I went through some notes recently from a Ganon Baker basketball clinic. I've also watched several of his videos and he does a fantastic job in breaking down those individual skills, especially because he can demonstrate them himself so accurately and enthusiastically. You can just see that coach Baker is a guy that truly loves the game for what it is and wants to share what he knows with anyone and everyone.

Here are his 10 Commandments to Offensive Development:

1. Play the game low-to-high.- “Live Low”
2. Shoulders/Hips – “Get the explosion advantage.”
3. Feet first, ball second – “Feet give you advantage, ball gives you separation.
Long, low steps.”
4. Perfect Feet, Perfect Follow-through – “Quality of your feet determines the
quality of your shot.”
5. Pound Dribble – “Quicker ball makes you quicker.”
6. Shoulders Game – “Your shoulders will determine whether you get leverage
advantage and/or explosion advantage.
7. WNBA/NBA Ball – “Short, Violent Fakes.”
8. Universal Stance
- Hips Dropped
- Feet Shoulder Width Apart
- Steel Rod in Back
9. Universal Release
- Elbow behind ball
- Wrist back behind ball
- Arm and wrist with locked elbow extended through ball on finish
10. Court Savvy – Court Vision
- Play with poise and balance and see the game a play ahead

I love the point about pounding the dribble. As a shifty crafty guard, I used to prey on guys who used lazy bounces. Especially if they were taller. I would time exactly when the ball left their hand, then I'd tap the ball loose, like taking candy from a baby. Instead, your players should learn to pound the dribble, with the elbow locked pounding the ball straight into the ground.

For a great individual development and conditioning drills, take a look at Ganon Baker's DVD on his Superman Workout. If you've never seen it, it is insane. The energy that coach Baker has is amazing, if my players had a quarter of his energy we'd be state champs twice over. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

I watched a video the other day on a certain motion offense, called the Power Motion Offense. The video was done by a coach Shane Dreiling of TeamArete.com. It looks like a very versatile continuity motion offense that I think would work well as a base for a multitude of teams depending on what talent you have.

Because, it is quite reliant on flex screens, most of your players should be versatile enough to perform in all 5 spots. It looks like the offense will become quite predictable, but the screen the screener action almost always results in a good shot opportunity, though ultimately it will be up to the skill of your players to capitalize.

Power Motion Offense:

The offense is setup in a 3-out 2-in formation. As mentioned, like the flex, all 5 players should be comfortable shooting and playing in the post. The offense starts with a pass to the wing, then a downscreen for the opposite post. The post uses the screen and comes up to the top of the key. If open, shoot the jumper,

The next concepts here are ball reversal and flex downscreen on the weak side. So the screening action happens right away. Essentially, if you connect this diagram from the one above, it's a screen the screener, O2 screening for O1 who screened for O4. The ball is reversed from the side to side. If O1 is open, shoot the jumper,

If O1 is not open, O2 is simultaneously setting a cross-block screen for O5 who depending on how you teach it should come over the top or slip underneath looking for the post-entry from O1. Once that screen is completed, O4 comes down to setup a downscreen for O2 who pops up looking for the pass from O1,

The ball is reversed to O2, if the shot is not there, reversed back to O3 and the motion continues (O2 will go down and set a downscreen for O5 and the motion repeats),


The reason why I think this is a good base to use is because it combines good flex screens, with screen the screener and ball reversal. All good techniques at gaining good shot opportunities. From this base, you can add other options like dribble drive, high-post or stagger screens.

For more detailed info on a similar type of motion offense, take a look at Dick Bennett's new DVD on the Blocker/Mover Offense. The Blocker/Mover is more free flowing but it has aspects of flex screens and is also mostly based out of a 3-out 2-in set. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Took in the friendly between Spain and Argentina yesterday, and wow, what a great game it was. I was fully expecting both teams to go through the motions, not show their hand, and substitute liberally. Instead, I was very surprised to watch a very intensely fought game, with both teams going all out to win.

In the end, Spain won by 25 points, but the game was a lot closer than the final score of 85-60 showed. What was the difference-maker?? Spain's stifling defense. The way they play defense, I could easily them winning the whole thing. Here are a few sequences from the second half,

Trap and Zone up:

Spain plays a very aggressive M2M switching half-court defense. They run a lot of run and jump and half-court traps. Here, they switch the ball-screen and they force the ball to the corner. X1 is digging between a trap and O4. X2 has switched to take O4 at the high post, and X3 is splitting O2 and O3 on the other side. As O1 prepares to skip the ball, X3 anticipates it. Because O3 is between the basket and O1 and therefore O1 cannot skip it to O3, X3 is able to jump the pass and steal the ball,

A couple of the other clips, great help-side defense coming for the weak-side block by Gasol; anticipating the inbounds, because in FIBA you cannot go backcourt once you are in the frontcourt; finally just great transition defense forcing the ball wide, then help to take away the easy layup forcing a bad pass.


Argentina has great team shooting, that is their tactical advantage. Spain's defense however has been able to take that away. Ginobili can penetrate, but then you have great help defense. Now, the ultimate question, how does Spain and Team USA matchup? If Team USA gets bogged down in a half-court game, they could be in trouble. They need to push the ball and use their depth and athleticism to their advantage.

If you're a pressure and trapping coach, you should check out Dana Altman's new DVD on his Green and Blue Press. Coach Altman is Creighton University's head coach. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Team USA is playing a few exhibition games in preparation for Beijing in a little over a week. Yesterday was a warm-up game against Canada. I'm proud of Team Canada, who came out and played hard in the first half, tough to do after the losses last week in Greece.

Keys for Team USA will be individual and team defense and early offense points. If they can do both well, their depth and athleticism will win out. I took a couple of clips from the first half, one is a Michael Redd 3-pointer off a missed basket, and the other is a great steal and dunk by Kobe Bryant,

Early Offense 3-pointer:

Couple of things. Because the FIBA 3-point line is shorter than the NBA 3-point line, Team USA needs to take advantage of that. Second, with the superior depth and athleticism that Team USA possesses, they must push the ball every single time. Here is the early offense play. Nothing special, everyone runs their lanes, Redd spots up looking for the catch and shoot, Bosh and Boozer head straight for the blocks looking for either a running dunk or the rebound off the shot,

The second play was just great individual defense by Kobe. I think that is where Kobe will be instrumental for Team USA. Pressuring the other team's primary ball-handler. That alone could be the tipping point for Team USA against the top teams in Beijing.


