Monday, December 29, 2008

When You Are Not as Talented as Your Opponent on a Nightly Basis...

Sometimes as coaches we are not going to be blessed with all the race horses. Sometimes we are going to get some pigs, and some years we may even end up with all donkeys. It's the way life goes. But I think you can still be relatively successful with less talent if you can control the tempo.

I personally feel a good way to have success is to control the tempo one of two ways: speed it to crazy or slow it to a crawl. Either way you have to do something to get the other team out of their comfort zone. Grinnell College in Iowa is a prime example of this. They play so fast and out of their minds that the other team doesn't know how to react to the tempo and it often results in the opponent being thrown off. Loyola Marymount back in the 80s was another good example. On the other hand some teams take the opponent out of their game by slowing the game down. I always thought that Coach Vix from Rushford did a nice job of slowing the tempo down when it needed to be. This is how his teams often beat oppoents with more talent then they had.

This will not always work, but I think from time to time can catch someone off guard.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Five Minute Game

When your team is struggling a lot, I have found this strategy to be effective for keeping your players focused and working hard. It also works in a big game when you feel you may be over matched by an opponent. I got this from Coach Bowen at Bemidji State and I think it's a neat idea.

Before the game starts, tell your team that you are going to call a timeout every five minutes throughout the entire game. Your team's ONLY job is to try and win that five minute segment. They shouldn't worry about the last five minutes or the next five, just the current five. Then after each segment, you call timeout, and talk about what happened in that five minutes. I like to go over what we did we did right (and want to keep doing right) and what did we do wrong (and what to change). It's great to really teach a struggling team about basketball on the fly. And when I use this, I see less dropped heads and disappointed faces because they are too busy getting ready to win that next five minutes. It gives them a goal and a focus so they are not thinking about a lopsided score.

With my Bagley team last year, I started this after the first few games (when we were getting beat hard) and slowly weaned them off it as the season went. I think it was part of the reason that after an 0-13 start we finished 6-2 in our last 8 games. They started to play in the moment and worry about what was going on presently instead of what happened or was going to happen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good and Fun Games to Work on Ballhandling

I did this drill the other day with my guys, they seemed to like it and I will do it again. While raiding the PE closet at Como Park I found some small dodge balls. I had my players play dodge ball while they were dribbling with their weak hands. The kids really enjoyed it and they had to move around and maneuver with their weak hands. Anytime you can get kids to work on their weak hands and still have fun, it's a good thing! If you get eliminated you owe 5-10 pushups, so that increases the competitive element to the game as well.

The other game we play (and why I was in the PE closet in the first place) is playing catch while dribbling a basketball. I have my players play catch with a tennis ball, baseball, or softball while dribbling. They stand on opposite lane lines and play catch. I have them do it with their right hand, left hand, and then have them cross over and catch. We compete for who can play catch the longest. I like it because the players are doing two things at once, it's competitive, and works on their dribbling with their eyes up.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dealing with Tough Losses

Well...we had our first freshmen game yesterday against the Forest Lake sophomores and it didn't go so well. We ended up losing by fifty!!! OUCH! Truthfully, they were much bigger, faster, and more physical than we were and it showed. My guys were scared and played like that in the first half as we were down 35 by halftime. In warm ups, most of their shots were air balls or hit the backboard hard, I had to giggle a little bit. But in the second half, they calmed down and played slightly better.

I think in a hard loss like this, you have to keep things in perspective and use this situatiion as a learning experience for your guys. Freshmen seem to listen much better once they have gotten a beatdown laid upon them! What could we have done better? What did we do right? I make sure ina loss like this to not beat up the guys, and to find some positives because they already know they didn't play as well as they should have. So my plan is to come back to practice positive, full of energy, and ready to correct what went wrong. It also reinforces my ideas that freshmen basketball is all about player development and not about winning and losing. THat is the message I delivered to my tom after the game and the message I will continue to go with!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Scoring Around the Rim as a Perimeter Player

I think one of the skills that has been lost a little bit in the game of basketball is the ability to be a truly great scorer around the rim, and I think it's something that seperates great players from good ones. Most kids who are great athletes are so worried about dunking that they forget about really being scorers around the rim. They forget that more often than not there is going to be a defender that is going to keep them from dunking, so they are going to have to be able to score around the rim without the dunk. Michael Jordan was a great one because once he got to the rim, he could beat you a numer of different ways - reverse layups, floaters, up and under, and of course the dunk. He was a prolific dunker, but that wasn't his only weapon when he broke his defender down and got to the tin.

In my humble opinion, a good high school guard should know how to perform the following moves effectively with either hand by their senior year if they are great at scoring around the rim in traffic:
-Regular lay up
-Reverse lay up
-Floater/runner in the lane
-High banking layup from the side
-2 foot power up off the jump stop using their body to ward off the defender and absorb contact
-Hook shot - even the guards can use this well against a smaller defender
Not only do they have to be able to perform these, but more importantly, they have to know WHEN is the right time to use them as well. Is this asking to much of a high school kid? Maybe, but I think it's worth it to try.

I believe if you can do these moves, you will be able to effectively score around the rim against anyone. My all time favorite player by far is Khalid El-Amin, he was amazing at scoring in the lane when he had to and he was only 5-9. As the point guard for UConn, his floaters in the lane were pivotal plays in their national title run. He wasn't that tall, couldn't jump overly well, but still managed to score points in the paint. There is nothing worse than watching a lightning quick guard pennetrate the lane time after time and not be able to score once he gets there. That drives me nuts!


The Night Before Christmas, Only Better! we are, the evening before the first day of practice. For me, basketball season is better than Christmas for sure! I always think to that scene from Wedding Crashers when Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) asks John (Owen Wilson) which he likes better, Christmas or Wedding Season to which John Answers "WEDDING SEASON"! That's how I feel, except for me it's "BASKETBALL SEASON!"

I always get the jitters before that first day of practice. There is nothing else in the world like it, even sitting in my deer stand that frosty opening morning doesn't come close. I just can't wait to get out on that court and get to work.

Unfortunately, I won't be at the first few days of practice, as I am wrapping up my student teaching in good old Bagley. Steve Donohoe will fill in just fine - likely better! BUT, I will be there on Friday ready to go. I've got practice plans ready up until our first game on December 6th - which is way to soon!! I PERSONALLY like to script everything up to that point so that I can get things into the big picture context and make sure I accomplish everything I need to in the preseason. I think I should have a VERY solid freshmen team and they will be a LOT OF FUN TO WORK WITH!

My philsophies on early season practice have changed from when I first started, which was only three years ago! I used to always think that you started with all fundamentals and slowly added things in as the season went on - offense, defense, presses, press breaks, etc. But, after talking to Coach Finck from Bertha-Hewitt, I changed my ideas slightly. He said that it's better to get everything in early so that your kids aren't suprised and losing early....there is nothing that ruins a season faster than a string of early losses. Now, I like to get everything in before the first game - although with me that isn't a lot of Xs and Os. I just get our base motion offense in (for man and zone), our man defense, one zone defense (just as a tempo change), our press, our pressbreak, and our transition game. I just make sure we are ready for whatever we see so we don't lose confidence early. Then I can concentrate on fundamentals more, which is what I like to do. This is especially true when you only have 8 practices until your first game. After that first game it's just tweaking a what you have a very little each day - hopefully!

