I watched a couple of games but since it's New Year's Eve and I have to celebrate too I'll only post once tonight, but I'll be back tomorrow with some more posts. I caught the first half of the Baylor game against Florida A&M, and both teams were missing shots, but what allowed Baylor to get the early lead was extra possessions off of offensive rebounding.

Specifically, on long 3-point misses, the Baylor forwards would position themselves on the other side of the rim from where the shot came from. If you didn't already know, 75% of rebounds (especially long ones) from the wing end up on the other side of the rim. Along with hustle and determination, your players must play smart and be in the right position to grab rebounds. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

Full Court Taps Drill:

If you're having problems getting the attention of your players, this drill is a great way to set them back on track. Not only does it work on rebounding, it is a terrific conditioning drill. It's an old-school drill and I ran it when I was in school.

You need 1 full court, 2 balls, and 2 lines. The first player in each line starts around just slightly ahead of the foul line with the ball and tosses it off the backboard for their teammate who is directly behind them. After each player is done their tap, they haul their butt to the end of the line at the opposite basket and repeat. They continuously loop over and over until you say so.

It's basically the same taps drill that everyone has probably ran before, except it's full court so players have to run and rebound at the same time. For added punishment, you can say that every time the ball touches the ground or they have to reset, they will run a set of stairs.

If you want to change things up, you can combine group Superman full court style.

So basically the same idea except the players throw it off the backboard from an angle and the opposite line rebounds and the players exchange lines.

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 earlier this year. Head over the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about your favorite rebounding drills.

This will be my last post for 2007, I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and we'll see you all tomorrow, a brand new year.

If you've been reading this blog since October, you'll know that one of my favorite NBA players is Bruce Bowen. He is such a good lockdown defender, as a coach, having someone like that is invaluable. We had a kid on our freshman team last year that was similar, we lost our final game of the year as that kid was injured and unable to play. We beat that team earlier in the year when we had our top defender shutdown the other team's best player.

This time, Bruce Bowen keys up on Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Miller. He shuts him down and leads to a steal which goes the other way for a fast break. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

A few random observations,

- Pao Gasol sets a screen for Miller to catch and shoot. Miller is deadly when he has a step on his defender to launch that 3-pointer. Bowen does a great job closing out. Also notice that he doesn't leave his feet, just closes out and gets his hands up.

- You can see Bowen hopping on his feet as he's D'd up on Miller. You must be up on your toes on defense. Too many times I see kids playing lazy D with their weight on their heels. Good players will drive right by you.

- As Miller makes his drive to the middle, Bowen slides keeping his hips at the same level, stride for stride with Miller. He beats Miller to the lane and forces Miller to go behind the back.

- While defending the penetration, Bowen keeps his hands up, he doesn't reach in, he uses his feet and legs to beat Miller to the spot without fouling. This is an important point because there is a big difference between good defense on penetration (like Bowen here), and just hacking someone and putting them on the line.

- When Miller does his behind the back reverse dribble, Bowen just stands his ground and his body is right up against Miller. The body contact disrupts Miller's forward motion and causes him to lose his balance and fall down.

Mike Miller usually averages almost 16 points a game, tonight, he was held to 3-for-8, for just 8 points on the night.

Though you can see the Spurs were getting blasted early in the quarter, they would come out strong from that point forward and only allow the Grizzlies to score 55 points in 3 quarters to easily beat the Grizzlies 111-87.

A great DVD that breaks down the M2M fundamentals is Geno Auriemma's 8 Essential Defensive Drills DVD. Coach Auriemma is the head coach of multiple national championship winning lady Huskies of UConn. Head over the X's and O's of Basketball Forum for more great hoops discussions.

Still in holiday mode watching some football and movies. But I did manage to catch a great college basketball game today, probably one of the better games I've watched in a while. Stephen F. Austin was taking on Southern Methodist (SMU) at SMU. Those most people would say it was a sloppy game, I really liked watching the physical play. 2 teams, playing hard, playing physical, bodies flying, really going right at each other, it's the way basketball used to be played, old-school. I'm a regular reader of SMU head coach Matt Doherty's blog and I've actually watched 3 (including today) of their games so far this season. I feel kind of bad for coach as they've had some real tough close losses.

As for Stephen F. Austin (SFA), I knew based on their record (11-1) that they are a good team, but I was pleasantly surprised with how great they play. They've won 9 straight (including today) and have beaten some good teams in the process, such as Oklahoma and San Diego. Their only loss on the year was against Texas Tech. They appear headed to the NCAAs, something that hasn't happened in a long time I'm guessing. They play hard M2M defense, don't press, and on offense they are mainly flex motion against M2M and 4-out 1-in against zone. Let's take a look at their flex motion offense, watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Believe it or not, there are variations of the flex and flex motion. Gonzaga is mostly a wing flex team in that most of their flex screens are set from the wing. Boston College is a baseline flex so they use the block to corner flex screen on the baseline, those are the more popular ones. Here, SFA uses mostly top to elbow flex screens to free up shooters, upscreens for basket cuts and screen the screener action. All flex motion offenses have one thing in common though, all players go through all positions, so you must have versatile players that can all shoot, all set screens, all cut to the basket and all post up.

Flex Motion Offense:

There are a lot of sequences, so bare with me while I go through them. It doesn't really matter how you start, but the forwards are setup in a double high-post set. They set a down screen on 1 side, and an upscreen on the other side, the ball is reversed.

For almost all sequences, there is some sort of basket cut option and shooting option. Here, it is O1 and O5.

There is a side shuffle screen springing O2 on the basket cut, O3 flares out after the screen for the shot.

The ball is reversed again and O5 goes for the backdoor after passing. O2 comes up off the flex screen looking for the shot.

