I watched the first half between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks last night and WOW, Ron Artest was the difference maker in that game. Offense and defense, he made plays all night and if they didn't have Artest , they probably would've lost to the Mavs.

I really like what Artest brings to the Rockets defensively (which is his specialty after all). As Reggie Miller points out in the clip, Artest is built like a linebacker but has hands as quick as a point guard. That really helps in his ability to both body up his check but also to poke loose balls away. Watch first the 'wired' segment with Rafer Alston and a nice Artest steal,


What facilitates the steal is the trap set up by the Rockets. They decide to trap the ball screen on the wing,

Help Side:

The help side is key, once the ball is passed out of the trap. Your help side defenders need to split the 2 open offensive players. In this case, Artest is the guy that has to do that by providing help until the primary defender can recover out of the trap. Once he does, then he can bump Artest back to his original defender,


Now, this is where Artest really will pay off for the Rockets. He has that ability with the quick hands to disrupt passing lanes. He deflects the ball and is off and running,


Now we all know about Artest's temperament, his multiple-personality disorder. If he can remain level-headed the whole year and stay out of trouble (which will be a problem as he already got into a minor scuffle in this game breaking up Yao and Josh Howard) then he will be a huge asset for the Rockets, especially in the playoffs when it's all about defense. The Mavs looked decent, but their defense was suspect. They will need to sharpen up that area of their game, but their offense was looking good.

For a new video on ball denial man defense, take a look at Frank Martin's new DVD on Ball Denial Defense. Coach Martin is the men's head basketball coach at Kansas State. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

All you coaches out there will definitely relate to what Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers said the other day on ESPN's PTI, that coaching is a "miserable joy". Ain't that the truth. Sometimes its so frustrating you want to pull what's left of your hair out but there's also the great relationships you develop; the winning, the losing; the praise, the criticism; the liberation, the restrictions. It truly is like no other job out there. But once you get in, you get hooked and you can deal with anything. Take a look (fast forward to 2:30 for the part on 'miserable joy' if you don't want to hear about all that other stuff),

The NBA season has begun and I must say I'm really excited about the season because there are a lot of good teams this year that have a legitimate chance of making a good run. I caught a few games off and on but did catch most of the second half between the Raptors and the Sixers.

I caught this clip not because it made a difference in the outcome of the game (Raptors won), but just because as a coach, it's so frustrating when your players don't execute properly. After the Sixers turnover, the Raptors have a 4v3 fast break going the other way, but indecision causes a bad sequence and the ball going back the other way, watch:

Fast Break Bungled:

When you get a numbers advantage you need to capitalize. If you can score whenever your team has the numbers advantage, your team will almost always win the game. The big problem in this sequence was indecision. First, Parker passes up the wide open shot,

After Calderon gets the ball back, he doesn't attack the basket forcing the defender to step up to defend him so he can pass the ball to the open man under the basket,

Instead, the ball goes to Bargnani in the other corner and all 5 defenders get back which makes it difficult for Bargnani to make a good move to the basket.


It's always hard to look back and say so and so should've done this or that, basketball is instinctual, decisions are made in the blink of an eye. Obviously, we all want our players to make the right decision but it doesn't always work out that way. The point is, the more your players practice real game situations, the better prepared they will be so that they will make the right decisions more often than not.

For more transition offense pointers, take a look at Steve Smith's DVD on 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.

Season is starting to heat up, no doubt all of you coaches out there are starting practices soon. I receive this great newsletter from Coach Duane Silver every week or so and the one from last week was really great. Coach breaks down 11 things to think about for the coming season, take a look:

By Duane Silver

1. Have a teacher of the week and have him/her come to the game and introduce them to the crowd before the game. If you have two home games in a week you will need to pick two teachers. (You might pick teachers that are not crazy about hoops.)

2. Always have the Principal in the team picture. After you get the picture back put it in a frame an give it to him/her. This is the greatest political move you can possibly make. (Billy Gillispie taught me this.) This has been our top email we have sent out in the eight years of doing this.

3. On "Time Outs" this year have some students give water to the referees. They will need to walk out on the court and do it do. Don't give them squirt bottles, give them cups of water. (I don't know of a high school team that does this.)

4. Know the referees names and talk to them by name. Don't gripe about every call. Only gripe when you are right and then let it go! Try not to get a technical foul this year.

