I was watching a video the other day, Tony Pappas and the Art of Shooting. It had some great tips on developing better shooters.

3 Core Shooting Concepts:
- technique
- repetition
- mental aspect

I've always said that to be a good shooter, just requires practice. But shooting is like golf. There are a bunch of guys that have unorthodox swings, but play in the PGA, because they practice so often. But if you have a good swing technique combined with practice, you'll be that much better. Jim Furyk is a great example, terrible swing form, but because he practices, he's good. Tiger Woods, perfect swing form + practice = best golfer in the world.

The other concept here is degrees of difference. Sometimes there are different points of emphasis, or slightly different ball/body position. However, the fundamentals stay the same.

Body Position:
- 10 toes pointed to the basket
- hips + shoulder squared
- feet placed directly underneath shoulders, not too wide, not too narrow

Ball Position:
- hand placement on the ball in the center
- check for air b/w ball and palm
- ball should be on pads of fingers, never too high, never too low like on resting on the palm
- thumbs should form a T (can touch or not)
- palm to the sky, arm should form a 90-degree angle

The Shooting line:
- toe, knee, elbow, ball
- There should be an imaginary line that goes from the floor, to the toe, thru the knee, up to the elbow and to the ball

The Shooting Pocket:
- shoulders, elbow form the shooting pocket
- tight and tucked, very important
- eyes over the ball, see the rim

Eyes Thru the Window:
- Eyes focused on the rim as the ball goes up looking thru the arms
- Don't follow the arc and path

Push, Down and Out:
- with middle finger first, then forefinger, hold the release

- finish with the elbow at the eyes
- finish on top of the toes then back down on the heels

Another neat concept is to use tape and make lines, both on the court, and a big one on the ball. That way, you can see if the shooter is in the right alignment all the way through.

Here is what the proper ball position should look like, or at least resemble,


I see all kinds of bad shooting form from most kids these days. I see a lot of staggered feet, elbows flapping around, and head cocking. Sometimes, kids get good at shooting despite the bad form, but I've always felt it was better to shoot worse with proper form and correct it over time, then to let bad habits linger. Remember, you could be a Jim Furyk and play in the PGA with a funky swing, or you could be a Tiger Woods, the best golfer ever with the best swing ever.

For more great info on shooting technique, take a look at Ed Palubinskas's DVD on Becoming a Great Shooter. Coach Palubinskas has worked with professionals such as Lisa Leslie, Shaquille O'Neal and recently Lauren Jackson. 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.

Caught the first half between Germany and Poland in a FIBA friendly this morning. It wasn't a very good game, score was like 19-17 at halftime. Apparently Germany was missing a couple of their best players (besides Dirk) so that may be one reason.

I did catch a couple of nice clips of Dirk Nowitzki making some nice passes. If I was the German coach, I probably would've wanted Dirk to take a few more shots, especially at his sweet spot, the high elbows. But still, Dirk is getting his teammates involved which is a good sign that he is a team-player and wants to contribute more than just scoring. Take a look,

Dirk Attracts a Crowd:

I like what Dirk does in these plays. This first one, Poland is in M2M, but everyone is so focused when Dirk has the ball, the German forward just does a basket cut and Dirk finds him wide open down low. It's just a blown assignment by the Polish defender,

In this second clip, Dirk is able to penetrate the lane (with the help of a no-call forearm). Once that happens, it's a 2v1 to the hoop because the Polish help-side has to come up and take on Dirk. In my opinion though, Dirk should've elevated and dunked this one,

If you've got the best player on the floor, there is usually so much attention focused by the defense on that one player, that it should be able to get easy opportunities for the other offensive players. Problem is, on this night, Germany's other players weren't able to take advantage.


The FIBA wildcard qualifying tournament starts in 2 weeks to determine the final 3 spots. It's a 12-team tournament, and Germany is one of them. Based on today's performance, they won't make it. But with the exception of Brazil and Croatia, I think Germany has a shot at getting that 3rd and last spot (sorry Canada).

If you want to learn to make passes like this, take a look at Ganon Baker's DVD on Passing Drills. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Found this great clip from earlier in the NBA season with a behind the scenes look at the New Orleans Hornets Training Camp from last season. One of the great things about watching NBA practices is how individually focused they are. Each player is broken down and analyzed and practices are designed specifically to maximize each player's potential.

Now, obviously as a high school coach or lower, you don't nearly have the coach to player ratio to be able to emulate that kind of attention, but there are some cool things that you can try to incorporate, especially for individual development. Take a look at this 2 min clip,

Using a Training Harness:

I love using the training harness. I've used it for football in the past, and it's a great way to incorporate resistance training into everything that you do. We usually use it for RBs, QBs and LBs but as shown here with Tyson Chandler, it can be very effective for explosion training for rebounding and jumping,

Other Thoughts:

- 20 suicides in 20 minutes, pretty standard conditioning drill for beginning of season to build up endurance.

- Bobby Jackson, says he always shoots 100 3s, then 100 mid-range after practice. "You have to always work as a shooter. You can't think that your jumpshot will always go in. You have to work at it. It's my 11th year, and I still work on the little things."

- Byron Scott, "Biggest thing about our team, if you don't work hard, you don't get respect. Not just from the coaching staff, but from the players."

For more info on improving your speed and conditioning, check out Alan Stein's new DVD on Reaction & Quickness Drills for Basketball. Coach Stein is the conditioning coach for Montrose Christian, famously for having worked with Kevin Durant. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

I was just reading the latest Xavier Newsletter that the great staff of Sean Miller produces every other week. I've run similar passing/defense combined drills before, but this one looks awesome especially if you run any kind of 5-out or 4-out motion offense. Here is the lowdown:


"Can you do conditioning with a ball in your hand instead of just running?" This drill evolved from this question.

