, and does a dribble handoff with the point guard. The post on the other side of the floor follows his pass into a pick and roll out of the double handoff. 


One wrinkle they added, that I like, is to have their big read the screen and curl it if possible. 

Zone Offense
They ran a standard looking 1-3-1 with some tweaks. First, they would bring their guard to a lane line and they would pop their high post as a reversal man. He would reverse the ball and then either ball screen or cut into the open space. Below are a few clips of the offense at work. 

Zone Post Across
Another piece of the zone offense was having their post step across and post up the middle of the zone. They'd enter the ball and get action out of that. 


Inbounds Sets
Off Set Box
This set starts in a look that's an off set box. One post is on the ball side block and a perimeter is in the opposite corner. The other post is on the free throw line and the point guard starts on the ball side wing. The ball side block up screens for the point who cuts the the rim. The post pops and gets the ball. 

As he does, the post at the free throw line down screens the point who cuts up and gets the ball. The post who set the down screen trails and sets the ball screen.  


Box Set
In this box set one post starts on the back side block and the other on the ball side elbow. The player on the back side elbow cuts off the player on the ball side elbow. The ball side block sets a back screen for the screener at the elbow. The back side block then back screens the screener for either a flair or a curl to the basket.