30 second time outs

Monday, February 25, 2008

Possession by Possession

A great Dean Smith quote,
"Pay attention to execution, not the score"
answers another question, "How to get players to play - LOOSE"

During our best season we had a slogan on the back of our t-shirts
and our guys completely bought in. Leads or deficits never really
affected their play because it doesn't really matter. We spent a
year trying to take the focus off of the scoreboard because it
doesn't really matter in regards to your effort. What are the
players going to do during "crunch time" - try harder? If so
-shouldn't they have been trying that hard to start with.
Concentrate? Focus? That should start at tip-off.

The score, winning or losing really doesn't matter. The only thing
that matters is NOW. The task at hand. A game isn't just a game - it
is 100+ battles. 50+ on offense and another 50+ on defense. Within
each of those battles might be a dozen different decisions, skills,
techniques, strategies, and tactics that a player has to execute and
each and every second is an adjustment so that you are in the right
stance and spot to get it done.

This is a mentality that has to be fostered in practice. You can't
all of a sudden emphasize the importance of the ball when you
haven't respected the basketball all week during practice. it has
to be a habit - a mentality. You have to start wit hthe first
whistle on the first day of practice. The best thing about this
approach is it allows players to get over mistakes and not dwell on
them or compound them. It allows them to approach an important
possession with the same level of stress as a random possession in
the second quarter.

Early in the year, during a pre-practice soliloquy, I remember
ranting that you should approach every possession like it was a
"*4th quarter in March*." After a year full of never using the word
"WIN" once during a practice, pre-game, halftime talk or time-out we
had an opportunity to play in the finals in 17,000 seat arena that
wasn't anywhere near full - but felt like it. Especially when we got
a big blocked shot that led to a deep 3pter at the buzzer ending the
3rd quarter, giving us the momentum, and giving the crowd a reason
to get loud and crazy. Over the noise I asked the players if they
knew what time it was. They looked at each other trying to figure
out what answer I was looking for, and I reminded them,

"It's now a *4th quarter in March*!".

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