Category Archives: Plays

Great Plays Don’t Make Great Players

Beware of great plays. Common sense might seem to tell you that great plays make the difference between a good player and a mediocre player, but most coaches would disagree. More often, they would say, great plays (or the attempts to make great plays) are what make good players mediocre.

Many players are mediocre because they try to make great plays. They want to score a fancy lay-up and they miss it, or they try to throw a lightning-quick pass to a cutter six inches ahead of his man and it goes out-of-bounds.

They try to hit a fade-away jumper, and it goes off the rim, or they go for the game-winning steal but they miss it, and the other team puts the game out of reach. Mediocre is sometimes just another name for erratic, inconsistent, or ‘always striving to make great plays’.

It may surprise you to learn that good players don’t strive for great plays. Great plays come to them sometimes, but only when they are in the process of concentrating on their job – trying to do all the little things right.

Take Michael Jordan for example. He made a lot of great plays, but his value (even more important to his team than all those spectacular dunks), was that he didn’t miss many dunks.

He was consistent. On the plays where a spectacular dunk had a good chance of missing, Jordan ‘happened’ not to try at all. “Ah”, said the fans, “he should have dunked that one.” But he didn’t dunk every chance he got. He dunked the ones he could dunk, and he didn’t attempt the ones he couldn’t. If it was 50-50, he didn’t try it.

(The above excerpt was taken from the book “Good Stuff Players Should Know” written by Dick DeVenzio)


Basic Principles of the Lakers’ New Offense

The recent announcement that the Los Angeles Lakers are going to start using the Princeton offense next season will undoubtedly renew a nationwide interest in the offense. Will the offense help or hurt Kobe Bryant’s ofeensive skill set? Will Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum be used primarily as scorers or passers? Of course we will all have to wait  and see before wecan get the answers to those questions but in the mean time here is a list (compiled by Lee DeForest) of the basic principles used in the Princeton Offense:

  1. If you can pass, dribble, and shoot well, you will always dictate to the defense what they do. If you can’t and are not fundamentally sound, they will dictate what you do.
  2. You must be able to dribble, pass and shoot, screen and cut -ON THE MOVE UNDER PRESSURE. The quality of your passing determines the quality of your shots! You must dribble with a purpose and the other four players must read the dribbler.
  3. Think change of direction–think five players high. Five players must work together.
  4. There is a counter for everything the defense does. Do the opposite of what the defense is doing. Must read the defense–are they playing hard or soft–any denial cut backdoor.
  5. Think layups and three point shots in that order.
  6. Don’t run to the ball!
  7. Hit the cutter with a bounce pass (it is OK to use one hand passes). The offense is about hypnotic cuts, passes and handoffs. Timing and cutting are essential to establishing flow and success for the offense.


Coaches – Don’t Wait Until Next Year – Act Now

In most states across the country June is the month when high school coaches can actually coach their teams and start to prepare for next season.

Camps, open gyms, team camps and tournaments all give coaches a pretty good indication of the team’s overall strengths and weaknesses. In other words, you as a coach have a pretty good idea RIGHT NOW what kind of team you will have next year!

If it looks like a league or state championship is inevitable then great! But if not, why not try one more thing before you start telling yourself and everyone involved in your program to patiently “wait til next year”?

That one thing is a new instructional program called Basketball Classroom. This one of a kind program is divided into six modules that each contains approximately 35 coaching resources (videos, special reports, audio interviews, animations, templates, etc.) that can be studied from the comfort of your own couch.

The best part is that the program has been designed by a coach with nearly 30 years of coaching experience who has a winning percentage that is off the charts! He’s consistently won championships at the high school, AAU, and college levels and he can help you win more games regardless of your current talent level. The second best part is that the investment is less than 10% of the cost to attend a weekend clinic!

Don’t wait until next year. Check out Coach the Coach and see for yourself. You, your players, their parents, and your administration will be glad you did!

Basics for Pick N Roll Screener

When executing a pick and roll most of the emphasis is placed on the ball handler but the responsibilities of the screener are just as important. Here are seven tips to be followed when setting an on ball screen.

