Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Olympiakos vs. Real Madrid

I'm a big fan of Euroleague basketball, and fortunately they are on ESPN 3 tape delay! Tonight I watched Real Madrid vs. Olympiakos in the Euroleague playoffsr. It was a fun game to watch and as always I picked up a few good bits and pieces below.

Real Madrid Inbounds Series
I am always a fan of inbounds plays out of unique alignments. Coaches feel more comfortable when defending BLOBs out of alignments they are familiar with. These are two sets that Real Madrid ran out of an alignment with three players across the free throw line and a shooter on the backside. On the free throw line the bigs were on the corners and the point was in the middle. 

In the first set, the ball side post (5) screens in for the point guard and dives to the rim. The inbounder then steps in and gets the ball back for a post up. This is a great look for a big guard to get him a paint touch quickly. 

In the second set, it starts the same way. The ball side post screens in for the point who cuts out and gets the ball. The big who screened (5) dives to the rim and the backside post (4) sets a pin down for the shooter.

Olympiakos Secondary Look
I saw them run this quickly as a secondary look for their trailing big. Good way to get a quick look inside. The point dribbles the ball up, enters it to the wing and starts to make a basket cut. The rim runner steps out toward the short corner. The point doubles back and sets a back or curl screen for the trailer. It might have been designed to be a back screen but in the game it was a curl screen.

Down Screen to Ball Screen Action
This was an action that both teams ran, and I liked. Real Madrid ran it for Rudy Fernandez and it was effective. You can run it for the 2,3 doesn't really matter. Somewhere in the set the post (5) sets a down screen for the best guard (1). The guard cuts up off the down screen and looks for a shot. Right after the screen the post turns around and sprints out for a ball screen almost on the catch if no shot is taken.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The 2-2-1 Set to Kill the 1-3-1 Zone

During my time in Iowa we ran some 1-3-1 zone looking to give us an edge. We played a team that ran the set look below and it killed our zone. I want to say it was Pella Christian, but not entirely sure. Also not sure that it was out of this exact set but is the basic action they torched us on with some possible counters that I added.

Basic Alignment and Action
The offense starts in a 2-2-1 set, which is a very different look. It works because you have two guys up top and are not kind of forcing the middle guy (X5) to cover two high post guys.

The guard makes the guard to guard pass and cuts to the middle of the lane. If the cutter starts to get in the way of the further action it can become a straight cut to the backside corner. As the other guard (2) catches the ball he immediately throws it into the opposite high post.

As the backside high post (4) catches the ball, the 5 steps across the lane and seals the bottom player. The point sprints to the corner opposite his pass. The 4  immediately takes the ball to the rim. and can either kick it out to the corner, take it himself, or dump off to the 5.

 Opposite High Post Denial Counters
      One of the first things they will try to do is take away that pass by bringing the backside wing over.

If that happens, the counter is for the backside high post (4) to turn and pin screen the backside wing player. The point (1) flairs away and the guard with the ball (2) can either skip it or attack the zone and skip it to 1. As that's happening, 5 steps across and seals the low guy.

So you end up with the point on the wing, hopefully alone with the option to shoot, drive, or dump into the 5.

If they try and drop their top guy to cover the backside, the counter is for the guard with the ball (2) to attack on the catch, which should force the top man (X4) to come out and guard him instead.

 If they try to deny the entry with the middle man (X5) and cover the other high post with the wing (X2) then 2 can dribble at the wing on the catch, forcing the defender to come out and opening up the ball side high post. On the catch 3 can drive it and dump off to 5 or take it himself.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Being a Star in Your Role - As a Coach

Over the last few days I have been exchanging e-mails with an older coach who is frustrated that he's probably not going to get a head coaching job again and is "stuck" being an assistant or JV high school coach. He's understandably disappointed and upset, but is having a hard time letting it go. It reminded me of how important it is to be a "star in your role", especially for COACHES! Sometimes I get frustrated with not having a chance to be a head coach, and this is a great reminder to focus on the task at hand. My job at Tartan is to be the BEST sophomore coach, scout, and statistician that a high school has ever had - nothing more, nothing less. Being a star in your role is a term that Coach Klingsporn used, and I loved. Coach Klingsporn used it when talking to players about embracing their role - don't just do your role, star in it!

As coaches we expect athletes to star in the role they are assigned but many coaches have a hard time being a star in theirs. Coaches want more say as assistants, want a higher job, etc. It's human nature! It's OK to WANT more than you currently have, but it's not ok to not be great where you currently are. I've heard a few coaches criticize their head coaches and I just shake my head.

Kevin Eastman (pictured above and to the right) is Doc Rivers right hand man both during Coach Rivers' successful run with the Celtics and now with the Clippers. Coach Eastman is likely the most famous assistant in the NBA with a ton of great materials. One of the best things I've heard Eastman say on assistants is in the following story. Eastman tells a story about a friend coming to watch him at Celtics' practice. After practice the coach says to Eastman "Why didn't you tell Doc Rivers more? You know what you are doing and could have talked so much more". Eastman's response, "That's not my f****** job". Eastman gets it. His job is to make Doc Rivers look good. I might not be the best role, and he may want to be a head coach, but you can't tell. Kevin Eastman is a star in his role, and a darn good one at that! He's a great example for all assistants and lower level coaches everywhere.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Visualization might sound like some type of new-age junk, but I'm really convinced that it works.
When I was a varsity coach in South Tama, we always played better. We did it a lot at Como Park with the JV as well and I felt that we played well doing it. Visualization is kind of like driving however, you can't just get behind the wheel and go. There are some things you need to know for visualization to work. Below are some thoughts and ideas that will help you teach your players to visualize effectively.

1. Have them visualize process, not results.
   -Some coaches have players visualize winning a game, but why?
    What good does it do to visualize something they can't directly
   -You should have them visualize themselves DOING things
     to help them win the game, making shots, making good
     passes, etc.

2. Have them visualize good starts to the game.
   -Players have a lot of anxiety at the start of a game. As
    coaches you can use visualization to relieve some of
    that anxiety.
   -Have them visualize being calm on the tip, the tip
    happening and several good trips up and down.
   -Have them include simple things like making clean
    catches, making a shot, defense, etc.

3. Use visualization with skill development.
    -Great for skill development is to show them a skill
     have them practice it, then have them visualize how
     they should be doing it, then have them practice
     it again.
    -Visualizing things when they are laying in bed
      at night or sitting on the couch is great too!

4. Have them visualize a situation they struggle with
    and have them visualize it happening right.

5. When they screw up, have them visualize the situation
    where they make the correct decision.
    -If it's in practice, then have them repeat the situation.

Here is a great video from Josh Medcalf on visualization that has a lot of the same points as above.