The end of the basketball season means the end of an era for legendary college basketball coach Don Meyer who coached his last game this weekend. If you are not entirely familiar with Coach Meyer's story, click here. It doesn't get much better than Coach Meyer, here are some video highlights:

My favorite quote: "I love the game of basketball but not as much as I love the player"

I'm always looking for nuances that help explain things. I like finding patterns and see how to apply them for added advantage. From some notes that I received a little while ago, here are some interesting "truisms" courtesy of Kevin Eastman, the Assistant Coach for the Boston Celtics,

TRUISM # 1: There is a direct correlation between the number of ball reversals and defensive breakdowns.

Our players have to understand that the hardest thing to do defensively is to close out — to be running out at a player from the help position. Having said that, we need to understand that an advantage our offense must look to create is to get the defense to close out as often as possible; we want the ball to be reversed from side to side. With our team I can tell you that our scoring proficiency goes up as the number of passes and ball reversals goes up. Of course we have a shot clock that forces us to shoot the ball quicker, but we still would like a minimum of 3 passes as we then know the ball is getting reversed. When we only throw 1 or 2 passes we find that it is very easy for the defense to load up to the ball

TRUISM # 2: The closer you run your offense to the basket, the more physical your screens can be.

We have found that the officials are more apt to let contact go when it is closer to the basket as they are used to seeing more contact down there as opposed to out by the 3 point line. We feel that is why the flex action is allowed to get away with some physical baseline and pin down screens, and why we have to be careful when setting a back screen out by the 3 point line. So give some thought to having some part of your offensive system where you run your stuff closer to the rim.

TRUISM # 3: The faster the ball moves, the closer the defenders stay to their man.

We have found that when we move the ball a little faster, the defensive players are more concerned with staying up with their man and tend to not jump to the ball and get in help position. We also feel that that leaves us with more room to drive it as the defenders are out of position just enough to allow us to get a good driving angle on them. I would say if you do not have a good scoring post man, you should look to move the ball a little faster at times and create driving opportunities. If you do have a good post man you would want to slow it down and give the post man a good look.

If you like any of Coach Eastman's stuff, or you just like the Celtics, then check out Kevin Eastman's DVD on Skill Development for Inside and Perimeter Players.

For all you history buffs out there (yes, I count myself as one of them), this is a short look at the Black Fives Era by ESPN's Outside the Lines. The Black Fives was a traveling team during the 1930s, a time when racial segregation was the norm. A great way to teach social history to students, through sports, enjoy...

From a few days ago on ESPN, this is a great 1 on 1 conversation about motivation and leadership with one of my favorite college coaches Lorenzo Romar of the University of Washington Huskies. I have to admit that his style of coaching is very much the way I model myself after, he's not much of a yell in your face kind of a coach, instead he's cool and calm but still holds his players accountable. Enjoy...

My favorite quote from the clip:

"Your reputation is what perceive you to be. Your character is what you are when nobody is watching."

In watching some local playoff games the other day, I caught one game where one team's M2M help-recover defense was causing the other team's motion offense all kinds of problems. When it comes to the playoffs, it's all about the adjustments, everyone knows what everyone else is running, so the ability to make subtle but important changes is crucial.

I came across these great notes from a coaching clinic conducted by Coach Bad Brownell that outlined some great adjustments you can make to your motion offense against a strong help defense team. In watching that playoff game, I thought a couple of tweaks could have helped them overcome their difficulties:

Motion Ideas vs Helpside Defense

General thoughts - move the defense:
- Ball reversal
- Player Movement
- Early Offense, flow into motion acting out of transition

Flare Screens
Use flare screens because the defense usually jumps hard to ball (over-committing) when playing help defense,

Screen and Skip
Screen in for the crosscourt pass, then skip to the open side. The side to side action really causes help defense teams a lot of problems, just like it does for zone defenses,

Downscreen Cutters
Pass and cut on the perimeter. Cutter cuts through the basket and receives a weakside downscreen by the offensive player on the weakside, then you can reverse the ball quickly to that open cutter,

Drive the Weakside
On the quick ball reversal or skip pass, your perimeter players need to attack the glass as defenders are temporarily caught on help rotation,

Penetrate and Fill Behind
Drive hard at a shooter's defender, and the shooter should fill behind for the open shot. Basic drive and kick principle,

For more info on drills to use for motion offense like the dribble drive, take a look at John Calipari's DVD on Perimeter Drills for the DDM. Coach Calipari is the head coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Some good stuff from Kobe Bryant today on Pardon The Interruption talking about how he's glad that the team is winning without him. How, the Lakers pride themselves in being able to make decisions independently, overcoming injuries, and the trust they have that if one of them goes down with an injury, others will step up.

It goes back to the point that you want your players running things. A sign of a well coached team isn't where the coach is dictating every movement or action, the sign of a well coached team is one where the coach is barely noticed, where the players can start practices themselves without the coach's every command.

From the other day, here is a great 1-on-1 interview with Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl. Some great 1-liner motivational tidbits that you can use with your team:

Champions are made when nobody is watching. What are you going to do separate yourself from others. What are they going to do to deserve victory.

Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it.

Hard work alone won't guarantee success, but without hard work, I guarantee that you won't be successful. It's your choice, I choose to work hard, I choose to make sure our teams work hard to put our teams in position to have success.

It's easier to get something goin', than it is to keep something goin'. The difference between the good coaches and the great coaches is that if they didn't win a championship, they always competed for a championship. Creating the consistency to be successful.

Watched a playoff game the other day between 2 high school teams and the final score was 118-103. Wow, think about that, this is high school ball, single game elimination district final. Can't say I was entirely impressed with the lack of real defense, but when you score 118 points, how can you argue with that.