So, with that, the season begins. I would like to wish everyone that reads this blog (all 4 of you), the very best Thanksgiving and more importantly a GREAT BASKETBALL SEASON!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Setting the Tone Early

So, we are a week and a half from the start of the season. The wait is almost over and I can barely contain my excitement. It's a new season and I'm at a new school, Como Park. I've always wanted to teach at a school in the metro, and now I've got my chance. I'm at the freshmen level again, and really enjoy coaching freshmen. It's really fun to see the growth and progress throughout their season.

When beginning any new season, especially when you are a new coach coming in, you have to set the tone early. Let the kids know you are not going to put up with any garbage right off the bat. Let them know what you expect and what your goals are. For our freshmen team this year, I really don't care if we win a game, as long as by the end of the year we've got a bunch of freshmen who are fundamentally sound and ready to be successful JV and varsity players. I believe that the freshmen level is all about player development. I just want the guys that play for me to improve and be ready to be varsity players. If the freshmen that play for me are .500 as freshmen and go on to win 20+ games as seniors, then I feel have done my job. If they have 20 wins as freshmen and are .500 as seniors, then I don't feel I have done my job. We won, but didn't get them ready to be varsity players. This is just my philsophy however and I am sure others feel differently.

For the freshmen team however, HOW we win and lose is important in my opinion. If we lose because the other team had a lot of fancy Xs and Os, was just more talented, or because we went deeper into the bench and played more guys, then so be it. I can live with that. If we lose because of dumb mistakes, lack of fundamental play, or lack of hustle then I'm not going to be very much fun. I can't live with this second set of reasons for losses. This expectation is something I have to make sure my guys understand early and execute. They have to know and UNDERSTAND the difference between the two types of losses.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Role of Parents in Athletics

Been away a while, unfortunately. Last week and a half was taxing in terms of student teaching and doing the extra work involved with it. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel however, only two and a half weeks left, then it's onto Como Park and BASKETBALL SEASON! I've REALLY LOVED the teaching a great deal, and will miss it, but I would be filling you all full of crap if I said I wasn't completely ready for the season to be here!

There was a post on Minnesota Preps by Michael Much (who oversees the board) about what the parents role in athletics should be. No one touched it, so it think I will stay away from posting on there about it. But I will write a few comments on here in terms of what I PERSONALLY feel the role should be.

First and foremost, I think that parents should be there to positively support their child and their child's role on the team, regardless of what that role is. If the player's role is a starter or their role is the 12 guy on the bench, each player is uniquely important to the team. Just because one kid plays more than another doesn't mean he is any more important or worth more to the team. Parents should encourage their kids to do the best in the role they are currently given. I really believe this is the biggest thing that parents should do and will ultimately make the sport more enjoyable for themselves and their children.

Secondly, I believe that parents should communicate with the coach about circumstances outside of the sport that may be affecting their child. Did the family just undergo divorce, death, or other tragedy? Is the child struggling in school or socially? Does the player have a disability? Does the parent suspect drug or alcohol problems? Is the child new to the school/area? These types of things are a big help if they are known up front. I don't know about you other coaches, but I'm not a mind reader. I'll have a hunch something is amiss, but can never say for sure. Being a high school coach, you usually find these things out pretty quickly, but the sooner the better!

Thirdly, I believe that parents should try to help the team/program when it is needed. Volunteer to help at fundraisers, to help carpool when needed, etc. A little bit of time/effort can go a long way and help out a lot in regards to running the program. Also, the more that help out, the less burden falls on a few select people.

Be an advocate/cheerleader/positive supporter of the program and all the kids in it. Cheer for every kid on the team, and cheer in a positive fashion. Dress up, attend the games, and show your pride for you child and their teammates. When talking about the program in public, portray it in a positive light as best you can.

Well, there you have it. Pretty short and simple. There is obviously more to it, but I think these are some of the main points. Anyone else have anything to add? Any thoughts? If you do, feel free to post it on here or shoot me an e-mail!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It’s much easier to lighten up than tighten up....

I am currently writing a paper to go with the student teaching class. This paper is discussing classroom management and I had a line in there I liked for coaching as well as teaching: "it's easier to lighten up than thighten up as the year goes on". I was talking about how I start my school year out really strict, impersonal, and rigid and then slowly ease off and become more personal with the class. Show my class the human side of me as well and also show them that I care about them as students and people too! I believe that it's harder to be really nice early and then try to lay the hammer down just does not work as well as layer the hammer down early and often and then relaxing it as you build relationships with your players.

I use this exact same philsophy with my basketball teams I've coached. I start out the year really hard, quick to discipline, and demanding on them at all times. Don't smile a lot, don't laugh, don't get personal at all. Then, as the year goes on, once I've built the respect that is needed and they understand we are all about business, I will back off and start to express to them that I care about the as people. I will also let them see my lighter side and that I really am a human!

Do you coaches agree? Any thoughts on this philsophy?

Duke, Coach K, and the Olympic Hangover

I was watching "Season on the Brink" today while grading is getting close to the season and I'm getting antsy. After watching the beginning it occurred to me that college coaches who coach our Olympic teams may suffer from an "Olympic Hangover" in relation to their collegiate programs. Coach Knight's worst season at Indiana was the one after he won the Gold Medal. Coach K was announced as the head Olympic coach in October of 2005. Since then, the Duke program has come down slightly from the amazing heights they were perched on. It's not like they've come crashing down to mediocre, but I think we've all noticed that they are not the Duke teams of a few years ago.

The last three years, the Blue Devils haven't advanced past the Sweet 16 and the last two years have lost in the first two rounds to teams they probably should have beaten. I do think, as Coach K returns his complete focus to Duke Basketball, that they will come up again - unfortunately for someone who isn't a Duke fan! Haha.... It will be interesting to see how Duke does this year (I'm assuming another year like the last two) and the years to follow.

There are a lot of different ways that coaches can have a "coaching hangover" that affects their programs. It could happen when a coach gets married, gets divorced, has a baby, has a death/tragedy in their lives, changes jobs, or any other life changes. The hangover may last a couple of weeks, couple of months, a year, or longer depending on the situation. These life changes can pull your focus away from the team/program, and many times they should. As a coach though, when they happen, you have to be prepared for them and hope you have some great assistants that will pick up the slack for you until you can return your focus.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bemidji State Beavers

Haven't posted in a while, busy week for student teaching this week, but I made it.