5. Coach your best players the hardest! If you don't, the other players will turn against you.

6. Write down your philosophy and stick with it all season. Don't change. If is not written it cannot be done this year.

7. This may sound a little crazy, but you need to lose a game to make point to your team. (John Chaney who was at Temple University did this throughout his career.) Who cares if you lose a game. I bet no team will go undefeated this year in Texas.

8. Tell the parents in advance you will not talk to them about their daughter or son's playing time. If they bring it up say "I'm sorry, but we are not going to talk about this! Be Strong!

9. Make your team memorize this old saying (I mean this!) "3 passes we get a good shot and 5 passes we get a Great shot." (This is a saying by the Boston Celtics years ago.) Next...Go out on floor and show them against a set defense (that is one that is already back and waiting on you) the WORST thing you can do is pass the ball to the wing and this dummy goes one on one to score. If you will pass the ball around 3 to 5 times it will give the defense a chance to make a mistake. Kids simply do NOT understand this idea. You will need to make a 5 call in the game. This means the ball needs to be passed 5 times before anyone can shoot it. You can make a "5 call" out of any offense you run (Flex, Motion, anything). (Now, if the defense gives you a lay-up on the second pass, forget the rule and shoot the lay-up...duh)
*Lastly...Let them scrimmage for five minutes following this rule and let them see they will get great shots plus it causes them to play as a TEAM!
*To make a 5 Call...You simple hold up your hand showing them all five or your fingers. You can just YELL...FIVE!! Your opponent won't know what you are saying. DS

10. "You can't run off a good player by being too hard on him or her." (Bear Bryant)

11. You have to bring it every day in practice and so does your best player.

Point 2 about the principal is totally true. The flip side though, is that once a principal that you've become close to leaves (which happens quite often around here), then you have to start all over again.

Points 4 and 5 are very poignant as well. I've reffed games before and having seen the game from both perspectives. All a ref wants is respect, you don't have to agree with every call, but respect that refs are human and humans aren't perfect, respect that refs are trying their best no matter how bad the call may appear. The water is a nice treat too.

I received an email from a Mavs fan who wanted to know a little more about the new offense that they will be running now that Rick Carlisle is the new head coach and a full season with Jason Kidd running the point. So I went ahead and got a copy of one of their preseason games, this one against the Bulls earlier in the week and took a look.

The new look Mavs will definitely look a lot different than the old Mavs under Avery Johnson. I think for the better. One of the things with the Jason Kidd trade was that it was mid-season and so the old Mavs offense really didn't fit Kidd's strengths. If you run a lot of isos in either the low or high post, you're really not using Kidd's strengths which is passing to cutters. What the Mavs are running now is a lot of sets out of the 2-3 high set. So they bring the entire frontcourt to the high-post and elbows and run a lot of stuff underneath. IMO, this is ideal for a player like Kidd, because Kidd is the kind of point guard that can find guys cutting to the basket and you bring the defense out of the painted area. Take a look,

2-3 high:

Personally, I love the 2-3 high. If I was a head coach today, I would definitely have my motion or set offenses out of it or the 1-4 high set. When you bring your forwards out of the low post area, it allows for a lot more basket cuts, and by spreading your players, you can exploit the gaps,

Backdoor Basket Cuts:

They run some very basic sets. The first is the backdoor basket cut. Actually, it starts out with a pass to the wing, a UCLA screen by Diop, and Jason Kidd cuts to the basket. The weakside guard shuffles to the wing-corner. Josh Howard passes to the Diop who pops out to receive the pass. Howard goes down to set a downscreen for Kidd who curls around,

Kidd comes to receive the handoff from Diop. Howard pops back out to the wing. The weakside wing now cuts backdoor to the basket. Because the defense is caught watching the ball, Kidd threads a bounce pass to the cutting wing,

Inside-Outside 3-point Shot:

Once you get the ball inside, because the Mavs are nicely spread around the perimeter, it allows for great inside-outside opportunities. After Kidd makes his first cut off the UCLA screen by O5, instead of ball side action, O5 and pass to Kidd in the post. This sucks in the defense because he's the one with the ball and the only one in the scoring area. He kicks it out for the 3-pointer,


Now the obvious question becomes what happens to Dirk Nowitzki in this new scheme. Well, Nowitzki is a great shooter, he likes playing on the perimeter. The Mavs did run a couple of post isos where he would shoot a turnaround or baby hook it, but Dirk shot a lot of jumpers (and made a lot). I think Dirk will probably score a little lower than his average this year, but overall their scoring will be up. The Mavs have a lot of athletic guards (as witnessed by Green in the clip I included) and so the basket cuts will be very effective in getting those guys easy baskets.