Drill involves 10 players - 5 on offense vs. 5 on defense. It is executed for :45-:60 seconds in the NBA and :90 seconds in college.

Rules: No dribbling, no screening, no shooting. Emphasize passing! As one player has the ball the other four offensive players make 10-15 ft. cuts - no 3 ft. cuts are allowed. The drill is initiated by a coach or manager who is out of bounds. This initial pass does not count.

From this pass forward every time a pass is completed the receiver yells the # on the catch. A coach always encourages offensive movement. Anytime that you make a pass as a player you then cut. On any deflected pass or turnover pass a manager or coach who is out of bounds quickly passes the ball to an offensive player to keep the pace of the drill moving. This pass is not counted.

As a defender, your responsibility is to NOT allow your man to receive a pass. Deny everywhere. At the end of the allotted time you count the number of catches by the offense as a unit, or the number of catches by individual players. The drill flip flops with the offense going to defense and the defense going to offense. Use two rotations.

Great conditioner, very competitive, high accountability. Beware of "brother and law" deals happening. Make players guard different offensive players.

Learn to improve your offensive skills, the Sean Miller way. Sean Miller's DVD on Offensive Improvement has some great info on 1v1 play. How to use your feet, explosion series, very relevant video in the modern dribble drive era. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

Nothing gets me going more than watching a team play great defense. In their win last night against the Detroit Shock, the Connecticut Sun played some great man-to-man defense against the Shock and was the main reason why they won the game, their first in over 10 tries.

There wasn't one thing specifically, but I put together a few plays which showed what a good M2M defensive team looks like. They got their hands into the passing lanes to deflect and steal lazy passes, they had great help-side defense to stop penetration, and finally I liked the way they played tough against the Shock by bumping Katie Smith and making her work for her points. Take a look,

Deny Defense, Deflections:

In good help and recover M2M, it's important for your guards to get into good deny position 1 pass away. Facing the check, 1 hand outward with thumbs pointing down. Here, the Shock just make a lazy pass from the inbounds and Lindsay Whelan is in great position to jump the pass and turn it into a fast break bucket,

Help-side, Stop Penetration:

Now, regardless of whether you advocate fighting through screens, or switching all screens, the ultimate goal is to stop penetration. In this clip, the Sun do a great job of forcing baseline, then the help-side switches and forces the penetration all the way to the baseline and forces the turnover over,

Bump the Cutter:

The Shock run some great plays for Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan, their best shooters. In fact, I'd say, they run a lot of stagger sets that resemble what the Pistons ran under both Flip and Larry for Rip. One of the ways to disrupt that kind of offense, is to teach your help-side defenders to bump the cutters. What you're teaching is impedance, and not to actually initiate contact which is a foul. In this play, Katie is bumped preventing her from receiving a pass to her on the block. So instead, she ends up going back the other way off some more stagger screens, and takes a much longer shot which she misses,


I watched the Sun last week when they beat my Seattle Storm and was very impressed with their toughness. After watching them beat the Shock last night, I was even more impressed with their attention to the little things. They rebound extremely well, they shoot a good percentage, they're patient on offense, they close out well, they stop penetration, they stay down on defense, etc... They play the game the right way, and that's a direct reflection of their coach, Mike Thibault.

For a unique video on defensive philosophy, take a look at Larry Shyatt's DVD on 7 Ways to Develop a Defensive Mindset. Coach Shyatt is an assistant on Billy Donovan's coaching staff at University of Florida. Talk about your late game situations over at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other great coaches from around the world.

Throughout the season, I've started to see more and more teams use a zone to defend the under the basket inbounds (BLOB) play. On the one hand, I think the zone is good at protecting the basket, but at the same time, it leaves you extremely vulnerable if the other team knows you are running a zone and can take advantage of it.

I saw this play from a book that I read, it appears on the surface that it would work very well against the zone. Depending on how the zone is defending (either packed in or spread to defend), it is flexible to take advantage of either situation.

Zone BLOB:

The set formation is a 2-2, with O1 inbounding and your best shooters setup at each corner. Your forwards are setup at each elbow of the lane. Against, the packed in zone (diag 1), you should be able to get an open 3-pointer with a pass to O2 or O3 along the baseline. Against a team that wants to spread out and defend the extremes (diag 2), your forwards O4 and O5 do an X-cut, guaranteed to throw off the zone defense for a quick score under the basket.

In fact, you can and should run the X-cut anyways, against any zone that hasn't prepared for it, should be a guaranteed bucket.

Your safety in this situation is O2. If O2 is being completely overplayed, O2 should be able to cut to towards the inbounder to receive the pass before a 5-second count.


I'd venture to guess that most teams that zone up the inbounds are probably packed in zones, looking to protect the basket. So the O2 and O3 3-pointers are probably the most likely plays out of this set. The X-cut is a nice surprise option for teams that haven't scouted you.

For more great video infor from a truly great basketball mind, take a look at Hubie Brown's DVD Part I + II on Special Situations. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and other basketball topics.

It was my first game of the year watching the defending champion Phoenix Mercury so far, and like their 4-7 record indicated, their play was sub-par. They still lead the league in points scored at 87 ppg, but the problem is they're allowing 90 ppga. On Sunday, the New York Liberty blew them out by 30.

I think what's happened is that teams are more accustomed to the way the Mercury play, which is basically similar to the Phoenix Suns, 7 seconds or less. Teams are getting back into transition defense quicker and forcing them to use up more clock.