They reverse the ball again to the other side. O2 can shoot if open.

Another basket cut on the long curl around, and a double screen to spring O3 for the shot.


Now, I purposely showed the longest sequence just so you can see the motion offense at work for almost a whole 35 second possession. SMU does a great job defending by switching, bumping cutters, and closing out shooters, that is why the possession ends in a bad shot. Later in the second half, SFA was very successful in freeing up open shots which they hit with deadly accuracy. SMU would answer, but SFA hit some clutch free throws to win it at the end. I have a feeling that Danny Kaspar, head coach of SFA, is going to get a lot of pub towards March as SFA makes it's journey to the NCAAs, they just might be a team that will upset the big names.

Flex offenses are great if you have a team full of tweeners. Good versatile players that can do a little of everything. The motion is great because if forces teams to defend all 5 players for the whole possession. You must be patient though, your players must buy into the system fully.

For more great info on running the flex, take a look at Gary Williams DVD on the Flex. You will learn everything you need to know about how to run this motion offense. 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.

As coaches, do you spend any time scouting and preparing to defend baseline out of bounds plays? I watched the Tennessee game against Gonzaga yesterday and something that Fran Fraschilla said on the broadcast was that Tennessee spends more time than anybody he's seen in practice scouting and preparing to defend BLOB of other teams.

Personally, I think there is a lot of value in scouting and preparing to defend against opponent BLOB and SLOB especially when the other team is well coached and scores at least 50% off of the BLOB. It may sound like spending time focusing on BLOB is probably a waste of time, but consider when the game comes down to crunch time, a big play off defending the BLOB could be the difference between forcing a bad pass or 5 seconds or a score by the opponent. I remember last season when Tennessee forced a 5 second call at the game against Texas, it was a key play in a game they would eventually win in overtime. In this clip, the Vols force a 5 second call against Gonzaga. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

When you talk about 2 great teams going against each other, the little things are usually the difference between the winner and the loser. Gonzaga is a great team, they have athleticism, shooting, size, depth. Tennessee was better yesterday simply because they did the little things, they played just a little harder. BLOB defense is just one example of those little things that can make a big difference.

If you are a Bruce Pearl fan like me, then you'll probably want to check out Bruce Pearl's DVD on OB nuggets. Though he talks more about executing BLOB, it's a good insight into the mind of a great X's and O's coach. Happy New Year everyone and be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.

Don't look now but the New Orleans Hornets are 20-10, just 1 game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the Southwest division lead. I've written about the exploits of Chris Paul who I think is developing into if not already one of the best point guards in the league. Tonight, the Hornets faced the Cavs at home and I wanted to really take a look at what they do on offense.

A lot of people say the NBA is all 1-on-1, in fact, a lot of high school coaches I talk to won't even watch the NBA because of it. But there are many times where there are some great sets being run. I didn't watch the whole game but in the 2nd quarter, the Hornets ran a few plays out of the 2-3 high set. I really like both the 1-4 and 2-3 high, especially against aggressive M2M teams that overcommit. It relieves pressure on the perimeter and opens things up for backdoor opportunities. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

The Cavs don't actually play aggressive pressure defense on the perimeter. They are mostly a stay at home team that rebounds well and relies on their size. Regardless, I still think the 2-3 set works well as you can see in the second sequence, all the backdoor action causes the defense to then oversag to compensate, this allows the wing 3-pointer to be open.

2-3 High Set:

The Hornets start out with a simple pass from one side to the other wing. The first player will then cut all the way to the basket off of a UCLA screen by O5. O1 cuts off the O5 screen as well and clears out to the opposite block.

Now if O2 is open off of the backdoor cut, then O3 should hit him right away. Now the Cavs do a good job defending all the back door cuts because they mostly play underneath anyway.

The play continues with more backdoor cuts. O3 passes back up top to O5 who pops out to receive the pass. Simultaneously, O2 and O1 set upscreens for O3 and O4 respectively who cut hard to the basket. If either are open, O5 hits either for the quick layup.

In this case, neither are open, and O2 comes up after setting the upscreen to receive a handoff pass from O5 and then it's just PNR from there with the shot clock winding down.

Hornets coach Byron Scott used to be one of my favorite players. I still remember him playing here in Vancouver for about half a year, he was one of the nicer guys I remember and seemed to really understand the game. I like what I've seen so far from the Hornets and I'll be sure to keep my eye on them the rest of the season.

If your interested in any high-post offenses or the like, take a look at Geno Auriemma's DVD on the high-post offense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.

I caught only a few minutes in the first half of the game between UConn and UCF. The Knights used a lot of zone which slowed the pace a little and there wasn't a lot of good flow, a lot of 3-point shots. UConn responded by playing a little zone defense themselves, a move that coach Calhoun must have done in spite as I know he is strictly a M2M defense coach. Anyways, when there was some M2M defense being played by UCF, UConn ran a lot of their pro-style offense, but I liked this set play they used. I actually recognized it from way back when Rip Hamilton was still playing at UConn. It's just a box play with a couple of double-stagger screens, really good for getting your shooters open. Though the shot here is missed, I still like the play a lot, especially when executed all the way through. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Box Double Stagger:

Run out of the box set, it looks really good when run with athletic players. Your forwards are setup at the elbows, your shooters at the low block. Starts off by O5 and O4 setting a stagger screen.

The first stagger screen is actually for both O3 and O2 so O3 curls around first, then O3 curls around. This time, O2 gets the pass from O1 at the top of the key.

At this point O2 can shoot (which he does). But the play continues as O5 and O4 continue to set a second stagger screen for O3 who comes across the baseline.

