Sunday, October 18, 2009

Showboating or Fundamental Play??

Thought about this the other day whie watching that insane hockey goal by that nine year old on ESPN and thought it would be something to share with you guys.

Many times we as coaches we get upset with a player who throws no look passes, behind the back passes, shoots reverse layups, etc. But at the same time we marvel when we watch those same plays happen on highlight reels when they are done by Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, etc. When we see them performed by these legends we compliment them on their command of the fundamentals. We don't see and forget all the crazy passes Cousy threw that sailed out of bounds, all the reverse layups that Jordan missed and all the no look Magic Johnson passes that went sailing off an unsuspecting teammates head. We also don't see, on those highlight reels, the time they spent as youngsters perfecting those passes and moves. How many times they screwed it up before they acieved mastery and success at these moves.

The point of the above is not to say that every kid should be throwing behind the back passes all on every play. It's to put out there the idea that these things are not terrible plays, they are in fact fundamentally sound basketball plays when they are made in the correct situations by players who have learned the skill (sometimes you have to give them some rope while they learn). So as a coach think about teaching how to shoot reverse layups (I'm HUGE on these), and at least how to throw a good no look pass on the break. If they are not done at the correct times they are in fact showboating! So as a coach, take the time to teach your players when are where to use some of these plays and it just may benefit you downt the road.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

True Fastbreak Basketball: The secret is in the mindset - not the system.

Coaches all over are constantly looking for the best fastbreak "system". I personally don't believe that there is a certain system that is the perfect system for the fastbreak. I personally believe that the secret to great fastbreaking basketball is the mindset of the coach and players. If you have the mindset there are many different fastbreaks that you can run and have high scoring success with.

The coach has to be able to let go of the reins a little bit, let the players take shots (even if a few are questionable), and let the players play a little more loose for the sake of the tempo. If a coach can not give up some control to the players, the fastbreak is not going to score nearly as many points. Traditionally, high scoring teams are lead by "Maverick Coaches" (knew you missed that word after the election ended) that have a free wheeling spirit and kind of let things fly. They enjoy the pace of the game and the crazyness of it all. They are ok taking a high bulk of shots. Minnesota has had some very high scoring teams in Cass Lake-Bena and Minnesota Transitions Academy, both teams routinely go over the 100 mark. They shoot early and often with multiple players taking a high amount of quick shots. They take a lot of open threes on the break. They push the ball, let their players play a little more than some. Thus they score more points. They also have the talent, and it helps when you have talent!

As with everything else X and O related, it looks great when you have studs running it. Of course LMU was great when they had guys like Kimble, Gathers, and Fryer, because those were some great players! Same with with those Runnin' Rebel teams in the 90s look at the STUDS those guys had! Most high scoring teams are unsurprisingly lead by talented high scoring players!

I do think, however, that many of the great fastbreaks teams run have some commonalities. First of all, and most importantly, those fastbreaks are PASSING breaks. It is a given that passing is faster than dribbling, and most prolific fastbreaking teams use this type of break. These teams also use a sideline passing break. It seems passing it up the sideline, away from congestion results in quicker advancement of the ball for many teams. Most prolific fastbreaking teams use this type of system. Also, most fastbreaking teams put a high emphasis on second chance baskets and offensive rebounds. Coach Arseneault from Grinnell wants his teams to get 1/3 (33%) of their misses and Coach Porter of ONU Women's fame wants his teams collecting 40%! So great fastbreak teams take a lot of early shots, BUT they also get a lot of thier misses for second chance baskets. The last commonality of almost all prolific fastbreaking teams is that they push on makes and misses both. They are ALWAYS looking to get the ball out and run with it no matter the situation.

Something else that aids the high scoring fastbreaks teams is not their specific offensive system they run but an aggressive, pressing, trapping defense that creates live ball turnovers and easy layups or shots on the other end. Very few teams are a great fastbreaking team if they play passive half court defense, only because each possession for the opponent takes too long. It's part of why Coach Bennett's teams were never extremely high scoring although they were GREAT defensively. Grinnell College, a very well known scoring machine, would rather give up a layup after ten seconds than get a defensive stop after 30. When Coach Bennett heard that theory, I am sure he puked on his shoes. Their reasoning is that they want to push the tempo and fastbreak - they can't do that if the other team is running their offense. They would rather get a quick steal and a layup. Both Minnesota schools outlined also use an aggressive trapping system that gets them easy points.

