If there was ever a time to scheme plays or design something specific on offense, it would definitely be on zone offense. There are a lot of continuity or motion offenses that you can run against a zone, but I think in certain situations, you want to be able to have 2 or 3 designed and practiced plays that you can go to for a quick 2 or 3 points in a critical time in the game.

I went through some notes from a Larry Brown coaches clinic and found this neat zone offensive play. It's from USC head coach Tim Floyd and it's a misdirection play. So the basic idea is to move the ball quickly from sideline to sideline getting the zone defense to shift and react to the ball, then overload. Here is how it breaks down,


3-out 2-in alignment. O1 passes to O2. Then O2 quickly reverses the ball back to O1 and O1 reverses to O3,

On the catch by O3, O4 goes to the other block and seals that zone defender. O5 flashes up to the middle, around the high-post. O2 shuffles to the opposite corner,

O3 first looks for O4 on the seal in the post. If O4 is unable to seal the zone defender there, then O3 looks for the skip to O2 who should be open in the corner,

Of course, you need to make sure your players can make good skip passes and long post-entry passes. If you're coaching at the lower levels, JV or lower, that pass is probably too difficult to make.


There are of course many ways you can attack a zone, but this play demonstrates a couple of good things. First is moving the ball sideline to sideline. I really believe one of the best ways against a zone defense is to make the defense work. When you move the ball side to side, the defense eventually gets tired, they take shortcuts or get lazy, then they don't move as well, that is when you can exploit those weaknesses.

If you're interested in more overload or zone offense techniques, then you'll enjoy Tom Izzo's DVD on the 1-3-1 Zone Offense. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.

Watched some Spanish League action (Supercopa Espana) earlier this morning. I'm not familiar with all the teams, but I did recognize Tau Ceramica so that's who I watched for the first half. It's was a decent game all around, very good defensive intensity by both teams, but Tau definitely played with more intensity.

From the start of the game, I couldn't help but notice how many turnovers that Tau had forced. It was only after I looked at the replays that I realized that most of them came from deflections. We always talk about pressure defense and trapping, etc.. But one of the best ways to force turnovers is by having active hands. Now, there is a difference between gambling for a steal and having active hands. Watch some great deflections from Tau from the first quarter,

On-ball Defensive Deflection:

I watch a lot of kids these days and their hands are on their hips. That's why as coaches, we should be emphasizing proper defensive stance and hand positioning at an early age. We say, bottom hand covers the ball, the top hand is up high, so that you can get those deflections like so,

Deny Defensive Deflection:

Most of you probably teach deny 1 pass away. But also key to the positioning is where and how their arms and hands are positioned. The outside arm should be outstretched with palms out and thumbs down. That way when an errant pass comes, it will deflect off your palm and you can gain control for the easy score, like so,

Help-side Defensive Deflection:

Like a zone defense, on help-side, you want to make sure your players have their hands outstretched. Don't make it easy for your opponent to make a pass in traffic, keep those arms outstretched for the deflection,


I think deflections are a philosophy kind of thing. I know some coaches who don't want to emphasize deflections because kids get into a gambling mindset which can be dangerous. On the flip side, deflections can generate its fair share of turnovers and therefore easy baskets the other way, based on M2M halfcourt offense without pressing. Tom Crean, now of Indiana, is a coach that always preached deflections, and Dwyane Wade was one of his best deflectors. Anyways, some food for thought...

For video info on individual development drills, I recommend taking a look at Tom Crean's DVD on Competitive Practice Drills. Coach Crean, formerly of Marquette is now the head coach at Indiana. 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.

Space and Attack Offense

As the season approaches, I'm sure many of you coaches are evaluating your talent, thinking about what to run this coming season. Here is another one worth considering:


Ay Cypress Springs High School in Houston, Texas we have been pretty successful with an aggressive attack on both ends of the floor. We call our offense, “Space and Attack”. This offense is essentially spacing and ball movement with the dribble. Our offensive players must get to the rim to score or get fouled. If they can’t get to the rim, that means they drew help from the defense. What we call “get 2 defenders to the ball.” If the offensive player draws help he must then make the correct read off the help. That is what we call “play off each other”.

What are the components of the space and attack offense?

• spacing
• personnel
• transition
• attacking the defender; attacking the rim; attacking the help
• scoring hierarchy
• terminology

If interested, please visit my website at www.coachtuk.blogspot.com

I think that nowadays, most coaches use some sort of a matchup zone instead of a straight up zone or straight up M2M. The matchup is a good way to use a zone formation but keep M2M principles. There are however, a lot of rules that you need to establish for how your matchup zone will function in the different scenarios, such as what to do with cutters, screens, etc...