O2 can then hit O3 coming of the second stagger screen for an open 3-point shot in the corner.

I posted yesterday with coach Jim Calhoun's interview on Charlie Rose's show. I've also posted before where Jim Calhoun talked about UConn's pro-style offense. They run a lot of set plays, I have a playbook that has at least 15 set plays, 8 quick hitters and 5 zone offense plays. That's a lot of plays! But the pro-game is mostly about set plays so that is partially why UConn players do so well in the NBA, they are prepared.

One of the great things you can tell about UConn is the way they practice. Much like Roy Williams at UNC, coach Calhoun runs a tight ship. If you want to learn how UConn practices, take a look at Jim Calhoun's DVD on essential practice drills. Coach Calhoun teaches the teachers in this DVD on what are some of his most effective practice drills. To discuss this and other basketball coaching topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum.

I watched most of the first half of this game and part of the second between Duquesne and Robert Morris. I think Duquesne is a tremendous defensive team, they play great tenacious pressure defense. They press all game much like Tennessee and in the half-court they play aggressive M2M like a Southern Illinois. It really was a treat for me to watch as I really like pressure teams. If you haven't watched them play, you really should, I think they will be a team to watch along with Dayton in the A10. Rhode Island is the one getting all the pub right now (as they should), but don't sleep on Duquesne.

As for Robert Morris, I thought they did a really good job of break the pressure defense of Duquesne early on. They really attacked the middle of Duquesne's 1-2-1-1 press and after they broke the press, they did a good job of not forcing a bad shot. In the end though, Duquesne just kept pressing and running and Robert Morris ran out of gas in the second half. The Northeastern conference is wide open so I think Robert Morris has a good chance as any to win out. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Press Attack Middle:

I've always advocating attacking pressing in the middle of the court, because that is where your players can make a move in the open court. Robert Morris breaks the press through motion and cutting. Think of Princeton offense but for press break. You inbounds the ball, then players cut to the middle of the floor.

Against the 1-2-1-1 press here, similar to the one Tennessee uses. O1 is the decoy, O5 cuts to the ball from the sideline and receives the pass from the inbounder.

Once the pass is made, you'll notice that immediately O1 is cutting to the middle of the court. O5 makes the pass hitting O1 in stride and he's already beaten 4 defenders down the floor.

In the second sequence of the video clip, the cut to the middle is from the inbound. Once the pass is made over top of all the defenders to the middle man, the dribbler continues to attack the middle and the press is broken.

Think of your press break just like your half-court offense. Use principles of cutting, moving without the ball and finally attacking the middle of the court. Traditionally, I've always used ball reversal then attack the middle, but this press attack middle is extremely effective at creating fast-break opportunities off of your press break.

For a development video on helping your players break pressure defense, take a look at Bruce Weber's DVD on press break fundamentals. Coach Weber goes through several drills that will help your players play better against pressure defense. As usual, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to get your hoops talk fill.

Basketball is such a beautiful game when players and the ball are moving with a purpose. I watched most of the Celtics game against the Sonics tonight and I took a clip of this sequence early in the fourth quarter as the Celtics were pulling away. Though the Celtics have three great individual players who can breakdown anybody defending them at will, it's when they are sharing the ball and moving when they are the most effective. This sequence is perhaps one of the best clips I've seen so far in the early season that epitomizes exactly what team basketball is all about, cutting, screening, passing, dribble penetration, shot fakes, and great shooting. And the defense was called for a foul on the shot to top it all off. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Handoff, Penetrate, Kick-out:

The sequence starts with the posts at the elbows and the wings flattened to the baseline. O1 dribbles toward the wing then passes to O5 who steps out to receive the pass.

After the handoff, O2 fakes to receive the handoff but instead does a basket cut. O1 goes to fill the wing spot. O5 should look for O2 on the basket cut if open.

Once O2 clears, O1 comes back up top to receive the handoff from O5. If open, O1 should shoot the 3-pointer. Simultaneously, O4 sets a downscreen for O3 who curls up top around the elbow.

O1 dribbles towards then passes to O3 curling around the elbow heading towards the hoop. After O1 passes, he flares to the opposite wing.

Once O3 catches the pass, the Sonics defense actually does a good job of stopping the penetration so the Celtics go inside-out and the ball is kicked back out to O1. X1 is late on the rotation but recovers well. O1 gives a nice head fake causing X1 to overcommit and O1 does a quick 2 dribbles up the wing and shoots the jumper, X5 fouls O1 at the end trying to close out.


Probably not a real useful play to use for a HS team, but I wanted to demonstrate when players execute well by moving, screening, cutting and passing, the game can be so great to watch. It's like watching a great broadway musical, everyone moving in sync with one another, that's team basketball.

If you're looking to help your players become better team basketball players by improving their fundamental skills in moving without the ball taking a look at the Five-star Basketball DVD on getting open and attacking. Coach Bergeron goes through all the basics of cutting as well as flashing to the post and dribble penetration. To discuss this and other basketball coaching topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum.

I watched Charlie Rose tonight and Jim Calhoun was on and Coach and Charlie were talking hoops. I think I could've watched 24 hours of it straight, the only bad part was when Charlie had to end the show :(

I have a tremendous amount of admiration for Coach Calhoun both as a coach and a man of great wisdom. Every time I watch another interview or DVD or read his books, my respect grows. I was so happy to see that the Charlie Rose has uploaded the clip of his remarkable interview so I can share it with you all. It's about 20 minutes, enjoy every second of it...