  1. Always sprint to set the screen. Getting there before the defender will eliminate an effective hedge.
  2. Jump stop and straddle the near leg of the ball handler’s defensive player.
  3. Once the screen is set remain stationary until the ball handler has cleared. Don’t stick a knee out and get an offensive foul
  4. If you want to draw a foul on the ball handler’s defender, set the screen on your heels. This will ensure that even the slighest contact will knock you off balance without having to “flop.”
  5. When rolling, point your chest to the ball and roll hard to force a defensive adjustment or rotation.
  6. If both defenders go with the ball handler pop back for a jump shot.
  7. If your defensive player commits too early then slip the screen and dive hard to the basket.

Important Concepts When Attacking a Zone Defense

If you watched Kansas and North Carolina play yesterday in the Elite 8 you know that Kansas closed out the game with a 12-0 run to win the game and advance to the Final Four. How did they do it? In the last eight and a half minutes of the game they switched from the man to man defense that they had been playing the whole game to a zone defense (Triangle and 2). Carolina never scored off their offense again.

Today’s posting is a very small excerpt from an eBook sold on called Zone Busters, which is the definitive work on zone offenses and zone quick hitters. Regardless of what type of zone defense your opponents play, even if it’s a Triangle and 2, this book has an offensive attack that can absolutely destroy it!

Offensive Fronts

While there are many different zone defenses, all of them can be categorized into one of two types: zones with a one-defender front and zones with a two-defender front. When facing teams with a one-defender front, such as a 1-2-2 or a 1-3-1, it is usually best to use an offense that begins with a two-guard attack. Against defenses that use a two-guard front, such as a 2-3 or a 2-1-2, it is usually best to start off with a one-guard attack. Using this strategy allows you to create driving and shooting gaps right from the beginning.

If you want to see the other 9 important concepts to consider when attacking the zone click on the link below!

Zone Busters – 18 Proven Zone Offense Strategies and Plays That Will Bust Any Zone Defense.

Pick & Roll Responsibilities for the Ball Handler

It’s hard to accurately estimate how many games I have watched the last couple weeks. The Men’s NCAA Tournament, the Women’s NCAA Tournament, and theMen’s NIT have kept me pretty much glued to the television. It wasn’t too long ago when most teams used the pick and roll set as a quick hitter or in a need to score situation but now it seems to be a primary staple in every offensive game plan.

According to Ted Anderson of Andale High School, there are six main responsibilities for the ball handler when executing a pick and roll:

  1. Catch the ball and square up to the basket
  2. Fake away from the direction of the screen
  3. Wait for the screen to be set and prepare to read the defender
  4. Dribble off the screen with his shoulder at hip level of the screener.
  5. Take two hard dribbles off the screen – and go somewhere – don’t waste them
  6. Read the defense and make the proper play

7 Ways to Use On-Ball Screens

  1. Turn the corner when the screener’s defender backs off and doesn’t hedge.  Should drive low and tight and get into the paint.
  2. Hesitate and go when the screener’s defender executes a soft hedge before returning to his own man. At the level of the screen, hesitate slightly while keeping both eyes on the rim. The key is to make the hedge man relax and then drive by him.
  3. Split the hedge which may be the most under-utilized part of offensive ball screening. After clearing the screen low and tight, explode right between the hedge and the on ball defender. Keep the dribble below the knees since you will be in traffic.
  4. Fake the split then inside/out dribble to the paint.
  5. Reject the screen. Fake into the screen and explode the opposite way
  6. Stop and shoot behind when the on ball defender goes behind the screen. Shot must come from directly behind the screen.
  7. Re-screen when screener’s defender shows a big, flat hedge. Drive over the screen, then crossover and use the screen again. Screener turns to the inside on second screen getting you even closer to the basket.


Baseline Drive and Fill

The other night I was watching a game and saw the same play over and over again and what looked like it was just random was really a set play.  I call it the baseline drive and fill and it’s really a great play.

Where this play is really great is if you have a post player who is really good from 15 feet and in.  Here’s how it works:

The wing player has the ball on the same side as his post player.  He drives the ball hard to the baseline on purpose with one intent.  He wants to create a double team.  If he drives into the post players defensive man it is natural for that player to want to stop the ball while the initial defender won’t stop trying to play defense.  The post player then goes right where the wing player originated from and has a wide open 15 footer.  That’s where the drive and fill comes from because the wing player drives and the post player fills his spot for the shot.

This is a great play to run when the shot clock is running down because the defense is already anxious to get the play over with and will want to double team the ball.  If no help comes then the wing player should just go to the basket for a layup or short jumper.