And no, this has nothing to do with Tim Donaghy. For all the coaches out there, I encourage you to spend at least 1 month refereeing, it will change your whole perspective on the game. I never really had a true appreciation of refereeing until I became one for a season a few years ago. What I found most eye-opening was the incredible pressure I was under. Being a coach, its always easy to "referee" from the sidelines, having the benefit of being able to reflect for 2-3 seconds before reacting, seeing what the ref calls, how your players react, how the fans react. As a ref, you blow the whistle milliseconds after the play. You don't have 2-3 seconds to reflect, you must make the right call right away. Everyone is waiting for you to make the call, then reacting to it. It's tough, it's a lot of pressure, all the time.

Anyways, I really liked this segment from NBA TV, probably one of their best all season. Refs really are perfectionists, they want to get the call right. They care about the integrity of the game. And they are professionals. I felt the same way as the refs in the video, if a player or coach came up to me respectfully, I was always more than willing to talk. I think it's a myth that referees hold grudges, I never really had time, people don't realize that when you become a referee, you usually ref a couple of games a night, I barely remembered the scores of the games, let alone coaches or players. Anways, enjoy....

I'm always on the lookout for good shell-based drills for M2M defense. This one is a good one to teach help defense concepts and closeouts. If your team is playing good team M2M defense, you will always have situations where you are disadvantaged, 3-on-2, 4-on-3, as a result of your defense shifting to stop the ball, so it's always critical for your players to be able to closeout properly and split the offense properly until your teammates can recover. I got these from an older Xavier Newsletter, I like it because there is a quick turnaround so that you can get a lot of players through it instead of a lot of players standing around while 7 players play 4 on 3 for 3 minutes.

4-on-3 Closeout Drill:
1. The drill begins with four offensive players versus three defensive players. The offensive players cannot move without the ball. The drill is halfcourt only.
2. The defense must get three consecutive stops to get out. Possession of the ball by the defense equals a stop. If the offense scores or is fouled before a "third consecutive stop" occurs, the consecutive stop count returns to zero.
3. The offense must shoot on three passes or less.
4. On every catch by an offensive player, one of the three defenders, the closest one, must actively closeout and defend the ball. A defender should not have to take two consecutive passes.

For more shell drill info, check out Kevin Boyle's DVD on Building a Man Defense. Coach Boyle is head coach of St. Patrick's High Shool in New Jersey and a part of the NIKE Grassroots Basketball Program.

Wasn't able to catch all those great games yesterday, I stayed with CBS most of the day, so I went through the Florida vs South Carolina game earlier today on tape. What a thrilling finish, USC goes coast to coast to go up by 2, only to have Florida come back coast to coast to drain a game winning 3-pointer.

It was one of those plays where you can't find fault really, just 2 teams which played their hearts out, executed as best they could, and the team with the last shot was the one that came out on top.

If there was one thing I would like to point out, is just the spacing of Florida's break. Parsons, 25, goes wide and knows exactly where to spot up for the 3-pointer. Tyus dribbles wide to get into a better driving angle, then as the defense stays at home to defend against the dribble drive, Tyus drops off the ball to Parsons for the open 3-pointer, which he hits.

And if you're wondering why Florida didn't call timeout after USC hit their 2-pointer for the 1-point lead, it was because Florida was out of timeouts at that point.

For more ideas on incorporating the 3-pointer into your offense, check out Billy Donovan's DVD on Shooting and Defending the 3-pointer. Billy Donovan is the head coach of the University of Florida.

When I watch a lot of basketball at the lower levels (up to JV), it bugs me a little when I watch 1 team dominate the other team simply through a full court press. Ever since about a year ago, I used to be of the sole belief that it was just bad form for a more athletic team to FC press a less athletic team. But the more I think about it now, I think it points to a failure by coaches to properly teach players how to deal with traps and double-teams, especially in the open court.

There were always be situations where it is bad form for a team to be FC pressing (like if ahead by 20-plus points, etc...). But as coaches, we tend to overemphasize the tactical side, how to scheme out of FC pressure, and not actually teach players how to play out of pressure themselves. I think there are some general concepts we as coaches should be teaching which will allow even less athletic teams, the ability to successfully play against pressure defense in the open court. Sure it takes more work, there are no quick fixes, but in the end its a better way to approach it in my opinion.