Anyway, I'm going to watch the Bemidji State men's team, the college where I attend, scrimmage today. I'm looking forward to it has they have some exciting new freshmen, a great class of sophomores, and a freshmen redshirt who I think will be a special player for them for the next four years. People are saying they are going to finish second to last in the league this year, I really, truly think that they can finish about in the middle playing 1 junior a bunch of sophomores and maybe a few freshmen. I'm excited to see what happens a year or two from now when that sophomore class is juniors and seniors. I think we could really be pretty solid.

I've always admired the coaching staff here at Bemidji State. They do a great job with what they are given - which is a small budget and poor location. They still somehow manage to get some pretty solid players up this way, which is nice. Whenever I go watch practices or games, I've always got a pencil in hand taking notes and trying to improve upon my knowledge. Hopefully they look good today!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Coaching Clinics

This weekend Hubie Brown is appearing at Cass Lake Bena HS for FREE! It's a bummer that I have prior commitments and can't make it, but would encourage anyone else in Minnesota to make the drive and go. Coach Brown is one of the best minds in the game.

This has been a downer of a fall, as I haven't been able to attend any clinics because of lack of funds and time conflicts, but when you are student teaching it happens! I would encourage all coaches to go to as many clinics as time and budget will allow. Next year, I'm hoping to attend every possible clinic as they are a great way to improve your knowledge (and we all know I need a lot of improvement!) as well as get to know other coaches. Below I'm going to give some of my PERSONAL thoughts on clinics:

First, go there with the attitude that you are going to take down every possible tid bit, but only going to USE the things that fit your system and players. It's good to know everything you can, but it doesn't pay to try and use it all. Many times, it's good to have stuff on a given offense or defense just for the simple reason that if you face that offense/defense during the season you will have some information on it. Remember, the coach doing the speaking believes in what he's talking about, it's part of his system, and he's going to make it sound like a million dollars. I've seen a lot of coaches go to a clinic and try to use everything the speakers talk about the following year. Then they go to another clinic and repeat for the following year.

Secondly, take advantage of the down time to talk with other coaches there. Many times, the best advice and information I've gotten from clinics came when talking with coaches during breaks in the clinic. If you see a well respected coach there, or a coach you know, take the time to approach them and ask for their advice. You can get some real gems from these coaches. Also, as a high school coach, these coaches are in the same situation you are and can understand your situation better than some of the big college guys or pros that speak at the clinics.

Thirdly - Bring a ton of notebook paper, blank diagrams on paper, pencils, pens, etc. Write everything down that you can. PERSONALLY, if I DON'T write something down, it's going to be gone before I leave the gym.

Fourth - bring a cushion if you are in the gym. There is nothing worse than bleacher butt after sitting there for a long period of time. A cushion will go along way in helping you to focus on what is being said and not your sore rear!

Lastly - Enjoy yourself! Clinics can be a fun experience. A chance to chat with coaches throughout the state and your conference and learn something new.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Using the Jab Step

This is one of those little things that drive me completely bonkers if not done right. A pet peve of mine is to watch kids jab step sideways and then attack. Not only is it not fooling anyone, it's taking the player's center of gravity away from where they want to go - which then makes them slowing coming back and driving the other way. I think it's vital to teach your players to always jab AT the defender's outside foot and then go the opposite way. Just a little thing that I personally believe can make a big difference at times.

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?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fall League

Well, I got to watch our guys play yesterday at the fall league in Bloomington. They looked ok, considering it was a fall league game. Definately not in mid-season form.

To me, fall league is a nessicary evil in some ways. The games get quite sloppy at times, but it's a good for players to play. This is a great opportunity for the team to bond with each other and learn how to play together. Another thing it does, for me as a coach, is lets me see where our weaknesses are and what we have to work on. It is also a great carrot to keep kids going to open gyms and working on their own during this hands off period.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Triple Threat Progression

This is a progression I use daily with my players; it may be only for 2-3 minutes, or as much as five. I stole this drill from Coach Fergot of LaCrosse Central High School (LaCrosse, WI) who is a GREAT teacher of the game. It’s really simple but emphasizes the point of squaring to the basket. Some coaches don’t use triple threat, and if you don’t you can just use “square” as in squaring to the basket.
The progression goes like this:

-Coach calls “triple threat”, players snap into triple threat – do 2-5 times just to get used to it.
-Then coach calls “triple threat” again, players spin the ball out (spin out so it bounces back to them) and catch the ball on the hop into triple threat. This is simulating catching a pass from another player in a game. The players can also throw the ball off the wall and catch the ball on the hop into triple threat. Again, do this 2-5 times just so they get the feel down.
-The coach then calls “triple threat” along with a pivot foot (left/right). The players spin the ball back, hop into triple threat, and pivot on the chosen foot. If you are a coach that teaches one pivot foot, then you just say pivot and they pivot on their given foot. When they do this, have them work reverse and front pivots. Also have them pretend there is a defender in front of them and make sure they don’t turn their back and they maintain vision. I would do this one 2-3 times per foot.
-Another possible take on this is having your players throw the ball off the wall or spin back to themselves and square up on their inside foot, as they would on the catch.
-Lastly, if you have a coach or a partner, the player does the “Boss Drill”. The defender starts with the ball, on the coaches command, the defender tosses the ball to the offensive player who catches it into triple threat, then the defender comes up and slaps at the ball as offensive player rips and pivots protecting the ball.

-Points of Emphasis: When I teach triple threat, I’m not big on the ball being in the shot pocket, I want it in that area, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, especially if the defender is tight. When teaching triple threat, it’s important to teach the athlete to always catch the ball on the hop so that they can use either pivot foot. They should be facing the basket so they can see what is going on and either shoot, dribble, or pass depending on the situation. When working on pivoting, I like to teach ripping the ball knee to knee with their elbows up ripping the ball below the knee level when he goes from side to side. I teach keeping the body between the ball and the defender.

Is this earthshattering, brand new stuff? Of course not! I am sure that many of you do something similar. I just wanted to share this in case it can add something a little bit different. It's a great footwork drill and will help your players with their ball sureness.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Great Basketball Reads

I love reading books about basketball, no suprise many of us do! Here I am going to list some of my favorite basketball books with a little blurb about each. There aren't going to be any books about X's and O's in here, these are books about the game of basketball and/or the people that coach it.

The Last Shot by Darcy Frey. Frey spends a year or so following a group of boys that play at famed Lincoln High School in Coney Island, New York. He writes about their high school games, playground games, summer camps, as well as their feelings, thoughts, and lives away from the game. He shows what it's really like to be a hoop star in the inner city. His cronicle of these young men is second to none and absolutely amazing. This book is one of the big reasons I became interested in basketball and coaching. I would encourage everyone who loves basketball to read this book, then read "Betrayed by the Game" an article that Frey wrote years after the book came out, you can read the article by clicking here. This is also an article I would share with your players, especially those who put all their eggs in the NBA basket. This is a book that I first read in third grade, and have read every single year since then. \

Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski. Another book I read on a perrennial basis. Absolutely spellbinding. Coach Hurley is one coach I have never met, but despirately would love to. He's extremely good at what he does in terms of on and off the floor stuff with his guys. I really respect him. I'm sure you have all heard of it, but if you haven't read it you absolutely MUST! There are a lot of things in here you can use in your own coaching as well, plust it's very, very well written.