At the end though, with most things in basketball come down to the Billys and Joes running those Xs and Os. If you have a great team, you are going to score a lot of points regardless of the system you run. And if you let go a little bit, your team is going to score more regardless of if you are running the Grinnell, LMU, North Carolina, Olivet, or UNLV fast breaking system.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

From The Other Side Of The Desk....

Whenever I go into my athletic director's office, I sit on one side of the desk and he sits on the other. I often wonder exactly what's going through his mind over there on the other side. What he thinks of me, what he wants from me, and what he wants me to do with our program here at South Tama County to make it as successful as I know it will be someday. So, I finally asked him and here was his response:

1. Get people to trust in you and themselves.

2. Don't fear
conflict. Conflict is healthy. If kids / coaches / parents / anyone isn't doing the job, confront it in a constructive manner.

3. Get
commitment. Be commitment. This is nonnegotiable.

4. Hold kids and coaches
accountable. I'm not saying make them run if they don't shoot 50%, but address it when they don't meet goals / expectations. Make it matter.

5. Focus on what the end
results should be. Talk about it, be about it, live it all the time. If you do that, kids will want to do what is necessary.
I thought this list had some very good ideas and that I needed to share it with all of you. Hopefully you take time and consider these thoughts.

Number two is a very good point for me personally, many times we as coaches shy away from conflict because we see it as a negative, when in reality many great things can come from conflict if it is approached in the correct manner.

Hopefully this gives you guys something to think about. It's always good to know what is going through the head of the person on the other side of that desk!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Are Your "Acceptable Turnovers"?

I went to a clinic at Marshalltown Community College today and listened to Coach Rick Majerus speak. While I didn't pick up a lot from the Xs and Os side (he shared some PnR material that was pretty basic, good, but stuff I had seen before), I picked up some great lines within the presentation. Some stuff was just amazing he said. But something he said was that he had some "acceptable turnovers", which were turnovers he wouldn't get upset about. The one he shared was a player getting a three second call because he was posting hard. I agreed with that statement, and decided to put together a list of my own. Below are mine, and a little reasoning on why. What are yours?? Why??? Feel free to post and share on here, or shoot me an e-mail!

1. 3 Second Call When Posting Hard
-For this, I agree with Coach Majerus, don't fault a player for posting hard. Now if it happens a third time you start to get on the player about it.

2. Offensive Charge Three Feet Around the Basket
-Some of you are shaking your heads on this one, but first, before you laugh, let me explain. I want our players attacking the rim hard, if they have to worry about changes, they are not going to go as hard. Also, if you make a player take a good hard charge, and you attack him hard, he's definitely going to think twice about taking another one. He may end up turning or flinching the next time and gettting a foul called on him instead - so a positive for us. Again, if it happens more than twice with the same player, we have issues that need to be addressed.

3. Rebounding Foul
-Don't care what you say, I want my players to battle for a rebound within every inch of the rules, and if they pick up a few fouls on the way so be it - as long as they are not dangerous and flagrant. It's about creating a culture of toughness and not worrying about those fouls is OK by me.

4. Foul, turnover, or Out of Bounds Violation When Going After a Loose Ball
-Sometimes, you are going to get a foul diving for a ball, or you are going to grab it and turn it over by travel 0r out of bounds. I can live with it, as long as the player is on the floor.

5. Five Second Call On the Passer When No One is Open
-This is another one that might make you wonder. But for me, if no one is open, don't throw them the ball. I have this for two reasons, it relieves pressure on the passer and puts some ownership on the other 4 players to get open in a dead ball situation. It doesn't give the passer the excuse of "I threw it because I was going to get a five second call". Also, if we do get a five second call, the turnover is going to be a dead ball foul, thus allowing us to set up our defense. So if no one is open, don't throw them the ball.

So there are my five. What are yours? Do you have any?? Just something to think about on a Saturday night!