I didn't watch them much last year, but in the game on Sunday, I noticed that the Mercury played a lot of zone, especially in the first half. The Liberty did a great job breaking the zone and in the process, blowing the game out wide open,

1-3-1 Zone Offense:

The basic formation of the Liberty's zone offense is the 1-3-1 against the Mercury's 3-2 matchup zone. The emphasis is on moving the ball side-to-side and using ball-fakes to move the defense. The ball also enters the high post area to draw the defenders in. The last part is teaching your O5 to play the weak side offensive rebound. The skip pass to 3-pointer is the scoring play here,

In this second clip, the Liberty penetrate the gap, then the kick out and reverse to the shooting guard who shuffles to the corner. When there is a big gap, like here between the top and wing defenders, you must penetrate and make the defense suck inward, then kick out,


I'm a huge Diana Taurasi fan, ever since her days at UConn. Her and Sue Bird keep a pretty lively blog called the Buddy Blog, you should check it out if you can. I love the way she plays, she's like a bulldog, relentless, aggressive and hungry. I also like her emotion, she's not afraid to show her feelings. She still leads the league in ppg, but clearly, the defense has been a problem. I think the zone was introduced because they thought it might slow some other teams down, but I think it's working against them. I think they should go back to M2M and break their players down some on the fundamentals. The zone, IMO, is a band aid solution, and not a good one at that.

For more zone offense info, Ben Braun has a new DVD on Principles of Zone Offense. Coach Braun is the head coach at Rice University. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

Now that the season is over, I'll have a chance to take a look at a few more interesting sets and ponder what ifs, etc... Basically random stuff that may or may not interest some of the casual reader, but hopefully will be insightful to you coaches out there that are preparing for Oct (can't believe that it's only 3.5 months away).

Today, we'll take a look at something that I came by a few months ago but haven't been able to post until now. This is the Double Motion Offense from Bill Kuchar who is a high school coach in New Jersey. In my opinion, it's kind of a hybrid between a flex motion and a blocker-mover motion. There is a lot of screen, re-screen, and cross cutting action that may confuse some teams, so therefore I'd recommend you use it if you're already running some form of flex or blocker-mover. Here is what Coach Kuchar says about the offense:

I designed this offense [...]. that would give our star scorer better-percentage shots, which would translate into higher scoring [...]. the offense is predicated on the success of the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward - those are generally known to be the 3 best shooters on the court.

Setup / Initial Motion:

The initial setup is a 1-2-2, but the wings go wider out from the elbows and the corners start inside the 3-point line.

Diag 1
1. O1 is your PG, and starts the offense by passing to O4.
2. At the same time, O2 sets a downscreen for O3.
3. O1 sets a stagger for O3 who curls around the screen and does a basket cut.
4. O4 has 3 options in this initial set, pass to O3 for the 3, O3 for the basket cut, or O3 who comes off a baseline screen by O5 for a corner 3-pointer

Diag 2
5. If none of those options are available, O1 is already going to set a downscreen for O2, who curls around looking for the free-throw line midrange shot from O4. O1 rolls to the basket and seals his defender for a quick look-in from O4.
6. O5 re-screens along the baseline for O3 who comes over the top this time and does a basket cut looking for the pass from O4, then L cuts back up to the opposite elbow.

Final Option to Reset:

Diag 3 and 4
7. If none of these options are available, O4 passes to O2 who drifts to the top of the key. O1 clears out to avoid the 3-second in the lane call.
8. O2 passes to O3 who pivots and faces the basket, if the drive is possible, then O3 can drive to the basket, preferably in no more than 1 dribble.
9. O5 sets an UCLA upscreen for O4 and if open O3 passes to O4 on the basket cut.
10. If still no open looks, O3 passes back to O2 and the motion resets to the 1-2-2- set.


Hopefully you see now what I mean by combo of the flex and blocker-mover. O4 and O5 are basically your blockers and O1, O2 and O3 are your movers. It uses the downscreen and baseline screens exclusively, just like a flex. It's good because in your traditional blocker-mover motion, it's very much random screening and cutting and guys are bumping into each other a lot. This double motion offense has a little more structure, but not so much structure that it becomes too predictable.

I don't know any specific teams that run this offense, but the flex teams out there in men's div1 are Boston College, Gonzaga and Maryland. The Blocker/Mover teams are Texas Tech and Washington St. If you've seen a team run this, I'd definitely like to hear your comments about it in live action.

There is no specific video for the double motion offense, but you can combine concepts in Dick Bennett's DVD on the Blocker/Mover Offense and Gary Williams Mastering the Flex to teach this basic offense. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

First off, what a fantastic game last night between the Minnesota Lynx and the Detroit Shock. Just when it looked like the Lynx were going to walk away with the win in the 4th quarter, Deanna Nolan went crazy with the 3-pointers sending the game to OT where the Shock went on to beat the Lynx.

This is a really short clip. But the more I think about it, the more I don't like the idea of jamming the outlet or trapping the rebounder after a missed shot. Anytime you make an aggressive play like that, it's a risk/reward type deal. In my opinion, the risk of giving up an easy basket as a result of the jam/trap is not worth the reward which is the occasional chance to slow the other team's fast break. I know, it probably appears like I'm selectively picking a sequence just to prove my point, but I've seen this sequence play out more often than what the jam/trap was intended to do. Take a look,

Fast Break off Jam the Rebound:

In theory, if executed properly, the trap on the rebounder should force a TO, either a bad pass, travel or 5 second call. The problem here, specifically, is that Candice Wiggins of the Lynx is too quick of a ball handler to trap. Especially when she hasn't started her dribble yet. She gets around her defenders and it's basically a 5-on-3 break,

Even if they didn't double-team her, I still think the trap on the rebounder wouldn't be very effective. Wiggins would continue beating her defender off the dribble and it would be a 5-on-4 break.


I think that in some very specific cases, jamming the rebounding may be effective. Maybe against a team that had a prolific outlet passer like Kevin Love, it may work to jam him so that he can't make that long baseball pass. But otherwise, I think traditional, run back to your own key is a better way for transition defense.

On the flip side, if I'm on offense and the other team is jamming my rebounders, I'm telling them to break to the middle of the floor and take advantage of numbers. Turn the other team's aggressiveness against them by getting out in transition. If you're a transition team, jamming the outlet really shouldn't prevent you from still running, and in fact will probably work to your advantage if you are quicker than the other team.

