Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is There Time to Do It All??

I was reading the first issue of "Winning Hoops" tonight that was published in 1986. There was an article from some coach who had just finished his first year at UConn as the head women's coach.

His article was about "The Problems of Being a New Head Coach". One of the points he made in the article was that "time is a new coach's greatest enemy". There is never enough time in a day to do it all, especially when you are trying to do it all at once. His advice was to plan your day and then give your staff/assistants more responsibility to get things done. That way they will better understand how you want things done and what kind of person you are; this will help establish better program consistency. He also mentioned it will help them feel like they have more ownership over the program - I know I have appreciated the responsibilty my head coach gives me this year. It's nothing earth shattering, but at the same time it's something we as coaches need to be able to do. Just make sure that you inspect the finished product to make sure it is done your way - again reinforcing the consistency within the program.
I know it is hard to not want to do it all yourself, it's human nature, but by giving up some of the jobs you gain a lot for yourself and the program.

By the way, the coach's name was Geneo something-or-other. I wonder what happened to that guy anyway?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal”

This is a quote from Picasso, but it could have just as easily come from Coach Smith, Coach Calipari, Coach Knight, Coach K, or Coach Hurley when talking about coaching. I think it's important for coaches to remember that you should never be too proud ot ask for help, or just plain steal what someone else is doing if you like it and it fits your style. I guess it's just a reminder to never stop learning and never stop stealing!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Playing Zone in Middle School is Wrong

Been to a lot of 8th grade games recently in my quest for an AAU team (a quest that has been less than successful thus far). I am astonished by the number of 8th grade teams that play a lot of zone. So in light of that I will lay out why playing zone in middle school is just not right. I am not an anti-zone guy, as a matter of fact the 1-3-1 was my base with our varsity last year. I am just against playing zone at young ages. My case is as follows.

1. Playing zone doesn't develop on ball defensive skills.
There is a certain skill to playing a guy one on one in man to man. Of course you still have the help, but it's your job to stay in front of them. When I watch 8th grade teams play zone, and it's a lot of sagging off, not pressuring, and just kind of watching when the guy drives by.

2. Playing zones doesn't allow the offense to work on driving the ball.
The drive has become a bigger and bigger part of our game, and players need to be able to work on it in a game setting. Against zone however, they spend a lot of time standing, passing hte ball around the perimeter, and then driving into 2-3 guys. Instead of teaching how to stop the drive, coaches at the youth level simply switch to a zone.

3. Playing zone forces a lot of players to jack up three pointers.
I have watched a lot of teams shooting three pointers

4. Zone doesn't teach good help defense and movement.
Help defense is great in the zone, because they are just standing there. They just kind of saunter form place to place. They don't have to defend a cut then jump to the ball to help on the drive. They just kind of let the cutter go through and then wait for the drive still in help. It's not an active defense usually and that gives kids the idea that defense is not an active task.

5. Most high school teams play man.
I can think of 1-2 high school teams in the metro area that play mostly zone. So most of the teams play man the majority of the time. I can see playing zone in middle school if they are only going to play that in high school, but it's not the case usually. So why play a defense at the middle school level they won't be playing when they get older? Again, it goes back to development vs. winning, what do you want?

You can say that any defense taught poorly is a bad defense, and I agree. I just think that zone defense lends it self better to engraining those bad habits in a player. And I know some of my arguments revolve around offense of the opponent, but let's be honest, like Stan Van Gundy said, are you more concered about winning an 8th grade league or developing players? At the middle school level, I feel that all of the emphasis has to be put on player development over winning. As you get older the ratio shifts, but I can say that with this 8th grade team I am taking I would rather lose a bunch of games and have the guys be successful as seniors in high school than win a bunch and watch them ride the pine. But that's just one man's opinion!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beating the Sag with the Skip

Lately we've had a lot of teams sagging on us in the read and react taking away the basket cuts, back cuts, and drives. Forcing us to be a jump shooting team, which isn't a great option for most teams.

So how do you combat this? You can't drive, can't post, can't cut, and can't get inside.

The answer is easy, skip the ball. Skipping the ball makes the defense have to close out long distances since they are overplaying the help. These closeouts allow our players to make a move and attack with the bounce, and the help won't be in position yet, hopefully, having to come from the other side of the floor. It's why Coach Walberg's DDM was originally called AASAA - Attack, Attack, SKIP, Attack, Attack. Coach Walberg know that in DDM teams would overplay him with help and that's why the skip is vital.

Once you start skipping the ball, the defense starts to sneak out and try to defend the skip. This starts to eliminate the help as players cheat to be in better position to defend the skip. This then opens up the middle for driving and cutting. The other nice thing about the skip is it's always open because the defender is in extreme help in the lane. It's about taking what the defense gives you and exploiting it.