For more info on a 2-3 high motion offense, take a look at Ben Braun's 2 Guard High Post Offense. Coach Braun is the new head coach for Rice University and longtime coach for the Cal Bears. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

I watched a pretty good game last night between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Detroit Pistons in Detroit. I was disappointed to not be able to watch Lebron who sat this game out, but I was impressed with both teams. They both look primed for a major run again in the East this coming season and give Boston a run for their money.

I took this clip from the first quarter because I just admire the simplicity. Here, the Cavs play a little 2 man game. Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas run a PNR, but they're patient. Z rescreens, the defense gets temporarily discombobulated, and Z pops out for the open jumper which he knocks down,

Initial PNR:

It's just a straight up PNR. Mo is handling the ball up top, Z comes and screens an area. Mo guides his defender into the screen. Billups goes underneath because as the announcer says, he's worried primarily about the drive,

I would've been alright with Mo just shooting it here, because he is actually open. But I guess Mo isn't 100% confident in his shot. So no worries, have patience,


Sometimes young players don't know what to do when a play doesn't quite work out the way they want. Just go with the flow, if it doesn't work the first time, just run it again. Here, Z just rescreens this time from the other side,

Wallace gets sucked into trying to help Billups on defending the dribble drive threat of Mo. Z pops to the high right elbow and Mo hits him with a perfect catch and shoot pass,


Basketball is supposed to be simple. I always try to remind myself of that when I'm coaching or practicing with players. It's like when I used to coach football, I was mostly a defensive coordinator but when I was the head JV coach one year and ran the offense, I started out with this elaborate offense. I chose to run the split-back veer and planned out a bunch of different counters, reverses, double-reverses incorporating some zone blocking elements throughout. We began the season 0-4. We were a very talented team and obviously there was some head-scratching going on. After practice one day I asked our quarterback/captain why he thought our split-back veer offense was doing so badly, he responded by saying, "What is a veer?" At that point, I realized what the problem was. The kids weren't the problem, I was the problem. Too complex, too much jargon, too many options. Keep it simple stupid. I threw out the playbook, drew up 4 quick running plays out of the I-formation, the fb dive, off-tackle, sweep, and reverse. On passes which were less than 30% of the time, the split-end who was the fastest+tallest kid on the team ran a fade route. We ended up 8-5 and went to the playoffs where we lost in the Championship game. So I guess the lesson is, keep it simple stupid.

One of the best and simplest PNR offenses I've seen is Billy Donovan's Spread PNR Offense. It's designed to be a transition style offense using a flat screen, it's a very fast and flowing offense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

I like the idea of having your players do 2-ball dribbling in an athletic stance as a 5-10 minute warmup to practices. I usually liked to have a dynamic warmup but I think for practices, it might be better to just do dribbling instead. With butt down, holding their athletic stance and doing 2-ball dribbling is probably just as good anyways.

This is a great video on a bunch of ball handling drills by Ed Schilling at a Athletes in Action Basketball Camp. He starts out with the 2-ball dribbling warmup and moves up through to a bunch of ball-handling drills he uses for player development. It's a long video, about 1hr 10 minutes so if you've got some time to kill, click away,

I took in an the exhibition game between FC Barcelona and the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend in between college football games and it was really a treat to watch. I love how basketball has grown internationally and how an NBA team playing a european team is no longer seen as just a novelty anymore. There's so much parity in skills now that teams come and expect to beat NBA teams.

Anyways, I took a couple of clips from the first half featuring Kobe and Andrew Bynum of the Lakers. One of those intangibles that separates the really great players who can create their shot whenever they want and the average players who can only make a play when they're open is footwook. Watch a great player, Jordan, Bird, Olajuwon, Malone, and one thing you'll definitely notice is their outstanding footwork. Watch how Kobe and Bynum show great footwork in executing the pivot and step through moves,

Plant, Pivot, Step Through:

Now I'm not sure if Kobe planned this move when he got the ball. But he uses everything in his arsenal to get the best shot. You can tell though, that he's practiced and rehearsed this move before many times. First he attacks with 1 dribble, then plants his feet, gets into triple threat, a quick head fake,

After he has successfully freezed the defender, he uses his front foot as a pivot and takes his back foot and steps through past the defender takes off into the air for the floater off the glass,

A very MJ style of move IMO. I think guards should use this move more often. A lot of guards don't effectively use their pivot, there's a lot of moves you can do off your pivot.