Here are some great notes I went through the other day from a Nike coaching clinic that covered Mike Deane and how he goes through the different rules and progressions of teaching his matchup zone. Mike Deane is currently the head coach at Wagner University, he recently was featured by ESPN last season for wearing a seatbelt on the bench to avoid getting T'd up. I don't know the author of the notes, otherwise I'd certainly love to give them credit. Enjoy...

Guard Movements:

When the ball is in the middle, play normal M2M principals, defenders must travel on air time. Guards have to cover perimeter- they must cover 3 guards,

If the ball is in the outside 3rd, deny all back pass. Guards play the ball as if there is no help when they are guarding the ball. Must move on the air time- jump back to help. On closing out it's 2 steps towards the ball, then close out,

Forward Positions:

They cover everything from middle of the lane to the block, to opposite short corner. They play on the baseline side of the offensive player. Forwards work in a pair with the guard on their side. On the reversal of the ball, 3 covers the wing, like a 2-3 zone slide. It's like a bump,

On the bump 3 must pick up anybody who is in his area. If there is a player in the corner, he guards him.

If there is a post player on the block 3 must cover him and bump the other weak side defender off the block,

Skip Pass:

Skip pass back to the top, 2 takes the ball, 1 is in help, and 3 bumps back to help side- help must have 1 foot on the basket line,

Center Position:

5 covers block to block, and high post. Ball enters paint, everybody drops to the level of the ball. 5 plays on the high side of every body,

High/Low Interchange:

4 takes 2 steps with 5 then yell high post and cover 4 on the low side,

Baseline Runner:

The defenders bump the runner from defender to defender,


Matchup zones are a great disruptor defense in that they mask what your intentions are. It can throw the other team's offense off a little bit as they try to adjust to whether you are running a M2M or a zone. However, there are a lot of rules that you need to install that are very specific and cover very specific situations, such as how to defend certain kinds of cuts and screens. In my opinion, I would not install a matchup zone in any team lower than Varsity, I just think the complexities of it are more than a freshman or JV team can handle. Plus they should be focusing more on their fundamentals such as stance, ball-you-man, etc... anyways, before they learn the intracacies of a matchup zone.

If you're seriously thinking of going with the matchup zone this season, then you should check out Mike Deane's DVD on Inside Out Matchup Zone. 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.

Many of you have heard by now about the Read and React Offense, which is getting rave reviews as the most unique thing to come about in a long time. The system's creator, Rick Torbett, is hosting a clinic on the Read and React Offense this weekend in Atlanta, and you can buy the DVD set anytime at BetterBasketball.Com. If you haven't watched the free 10-minute video preview on the Read and React, here's a link to it. It's free, and definitely worth your time.

Still sporting smiles from their win over the summer in Beijing, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Coach Mike Krzyzewski talked about Team USA's Gold medal win and the entire journey. It was really one of the best international basketball games I've ever watched, in more ways than one. I think that it's unfair to make the comparison between 2008 Redeem Team and 1992 Dream Team 1, simply because they had different makeup and the historical context was different. Watch and I'll post some more comments after,

I love Kobe's responses. He's really a one of a kind player. The guy that demands the ball at the end of the game. He's willing to put all the pressure on his shoulders. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, those guys also demanded the ball in the crucial situations. I don't think Team USA wins gold if Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are not on the team.

Coach K was great too. I really do feel that coaching a group of "superstars" and managing a group of individuals who are all so successful in their own right, to play together as a unit is tougher than coaching a mediocre team to overachieve. Kobe says that Coach K was a great motivator and a great communicator. That's where human psychology becomes so important, even more important than any X's and O's. I also like what Coach K said about how they coached the 4th quarter of the Gold medal game. The score was close, but in those situations, just put the ball in your best players hands and let them win the game for you. Sounds cheesy, but it's like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, "Just let me drive Harry, I won't make a fool out of you."

Jerry Colangelo does deserve the most credit for sure. He really picked the players that fit the team chemistry. Sure, there were more talented players out there, but guys like Chris Bosh, Tayshaun Prince and Deron Williams really made a big difference team wise in my opinion.

If you can't get enough of Coach K, then you should check out Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on Individual Defensive Development. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

Another early season skill to think about before games start is teaching the art of getting open. There are your basic v-cuts, l-cuts, curl cuts, backdoor, bump, etc... It's the teaching points that are most important. Change of speed and direction, these are all things that take patience and repetition. Here are some teaching points I gleaned from a set of notes on a Baylor coaching clinic,

Top Leg Explosion:

Use your top leg and walk into your opponent... go from slow to fast by stepping, gaining the advantage by putting your inside leg on top - use you butt to create space - use a slight forearm push-off then explode quickly to the area of choice,

You can work the wing, top of the key, and baseline to corner... once you hit the player you can work on several of your individual moves including rips, step-backs, finishes at the rim, etc.

