And that’s a wrap. We ended the season in a tournament and went two and a BBQ. We played the hosts in the first game and played one of our best games of the season, but fell in the 4th quarter. In the loser’s bracket, we played a team that we had beaten, but they brought down four guys who had played up on the sophomore team all season, and despite outplaying them for much of the game, we lost.
In both games, when we made mistakes, our opponent punished us. When our opponent made mistakes, we did not. In the end, that was the difference. For instance, in the first game, twice we had a 1v1. My player stopped and pump faked the defender out of the gym, but then missed the open lay-up. When we trailed them on a flex cut, they took advantage and converted. Lay-ups. Box outs. That was pretty much the difference.
The host team is good (I expect that they will lose a close game in the championship game) and has a very good player. As the game wore on, and we anticipated their plays, he would make reads on his own and flash into the open area, rather than where the play was intended for him to go. He was always one step ahead, and he finished his shots. He is the best player that we played all season. I thought before the game about trying a box-and-1, but decided against it. Maybe I should have, as he scored half of their points though we did a decent job against him as it was just. He was just taller, stronger, and better than our defense. At the end, however, our defense was good enough to win; we just did not make enough shots, and we did not extend the lead early as much as we should have.
In between games, we practiced some little things, like out of bounds plays and some other things that we did not spend a lot of time on during the season. We put in a new zone out-of-bounds play, and we had a lay-up almost every time that we ran it. Unfortunately, we did not always complete the pass or finish the shot. It was a ridiculously simple play, but those are the ones that tend to work the best. We did manage to defend the underneath OB plays finally.
In our last game, our opponent played a 1-3-1. Our offense is set up to attack from the corners and from post to post. When we reversed the ball, we got lay-ups. However, we were stubborn. It’s like doing it the right way was too easy. We came down, reversed the ball, faked the pass to the wing, entered into the post, and made a wide-open lay-up. Next possession, rather than look for the same thing or fake the same pass to draw the defense and punish them somewhere else, we made one pass and jacked a three-pointer or we passed to the strong side and attempted to drive baseline into three defenders.
That is the most frustrating thing. I watch the game, and I know that we know what to do. We make the right plays enough to convince me that we know what we are doing, and we are not just getting lucky. But, then we are not consistent making the right play, and we make mistakes that we should not make at this point in the year.
So, that’s the season. A frustrating end.
Overall, there were some great things. By the end of the season, guys were seeing the open man, even if the pass was not always perfect. Everyone was handling the ball, with post players showing confidence to handle the ball against a press or in transition. After a period in the middle of the season where our concentration and intensity waned, we ended the season playing our two most consistent games of the season.
It was a good group to coach. I think we were better than our record shows. Hopefully that shows next season in terms of development this year rather than playing only to win this season.
By Brian McCormick
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League