Fall River Dreams by Bill Reynolds. Another book similar to the two above. Fall River, Mass is an old industrial town with a deep and rich basketball tradition. Lots of great teams and players go through there, but many never leave town. This is a story about one year with the basketball program. Very well written and very fun to read. It goes beyond just basketball however and explores the culture of the program, town, and tradition as well.

Where the Game Matters Most by William Gildea. Great book that follows a multitude of teams through one of the last seasons of 1 class basketball in Indiana. Very fun story with some names that you recgonize like Luke Recker. Really does a nice job of making you part of the crazy basketball passion that the state of Indiana has.

The Road to Indianapolis by Plaiss. Similar to what I described above. A couple of writers follow multiple teams around for a season writing about their triumphs and failures. Players like Big Dog Glenn Robinson are written about in here.

Glory Road by Dan Wetzel. Like the movie? Well, the book is much more funny and MUCH more realistic. It cronicles the entire life of the late, great Don Haskins. I really wish I could have sat down and talked with Coach Haskins, seemed like a great person. The book is much more indepth than the movie and takes you basically from childhood all the way through that magical season.

Last Dance, A March to Madness, A Season on the Brink, Forever's Team, A Season Inside, and The Last Amateurs all by John Feinstein. These books by Feinstein are all great reads. He is a good writer and does a nice job of making you part of the action. Each book is a little different, but they all focus on the collegiate game. If you are a college basketball fan, add these to your library.

Runnin Rebel by Coach Jerry Tarkanian. Really interesting book about the life of Coach Tarkanian, or "Tark the Shark". His sense of humor and personality really comes through here. He talks openly about some situations, but I think he sugar coats some others! He really does go deep into all the ups and downs of his career however.

My Life on a Napkin by Coach Rick Majerus. This is the story of Coach Majerus through his days with the Runnin Utes of Utah. Some very good parts, worth reading.

A Coach's Life by Coach Dean Smith. Few have done it better, or as long, as Coach Smith. This autobiography also contains a lot of hints and coaching insite into what made him successful. There are some real coaching gems in this one.

Hoop Dreams by Ben Joravsky. Did you like the movie? I think the book is better. Goes into more detail in terms of things that happened in both their lives. The movie is a definate favorite of mine, as this book is as well. If you haven't seen the move or read the book - what is wrong with you!? :)

A Season on the Reservation by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Book about one of basketball's all-time greats taking a year to coach a team on a reservation in Arizona. THis is a story of Abdul-Jabbar falling in love with basketball all over again, as well as the players he is coaching.

Well there is my list of current favorites. I encourage you all to pick them up and read them when you have time, even if that's only 20 minuts on the bus to and from the game! See one I missed or think I should add? Well just respond and put it down!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Congrats to the New Members of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame

I should have posted this a long time ago, but I wanted to extend my congratulations to the newest members of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Class of 2008. Being honored this year are Al Bauman (Little Falls), Tom Ihnot (St. Thomas Academy/Cannon Falls), Loren Marschel, of (Okabena), Bob Nelson of (Pine River-Backus), and Tom Vix of (Rushford-Peterson). Congrats to these great coaches and thanks to them for all they've given high school basketball in Minnesota.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Diving on the Floor - You've Got the Ball, Now What!?

I've always done drills where players had to dive on the floor to get loose balls. But eventually it occured to me that I wasn't teaching the players what to do AFTER they secured the ball (probably took longer for me to realize than most!). They can't get up without dribbling first, which is almost impossible to do in traffic. They can't roll over, and they can't just lay there, what do they do?

In light of that, I designed a drill that allowed players to get on the floor for loose balls and then do something with it. It teaches them how to recover a loose ball.
The drill has three players, one defender and two on offense. The ball is rolled out and one of the offensive players dives on the floor. When he gains posession of the ball, he has to pass it to his teammate while the defender tries to stop the pass. At first have the defender guarding the player on the floor to work on getting rid of the ball quickly, dealing with the pressure, and looking for passing angles. Later, change it up and have the defender guard the player recieving the pass so that he has to work to get the ball. If mastery of the drill is achieved, then add a second defender. Players rotate through the drill.

You should also talk to your players about when it is approperiate to use a time out in reguards to a loose ball. Every coach have a different opinion on using time outs, and there is no magic secret. Figure out if and when they can use timeouts on loose balls and make sure they know your philsophy.

This may be just a little thing, but it's an important little thing in my humble opinion. Teaching your players what to do once they've secured the loose ball can save you a possession or two each game. Not something you spend 25 minutes on in practice obviously, but hey a 5 minute session here and there can help. This isn't the only loose ball drill I use, but it's one of my favorites. If you guys that read this have any loose ball drills to add, I would encourage you to do so!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2 Ball Dribbling Series Drill

Not going to try to cover it up, I'm a HUGE drill nerd. I love drills, drills, drills and collect them at every opportunity. This blog will be a way for me to share many of them with others. I am sure that you've seen a lot of them I'm going to share from time to time, but I hope that you pick something new up here and there.

Two ball dribbling is something I picked up from a Forrest Larson tape a few years ago, and I think it's something that many coaches do. It's a great way to build the weak hand of your players and get your players to concentrate on doing other things besided dribbling. Last year I did at least 5 minutes every day of 2 ball dribbling and the positive results were very evident as the year went on. Also, I believe you have to incorporate some movement into the drills, but must start stationary. If you have a block of time for freethrows during practice, but not enough hoops for all of your players, a great idea is to split them into 2 groups. One group shoots free throws for 5 minutes while the other does the 2 ball dribbling, then the groups switch for another five minute segment. This way those players shoot as many free throws in 5 minutes as they would have gotten in 10 with double the number of players at each hoop, AND they got some good ballhandling in.

When I personally do this drill, Players perform 10 the following 2 ball dribbling drills for 30 seconds each - which completes a 5 minute section in practice. I switch up which ones we do it keep it interesting - obviously some require more skill than others. After the first couple of times, I expect them to switch from one drill to another on the fly when I verbally give the command. I line everyone up on a sideline so that if/when we have to move we can go right into it and not waste time.
*Pound together
*Pound alternate
*Ankle High
*Shoulder High (pound hard)
*Right hand high, left hand low (ankle)
*Left hand high, right hand low (ankle)
*Continuous Crossover
*Push and pull side
*Push and pull front
*Left hand pound, dribble around right leg with right hand only
*Right hand pound, dribble around left leg with left hand only
*Between legs and crossover
*Crossover and behind back
*Crossover and between legs
*Down and back together
*Down and back alternate
*Down and back continuous crossover
*Down and back attack and retreat
*Down and back ankle high

So there you have it. Some good ballhandling drills that you can do with two balls. Hopefully if you haven't seen this, you can incorporate it into your practice routine. I think your team will benefit from it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Transition Defense

Transition defense is one of the most important parts of defense, in my opinion. If you can consistently stop your opponent from easy transition baskets, you are going to be successful more often than not. I don't know how you all teach transition defense, but below is how I do it.