If you want to watch some video info, Rip Hamilton did a good segment on the TNT fundamentals series last year on getting open, you can check it out and my notes on it by clicking here.

For more great info on offensive fundamentals, check out Don Meyer's new DVD on Drills for Individual Offensive Development. Coach Meyer is still recovering from his car accident and cancer, our thoughts remain with him during this difficult time. 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 some first round playoff action in the WNBA the other night, between the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun. It was a pretty good game all-around, but the Liberty executed their offense better. The Sun had problems with defending the PNR and in the end, that was the difference.

The Liberty basically pick and rolled the Sun to victory. It's all about reading the defense and the Liberty did that extremely well. On hard switches, they would take advantage of the big-little mismatches. In the second sequence, it's just a defensive breakdown that allows the easy basket. Here are the two sequences from the second half,

Big-Little Mismatches:

PNR basketball is great because of the big-little mismatches you can take advantage of. You take your best guard and your best forward at the top of the key, everyone else spreads out. If the defense is going to switch all screens (like the Sun do here), then you'll get those big-little mismatches every time. If you get a big on little, post them up and score 1v1. If you get a little on big, then use your quickness to beat them 1v1 on the dribble drive, like so,

Take Advantage of Slow Rotations:

The defense here just breaks down completely, but I believe the Sun were trying to trap the ball-screen and the help-side is suppose to rotate to protect the basket. So, if the Sun had executed the trap properly, then you should still be able to hit the rolling player. Now, if the rotation is good, then either the forward will have to go 1v1 or you can hit the open player in the corner for a 3-pointer. Either way, you should get a good shot,


It is why the NBA is 75% PNR, because it works. There is no universal way to defend it, it just depends on the players and their abilities. If the Sun have a chance to save their season tonight, they're going to have to figure out how to defend the PNR a lot better than they did on Thursday.

For a great video on the spread PNR offense, take a look at Billy Donovan's DVD on the Spread Offense. Coach Donovan used it to win back-to-back national championships at Florida. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

I've got some great books by coaches including John Wooden's "They Call me Coach" and Lou Holtz's "Winning Every Day". One of my favorites is "Leading with the Heart" by Mike Krzyzewski. No matter if you are a coach or a manager at a corporation or a teacher or any profession where you are called on to lead, Coach K's words will ring true. Here are my five favorite quotes from the book:

“One of the worst things anybody can do is assume. I think fools assume. If people have really got it together, they never assume anything. They believe, they work hard, and they prepare- but they don’t assume.”

As they saying goes. Assume, makes an ass out of u and me.

“People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good.”

Watching the Olympics this summer, that feeling of team has never been more true. Watching Carlos Boozer, who hardly played in the gold medal game, cheering on his teammates, that's wanting to be a part of the team no matter what.

“A little negative thing must be dealt with immediately- before it becomes a big negative thing.”

In Buddhist tradition, they would call it chi. You don't want to have any negative chi because it disrupts the balance and harmony. Deal with things right away, don't let them fester and get bigger. Conflict resolution is one of the most important parts of being a coach.

“When you first assemble a group, it’s not a team right off the bat. It’s only a collection of individuals.”

So true. Teams are built over time, they don't just appear. That's why as coaches, it is also our job to build that bond, that chemistry. Team-building is as important as anything else we practice.

“Every team I was on over my four years at Duke, he coached differently.” Grant Hill

Be adaptable. Change is a good thing. That doesn't mean we should abandon everything that we've learned and used and worked successfully in the past. But that we should consider new techniques, new technologies and new ways of doing things. It's OK to experiment.

If you're a big Coach K fan like I am or thinking of that perfect gift for a coaching friend, then you can't go wrong with Mike Krzyzewski's 6-pack DVD Set. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.

I'm a big fan of the 1-4 high or 2-3 high offenses. Like the Princeton offense, it has some great backdoor and misdirection possibilities that are mostly underestimated by alot of people. In my opinion, it's a talent equalizer kind of an offense, especially if you don't have a dominant post and a bunch of skilled (ie. can shoot and make smart plays) but athletically less gifted players.

One coach that uses a lot of 1-4 high or the triple post (ie. triangle) offenses is Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women's team at UConn. I went through some notes that a coach wonderfully put together (I'd love to give them credit specifically but I don't know who made these notes) and took down some of the breakdown drills Coach Auriemma uses to teach the offense. Here they are,

Drill 1:

1 passes to 7 and immediately cuts around 7 looking for a handoff. 2 cut off of 7 next also looking for a handoff. 7 makes the handoff and goes to the basket.
The drill continues as 3,4 and 8 step on.

The cutters can pull up for a jump shot
Neither cutter receives the ball and goes to the corners and the post dribble attacks the basket finishes or kicks.