I scoured my notes and came across some good teaching points from a Mike McNeill article of Basketball BC. So, without further ado, here are some of those great pointers:

1. Dribbling and passing skills required:
• Change of pace dribble
• Pop back or retreat dribble
• Pivoting skills – a great deal of passing ability is determined by pivoting ability; you must be able to create passing lanes by pivoting
• Pass fakes

2. With the ball, do not:
• Attempt to pass off the dribble over top of the defense
• Attempt to pass around the defense – “pass through the defense” - this means pass the ball by the ears, off the hips or directly over top of the defender’s head
• Pick up the dribble until you are ready – “keep the dribble alive”

3. Away from the ball, do not:
• Get “three in a row” – in the diagram O2 should move to the sideline, or to middle, to create a passing lane for O1
• Wait for the pass - move to the pass, “run through the ball”
• Let the defense catch up to the ball after a trap – Hit the next open player.

4. With the ball:
• Pass first, dribble second
• Fake high, pass low or fake low, pass high
• Dribble, but constantly change pace
• Force the trap when you want to not when they want to

5. In the double team:
• Stay low in the trap - maintain balance
• Pass away from the defense
• To split the double team take the ball through low and first
• If near a side-line or end-line learn to bounce the ball off the defenders out of bounds – this should be practiced
• If, using NCAA rules, call a “time-out”

6. Approaching the double team:
• Only cross center when you know you can get 10 feet past the center line so you have room to pass the ball back
• When approaching the trap make your last dribble and step to the outside of either defender to create a passing lane
• Use your retreat or pop back dribble and take on the slower of the two in the double team

7. Away from the ball:
• Go down the floor until your check stops - “when yours stop, you stop”

• Circle cut to take your check out of help and to create passing lane

• When the ball is moving towards the sideline or on the sideline you must have a teammate down the sideline, ready to move behind the ball in the middle, and in the middle

• When your defender goes to double team you come back to the ball

For a brand new DVD just released, check out Bill Self's All Access Kansas Basketball Practice 4-pack DVD which includes 424 minutes of practice and Q&A with Coach Self.

It's always great to watch these 2 hall-of-famers and great friends talkin' basketball, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Coach Bob Knight. In case you didn't catch it on ESPN, here is the clip below. The best parts of the video are towards the end, after 10 minutes (its around 20 minutes long),

I love the part (around 11:40) when Coach K talks about the "value of the ball". I've always been more of an old school, so I also have the philosophy to cherish each possession, on offense, but also on defense, the ball is the most important to stop.

Second part I liked (around 14:00) was when Coach K was talking about the longevity of his tenure at Duke. It's all about the people. You can be at your dream school, but if there's tension between you and administration, it's not going to work. I think we've seen situations recently in college football, where obviously that was not the case.

Last great part was towards the end (17:30), when Coach Knight and Coach K talked about the missing ingredient in today's college game, team defense. Interesting thing to note is the fact that all the best teams recently have been able to win though with superior defense.

I'll have to admit that I haven't had much time to watch Texas lately since I've mostly followed Kansas, Duke and Kentucky so far this year. So, when I sat down yesterday and caught the later part of the second half in their game against Texas A&M, I was able to see for myself why they are the No. 1 team in the country. They play relentless half-court defense. They pressure everything on the perimeter, and they play terrific team defense. I took a few clips from the OT session between the two teams which illustrate the point:

In many ways, their defense resembles the kind of half-court pressure defense that Duke plays. But Texas is better at it, because they have better athletes. Their perimeter defenders are a threat to get their hands on the ball every single defensive possession.


It all starts with the perimeter deny. The Longhorns deny everything on the perimeter. In these 2 shots, you can see that they deny everything, even near the half-court line,

In this sequence, the Longhorn defender gets his hand on the attempted bounce pass handoff. They don't get the turnover, but it shows great defensive fundamentals by the defender to get that arm outstretched to get the deflection,


The biggest issue with this kind of aggressive half-court defense is that it leaves you vulnerable to the biggest offensive counter, the backdoor pass. Texas A&M attempts to go backdoor, but the perimeter players are so well prepared, and athletically gifted, that they can deny hard, and recover at the same time,


Finally, it is almost impossible to have a solid defense individually. Your team has to work together as a unit to stop the ball, especially when players get beaten individually. Now, several times in the OT, when A&M got blocked, it was more a result of bad spacing by A&M on offense, but still, the Longhorns did a great job of weakside support,

Well, hopefully everyone else is having a great weekend. Still waiting for Rick Barnes to come out with a video, but in the meantime if you need some ideas for halfcourt denial defense, take a look at Tubby Smith's new DVD on Ball-Line Defense. Coach Smith is the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Just watched an outstanding documentary the other day called "Warrior Champions: From Baghdad to Beijing", which recounts the stories of several soldiers who returned home wounded in the line of duty, and turned around their injuries to compete for U.S.A. in the Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, the website for the film is here. It was extremely difficult to find a place which was showing it here, but I managed to take it in yesterday. If you haven't seen it, you will definitely not regret it.