My goal as a coach is for every player to get a foot in the lane, turn around and find the ball, then find their man. I picked up a great saying from another coach (Coach Lok) about transition defense: rim, ball, man. Those three words are what I try to pound into the heads of the players. It's a saying that is easy to remember and it lets players know exactally what the priorities are on transition defense.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Team Discipline using Core Values

On one of my favorite message boards (X's and Os of Basketball), there was a good topic about discipline and learning from the discipline. I believe that we as coaches have a great opportunity to help our players mature as young adults, and that's a role that I enjoy. I think a great way to do this, and to instill discipline in your team, is to use a set of "Core Values" for your program.

Core Values are something I got into my first year of coaching at LaCrosse Central with Coach Fergot. He has a core value system in place for his program and the entire staff does an amazing job with it. It really helps to instill discipline in his players and creates a family atmosphere. I also think it's one reason his teams play up to and beyond their potential every year.

There are a lot of different ways you can go with core values of your program or team. You can keep things simple and only use a few, or you can have a multitude and arrange it similar to John Wooden's famed Pyramid of Success. I like to stick to a few simple broad ones instead of a lot at the high school level - I feel like it's easier for teenagers to focus on.

These values aren't anything too complex. I like to use respect, loyalty, honesty, passion, team first attitude, championship work ethic, and competitive greatness. These are all things that high school kids can understand in my humble opinion. When using core program values, they are things you talk about and address whenever possible. Maybe in a tough loss you talk about how they represented the program values well by working together (team first attitude), having respect, and playing hard (work ethic and passion) if they did indeed exhibit those values. These are things that can help players long after they walk out the doors their last day as a senior basketball player. I think part of creating a strong program is creating a family like atmosphere within that program and talking about the values of the program enhances that.

Also, when a player makes a mistake, he faces consequences, but the core values can help to explain to a player why he is getting disciplined. Hopefully this can help him learn from his mistakes. For example, if a player mouths off to you in practice, you boot him from practice. If you leave it at that and come back the next day has the player learned anything? Maybe, but maybe not. I think the player gets more out of the experience in the long run if you have him stay in the locker room and go in and talk with him after practice. Explain to him why his behavior was wrong and why it violated the core values of the team (respect). Explaining to him why it is disrespectful may make him more away of his transgression. Then you could explain to him that if he wants to be treated with respect himself, he has to earn it by being respectful to others. Is this the only way to do discipline? Of course not! But it is a way that I find useful and helpful for myself.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Teaching What You Believe In

There are a lot of great things out there in basketball in terms of offenses and defenses. There are some great fast breaks, there are great half court offenses and a lot of good defensive stuff. But unfortunately, none of it is any good if you don't believe in it. A coach you know can be running the best offense or defense, but if you do not believe in it as much as he does, and don't take the time to learn it like he has, chances are you won't be able to run it nearly as well. As a coach you have to find something you believe in and are comfortable teaching. If you can do that you are going to be successful at it. If you are running things because others do them, and you don't really believe in them, you are going to have a harder time teaching them (not saying it's impossible, but...) and more importantly you are going to have a harder time getting your players to buy into what you want to do. And if you can't get your players to buy into your system you are for the most part sunk.

What you run has to also fit you as a person. If you are someone who likes control, who is patient, and likes to do things very cerebrally, then you should be running an offense that meshes with that philosophy. If you are a gambler and like to be fast, you should be playing more of an up-tempo game in general. Obviously you have to adjust for your players as well.

In this post, I'm not saying just only run one thing and the same thing every year. What I am saying however is find a system that you like, that you get excited about, and run that. Immerse yourself in learning that system and stick with it for a while. While you keep to the same system, don't be afraid to tinker with the original formula - adding and subtracting things where you see fit and to adapt to your personnel. For instance, after studying the dribble drive motion, I've added some drive and kick looks into my half court offensive philosophy. Now, it's something I'll really emphasize I have the team to do it and will not when I don't.

I think it would be naive to say "run the exact same thing every year", especially at the high school level. For the most part, you are not going to have the same level of talent from one year to the next and you need to adjust your offense and defense to fit that talent. I believe, however, that you can adjust most basic offenses and defenses to fit the kind of team you have. For instance, you love man to man defense. One year you athletes all over the place, then you may run your man to man full court and install some trapping elements in it as well to exploit the fact that you have athletes. You may also throw in a zone press and/or zone half court trap to use your athleticism. Season ends and the athletes graduate. The next year, with less athletic players, you may run your man to man but keep it more of a half court game. You may rely more on a zone full court trap when you are down and install a 2-3 zone in the half court to protect the basket against more athletic teams.

Lastly, I think it's more fun as a coach to teach what you believe in. If you believe in something and becomes very proficient at it, you are going to be a better teacher of the system as well. You can't just run something because everyone else is doing it and having success. Chances are the people that are having success with it also happen to have the players to go along with the system. They could run a lot of things at places like Dematha HS, Oak Hill Academy HS, and the like because they have the talent to go with it. They are running what they believe, and it's good stuff, but if it's not what you believe in don't run it! If you are running it simply because everyone else does and has success then chances are you are not going to know as much about it and will struggle teaching it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Skill of the Week

Many people say that basketball is over coached and under taught. In light of that, every week I have a 5-10 minute segment during practice called the "skill of the week. Each week a skill is picked that I think needs to be learned or worked on. We then focus on that skill for the entire week during that 5-10 minute segment depending on which skill it is. I make sure on the first day to really break it down and slowly teach the skill then build drills and such into it.
If it's a skill we are struggling on, I may come back to it on another week These are little things that I work on every day in practice during the year anyway (even when they are not the skill of the week), but really try to focus on for a week to make sure they are taught as best they can be. For some players, unless the drill really focuses on a given skill, they are not going to understand it. Just because these aren't the skill of the week every other week doesn't mean they aren't being taught however, you don't just forget about them. Below is a list of my skills of the week, if any of you have any to add, I would appreciate it!

Setting Screens
Using Screens
Reading Screens
Screen and Roll
Defending the Screen and Roll
Defending Screens
Basket Cutting
Back Cutting
Bumping a Cutter
Offensive Rebouding - How to Crash
Loose Balls - what to do once you get one
Jab Step
Shot Fake
Shooting off the Catch
Getting Yourself Open
Post Entry Passing
Pass Fakes
Scoring Around the Rim
Taking a Charge
Outlet Passing
Inbounding the Basketball

There are a bunch, I know I've missed some. There is a giant list of mine somewhere with more I am sure. With only a given number of weeks in the season however, you have to pick and choose which ones you use. I think a lot of it has to do with the level of the team you are coaching and the skills of the players you are coaching. The more savvy the players, the more technical you can get, the more loopy, the simpler it has to be. Once again, see one I missed? Let me know

Friday, September 5, 2008

Review of Basketball Coaching Forums

There are some great basketball websites to be visited out there on the World Wide Web (does anyone even call it that anymore?!). I personally love message boards because you can interact with many other coaches and get great information. Below is a list of basketball coaching message boards with a rundown of each. I have hyperlinked each heading to take you to the message board.

