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!