Anyways, I managed to find a short NBA TV extract which interviews some wheelchair basketball veterans some of whom appeared in the film. Show this clip to your team, you can't not help getting pumped up after watching and hearing the motivation of these athletes:

Was looking for more motion offense ideas for a coaching friend and came across these great notes from a coaches clinic with Villanova's Jay Wright breaking down some of the intricacies of their Wildcat Spread offense. The whole key as you've probably guessed is spacing, anyways, enjoy...

Positions on the floor

1. Two Baseline spots directly in line with the block
2. Two slots perimeter position, two feet off of the lane line extended
3. 18 feet separation between slots and baseline position
4. Post man “prime time” post position above the block, allows for cutters and room to operate for post

Perimeter players

1. Three Perimeters can fill any of the three perimeter positions
2. Dribble through fill each of the four perimeter spots

Post Players

1. Can fill either post position or either slot position
2. Must always be diagonal from each other
3. One post player is in the slot and one is in the perimeter.


Basic Rules in Motion

1. Post players should always be high and low in the offense
2. Screen the guard to the maintain the opposite spot
3. Our post players always screen the man in the slot
4. Ball is in the slot, ball screen
5. Ball is passed to the baseline position big man set the flare screen
6. When the ball is in the slot with the post the big man will look to duck in
7. When the ball is passed to the post the opposite big man will rip or dive to the opposite post

Rules for Perimeter Players

1. After any pass guards can basket cut
2. After any pass can receive a flare screen
3. After pass guard can down screen
5. Our perimeter players always screen for each other
6. Use dribble to drive or make an easy pass

Key Teaching Points in 4 out 1 in motion

1. Post Ups and ball screens are our primary looks
2. Any time a guard gets a ball up top looking for post up or running a screen and roll with the slot man post
3. Set a ball Screen in the corner sets up action on weak side
4. Post entries set action up
5. All people on the perimeter must look like a shooter
6. Get your eyes on the rim
7. Use good shot selection (take easy shots)
8. Be “solid” Make the proper fundamental play
9. Take lanes - do not fight the defense
10. Communication
11. Read Opposite

Scoring Opportunities in Motion Offense

1. Post Up and Rip (ball goes in the post opposite post goes to the basket) Other guards space the floor and three goes to the opposite elbow
• Post, Rip and Skip for jumper
• No jumper we post, rip, skip and seal the rip man

2. High Ball Screen
• If on a drag dribble screener makes a basket cut while opposite post fills slot position
• Baseline guards will space to the corner to spread the defense
• Guard curls post will space and opposite space will space below looking for cut opportunity
• Roll Pop and Seal (drag and hit the post coming in the slot, the post man in the prime time spot will then look to a seal in the high low duck in look).

3. Screener, cutter situations
• Four and five man are screeners and second cutters
• Ball to the corner post sets a flare screen
• Screen, curl, and pop for second cutter

4. Side Ball Screen
• Staggered double on the weak side to occupy the defense

For more on Coach Wright and Villanova's motion offense, then check out Jay Wright's DVD on Drills for his 4-out 1-in Motion Offense. The Villanova Wildcats are currently ranked 4th in the latest AP Poll.

I'm not generally a huge fan of jamming the rebound after a missed offensive shot attempt, but I think in certain situations it can be extremely useful. In their ACC matchup the other night between Duke and Georgia Tech, I watched Duke use it to try to come back from behind late in the game.

The situation was Duke down 64-60 with 1 minute left in the game. Duke had the ball on offense trying to come withing 2 or 1. They drive into the middle, take a decent shot, but miss. They send 4 to the boards, but GT grabs the defensive rebound. 3 Duke players remain on the offensive side of the floor and attempt to pressure the ball. They are able to trap the ball in an aggressive double-team and force a turnover which they turn into a quick score. Take a look at the video:

After they make the shot attempt, 4 players stay in the front court attempting to grab the rebound,

After GT successfully grabs the defensive rebound, Duke keeps 3 players in the front court and they attempt to pressure and do successfully trap the ball,

As I mentioned, I usually don't like jamming the rebound in any normal situation, but I think that if you're behind, with 2 or less minutes left in the game, jamming the rebounder hard, can result in a couple of forced turnovers. As with any aggressive trapping defense, the offense can turn your pressure into a numbers advantage the other way. But when you are down, you don't really have a choice. Plus, you can get a quick foul if all else fails and you are unable to force the turnover, I've always believed in fouling as quickly as possible as opposed to allowing unnecessary seconds drift off the game clock.

