Some great analysis by Sebastian Pruiti over at the NBA Playbook on the Lakers using a Pin and Skip vs the Suns zone, and then the Suns adjusting to a matchup zone to get a man on Kobe.

I like what the Suns are doing on defense, but to me, this series comes down to the Lakers' ability to control the tempo of the game. The Lakers will win every time if they can keep the Suns under 100. The Lakers are just a better half court team offensively and defensively than the Suns, and they're getting baited into running and gunning with the Suns. They won the first 2 games, because the Suns had problems matching up M2M defensively due to the Lakers' size. But the zone is causing just enough problems to allow the Suns to create a few more run out opportunities.

I'm still going for the Suns of course, because of my bias towards Steve Nash. The realist in me says that they will lose the series though because Phil Jackson is going to make the necessary defensive adjustments in Game 5 and Game 6. The real chance the Suns had to win this game was in Game 2, when they were tied heading into the 4th quarter, in LA. But Gentry went with his routine of keeping Steve Nash on the bench until the 6 minute mark, which turned out was too late, and the Lakers managed to build a big lead. If the Suns lose this series, they're going to look back at Game 2 and say that was the one that got away.

Anyways, I leave you with another picture of Steve, now with a broken nose to go with that still healing black eye:

You know you've really made it as a true Canadian icon when you get a plug from Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry:

Found a couple of great timed shooting drills to use. I got these from some old notes on motion concepts created by Coach Pfeuffer in Pennsylvania. I had the chance to put them through some 8th graders that I was helping out with the other day and they really liked it, plus its a great conditioner.

3 line—12 Second Shooting Drills
- Set up with 2 players on each side of the center circle. Player on right side has ball. Third player is on right wing at three point line. 12 seconds on clock.
- Player with ball will dribble at right elbow. On dribble the wing player will make a basket cut and go all the way through to opposite side of court. The player who started on the left side of center court will sprint to left side of court and will work will set a screen for the cutter.
- Now players will run the various screens and cuts, and passes for 12 seconds and take a shot at the buzzer. Don’t give the offense too much to think about, just
have them “play” out of concepts. The only “rule” we use for this drill is that whoever has the ball should have that side of the court to himself. The other two
players should be screening and cutting on the other side of the court. After a few repetitions the players will get used to working with each other and will surprise you with the motion concepts that they have picked up.
- Players like this drill as well if you use the clock because they get to take shots at the buzzer.

3 line—12 Seconds 2 shots drill
- Same setup as prior drill and same initial action.
- This time however players work together and take a shot about 6-7 seconds into drill.
- After shot the shooter will run to the top of the key. Other players go to the offensive glass, whoever does not rebound will then sprint to the top to screen for
the initial shooter. The rebounder will then pass to the shooter so he gets a second shot at the buzzer as he comes off of the screen.

Looking for improvement help during this summer? Take a look at Jay Wright's DVD on 28 Competitive Drills for Shooting and Footwork. Coach Wright is the head coach of Villanova.

Most of y'all probably know my bias towards Steve Nash, being Canadian and all and especially from B.C. After he played game 4 with one eye and completed the sweep of the Spurs, everyone I know here said exactly the same thing, "Good old Canadian kid."

That got me thinking about point guards and as I was going through some old notes, tidbits from here and there, I came across an article talking about good guards by Dave Bollwinkel of the Boston Celtics, that Steve Nash does every single one of them. Show me a good team, and I'll show you a good point guard, the 2 go hand in hand. The article is below:

"Good Guards"
By Dave Bollwinkel, Boston Celtics Scout

Far too often, high school guards believe that what college coaches are looking for is someone to light up the scoreboard. While scoring is certainly an advantage, you can make it as a college guard if you understand and master all nine points listed below, even if you are not a great scorer.

Good guards...

1. Get their team into offense by:
- Developing a good handle
- Including the retreat dribble

2. Know how to attack pressure.- Always looking up the floor

- Looping the lag guard to create an open side of the floor (reverse the ball early in the offense)
- Using the retreat dribble to back out of traps, stay out of trouble, and to space the floor
- Avoid dead man's corner (at half court)

3. Know when and how to feed the post.

4. Creating through dribble penetration.
- Both for the post and the perimeter
- Deliver the pass into the shooting pocket
- Make use of on ball screens to assist in penetration and to create your own scoring opportunities

5. Make good decisions
- Know their teammates
- Take reasonable risks, think running the break
- Know game situations (clock, score, possession arrow, etc.)

6. Knock down the open jump shot

7. Doing their homework early when it comes to foot organization.
- By "one-twoing" into all 3 point shots (step into their shots)

8. Defend the dribble
- Can pick up full court and work the dribbler
- Can flatten out dribble penetration in the half court

9. Run the show
- Recognize the importance of good guard leadership
- Are "self-authorized leaders" (They take Ownership of the team)

If you're looking for more on developing guard skills, take a look at the Five-star Basketball DVD on Becoming a Championship Point Guard from Memphis Grizzlies NBA Scout, Scott Adubato.