Just Stop, Pivot, Step Through:

Well, most teams won't have a big man that can move as well as Andrew Bynum but still, its something they should practice nonetheless. Here Bynum does a great job of taking a dribble, then into a hard jump stop into triple threat,

Again, after his defender freezes, he pivots off his front foot, steps through around the defender with his back foot and takes off for the basket using his body to shield a block attempt by the defender from behind,


That's where all that work in the summer pays off. Working on your footwork, shooting touch, etc... Guys who constantly look to improve their game during the off-season. You see guys to take it easy in the summer and it shows when training camp or practices start.

As for the Lakers, the biggest thing I noticed from watching them will be on defense. Seems like Pao Gasol and Bynum haven't exactly worked out how they will coexist together on defense. But I think they'll have it figured out once the season starts. With Kobe the assassin, the Lakers are still the top of the class in the west, with maybe the Hornets a close second.

If you're looking for help developing the individual skills of your team, check out Billy Donovan's DVD on Competitive Individual Development Drills. Coach Donovan is the head coach of the 2-time National Championship winning Florida Gators. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

I love watching guys work hard on defense. As a coach, there's nothing that is more satisfying than 5 guys working as a unit to stop the other team. When I coached football, I was a defensive coordinator and I just loved watching guys flying around the field looking to hit somebody.

Caught the first half last night of the preseason game between the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls played in Champagne, home of the Illini. There was a great Bruce Weber interview (excerpts in the clips) but what I wanted to show was just how hard the Jazz were competing on defense in these sequences. They were basically in a switching M2M to defend against the PNRs but overall, 5 guys flying around the court competing. Watch,

Just great stuff. Now, the defense wasn't perfect, nothing in life is. Because of the switching, it created mismatches which allowed the Bulls to get an offensive rebound in the first sequence, and Kirilenko got crossed over pretty badly by Heinrich I believe. But I wanted to point out a couple of things.

Don't stop Defending:

Now, because of the PNR switch, Deron Williams is forced to box out the much taller Tyrus Thomas. The result is a predictable offensive rebound by the Bulls. But it's what happens after that is great to see. All the Jazz players rotate as quickly as possible closing out the ball first,

Too many times I see players quit after the offensive rebound. Those things will happen, but your players have to just keep competing until they do get the stop.

I got your back:

First off, make sure your players are getting back in transition defense. Watch how Carlos Boozer makes sure he picks up his man going the other way. Don't get beat by your man down the court,

Now, because of the switching, Kirilenko is forced to defend Heinrich. Kirilenko gambles on the swipe and Heinrich crosses him over. He attacks the rim, but watch Mehmet Okur step up on help defense. Then even better, watch Kyle Korver fly in from the top of the key with the hard foul against Tyrus Thomas not allowing him to dunk the ball,


The only thing you can ask for from your players is that they give it 100%. On defense, that really is all that it takes. If your players buy in completely to that concept, everything else will come easier. Mistakes will be made, but the important thing is that your players play for each other and don't quit on each other.

It was great listening to Bruce Weber talk about that incredible team with Deron Williams, Luther Head, Dee Brown... that went to the final four. That was a great team and brings back a lot of great final four memories.

For a great defensive drills video, check out Bruce Weber's DVD on 20 Competitive Defensive Drills. Coach Weber is the head coach of the University of Illinois. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

Not really X's and O's related but for your college basketball fans out there who may have missed this interview on ESPN the other day, it's Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan talking about the upcoming season. While Wisconsin has been snubbed from the top 25, never underestimate a Bo Ryan coached team, you know they'll play great defense and will be incredibly disciplined, I can't wait for the season to begin...

Sometimes we get caught up in the run and gun of offense or fundamentals of half-court defense that we forget probably one of the most important parts of the game which is transition defense IMO. I've never been one of those coaches that felt it didn't matter if the other team scored as long as we get out and score before the other team gets back. I think that just opens up a slippery slope where all of a sudden defense is not priority number 1 anymore.