For more on transition defense, you should check out Chris Lowery's new DVD on Transition Defense and Halfcourt M2M. Coach Lowery is the brains behind the Southern Illinois tenacious defense. 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've finally had some downtime the past couple of days and I took that time to reorganize my inventory of coaching notes that I've downloaded the past few months. I updated the Downloads Page with the newest updates and I will try to upload some notes everyday. The new stuff (well some of it is probably old by now) is listed below,

Anyways, coaches, thanks for your support and happy reading...

Clinic Notes

Central Iowa 2007 2nd annual Clinic Notes
Billy Donovan UF Coaching Clinic
Bruce Weber Thoughts
Double Pump Clinic Notes
John Wooden Coaching Tips
Lisa Stone Clinic
Okshkosh Spartan Girls Basketball Manual
Percy Carr - San Jose City College Coaching Clinic
Todd Barry - Briar Cliff University


Matchup Zone Rules by CarlCarl2
Ernie Woods - Disruptive Pressure Philosophy
Jeff Lebo - Double the post
Creighton Burns - Point Zone
Tusculum Pressure Pack Line Defense
SIU Rush Drill, by coach Sixteenhorsepower
St. John's - Storming the Boards
Todd Voss - Concordia Defensive Philosophy
Vivian Stringer - 55 Full Court press


Beatrice, Omaha, Attacking Zones
Michael Pfeuffer Blocker Mover Offense
Coach LSU -Zone Quick Hitter Against 3-2
Dick Bennett, Blocker Mover Offense
Haefner - Winning Plays
Heath Millar, Frankston Basketball, 5-out Offense
Houston Rockets series
Iowa Press Break
Jim Seward - Offensive philosophy
John Carrier - Open Post Motion Notes4
Minnesota Timberwolves 1997 play book
Oregon's Open and Early offense
Perkins County - Oklahoma 1-4 Offense
Phoenix Suns Offensive sets
Rick Torbett - read and react offence
Stinson - 3out Zone Offense
Will Rey - Universal System for Attacking Presses


Australia Basketball Dribbling
Billy Gillispie In Your Face Pressure Defensive Drills
Brian Goorjian - bommers indiv def tech
Duke Drills for Defense
Duke Drive and Kick Drill
Frankston & District Drills 1.1
Gregg Popovich Spurs Drill
Haefner - Winning Drills
Herb Livsey Teaching Shooting
Johnston, South Dakota Women's - Offensive drills
KU Women's 1v1 Drills
Northeastern State - Individual workout drills
Purdue Intensity Drills
Sample Varsity Lifting Schedule
Sean Miller Offensive Improvement drills
shooting and conditioning drill
SMU 20 Shooting 20 Drills
Syracuse Running Program
Wake Forest - Competitive Rebounding Drills Diagram

Program Building

Basketball Team Dysfunctions
Bessen, St. Marys HS Girls Coaches Manual
Developing Your Coaching Philosophy
Errol Gauff - Team Building

Dribble Drive, Walberg Stuff

Memphis Off 24 pages
Memphis Blood Drills
Vance Walberg Scouting the Memphis DDM


FIBA Amadou Gallo Fall Basketball for Life
FIBA Matteo Boniciolli Side Screen Readings
FIBA Mike McHugh Defensive Transition
FIBA Joan Plaza Zone Offense, Fundamentals
FIBA Don Casey 3-2 and 2-3 Zone Presses
FIBA Ryan Krueger Coaching Terminology
FIBA Mario Blasone Neglected Fundamentals
FIBA Pete Newell How to go to the Rebound
FIBA Oktay Mahmuti The Secondary Fastbreak
FIBA Flip Saunders Pistons 50 Defense
FIBA Ernie Woods Statistics to Evaluate Defensive Performance

The San Antonio Silver Stars took on the winless Atlanta Dream last night in the WNBA, and the result was as expected. The Stars took the game on the road thanks to strong games by the duo of Becky Hammon and Ann Wauters.

It was probably more to do with the poor defense by the Dream than excellent offense by the Silver Stars, but nonetheless, Hammon was able to drive at will last night. She reminds me of a Steve Nash type of a player, can get into the teeth of the defense, then make the right play. Here are a couple of drive and dish plays from the second half,

Drive and Dish:

That's why it's critical that your players are good 1v1 defenders, so that they won't get beat on the perimeter and require your interior defenders to leave their man and stop the penetration. On the flip side, if you have a penetrating guard like Becky, you have use her ability to get into the teeth of the defense, and allow her to make the right play.

The first play was just a wing drive by Becky, she's able to get all the way to the basket, then the easy dish to Ann,

In this second play, it's out of a 1-2-2 set. There is a stagger ball-screen for Becky. Ann rolls to the basket. Becky comes off the second screen and is able to turn the corner and go straight to the basket unimpeded, where she finds an open Ann,


I think Becky Hammon is a great player, but I agree with the Team USA picks, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are better. I don't have a problem with Becky going to play for Team Russia, after all, she just wants to play. Russia has seen fit to give her a passport as she's played a number of years for CSKA Moscow. I don't see her less of an American now that she will play for Team Russia, but one things for sure, it's going to be one heck of a match between USA and Russia this summer.

With the popularity of the dribble-drive offense, more videos have been coming out for it. Here is Jerry Petitgoue's new DVD on the Dribble Drive Offense. I like Petitgoue's stuff on the open post for youth players, so I'm sure this one is a good one as well. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

Congrats to the Boston Celtics, the 2008 NBA World Champions. They dominated every facet of the game and the outcome of the game was never in doubt after the first quarter and a half. The Lakers weren't able to get that early lead like they did at home and when the Celtics made their run, nothing was stopping them this time.

