Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Doing Multiple Things - Keeping Opponents off Balance or Being a Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

This is a question I always struggle with. Is it better to focus on a few things and be VERY good at them, or is it better to do a bunch of different things to keep the opponent off balance? I've heard great arguments for both. I've heard the argument that if you teach a bunch of different things, you end up not being great at any of them. I've also heard that if you do the same thing you will be good at it, but easy to scout and thus beat in crunch time.
My philsophy is that you practice really hard to be good at a few things, but still have a change up or two in your back pocket for when you need it. It may not be something that you work on a lot, but is something you can break out from time to time.

Defensively, I think you have to have a base defense to start with. Whether it is man or zone, I think you have to have a base you are good at. You also have to have a base you can play at a couple of different tempos to win. For instance, I like man, but I have some calls where we trap out of it, and some calls where we pack it in and force outside shots, depending on time/score. We can also extend it full court if need be. If you like to play zone all the time, you may have a call where you pressure and trap, and another where you are packing the lane and forcing outside shots. I also think, to go along with your base, you need a couple of defenses to stir the pot a little. Maybe a zone trap, packed 2-3 zone, and/or a full court trapping defense for when you need it. You don't practice these secondary defenses nearly as much as your base obviously, but you make sure the players know them for crunch time.

Offensively, I feel basically the same. Get good at a half court offense and then add a few quick hitters to compliment it and maybe get a look or two that your half court offense doesn't give. For instance, I don't like to give players free rein to screen and roll in motion because when I've seen that it usually ends up with one player having the ball, 3 players trying to set a screen and roll for him, and one guy standing watching the other four. It may work well for some coaches to let players do that, but that's just my experience on it (although I'll admit my experience is limited). So instead of having players decide when to screen and roll, I may have a call or a set that involves some screen and roll stuff so the offensive package we run still contains that great look.

A lot of this philosophy I have adopted from my time at LaCrosse Central with Coach Fergot. His teams are known for great man to man defense witha little zone mixed in, and a very solid motion offense. He's done well on that and I guess you are always influenced by the people you work under and respect/look up to.

I do get interested in running a ton of different things. There are a million things I would love to do, but realize that with 12 hours of practice a week tops (6 practices a week), I just don't have enough time to get everything in I would want to and still teach fundamentals like I do. So I try to focus on exactally what I believe in and try to get as good as we can with what we do.

What do you guys think? Thoughts? Comments?

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