I went through some notes today from a Larry Brown clinic and they had some great drills on transition defense. They had all kinds with a 3v2+1, 5v3+2, and finally the 5v4 shown below,

Coaching points:
1. 4 defenders in a scramble situation, you must teach them how to scramble properly
2. offensive execution and finding open man vs only 4 defenders
3. transition defense vs cherry picker
4. transition offense and defense with execution coming back
5. coach and teach the entire game, the sum of all the parts

5 on 4 in 1/2 court:

- offense runs a set play/motion vs 4 defenders. 5th defender is cherry picking at other end
- 4 defensive players try to get a stop (rebound or steal) and pass quickly to 5th defender cherry picking
- if offense scores, stay in 1/2 court and start over
- defense must get a stop to be on offense

Transition Defense:

- when the defense gets it they are in transition
- this really teaches transition defense to get back and stop the cherry picker


I think emphasizing transition defense also sends a message to your team that you won't tolerate laziness even at the expense of good offense. One of my pet peeves was players who would score and lope back on defense hoping to be the cherry picker going back the other way. As a coach, when you look the other way when you see that happen, you're basically telling the player "it's OK as long as you score".

For more transition defense video info, take a look at Doc Sadler's DVD on Full Court to Half Court Defense Transition. Coach Sadler is the head men's basketball coach at Nebraska. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.

From over in Germany on Tuesday, a wild start to the preseason game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Washington Wizards. The Hornets went on a 19-0 run to start the game and never looked back. Didn't look like the Wizards started their usual players so that might be the main reason, but still no excuse to play so badly early on.

Carrying over from last year, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler still look as deadly as ever in the PNR. If opposing teams don't have a prepared plan on defending the PNR, it will be a long night like the Wizards experienced here in Germany. Just as an aside, I love the German commentators, so much more animated than our commentators, "so schnell", enjoy...

Reading Ball Screens:

One of the things that can frustrate coaches sometimes is when players can't make decisions on their own. I think a lot of that has to do with when players become so accustomed to running plays that they forget how to just play basketball. When a ball-screen is set, you don't have to follow the screen. It is just as effective sometimes (especially when the defender can detect the screen coming), to fake towards the screen then crossover and attack the open side,

After CP3 beats his defender, he reads the defense. In this case, the Wizards played a soft switch, the switched defender is playing CP3 soft attempting to protect against the dribble drive. On reading this, CP3 makes the right play and pulls up for the jumper,

Defending against the Roll:

If you're playing defense against the PNR, you must have a strategy on the backend, especially if you trap, hedge or hard switch. Leaving the basket undefended is a bad idea. First off, the ball-screen is set by Chandler and CP3 drives off it,

CP3 reads the slip and the switch as Chandler rolls to the basket. Watch how the defender on the weak side does not react to the ball at all. IMO, you must have a weak-side defender ready to protect the basket and force CP3 to either shoot the ball, try to drive into traffic, or pass out of the paint,


I don't think the Wizards are 19-0 bad in the regular season. I realize they didn't play their regulars, but they definitely looked lost out there. As for the Hornets, they look rolling as usual. Obviously the major factor will be if both CP3 and Chandler can stay healthy and rested for the whole season. The beauty in the PNR is not really in the play itself but in its execution and CP3 and Chandler at this point execute it better than anyone else in the league.

For more video info on ball-screening, take a look at Todd Kowalczyk's DVD on the Attacking Ball Screen. Coach Kowalczyk is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. 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 watched a couple of NBA preseason games last night but I was really impressed by the New Jersey Nets against the Miami Heat last night. If I were to look at the turnaround team of the year next year, I'd take a hard look at the Nets. The new players they have, and the new system of dribble drive handoff, I think Coach Frank could be onto something here.

More specifically on the dribble drive handoff of the Nets. I've read recently how they've been running blood drills in practice so it's not surprising that they are running some form of dribble drive. But in the Nets version, they use a lot of dribble handoffs. So instead of just drive and kick, they are dribbling to a man to handoff which they can either:

1. Shoot the jumper off the handoff screen
2. Drive to the basket
3. Drive to another handoff

Watch how they execute it,

Dribble Handoff:

They usually setup in a 4-out 1-in with the forward on the weak-side block, your typical dribble drive setup in other words.