Here is the key 2nd quarter sequence for me. The score is still pretty close, up by 5 or so points. The Celtics get a big offensive rebound, which they convert into a 3-pointer out of a Paul Pierce double-team to skip pass. On defense, they stop the penetration by Vujacic and come back the other way for a fast-break 3-pointer. Boom, 9-point lead, turn out the lights, game over. Take a look,

I love the spread setup here by the Celtics. It's why Phil Jackson hates to double-team, because it causes so many residual problems when you try to recover. This is exasperated by the Celtics spread, which prevents the close outs,

The Celtics really won this series with their defense. With the exception of a few quarters, they really locked down. We all know they have the capability of shutting anyone down in the half-court, but their ability to transition back on defense was the key. The Lakers got some fast-break points, but not much. That was also helped by their methodical offense, playing possession basketball and taking quality shots minimizes the Lakers opportunities to push the ball.

Again, congrats to the city of Boston, home of the 2007 World Series Champs and now the 2008 NBA World Champs. Paul Pierce is the best player the Celtics have, and was well-deserving of the Finals MVP. What a playoffs, what a season, can't wait to do it all again in November.

Lets face it, we all could use more help on teaching better shooting. Take a look at Ed Palubinskas's DVD on Becoming a Great Shooter. Coach Palubinskas has worked with professionals such as Lisa Leslie, Shaquille O'Neal and recently Lauren Jackson. 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.

The Lakers played "good enough to win, I guess", according to Kobe Bryant in his post-game interview with ESPN's Michelle Tafoya. I whole-heartedly agree with ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy who said that the way the Lakers played tonight, it's not good enough to get it done in Boston.

At the start of this series, I said that the Lakers transition offense would play a major factor. Tonight, the Lakers were able to get out and score some baskets in transition, including the big Kobe steal off of Paul Pierce and dunk the other way in the 4th quarter. Here are the first-half fast break highlights, and the Kobe steal at the end of the game,

It's funny, I just posted earlier today about how good defense leads to good offense. That was the Los Angeles Sparks from last night, same thing tonight with the Lakers.


You must stop the ball, rebound it, then outlet,

Mark Jackson says the play below was a gamble, a risky home-run play. I don't really see it that way, Garnett came to set a solid ball-screen on Kobe for Paul Pierce. The only play Kobe really could make from his position of getting screened was to reach around and attempt the deflection, which he did. To me, it was just a smart play by a smart player in the heat of the moment,


Do I think the Lakers can still win this series?? Absolutely. The problem is that the Lakers will not be able to come out gangbusters and get the same kind of early leads they've had in LA. They will probably have to play from behind, which means that they need to take good shots on offense and on defense, they must find a way to stop Paul Pierce's penetration in the lane. The Celtics, meanwhile, may regret not ending the Lakers here in Game 5, but if they can get a big early lead, they have the defense to close out the Lakers at home.

If you're interested in an unique look at the fast break, take a look at Stu Vetter's DVD on the Fast Break. Coach Vetter is the head coach at Montrose Academy (HS where Kevin Durant went to school) and has some great ideas on reducing dribbles when fast breaking. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.

We talk alot about X's and O's, but sometimes basketball is as simple as: play good defense, and run the court. The wrote about the Los Angeles Sparks earlier in the month where I saw the Sparks try to be a more uptempo game.

Last night, the Sparks made a big run in the second half and it was just that. Good defense, and running the court to open up the fast break. Good defense, leading to good offense, it's as simple as that.


When you play good half-court defense, more often than not, you can turn that into a fast break the other way. You stop the ball, rebound the ball, the outlet,

Don't forget those trailers. On the dribble break, watch Candace Parker trailing the play. You never know what's going to happen on the break, so it's important to have the trailer that can either take a pass or followup a miss.


The Sparks still don't have a ton of speed, but they are taking advantage of turnovers, and good defense by leaking out early and getting easy baskets. Basketball is a give and take, they have a lot of size inside, so the Sparks guards can gamble and not rebound down and leak instead. Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker are good enough down low to snatch the rebound, even when the numbers are against them.

For more great info on the transition game, check out Billy Donovan's DVD on the Unstoppable Transition Game. Coach Donovan is the 2-time national championship winning coach of University of Florida. Discuss your favorite inbound plays at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.

From last night's WNBA game between the Washington Mystics and the Chicago Sky. For most of the game, both teams played tough M2M defense, deny 1 pass away, good help side and recover. It forced both teams to shoot a poor percentage, particularly from beyond the 3-point line.

As the game wound down to the final 2 minutes, both teams switched their defenses (which I do favor tactically), the Mystics went to a 2-3 zone and the Sky to a packline M2M. Both teams offense reacted accordingly and made their first 3-pointers, take a look,

Penetrate and Kick vs Zone Defense:

The Sky did a good job out of the Timeout to move the ball side-to-side then penetrate the zone and find the open 3-pointer in the corner,

Inside to Outside vs Zone/Pack Defense:

Against the matchup zone that the Sky were using, the Mystics got the ball inside into their post, waited for the defense to collapse, then found the wide open shooter on the wing (with the shot clock winding down no less),


I like the idea of switching defenses at the end of games to get the other team out of their offensive execution. But I think the zone is an invitation for the other team to shoot open shots. If you change defenses, I think the general philosophy would be to take a risk, either a trap, or a double, or a switch of matchups, the zone gives up the open shot.

For more tips on zone offense, take a look at Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on Attacking the Zone. For more great basketball discussions, be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball forum.

A tremendous comeback win by the Celtics, one of the best in playoff history. A devastating loss for the Lakers, who could've tied this series and instead look like they will fall short. The key in my opinion was the lockdown defense, the Celtics just locked down in the 3rd quarter and the Lakers were up against the shot clock on multiple possessions.