Some random thoughts about the interview,

- I like how he talked about his relationship with fellow coaches, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and others.
- Success is a process, it isn't instant. It took him 13 years to win the National Championship with UConn.
- Leadership takes passion. Be invested.
- Admit and learn from your mistakes. He admitted that he should've used the athleticism more last year. And said they've made adjustments this year to press and run more.
- We lost to Syracuse Mar. 7, Mar. 8 we started the next season.
- If you didn't know already, recruiting makes or breaks a college program.

Don't let the lack of clips from the Euroleague fool you, I like watching Euro basketball and I have been watching just haven't been uploading. I read this interesting article on NBA.com about the differences between European and American basketball that was posted on the Yahoo! forum. I agree with Coach Terry Stotts' observations for the most part especially about the differences in passing versus the 1-on-1 play we see so much of here in America.

One thing I think Stotts didn't write about but others have which I strongly agree with is that European players shoot the ball much better than Americans. With the trapezoid key, I think it's even more important that players shoot the ball well. You cannot rely on a Dwight Howard to camp on the low block, catch and throw it down anymore. Athleticism becomes less important, skill much more important. This point cannot be under-emphasized, European teams have leveled the playing field with the US because of their shooting. As I've said in the past, shooting is the great talent equalizer. It doesn't take raw talent to be a good shooter, it just takes practice.

Back to the action, this is just a great example of the simplicity of team basketball. It's probably one of the oldest plays ever, the UCLA upscreen. It's remarkable how so many decades later, it still works so well. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

If you only have 1 play in your playbook, I would probably choose one that involved a UCLA screen. It's so fundamental, so simple, and so effective. I understand that the Manorca player missed the layup, but that doesn't take away from how great a play this is.

UCLA Upscreen to Backdoor:

I'm diagramming it out of a 1-4 high set, even though in the video it doesn't really appear to be 1-4, this will give you more structure to teach it.

O1 passes to O3. Simultaneously O2 goes down to the low block then sets the UCLA upscreen on O4's defender. O4 curls around the screen and comes around underneath for the backdoor play.


Team basketball is my theme for tonight and I will post later another great team basketball sequence, but good screens and good passes lead to good shots. I think we as coaches can learn a lot from European basketball, especially in terms of player development. All European players can defend, rebound, shoot, pass and dribble. It's why we see more and more international and specifically European players in the NBA.

The 1-4 high set is a great set to run out of. Lute Olson has been using it and his high-post motion for years. For more great offense from the high-post and 1-4, check out Lute Olson's DVD on the 1-4. As always, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about hoops and more.

Pacers New Pack Style Defense

Still a little in holiday mode so I caught only the first half of the game between the Indiana Pacers the the Atlanta Hawks. I purposely wanted to watch what the Pacers were doing on defense. New head coach Jim O'Brien was brought in and turned up the tempo on offense, the Pacers push at every opportunity, as they say, shoot first ask questions later. But I was really much more intrigued by their defense. Harter and O'Brien go way back in their old days with the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics and 76ers, you can read all about it here. Harter was part of those Detroit "bad boy" days with Lambier and Rodman, under Riley with the Knicks, then under O'Brien with the Celtics and 76ers. He is known for being a defensive guru and I wanted to find out more.

What really piqued my interest was the fact that the Pacers are 3rd in the league at opponent FG% at 43.9%, yet they allow a shocking 104.1 ppg, good for 5th worst in the league. They are also the worst team in the league in opponent FTs attempted with 31.8. Clearly, the Pacers are still a work in progress defensively, especially compared to the strides they've made offensively, but I was able to take some clips that show some of what the new defense looks like. In many ways, it is very much a packline type defense, they protect the paint at all costs, rebound everything, and only allow post players to take perimeter shots. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

One of the things about playing a packline type defense is that against aggressive teams you will foul more often and you will also give up open perimeter shots. The Pacers are one of the worst teams in both opponent FTs attempted and opponent 3-point percentage. But as they get more used to the system, they will improve by taking charges and knowing which shooters they need to closeout. Part of what has made the system so successful in the past was having a great weak-side shot blocker, like Tony Battie in Boston and Samuel Dalembert in Philly. Jermaine O'Neal could be that player for the Pacers, but he likes to stay out of foul trouble for his offensive output.

5-on-4 Shell Drill:

Shell drills are extremely important because they allow you to replicate what your defense will look and act like in the half-court. You will design your shell based on what kind of half-court defense you are running. Here, the emphasis will be on M2M packline style. So help-side principles with the high and low-side 'I'. 5-on-4 is good because it really emphasizes the help-side concept being 1 man short.

Ball at the top, there should be pressure on the ball, with defenders on the wing. There should a low-side defender ready to help on penetration from the top.

Ball passed to the wing, emphasize jumping to the ball while in the air, not on the catch but in the air, very much like zone defense principles. Pressure on the ball, don't forget to form the 'I'.

Again, jump to the ball on the skip pass to the corner. Everyone shifts together from one side to the other side on the skip. X4 must sprint and closeout properly, make sure they do this properly.

Lastly, on penetration from the wing, everyone must collapse and help. Have the offense shoot the ball and make sure all defenders rebound.

The definitive guide to packline defensive principles is Dick Bennett's DVD on the packline defense. As always, be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.

Scott Skiles Firing

It's been a couple of days now and I've had a chance to absorb the news and read various reactions to the news. As a coach, obviously you have to feel for someone that has to go through a situation as abrupt as being fired. And while some point to the fact that Skiles will be given a big payout which will soften the blow, money doesn't buy your pride and dignity, money can't fix a broken soul. Lets face it, you always feel awful when you alone are being singled out to take the blame for a collective effort. It isn't always fair, but life isn't fair, especially in the world we live in these days. Someone has to take the blame, Skiles was the first to go, but may not be the last.