Can't wait for the Olympics. Spain plays Argentina in about 30 minutes in a friendly match. This is going to be one of the best international basketball tournaments of all time in my opinion.

For some more transition offense pointers, take a look at Steve Smith's new DVD on his High Scoring Transition Offense. Coach Smith has built Oak Hill Academy into a prep school powerhouse with famous alums in the likes of Jerry Stackhouse and Team USA's own Carmelo Anthony. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

As we approach the 2008 Summer Olympics next month, I realized how much more excited I am this time around to watch the basketball competition than in previous olympics. I watched the '92 olympics in Barcelona when Magic, Jordan and Barkley demolished everyone in their path. But it's a different anticipation this time around. It's knowing that the competition around the world has caught up to the US and that 4 or 5 teams have a legitimate shot at the gold medal, and that everyone has taken it seriously again, which is the way it is supposed to be.

Like many of you, I watched ESPN's Road to Redemption series. Episode 2 aired the other night and I took the following clip taking about the players implementing Coach K's system and adapting to the offense, take a look,

It reminded me of what most coaches go through in high school. You don't get a lot of time to work with your players (due to other sports, gym schedules, etc..) and so you're trying to install the offense as expeditiously as possible in a way that your players can grasp without overwhelming them. That's the toughest part, the time crunch. If we all had 365 days access to our players, we would be the best team, but it's getting your system in, in the time that you have which will determine success or failure.

The other thing that struck me was how serious everyone has been. I remember in the lead up to the 2004 Olympics, Team USA played a couple of exhibition games and off they went to Greece. This time around, there's a greater sense of purpose, togetherness, and focus on the process that you didn't see in 2004. That's not to say that the players on Team USA in 2004 did not want to win as badly as these players, but that in 2004, they didn't feel that they needed to put in the work and preparation in advance, that they could show up and rely on their superior athleticism in-game to win (which obviously didn't work).

If you're a big Coach K fan like I am or thinking of that perfect gift for a coaching friend, then you can't go wrong with Mike Krzyzewski's 6-pack DVD Set. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

From a newsletter I received a few weeks ago, here are some rebounding drills taken from a Rick Majerus Camp. Not to enthralling, but then again, it's hard to get too exotic when repping on the fundamentals of rebounding. Still, rebounding is such an important part of the game, you will win games simply by winning the battle of the boards,

Rebounding/Off the Backboard

a) 2 Hand Rebound

Pass the ball off the board, jump and extend - catching ball above head. Chin it & repeat.

10 reps.

b) 1 Hand Rebound

Pass the ball off the board, jump & extend. Grab ball with 1 hand, pull ball into other hand.

Chin it, rotate hand you're catching with. 10 reps.

c) Dantley Drill

Tap the ball against the backboard, land and repeat. 10 taps as fast as you can while

keeping the ball above your head. Ball never leaves your hand. Rest & repeat.

d) Rebound Put Ins

Toss ball off the board, rebound keeping ball above head. Land and rejump for shot. (Dunk

or lay-in) Do not let the ball down at any point. 10 reps - rest & repeat.

e) In Air 2 Handed Taps

Trying to get 10 in a row, tap the ball with 2 hands while in the air - tap off the board.

Rejump as quickly as possible to keep momentum -- being in the air for all 10 taps. Rest

& repeat.

f) 1 Handed In Air Taps

Same drill as e) but only tap ball with 1 hand. Alternate hand on every jump. Rest &

repeat. 10 reps.

g) Mikan Drills

10 in 10 seconds is your goal. Focus is ball staying as high as possible at all times. Left leg

jump - right hand shot. Rebound grab - 1 step across with right leg for right leg jump - left

handed shot. Focus on balance & speed.

Rick Majerus doesn't have a video on rebounding but for more great rebounding drill ideas, take a look at the late Skip Prosser's DVD on competitive rebounding drills. Coach Prosser was the head coach for Wake Forest before he passed away last year. Head over the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about your favorite rebounding drills.

As a player, I was always a guy that sought contact. I was a small guy, but I played football as well so I was used to banging bodies. I played physical and I went hard to the basket because I knew many of my opponents didn't. I especially went after tall thin guys, I knew they disliked the physical contact.

Here is a clip from one of the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league games in Utah last night between the Atlanta Hawks and the D-League all-stars. Hawks guard Acie Law IV beats his man and goes right at the help defender attacking the rim,

I also like how Acie Law IV gets the contact, then uses his right-hand here, the hand away from the defender to score the basket, that's what I would call, finishing strong. This way, he gets the foul, and finishes the AND1,

Some kids I see, lots of talent, but no toughness, hence the label, that player's soft. They see a help defender coming and instead of seeking the contact, they'll try to contort their body and try and loop their arms around, or they'll just dribble back. You must be aggressive, seek the contact and attack the rim.

I'll admit, that as a coach, it's one of harder things to teach. How do you teach a kid to be tough and physical if that's not their nature?? I liked having basketball players play football for that one reason. In football, you don't have a choice, you will get hit and you must hit, or you won't play. Once players get over that fear of hitting, and they come back to basketball, they're like another person altogether.

For girls basketball, I think physicality is even more important. You can beat better teams simply by playing tougher. I'm not a girl, so I don't know the psychology of it, but tough aggressiveness plays such an intimidating role in girls basketball, much more so than in boys basketball.