Yahoo! Coaching Hoops Message Board - This is one of the better ones I've found, my favorite one. Lots of very knowledgeable coaches who are willing to share their knowledge with others. The responses are usually pretty fast because each post on a thread gets e-mailed to everyone's Yahoo! e-mail account. The best thing about this one however, is that many of the topics go beyond the Xs and Os and get into things like motivation, player development, and other great topics. Has a small library of uploaded files as well which is nice. It is more of a close knit group than others it appears, coaches get to know each other a little more and more of a community atmosphere.

The Xs and Os of Basketball - Another great board and a VERY close second to the Yahoo! one. Another one that I don't think you can NOT have in your favorites and definitely have to visit every day.This board is more geared to Xs and Os (as the name implies), but still has some other good topics. Also, this board gets a lot of traffic and rightfully so, there is always something new to read. The other amazing feature of this site is that it has a section with TONS (and I mean TONS) of uploaded notes for you to download. Notes on every topic you can imagine and you can request ones that aren't on there that you want. It's an amazing basketball library. The guy that runs the site does a great job of constantly updating them. Must visit this site. - This site is a distant third. It gets a few posts every day and there is some good information, but not the traffic of the other too. Not a bad one though.

Winning Hoops - Used to be pretty decent, but has died down as of late. May pick up again once the season gets going. Gets a new post every few days, check it once in a while.

Well, those are the message boards that I know and use. If you are reading this and have other coaching message boards that you find useful, I would love to hear about them!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The "Dead Zone" Time of the Year

I consider this time, September-October to be kind of a "dead zone" for basketball, especially in this part of the state. Yes, there are some fall leagues going on in the metro, or will be starting soon, but that sure isn't happening up here!! This is a period where you can do two things as a coach: recharge your batteries and study the game.
You can't work with your kids right now on basketball (outside of watching them at open gyms and summer league), although I am sure many of you are running a weightroom program for the players not involved in football. Watching guys lift doesn't nearly fill the void in my opinion however! Because you are basically banned from on court basketball, September-October is a perfect time to recharge as a coach.
For me personally, I love to get out and fish when I can in the early fall - not a lot of fishermen to compete with, lakes around here start to quiet down. Yesterday I got out on the lake and did some bass fishing, just me, the lake, my buddy, and the fish (more for him than me!)....very relaxing. It doesn't matter what you are into, this is the time to step back and do some things outside of basketball. I would encourage all the high school coaches to go out and attend other school sporting events. Go support your football and volleyball teams. They will appreciate it and hopefully they will return the favor. Try to get your basketball players to go too if you can.
On the home front, this time of the year is a GREAT time to earn some extra brownie points with the significant other as well. Being with the girlfriend/wife before the season lets you bank some good old "quality time" because we all know come November 17th there isn't going to be much of that to go around! When the season starts, "quality time" with my signficant other consists of eating a hotdog in the stands while scouting an opponent. Also, I'm getting married in June, so this is a good time to plan a little bit - seeing as NOTHING is going to be planned November-March!

I definately don't forget about basketball during these months however. Right before the season is a great time to try to learn - there are lots of opportunities. For example, one of my good friends is coming down from I-Falls this weekend and we are going to spend the next few days talking basketball, watching videos, trading ideas, and have a mini coaching retreat. Good time to take in some new information before the season starts. I think coming into this time of the year you have to have a plan for your studies - what do you WANT/NEED to get down before the season? It's different for everyone. Going to college practices is another opportunity that is readily available during this period. Practice starts for college basketball sometime in mid October, and most (if not all) college coaches would be more than accomodating to let you observe. The nice thing here is, going to see their practices doesn't conflict with yours during October and early November. Fall is a time when many great high school coaches may not be as busy (unless they coach another sport) and may have more time to talk then during the season. I try to meet with as many as I can. Many coaching clinics are run in the fall here. This year there seems to be an abnormally high number of quality clinics that have been popping up - too bad I am too poor to affoard them now!

Even if this is a "dead zone" in terms of on the court basketball, I think for coaches it can be a very rewarding time. You can get a lot accomplished during these months outside of your team or program.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Coaching Philosophy - The Short Version

Working hard, being passionate, and developing skilled players are the cornerstones of my coaching philosophy. If you are willing to work hard and work to develop the skills of your players you are going to be successful in my opinion. You can run a ton of different things in terms of Xs and Os, as long as you have a passion and the players to execute. For example, Rushford-Peterson (MN) is a small town team that has a big tradition. They've routinely been making trips to state for over a decade now. Rushford likes to play a more slow paced game typically. They run man to man defense and usually play run a flex offense. On the other hand, Cass Lake-Bena (MN) is another small school Minnesota team that has seen it's share of success in the last decade. Cass Lake plays a free wheeling uptempo offense and a zone trapping defense which starkly contrasts the style of RP. Even though they have different styles, both teams have experienced success proving that there is no magic formula for success - it's more about what you believe in and are comfortable teaching.Working as hard as I possibly can is something I take a great deal of pride in. Watching tapes, reading books and magazines, attending clinics, talking with other coaches, reading message boards and the like are ways that I try to learn as much as I can about the game. I am hungry for knowledge and have adopted the saying "I know enough to know that I don't know anything!" I'm constantly on a quest to better myself as a coach. Working my tail off as a coach in practice another source of pride for me. I try to make sure my players get the most out of practice and I LOVE practice to death. I bring that drive and passion to the practice floor on a daily basis and spread that passion to the players I coach. I believe if you are passionate as a coach, that passion is contagious and will catch on to other people. One of my biggest goals is the be as passionate and hungry, if not more, on my last day as a coach as I am now.

Player development is another passion of mine. I firmly believe in making players that I coach as fundamentally sound as possible and believe that being fundamentally sound is going to win more games than having a great, complex offense and a bookful of plays. I heard a quote from Pete Gaudet when he was talking about Duke practices, Coach Gaudet said "At the end of the season would you rather have three better plays or three better players?" When I ask myself that question I always answer players. That is also why I am a big believer in off season work and development. I'll spend as much time working with players in the summer as they want to. I want every player that comes though a program I'm involved in to leave the best player they can be.

As far as the Xs and Os go, I'm not a very fancy guy. I like to keep things pretty simple. Teaching kids HOW to play as opposed to teaching them plays, is something that I enjoy.