Reading through the news of the day and came across this golden nugget of advice from none other than Coach Bobby Knight who gave a commencement address to a group of graduates today at Trine University:

“Preparation is the key to victory in any game that you play. The prepared people win a lot more than the unprepared people. You can never spend too much time on preparation. The will to prepare to win is far more important than the will to win.”

I count myself as probably someone who prepares alot, probably too much, as some of my friends say. In fact, the lack of preparation is one of my major pet peeves. When I observe other coaches coach, or other teachers teach, the first thing I take note of is how prepared they are. To me, preparation is so important because it's really the only thing as a coach I have complete control over. There are so many other things that are out of my control, but the one thing I know I can control is how prepared I am for each practice, for each game, for each season.

Want more practice planning advice, then don't miss Bobby Knight's DVD on Practice Planning.

A great article from Johnny Ludden on Yahoo!Sports today on the evolution of the Phoenix Suns under Gentry, and the vindication of Steve Kerr with the Suns on the cusp of overcoming past playoff demons up 2-0 on the Spurs. Kerr took a lot of heat the past couple of years, and rightfully so with the Shaq trade, but I think with the success of the Suns so far in these playoffs, and the continued ineptitude of the Knicks, at least one of Kerr's moves has proven to be right on the mark.

For us coaches, I think it was all pretty evident, that the Suns would never win the championship unless they played some semblance of defense, something Mike D'Antoni never could admit to committing himself to. I've been critical of Mike D'Antoni and his philosophy in the past. It's not just that he doesn't emphasis defense, but the biggest thing for me is that D'Antoni's ego getting in the way of common sense. D'Antoni has gotten so tied up into the 7 seconds or less offense. So much so that instead of focusing on the fundamentals of the game, he's obsessed with proving his thesis. In a way he screwed himself because if he changes his ways now, it would be an admission that he was wrong all along. My only non-negotiables as a coach are to always keep an open mind, don't be afraid of change, and always look for new ways to improve.

As for the Suns chances, I think they're good, very good. The Spurs are a little too old now, they remind me of the Utah Jazz just before Stockton retired and Malone left. The Lakers are still the team to beat, but Kobe maybe a little too banged up this time around.

From the other night, the Czar, Mike Fratello, breaking down a little of the Lakers offense, which we all know is the triangle offense. One of the keys of the triangle offense is the give and go, which is why you need a versatile big man to run it properly,

For more info on the Lakers' famed triangle offense take a look at Tex Winter's DVD on the Encyclopedia of the Triangle Offense. Coach Winters is of course the longtime assistant to Phil Jackson.

I've been watching the NBA Playoffs lately but with teaching and Spring football I just haven't had time to breakdown any games. Of course being Canadian, I've been following Steve Nash and the Suns very closely. I was very impressed with the way they were able to beat a good defensive team in Portland. I was going through my RSS feeds the other day and one great website I recommend for all of you players, coaches, fans who follow the NBA is the NBA Playbook. The author does a great job breaking down plays of NBA teams.

In the latest post, the author breaks down this specific play the Suns used consecutive times to score against the Blazers in Game 6. It's really quite simple, it's pretty much their standard secondary break out of the 7 seconds or less they inherited from D'Antoni, using a strong side small to big screen, the person screened reads the defense and either curls up top to receive the handoff, or cuts hard to the basket.

The defensive breakdown, as the author presents, is basically Brandon Roy who is defending Grant Hill in the weakside corner. As a rule, we usually say weakside defenders should have 1 foot in the lane. As you can see, Roy is about 1 step to far. This may not sound like a lot, but it allows Richardson enough room to make the play twice,

(Pictures from NBA Playbook)

But really, in my opinion, it's just a great job of spacing by the Suns. They do a great job with that spread offense that it forces the defense to take that extra step out, with a guy like Grant Hill out there, you can afford to be caught trying to close-out, especially with a not 100% Brandon Roy.

For more on the spread offense, check out Billy Donovan's DVD on the Spread Offense. Coach Donovan used it to win back-to-back national championships at the University of Florida.

There is a great thread on the X's and O's Coaching forum talking about warmups and dynamic stretching. One poster suggested searching for "Duke warmup" in Youtube, and so I did and there were some great videos that I found. I'm a big believer in teams who warmup properly, it shows discipline, and concentration on the task at hand.

Anyways, this first one is from Maryland,

This one is from Duke,

Anyways, if you are a big fan of the championship winning Duke Blue Devils, check out Mike Krzyzewski's All Access Duke Basketball Practice 4-pack DVD which includes 438 minutes of practice and Q&A with Coach Krzyzewski.