Anyways, if you're looking for more off-season conditioning workouts, check out Alan Stein's 3-pack DVD on Elite Athlete Training all for just $89.99. Coach Stein is the conditioning coach for Montrose Christian, famously for having worked with Kevin Durant. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

If you do any trapping or pressing at all in your defense, then teaching good double-teaming skills are essential for a good press. I've watched plenty of teams try to press, but fail because they didn't trap properly. I went through some notes the other day and found these great tips on double-teaming from Don Casey:


Every team that wants to surprise the opponent must be able to double-team on every type of defense. How to double-team is the same for man-to-man defense and for zone defense. While two defenders double-team the ball handler, the other three have to form a triangle. One of these players floats and goes where needed, while the other covers all moves to the basket. When the basket is protected, any defense can risk to double- team the man with the ball.

Double-Team Rules:

There are five basic double-team situations in every type of defense: the guard with the guard; the guard with the forward; the forward with the guard; the forward with post; and the guard with the post. Double-team is based on quickness and surprise, and all the defenders should follow the following rules:

- Three steps rule. The defender, who goes to double-team, must be able to reach the ball handler in three rapid steps.

- Don’t break up the double-team rule. The defenders must assume a large base and put one of their feet as close as possible to their teammate’s foot.

- Active hands rule. The defenders must have their hands active trying to deflect the ball.

When Double-Teaming:

The defenders must know when to go to double-team. Some of the best situations include the following offensive situations: a pick and roll; a dribbling wave; a guard passing the ball to the forward and follows the pass to receive a hand-off pass; a pass to the post and the passer goes to the angle. When a team knows when and how to double-team, there are several tactics of double-teaming that can be used with
every type of defense.

Leading Guides to Double-Team:

Hubie Brown, two-time NBA Head Coach of the Year and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, affirms that there must be guideline rules for doubleteams, but also that coaches must be flexible and permit their players to be creative. Brown identified these as the most important principles to follow in order to double-team. The best spots on the court where double-team are the sidelines, the baselines, the angles, and the half court line. Play at contact with the ball handler and close to him. Do not let the ball handler pass through the double-team. Once you decide to double-team, do not to stop or hesitate and stay in the “no men’s land.”

Teach players not involved in the double-team to understand what the double-teamed player may try to do. Once the double-team is done, let the most distant player from the ball free. Do not permit the offensive players on the help side to cut quickly toward the ball to receive a pass. Coach the defenders on the rotation on the help side. Keep the double-team until the ball handler passes the ball and the ball is in the air. Do not permit a penetrating pass that goes out of the double-team. If a back pass is forced, keep on playing zone defense, and try to double-team again. Guard the
shooters closely and do not let them get free.


I especially like the part where Casey describes how you should teach your players to anticipate what the opponent will do to try and break the double-team. That's the whole point of trapping and pressing, is to anticipate what your opponent will do before they actually do it, that way you create the turnover.

I used to be a huge proponent of trapping and pressing, do it all game long. I'm more of a "use it when the situation requires" school of thought now. There are times (behind late in games) when you obviously need to trap and press so I think every coach needs allocate proper practice time to both teach trapping and how to break traps.

For a little different take on pressure defense, take a look at Mike Moran's new DVD on his Full-Combo Defense. Coach Moran uses a unique combination approach of pressure and release in an attempt to take away your opponents best scoring threats. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.

What a great game yesterday between Croatia and Germany at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying semi-finals. On the line was a guaranteed spot in Beijing next month. The game was intense, both teams played hard, and it came down to 2 OTs to decide the outcome. In the end, Croatia was the better team, they played much better together.

This play was very indicative of how well the Croatians played together. It's just read and react basketball. Going backdoor and great passing, you can tell they've been playing together for a while, which was the big difference in the game. Take a look at this great basketball play,

Go Backdoor:

This is just great basketball. If you run any Princeton offense, 5-out, etc... This is just basic read and react. The defense is in denying the wing pass, 1 pass away, so the Croatian wing player cuts backdoor. Also notice how the center starts on the other side of the lane, thus there is so much room for the wing to cut through,

Draw the Double, Dump off to Center:

Because of the backdoor cut above, it forces Chris Kaman to come off of his man and step up to help on the cut. The Croatian wing reads this and dumps off to the center who is sitting there waiting for the pass or a rebound,


I loved watching this game. You could see the emotion, energy, these men were playing for more than just money, or their club, or a city, they were playing for their country. Dirk Nowitzki was diving all over the place chasing down loose balls (I bet Mark Cuban was holding his breath each time). Germany is playing Puerto Rico right now, whom I believe they will beat, so the final 3 going to Beijing will be Greece, Croatia and Germany. Earlier last month I predicted, Brazil, Croatia and Germany to go on, I guess I was wrong about Brazil and Greece, but pretty close anyways. Have a great rest of the weekend...

If you want to learn to be a better wing player, take a look at Ganon Baker's DVD on Wing Development Drills. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Going through some more notes the other day and came across this little gem from one of the Xavier Newsletters. We all do shell drills, but I like how this specific drill incorporates a couple of really key concepts.

Inside Out Action Drill:

The idea with this drill is your basic shell drill, but incorporating the weakside interchange into post-defense. You can substitute the weakside interchange with pass and pick away or whatever you want.

The drill starts off 4v4, all your players should be in good ball-you-man position. O1 passes to O4 then O1 and O5 interchange. X1 should jump to the ball on the pass, then X5 gets thru "one man removed" between X1 and O1 (Diag A).

Now the you run the same thing on the other side of the court with O4 and O2, this time X4 jumps to the ball and X2 gets thru "one man removed". Finally, we want O4 to dive to the low-block weak-side and post up (Diag B).

These final 2 sequences are the post-defense part. Reverse the ball to O2 who dribbles to get a better post-entry angle to O4. At this point, X4 should be trying to front O4 and preventing him from getting a good pass (Diag C).

Once the pass is entered into O4, X2 should dig attempting to cover both O2 and the ball. X1 should drop down into help, and now we want O5 to dive to the opposite low-block looking for a quick look-in. At this point X5 should read that play and deny the pass. O4 should now look to score (Diag D).


This is just one of the infinite possibilities that you can develop out of your basic shell to emphasis whatever team defense you want to work on that particular day. It teaches kids how to build on their individual fundamentals of defense, like defensive slides, post-defense, jumping to the ball, etc.. and incorporating them into a team environment.