There is a coach locally that was let go mid-season as well. He was the head coach at a local JUCO, Trinity Western, near Vancouver. The official reason released by the administration was "We are moving in a new direction with a change of leadership and are committed to bringing the men's basketball program into the realm of being a perennial contender. Today's announcement signals that intent." The team was 4-8 at the time and was without several key players due to injury. The move happened a couple of weeks ago. Again, a difficult scenario especially coming just before the holidays but one that coaches invariably have to be accustomed to. Coaching isn't for the faint of heart, you have to be tough enough to withstand the highs and the many lows.

There is no doubt that Scott Skiles will end up coaching somewhere, he's too young and too smart not to end up somewhere. Coaches get hired, then fired, then hired again, life will go on.

I watched parts of all three of the Christmas games today and thought that for the most part they were all good to watch. I took a clip here of Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat demonstrating the step through technique when 2 defenders are attempting to trap you. He actually did it a bunch of times but I only managed to capture the on clip. I think that if executed well, the step through technique is probably the ideal way to attack the double-team or trap for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most teams don't trap properly anyways, the defenders don't lock their legs making it extremely easy to just go right through it and dribble. Secondly, the step through immediately creates a numbers advantage, after the step through you should find yourself playing 5-on-3 with the 2 defenders going the opposite way. Anyways, watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Various Drills to Attack Traps:

These are a few different drills you can use with your guards to practice attacking traps and double-teams. The first one is the technique shown by Dwyane, splitting the double-team. To make sure the traps are set, you tell your dribbler to not pivot until hearing the whistle. So the inbound pass is made, the dribble stays with back to the play. X1 and X2 trap, coach whistles, then O1 pivots and executes the step-through technique. Coaching points are to teach the dribbler to step through with 1 aggressive step first, then lunge forward protecting the ball like a running-back would. Once through, push dribble ahead.

In this next drill, it's the same thing as above, except now we're going through the crab dribble technique. If you watch Steve Nash, you'll know that he's the master at this. He sees the double-team, then does a quick retreat step or 2, then goes full speed and attacks sometimes doing a cross-over. The change of speed is devastating and usually leaves the defenders way behind. For this drill, you don't have to use a whistle.

Finally, the last technique you can use is the reverse spin dribble. It's a trickier play, but still can be very effective if you have a shorter but very quick guard. So they way it should work for a right-handed guard is one hard dribble with the right hand towards the defense, then a quick reverse spin (clockwise) making sure to push the ball out in front after the spin. You don't need to use a whistle for this one either.

I usually don't emphasize too much the use of these techniques to break traps and double-teams. I think the ball-reversal is a much safer and more effective way to move the ball. But if you have some great ball-handling guards, these are individual skills which they should learn anyways to become better players.

For great video info, I would highly recommend the Better Basketball video on breaking traps. Also you should take a look at Lorenzo Romar's DVD on 10 game relevant ball handling drills. Coach Romar is the head coach at the University of Washington and has helped produced NBA guards such as Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy. As always, be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.

This was taken on Saturday during the busy weekend back from exam week in college basketball. Loyola Chicago was playing hard M2M defense against Dayton and Dayton had this really neat 4 stagger stack SLOB play. There is plenty of motion and mis-direction that it should throw off a lot of your opponents that haven't scouted the play before. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Curl and Backdoor:

Against teams that are really pressuring you M2M, denying everything and stepping in front of passes, you have to have the threat of the backdoor play. You will either score, or relieve the pressure by forcing the defense to fall back towards the basket and defend the paint.

This play is great in that it accomplishes those 2 things against aggressive pressure M2M. To go through it, O3 is the first to break from the stagger going wide side all the way around O5 then cutting towards the basket. O1 breaks next and will look for the pass from O2 at the same time as O5 is curling around. O4 will break to the wide side after O3 passes him. O5 is the final safety and will cut towards the inbounder. O5 should be your tallest player in the case where the defense has taken everything away, O2 should be able to lob it to O5 to at least get the ball inbounded.

The only thing you have to watch out for on this SLOB play is that it is a little slow developing. So you need to make sure that O3 hustles to get out quickly or you could get called on the 5-second violation.

For more information, there is a Winning Hoops DVD with over 70 baseline inbounds plays. It has a lot of great drills you can use to help develop those slashing skills that these offenses require. To discuss this and other basketball coaching topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum.

I watched the first half of the Detroit game against Houston earlier today in between football games. Detroit was doing it's usual best to free up the deadly Rip Hamilton, 1-on-1 post up iso's with Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups. Another Pistons staple is their tough defense. I took this nice overhead clip from the FSN slow-mo that shows Antonio McDyess' great post defense on Houston's Yao Ming. One of those little things that make a big difference, force the post player to catch the ball 1, 2 feet further from the low block. It may not sound like much 1-2 feet, but it makes a huge difference for a big man trying to make a move and get into position to shoot. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

The Pistons used a variety of defenders on Yao and limited him to 4-13 shooting, for 12 points total. Again, not a dominant defensive shutdown, but effective nonetheless. Don't let the post-player catch the ball any closer to the basket than they need, try to force at least 1-2 feet further out.

Post Defense Drill:

One of the things we work on in our 4-out 1-in offense is post entry. At the same time, we want our post-players to be good post defenders. This drill works on both. You can run it with just the 3 perimeter or with 4 perimeter players.

The idea is to pass the ball around the perimeter looking for a good post-entry while the post-player fights the post-defender for position going from block to middle to block and reverse. A lot of times, young players post up once, then they give up. Also, perimeter players usually look into the post once, then try to do their own thing. This drill helps to reinforce the idea of constantly fighting for position and being patient on offense looking for good post-entry opportunities. While on the defensive side, it helps reinforce the idea of battling the post-player to gain that extra 1-2 feet we talked about above.

