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3 Tips for Drawing up Game Winning Plays

Time is expiring and your team gets the ball out of a timeout. You’re down by one and you need a bucket to win the game.

What type of play do you run?

You run what you saw Rick Pitino run to beat Duke a few years back right?

The problem with many basketball coaches is they think that’s always the right answer. They think that running something they saw a big name coach run will give them the best open look in every situation.

The reality is, the same play doesn’t work for every team in every situation. There are a lot of things that go into what type of play will work best in the situation you are in.

In this video, Coach Stricklin breaks down how to go about determining what type of play to draw up when you are in a tight game down the stretch and you have to have an open look.

How to Defend Baseline Out of Bounds Plays (BLOBS)

Offenses have gotten better and better over the years at creating open shots on out of bounds plays.

If your team isn’t 100% clear on what your overall strategy is for defending these plays, the offense will always win.

Here’s some tips on how you can better defend out of bounds plays and make it very difficult for your opponents to score. If you win each of these battles during a game it could mean the difference in 4-10 points going in your favor and ultimately determining the outcome of the game.

My Coach Sucks

Here is a great video that demonstrates how hard it can be for coaches having to deal with all the outside influences their players have around them.

Players: Please watch this and internalize how important it is for you to be accountable for your own actions. The more you push blame aside in your life the less likely you are to be successful in whatever path of life you choose!

Don’t Look Now but the NCAA’s Elite are Playing “Junior College” Basketball

JUCOIs it just me or has anyone else noticed that NCAA college basketball has become junior college basketball? Well whether you’ve noticed or not, it has – at least in the elite programs! I’m definitely not saying that it’s a bad thing but I am saying that it’s a fact.

Now before you get your spandex bunched up in a wad here is my reasoning. I have been involved in junior college basketball in some capacity for nearly my entire life. My father was a junior college coach and I became his team’s official scorekeeper when I was 8 years old and didn’t miss a game until I made the high school varsity team.

I eventually played for my dad’s junior college team before moving on and transferring and then became a junior college coach myself soon after I graduated. I am as familiar with junior college basketball as anyone I know.

For years junior college coaches, players, and programs have often been treated like unwanted step children – mainly because they did things a little differently so they could adapt to their situation.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have heard things like: “Junior colleges almost never have the traditional two guards, two forwards, and a center. They just have a bunch of players the exact same size.” “Junior college coaches just try to fill their roster with good athletes and then teach them whatever skills they can.” “Offenses are way too simple in junior college; coaches don’t really coach, they just roll out the balls.” And on and on and on. . . . . . .

The truth of the matter is that some of those statements (and others like them) are true which is why junior college coaches are some of the best in the country! Faced with the challenge of replacing up to half their roster and often their entire starting five each and every year, junior college coaches have had to learn to make adjustments that their four year university counterparts never had to make. Until now.

In each of the last several years approximately 425 underclassmen have transferred from NCAA Division 1 schools for a variety of reasons and over 40 other underclassmen have opted to leave school early each year in order to enter the NBA draft. Add these numbers to those players lost to graduation and to those players who quit playing altogether because of injury, eligibility problems, or personal issues and what do you have? You have practically a brand new team every year. In other words, you have Junior College basketball in a university setting!

Not too long ago Division 1 rosters would be dominated by experienced players who had already developed chemistry with their teammates and coaches and so the few incoming freshmen were simply integrated into the program. When they entered college as freshmen, the new players thoroughly learned the offensive and defensive “systems” that were already firmly established, paid their dues, and got themselves ready to eventually make huge contributions. By the time they graduated from the same program four years later these players had often mastered several offenses (North Carolina’s Dean Smith, one of the most respected college coaches of all time, ran 5 complete yet different offenses nearly every season.) and increased their basketball IQ in the process.

That rarely happens anymore. As an example just look at this year’s University of Kentucky roster which lists 9 freshmen, 2 sophomores and a junior who started his career at a junior college. That’s 12 players with less than two years of experience in the program!

Now instead of learning multiple offenses, nearly every team runs a very simple pick and roll or dribble drive offense with a roster full of great athletes who have no real “position.” (It’s interesting to note that Kentucky’s now famous dribble drive offense was taught to Coach John Calipari by a junior college coach.)

Since most offenses today are far from complex, coaches can spend less time teaching offensive intricacies and more time on skill development and because many players won’t be in the program long enough to gradually improve their talents their basketball IQ, athleticism becomes a bigger premium than ever before.

Sound familiar? Well it does to most junior college coaches.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just the way that it is – and it’s going to stay this way as long as transfer rates remain sky high and the “one and done” rule stay intact.


Successful Teams Act like Geese

Geese V-FormationHave you ever noticed how a flock of geese always seem to be flying in a “V” formation? Well they do and understanding how and why they do it can help all of our teams.

First of all, studies have shown that a flock of geese flying in formation can fly over 70% farther than a goose flying by itself. This is possible because as the birds flap their wings in unison, the ones in front create an updraft for the ones in back, allowing the ones in back to conserve their energy.

In other words, if you want to go a little faster then go by yourself but if you want to go a lot farther then go with a team.

Secondly, whenever the goose at the point of the V starts to get tired because he is taking on the brunt of all the wind resistance, he drops out of the lead and rotates all the way to the back. Another goose takes its place in the lead and the formation moves forward.

When every teammate is willing to step up and be a leader as well as share whatever hard work is necessary, then that team has a chance to accomplish great things.

Third, all the geese in formation constantly honk while flying. Maybe they are honking encouragement so the leader doesn’t slow down and maybe they are just “singing” a “marching” song like they do in the military. Either way they are constantly communicating with each other no matter how easy or difficult the journey.

Have you ever heard of a great basketball team that did not communicate effectively and constantly both on and off the court?

Lastly, whenever it becomes necessary for a goose to leave the formation, at least one other goose escorts it back safely to the ground and stays with it until it can return to the group. However, the rest of the flock keeps moving.

Great teammates are always supporting each other and looking for ways to help each other become stronger and more effective. But nothing is more important than the group (team) and the inability of one team member to keep up cannot keep everyone else from reaching their ultimate destination.

Is the above story and all of its facts completely true? I honestly don’t know if it is or not but I’m not sure it really matters.

What matters is the lessons that the story contains:

1. Teams can go farther when everyone is working together and heading in the same direction.

2. While everyone on the team should be willing and able to lead, they should also be willing to take on whatever role that will help the team succeed. If that means being out in the forefront then great but it might also mean staying in the background while someone else takes over.

3. Honest and effective coach to coach communication, coach to player communication, and player to player communication are all essential for team success. A silent team is usually not a winning team.

4. Stuff happens. Players sometimes get hurt, become academically ineligible, and/or make bad decisions. Great coaches and teammates should always be there to give whatever help and support is necessary to make the team whole again but at the same time everyone needs to understand that the progress of the team cannot be completely sacrificed for one individual.