Defense is the ultimate team concept. As coaches, we all acknowledge that there is no equal opportunity on offense. On offense, you can hide your weakest player. On defense, you are only as good as your weakest link. Defense must be played by all 5 players and they need to work as a unit, everyone needs to be aware of where the ball is, their man, cutters, etc...

For some more great shell drill info, check out Jamie Dixon's DVD on his 10 Point Shell Drill. Coach Dixon is the head coach at University of Pittsburgh. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

I caught most of the Greece versus Brazil game yesterday. It was the best game of the FIBA Olympic qualifier so far with both teams playing some terrific basketball. In the end, Greece was just better at executing their offensive. Specifically, Greece ran PNRs all night and Brazil mostly switched all screens allowing Greece to take advantage of the mismatches.

My general philosophy on defending screens is to switch all screens, especially late in games. But it's all about the adjustments. In the first half, Brazil's switching defense caused Greece some problems, but then they used the switches in to their advantage in the second half by finding the mismatch and exploiting it. Take a look at these 2 sequences in the 3rd quarter,

Big on Small:

Greece runs the PNR, and allow the first switch to occur. The result is a bigger slower defender guarding the quicker guard. He uses a pump fake to freeze the defender, then blows right by him. Once you allow penetration, it's game over from there,

Small on Big:

The second sequence is out of a spread PNR set. The ball-screen is set and the Greek center then seals the smaller defender out. You can see that he has a big height advantage over his defender which he uses to easily go over the top. Help comes, but it's late and also fouls the Greek center for the AND1,


Being the host team, Greece has all the built in advantages. Looks like they will cruise to the final four, where they will probably play Slovenia or Croatia. I like the way they've played all week, they've executed well and used the partisan crowd to their advantage.

As for Team Canada, all kinds of internal chemistry problems going on. Samuel Dalembert left the team (or kicked off it depending on who you talk to). I'm really disappointed with the way the whole team has been run the past 6 or so years. They play Croatia tomorrow, and I think it will take a miracle for them to go through, but we can always hope...

To learn more about the PNR and how to defend, take a look at Jeff Van Gundy's DVD on the pick and roll and how to defend it. Van Gundy is a master of the PNR having coached some of the best guard-forward tandems in the NBA. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk about your favorite basketball topics.

Took in some Vegas NBA Summer league action yesterday between the Portland Trailblazers and the Sacramento Kings. I was hoping to see if Greg Oden would be playing, but I guess he's still rehabing his knee. I was really impressed by the speed of the Kings' young guards.

Specifically, Sean Singletary and Quincy Douby; those guys are quick. I love playing fast, when I was playing ball, I wasn't tall so I made it up with my quickness. I love watching guys like Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Leandro Barbosa; they can create havoc just by being quick. Take a look,

Quickness on Offense:

When you're quick on offense, it allows you to do what the Kings did in that last play. Go the length of the floor off a made basket and score in 5 seconds. In fact, we used to practice that as a drill sometimes, to see who could score the fastest on like a 3v2 full-court.

In this first sequence, Quincy Douby takes advantage of a slower Jerryd Bayless playing too tight. Bayless is quick in his own right, but not quick enough to be checking Douby that tight. Douby does 1 jab fake, then he looks like he's doing another jab fake in the same direction, but it's really his first explosive step,

Quickness of Defense:

This is just a mismatch here. If you have a small forward being checked by a small quicker guard, you can't think you can out-dribble him. This is just a mistake by the Finnish player Koponen who thinks he can out-dribble a much quicker Sean Singletary who defensive slides and beats his man to every spot. Finally, when Koponen tries to get rid of the ball, he makes a careless pass which is intercepted by Douby for the dunk,


When you have speed in your backcourt, there are so many great things you can do. Drive and dish, 1 man press, etc... Ideally, as team I think you want size and strength in your center and power forward, versatility in your small forward, and speed in your 2 guards. As the old adage goes, speed kills.

For more video info on developing speed in your players, take a look at Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on Agility & Conditioning Drills. You can watch Coach K this summer as he brings Team USA to Beijing looking for Olympic gold. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

12 teams, only 3 get to go to Beijing. The FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament kicked off today from Athens. There weren't any major upsets in day one action. I caught the first half of the Greece game against Lebanon before it got out of hand. Greece is just far better talent wise than Lebanon is and it was evident from the opening tip.

I really like this one BLOB play that Greece ran to start off the game. It's one of those screen the screener plays. If you scout your opponents and notice that they don't make a habit of switching screens, especially on BLOBs, this is the perfect play to run. Take a look,

Box Set BLOB:

It starts out in a high box set. O2 is the player that will eventually get to shoot the ball, so make sure you put a good shooter there, doesn't have to be your shooting guard as that might tip off the play. The bottom players set screens for the high players. They both v-cut to setup the screens, O1 going to the ball and O4 going away from the ball,

This is the beauty of the screen the screener once the other players have cleared. O5 goes across the lane to set a screen for O2 who just finished setting a screen for O4. O2 comes off the screen by O5 and gets the inbounds pass from O3. The defense doesn't start out switching and by the time they realize what's going on, the switch comes way too late, so that is why they get caught and O2 gets the open look.

My only pet peeve about the execution of this play is that the Greece shooter did not check his footwork. If he was 6 inches further back, it would've been a 3-pointer. Whenever we run shooting drills, we position a pylon about 6 inches from the 3-point line so that players get into the habit of shooting 1-2 feet away from the line.


I'm a little disappointed that the Slovenia vs Canada game is so early, 3am here on the west coast, oh well, it's 1pm Greece time. Anyways, that's going to be the best game of the action tomorrow. I've got my fingers crossed for Canada...

For a brand new video from a great coach, check out Bob McKillop's new DVD on Winning Special Situations including BLOB and SLOB. Coach McKillop is the head coach of Davidson College whom we all remember for their memorable run in this past year's NCAA Tournament. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.

