30 second time outs

Monday, December 11, 2006

*Blow-Out Etiquette*

Coaches should try to schedule games against teams that will present somewhat of a challenge. While padding the schedule with wins may seem attractive, playing teams of inferior talent will actually hinder a teams development. However, many times in preseason tournaments obvious mismatches between two teams occur or a league may be set up where you have to play someone far inferior. The tough thing for coaches in this situation is figuring out a way for their team to get everything out of the game that they can, without humiliating the opponent.

Coaches, in the 1st half - do your thing, play your game, anything goes. If the lead starts to get real big, your regulars may not be benefiting anyway, so play your substitutes a little more. Mix up some lineups and play a couple of subs with the starters. You may find a diamond in the rough. Try a player at a different position. You may get a pleasant surprise. If you know ahead of time it might go this way, it's not a bad time to reward someone and give someone a start

When playing against teams or players who are not quite as talented, it is still important to play at YOUR best. Do not drop your level of play simply to defeat the opponent. Compete against your own personal best every time out, and try to achieve that. To do that AND respect your opponent, there may be some additional strategies that you employ.

2nd half (or at least the 4th quarter) Adjust your strategy to practice specific situations that you may face somewhere down the line. *The key point is to EXPLAIN this to the players so that they realize that they ARE NOT letting up but actually working on strategies that will make them better.

~Play everyone and mix up your lineup. Insert a few subs with a couple of starters. The starters work hard and still deserve to get some time. This mixes it up.

OBJECTIVE:you never know when an injury or foul trouble (maybe both) may force those players into an increased role. Prepare them to play with the regulars

~Don't press full court. I don't care if you are a pressing team and you "need to work on it". What kind of work are you really getting against that type of inferior competition?

OBJECTIVE:pressing bad competition causes players to take gambles that may not work against better teams. And those are the teams that you are supposed to be preparing to beat.

~Don't get steals and shoot uncontested layups. Do that in layup lines. Pull it out and work on some sort of continuity

OBJECTIVE: that will help you run out the last possession of a game when you have a one point lead. Or better yet when it's tied with 35 seconds to go and you want to take the last shot. And then demand only inside shots. THAT will help you get better.

~Play a tight zone or a pack m2m

OBJECTIVE: play as if you need to stop some big post player or a team that can't shoot outside, on at least a crucial possession.

~Don't deny passes and get steals in the half court. Force THEM to take time off of the clock.

OBJECTIVE:play as if you were playing a team much quicker than you that might be able to beat you on some backdoor plays. Against those teams the deeper you get in the shot clock-the bigger advantage the defense has.

~Block out and rebound - then WALK IT UP!

OBJECTIVE:play as if you were protecting an 8 pt lead in the final minute.

If a team did that for an entire half using 35 seconds and even assuming that the losing team didn't 'play along' and shot in their first 10 seconds, the team would have to shoot 100% just to score 40 pts in the 2nd half. A more normal 50% and they score 20 pts. Maybe the other team scores a few and you only win by 40.

I loved winning by 15-20. Safe enough lead not to blow it in the last couple of minutes and big enough to get all subs in the game. Does not demoralize the opponent and lets you work on the parts of the game that you need to improve to beat the good teams. Under 10 pts - anything can happen. Who cares what you do against the bad teams, you'll beat them anyway!

Practice what you need to do to beat the best.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Player of the Year ?

In every sport there is always post-season talk about Player of the Year or MVP. I remembered a quote from an article on a POY a few years back. Read this link for some perspective from both the player and the coaches perspective.


It happened one June afternoon long before our championship season was to get underway. I had a conversation with my senior standout, John Haywood, as we glanced into the trophy case at the retired uniforms. None belonged to a boys basketball player.

"You know how you get yours up there?" I asked Haywood.

"Set some records?" Haywood responded.

"No,you have to be Player of the Year, and that usually goes to the MVP of the team that wins a (CIF-Southern Section) championship."

A few moments passed before a big smile appeared on Haywood's face. Several months later that smile grew bigger after Haywood led our team to the Division III-AA title. For his efforts, Haywood is the Tribune's boys basketball Player of the Year.

"On that day, he realized it's not individual records that bring recognition, It's team success. If he had the same stats but was on a team that wasn't as successful, he wouldn't receive the same recognition."

By honoring the best player on the best team that peforms in the biggest games, you really ARE actually rewarding the entire T E A M that achieves at the highest level.

Every member of that T E A M should know in their heart that they contributed to that award.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Creating your own shot.

As I sit and watch some college basketball and a flurry of "bad" (IMHO) shots off of the dribble, a thought re-occured to me that I've used in comments on other topics - but it stands alone as a valid philosophical question.