You can add a competitive aspect like if the offensive player scores, he stays on while the defender must do a set of lines. When the defender deflects the ball, the passer does a set of lines. If the defender stops successfully, the defender becomes the post-player and the offensive post-player has to do a set of lines.

For some more great info on post=play, take a look at Coach Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on post-player development. Coach K and his assistant Steve Wojciechowski go through fundamentals both on post-offense and post-defense. Coack K has developed some of the best big men in the game such as Carlos Boozer. Happy holidays and don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes.

I tried to watch as many college basketball games as possible on this busy Saturday before Christmas. Of course, there was a couple of bowl games on as well so there was a lot of flipping going on. Anyways, I watched most of the Michigan and UCLA game, mostly because I'm a big fan of both Ben Howland and John Beilein. Coach Howland may have got the win, but coach Beilein won a lot of believers in his first chance on national network TV. Michigan had been blown out by some ranked teams, Duke, Georgetown, Southern Illinois and a lot of people were starting to wonder whether coach Beilein was the right man at UM, I think his players helped answer that question today. The Wolverines used their 1-3-1 half-court trap to confuse the heck out of UCLA and got them totally out of whack. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Trap Middle:

Coach Beilein uses a variety of traps and sets. The most common one is the middle trap. On all 1-3-1 sets, the sideline players, X2 and X3, must come up and put pressure up top. Then the zone shifts, and they get ready to trap. You usually think of the 4 corners as places to trap, but in the 1-3-1, one of the most ideal places to trap is the elbow where middle X4 is, all 3 defenders can converge on that point easily and force a turnover, as seen in the video.

Again, the key is for X2 or X3, depending on what side the ball is on, to put pressure and force the ball to be passed either to the other sideline or to the wing.

Like the packline, you encourage penetration, especially right into the elbow area, where all 3 defenders can collapse easily and trap and force the turnover.

1-3-1 into 2-3:

One of the most effective transitions that Michigan used in the game was to fall back into basically a 2-1-2 or 2-3 zone once the ball was entered below the free-throw line extended.

Same idea as above, you must force the dribbler up top to either pass sideline to sideline or down to the wing using X2 and X3 putting pressure up top. Once the pass is made and the offense attempts to penetrate you must stop/trap them and force the pass out, in this case UCLA lobs it to the wing-corner.

Once the ball is entered below the free-throw line extended, Michigan would flatten into basically a 2-3 zone look. In the video sequence, UCLA would shoot the 3-pointer and miss. It confused the heck out of UCLA, they seemed disoriented throughout most of the game, until around the 10 minute mark of the second half when UCLA started to break the game open.


The pattern that coach Beilein used looked to be 1-3-1 zone defense after all makes and inbounds. Off of rebounds and turnovers, they were in M2M. The constant switching and various traps and schemes seemed to really throw off UCLA, who isn't known for their offense.

As posted previously, coach Beilein doesn't have a DVD with his 1-3-1, but you can get Seth Greenberg's DVD who outlines his 1-3-1 zone defense. Happy holidays, and be sure to head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.

In this holiday edition post, I came across this clip in the Sportscenter highlights tonight. The Magic just got blown out at home no less, a 19-point beatdown at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Stan Van Gundy, obviously frustrated at his team, let it all hang out. Here is the clip,

This is part of the transcript as well,

"We're absolutely frightened of contact -- frightened. We won't put our body in front of anybody driving the ball to the basket. We don't screen anybody, we won't block anybody out. It's a soft team, and until they change the results won't change."

The Magic were one of the best teams heading into December, and now have lost 7 of their last 9, including 4 straight at home.

I think it's a good move by Stan Van Gundy to call out the toughness and motivation of the team. I usually don't think these kind of public dress-downs work and I've seen them backfire in the past, but in this case I think the situation warrants it. The talent is certainly there, the Magic just aren't playing good team defense right now, and it shows.

Hopefully all of you are settled in and will be enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of the readers and posters on the forum. I hope that you all have learned as much as I have in the short time that I've been posting here and on the forum. Lets hope that next year will be as good as this year and that all of our coaching wishes come true in 2008.

I leave you with some great information from the sponsors of this blog and the forum. They have all been very generous in their support so I hope all the readers help support them as well.

Better Basketball

Better Basketball is the home to the world's finest 1-on-1 basketball improvement video library you will ever find. With such instructors on their roster like Rick Barry, Jason Kidd, JJ Redick, Sue Bird, combined with their unique but proven instructional method, their DVDs will do wonders to help your players improve in all areas of the game.

CREZ Basketball

Offering a one-stop shop to help track, diagram, organize and maintain all of your team's statistics, video, plays, scouting, and player evaluations all in one convenient place. CREZ software will enable your organization to take advantage of new technology to become more effective and efficient. Don't get left behind in the digital age, it's never too late to start.


Talking X's and O's is hard when you can't illustrate it. Courtsick has created an innovative portable sticky poster that you can bring with you everywhere you go so that you'll never be left in a situation where you are unable to show your team exactly who, where, and how you want your team to play on the court.


Home of the web's finest collection of bloggers such as Mr. Irrelevant, and FreeDarko (and X's and O's of Basketball of course). The Yardbarker network is the only blog network to have stars such as Greg Oden, Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis blogging on the network.

Championship DVDs

You would be hard pressed to find a library of DVDs as comprehensive as Championship Productions. They have been sponsors for many coaches clinics as well. If you are looking for a coaching DVD, chances are they have it.

