We lost our first game, and we did not look ready. We were down early, fought back, fell behind again, and fought back again, which hopefully gives us something to build upon. We did not shoot well and made plenty of mistakes, but we never gave up or put our heads down. Our primary weaknesses were transitioning to defense (they leaked out early), talking on screens, and boxing out. Offensively, game speed took us out of our comfort zone. Hopefully, getting the first game under our belts will increase the intensity and urgency at practice now that we have seen the expectations of high school players.
I have two practices with the team before our next game. The plan this week is to clean up some of our disorganization offensively and give them a second set to run if we need more organization. As I explained to the players, my style of coaching often leads to slow starts because I am more concerned with the long-term development than the short-term result. I am not going to panic and spend two days putting in 10 plays so that we look organized and run good stuff. Our opponent looked very organized because they had multiple sets and would run multiple plays on each possession because there is no shot clock. They ran “1” and did not get a shot, so they would run “2”, and not get a shot, so they would back out and run “3”. I am not looking to teach plays. However, I want to give them a more structured, simplified set to use when we get disorganized.
I basically run what others term a “motion offense”, and it takes longer for a motion offense to come together, especially with inexperienced players who are learning the proper execution of the skills while they are learning the proper way to read the defense. Therefore, our disorganization in our first game was to be expected. Hopefully, two more good practices with some more teaching and feedback can help our organization, and a little more composure from getting past the first-game jitters will help with some composure. The remaining focus will be defending away from the ball, as we tend to chase players around the court.
With only two practices before the next game, there is not much time to add new things or concentrate on something new. From a development standpoint, that is the problem with the competitive season, as games that come in rapid succession negate opportunities to devote time to individual player development.
To remedy this obstacle, we had an optional practice on Saturday morning that was strictly for player development. The focus was finishing, especially in the post, and offensive moves with the dribble. The players looked worn down after about 75 minutes, so we took some time to concentrate on free-throw shooting too.
By Brian McCormick
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League