When it comes to offense, motion is what I love to run. There isn’t' any better way to teach kids how to play than motion. To be specific, I like the 4 out 1 in because most of the time it's easier to find 5 guards or perimeter players (4 starters and a backup) and 2 posts (1 starter, 1 backup) than it is to find 3 good posts (2 starter, 1 backup) at a given school. I also like the idea of playing as many kids as possible on the perimeter from a player development standpoint. Of course I'm not completely set in my ways and am open to change. For example, after watching various tapes about the dribble drive motion that is all the craze, I've worked in more drive and kick action into the motion because I like the looks it gives. Also, after watching the Read and React stuff I like the way the teaching is on that, so have started to organize the motion teaching into layers which I think will help teach it.Along with motion in the half court, I LOVE to push the ball in transition at every available opportunity. I don't think there is another more fun or better than beating your opponent down the floor for easy baskets. I don't run to much in terms of structure, just fill lanes and pitch that baby up the floor!! It's my personal opinion that running the fast break as much as possible gives your team an attacking mentality that I love - it also gets you some easy baskets!As was stated above, I don't think there is any magic formula. With that said, I believe that you have to tweak what you run to fit the team you have -especially in high school when you can't recruit talent to fit your personality. If I had two 7 foot 350 pound stud posts would I be pushing the ball and running a lot of guard stuff? Of course not! At the same time if I was blessed with 7 great guards would I put one in the post just to stay 4 out 1 in? No. The principles of the motion would stay the same, only the set up would change. While I have a philosophy, I feel it's a philsophy I can adapt to whatever I have in terms of players. Is what I run the "best"? Of course not, but I think it's the best for me because it's what I believe in and what I like.

On the defensive side of the ball, I'm pretty plain as well. I believe in having a good man to man base for the team and program because at some point, usually in a critical game, you are going to have to guard people man to man. If you can't do that you are going to be in trouble. I've watched many great teams that were based in zones get beat by teams that forced them to go man. I do, however, like to employ a couple of zones, one trap and one pack it in, to change the tempo of the game as I see fit. Also love to press and get out in the full court when I have the players to do so.

Well, that's a simple run down of my coaching philsophy. It's definitely not complete and I am sure I've left some important things out in it (rebounding, turnover difference, etc,etc). But I thought since this is a coaching blog that sharing my philosophy made sense!! At the same time I didn't want to get too long winded about all the little things that go into it. Also hope I didn't come off sounding arrogant or know it all because that was not my intention either. Hopefully I achieved what I was looking for...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Using What You Have....

Everytime I open a coaching publication I can't help but notice all of the advertisements for basketball gear that coaches simply can't live without. The last few years as a frosh coach I've found that there are many ordinary pieces of gym equiptment that can be used to enhance your practices - and suprise they are free! I'm going to list a few and their applications below.

*Football Blocking Pads - I'm sure many of us have used these. There are MANY applications with a blocking pad such as working on post moves, scoring with contact around the rim, working on catching and facing on the perimeter, fighting through screens on defense, etc, etc. These are great for added toughness in your practices.

*Tennis Balls or Floor Hockey Balls - These are great for a variety of applications in practice. You can have your players play catch with them while doing ballhandling drills. Playing catch helps the players not look down when dribbling, they can be done when dribbling stationary or on the move. Also like to start to make it competitive, divide into teams and see which can pass the ball back and fourth the longest without dropping it and while keeping their dribbles.

*Floor Hockey Sticks - These are great aids when teaching shooting. Hold them up when kids are working on shooting and they force your players to shoot the ball with arc. Can use in the lane also to make sure players put the ball high off the glass.

*Thin Mat - Any kind of padded mat is useful to teach players how to properly take charges and dive on the floor. Some kids are timid at first, but if they practice on the pad they can get used to going down. Also good to practice taking charges for the first time so they can work on their head tucks and their heads aren't going to wack the floor.

*Frisbees - Great for markers on the floor during drills or teaching your offense/defense.

*Hula-Hoops - Love these for shooting drills - ex: have to make X number of shots in each hoop. Also like to hold them on dribbling drills - have players come through low and controlled and then explode out. They also can work to mark the floor - I especially like them to teach zone offense early in the season - maybe first practice or two. Put the hoops out in the set up of a zone (ex - 2-3) and then walk your players through your offense. They can see where the zone is (you move them to match up, etc), and what they should be looking for.

*Jump Ropes - Not just for jumping rope. When teaching spacing, especially on defense, I like to bring out the jump ropes. I have them the length of spacing I want (sometimes have to tie them together) and have the players hold onto the ends. Works great for teaching M-M with the shell drill. When the ball moves, EVERYONE must move in unison. At first they pull each other on the ropes, but it's a good reminder to move with the ball.

*Volleyballs - Like to use these to teach proper form in shooting close to the basket - especially with young kids. You can really work on the form without having to worry about a heavy ball to start. Easier to get to the hoop and see results right away for kids that might lack strength.

*Big Dodge Balls (Rubber Ball) - Can't affoard to buy those "Big Balls" for your post players? Some phy ed classes have oversided kick balls that can work almost as well - true it isn't a basketball, but I think it can help your post players with scoring down low. Also, if you can find a REALLY big ball that just barely fits in the rim and gets caught in the net, that would be a very cheap subsitute for a rebound rim for rebounding drills. All you would need is a broom handle to get it out.

*Medicine Balls - Don't have those nice, weighted basketballs? Well, just use a medicine ball for those passing drills and you won't know the difference. Also, I LOVE to use them for catch and square drills on the perimeter - when they get a basketball in their hands ripping through is nothhing!

In closing, I think there are some GREAT products out there now, and some that I would LOVE to have. I wish I could have a Dr. Dish or Gun for every basket, a Dominator Complete Post Station for by bigs, and a Rip-Thru for my perimeter players to work on perimeter work, but I just don't think I'll ever be at a school with a budget for all that so you have to make due with what you've got at hand. So I may not have a Dominator Station for my posts, but I do have a body and a football blocking pad - and I feel they can get just as much out of that!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thoughts on the Dribble Drive Motion

The more I study and look at the dribble drive motion, the more I like the IDEA itself. I do not think, however, as a high school coach that you can run it as your system. I just don't think you are going to have the athletes every year to make it your only offense - unless you have phenominal talent every year like Oak Hill Acad. (MD) has from year to year. I also feel it's easier to run in college because you can recruit players to fit the system - as you can with most college offenses. You will get beat by quicker, faster, more athletic teams. I also think it gets easier to defend if you have a player on your team that can not shoot the three.

I do like the idea of incorporating the drive and kick as PART of your overall system and emphasizing the drive and kick more when you have the talent and less when you don't. I've ALWAYS encouraged players I have coached to look to attack the rim every time they catch the ball. Last year I coached a frosh squad and in order to spend practice time on fundamentals I just ran a 4 out look where we passed, cut, and spaced out as well as looked to drive to the rim when we had the chance. Wasn't trying to run a DDM, but it sort of turned out that way.

As many of you know, I LOVE the 4 Out 1 In Motion Offense. As I read more about and watch videos on the dribble drive motion, I've started to figure out ways to incorporate the drive and kick into the 4 out sceme. I think you can definitely do it. It does take some coaching to define roles however, but you have to do that in a big way with motion offense in general anyway.