Drill 2:

1 passes to 4 then cuts through to form a strong side triangle. 7 is in the MID-POST. That is very important.

4 passes into 7 and then cuts looking for handoff or drop pass. If 4 does not recieve the ball then will continue to the corner. As soon as 4 makes its cut, 1 comes off of 4's rear end over the top of 7. 1 looks for the hand off or drop pass. 1 does not get the ball, will continue to the opposite wing. Now 7 has a post move for a score or a post move and kick opposite.

The wings can do so many things, and it becomes a read and react. Example: As soon as 4 passes to 7, 1's man turns his head and 1 immediately takes off on a back door move. 4 reads what 1 did and can go toward 7 and then fade for a jumpshot, continue on with regular cut and fill opposite. Most teams just learning will stick to basic cut.

Drill 3:

If the wing is overplayed, 7 will pop to the high post area. As this is happening, 4 takes man up higher and cuts hard backdoor as the ball is in the air to 7. 7 looks to pass to 4 on the backdoor cut and continues to the corner. If not there, 1 comes around 7 for a handoff and goes to the basket or pulls up for the jumpshot. 7 can also attack the basket with a jumpshot or dribble move. 1 and 4 are spotted up for the kickout.

Drill 4:

On the guard to guard pass, 7 steps up to set a backscreen for 1. 4 looks to 1 coming off of the backscreen. 7 then sets a screen for 4.

4 can use the screen and has options:
a. shoot( we like the ball to get to the elbow)
b. pass to 7 on the
roll to the basket or the pop.
c. pass to 1 for a shot.

4 does not have to use the screen especially if defender is looking to get over the screen early.

Drill 5:

1 passes to 4 and 7 sets the backscreen for 1. This time instead of setting a screen for 4, 7 pops high for a pass back from 4.

4 sets a downscreen for 1 who goes to the wing. 4 opens up to the ball and looks for the pass from 7. 7 passes to 1 and receives a backscreen from 4. 1 looks to 7 going to the basket or 4 stepping out for the shot.

Drill 6:

This is where ball reversal begins. This is also the most used option.
1 passes to 4 and cuts to the corner to form a strong side triangle. 4 looks inside and then passes to 1.

7 steps up to set a screen for 4. 4 goes all the way through to the corner if she does not receive pass for layup from 1.

7 then plays screen and role with 1. 1 has the option to:
a. shoot
b. hit 7 on the roll or pop
c. draw and kick to 2
d. draw and kick to 4

Drill 7:

Weakside Play

1 passes to 2 and fills the corner spot. 3 goes to the top of the key area.
If 3's man is above the three point line, the pass goes to 7 who is flashing at the same time. As the ball is in the air to 7, 3 cuts hard backdoor.
7 looks for the backdoor pass. If 3 does not get the ball, she fills to the corner.

For the drill sake, the perimeter players move in a counter clockwise movement from wing to point to wing.

If 3's man is inside the three point line, then 2 passes to 3 and 7 will screen for 3 and play pick and roll.


Lots of backdoor cuts, with an open lane. Give and gos, handoffs, and even PNRs. I've even gone through some notes that have a 1-4 high motion continuity that is a patterned offense. 2-3 high is also a good one to use because in my opinion you can use it to overload a side to start which means you can take advantage of weakside opportunities easier. Anyways, hope that helps some of you all as you get ready to start practices.

If you're seriously thinking of going with the high post offense this season, you should look at Coach Auriemma's DVD on teaching the high post 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.

With all the craze over the dribble drive offense, I tend to see a creep of some of my pet peeves as a coach, over dribbling. Don't get me wrong, I think the dribble is a fundamental part of basketball, but when you can move the ball much quicker with the pass, when you should be able to get to the basket on 1 dribble, I think there is a lot to be said for minimizing the amount of dribbles you make as a team.

I caught some Euro 2009 qualifying action the other day between France and Turkey and it really stuck out from watching the game in the second half. France relied way to much on Tony Parker dribble penetration. The Turkish defense was in a pack, matchup zone, whatever you want to call it, and Parker just kept dribbling into a crowd. I don't understand a lot of French, but I can hear the commentators say something like, "trop de complicateur" and "tres difficile". France made things way more complicated than it should be, just reverse the ball, and shoot the open shot. Take a look,

No Need to Dribble:

Turkey was playing a switching M2M pack, or a packed in matchup zone, whichever you look at it. Instead of trying to dribble drive and kick so much, what probably would've been easier to execute was simply a backpick on the weakside, then swing the ball either through the high post or up top,

Shoot When Open:

When you're open, you must shoot the ball. Drive and kick, endlessly won't result in anything good. If you don't have confidence in your players ability to shoot, then drive and kick simply won't work. You can't drive and kick for the sake of driving some more. Drive and kick works because it will give you an open shot, which you must take,


Of course, it's easy to sit hear and pick a few clips and show some pictures of how things ought to be. But as coaches, we all know things are much different in reality. But we can adapt and change, we must. I think by looking at your team and your coaching critically, only then will you improve and reach your ultimate goals, so you don't repeat mistakes over and over again.

