30 second time outs

Monday, December 29, 2008

Post Defense-Protect the Red Zone

*Pressure on the Ball*
A key is to always put pressure on the basketball. Don`t let an offensive player do anything with the ball--dribble, pass, or shoot--without having one of your hands trying to get into the way. If he is looking to pass, you may be able to get a hand on the ball or discouraging him from passing to an open player. That way for that split second when the post player is open, the passer may be deterred from executing the pass. This helps the post defender immensely.

Low Post Denial
*Low Post Defense-ball above the Free throw line*
If the ball is above the free throw line extended (imaginary line extending from the free throw line to the sideline), then you should deny on the high side (closest to 1/2 court. You should be chest to chest with the post player with your arm closest to the ball in the passing lane.

*Low post defense-ball is below the free throw line*
If the ball is below the free throw line try to get around the post player and "Full Front". We refer to an area called the red zone as an 8-foot to 10-foot imaginary semi-circle on the floor around the basket. The key to establishing good post defense is to beat the offensive player to their desired spot and get in proper position as you are coming down the floor to protect the "RED ZONE".The post player probably is not going to want you in this position, so it is a constant fight for position between the post player and defender. Your teammates will need to help you on any lob pass. Be active and try to AVOID contact. The post player will have more trouble "pinning" you in a position where they can receive the ball.

*Low Post Defense-he`s pushed you out of the RED ZONE*
The low post player might try to push you out after you "full front". If you get out too far you can release and get behind the post player, so that your feet are OUTSIDE of the key. Now you are between him and the basket and have him 12´-15´ away. You may be allowing him to get the ball but this makes it a tough shot for the offense AND you have rebounding position. The post is also closer to your help defenders, making it much easier for them to "dig" or "double" in the post.

*Get behind in the "SMILE"*
THIS IS OUR FAVORITE! We call the area from 12`-15`from the basket and just out of the RED ZONE the SMILE (diagram it on paper and you`ll see why)
Many times the 5 man is big and effective at the block, but not very good from 12` and out. Generally speaking they are not the most adept passers either. For this reason we will "bait" the offense into entering the pass to the post. We`ll initially fight to full front in hopes that the post battles for position (like they are taught to do). Then we`ll get behind. If the ball enters the post, we will either double or lock up on the perimeter (based on scouting).

*Sag off of the ball*
If you have determined thru scouting that the player with the ball is not a a very good shooter or is reluctant to shoot, it is possible to sag off of him defensively and NOT put pressure on the ball. By sagging in the direction of the post player with your hands up the defense has a much tougher pass into the post. Works in conjuction with playing behind after the post has pushed his defender out. Almost gives you someone in front and behind the offensive post player. If that outside player all of a sudden hits a couple of open shots-it`s tim eto change up and put pressure on the ball again.

*Double in the post*
There are many ways to double in the post. Some teams switch from game to game based on scouting. At the lower levels it may be more efficient to have one consistent style. Doubling from the wing who passed to the block allows the post player a clear vision to the help defender and a simpler pass back out to the perimeter. I like to leave that defender "locked up" on the wing. Doubling with another post defender leaves the post to post pass open and puts pressure on rebounding. That always concerns me. If all players are where they should be in relation to the BALL_MAN_LINE, it should be an easy double from the defender on(or near)the point or the weakside wing defender (who should be on the key by now). So I like to double from the top, with high hands, and have the weak side defender "zone up" in the middle. That "zone up" player is responsible to close out on the next pass. The "doubler" now rotates to the next offensive player.
This aggressive double and rotation sometimes causes a little confusion in an inferior passing post player and force them into turnovers.

Low post play is a constant battle for position. During this battle sometimes you may end up in a position where the post may catch the BALL. It is important at those times to be in a position to prevent him from making a good post move and getting a BASKET. And sometimes, when trying to deny the ball, the offense will simply make a good play and execute that perfect pass at just the right time and they may get a BASKET. That happens. But it better not be for lack of trying to deny them the BALL!
The defensive key during this battle is to keep from getting "pinned" in a position where the defense gives up "BALL & BASKET".

Bottom line: In the RED ZONE play Full Front-No Catch.
Once the offense tries to push you out beyond 8`-10`, Get behind them and SMILE - you have them right where you want them!