The dribbler initiates the action by dribbling towards one of the corner/wing players. The corner/wing comes at the dribbler and they execute the handoff,

If they run another iteration, they will reverse the direction of the flow and go towards the backside. Also notice how the one forward is now behind the basket looking to see which way the action is so that he can pick which way to go so that he and his defender is out of the way in case the dribbler attacks the net,

Dribble Drive:

The first option should be the drive as it is a higher percentage play than the shot. Here, the ball is reversed again this time to Devin Harris who will drive to the rim and shoot a mid-range pull-up jumper,

Handoff 3-pointer:

If the handoff goes to a sharpshooter, he should shoot. Watch how Yi Jianlian screens that area after the handoff giving just enough space and separation for the shooter,


The Nets must have ran this about 70% of the time last night with PNR the rest of the 30% in the halfcourt. They also played a lot of full-court M2M defense. I thought they looked very sharp and definitely will be much improved heading into the regular season. I expect them to probably be in the top 8 for sure when May rolls around.

For more great dribble drive video info from the originator himself, take a look at Vance Walberg's 2-DVD Set on the Dribble Drive Motion Offense. Coach Walberg is an assistant at UMass. 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.

Pat Summitt 3 Lane Press Break Drill

It's October, which means that practices are basically right around the corner. One of the areas that most coaches stress out most over is the press break, at least I know I did. Especially, for teams that have average talent. I remember when I was head coach one year, I would stay up late into the night trying to think of press break drills to use with my athletically challenged team.

I went through some notes and found this great drill that a coach took down while at a Pat Summitt clinic (or video, not really clear). I wish I had done more of this while I was the head coach that year, instead of practicing a set press break which became too repetitive and predictable.


So, the basic idea is to train your players on how to be confident with the ball, learn to play without the ball, and work together in breaking pressure. The idea is that once they learn these fundamentals, you can incorporate them into your set press break formation (1-3-1, 1-2-2, etc...)

The setup is pretty simple. You go full court, you have 3 offensive players dividing the length of the court into 3 lanes.

- each player must stay in their lane
- 1 dribble only
- no cross court passes, no skip passes, only lane to lane
- players switch lanes on the way back

Coaching Points:
- emphasize the jump stop and triple threat
- to beat the pressure, come back to ball
- players must talk to each other all the way down the floor


Once they get to the halfcourt, the drill continues. Same rules, 1 dribble, stay in lanes, trying to score,

Coaching Points:
- always attack the basket
- communicate, communicate, communicate

After 1 or 2 iterations, you can add 4 players on defense simulating a full court press. Then you can slowly add 2 dribbles, cross court passing, etc..


Some more great tidbits from Pat Summitt:
- "If the players hate the drill, it must be good."
- "They'll play 1v1 all summer but when I get 'em they have to work without the
- "Don't take timeouts at practice, give 90 seconds breaks (same as a game)"
- "Players grab water during scrimmage and drills, keep practice moving"
- "I'm a three hour practice coach"

If you want to plan and prep like the master herself, then check out Pat Summitt's DVD on Game Preparation. Coach Summitt is the longtime coaching legend of the Tennessee Lady Vols. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.

All great offense starts with great defense. It's why we run all those transition drills from defense to fast break. It's also why your forwards need to take them seriously and your guards need to reward the big men for running hard. Now the flip side, transition defense is also critical. You make a mistake, make sure you hustle back on defense, but collectively, your transition defense has to work as a unit to always protect the basket.

From yesterday's preseason action between the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. On the bad post-entry pass into Yao Ming, Fabricio Oberto pokes the ball loose, runs the floor, and is rewarded with a nice lay in, Yao Ming is late on the take, and his teammates are nowhere to be found to protect the basket, take a look,

Good Defense:

Most fast breaks come off of good defense, either defensive rebounding or forcing turnovers. In this case, Oberto takes advantage of a wayward post-entry pass, poking it away. He does a great job starting the break as well pushing it up the floor, then trailing the play,

Find the Trailer:

On the break, you'll be surprised that its the trailer that is usually the most open. Most teams on a M2M defensive transition will have their lead guard and 2 other defenders pickup the ball and the next 2 players. Which means they probably won't be immediately open. The trailer however, if he beats his man down the floor will almost always be open,

It's tough to say if the Rockets should've done more. Obviously, Yao should've hustled back, but I think his teammates should have done a better job picking up Oberto until Yao got back to bump them back into position.


