Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teaching Defense with Small Sided Games

This year I've been trying to be a better defensive coach. In light of that I've really bucked down and done a lot of the "boring" drills that I felt make up good defenders. Zig zag dribbling, partner closeouts, positioning drills, etc. My guys hated it and while they didn't fight me on doing them, you could see on our defensive days (we alternate offense and defense days to get a lot of stuff in) the intensity wasn't there. We tried running, we talked about it, but nothing seemed to work. All they said was that they hated the days because they were boring.

I read a lot of Brain McCormick this fall and his stuff centers around small sided games to teach instead of drills. I bought into this and was doing a lot with offense, but not so much with defense. So this week I started to play small sided, competitive games with a defensive focus instead of doing breakdown drills. The result was a smashing success! The guys played harder and did improve on the skills I was looking for while playing. Below is an example of drills I did and the game I replaced it with.

Drill 1:
Partner Dribble No Middle
-Partners with one ball, one partner dribbles from wing to guard while the defender cuts him off. The offense dribbles back to the wing with the player guarding him. Go back and fourth 5x and switch.
Drill 2: No Split
-Group of 4 - 2 offense and 2 defense. Offense on the guard and wing, guard drives, the wing comes up and helps. Guard kicks to wing, wing recovers and forces baseline drive to the X.
Game Replacing These Drills: 3 on 3 3/4 Court No Middle
-Play 3 on 3 with a point, wing, and corner player. The offense has from the sideline to opposite laneline to work. Defense has to keep the offense from scoring and going to the middle. If the offense drove to the middle it was 3 pushups each time. If a driver split the help it was 5 pushups each time. The teams kept track of points and the losers ran at the end. Really focused on not letting them dribble middle, not getting split on the help, talking, and being in good position.

Now that's not to say I abandon all the drills. I still use transition drills, shell drill variations, etc. But these games have opened my eyes a little bit in terms of teaching defense.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yet Another Great Last Second Play

Was watching Onalaska (WI) vs. St. Paul Johnson at the East  Metro Show case this weekend in St. Paul. Most of the games were blowouts, but the one good game was the Onalaska vs. Johnson matchup. It was back and fourth all game with the outcome undecided until the final seconds. With the game tied and 12 seconds left on the clock, Coach Kowal reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out this gem.

The play starts with the ball in the slot, a player on the block, a stack on the backside block, and your stud in the corner. In this case the stud was Onalaksa's Matt Thomas who's a nationally rated recruit and had 30 points in the game.
As the play starts the guard dribbles across to the other slot spot. As he does the stud (2) comes across off the first screen and then sneaks through the elevator screen using the stacked players on the opposite block. As this happens, the player who set the first screen on the ballside block cuts up hard to the slot on his side. The dribbler turns pass fakes to the popper, who cuts backdoor for a layup.

This is a masterful misdirection play. They do a great job of making it look like they are selling out to get their stud the last shot no matter what. The opponents are already focusing on the stud, and simply setting up this play makes it look like they are going to get him the ball at all costs. This increases the focus of the defense on the stud. In the game you could definately see that 3s defender was surprised that he even moved, being a step behind the pop up makes the defender over commit harder to try to get the pass. It set the backcut up perfectly and ended up with a layup.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Basketball: More Than Just a Game

Just finished reading "Basketball: More Than Just a Game" by Larry McKenzie this weekend. Coach McKenzie is the head coach at the Academy of Holy Angels (Richfield, MN). He was formerly the coach at Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School where he guided the Patriots to 4 straight state titles. Having watched his teams play for many years I was eager to get the book and it did not disappoint.

The book is broken into ten main chapters, each representing a different part of the game using one of the letters in basketball. For instance, the first chapter (letter B) is titled "Business" and discusses how the game of basketball has become a business. This chapter may be my favorite because he offers up some very insightful, and stinging, thoughts on grassroots/AAU basketball and the money train that has become. His comments will be seen as controversial by many, but I feel that they are spot on. Many in the grassroots basketball community have lost sight of the fact that it's a game and we are dealing with young adults.

As I said, the first chapter is Business, but without giving too much away here are the rest:
Appreciate (Show appreciation for life)
Student-Athlete (What that means and some great tips for aspiring college players)
Knowledge of the Game (Skills you need to have to be good)
Enjoy (The fact that you have to have fun)
Teachable (Being coachable is important)
Believe (pretty much says it all!)
Attitude (have to have the right one)
Live to Love (Love others)
Love to Live (Enjoy life)

My favorite thing about the book though is the wide variety of topics that are covered within the pages. It's not a coaches manual that is going to help you win four state titles in a row, it's more of a winding love letter to the game that connects with me personally on many different levels. It's more about life lessons within the game than it is about how to win. It's more about how to win off the court than on it. If you are a coach interested in just winning I wouldn't recommend the book to you. I would, however, recommend the book to every person who is a fan of the game, every coach that teaches more than Xs and Os, and every player and parent. I really enjoyed it, will share it with our players, and will definitely read it again!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Great Last Second SLOB Set

I first saw the clip of this last second play on the Minnesota Scores message board. It's a game between Pine Island and Bethlehem Academy (Fairbault, MN). In the play they have the ball at half court and they run a backscreen for a player to the rim. In the play during the game the player at the rim tipped the ball and it ended up in the hands of a player on the block who put it in for a layup. The video is below.

At first I thought it was a great fluke play, much like the "Blake Hoffarber Butt Shot". But then I noticed there was another video up there of the same shot, it is below.