The key play at the end of the game was of course Ray Allen's layup (he had a couple actually, but this one under 30s was the one that broke the Lakers back) against Vujacic. This wasn't so much Ray as it was about poor fundamental defense by Vujacic. It's why we make players do all those defensive slide drills, so that this won't ever happen,

Vujacic Doesn't Defensive Slide:

As I mentioned, just poor defensive fundamentals by Vujacic. Ray is a good player, but he isn't the quickest guy, certainly not as quick as Paul Pierce or even Rondo. I've seen Vujacic play better defense too, and being a younger guy, he should have the quickness advantage. To compound the problem, there was no help defense by anyone else and instead of chasing down Ray, Vujacic makes a half-hearted attempt to foul him,

Another issue I have, is the way Phil Jackson handled the 3rd quarter surge by the Celtics. I didn't see any sense of urgency. Now, I know Jackson is known for being calm under pressure, but I don't agree with his laissez-faire, let them play through it attitude. I think he should've taken more control of the situation right out of the halftime when the Celtics scored a few quick scores to cut it to 12.

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

Ah, playoff basketball at it's finest. The Lakers drew first blood getting out to the early lead, before the Celtics stormed back in the 3rd quarter to take the lead. The Lakers displayed great resiliency to stay in the game and regain the lead in the 4th quarter before those fantastic final 2 minutes.

It was like a coaches dream to watch these 2 great teams, going down to the wire, with both head coaches strategizing like a great game of chess. The ultimate question for this game came down to: Do we double-team Kobe and make the other players make shots? Or do we play Kobe 1v1 on the perimeter and rely on help defense in the paint? The Celtics tried both, and Kobe made the right play each time, take a look,

I agree with both Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy on the ABC broadcast in that the Celtics made all the right defensive decisions, it was simply good offense by the Lakers that beat them.

Top of the Key Double-team:

One thing that I probably would've done, was to force Kobe to a wing, then double him there. But otherwise, I agree with taking the ball out of his hands. The Lakers do a great job of spacing the floor and putting Vujacic in the corner, the farthest part of the court making it extremely difficult for the Celtics to close out on,

Kobe 1v1 against Ray Allen:

I also agree here that Ray Allen did as good a job as he could've possibly done to defend Kobe. I don't agree with Mark Jackson though, that the Celtics made the mistake to not double-team. Vujacic was on fire hitting those 3-pointers all night. I think Ray's 1v1 defense was the right defensive play, Kobe was just better,


I don't think anyone believed that the Lakers would get down 0-3 in the series so in a sense, their win tonight was somewhat anti-climactic. But still, it was a really hard fought win, they really had to make plays and put the Celtics away. Game 4 is always such a huge game when the series is 2-1, because 3-1 and the Celtics are basically the champs, 2-2 and the series is anyone's game. The start of Game 4 is going to be crucial, if the Celtics can get out in front and play with a lead, they have shown the ability to lockdown on defense. While the Lakers can harness the energy of Staples if they jump out early and make the Celtics think that they can't win there. Like I said, huge game on Thursday.

For some off-season tips on basketball related conditioning, take a look at Robert Taylor's DVD on Balanced Conditioning. Coach Taylor is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loyola College in Maryland. 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.

A little late on the take here, but I'm trying to catch up. This is from Sunday's WNBA action, specifically between the New York Liberty and the Sacramento Monarchs. The Monarchs won the game, but I liked the offensive and defensive sets that the Liberty used.

In this offensive set, it's a 1-2-2 set with the hi-lo finish. I like the 1-2-2 set, I see a lot of it in the european game. It frees up the lane and gets your bigs moving to the basket to establish position which has its advantages over your bigs fighting down low for position in a more stationary spot from the low block. Here it is,

1-2-2 High Low:

This quick hitter takes advantage of the overly aggressive defense by the Monarchs at the end of the half. Because the Monarchs are in deny at 1 pass away, O4 can do a quick basket cut losing her defender. O5 pops up to receive the pass and does a quick touch pass to an open O4,

From the 1-2-2, you can also run a lot of good PNR, pick n pop, drive and kick to those corner 3-point shooters, handoffs, etc... It's a very flexible set that can fit many different kinds of teams. The best part that I like is the opening up of the lane, this frees up the critical scoring area from help defenders.


The Liberty are a young team, so they're still working through some things. I like their soft full-court 1-2-1-1 press that they use, it doesn't force that many TOs, but it takes up a lot of the 24 shot clock and makes the offense a little hurried. The Monarchs have some very talented players. They're a little inconsistent but if they can put it all together, they could go deep this year.

For more offseason development stuff for your bigs, check out Ganon Baker's new DVD on Post Player Development. Footwork, contact and positioning are what Coach Baker stresses. Discuss your favorite offensive plays at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.

That was such a weird game. If you watched the first quarter, you would've thought the Lakers would take it. The 2nd and 3rd quarters were clearly dominated by the Celtics building up that 22 point lead. In the 4th quarter, the Celtics played as tentative as I've ever seen a team play and the Lakers came 2-points away from the full comeback. In the end, they came up just short.

The last 2 plays, the first on defense against a Paul Pierce PNR with Kevin Garnett where Pierce gets fouled, and the last 3-pointer attempt by Vujacic were 2 big misplays in my opinion. First, take a look at the plays,

Trap the Ball Screen:

I know Phil Jackson doesn't like the double-team and if the Lakers do, it's usually only in the post. But if there was one time I would do change up what I would normally do on defense, it would be at the end of the game. I believe in the element of surprise to throw off the offense and get them out of rhythm. Here is what the Lakers did,

Instead of soft switching on the drive which is what the Lakers did and have been doing all game, if they would've trapped PP at the top of the key, I think PP would've tried to lob it to Garnett going to the basket. You can instruct your bottom zone player to come up and jump that lob pass.