There is always so much talk about whether a player can "create his own shot" well enough to play at the next level.

My question is:
"Outside of the last 10 seconds of a shot clock,
if you have to *create your own shot* - maybe you shouldn't take it ?"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pick & Roll D vs Pick & Roll O

Thank goodness for Tivo.

I just got finished watching the US/Greece debacle again. And repeatedly "rewinding". First time put it on in the background during some work. It was not necessarily the US inability to guard the P&R as it was Greek proficiency at executing it.

The US mixed up the manner in how they defended it (or couldn't decide-not sure which)

The screeners defender would step out-the screener would slip it and be open in the middle of the lane

The on ball defender would go under-the dribbler would pull and hit a 3

The defenders would switch-the Greeks would exploit the mismatch and go inside

The defenders would double the ball-the dribbler would back dribble to avoid pressure and hit the roll

The screener's defender would help until the on ball defender could recover-then the screener would Pick & Pop to hit a 3

The USA off ball defenders would help on the driver-and the open man would hit a 3

They'd try to deny-and get beat with a backdoor

At the other end....*ONE on FIVE AGAINST a ZONE* (But what should we expect-that's what we see all summer long at every "showcase" event around ! : ? )

Saturday, September 02, 2006

USA over Argentina

I guess that Bronze is better than the 6th place finish in the Athens 2004 Olympics.

As an end result-a little disappointing. However, looking at this as the first step in the journey to the Olympics in 2008, it may have been progress. The need to play in the qualifying tornament next summer may turn out to be a blessing, giving us another handful of games to come around. Taking the step to a "National Program" of 20 players making that 3 year commitment may, over time, enable us to adapt to a different style of offense that we face in international play.

In the 3rd place game, Argentina played a little more "American "style of offense with some staggerd screens, penetration and isolations. We handled the "short term offense" much better than the continuous moving, screening and cutting that other international teams play. Our defensive deficiencies are pretty easy to trace - but more difficult to fix.

The players that we have are young NBA players and were the youngest team in the FIBA Final Four. In the NBA and in the elite level AAU/Showcase events that has been the majority of their experience the offensive sets are short, terminal plays based on pick and rolls and isolations. This shows in the manner in which our guys defend. The next time ALL FIVE USA defenders are in defensive stance at the same time will probably be the first time. This hurts us when the opponent sustains their offense and causes the US to get impatient defensively. The players tend to gamble and go for steals, either on ball or in the passing lanes.

Defenses need to realize that the deeper they get in the shot clock the more pressure that is on the OFFENSE. I think that a more position oriented defense may be better. While it doesn't necessarily take advantage of our athleticism, it does cover for our impulsiveness in trying to cause a turnover and create a faster tempo. The better (read smarter) offensive international players take advantage of that gambling with penetrate and kick or draw and dish opportunities. It seems taht every time a USA defnder turned his head in the passing lanes he got beat backdoor, and sometimes that, or that deep 3, is as demoralizing as a USA dunk.

A more focused defensive effort, starting with something as simple as being in stance would enable us to contest nearly EVERY shot, and the less athletic opponents may be affected in their shooting percentage. Mix a little full court pressure now and then, with an active zone defense and that can put us on our way to our target - Gold in Beijing !

Now offense...that's another discussion for another day ! : ? )

Friday, September 01, 2006

Basketball in the USofA what has it become - and why.

The sport of basketball in the USA has changed. The game that is being played is some spiced up, yet watered down version of what Dr. James Naismith invented. Try that with a favorite soup recipe. Add a whole bunch of spices - then throw in an extra quart of water. Not too good, is it? The United States developed this game, and now they are destroying the game as we knew it. Maybe it is just evolving into something different. Something more resembling that old made-for-TV "SlamBall" than the game of skill, finesse and accuracy that Naismith`s game required to become successful. But ancient Greco-Roman wrestling evolved into WWF professional wrestling. That doesn`t make it better. Maybe it is more "entertaining" if you are not a thinking man. More "action" around the ball (I see less action away from the ball)and more "spectacular" plays (I see less intelligent decisions). I have to believe that their are still some people that appreciate the 2-1 baseball game or a football defensive struggle...or a Detroit Pistons NBA Championship, when they "played the right way". Contests are like a chess match, that require strategy and counter moves, something just as cerebral as it is physical. But certainly many games are now much less a "sport" and more an "event". More individual and less team. More "me" and less "we".

In the United States players, in general, no longer understand shot selection and team play, decision making and execution, movement anticipation and pattern recognition, using peripheral vision and spatial awareness, or have any general concept of relative motion and court sense. Game intelligence is at a minimum. Even when they win, they look worse doing it. At least in the eyes of a basketball purist. Players grow up playing so many games, that the games are less meaningful. Many people never even hear about the results of those games, so the end result is insignificant. Players do not necessarily compete with their friends and schoolmates, but a collection of talent from all over. The feeling of trust in and responsibility for their teammates is never fostered because everyone spreads out when it is all said and done..

