I think my brain is on the verge of short-circuiting after a weekend of football watching, basketball practice, college basketball watching, and preparing lessons for next week. I haven't gone through recorded stuff on the DVR, but I did get a chance to browse through some notes earlier today. I found some really great tips from Ralph Willard, former head coach of Holy Cross. I've talked about having an identity before, your team can't be everything at the same time, it needs to have a particular focus. For Coach Willard, he calls his team focus, the "Circle of Opportunity."

If we do execute these 8 things, we will 95% of our games and have a chance to win the other 5%:

1. Deflections: our goal is 40 a game. 40+ deflections a game = .900 winning percentage.
2. Blockouts: we go back through tape and chart everyone on this.
3. Shot Contest: Every shot the opponent takes need to be contested on the ballside of their shot. If it is a righty shooting, we are flying directly at his right shoulder with 2 hands up as you can. There is a 4-5% difference between contesting on the player’s shooting side to his non-shooting side.
4. Offensive Rebounding: If you have an opportunity to go to the glass, you better get there. From the corner, Willard teaches his players to go baseline-out (meaning a player runs along the baseline to underneath the rim before jumping back into play). After the shooter shoots the defender runs along the baseline before jumping in front of the basket to get a hand on the missed shot. Teaches bigs to do the same.
5. Charges: Chart the number of times your guys step up to take a charge when they have an opportunity. This is a sign of sacrifice—giving yourself up for the team.
6. Bull Pursuit: Loose balls are OURS. All great rebounders/ rebounding teams do 2 things: They get great position and they pursue the ball. Use the stat “Out of Area Rebounds” and really emphasize it to your team.
7. Confidence & Emotion: Players must be confident going into every game that they can win.
8. Transition Defense: Take away easy baskets.

There’s nothing in this circle of 8 that we can’t do. We’re not asking you to do anything which you’re not capable of doing. It comes down to execution and effort.
Being the underdog most of the time at Holy Cross, it is not surprising that Willard would adopt a philosophy based on half-court defense, centered around hustle and physicality. If you want to learn more, check out Ralph Willard's DVD on Man Defense to equalize talent. Coach Willard is currently an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville.