Monday, February 20, 2012

Great Blog by Nick Collison

Just wanted to share this blog by Nick Collison that he wrote for GQ Magazine. It's a great blog because it highlights what the average player needs to do to be successful. I am giving this article to all of our players tomorrow because it's something we all need to do better at - playing our role to the fullest. I don't think any player is ever going to be satisfied with their role, but they need to perform their role in order for our team to be successful. It's also important because at some point every player will not be the star anymore and will need to know how to accept and thrive in an alternative role. It's also a life lesson about finding our role in whatever job we have down the road. I would read it and pass it onto all of your players!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great Quick Hitter

Last night I drove across the Mississippi  river to attend the UW-River falls and UW-Whitewater game.  It was a great game with Whitewater winning at the buzzer on a fall away jumper by their center of all people. As a coach or a fan these smaller college (D2, D3, NAIA) games are the best to watch. All the kids play hard for the love of the game - not the lure of NBA money. The house is packed with rowdy college kids and it's a great atmosphere. The following set is a set that UWRF ran a number of times during the game trying to get the ball into their bigs. I thought it was a nice quick look and wanted to share it.

Ball starts on the wing, backside wing pins for the point guard and we skip the ball. Just before the ball is thrown the backside post cross screens the ballside post. As the ball is in the air the ballside post is coming across to the new ball side for the layup or at the very least post up.

The reason I liked this is that the ballside (5) defender is not likely going to sprint across the lane for the help and if he anticipates it, then 4 has perfect post up position in the middle of the lane. And if they switch it you simply have 4 seal and 5 come to the corner or short corner and 4 has a layup. It's a great quick hitter that you can run for an easy look to one of your inside players and would even make a nice secondary break.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Teaching End Game Situations - A Little Prep Pays Off

One of the things I like to do in practice to reinforce concepts is to use "2 Minute Games". Play for 2 minutes live and losers run.  After you teach and drill a concept you play a few two minute games where you only focus on the concept that you drilled. Most drills don't translate because you focus on that skill during the drill but it's easy to forget the skill when all of a sudden you have to incorporate the other 100 things you need to do in live play along with the emphasized skill. Playing 2 minute games shortly after drills helps translate the skill to a game because you put that skill in with the other 100 things you need to do live immediately and still have a focus on that skill.

Anyway, onto the main point of my post....

This year during our 2 minute games we've also really focused on end game situations. When you are up, what do you do? When you are down, what do you do? When do you start to foul? When do you pull the ball out? When do you stop going in for free throws? And so on and so fourth.

This is the first year I've done this as a coach and it's paid off for us. At first I wasn't sure how much they were getting from it (we lost three games by 1 point early on in the year), but down the stretch here we've started to execute what we've worked on and won some close games. All of a sudden, in a close game when we are down 2, we've got guys screaming that we can't give up the three. They pull themselves back on free throws, know when to foul, etc. I've also noticed that when the game is tight we have confidence because we have been here so many times before and we know what to do - you can see it in the guys faces. We are blessed with a pretty smart group, but I think this can be successful with any team and most importantly this isn't something that I've had to invest huge amounts of time on.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Great Xs and Os for This Weekend

Got out to see Austin vs. Mpls Washburn this weekend and was not disappointed! It was a great game with Washburn pulling away in the final minutes. Both teams are well coached, so I got a ton of notes from the game, below are a couple of nice Xs and Os that I pulled.

Austin Isolation Set
This was a set that Austin ran this weekend to iso one of their good guards. It starts with a point, a wing, a corner opposite the wing, a high post on an elbow opposite the wing, and a shooter on the wing side block. The player who you want to get the iso is the wing. Point throws the ball to the iso man's side and he immediately rips and goes baseline. The shooter on the block pops straight up the laneline. The point drifts over, the backside wing stays in the corner, and we end up in pretty much a four out look.

Austin Backdoor Set
In this set, they start in a 1-4 high look. The point guard comes off a pick and roll with one of the high posts. The wing being dribbled at back cuts hard, if it's not there the screener pops a little gets a quick pass and the point makes a quick cut for a layup.

Washburn Zone Offense
Got this from the Washburn JV team, but I think their varsity runs it as well. It's a 4 out zone look, but when a guard to wing pass is made, the opposite guard flashes to the high post instead of the passer cutting. This is different because you can sneak in from behind the defense coming from the backside guard. When the ball was passed back up to the guard, the opposite guard filled back in. They also left their post on one side and looked to work it around and have him pin. I also think this would be a GREAT look against any zone trap.

Another Post on the Moneyball Topic

This blog by Hoop Consultants  was posted on the MN HS message board Roundball Central. The blog hits on what I talked about in a couple of previous blogs, moneyball players. The basis of the article is that college coaches are so excited about potential of a player (athleticism) that they overlook what they can actually produce on the floor. It also talks about how many coaches exclude players because they lack something (height, athleticism, etc) even though they still produce. Check out the article, it's a good one.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Importance of Letting the Refs Ref!

Last night we played the school that I coach at (St. Paul Humboldt). We ended up winning by a few in overtime, which was nice. But something happened during the game that usually doesn't happen, I started to ride the officials a little bit. At one point the foul totals were 13-4. I know that the difference doesn't matter, but I felt like we were getting homered and I wasn't happy about it what so ever. I'm embarrassed to admit that because I pride myself in leaving the officials alone. I have only gotten two Ts in my career and they were both in the same game 6 seasons ago.

Anyway, I started to get on the officials about the calls and noticed something happening: our players were getting rattled by the calls too. We were starting to complain, make faces, etc which is very out of character for us. We were letting the officiating put us all in the tank and that was something that I couldn't let happen. Since actions reflect leadership I burned a timeout, told my guys we ALL (including me) needed to stop worrying about the refs and start worrying about us. I also stopped worrying about the officials, started to coach my guys, and what do you know we started to play better and started to "get" more calls (we really didn't but just felt like it).

The bottom line from this experience is that it reinforces my philosophy that you can't worry about the officials, no matter if you THINK you are getting homered or not. It creates a toxic environment on your bench and takes your team's focus off the job at hand - executing and doing your best.