My Seattle Storm played in a huge game last night against the Los Angeles Sparks and it was a glorious day for the Storm coming up with the big win. It's been a couple of weeks since I watched the Storm play and I think they've definitely cleaned some things up. I especially like the way they've improved defensively, much tougher and more physical.

Offensively, there were some nice plays that I liked. This 3 play sequence comes from a critical 3rd quarter run which the Storm used to gain some separation between themselves and the Sparks and the eventual win. A couple of nice 3-pointers by Sue Bird, and Lauren Jackson and finally a sweet PNR stack play to cap it off,

Pick-n-Roll Stack Quick Hitter:

I love this quick hitter. It's all about the reads and great point-guard play. Sue Bird was really on yesterday, making her shots and finding her teammates. The play sets up like your typical PNR between Sue and LJ, the other 3 players stack up on the weak-side,

Sue comes off the ball-screen by LJ, simultaneously, the bottom player from the stack comes up while the middle player in the stack heads for the opposite low block. The top player in the stack sets a downscreen. LJ pops out after the screen looking for a pass from Sue for the 3-pointer,

Basically, there are 4 options from this play,

1. Sue can shoot the mid-range shot if the defense plays the ball-screen underneath and recover is late
2. Pass to Tanisha Wright coming off the upscreen for the mid-range shot
3. Pass to Swin Cash flashing to the low-block (wide open in the clip)
4. Pass to LJ on the pick and pop


Huge win for the Storm who are now 14-7 on the season, the Sparks fall to 12-8. I could see the frustration in the face of Candace Parker, LJ played her straight up all night and did a fantastic job. She even did double-duty guarding Lisa Leslie as well.

For some more quick hitters on offense, take a look at Brenda Frese's DVD on Dynamic Quick Hitters. Coach Frese is the head coach of the Women's basketball team at University of Maryland. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

I was thinking about doing a post on the 1-1-3 zone defense for a while now so here goes. There was a team I coached against that used it on us and it really disrupted our game. We were used to playing mostly M2M and some 2-3 zones, but the 1-1-3 threw us off and we ended up jacking a lot of ill-advised 3-pointers. Needless to say, we lost the game.

Anyways, I took a little more closer look at it and the more I looked into it, the more I liked it as a defense to use to change things up. I think in many ways, it's better than the 2-3 zone because it puts more pressure on the opposing team's point guard, who is usually the best or 2nd best player on the other team at the high school level.

1-1-3 Basic Setup:

Bob Huggins teaching points for his 1-1-3 pressure defense are:

1. Always sprint to help.
2. Stopping the ball is the first priority on and off ball.
3. Put pressure on the ball as much as possible when it is held, dribbled, passed, caught, or shot.
4. The closest man will always take the ball.
5. Sprint to coverage area and break down into defensive closeout position.
6. All five players must rebound.

X1 up top will pressure the point-guard and force him one way with the dribble or to pass the ball. X2 runs the free-throw line extended from sideline to sideline, must be well conditioned. X3 and X4 cover the lane to the corner on each side and double when the ball is entered into the post. X5 should front the post.

Pass to Wing:

When the pass goes to the wing, X2 must sprint to closeout. X1 drops down to a help position in the case of either a drive, skip pass or return pass to the point.

You can also choose to trap the wing, by having X3/X4 step up, this is assuming that they offense does not have a player in the corner.

Pass to Corner:

2 ways to cover this, you can have X2 drop down while X3/X4 jumps out to cover the corner. Or, like in the diagram below, X5 and come around and 3/4 front the post from the baseline (because you have help over the top), while the weakside forward covers the middle. X1 should be at the free-throw line to closeout on either a top of the key pass or skip pass.


As mentioned, I really like the 1-1-3. Like most zones, it is vulnerable to the 3-point shot. But we weren't a good shooting team that year, so we played right into their hands. I like the pressure aspect as well. In the 2-3, you can extend the 2 guards to pressure a little bit but I think it leaves way too much room at the high-post area. With the 1-1-3, you can have 1 guard extended putting pressure beyond the 3-point line, while the other guard can still cover the high-post area.

For more detailed info on the 1-1-3 zone defense, take a look at Bob Huggin's DVD on Pressure 1-1-3 Defense. Coach Huggins is the head coach at West Virginia University. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

As a coach, one of the things that really burns me up is turnovers. Avery Johnson says he looks at the FTs stats first to see how his team is playing. For me, the first thing I look for on the stat sheet is our own turnovers. Even on running teams, I've always been a guy that emphasized controlled speed rather than uninhibited madness.

I watched the Orlando Summer Pro league action yesterday between the Pacers and the Magic and in the first half, the Pacers had turned the ball over 10 or so times. If I was the coach of the Pacers, at halftime, they'd hear an earful from me about playing under control. Here are a couple of the bad ones,

Playing Tough with the Ball:

I watched a coaching video the other day, Jim Blaine's Playing Tough with the Basketball. The whole video talked about practice drills, concepts, on how to reduce your turnovers. The video can be basically summarized in these 4 concepts,

1. Catch the ball into triple threat (be boss)
2. Use pass fakes
3. Ball in the air, feet in the air to catch
4. Never make decisions while in the air

In the video, we can see 2 concepts which were not followed. The first clip showed what happens when you jump in the air without making a decision on what you want to do. Just because Steve Nash can do it, doesn't mean that it's good fundamentals. You never jump into the air unless you know what you will do.

In the second clip, the ball-handler could've made 1 good pass fake to get a little separation between him and his defender. Instead he panicked and threw the ball away. Fake high, then pass low, or vice versa.

The other 2 concepts. Ball in the air, feet in the air to catch. Some coaches don't really emphasize this, but it really helps for the next point which is catch the ball and go into triple threat. It's much easier to get into triple threat if you catch the ball in a 2 foot jump stop. Try it yourself... Square up to the basket in triple threat is so important. Jim Blaine borrows a Dick Bennett concept of "Be Boss" which means triple threat.


Teams that are loose with the ball, just watch their fundamentals. I see a lot of jumping in the air to pass, standing straight up with the ball on the hip, or my pet peeve is kids that don't even make eye contact with a person to pass to, they'll just throw the ball in a random direction and hope that their teammate can read their mind.