Fade Screen + Backscreen Lob:

The last play for the Lakers was designed for a Derrick Fischer 3-pointer off of a fade screen, and the second option was for Kobe on a backscreen lob pass,

The Celtics switched each screen (as they should) and so nobody was open on either option after Pao Gasol received the inbounds. He instead passes to Radmanovic who pops out after setting the fade screen and Vujacic gets the next pass and attempts the 3-pointer.

Handoff to Kobe:

I think this play probably would've worked a little better. Pao gets the inbounds, but Kobe does a hard v-cut to get some separation from Pierce. He comes over the top and gets the handoff from Pao. Now Kobe can either take the 3-pointer, or use another ball-screen from Radmanovic to go to the basket. Fischer clears out to the far corner looking for the drive and kick,

Well, hindsight is 20/20, shoulda, woulda, coulda. The fact is that the Lakers came up short while the Celtics made their free-throws.


The Lakers really shot themselves in the foot with the way they executed on offense in the first 2 games, and especially tonight. The Celtics must get some credit for making the Lakers work, but the Lakers took too many quick shots, played loose with the ball, and did a poor job of getting back on defense. The Celtics looked very tentative in those final 7 minutes, which should be a huge concern for Game 3, they were not aggressive with the ball at all. With Game 3 in Los Angeles, I have to think that the Lakers will be the favorite. We'll see if they fix their offensive woes by then.

For a new DVD from one of college basketball's greatest coaches, take a look at Pat Summitt's DVD on Mastering Special Situations. Talk about your late game situations over at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other great coaches from around the world.

It's one of the reasons why you need good shooting, to spread the floor and make sure that when you get into the lane either through penetration or post-entry, you can kick it out to the open 3-pointer shooter.

From tonight's game between the Indiana Fever and the Houston Comets, Katie Douglas of the Fever is definitely one of the players that you can't leave to help on penetration. Watch these 2 plays as the Fever are able to make the defense collapse, then the kick out to Douglas for the 3-pointer,

Another reason solid M2M, 1v1 defense is so important now that dribble drive is becoming so popular. Once you beat your man off the dribble, it causes all kinds of problems playing 5 on 4. Watch here as Tan White of the Fever drives baseline. Tina Thompson decides to leave Katie Douglas to help on the penetration.

The rotation comes late (as it usually does) and Douglas strokes in the first bucket of the game for a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

I think the 3-pointer has changed the game and the way it is played. Offensively, it has helped to space the floor and made the game much more guard-oriented. Defensively, it has created a lot more space in the lane for post and drive opportunities. Of course, all of this means that the players have to be able to hit those 3-pointers...

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. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

I just want to thank one of my faithful sponsors, Better Basketball. They help make it easier to pound out the entries day after day.

Anyways, one of the best ways to beat a zone defense is from behind. I wrote a little about it here. Because in a zone defense, the defenders are reacting to the ball, you can easily position your players underneath in the short corner for an easy 2. Take a look at Rick Torbett of Better Basketball break it down,

As always, if you are looking for any individual basketball improvement videos, you really should consider Better Basketball DVDs. The newest addition to the Better Basketball video collection is JJ Redick's only instructional video. JJ Redick plays for the Orlando Magic and is the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leading scorer while playing collegiately at Duke University. Don't wait, check it out today.

I only caught the second half of Game 1 tonight but it's a good thing that I caught the best parts. It was real inspirational to watch Paul Pierce come back onto the floor to not only stay in the game but to lift his team to the win. Here is what the AP report said about it:

Pierce's dramatic return after being carried from the court and then wheeled down a hallway for treatment will be added to the annals of Celtics-Lakers finals lore, taking a spot alongside Magic Johnson's baby sky hook and Kevin McHale's clothesline of Kurt Rambis.

Pierce's comeback drew immediate comparisons to Willis Reed, the former New York Knicks great who once hobbled onto the court of Madison Square Garden before Game 7 of the 1970 finals against the Lakers. Some of the savvy Celtics fans chanted Reed's name in tribute.

Wow, heady stuff indeed. It was just surreal, the way they carried him off. You kinda had that sinking feeling like the series had suddenly gone sideways for the Celtics. The long faces, the stunned crowd. I love what Doc Rivers had to say to his team when PP went down (though ESPN's 'wired' was recorded live but played after PP came back):
What did the guy from South Africa say about adversity??
All right. He says, nothing can get you down!
OK... this is what we're talking about. Adversity... You overcome it.
We're the better team... we overcome it, all right?
Nothing stops us... that's why we play 12 guys.
Now lets beat this team!!

Here is the speech as well as the ESPN cut up of those decisive moments in the 3rd quarter,

When I turned on the TV and saw the Lakers with the 5 point lead at halftime, with over 50 points, I automatically felt that the pace of the game favored the Lakers. But with PP taking the game over in the 3rd quarter, it totally turned the game around.

There wasn't anything tactically significant about the game. I think the Celtics did a good job (in the second half anyways) of limiting the transition opportunities for the Lakers. The Celtics did a job on the boards, and by simply knocking down shots.

If you're a big Celtics fan and a coach, then you should check out Kevin Eastman's DVDs on Skill Development. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

The game between the Seattle Storm and Detroit Shock last night was a game played between 2 different styles. The Storm are a finesse skill team, emphasis on running the break, shooting, and skill. The Shock are bangers, they play physical, knock you down type basketball. The tough physical style won out, by 10 points.

I took a few clips from the game in which you can see how that kind of style makes an impact. The first clip, is a misdirection stagger screen play which I diagram below, they key to that play is the pick at the end. The next couple of clips are a hard block leading to a fast break, and finally a Katie Smith loose ball scramble,

Mis-direction Double Stagger Quick Hitter:

I like this quick hitter play because like in football, I think mis-direction is a great way to gain an advantage when you wouldn't normally have one. They have the defense going one way first, it looks like a triple stagger for O2 going wing-to-wing,

Except, O2 does a quick change of direction (requires good lateral quickness). O4 and O5 turn around and re-screen setting up a stagger. The key is the last screen, you can see from the clip that she gives an extra pop sending Swoops to the ground,

The last screen might have been an offensive foul, but hey, if the refs don't call it, the play is good.