If your company or organization is interested in being a sponsor, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I watched a little bit of the women's college basketball game last night between UTSA and Virginia Tech played at Tulane. I watched for a bit when I did notice that UTSA was essentially using the dribble drive motion offense. They got clobbered in this game and VT won easily but I did look up UTSA a little bit and they've been pretty good so far this season. There were 6-2 heading into the game, and they start 2 freshmen. Their lineup is pretty small and they use the press a lot on defense. They also push the ball a lot after rebounds and makes. I only had a chance to take a few clips but they show the dribble drive well in a different situation other than Memphis. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Drive, Kick, Clearout:

The court is spread in a 4-out 1-in set. Here, UTSA likes to have their forward play closer to the sideline to create even more space in the lane to drive. The key point here, is that once you drive and kick the ball out, you must clear out to either corner and fill, the corner player should move up and fill the vacated spot.

The first one doesn't go really anywhere so O3 just hands it off to O1 and clears out to the opposite corner. O2 moves up to fill the vacated spot at the top of the key.

O1 attacks the middle and kicks it out to O4, O1 clears out to the corner. O4 attacks the middle again and this time draws the foul.

Use Handoffs:

The handoff is a good play to use because it uses a screen as well as rapid change of direction. Here, O1 dribbles hard at O2 and then handsoff the ball. O2 then curls around and attacks the hoop for the score.

The only thing I don't like about the way this play is executed by UTSA is that O1 doesn't really set a screen. She kind of just gets out of the way quickly. In my opinion, right after you hand the ball off, you want to set a screen and hold the defender, make them really work. Here, the defender, X2 is basically stride for stride with O2 and O2 just makes a good drive and layup. It would be more effective if O1 set a good screen on X2.

The UTSA Roadrunners were beaten badly mainly because Virginia Tech broke their press scoring a bunch of easy baskets and also they got outrebounded badly due to a big size mismatch. They are a young team and with more experience running this offense, they will no doubt improve.

For a relatively new video on perimeter play improvement, take a look at Jason Shay's DVD on 33 Perimeter drills. Coach Shay's is an assistant with the University of Tennessee men's team. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.

It was a long day for me today as we wind down for the Christmas break and so I didn't get to watch a lot of action tonight. I caught the end of the half of the Cavs game against the Lakers and the Cavs ran this 1-4 spread isolation play that I thought would be good to show. With the attention that Duke is getting with their spread offense, and the dribble drive stuff that Memphis uses to go along with NBA teams like the Suns and Warriors, these kinds of iso plays are certainly showing up in more and more playbooks that's for sure. Though it would seem that there is a lot of standing around by the off-ball players, I like the offense because it spreads the defense and allows great penetrating players like a Lebron to attack the gaps. In fact, Lamar Odom talked about it in his half-time interview with Cheryl Miller about getting spread out and then LeBron attacking the net, he said they needed to adjust by packing it in and forcing LeBron to be a jump shooter. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

1-4 Low, Spread PNR:

It's a 1-4 low set to start. This automatically means that the defenders must be aware of their checks below them. The 1-4 low set is a great set to use in 1-on-1 situations because it forces the defense to spread low. You can bring a forward to come and ball-screen and then your primary scorer can attack the basket. Because the other offensive players are playing low, it makes it very easy for the driver to find the open man underneath when the defense helps, which they always do.

I thought the Lakers tried to defend it as best they could. You have to come help because it's LeBron, if you don't he dunks it on you. We played a team last year with a kid that averaged 30+ ppg, they ran a lot of wing iso's and it was similar, if you didn't help, he would dunk it on you.

By spreading the defense, you will create large gaps where your great slashing guards or forwards can attack. By attacking the gaps, you create open shots or layups underneath. In this modern age of basketball where every little touch is called a foul, dribble penetration is king. The key though, is that you have to have quick guards that can drive and attack the rim, and shooters that can hit outside shots.

For some info on your players can improve their 1-on-1 perimeter skills, check out Phil Martelli's DVD on becoming a better 1-on-1 player. It has a lot of great drills you can use to help develop those slashing skills that these offenses require. To discuss this and other basketball coaching topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum.

Having missed the Memphis vs Cincinnati game earlier in the day while our freshman team played, I was eager to catch the west coast game, Arizona vs UNLV. I knew that since Kevin O'Neill had taken over for Lute Olson that the defense would be different, but the offense was drastically different as well, a lot more Pro-style and the high-post motion was virtually non-existent.

UNLV played extremely well early, but struggled mightily with about 5 minutes to go. I made a short highlight clip here to show, how well the Running Rebels had been playing, especially executing their offense, and then how the offense had stalled in the final fateful 2 minutes when the game turned on them. I would be interested to hear Coach Lon Kruger's take, I think that fatigue had something to do with it, but still, players must be able to execute properly down the stretch. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

Flex Action:

The Rebels ran some really great stuff early on. Considering that they had quite the size disadvantage, I thought their flex and backdoor plays worked extremely well. Here is the second sequence from the clip.

Off of the first set of screens and cuts, O1 is actually open here but the pass is not made, which is fine. O4 is the second cutter who is less open but is a good second option.

O1 comes off a double stagger and receives the pass from O3 on the wing. At this point, if O1 has a shot, he can take it. O4 pops out after the screen to the wing. O1 chooses to pass to O4. At the same time, O5 sets a flex baseline screen for O1 who comes off the screen along the baseline up around O4 who hands off to O2 for the 3-pointer.

What makes the play great is that X2 gets caught off the flex screen, goes over the top, then tries to trail O2 and of course is way late to contest the shot.