Remember, it doesn't matter how good your other skills are, shooting, driving, defense, etc.. If you're team is giving the ball away, then you won't even get a chance at the basket.

As we are well into summer now, some more skill development video help. Check out Mike Lee's DVD on Developing the Complete Player. Mike Lee is an AAU coach and director of basketball operations for Wisconsin Playmakers. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

If you're looking to implement the Dribble Drive Motion Offense this upcoming season, than you'll definitely want to run these drills. They're called the Blood Drills and they focus on the specifics of the reads that all your players need to master in order to make this offense work. It's also a great competitive drill and since it's full court, it's a great conditioner as well. These drills are exactly as taught by both Vance Walberg and here specifically by John Calipari for the Memphis Tigers.

There are actually 3 different blood drills. There is the 2v0, 2v2 and 3v3. They are each called Blood 20, Blood 22 and Blood 33 respectively. The breakdown I'm doing here is the Blood 33, you should go through the Blood 20 and Blood 22 first, but Blood 33 is basically what you want to be working up to.


Ideally you want 12 players or more. Split into 2 teams, a white team (W) and a blue team (B). Split your guards and forwards between the teams so that it is even. You also need a coach or helper that starts off the drill.

It's full court, so you need 2 opposite baskets. Players from each team should be lined up to fill one of the 5 spots (2 x corners for shooters, 2 x top of the key for forwards, middle circle for drivers).

Staring the Drill:

This is how the drill is started. W represents white team, B represents blue team. W1 = white pg, W3 = white shooter, W5 = white forward. White starts off here going left to right on offense and Blue is on defense and will go right to left when on offense.

Coach starts the drill by passing to W1. W1 drives toward B1 in the jump-ball circle. Once W1 beats B1, W5 breaks to the opposite block of wherever the corner man is (right block in the diag above). B5 goes to the middle of the lane for help-side defense.

B1 must touch W1 inside the jump-ball circle before moving to defend/stop W1. B1 must not leave the circle until touching W1, otherwise W1 gets an automatic point. This way, W1 will get an early advantage with a 3v2 but we want B1 to eventually recover on the play.


Once either White scores or Blue stops them, the drill ends and the ball goes back to the coach. B1 becomes the new ball-handler. You should already have the other players lined up on the other side of the floor, with Blue on offense. Another guard on White should step up and fill the middle spot in the jump circle to play defense,

Keep score, play to 13. Suicides for losers. You can switch the direction of offense/defense and start the drill again.

Offensive Reads:

The point-guard (W2 below) should drive to the side with the corner man. As he drives to the top of the key he should be reading the corner defender (B3 below) to see if B3 sags to help or deny. If help, W2 should pass to W3 for the corner 3. If deny, W2 should continue driving.

If B3 is denying, W2 proceeds to the second read. Is B5 stepping up for help defense, or is B5 staying on his man. If help, then W2 should look to drop off to W5 once he gets into the lane. If staying, then W2 should look to go all the way up to the cup.

W3 and W5 should be reading their respective defenders. If B3 sags, W3 should be in a catch and shoot position, making sure their feet are behind the line. If W3 is being denied, he has the option of going backdoor looking for the pass from W2.

If W2 gets stuck in the lane and picks up his dribble. W5 can flash to the high post for the safety, then drive to the hoop from there.


Some dribble drive coaches out there swear by these blood drills. Even if you don't use the whole dribble drive motion offense, I think the blood drills are a great way to teach drive and kick concepts, that any team can use regardless of the system they use.

Looking to put in the dribble drive motion offense for your team next season? If you are, then you should take a look at Jerry Petitgoue's new DVD on the Dribble Drive Offense for High School. I have Coach Petitgoue's DVD for his 5-out motion and he does a great job in explaining the concepts in an easy to understand way. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

I took in my first NBA summer league game today between the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers this afternoon. It was, basically an organized scrimmage but I thought it was interesting to see the young rookies like Derrick Rose playing with NBA players. He struggled with his shooting, but otherwise, he looked solid.

The game was close but in the 4th quarter, the Bulls got hot from behind the 3-point line and pulled ahead by 20 or so. One of the most difficult things to teach young players is about shot selection. I don't mean, necessarily who should be or shouldn't be shooting, but specifically, what we categorized as a good, "open" shot, as opposed to a bad, "well-defended" shot. Here are a couple of "good" shots from the Bulls,

It's tough, because as coaches we know what a good shot is, but communicating that to the kids is difficult sometimes. From my experience, if the defender does not have a hand extended and can touch the ball or your body, then you are open.

Getting Open:

I see alot of kids these days, and they use these huge lunges for a jab step. In my experience, you want to use a short jab, no longer than your usual stance. When you jab too long, you tend to get called for traveling violations, lose your explosiveness on your first step and finally it takes a lot longer to get back to your triple-threat and your shot pocket if you jab too long. So in summary, make a short jab, to get the defender reacting one way (which they should based on good M2M defensive principles),

How Do You Know You Are Open:

First, you need to get to triple-threat. If you've used a jab step, you may need to move your feet back. Get into your shot pocket and if you see your defender with hands down and greater than 1 arms length away, then you are open to shoot the shot,

Now, some players get their shot blocked even after being open as described above. In most of these cases, the player does not have a good quickdraw. What we mean by quickdraw is that once you catch the ball, you want to get into your shot pocket as quick as possible. So, if you have a habit of bringing the ball down to your hip first, or bob your head and knees (I've seen them all), they all slow you down and prevent you from getting to your shot pocket as quickly as possible.


In the NBA, you don't really get to hear the coaches on the bench. In these summer league games, I could hear Coach Vinny Del Negro really belting out the commands. I also saw Del Harris there. I like Coach Harris a lot, and seeing him there made me feel comfortable knowing that the Bulls are going to be alright.

For some more great shooting tips, take a look at Jay Wright's DVD on Competitive Shooting Drills. Coach Wright is the head coach of Villanova. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.

