This was our first week with the team. Rather than immediately focus on team specifics, the focus remained on general skills, especially shooting, finishing and transition play. Unfortunately, our finishing and shooting has not transferred to scrimmages thus far, so scrimmages take too long to complete.
We introduced the press from Blitz Basketball this week. As always, my emphasis with pressure is to prevent lay-ups. Inevitably, extending pressure over the full court will cause some turnovers over the course of the game; however, if the defense allows lay-ups on every possession that does not result in a steal, the press is ineffective.
Our offense against the press was disconcerting at first. Like most teams, we hurried and made uncharacteristic mistakes. The key to playing against pressure is patience, composure and tempo: The offense must play at its pace and not allow the defense to make it uncomfortable. We spent more time on the press than I normally would have because of our offense against the press, not necessarily because of the press itself.
I also introduced basic offensive movement through the Blitz Basketball shooting drills, and we played a lot of 4v4 Canada Rules. At first, they did not seem to like the constraints of the cones in Canada Rules, but as the week progressed, players said that they liked the drill whenever I said that we were going to play. Our offensive movement was better in the Canada Rules games than 5v5 scrimmages, partially because of the constraints and partially because of the fifth player.
Late in the week, we had a new game scheduled, so our opener was moved forward by a week. Despite the lack of practice time before the first game, we have no specific structure. We worked on inbounds plays from the side and underneath, but we did not give them plays to run. We let them do whatever they could do on the fly. They executed very well on the out of bounds plays, which left me very concerned about our defense. However, our cutting and awareness on OB plays was great and something to be excited about.
Right now, I am caught between giving too much and too little structure. They do some great things naturally, and I do not want to limit or destroy these instincts. I also want to make sure that they have something to rely on when things get bogged down. We have only one practice before our first game, and a lot to do.
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