After our win on Saturday, our opponent did not know the date of the third game. They had scheduled the game for Tuesday originally, but its women’s team made the finals as well, and played away on Tuesday, so they asked to change the game. We agreed to change the game to Wednesday. After they won the first game, they expected to win game 2, and they never booked a gym for Wednesday. Throughout Sunday, the clubs went back and fort about the game. Despite the minor ankle injury to my best player, which should have meant that we would be happy to push back the game as far as possible, our American point guard was having a baby in the States this week, and we wanted him to get home for the birth, which is why we pushed for the game to be as early in the week as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
The guys were beat up on Monday. This was the toughest stretch of the season: play Thursday, practice Friday, play Saturday on the road (home after 1 A.M.), off Sunday, practice Monday, play Tuesday on the road (home after 3 A.M.). Compared to an NBA schedule, or even some high school schedules, it does not seem so bad, but players here are accustomed to playing one game per week. Read the rest of this entry »
We entered the week down 1-0 to the top seed (21-1 in regular season). We had two practices to prepare after a 14-point loss. Nobody in the club gave us much of a chance; the club manager stopped me Thursday before our game and asked if we were going to practice on Friday. He was implying that we would lose Thursday night, and our season would be over. I said, “Of course we’re practicing. We’re not losing at home,” and walked away. He told me over the Christmas break that reaching the play-offs would be a good accomplishment, but not reaching them wouldn’t be the end of the world. The club hadn’t beaten our semifinal opponent in four seasons or been past the semifinals, and nobody believed that would change now. Read the rest of this entry »
After sweeping our first-round play-off series, we had to wait until Wednesday night to find out our next opponent. I structured the week to focus on general things on Monday, our offense on Wednesday, and our defense on Friday, after we knew our opponent.
Play-offs. We ended the regular season as the #5 seed, which meant an opening game on the road. The game was scheduled on Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. 4.5 hours away from our town. Far from the ideal, and about the worst case scenario of all the possibilities going into the final week of play. Read the rest of this entry »
This was a difficult week. It was kind of like coaching high school or college teams during mid-terms: tough to get the players to concentrate when they are worried about their exams and aren’t sleeping very much. That’s how we behaved this week in practice. I don’t know why. Read the rest of this entry »
We had a short week of practice to compare for a tough team. Our u20s played on Thursday, which meant no Thursday practice, and our starting PF and C and another player missed Wednesday’s practice because of school, work, and military testing. On top of the short week of preparation, the team that we played had joined together with another team since our last game against them, and I had no idea who would be on their team or how they would play with the different personnel. Read the rest of this entry »
After last week’s game, I focused more on individual defense. From an offensive perspective, I prefer to play 2v2 or 3v3 because it incorporates a more realistic situation, as the pass is an option, and the player must account for potential help defense. However, in my inclination to play more 2v2 and 3v3, our individual defense may have been sacrificed. Read the rest of this entry »
After last week’s game, I went back to the basics this week: we focused on basic movements. We worked on shuffling, quick sprints, hockey stops: basic simple movements. We aren’t quick enough – in our feet or in our minds. I added a change-of-direction speed (CODS) component to our finishing drills, as we have done previously. I wanted to focus on getting into a better stance and moving better and quicker. Read the rest of this entry »
We had two games this week, and only two full practices. In our Monday practice, we prepared for our Wednesday game, as we had played our opponent 10 days earlier. We knew they would trap our point guard and force other guys to make plays. With two of our five post players injured, the post sessions failed to progress, as we did not have defense to work against. We maintained the status quo and worked on basic finishing. Our guard workouts focused on 2v2 starting with a closeout to the ball.
In our Wednesday game, we dominated inside with our post having his best game since his return from a knee injury that kept him out for 8 games. He had 39 points, and we won 89-78. We handled their pressure well, but a couple of our young guys looked like they were sleep-walking on the court. However, one of the other young guys stepped up and played a great fourth quarter, especially defensively with his ball pressure.
On Thursday, we had a short practice due to gym conflicts, and we only had 9 players. In the first drill, our starting point guard came down wrong, and sat out the rest of practice with a minor knee injury, and shortly thereafter, another player re-inured his ankle, leaving us with 7. Despite only having an hour of allotted time, we ended early before we could suffer another injury, having not accomplished anything.
On Friday, we prepared for our Saturday game. Our shooting was terrible, and we lacked energy. We played one 5v5 scrimmage that took forever. For our free-throw practice, I end many of our scrimmages with the winning team having to make two free throws in a row to consolidate the win. To me, this is the best mix of game-like situations, pressure, and shooting when tired. However, when one team misses its first five attempts to make two free throws, the game drags on and on.
In hindsight, I should have been more worried that the team with most of our usual starters lost nearly every drill to the team of primarily reserves, especially because some of those reserves didn’t travel. Our game was only two hours away, so one player drove himself as he lives about halfway between the two cities. That allowed me to bring 8 additional players because tour team van seats 9 people (8 players plus myself). Every away game, I have to cut players from the squad. For a while, it was not a problem, as injuries and other things meant that we only had 8 players. However, with everyone back, we have a roster of 14 again, although two players are injured currently, and another left for vacation.
We walked through their three basic sets and their one out of bounds play. We discussed exactly how to guard the actions. Prior to the game, we went over the actions again. Somehow, we managed to get beat by simple backdoor screens even when we knew they were coming, and the screener’s defender was yelling “Screen” loudly.
It was a miserable game; lack of energy, lack of focus. I was too complacent on the bench. I was confident that we would make a play and be fine. Losing never crossed my mind, even as we dug ourselves a 14-point hole at half time. I knew they could not score at the same pace in the second half, and I knew we could easily score much more than we had. In the first half, I expended both of my timeouts early in the half. I used them to try and settle the team down, as we were making mistakes and getting frustrated with each other, and to get a rest for my top players who do not come out of the game much. That meant that I did not have a timeout to use in the last two minutes of the half as we gave away 6-8 points on stupid plays. In the end, that hurt.
We played better in the second half, but we still pissed away too many opportunities, whether by throwing the ball out of bounds on simple post entry passes because we failed to take an extra dribble to create a better lane, missing lay-ups, or committing needless fouls. In the end, we had the ball with 20 seconds left, down by 3 points, and missed two good looks to tie the game. It never should have come to that, but that’s the way the ball bounces. The first half was the absolute worst half of the season, three days after we had played one of our best halves of the season to end the game against a much better team.
At this point, I feel like I spend as much time as an athletic trainer as I do a basketball coach. Before or after practice, I am showing players on the men’s and women’s teams different exercises to try and heal various lingering injuries or to strengthen their bodies to relieve pain or discomfort. The women’s team is as unlucky as our team, as it has lost two players to broken fingers in less than a week. I have never seen anything like it. My two injured players are out with sprained ligaments on the top of their foot, according to their translation of what their doctor told them. I have never dealt with so many injuries as this season, and just when we are close to full health, another player gets injured.
Despite the injuries, we should have won today. Lack of execution and lack of urgency killed us, and the lack of urgency was probably my fault. After the game, my best player pulled me outside of the locker room. He said that he didn’t have it today, and asked if I noticed. He didn’t have his best game, but he wasn’t the problem. He told me that I need to yell at him more. He said that if I see it, I need to yell at him, as it fires him up. It’s not my style to call out a player in the middle of the game, but maybe it would have helped today.
By Brian McCormick, PhD
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League