Somewhere someone is ...

One of the most oft-repeated quotes comes from Bill Bradley, star NBA guard for the Knicks and American Politician who said in his book Values Of the Game,
Somewhere someone is practicing. If you're not and you meet them in competition, all other things being equal, you will lose!

MAYBE the following statement is just as true...
Somewhere, someone is resting and recovering. That will revitalize them to the point when they take the court again, they will work harder, longer, and with more focus. This periodization of training leads to a more productive practice regimen. And when and you meet them in competition, all other things being equal, you will lose!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Love Of The Game

I took special interest in a piece on ESPN's Outside the Lines profiling Elena Delle Donne, the outstanding female basketball prodigy that gave up her basketball scholarship at UConn and returned home because she no longer "had the passion" for the sport. It reminds me of the tattoo that Paul Pierce, of the Boston Celtics has that depicts a basketball with a knife plunging through it that says, "My Gift-My Curse". I sometimes find myself describing players as being "cursed with ability". Too often we have players who happen to be blessed with some physical gifts, but don't have the passion that Delle Donne speaks of. Many times these players appear to be cheating their teammates because of lack of effort on the part of a talented "star", when in reality they may be cheating themselves by continuing to play a game they don't enjoy enough to invest the time to try to and achieve their potential. For that reason we may applaud Delle Donna for being true to herself and not cheating any teammates with a less than committed effort.

Take a look at this feature.

Take a look at this complete interview with Elena.

Interesting that she mentions age 13 as when she felt it was no longer fun. There must be something about that age? If she wasn't GREAT at her sport, she may have been part of the statistic reported by a Michigan State University study that over 70% of kids quit sports by age 13. For professional sports, that is the equivalent of losing one potential Michael Jordan or LeBron James a week. In addition, there is no way of knowing the impact on potential future business leaders and other professions where continued sports participation helps develop critical life skills to succeed in those fields. Is it a quantum leap to think this dropout rate effects society as a whole?

Few departures are as publicized as Elena's decision, but there certainly have been some, and it's a little shocking that we don't hear of more. She chose not to stop playing because she "didn't want to show any weakness to anybody." She "drove the bus" , she asked for help, she said she wanted to work out, she wanted to play. She viewed the game as work, and was always trying to please herself. Not so much her parents or coaches... at that time. However, what we need to be careful of, as parents, is to avoid creating that expectation at an early age and developing those feelings in our children that they need to be perfect and always working. Sometimes it is our job to put on the brakes and force them to take some time off... even if they say they don't want to.

We need to be smart enough to know that the NEED to.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Inside Zone Attack

To start your zone offense it is a good idea to get in a "GAP ALIGNMENT". Against an even front zone (2-1-2, or 2-3) get in an odd front set (1-3-1,1-2-2 or 1-4). Against an odd front zone, get in an even front set. This is to make two defenders think about which one should guard you. If a defender is in a direct line between you and the basket-MOVE and put players where the defense isn´t.

While I prefer to have good, solid zone offensive principles help the offense get a shot, at times a set play may need to be called. Here is one of my favorite against a 2-3 zone that provides an inside attack.

The play starts with an odd front gap alignment and the point guard(1) should "dribble-drag" the defender at least to the free throw line extended and "chase" the offensive wing(2) through to the opposite wing.. The key is to not go so far as to allow the defensive guard(1) to "pass" the dribbler on to the forward(3). If this is done properly, the return pass to (3) who followed the dribble the top of the key should be defended by the other defensive guard(2) at the top of the 2-3 zone.

When the ball is rapidly swung to (2), who was chased from the opposite wing, the low defender(4) should be required to closeout. When that defender breaks the offensive post(4) seal(4) should find the center defender(5) and screen, allowing the opposite offensive post(5) to flash to the block or short corner to receive the attacking pass from the wing(2). If the defensive center(5) should defeat the screen to guard the offensive(5), the screener(4) should be open on a roll back.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Twelve Weeks of Basketball