Bad Offense:

Nothing to diagram here. I don't know if the Rebels were just tired, but obviously, you don't see any movement off-ball. The ball basically goes nowhere, dribbles a few steps one way, then passed. They use up the whole clock and though they actually get a decent shot down low, it doesn't go anywhere. They get lucky and get the ball back, and the next sequence is pretty much the same. In fact, the Rebels would not score a field goal in the final 3 minutes.

Nothing worse to me than offense where 1 guy has the ball, makes a couple of dribbles, while the other 4 players are just standing. Arizona was playing pretty good defense here, but it's easy to look like a good defensive team when the offense is just standing there.

For me, UNLV just lost their purpose on offense. They didn't know what exactly they were trying to do. Were they going to drive and kick, backdoor cuts, get the ball into the post? Their offense had no purpose. That's what hurt them in the end of the game. This kind of loss hurts, because UNLV deserved to win, but didn't.

For more info on running the flex, you should take a look at Mark Few's DVD Flex for Success, but Gary Williams of Maryland also does a great job breaking down the Flex so you should look at Gary Williams DVD on the Flex as well. Discuss this and your other favorite basketball coaching topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches.

I only caught the first quarter or so of this game between the Suns and Mavs. As expected, it had the feel of a playoff type game similar to the Celtics/Pistons game earlier. When the games actually mean something, the NBA can be very good to watch from a basketball perspective. Players actually playing hard defense and good execution on offense. I see a lot of plays like this one, where Dirk Nowitzki comes off of a downscreen (either on the block or in this case elbow) and curls around and gets the ball right around the free-throw/elbow. That's probably his favorite place to shoot other than the 3-pointer. Anyways, as is mostly the case, it is usually the screener that is usually open, and that is who Dirk hits to finish this play off. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Get your Scorer the Ball:

If you happen to be lucky enough to have a great scorer, especially a shooter, you need to get that player the ball in the area where they are most comfortable in to shoot. For Dirk, that is anywhere on the free-throw line or both elbows, and the step into 3-pointer on the wing. If you watch a lot of Mavs games, take a look at Dirk's shot chart, most of his jumpers are in those spots. Onto the play, this really is a play designed to get Dirk the ball at that spot he likes to shoot in.

I didn't diagram it, but Devin Harris starts the play by passing to Josh Howard at the top of the key, then he cuts to the basket off a Erick Dampier upscreen. This sets up the Dirk curl. Dampier sets the downscreen for Dirk to curl off of and receive the pass from Josh in his sweet spot. Now, I've seen many times where Dirk will shoot it and nail it. This time though, he finds the open cutter.

Screener is usually open:

You hear it a lot, the screener is usually open after the screen. In this case, Erick's defender, X5, steps up to contest a possible shot by Dirk, since Dirk's defender trailed and is late to recover. Erick slips the screen and rolls to the basket.

It's just a simple hi-lo pass from Dirk to Erick who makes a nice pump fake then puts it off the glass.

As I was saying, when the games mean something, the NBA is good to watch. The Suns were up their old tricks and despite being down big, kept fighting to stay in it. Execution has been one of the reasons why Dirk and the Mavs have been clicking lately. I read a Yahoo! AP report that described it as "crisp".

For more great Pick and Roll basketball info, take a look at Jeff Van Gundy's DVD on the pick and roll offense. Van Gundy is a master of the PNR offense 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.

I talk alot about man defense here, manning up, tough lockdown defense. I do it because I think it's important. I think that your offense will only be as good as your ability to stop your opponents. If your team is not blessed with a lot of talent, it is a must that you defend, you can't win without it. Tonight, the Raptors flew across the country to play on west coast time (10pm EST), in order to win this game, they would have to defend. It was interesting to me that the Raptors lost the other night to the vaunted Celtics and the Raptors all talked about becoming a better team defensively. Last I checked, the Raptors were seventh in PPGA. Anyways, rambling on a bit, the point here is that when they were down by 10 or so at halftime, they would need some stops, especially on a night when their shooting was atrocious. So, how exactly do you win a game on the road shooting 37.5% overall and 20% from downtown? Watch the video below to find out,

Double the Post:

Though the Clippers are no Celtics and Chris Kaman is no Dwight Howard, you must protect the paint. In the clip, Kaman comes off of a PNR and Chris Bosh is left to defend him. The Raptors do a great job of collapsing into the paint, forcing Kaman to kick it back out,

Yes, it is essentially a quad-team. Probably not what I would've suggested, but it does accomplish the goal of forcing Kaman into a tough spot, and making him kick it back out.

Recover and Closeout:

Now, we're talking NBA players here. If this was your HS team, the center probably would've thrown a bad pass OB, taken a bad shot or blocked, or traveled. Kaman is a good player and makes a good pass out of the quad-team.

I can't really tell, but I think it's Anthony Parker, X2, that does a great job here of recovering to Corey Maggette, O2. He doesn't bite on the shot fake, then Anthony closes out the baseline drive by Corey, helped by X3 who I think is Jamario Moon. By now, the shot clock is about 3 seconds and Corey can only pull back and try a fade away baseline jumper. I believe he actually doesn't get it off in time.


What I loved about the sequences in the video clip is that the Raptors defended for the entire 24 seconds. And they did it twice on consecutive defensive possessions. It was a critical point in the game where Chris Bosh was going 1-on-1 offensively as the team was shooting blanks, and they needed stops to make a run, which they did.

It's that old adage, defense wins championships. I don't have to believe it, you don't have to believe it, your players have to believe it. As coaches, we always stress defense, but it's really just lip service unless your players actually do it.

Just in time for the holidays, Jamie Dixon's new DVD on his 10-point shell drill for better M2M defense is now available for purchase. Coach Dixon is head coach for the 11th ranked Pittsburgh Panthers who look to be quite the formidable defensive team this season. As always, be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.