As much as I like the Storm, they could use some of the physical toughness that the Shock have. Like player, like coach. Katie Smith plays the way Bill Lambier used to play. Tough, hard-nosed, take what I want kind of attitude. She's probably tough enough to play in the NBA in my opinion.

For a brand new video on offense, take a look at Lon Kruger's new DVD on his Flexible Offense. Kruger emphasizes offensive rebounding, creating contact in the post, and finishing strong to the basket. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk about your favorite basketball topics.

Tomorrow is the big game, NBA Finals, Lakers vs Celtics, Game 1. I wrote last series between the Celtics and the Pistons as well as the Celtics and the Cavs that the key was the play and defense of Rondo and Perkins. Because the defenses will inevitably double-team Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, those 2 guys Rondo + Perkins will be open.

From ESPN, this is their analysis of basically the same thing for this series between the Celtics and the Lakers. That Rondo and Perkins must be able to contribute for the Celtics to be successful,

Unfortuantely, I have to respectively disagree with Mr. ESPN. To me, the key to this series will be whether the Celtics can stop the Lakers from scoring in transition. They Lakers are the highest scoring team in the playoffs. Granted they played 4 games against the defenseless Nuggets, but they've also played 6 against a solid Jazz defense and 5 against the near-top of the league in defense Spurs.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter how well Rondo or Perkins play on offense, if the Celtics are loose with the ball, or don't get back on defense, they don't have enough points between all of them to makeup the difference. The Pistons and Cavs are not an indication of whether they can do it, because neither team was much of a transition team (Pistons kind of, but only with numbers and Billups was not 100%). The clearest indication was against the Hawks, who basically only ran early offense. The Celtics did smoke the Hawks 4 home games, but in the 3 road losses, they gave up 102, 97 and 103.

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.

I watched a couple of WNBA games tonight. The Seattle Storm are my favorite team but I decided to switch to take in the Los Angeles Sparks against the Chicago Sky, to take in the Candace Parker hype. I've watched Candace play before at Tennessee, but I didn't realize just how versatile she was when watching her at UT. I knew she was listed as a forward and was extremely long and athletic but she made some moves tonight that some NBA guys can't do. Check it out,

The best one I like is the last one where she goes way up for the rebound, puts the ball on the floor, goes behind the back, and fires a no-look bullet to Lisa Leslie who can't handle the ball. But the 3-pointer was nice, and the drive and hook shot was pretty good too. I think Candace can be the Magic Johnson of the WNBA, she can literally play any position.

I was looking for some plays to break down with the offense the Sparks were running. I know the Sparks want to be more of a running team this year, but the problem I see is that they don't have a lot of team speed. They're long and athletic but they don't have quick guards that can push the envelope, that's going to a problem for their early offense. Also, I don't like it when they have both Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker in the post, they clog up the middle.

The Sparks have a similar problem on defense, they can block a lot of shots, but they get beat on penetration because they lack foot speed. They won the game in OT, to go to 5-1 and clearly they are the team with the buzz that everyone is talking about this season, but the season is still early so we'll see where they stand in September.

If you're looking for a nice video set that has both perimeter and post development, check out Jason Shay's 2-pack DVD on Player Development. Coach Shay is an assistant coach for the Men's team at Tennessee under Bruce Pearl. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

In case you didn't catch this segment on ESPN, this is the interview with Paul Pierce's high school coach back in Inglewood, CA, Patrick Roy. I like the part about how Paul was almost cut from the Varsity team in his sophomore year, but when he got his chance (due to some other guys not able to make some games), he took advantage of it and never looked back.

A lesson to you younguns out there. Keep working hard on your game and stay confident. When your number is called, be prepared to contribute, play with confidence. Reminds me of the familiar Michael Jordan story about how he was cut from the Varsity team as a sophomore.

For me personally, I always like to keep up a good relationship with former players. I think it's important as a coach to have a connection with a player beyond just the season, winning the championship, etc... You hope that your players feel the positive impact you've had with them which hopefully will last forever.

A few days ago, we were talking about Kobe Bryant and how he is obsessed with learning more about the 1v1 game, how to beat your defender, what move works best. Today, we'll take a look at a segment from one of Michael Jordan's videos from the Triple Threat, specifically the jab crossover.

When you're in triple threat, you want to see how the defense is playing you. As coaches, we usually teach attacking the front foot. What that means is if the defender is playing you to 1 side (to help usually), you want to go away from the help obviously and so you want to attack the front foot and cross over. If the defender is parallel, then you want to use a jab step first to force the defender to react, then attack the other way. MJ explains it better,

Jab Series From Triple Threat:

Here, the defender is parallel to MJ. So, MJ uses a jab step with his right foot. The defender reacts by side-stepping left, thus the defender's right foot is not higher and the defender is no longer parallel but staggered,

Once MJ has his defender off-keel with the jab step. He can lift his right foot and cross over to attack the defender's lead foot. As MJ says in the video, always protect the ball. He uses his right foot on the lunge, but I still emphasize using the right hand with palm outwards to fend off a potential arm by the defender,


Back in the day, we used to call this move a rocker step. You jab, then cross over and attack. It is a very effective move. A question I get sometimes too is, what happens if the defender does not react to the first jab step? If that is the case, then I say make a quick but longer lunge the same way and blow by the defender. As a defender, you should react to a jab step, if you don't, it means the offensive player can just keep going that way right by you.

If you want to learn more about this and many other 1v1 offensive moves, take a look at Ganon Baker's new DVD on his Encyclopedia of Street Moves. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.