If you are a big Duke fan like me, definitely check out Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on Defensive Agility & Conditioning Drills. Coach K and his Blue Devils are 5th in the last AP Top 25 poll.

I was helping out a coaching friend the other day and his freshman squad with some troubleshooting work on their man-to-man defense. We were doing some up-the-line/on-the-line team defense concepts and what I realized about half-way through was that the kids really didn't have a clue what I was talking about because they had no idea what an open stance, closed stance, ear to chest, help side, free-throw line extended meant. After more prodding, it turns out the kids didn't really know what any of the stuff their coach had been teaching them the past 2 months, and of course they never bothered to ask anyone because, well they're kids and they don't want to look dumb in front of their friends.

In thinking about this situation, I thought of one of the things coaches must develop early on with players at the beginning of the season is basic basketball vocab. It doesn't have to be the exact terminology that us coaches use, but when you say on-the-line (or red, or pressure, or deny, whatever you want to use), they need to know that they should be in deny 1 pass away. They need to know what a hedge is, but better yet how to execute one properly. Assume that all players come into the season with zero knowledge. Go through and demonstrate everything (me, we, you), and make them demonstrate it back to you so that you can assess whether they've retained what you've told them.

You can't teach players your M2M base, a zone offense scheme, etc... if they don't have the basic terminology down. And it needs to be done early on in the season because you don't want to get to January with players still wondering what you're talking about, especially as you make adjustments heading towards the playoffs.

Anyways, that's my rant for the day. If you're looking for a headstart on basketball vocab terms, you can start with the FIBA version. It's pretty comprehensive, but maybe there are some other terms that you use which you should include.

This is from ESPN's Outside the Lines report last week if you haven't seen it yet. I've known for some time that NCAA Div1 scholarships are only 1 year renewable since I used to work for Rivals and this came up all the time. But I think a lot of high school students and parents are under the impression that they are getting a 4-year commitment from the University, which is definitely not the case. I've known people personally who've lost their scholarships and come back home to attend/play for local schools. Anyways, it definitely pays off to know all the facts,

Flipping through some notes today and came across these zone offense nuggets from a Double Pump clinic with University of Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon. Interesting emphasis on the crashing of the boards. Your zone offense can be as simple as emphasizing that at least 3 players must crash the boards on every shot. Anyways, here you go,

Zone Offense

- Keep it simple and understand reads- repetition and patience.
- Key- Must Crash Boards vs. Zone- has to be universal philosophy when you see zone- must get after offensive glass.
- Do a lot of breakdown drills vs. zone.
- Must get inside touches and guard penetration.
- Hi-posts must look to be screeners
- bigs must be able to catch, pass, and make plays from high post or short corner. Big East sees plenty of zones! Must get up to speed on how to attack it.
- 1-3-1 zones becoming more prevalent.
- Take a good shot and go get it!
- Always have 3 guys going to boards.
- Skip & follow, X action, partner up, dribble penetration, and pass penetration.
- Vs. 1-3-1 zone- spacing, action, offensive boards
- Movement is key vs. zone- do not be easy to guard.
- Start with zone offense on 1st day of practice.

For more info on Pitt's zone offense, check out Jamie Dixon's DVD on his 3-out 2-in Zone Offense. The Pitt Panthers are currently ranked 23rd in the latest AP Poll.

NBA TV Remix, Where Defense Happens

I recently had my students in my IT9 class do an assignment similar to this using iMovie and Garageband on the Mac. They came up with some very neat stuff, if any of you teach IT or Comp Sci, definitely an assignment worth looking into. Anyways, without further ado, NBA TV's remix of "The NBA, where defense happens". Enjoy the rest of the holidays...

I was looking for a rebounding drill the other day and came across this one from a drill notebook of the Texas A&M women's team. I like it because it involves players moving and cutting instead of your generic box rebounding drill when players are mostly static. Here it goes:

Triangle Rebounding

This drill starts with three offensive players -- two players on both blocks and the other opposite elbow extended from the coach. All three players have a defensive player on them. Every time the coach dribbles the ball the offensive players rotate in a triangle. The defense has to work on not letting the cutters cut their face and staying in correct position whether in denial or help side. After a few rotations, the coach will then shoot the ball and the defense has to make contact, block out, and secure the rebound. The offense must go hard to rebound it.

Anyways, for more rebounding drills to use in your practices, take a look at Kermit Davis' DVD on Competitive Rebounding Drills. Coach Davis is the head coach at Middle Tennessee State University.