I think every basketball coach out there does a shell drill to work on M2M defensive concepts. If not, you really should. I went through some notes earlier today and found some nice pointers on what you should be working on with your kids while doing the shell drills.

Transition Defense:

Incorporate your full court transition defense back into a 4on4 or 5on5 shell. This way, you're not only working the basic defense, but transition at the same time.

Don Haskins always asked, "How many guys are you going to get back on defense??"

Shell Drill Pointers:

Now, you probably don't work on all of these all at the same time, but you want to make sure you work them all in at some point, then depending on teams you will be playing, you can emphasize downscreens for example against flex teams, or fade screens against good 3-point shooting teams,

1. Jump to the ball
2. Front the cutter
3. Help and recover
4. Downscreens
5. Backscreens
6. 2 on 1 situations
7. Zigzag, turn and run
8. Taking charges
9. Fade screen
10. Ball screen
11. Rebounding drills (3on3 w/guards, 2on2 w/posts)

For some more defensive drill information, check out Billy Gillispie's DVD on his In Your Face Defensive Drills. Coach Gillispie is the head coach at Kentucky. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

It's been over a week since the last Phoenix Mercury game I watched and it seems they are still resigned to running their matchup zone defense. They played the Los Angeles Sparks tonight in LA, and they Sparks absolutely picked apart the Mercury's defense. The Mercury made a few late 3-pointers in the 4th quarter to prevent the blowout, but essentially, they didn't make any required adjustments.

If the Sparks are set at any positions, it definitely is at the foward/center positions. Instead of having Candace Parker (CP3) run the point, I like the high-low zone offense here with Lisa Leslie the passer at the top of the key and CP3 finishing down low. Take a look at these 3 sequences,

High-Low Zone Offense:

There really isn't much X's and O's in the play. They position CP3 from block to block, and the Sparks reverse the ball from side to side. Once CP3 seals her defender, Leslie looks for the high-low entry.

Ball reversal, CP3 goes block to block looking to seal,

Back up top, CP3 seals the smaller Diana Taurasi,

The lob pass, easier with a tall Leslie to the tall CP3,


So, the Mercury are at 8-9 now on the season. I don't think anyone can deny now, other teams have caught on to what they do offensively, and defensively, their matchup zone is too predictable to be effective. With 3 weeks left before they head to Beijing for the Olympics, I think it's time the coaching staff think about some adjustments, especially on defense.

As for the Sparks, I think they played the way they should, half-court, use their size. I know Coach Michael Cooper blew up the other day about their lack of backcourt skill, but I think that was counter-productive. They're not going to get any significant upgrade at this point, so instead of ripping his guards down, he should be looking for ways to make them useful. A slow-down half-court game plays to their advantage.

For more zone offense video info, check out Ronnie Arrow's new DVD on High Efficiency Zone Offense. Coach Arrow stresses post touches for each possession in his zone offense system. Coach Arrow is the head coach at the University of South Alabama. Discuss your favorite zone offenses at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.

Fresh off the news of his new $111 million contract with the Washington Wizards, I thought I would share this short clip with Gilbert Arenas playing keepaway with a bunch of high school kids. I've run a drill like this in the past but we used 2 defenders trying to get the ball away from 1 dribbler. Take a look,

Dribbling is one of the skills that I see that is practiced a lot but not done particularly well. I see a lot of guys using their wrist instead of extending the arm all the way down and pounding the ball. Or they palm the ball. Point is, I think the AND1 stuff is great and all, but there are some bad habits the kids are picking up.

Anyways, if you're looking for more ball-handling help, you can't go wrong with Ganon Baker's 3-pack DVD on Ball Handling all for just $109.99. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and as always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

Part of the Five-Star Basketball Lecture series, Mike Fratello here in a short 5 minute segment talking about closing out on defense. First off, I just want to say that I love Mike Fratello, he's a great defensive mind. I love his nickname too, The Tsar, given to him by Marv Albert because Marv thought Mike was such a wizard with the tele-illustrator breaking down those plays for TV. Anyways, I digress...

Back to defense, watch the clip with Fratello here talking about a couple of different ways to close out, then his philosophy that he teaches for closing out and defending the ball on the wing,

Flying at the Shooter:

When you have great rebounders, dominating the defensive glass, you can afford the luxury of flying the defender at the shooter and then leaking out on the break. Your rebounders can then grab the boards, turn and go over the top for the easy score. Don Nelson loves this, and his Warriors do it all the time,

Staying Down, Chopping the Feet:

As a football coach having coached receivers and DBs, closing out by chopping your feet is a pretty easy concept for me to grasp, but I know it's not for some others. Basically, when you're running at someone at full speed, say from help-side recovering after a skip pass, you want to be able to breakdown and bring your body under control. You do that by chopping the feet, or a quick succession of steps getting shorter and shorter until you are 1 arms length away from your check. Exactly when you should start chopping your feet on the closeout, depends mainly on your athletic ability. I've seen some guys able to go to almost 6 feet from their check before chopping their feet to get under control, whereas others require 10 or more feet,

Force Baseline:
Whether you believe in force middle or force baseline is another debate (Fratello believes in forcing baseline as do I), but regardless, Fratello talks about being half-a-man on the top side with shoulders parallel to the sideline so that your check cannot get a step ahead of you and dribble-drive middle,

Defending the Passer:

I love this part. Now, obviously, if you're defending a shooter or driver, you can't do this. But often times, I see the center with the ball over his head on the perimeter. Obviously, he is a passer. Don't give him space, get up and challenge the pass. Will you always steal it? No. Will you always force a bad pass? No. But do disrupt his line of sight, make him take up more clock, all good defensive tactics.


The little things, that's what the offseason is all about. Working on the intricacies of your game. Becoming a better 1v1 defender, team defender. Again, happy 4th everyone, and for you AAU coaches, enjoy the best part of the season, July Evaluation Period.