Internationally the game is still a game of movement, passing, open shots, team creativity, and deception. The game as Naismith intended for it to be played. TEAMmates, playing TEAM basketball, for the TEAM. The game is about their teammates that they have lived with at the academies, practiced with and shared blood, sweat and tears with, over a long period of time. The teammates that they care about - and wouldn`t dare let them down.

American basketball players have become obsessed with bigger, faster, and stronger. The goal is to overpower - not to outsmart. Individual creativity is emphasized to battle the more prevelant (and often times legislated in youth games) man to man defense. Coaches get intoxicated with the athleticism that some players exhibit and the coach`s "basketball vision" get`s blurred. Coaches have turned to aggressive, attacking styles of play that are meant to cause turnovers and create easy shots. Fouling for profit, in hopes that the officials "can`t call all of them" is a common defensive strategy! However, what it has created is a generation of players that can only play that helter-skelter, individual style.
Now, how many times do you really look at the USA Olympic team , see a player and say, "he ...really has court sense"...sees the floor"...understands the game"...or...has a high basketball IQ"? Not many!

In the `60`s and `70`s basketball training was all about fundamental skill aquisition and footwork. In the `80`s and `90`s it was about physical training and getting bigger, stronger, faster. In this millenium, we need to address the final frontier...the brain!

Players, and coaches, need to return to the basketball concepts that make this game so great. The timing and synchronizing of player movement, the synergy that teamwork creates, and the perfection of offensive skills - with NO slippage allowed. Do not settle for mediocrity - demand perfection!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A coaches' influence

Not to take too big of a quantum leap here, but stick with me on

It has been pretty widely accepted that a successful athletic
program boosts pride in the student body and the institutional
alumni. Those alums are the ones making financial contributions to
the institution and those contributions are used for everything from
building construction to funding the research that may go on in
those buildings. Who knows what great and valuable things that
happen in those buildings or what comes from that research.

Any athletic programs apppearance on TV is potentially the greatest
commercial that the institution can afford. Imagine how much UConn
would have to pay for 2 hours of TV commercials. Instead THEY get
paid to be on TV. I've often tried to convince principals (some
agree and some don't) that it is no different in high school. While
what goes on in the classroom may be more important in the grand
scheme of life (somewhat debatable) the results of a students math
test is not published or the performance of the chemistry teacher is
not scrutinized in the paper 2 or 3 times a week.

A positive athletic image and the resulting publicity that it
creates does wonders for campus morale, community support and the
future enrollment/success of a school. At any level.

Don't ever minimize the effect that you have as a coach on the grand
scheme of things in your school and community. It is not "just a
game." It is a laboratory for life and you can make a difference far
beyond those on court.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Coaches are always looking for the secret to a teams success, and I, alomg with others, have developed long laundry lists of qualities and attributes that we want the team to strive to develop. I`ve tried to simplify that long list to the lowest common denominators. If players truly CARE about their teammates, THINK about their actions and TRY their best, the team will grow into a unit, and begin to be the best that they can be - on and off the court.

CARE. When teams begin to work together and go thru the everyday effort they develop a certain comraderie that forces them to truly CARE about their teammates. When that happens, they will do everything that they can not to let their teammates down. Everyone must accept teammates and coaches as they are and mold themselves into whatever is necessary to make US successful. As a group remember the goodness required to enjoy each other and have fun while participating in this great game. In our off-the-court lives, it means contributing our time to others, to good and worthwhile causes, and to the welfare of our families and our loved ones.

THINK. Players and coaches must strive to have knowledge of the system and the fundamentals of the game of basketball, inside and out. Strive for individual improvement on a daily basis and work to reach the team goals by executing the prepared game plan without fail. Pay special attention to time and score situations and understand the objectives of each. THINK about the risk and reward involved in each decision, both on and off the court. Follow all of the laws, rules and regulations as students, employees, and citizens while striving to achieve a rewarding life plan.

TRY. Just try. Your very best. Every time! Be competitors without equal. Players and coaches, should strive to make sure that no one prepares more thoroughly or works more diligently to become successful. Display the self-discipline necessary to prepare and succeed at the highest attainable level. Give a supreme daily effort, in all areas of life, towards being the best student, employee, and citizen possible.

Success in the game of basketball may be the first step to findiing an avenue for social mobility. In the process of achieving athletic success, acknowledge that the world outside the gymnasium is where true success and fulfillment can be found. The basketball court will merely be a laboratory to prepare for the game of life.

Lok's Ledger