Ultimately, this all comes down to hustle. Those who hustle will get rewarded. That's why in practice it's important to simulate and make sure guys are playing they do in games. That way, you'll know and can rely on guys in games who you know will hustle. It's that old adage, you play how you practice.

For more early offense and fast break video info, check out Tom Izzo's new DVD on the Numbered Fast Break. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

Do you smell what's in the air?? Yes, it's starting to feel like basketball season, don't you all agree? Caught the first half of the Boston Celtics preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The first quarter was what a real regular season game would look like, then a lot of guys looking for roster spots got the most play most of the way.

I caught these clips because I thought they illustrated a very important point on offense. In almost any offense, set or motion, your players need to setup their cuts. What do we mean by that? You can just make a straight line normal speed cut to the basket, which will work some of the time. Or, you can use misdirection and change of speed to setup your cut, then cut hard to the basket, which will almost always be more effective at getting open. Take a look,

Give and Go, Setting up your Cuts:

After Paul Pierce makes the post-entry pass into Kevin Garnett in the post, watch how Pierce sets up his cut by first gesturing like he's going to setup a screen and also slows down,

By doing so, his defender relaxes and attempts to half-double Kevin Garnett and turns his back to Pierce. This allows Pierce to get behind the defense and Garnett finds him for the easy score,

Give and Go, Without Setting up Your Cuts:

Now, this is essentially the same play. Ray Allen makes the post entry pass into Keving Garnett. Except this time, he just makes a straight line cut to the basket. Notice how Ray Allen's defender does not turn his back to Ray and stays with him the whole time. If Allen setup his cut by an L-cut and/or change of speed, he probably would've had an easier chance to score,


It is why we as coaches go through all those v-cut, l-cut drills. To teach players how to move without the ball and get open. So, now they need to use them in real game situations. Every play will work that much better if they work on these nuances, it's the little things that make a big difference.

If you're looking for more great info on the art of getting open, take a look at Steve Alford's DVD on Moving Without the Ball. Coach Alford is the head coach at University of New Mexico. 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.

It's one of those fundamentals that I think can't be emphasized enough, the defensive closeout. Chopping the feet, closing out hard, with hands out. It doesn't matter if you run a M2M defense, a packline defense, or a zone defense, your players need to have the fundamentals of the closeout otherwise you'll end up having to help all over the place or shift your zone and get all out of position. So, without further ado, here are some defensive tips that I got from some notes from Drexel University's Coach Bruiser Flint:

Things to do on Defense:

1. Contain
2. Keep your guy in front
3. We don't deny the wings or push to a side
4. Contest every shot
5. Switch guard to guard and big to big


1. Shuffle
2. Running
3. Close Down
4. Keep opponent in front

Super Closeout Drill:

2 offensive players, 1 defensive player. Coach passes the ball to one of the offensive players. The defense must lunge, then after the pass to the other offensive player, recover and closeout.

1. Closeout with hand/foot. Never the ball.
2. On the Pass, pivot and shuffle out to contest the shot.


The idea in this drill is for the defender to runout at the coach to defend the shot, then shuffle to the other offensive player.

1. Run and shuffle out to contest the shot.
2. Run until outside the lane then shuffle.
3. If you're hand gets behind his head, then you give him an avenue to drive to the basket!!
4. Hands up in the offensive player's face.

For more info on drills for hard-nosed defense, you should check out Bruiser Flint's DVD on Hard-nosed Closeout Defense. As mentioned Coach Flint is the head coach at Drexel University. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.

I caught a little of the western conference but today was the first WNBA Finals game I was able to catch and lucky for me, it was the last game of the season as the Detroit Shock beat the San Antonio Silver Stars to sweep the series in 3 games. The Shock had to come from behind but they just toughed it out and the more aggressive, physical team won.

Here was the end of the half play for the Shock that helped them get back into the game. It's just a simple 1-4 low 1v1 isolation but it just showed great execution and fundamentals. In the end, the dribble drive missed, but a great offensive rebound by the Shock was able to put it back for the 2 points and cut the Silver Stars lead to 4 heading into the half, take a look (I apologize for the grainy video feed),


Nothing crazy here, a 1-4 low iso setup. The Shock have the quickness advantage with a little on big. I think on these isos, you definitely want your most versatile 1v1 player on offense, someone who can create their own shot opportunity no matter what the situation,

Crossover Move:

Great fundamentals here. First, watch the clock, it's at 4 seconds but for high school, I'd even start later, like 6 seconds. You never want to start too late, because you want to give yourself a chance at the offensive rebound if you miss.