From one of the great basketball coaches in the game, check out Don Meyer's brand new DVD on Best Things He Learned in Coaching. I was very saddened to hear that Coach Meyer has been hospitalized due to a recent auto accident and now has learned he has cancer. My thoughts go out to Coach Meyer and his family and I truly hope he will recover soon so that he can do what he was born to do, coach basketball. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

The Argentina Drill For Warmups

This was requested by a number of coaches out there so I'm guessing that there are still a lot of coaches that may still be looking for it. It's an interesting warmup drill you can use for practices or games. Something to keep the players sharp but also keep the blood flowing.

Argentina Drill:

The setup,
- start with 8 players
- Players 1 & 5 are partners
- Players 2 & 6 are partners
- Players 3 & 7 are partners
- Players 4 & 8 are partners

Players 1 & 5 begin with a ball. At the whistle Players 1 & 5 pass to their left, and exchange places. Immediately upon catching the ball Players 2 & 6 pass to their left and exchange places. And the drill continues.

Immediately upon catching the ball, Players 2 & 6 pass to their left and exchange places. And the drill continues. You can drill it until they mess up, or for a certain amount of time.


I'm big on dynamic warmups before games. I don't really like static stretching because I think you can combine elements of movement and use of the ball to get players stretched but also simulating things they will be doing in the game. This is especially true in those tournaments where a lot of times you'll only get like 5 minutes before a game to warmup.

Some more practice planning video info, this one is Mark Gottfried's DVD on Practice Planning. Mark Gottfried is the head coach at University of Alabama. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.

One of the most important responsibilities as a Varsity head coach I believe is to prepare players for play at the college level. In particular, for NCAA Div1, mens or womens, there are some very specific tasks that as an educator I think puts the head coach at the unique position to educate both parents and the player on how the process works especially academically.

As a former writer for Rivals, I've seen many different sides of recruiting, some good, some bad. The AAU coach has become a lot more influential more recently but in my opinion high school coaches should hold more sway. Simply for the reason that the high school coach is usually a certified teacher at an educational institution and therefore is in a more professional position to be advising students on academic affairs. That is not to say that AAU coaches should have no role, but I don't think they should the primary point of contact, because they are not accountable to anybody, there is a higher chance for a conflict of interest developing as a result.

Having said that, here are some notes that I read recently that deal specifically with college academic eligibility for athletic scholarships that hopefully will shed a little more light on the recruiting process and what a head coach can do to facilitate the process:

If you are fortunate to ever have a player who can play at the next level, you will hear immediately: “Is he/she qualified academically.” The worst thing we can say is, “I am not sure.” Foremost, a player must fulfill certain academic requirements to be eligible at the Division 1,2,3, and NAIA levels. Always remember, if a player is not qualified, there may be an opportunity lying ahead at the Junior College levels. The common mantra is that JC’s do not afford quality academic and athletic atmospheres for student-athletes. This is simply untrue. In fact, there are many outstanding coaches and programs at the JUCO level and this opportunity must not be ignored. This may be the only path for the student-athlete to succeed and the competition is at an extremely high level. There are four important steps to take in making sure a student-athlete is at least afforded the opportunity to qualify for college:

1. Make sure the senior registers for the NCAA Clearinghouse (www.ncaaclearinghouse.net) This organization plugs the student’s GPA in the 14 Core Classes to help determine eligibility. Not sure if a certain class is a core class—the site has a program that finds out exactly what courses at your high school count. Note: the NCAA is requiring 16 core classes for the class of ’08.

2. Make sure your student athlete takes the SAT/ACT in the spring of his/her Junior year. The higher the core GPA—the lower the score needed to qualify and vice versa. All score requirements are posted at the above website. One important notice—the SAT now has a writing component. This part is not counted in the NCAA Clearinghouse. Simply add the critical reading and math scores and that is the SAT score according to the clearinghouse.

3. Keep checking on your student’s progress. Does he/she need to raise the SAT/ACT score? Is the student going to need to take the test again? Does the athlete have enough core courses to qualify? Although guidance counselors are very skilled at their jobs, most are unfamiliar with the NCAA qualification process. We need to check ourselves to make sure business is being taken care of by the student.

4. Be helpful with interested colleges. If they need transcripts, contact the guidance department and furnish them with one. If you do not help the colleges, they will think you are hiding something.