I always get players (and coaches) asking for how they can improve any number of different skills or strategies. Everybody`s "wish list" is a little different -some are thoughtful and some are...interesting. Players usually want to know how to increase their vertical, or dunk in no time flat. Rarely do they ask how to execute a proper jump stop, bounce pass, or mid range jump shot off the glass. Some coaches want that one drill or play that will turn their team into championship contenders. It`s good to add drills and plays to your arsenal - as long as we don`t forget to simply teach players HOW to play.The amazing thing about the game of basketball is that there are NO short cuts. It`s different than Christmas. There is nothing "magical" that is going to happen one day, nothing that is going to show up under your Christmas tree that will make you instantly better. Santa Claus is not going to bring you an amazing vertical or a pure jump shot. Kris Kringle will not make your team a group of turnover free, tenacious defenders. There is no one tip or one special play that will make a player or team instantly better. Just hard work and repetitions with a specific goal in mind. Over and over again. The right way. With coaching feedback NO slippage. Practice makes perfect? Or the quest for perfect practice makes perfect?

In keeping with the Spirit of Christmas I thought I`d leave you with a little song, sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

*******The Twelve Weeks of Basketball*******

On the first day of practice my team promised me: a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the second week of the season my team promised me: 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring.

In the third week of the season my team promised me 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the fourth week of the season my team promised me: 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the fifth week of the season my team promised me: 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the sixth week of the season my team promised me: 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the seventh week of the season my team promised me: 7 Guards a dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the eighth week of the season my team promised me: 8 Forwards Leaping, 7 Guards a dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the ninth week of the season my team promised me: 9 Solid Passers, 8 Forwards Leaping, 7 Guards a dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the tenth week of the season my team promised me: 10 Guys Competing, 9 Solid Passers, 8 Forwards Leaping, 7 Guards a dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the eleventh week of the season my team promised me: 11 Tough Rebounders, 10 Guys Competing, 9 Solid Passers, 8 Forwards Leaping, 7 Guards a dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 quarters played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring

In the twelth week of the season my team promised me: 12 Strong Defenders, 11 Tough Rebounders, 10 Guys Competing, 9 Solid Passers, 8 Forwards Leaping, 7 Guards a Dribbling, 6 Deadly Shooters, 5 GREAT PLAYERS, 4 Quarters Played , 3 Point Plays, 2 Made Free Throws, and a Big, Golden Championship Ring!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2008


While running the 2-Guard Continuity a good option is the Weakside Duck-in. Sometimes the defender will be on the high side of the post during the duck-in, enabling the ball to be entered from the player fading from the top to the weakside wing. If it is determined that the defense is doing a good job of denying the duck-in, the "Turn-Out" can be a good counter. The duck-in sets up the defender, and the weakside post can then "turn-out" the strong side off a double screen for a jumpshot.

Alternating looks will then, in turn, loosen up the post defender and the duck-in may be open once again.

Pete Carroll's Winning Coaching Style

There was a great piece on 60 minutes about USC football coach Pete Carroll. In the piece there are some great examples of positive coaching where Pete never passes up an opportunity to fill his players emotional tanks by giving truthful and specific praise. He's also not afraid to correct, critique, or discipline - and realizes the importance to follow up that discipline by taking advantage of the teachable moment.

The most amazing part of the piece is what Coach Carroll is doing OFF the field. Take a look here -

Watch CBS Videos Online

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Player Profanity

I was asked recently how to deal with "Player Profanity". The first step, obviously, is everyone setting the proper example. It's tough to say "Do as I say not as I do".. and that includes the parents. A conversation with them is necessary to get them on your side and maybe they realize that they are contributing to the problem.

Explaining that we're here to learn and the field is our classroom, so let's behave like that. You certainly can't use that language in the classroom. Build good habits that allows you to speak in any setting. Use of foul language is simply a vocabulary issue. It sometimes reveals the lack of one, and the inability to express themselves in any other manner. Have the kids practice "alternate" phrases and maybe make a game out of it. Over the years I settled on "Doggone it" and Coach Wooden's "Goodness Gracious!". Some people use a lot of "frickety-fracks" and "flippity-flops".

Peer pressure is tremendous - in both directions. I've used team consequences/loss of rewards if someone swears. Eliminate a fun drill if someone swears or the whole team does 3 push-ups as a reminder. Then you have the players trying to police one another.