Next great fundamental, watch how the offensive player attacks the front foot of the defender. Great 1v1 move with the crossover attacking that front foot and getting by the defender and going straight for the rim,

Offensive Rebound:

This is where that clock comes in, if the dribbler had started any later than 4 seconds, the Shock wouldn't have had any chance at the offensive putback. And at 4 seconds, they just barely got it off.

Now, because the defense has to help on the dribble penetration because the initial defender got beat, it leaves all kinds of room for an offensive forward to sneak in there and get the offensive putback,


Having watched several Detroit Shock games earlier in the summer, they just seemed to be the most playoff ready, battle tested team out there. They play tough, much like their coach Bill Lambier. When you are the aggressor, you will win more games than you lose, and I believe it to be especially the case in girls basketball. Anyways, congrats to the Shock for a great overall season and a well deserved WNBA Championship.

If you're looking for more buzzer beating plays for your season coming up, take a look at Jay Wright's brand new DVD on Late Game Sets. Coach Wright is the head coach at 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.

With all the craziness going on with the economy, people losing their jobs, their homes, I think sometimes we need to put everything into perspective. In this interview with Jim Rome on ESPN, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino talks about the death of his infant son, watch:

I can't even imagine, learning about such a tragedy while on the road with your team. It reminds us about what it means to be a coaches, about the sacrifices coaches and their families must make, to be away from loved ones. Coach Pitino talks about the "spirit" of that season with Providence going to the Final Four, he says the team was the most mediocre team he's ever coached, yet they had heart, they had purpose.

As a coach, one of the things I've learned is to empathize with your players. Basketball is the greatest game in the world, but it is still a game. Parents get divorced, friends and family get sick, lose jobs, etc... There's a great quote from the interview, Rick says, "Basketball is a meaningful distraction from life." Ain't that the truth...

I was tipped off by these videos by a poster on the forum. I don't know about y'all out there, but I'm a huge Hubie Brown fan, he's a walking encyclopedia of basketball, probably the most brilliant basketball mind every in my opinion. If you liked watching this Youtube preview, you can buy the whole video online here.

This is really a great insight. I've heard of screening an area, I just haven't taught it myself because I don't know enough about it. In this clip, Hubie teaches 3 things you can do when you screen an area: backdoor, hard curl, and bump. Watch first, then read my comments,

Screen the Area:

So the idea is not to head-hunt (which I've always teached), but to screen an area, then read the defense. Another benefit is that you avoid costly offensive fouls resulting from moving screens and aggressive head hunting,

Backdoor Read:

If the defense is playing M2M and cheats and jumps the screen over the top, the one being screened should read the defense and go backdoor,

Hard Curl Read:

The first read off a M2M defense that doesn't switch and is chasing all screens, it should be a soft curl to the open 15 foot jumper at the top of the key. Now, most defenses will most likely hard switch in this case. If so, the backdoor won't work, so the second option here based on a switching M2M is a hard curl. The first step on the hard curl is to tug the screener's shirt to ensure no space exists between screener and screened,

After the screened player relocates, the screener should open up, seal the switched defender and post up in the lane,


The third and final read is based on a defense that is shooting the gap between the screener and the screener's defender. So, it looks like the first option where the defense is jumping the screen over the top, but the difference is the defense here is not over-committing but is protecting the basket first and foremost, the defense is basically non-committal,

If this is the defense, then the read is the bump. The screened player should use their hand to bump or signal the screener in the small of their back. The screener should then open up to the ball and the screened player should fade to the corner,

Once the pass is made, there are 2 options, the open 3-pointer from the corner, or the post-up down low,


Undoubtedly, if you're coaching a youth team, this is probably too complicated an offensive option for you to run. I don't think kids under 15 really have the maturity yet to make such split-second decisions yet. But at Varsity or higher, certainly this, along with a PNR are good generic offenses you can use that should be able to produce high-percentage shots.

There is a wonderful 2-pack DVD from Coach Hubie Brown that has Volumes I and II from his Secrets of Winning Basketball series, definitely worth checking out if you're a Hubie Brown fan. Discuss your favorite zone offenses at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.