In any case, I was inspired to look for some more primary break stuff while I had that game still swirling in my head and came across these great notes from Oak Hill Academy's Steve Smith. It is their primary break offense they run, they just call it regular. Enjoy...

Player Spacing
Both post players are interchangeable. First post player gets to the rim and second post player is the trailer. Trailer is one step behind the ball. The first post player is the rim man and the most important part of the break. The two wings are interchangeable. He does not insist that the two guard run the right side of the floor. The point guard runs the middle of the floor and should know what everybody is doing. Point guard is always looking to pass the ball ahead up to the wings and not always dribble the length of the floor.

Unless they call a set play from the bench they are running what they call regular in their full court offense. They don’t verbally say regular it is just something they do by default. Point guard follows the ball to whatever side he pitches it ahead. Trailer always fills opposite. They tell their rim runner to stay in the lane like 5 seconds. In transition he feels like you get this much time. The rim runner is always your first option. They like to reverse the ball once give the rim runner a look. When the ball is reversed, the low post player then comes to the foul line and sets a pick for the point guard and trailer. They scissor cut off the high post with the point guard going first. The post player then steps out to the top of the key and takes the ball reversal. Wing then screens down and looks to post up. Ball goes to one wing and the opposite side sets a back screen out top for a lob look.

First option on regular is ball beversal looking to feed the rim runner near the basket area.

Second option is a scissors cut off the high post. The PG cuts first and the trailer second.

High post then steps out for ball reversal.

Ball goes back to PG looking to post up 3.

4 backscreens for 5 looking for possible lob play.

Simple motion then continues.

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.

I posted way back when I started this blog what Syracuse does in their 2-3 zone. From ESPN today, Bobby Knight took the opportunity to do the same, take a look:

A couple of great things that Coach Knight mentioned in the clip. Your perimeter defenders must work to close all the gaps. A lot of teams that I see play zone, basically play a packed in soft zone, they allow the offense to do what they want. Good teams will eventually work the ball around enough to get a good shot. Instead, your zone defense must attack the ball with pressure and close out quickly on the perimeter, force the action which will result in turnovers. Lastly, you must have good weak side support on either side of the zone.

Coach Bobby Knight isn't known for his zone defenses, therefore he doesn't have a video on it, but if you want to know more about the Syracuse Zone, you can always check out Jim Boeheim's DVD on the 2-3 matchup zone. Coach Boeheim is the longtime head coach of Syracuse University.

From earlier in the week between Kansas and Colorado, I caught the tail end of the game in the Overtime period where the Jayhawks were able to out-execute their way to the win over the Buffaloes. The beauty of their ball-screen continuity offense is that no matter how you choose to defend it, they just adjust their reads, execute, and still score on you. Check out these 2 sequences, where the Buffaloes try to hedge first, and then they try to switch second, both times the Jayhawks simply make the correct read,

In this first sequence, they try to hedge on Collins. Morris rolls to the basket and then because the Buffaloes can't drop enough players on help side, it's basically 2-on-1,

As the game winds down, the Buffaloes adjust by switching on all screens. They do so here and the Jayhawks re-adjust. Collins is now matched up against a slower bigger forward, so he takes him off the dribble and goes for the reverse layup,

From all the top 4 teams I've seen in action, I'd have to say that Kansas and Kentucky have been the most impressive so far. Kansas plays better half-court defense so I'd have to give them the edge but Kentucky looks like the Memphis team that went all the way to the Finals a couple of years ago, it will be very interesting if Coach Calipari and Coach Self meet again.

Anyways, there isn't a dedicated video to just the offense, at least not just yet. But if you like Coach Self and the way Kansas plays, then take a look at Bill Self's All Access Kansas Basketball Practice 4-pack DVD which includes 424 minutes of practice and Q&A with Coach Self.

From NBA TV, this is a segment from "The Czar" Mike Fratello breaking down one of the last plays between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers last week. In it, it shows Dwayne Wade attempting a behind the back pass which gets picked off by none other than Lebron James, who takes it all the way, is fouled, and makes what ends up being the game-winning free throws. Take a look:

Just like my post below, its a lesson in why you make the simple, yet effective and efficient overhead pass instead. The behind the back stuff may make Sportscenter, but it's just a great pass because:

1. Its hard for your teammates to know when exactly they will be getting the ball.
2. Its slower to develop, as almost everyone can throw the ball faster and more accurately forward than behind their back.

Anyways, for more info on passing and guard fundamentals, check out Oliver Purnell's DVD on Fundamental Team Drills for Practice. Coach Purnell is the head coach of the University of Clemson.

From the other night between Indiana and Illinois, I couldn't help but cringe a little at that game winner by Illinois that beat Indiana. You play so well throughout the game, but then you let your guard down you make a little mistake and poof, you lose the game. Basketball is sometimes hard like that, but it's the lessons you learn that are the most valuable.

In this last play, the Illinois player does the right thing, he drives straight to the basket. The Indiana player actually does a pretty good job staying with using good defensive stride but at the moment the offensive player picks up his dribble for his shot, the defender commits the cardinal sin by trying to go for the strip. Check out the video,

Again, in this picture, you can see that the defender is actually doing a pretty decent job staying with, not letting the dribbler cross his face,

But at the end of the play, the defender brings his arm down to try to go for the strip. He actually fouls the Illinois player who makes the shot anyways to win the game,

Now we'll never know if the defender had not dropped his arm down over the offensive player, whether or not it would've prevented the shot from going in. But percentages say, that it probably would have.

Well, if you want some more info on defensive drills for your practice, check out Darrin Horn's DVD on Defensive Drills to Build your Defense. Coach Horn is the head coach of the University of South Carolina which recently beat former number one Kentucky.