I also differ with some of the principles of "true" dribble drive offense. First of all, I don't think you have to ALWAYS drive middle. I think you should drive middle if you have the chance, and should be your first look, but if they take away the middle you should drive to the block. I don't like driving BASELINE, but if the player can drive and get to the block he should. If he gets pushed baseline however he should stop and look for the kick out. I also think that players can change direction when attacking the rim if overplayed. If the defender cuts you off on a drive and you can easily beat him with a direction change, why not? Lastly, I don't mind the pull up jumper from time to time on the drive, as long as the player is a good shooter.

Anyway, those are some of my random thoughts on the dribble drive motion.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Recycling of Ideas

I find it amusing how so many "new" things in basketball are actually recycled ideas from years gone by. I was recently watching "Running to Extemes" by David Arseneault. In that DvD he talks about their drive and kick action. I thought it was interesting because Coach Arseneault's tape came out in the 1990s. It isn't like this new wave of "dribble drive motion" has never been seen before. I believe the DDM is also similar to the dribble weave ran by the Boston Celtics in the 1960s. So when someone claims something is "revolutionary" I usually take it with a grain of salt. So while this Dribble Drive Motion seems to be all the rage right now, it really is just a new take on an old idea.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Taking Notes

I feel I've done very well taking notes on basketball in the past. I took notes on absolutely EVERYTHING: my practices, games I was watching in person and on TV, basketball videos, and any random thoughts I was having. But today I realized that I'd gotten away from taking good notes as of late. When I talk with a coach about basketball I still take notes, but I don't do it nearly as much as I should otherwise. Note taking is something I am going to make the commitment to again. I'm returning to keeping a little pocket notebook with me at all times so anything I see, hear, or think of can be written down.

I would encourage all coaches to take as many notes as they possibly can, whenever they can. I think it's a great way to remember little tidbits that can be very important to your success down the road. What do you take notes on?? Anything and everything. From something as big as an offense you see on TV that you like from something as small as a different way to teach screening that you thought of. You can record notes on your team as well.

I find that it's very beneficial to have my notes organized. Then when I need to look something up I can find it! I have a small notebook that I write all of my personal thoughts in. I have a mini library of those notebooks - each notebook is dated from when the first note was taken to the last day I wrote in it. I also have a big notebook that I write all of my conversations with coaches in as well as notes on videos and games that I watch. When I write something in the big notebook, I take out the notes and organize them by coach. Each coach I talk to or watch has their own folder where all the notes from them go. I used to organize all my notes by category (offense, defense, drills, etc), but I found that most times when I talk with other coaches I get notes on a wide variety of topics and that made it hard to group them by topic. I also watched a tape by Northern State's coach Don Meyer where he says to keep notes by coach so that you have the coaches PHILSOPHY. I think that's a great point and now I organize my notes as such.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Coaching Materials

For the basketball coaches that visit this site....I have created a few basketball handouts on various offensive and defensive stuff. It's something I really enjoy doing and like to share the little knowledge I have with others. There is a link on this blog to my Media Fire site that contains all the handouts. Please feel free to look through it and steal whatever you want. Nothing in there is new or earthshattering, I'm not going to claim it is. But I hope some of it can be of use to you!

About Me...

So I suppose I should start this thing by giving a little background on myself. As I've said in my introduction and "about me", I'm 23 years old and I LOVE basketball and coaching. It's what I've wanted to do my entire life and feel blessed to be able to do it! I'm a "super senior" at Bemidji State University and will graduate this fall. I am getting a degree in Science Education with a Lifescience Emphasis. I'll be student teaching in Bagley this fall and then moving to the Twin Cities area to coach, teach, and live. Ever since grade school I have wanted to coach at a St. Paul or Minneapolis public school, and will finially get my chance to pursue that dream this season.

I was born and raised on Minnesota's Iron Range. I played basketball, fished, and hunted during those years and had a blast doing it. Some of my earliest memories however, were going to my father's high school practices and going to basketball games with him. My favorite times were when sub-section play rolled around and I got to go to games at the Miner's Memorial building - talk about atmosphere. It was a hockey arena (go figure) that for a few weeks a year was transformed into the site for the sub-section tournament. I remember watching teams like Chisholm, Cook, Orr, Tower-Soudan, Babbit-Embarass, International Falls, Cotton and others fight for the sub-section title. I got a first hand view of some coaching legends such as Coach McDonald from Chisholm and Coach King from Orr. Watching their teams was absolute poetry in motion - to use the tired cliche. That building and those winter nights were where my fire for basketball was lit.

I've coached at three different high schools: LaCrosse Central (WI), Bemidji (MN), and Bagley (MN). At the first two I was an assistant freshmen coach and I was the head freshmen coach at the third. I learned something at each stop and am glad I got to have those different experiences. I was lucky enough to spend my first year of coaching at Central under a great varsity coach in Todd Fergot. I think that Coach Fergot is one of the best coaches in the state of Wisconsin and is very underrated. He takes what he's given every year and gets absolutely everything he can out of his players. I also spent three summers in LaCrosse working with their summer improvement program and that was a great experience in terms of working with the players and learning from one of the best. I got a lot of my philsophies on offense and defense from Coach Fergot and his staff...I will be forever greatful to them.

Deciding to leave UW-LaCrosse to return to Bemidji State was not a hard decision. What was a hard decision however was to make the decision to leave Central. I felt like I was leaving a part of my family, but the decision had to be made. I needed to finish my education and get my teaching degree! I was lucky enough to land with another solid coach in Coach Brown at Bemidji High School. Coach Fergot was a motion offense and man to man defense guy for the most part, but Coach Brown liked to mix things up a little more and I picked some things up from him in terms of Xs and Os and dealig with players. He was another guy who may not have had the raw talent that some of the teams in his section did, but did the best with what he had.

After my season at Bemidji the AD from Bagley contacted me about an opening for the head freshmen coach and I jumped at the chance! I wanted to be able to run practices and do some things how I wanted. I was ready to take the reins! I was under a varsity coach in Todd Fore who has won many, many games and made a couple of state tournament appearances. The year before I arrived there he had went 28-1 with a great squad and bowed out in the first round of state to the eventual state champion Holy Family. Being next to him on the bench was a treat (first time I got to sit the varsity bench) and I learned a lot about game adjustments and how to work those officials! :) It was in a unique situation, as I only had 5 players and one basket for practice (borrowed a few JV players to play games). I really learned how to adapt and overcome. We finished with only 6 wins on the year but ended up winning 5 of our last 6 games and all 6 wins happened the second half of the year. The highlight however was our first win when the players got to shave my head - the deal I gave them a handful of games in when we weren't winning and our morale was slipping. Overall I was very impressed with our improvement over the course of the year - despite the below .500 record I considered our season a success. This team really improved their fundamental skills and that was fun to see. Also, they may have been some of the toughest kids I'd worked with, boy would they play hard. I really enjoyed my season in Bagley and felt like I really matured as a coach. It's going to be sad to leave, but my dream was to coach in the cities and I feel like that dream is worth pursuing right now.

Well, that's me up to this current point in time....