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!