While some of these guidelines may seem trivial, I can guarantee you they are of the utmost importance. I spent many a day during my recruiting days pulling my hair out nervously awaiting a transcript only to find the student did not have the correct amount of core courses, or the SAT score was computed incorrectly.

Credit to Coach Tommy Penders from Texas.

I've been meaning to post this up for a while now and with this lull in between the summer and beginning of the season, this is a great time to do that. It's an interview with Brad Stevens, the 31-year-old Head Coach of the NCAA Div1 Butler Bulldogs out of Indianapolis.

Notwithstanding his youth, it is Stevens' unique yet inspiring story about how he got into coaching which merits its mentioning. I know what Coach Stevens' is going through because I've lived it myself having worked and managed in a Fortune 500 company. Stevens acknowledges luck in meeting Thad Matta and him being chosen to sit on his bench, but I know that there was a ton of hours he must've put in to get to where he is now. Watch his incredible story of how he became a coach,

I know that there are a lot of readers out there that love the game of basketball and think about how or what they need to do to get into coaching. I don't think there is a single "way" to get into coaching, there are many in my opinion and a lot of it really has to do with where you want to coach. It would seem obvious from the start that we all want to be NBA coaches, but if you sit down and evaluate your realistic goals and priorities, you'll have a better idea of what you want to do.

With the season approaching and many of your top players getting into some individual work, here is a great new video, Billy Donovan's brand new DVD on Individual Drills. Coach Donovan is the head coach for the 2-time National Championship winning University of Florida. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

Before practices begin, most of you varsity coaches out there have tryouts to organize. If you're a large school, that probably means a lot of kids to go through. There are a lot of tryout templates, samples, etc.. which you can download, but just for something interesting to look at, here is a sample NBA workout used by the Charlotte Bobcats a couple of years ago in a 4 guard format:

1:30-3:15 Testing Evaluation
STRESS POINTS: Finishing strong and not quitting.
1) Footwork (9 square grid) pattern middle first
2) Push-ups in a minute
3) Vertical - also with arms already up
4) Broad jump
5) Cone jumps - 10secs
6) Cone slides: sprint, back pedal, slides, karaoke, sprint-touch cones
7) Slide to sideline to layup = 1 minute (9 makes)
8) Baseline to baseline sprint, then with ball (L& R)
9) Ball handling (in-outs, cross overs) to ½ and back

3:15-3:20 Dribble Warm-Up

3:20-3:40 Spot Shooting
A) Wing-Base-Elbow Shooting (shoot 10)
B) "W" Shooting Drill
C) 3 pt Shooting Spots

3:40-3:50 Fast Break Scoring
A) Catch and shoot
B) Catch and go
C) Off the dribble

3:50-4:10 Screens
Finishing with:
A) Curl "j"
B) Fade "show and go"
C) Catch and go "step back"
D) Triple threat "spin"
E) 1 on 1 (3 dribbles) 4:10-4:30 2 on 2 - 3 on 3
A) Power
B) Zipper
C) "Down" (Flex)

4:30-4:35 2 on 2 Full Court Pressure "D"


I think that for tryouts, you really need to plan and prepare a lot in advance. You need to be as fair as possible allowing everybody the opportunity to show what they can do. I also think you should be as honest as possible with both players and parents, let them know what you're looking for and how they will be evaluated. In the end, some kids/parents will be happy, others not, but at least you need to prove that the evaluation was transparent and fair.

If you want more information on how to organize better practices, look no further than Don Meyer's brand new DVD on Practice Planning, all for the bargain price of $35.00. Coach Meyer is the head coach of DivII Northern State University and the second winningest coach in college basketball history. Head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics.

In Memorandum, Don Haskins

It is with great regret that I write that the great Don Haskins has passed away. I've always felt that basketball, as great a game as it is, is still a game. That there are things in this world more important than this game that we all love so much. What Don Haskins did in 1966 when he started 5 African American players for Texas Western (now UTEP) in the NCAA division one championship game against all-white Kentucky and won the game, it changed the trajectory of basketball forever and reminded all of us of our humanity. Coach Haskins coached at Texas Western for an amazing 38 years. Coach Haskins was a great coach, and an even better man, he will be missed...

I was at an open gym recently and there was one group of players that were really getting out and running in the open court, but they weren't scoring very efficiently. Reason? It was their spacing. They were clumped up all in the middle most of the time and their angles were off.

