This week, we only had one game, which we lost. Due to my classes, I was not there, but according to the players, we made silly turnovers and could not rebound, though we fought back in the second half. A trend.
In practice, I went back to basics. I felt that our ability to pivot, especially around the basket, was limited because too many players were relying on a permanent pivot foot. We would grab an offensive rebound on the left side of the basket where a quarter-turn front pivot on the right foot would lead to an easy lay-up, and instead make a three-quarter pivot on our left foot back into the defense. Some players were traveling on the perimeter, as well, though it was called rarely, but I dislike bad footwork. Pet peeve.
We did a simple four-corner passing drill. The passes went around the perimeter of the square. Players came back to the catch, pivoted on their right foot, passed to the next, and followed their pass. As the week continued, I started with this drill and then went to a competitive passing drill (7v5 or Gael Passing) and the effort and execution appeared to improve.
To combat the poor rebounding, teams earned a point for all offensive rebounds in any scrimmage situation. We continued to play “3 Stops” too, as giving up an offensive rebound returned the defense to zero. I also played “Jungle Ball” to get the guys more physical around the basic and to practice finishing through contact, as well as developing the idea of playing through a missed call. Essentially, three players are in the key, and you have to score three baskets to get out. When one player leaves, another players jumps in. I don’t call any fouls. Any ball that leaves the key, whoever retrieves the ball gets possession; they pass to me, and I pass to them when they get into the key. Some guys did not like the drill. Others did. Hopefully it leads to improved finishing around the basket in our up-coming games.
We had a great practice on Saturday morning. We only had 10 guys, which is disappointing, but a symptom of the type of guys that are on the team (scouts, student government, soccer, etc). I see so much growth in many of the guys. We did a transition-defense drill, a modification of the Foster’s 1v1 Drill, and my big, a lanky 6’5 kid, played phenomenal defense against a guard. He stopped the initial penetration, moved his feet, stopped a crossover, stopped another crossover, and eventually blocked the shot. The footwork and quickness is improved so much from the start of the season.
When we played 3v3 “3 Stops”, we did some great things. We are starting to show more confidence in each other, so we hedge a little more and trust someone else to help if our man rolls to the basket. We had a couple possessions where we rotated, helped, hedged: great defensive possessions. We are starting to understand and apply the basic concepts of man-to-man defense that are necessary to be successful. We are learning to adjust and adapt to each other and play through mistakes rather than giving up a lay-up if one guy breaks down.
I realized this week that I am an optimist compared to most coaches. When I talk to coaches, I hear about everything that is wrong with their players. They make it seem like they are lucky to have won any games. I look at my players, and I think I overestimate their abilities. I think we should win all our games. I think the players are great. Then, I was reminded that during tryouts, when we played “King of the Court,” my current “best players” could not get off the loser’s court. I look at them and see what they can be; I tend to ignore what they are. I have to take a step back and look at things more objectively; luckily, others help me see these things. I see a player who has the potential to be a star because of his work ethic, his size, and his desire; I ignore the fact that he has yet to grow into his body and is uncoordinated, which leads to missed shots, bad fouls, etc. I tend to like the players that I coach to such a degree that I see their positives and tend to ignore some of their negatives.
By Brian McCormick
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League