In our final week of practice before our first game of the regular season, the local schools took trips. This made me realize how young we actually are, as despite having 14 players on our current roster (plus a 15th out with an injury), we did not have more than seven players at a practice until everyone returned from his trips on Friday. Seven players is a bad number for running a good practice, especially in a gym with six baskets.
I used this week to practice shooting and play 3v3. I did some position breakdowns to focus on post finishing through contact (similar to some of the drills in the video below). The guards did an old drill that I have started to do again – the Perfect Square Drill (second video below). However, I added another element to the drill to make the last move and finish into a 1v1 drill.
On Friday, we were able to go over some details before the first game. I concentrated on small things, like defending out of bounds plays, and we did a live shell drill. I gave the offense different constraints, which the defense had to focus on defending. Our defense was a little better, especially with on-ball screens, in practice, which left me somewhat confident going into the game. We also had access to the clock in the gym, so we worked on end-game and end-quarter situations, and then talked about thing that went right and wrong. I think this was important, as we were able to discuss philosophy, how to press when ahead or behind, how to take advantage of a 2 for 1, and other concepts. We haven’t had a close game in preseason, so it was good to practice these things with the clock in a semi-real situation before we faced them in a real game.
In our game, we played okay and won by 21. We jumped out to a lead, gave it back, and then took control in the third quarter. We could not stop anything early in the game, but our defense improved in the 3rd and early 4th quarters until I emptied the bench. All 12 players in uniform played, and 11 of 12 scored.
We still do too many dumb things for my liking, and we focus too much on the score (result), and not enough on the performance (process). We did make some good adjustments during the game in terms of learning personnel and tendencies, but we still let one guy do almost whatever he wanted. Offensively, we realized their only big was in foul trouble, and we looked to go at him, except we would run stuff to get our big posted on the block, and he wouldn’t roll – he’d pop to shoot a three-pointer, and come to the bench and tell everyone else that his man had 3 fouls. A couple of the guys who were gone all week sleep-walked through the game and made almost no contribution. For the first game, it was a decent performance. We didn’t play great, and we won, which is good. However, we need to play better, and more consistently. We’re still too slow in the half court (thinking too much), and make too many poor decisions. The week ahead should provide a much greater challenge.
By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League