I watched the Phoenix Mercury tonight and they really impressed me with the way they run the open floor. Since the last time that I ragged on them when they only scored 55 points and lost to San Antonio, the Mercury have gone on to win 3 in a row scoring 103, 81 and 99 tonight to beat the Houston Comets. They still play that zone defense that I don't like, but I can't argue with their offense, they spread the floor, run hard, and score efficiently, take a look,

It's all about the Angles:

The key to the fast break is to run your lanes and get a good angle of attack to the basket. You really can't attack and score efficiently if you attack head on to the basket. The dribble should only attack from the middle if the either wing is occupied, that way you can make the defense commit to you, then drop off to the wing cutting in or for the 3-pointer. If the dribbler is the first person on the break with defenders in front, the dribbler should dribble wide and wait for the trailers to come down the middle, like so with Diana Taurasi,

Before the break starts, off the defensive rebound, your wings should go underneath and again run their lanes wide. You see both wings go wide here,


Now, the Mercury beat Minnesota, then Sacramento and now Houston, all average or below average teams. Their biggest test is coming up against Detroit on Tuesday. My understanding is that the top four from each conference make it to the playoffs, which means they would basically need to win out their remainder 3 games to make it. The Mercury have nothing to lose now but run, run, and run.

If you are looking for a run and gun style of early offense, check out Dave Arsenault's Running to Win DVD. Be sure to head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.

With practices looming for many of you coaches, here are some random thoughts to consider about certain coaching philosophies. Feel free to agree or disagree, but I hope that at least they will show some different perspectives on how and what to teach.

Billy Donovan:
- Stunting is an important untrained defensive skill – drill it daily
- At the end of the game I’m putting my 5 best scorers in the game
- To play depth – you must have guys who can play offense
- If you can score you have a much better chance to win
- If you let guys play tired and coast it will cost you in the long run [unless you have no depth]
- In the 1st half we want the opponent to not reach the bonus
- Teams that are hardest to press are the ones that just play by breaking the press and scoring off of the press without having to take the ball out to half court and set something up
- Giving up control to have freedom is one of the most difficult things to do as a coach
- Never can get away with fouls on the road like at home – don’t press before the 1st officials timeout
- 3FG% is a very important defensive statistic

Bruce Weber:
- Be HARD on your Best Player! Dee Brown could not make his time on their distance running until the day before real practice started. (They were ready to start practice without him.)
- Be flexible as a coach. You have to change some every year.
- Change daily practice or they will get stale at the end of the season.
- Have a winner and a loser in every drill. This teaches the kids to love winning and hate losing.
- We never put their starting lineup together in practice until the day before the game. We have equal teams in practice.

Hubie Brown:
- What style of play do you preach? Power, finesse, passing game, 3-point, fast breaking, etc..
- If you can't press, can you come back with 4 minutes left?
- Can you create opportunities with your style?
- Can you score quickly using sets that emphasize your best players and good shots?
- When players first see you at practice, you set the tempo for the day! Are you read? Is the preparation thorough? Are you positive?
- Give your players a chance to win... show a bit of ego and a lot of confidence
- Style is presence! Command respect!

For me, being flexible is one thing that I think is most important. Just because things were done a certain way last year (regardless of success) or the year before shouldn't be the reason to continue doing it the same way. I also like the parts about giving up some control and showing confidence in your players late in games to win the game for you.

If you're a big Hubie Brown fan like me, take a look at Hubie Brown's DVD on Playbook for Success. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and other basketball topics.

I watch a lot of basketball over the year and one of the common things that I see is players who get frustrated on the court either with their individual play, their team play, not getting the ball, getting double-teamed, etc.... And this is in addition to the most common complaint of not enough playing time. Now, most players react to this kind of frustration typically by whining; they claim they're getting fouled, or the pass is coming too late, or the offense sucks. If you watch the great players, they always find a way to be productive on offense, no matter the defensive situation.

I watched the second half between the Los Angeles Sparks against the Minnesota Lynx the other night. It was tied at half and the commentators were talking about how the Lynx had done a great job defensively by packing it in and not allowing Parker and Leslie to go off. In the second half, Parker took over along with Leslie. The defense was the same, Parker was still getting doubled or tripled in the post, but she was doing everything else, rebounding, passing, running the fast break and even hitting outside shots, she would score 16 of her 24 points in that second half. Take a look,

First off, it pays to be versatile. If players do not have good fundamentals in all the major areas of dribbling, shooting, rebounding and defense, then it's a moot point. If they're one-dimensional, there isn't any point to have that conversation with what I'm about to write about next. That is exactly why it is critical that all players, regardless of height or size, should learn all the fundamentals and be well-rounded players.

Having said that, now, the next time your post-player gets frustrated, remind them of all the other things that they can do, to continue to be offensively productive.