As symbolic rewards I've used a game-by-game "Sins&Saves" chart to keep track of execution, hustle plays and the like (positive charting) while things like language could be in the "Sins" column. Total points could earn individual/team rewards.

I'm not certain that I like it, but a trend out our way has parents passing a can around during the game after goals/runs/really big plays. Money put into the can goes towards defraying the cost of the end of the season party. Possibly remove a dollar from the can for every curse word. That should "hit 'em in the can!"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weakside Duck-In

In our 2-Guard Continuity, a pass to the High post creates a great opportunity for the player at the weakside block (in this case 4)to duck in for a great high low look. If 4 is not open directly from 5 because the defender may be in position to deny the pass, 1 could fade to the weakside wing and the ball could be entered to 4 holding the seal posting up from there

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I picked this up quite some time ago and it is a great exercise to remind players that their daily efforts add up to an improved performance. Have the players read it prior to the first 21 practices of the season and rate their performance after practice. You'll be surprised how honest players are and how they start to understand what their best effort really is - and what they're capable of.


I dare any aspiring athlete to read and comprehend the material presented on this page, word for word, immediately before the start of his/her daily practice sessions for the next 21 days. I dare you to tape this exercise to the inside of your locker door and to use the columns provided in checking off an honest appraisal at the conclusion of each practice.

It is one of the athlete's illusions that the present hour is not the critical decisive hour, e.g., the event or game is a week or weeks away...ample time to prepare in a gradual type of way. Forget it! The critical time for accomplishing anything is in the here and now. Write it on your heart and imprint it on your brain that every day is a day to dare to do your best. Each day provides opportunity for self-improvement,self-renewal. Today's accomplishments, not yesterday's or tomorrow's produce the most satisfaction, as what you accomplish today can give you an immediate feeling of self-confidence and direction. The critical time for accomplishing anything is in the here and now. Today. The most important ingredient in future performance is present performance. The most difficult tasks are consummated, not by a single explosive burst of energy or effort, but by consistent daily application of the best you have within you.

Whether we call our practice exhausting work or relaxing play depends largely upon our attitudes toward it. Practice is an opportunity to improve our skills. The majority of athletes perform in games and events like they perform in practice. Approach each practice session with enthusiasm as nothing great has ever been accomplished without it. One spark of enthusiasm is worth more than two hours of uninspired practice. Be aware that it is not simply that certain activities are boring but that the mind has been programmed for boredom or distraction .

We program ourselves for boredom or distraction when we think we already know all about something. We learn and perform at our best when the mind is calmly alert, interested and enjoying itself. Challenge yourself mentally as well as physically and you will start to enjoy the price of success rather than pay for it.

My Best Effort/Above Ave./Ave./Below Ave./Poor Effort


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Weakside Pinch Post

In the case where both the low and high post entry passes are denied, the next option is for the weak-side guard to fake a cut inside, and then cut across to receive a pass and initiate a side-post game on the weak side.

The weak-side guard will receive the pass at the top, and the weak side forward will cut up to the mid-post - or pinch post, or side post, or whatever you want to call it, it's the same thing. (Note: this is also the reversal sequence in the Triple-Post Offense. You'll see Kobe Bryant receive the ball a lot in LA's pinch post sequence, and it looks almost exactly like this.) He weakside guard passes the ball to the side post, and begins a two-man game with the side post player. Meanwhile, the two forwards now on the weak-side form a double screen for the other guard, who will try to come under them for an easy layup, and when that is denied he will re-use the double screen and pop out for an opportunity for a jump shot on the weak side.

The two man game that the mid-post and guard play is dependent upon the guard's defender. The guard fakes down and cuts outside the mid-post. If his defender goes under the mid-post (which acts as a screen), the guard will cut outside and receive the pass back for the jump shot. Meanwhile, the mid-post player dives for offensive rebounding coverage or a post-up opportunity, the high forward on the double screen cuts to the middle for rebounding coverage, and the low forward remains in rebounding coverage. The other guard cuts high for defensive balance.

And, if the guard elects not to shoot the jump shot for whatever reason, you're right back into your Triangle setup:

In the case where the defender comes over the mid-post player, then the guard will take a handoff or drop pass for a quick dribble and layup opportunity.

Lok's Ledger