In this video, it's much easier to see that the guy actually TIPS THE BALL INTENTIONALLY to the guy on the block for the layup!! I think this play is BRILLIANT because the defender of the guy on the block will ALWAYS get sucked into the guy at the rim leaving the block player wide open for a layup if he catches the tip. It's a risky play because your guy has to out jump everyone for the tip, but I would almost guarantee that 99 times out of 100 the block guy will be wide open for a layup. Might have to throw this one in the playbook! Hats off to Coach Boelter of Bethlehem Academy on coming up with this.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to Average 12 Points Per Game as a Role Player

I put this on Twitter on Saturday but I think it's worth posting on here too. My friend Kevin Alsteens (a.k.a The Twin Cities Hoops Czar) and I were talking about roleplayers and we talked about scoring as a roleplayer. We came up with a way for a role player to average 12 points per game. All they have to do is the following:
*Get 1 offensive rebound putback per half. (4 points per game)
*Get 1 layup per half by running the floor hard. (4 points per game)
*Get 2 free throws per half. (4 points per game)

I know this sounds simple, but just think about it for a second. As a roleplayer you can get 12 points without having to control the ball. Now if you get 2 more baskets a game within the offense you are scoring 16 ppg basically doing nothing offensively. Imagine if you could get 2 roleplayers to do this, as a coach that's 28 ppg you can add to your total. This concept is something I am going to share with our team tomorrow.

Best Things From My Notebook for the Last Year's been a while since the last time I posted. Seventy days to be exact. But that's what happens when basketball season hits, just don't have time usually. But tonight I did want to sit down and write about some of the best ideas I've had in my notebook over the last year. I always keep a small 5.5" x 3.5" notebook with 200 pages that I write down any observations,  thoughts, feelings, and ideas in about basketball. I keep it with me and try to take it everywhere I go, but just like this blog there are stretches that I am without it, but I usually go through at least one notebook per year.  I think it's important to keep notes, write them down in one place, and revisit them often as possible. Even going over it tonight I've had a few "Ow-yea I remember that!" moments. I would encourage all of you that read to do this as well, it's proven very beneficial for me over the years. Anyway, by best thoughts/ideas from the notebook are below, some are my ideas, some are from high school coaches that I've watched in practices and games, some are from college coaches, enjoy!

Coach Miller (Robbinsdale Armstrong HS)
-Use the retreat dribble to change the passing angle inside.

Coach Miller (Robbinsdale Armstrong HS)
-When passing, you need "big vision" on the floor as you pass and small vision as you make the pass. The "big vision" is used to see the defedners, angles, etc.

My Idea
-Show me your three best players, I'll tell you how your year ends. Show me your assistants and I'll tell you how your career ends!

My Idea
-Every player should have a reversible jersey and a grey shirt under it in practice. That way you can divide up into up to four groups - light, dark, shirts, and skins.

My Ideas for Zone Defense
-Dork and Start trap within zone
-Have each opponent have a color - red, yellow, green.
          *Red=Guard hard and cheat to them - star player or great shooter
          *Yellow = play normal - average player
          *Red = Don't bother guarding, sag off and don't pay much attention to - poor player.

Jon Leisener (St Croix Prep - my HC last year)
-Would run drills for X number of minutes, but not start clock until all players were doing the drill right and going hard.

Mark Klingsporn (Tartan HS)
-When player dives on the floor ir takes a charge in practice, EVERYONE runs over to pick him up. Makes it a big deal and adds energy to practice!

Griess (Augsburg College)
-Defensive drill is no good if offense has no clue what's going on!

Griess (Augsburg College)
-On defending the flex cut:
     *Screener's guy jam the cutter high, player guarding the cutter go low

Chicago Hyde Park
-Played St. Paul Johnson who is known for their trapping man to man. Ran a spread dribble handoff offense and killed them by backcuttig the handoff when Johnson tried to trap.

21 Shooting Drill Jon Leisener  (St. Croix Prep)
-Players do 3 man 2 ball shooting. Shoot until one player in the group gets 5 makes. That marks the end of a round Then everyone shoots 2 FT and adds to the score (player who got to 5 has a score of 5 before the FT, everyone else has however many they made). Shoot a second round. Continue until one player gets to 21 points.

Ken Novak (Hopkins High School)
-Read "The Talent Code". Coach put me onto this book and it's totally changed how I teach the game. I would strongly suggest EVERYONE on here reads this book.

Champlin Park 8th Grade Warm Up Drill
-Players are in partners. They move around the outside of the floor. Along the half court and baseline they do shuffle passing with partners. On the sidelines they do the zig zag dribble.

Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) Role Reverses Set
-Start with a 3 out 2 in look. Shooter on the left block, post on the right block, wings on the wings. The post comes up and sets a PnR on the right elbow. The pg goes off the PnR while the shooter comes up to the top of the key from the block.

Sign for Eastridge High School Girls
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence"

West Side Booster's 8th Grade BLOB
-Stack on the ballside block. Shooter inbounding. Shooter on the opposite block, post on the opposite elbow. The shooter comes through the stack with the elevator screen to the ballside corner. The post on the opposite elbow flashes to the rim. Ball gets passed to him the shooter in the corner. If no shot the stack sets a double down screen for the inbounder.

Lakeville North 8th Grade
-Coach had a set of towels and held different ones for different defenses.

Jim Tressel when faced with allegations:
"There is nothing more pathetic than a leader looking for sympathy"

George Karl
"So much of basketball is enthuasium"

Buzz Williams
Keep track of turkey's - 3 stops in a row.

Larry McKenzie (Academy of Holy Angels)
-Practiced in football pads to add to

There is a lot more in the book from some really great coaches. Some of it I didn't share because I didn't want this post to be super long. Some things were not shared out of respect for the coaches who shared it with me - I tried to share some small insights from the coaches but at the same time I don't want to give away their big picture things either! Anyway, hopefully you got one good idea from the list!