Rebound the Basketball:

No matter the situation, the great forwards know that they can get easy baskets by playing smarter (angles) and getting rebounds. In this FT miss by Lisa Leslie, despite good defensive rebounding position, Parker is able to sky over, grab the board and put it back through the hoop,

Pass out of the Double:

Of course, this is the hardest of all the things because ego gets in the way. Good players think they must do it all. But a smart player recognizes that it's not only good for team dynamics to get the open man the ball and therefore score and win, but that strategically, the defense will naturally adjust back to a 1v1 situation,

Run the Floor:

Perhaps the thing a player has most control over is playing defense and running the floor. If you play good defense, it will lead to good offense. If you run the floor, you will have more easy fast break chances. It is as simple as it sounds. So why don't players do it? Because they feel it's too hard. It's so much easier to be lazy on defense and lazy running the break. It's just pure hustle and something that is well under a players control. Watch here as the ball is poked loose, Parker isn't even the first one to break. But she outruns her opponents, gets rewarded with the pass, then finishes off the easy basket,

Shoot the Open Shot:

Now, again this is assuming that your player can hit the shot, but that's where versatility pays off. By stepping out, spreading the floor, and hitting the outside shot, the defense must respect your ability to make those shots. If the defense is giving you the outside shot, make them pay for that,


I liked the way the Sparks played that night. They used their strengths to their advantage instead of trying to scheme their way around the fact that Parker was getting doubled. With Parker and Leslie in the frontcourt, they are capable of scoring at least 60 points every night regardless. Defensively, that frontcourt is also formidable. By playing a half-court tempo, tough field-goal percentage defense, high field-goal percentage half-court offense, they could be the toughest team to beat. When you consider that Lauren Jackson from the Seattle Storm is out for the season, the Sparks certainly look like a contender from the West, with possibly only San Antonio in their way.

For a great video on developing well-rounded skilled players, then you should check out Kevin Eastman's DVDs on Skill Development. Coach Eastman is a skill coach with the Boston Celtics and this DVD features his famous Celtic 40 shooting drill. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.

Going through some video and notes and have been waiting to post on this one for a while. This is the 55 full court press used by Rutger's Womens Head Coach Vivian Stringer. I watched them last year and they didn't use it much at all, I read that Stringer said that because Rutgers didn't have the personnel to run it, so they went with more of a half-court style. But in the year Rutgers made it all the way to the national championship, 2007 I believe, they used it exclusively to great success.

The 55 full court press is a matchup press, similar to Rick Pitino's Kentucky presses. It is a gambling press that puts a lot of pressure on the first pass and as with most full court presses, your team should be more conditioned and more athletic than your opponents. Your players must be of the aggressive type, they must force the action and trap hard.

Some basic rules that Stringer uses before we get to the nitty gritty:

- no fouls, body checking, or silly reach in fouls
- no stripping of the ball, steals happen off passes only
- no trapping in the middle
- recognize "house on fire", trap is busted, hustle back on D
- communication, communication, communication

Stringer goes through a number of drills that she uses to get her players into the trapping mode. These include your standard full court zig zag drill, 8 second 1v1 drill, and a 3v0 into 2v1 half court trap drill.

55 Full Court Press Setup:

Basically, the 55 is 1/2 M2M and 1/2 zone defense. You play M2M on the short side, where the ball is likely to be inbounded. Here is what it should look like,

Primary Traps:
X5 guards the inbounds and is the only person to go sideline to sideline trapping and is also your weak-side defender in half-court transition defense if press is broken. Safe to say X5 must be long, lean, athletic. X4 is your safety, meaning nobody gets behind them, plays strong-side help in half-court if press is broken. X1 is the safety but on the ball-side. If the offense brings 4 players into the frontcourt, then X1 plays up. X1 always backs up the traps by being the primary ball stealer off bad passes and will pick up the ball if the press is broken. X2 is usually the first person to trap, picking up the first person on the ball-side. The goal is for X2 and X5 to set that first trap closing out the sideline. If O1 manages to get up the sideline, X1 should pickup and not allow middle. X3 zones up opposite the ball-side.

On the ball reversal, X5 is the only one to hustle over to cover the first pass, then shift to re-trap on the other side with X3 once the ball is reversed,

Deny Middle:

The weakness to this along with most presses is if the ball is attacked through the middle of the floor. Therefore, it is imperative that your players know how to deny the middle. In this example, a common press break is the 1-3-1 setup. What happens here is X3 and X1 will execute a jump switch. As O4 makes the move to the middle, X3 should anticipate and move to deny that pass. X1 will shift over and take X3's area,


As with the Pitino matchup press, there are several more run and jump scenarios that Stringer goes through depending on whether personnel you are facing or against specific press breaks. This is a very aggressive press. When Rutgers used it in 2007, they were athletic and quick and therefore the risks they took ended up having big payoffs. When their talent changed though, Stringer had to stop using it. If you have a couple of long lean athletic forwards to go with a pack of jitter-bug quick guards, this is the perfect full-court press to use.

If you want the full description of this press, then you should get Vivian Stringer's DVD on the 55 Full Court Press. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.