If you love Mike Fratello like I do, you'll want to take a closer look at Mike Fratello's 2 in 1 DVD on his Defensive Philosophy and using the 3-point shot. You can catch Coach Fratello in season doing the color commentary on TNT. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Hey all, just wanted to wish you all, especially the Americans out there, a happy fourth of July. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of the readers and posters on the forum for their contributions and passion for this game we all love. 2008 has been a great year so far and I'm sure many of you are already busy preparing for the season ahead.

Finally, I want to give a special thanks to the great sponsors of this blog. Their continued support has been very generous and I hope as readers you can help support them as well.

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From the latest Xavier Newsletter, this is Larry Brown's Transition Offense explained. I really like the concept of transition offense as a way to counteract an opponent that is overly aggressive on the offensive glass. Make them pay the other way by creating a numbers advantage. Here are his rules,

Larry Brown - Offensive Concepts:

1. I tried to program our players in South America during the Olympic qualifying tournament to play as a team. We emphasized the advance pass and hit the open guy alot.

2. The old NBA would have teams shoot 120 times per game because of ball movement and passing. Today's NBA shoots 70 times a game.

3. Crossing guys in transition to make them run the floor makes sense. Players love to say they want to run but then they don't run. (SEE: Diagram #1)

4. The main objective of the transition game is to flatten the defense by reversing the ball.

5. When you pitch it ahead in transition, the advance passer must replace himself to be a part of ball reversal. Be selective on who you throw the ball ahead to. Can he make a play if he catches the ball? (SEE: Diagram #2)

6. Quick-shoot in transition only when the offense has numbers for rebounding purposes.

7. Teams must be able to strike in transition offense to prevent the other team from sending 4 and 5 guys to the glass on offense.

8. I want to push the ball up the floor on every possession because the defense must worry about getting back and it lessens their offensive rebounding aggressiveness. I'll also have more time to utilize the 24 sec. shot clock. I also fear being pressed, so pushing the ball helps attack full court pressure.

9. The nearest big guy for us takes the ball out on our opponent's made field goals. Coach (Dean) Smith designated one big guy to inbound. I like the first big guy down the floor running to the rim and "button hooking".

10. Secondary break is good for coaches, not players. I want to get the ball down the floor in transition and then reverse it.

11. Early offense is effective off of a 3 on 2 or 4 on 3 advantage. Flatten the defense in transition offense, run hard for lay ups, then get ball reversal and good things will happen. Early offense isn't effective versus a
set defense.

12. Don't over-emphasize turnovers or your players will play not to make a mistake. Try and get 10 more shots than your opponent does.

13. Your number one priority in transition is to get layups.

14. "Mumbo jumbo" into a sideline ballscreen takes away the defense's ability to "down" the ballscreen. Mumbo jumbo is defined as purposeful action away from the ball.


I really like both concepts of crossing the wings, though I would be concerned at the lower levels if they can get to the opposite wings in time, you don't want the ball to sit dead waiting for the wings to clear through. Also, I love the ball reversal. Every time you reverse the ball, you'll get a better look. Watching Duke play this year, with their new spread offense, they did a lot of ball reversal in their early offense.

I have a great deal of respect for Larry Brown the tactician. I've read a lot about him being the relationship killer, though I'm clearly not in a position to judge him for that. But I just think he's got some great ideas on offense having coached under and with some of the best minds of all time.

If you're a Larry Brown fan like me, then you'll want to take a look at Larry Brown's DVD on Mastering the Secondary Break. I'm really looking forward to watching Larry Brown back on the bench again, this time teamed up with Michael Jordan in Charlotte. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Just when it looked like the Los Angeles Sparks would walk away with the home win, they let it all slip away with crucial turnovers and some bad decisions down the stretch. Credit to the New York Liberty, they made some big shots, including a few big 3-pointers for the comeback victory.

I want to look at these 2 critical plays with less than 3 minutes left in the game. The Sparks had a lead heading into the 4th quarter, but squandered it away with costly turnovers. At this point, 3 minutes left, the Sparks are behind by 7, then 5. But Coach Michael Cooper makes the ill-advised decision to press the Liberty. The problem, is they don't have the fast guards to keep up with Lelani Mitchell. Take a look,

Don't Press if You Don't Have the Quickness:

I maybe a little harsh on Coach Cooper, but it's actually something I see a lot of at the lower levels too. You cannot full-court press a team that has superior speed to you. It just won't work. You need players, specifically guards, that are at least as quick as your opponent. Take a look at these pictures, in both cases, Mitchell has already passed hip-to-hip and the defenders are in a trail position,

In this picture, Tameka Johnson can't keep up with Lelani and unnecessarily fouls her, putting the Sparks over the limit and 2 FTs which Lelani hits.

Nothing is more demoralizing then after you've just executed nicely on offense to cut to lead to 7 or 5, to see opponent, cut through your defense like a knife through butter and score an uncontested layup; or foul 50 feet away from the basket and allow your opponent to make free-throws.


I said earlier in the year, the problem with the Sparks is the lack of footspeed in the backcourt. Coach Cooper wants to push the ball, but they don't have the speedy guards to be able to play that way. Unless that changes, against quicker teams, they will instead need to rely more on a half-court game and use their superior size advantage in Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie.

For a brand new video on press-break techniques, check out Blaine Taylor's DVD on Scoring Against Pressure Defense. Coach Taylor is the head coach at Old Dominion, one of the teams that I loved to watch last season. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

I'm big on anything that will help players become better rebounders, especially drills. This is one that I found going through an old drill book.

2-on-1 Rebounding:

Setup: 3 players lined up facing the basket equally spaced in the lane.

You have a coach, or player, throw the ball towards the basket. The player who secures the rebound will attempt to go back up and score, without dribbling. The other 2 players play defense. No fouls called, the offensive player must play through contact.

If the shot is scored, the ball is returned back to the coach and you repeat. If the shot is missed, whomever secures the rebound attempts to score and you repeat until the ball is dead.

You can keep score among the trio, whomever scores most doesn't have to do lines, wall-taps, etc.. To keep it competitive.

For more great competitive rebounding drills, check out Skip Prosser's DVD on Rebounding Drills. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.