Using the “wrong hand” when finishing allows the shooter to extend the ball away from defenders, throw off the timing of a shot blocker, as well as finish with their preferred hand. This is a must have for any guard that gets to the rim frequently.
About John Leonzo
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The Hang Dribble is a common move used by the best players in the game. By taking a hard pound of the ball, the player can “freeze” it in the air, allowing them time to read their defender and make a positive play. Enjoy!
If you watched the Olympics, I am sure that you noticed Serbia’s guard, Miloš Teodosić. In this video, I have cut film from Miloš’s games in the Euroleague, Fiba Worlds, and the Olympics. I hope that you and your players can learn and benefit from this!
Thoroughly preparing for opponents is a great way to gain a competitive advantage. Good teams prepare for their opponents with a laser sharp focus and are prepared to execute the game plan. In the article that follows, I will provide you with an overview as to how I approach the scouting process, all the way from watching tape to creating and presenting a report.
Rule #1: Scouting is about YOUR team.
One of the biggest dangers in scouting is paralysis by analysis. You will not be able to take away everything that your opponent does, and often times an attempt to do this comes at the expense of your team. It is imperative that you emphasize what your team can do within your philosophy of play to give your team an advantage in the upcoming game. Scouting is about YOUR team. Do not scrap what you do in order to play an opponent a certain way.
Rule #2: Focus on the main themes, not the minute details.
Know what tendencies that your opponent uses the majority of the time, and prepare thoroughly for those. Players do not need a million bits of knowledge regarding the other team to be ready for a game. Players need to know the main themes of the opponent’s style of play and how to guard their man specifically. A scouting report should be made up only of the information that is essential.
Rule #3: Nothing will work unless you do.
Regardless of who you play and how good your game plan is, if your team does not execute their game, you will not have a shot to win. This means emphasizing your team’s execution on what you value most rather than emphasizing who you play. If your offensive spacing is poor, screens are haphazard, and a lack of urgency shows defensively, it does not matter how good your game plan is. Nothing is more important than your team’s execution.
The Scouting Process:
Although my process differs based on who our opponent is (conference teams that I know well vs. out of conference teams you rarely see), I prefer to watch the 3 most recent games of an opponent in order to prepare for our game. I will watch all three games from start to finish in order to determine the following:
- What is their tempo offensively?
- Where do the majority of their shots come from?
- How aggressively do they defend?
- Who is their “go-to” player?
- Where do I feel our team can be most successful?
As I watch for these things, I am taking general notes on a legal pad. These notes are based on the 5 factors I have listed above, however, I scribble other notes as well if I see a set run numerous times or an obvious defensive pattern that the opponent follows.
Next, I begin to tear apart the opponent’s personnel. This begins with checking box scores of previous games and see what players are strong in each of the categories, as well as determining who the usual starting line up is. I am fortunate that I have access to Synergy, where I can watch each specific player’s shot selection from any game. As I watch each player, I am adding notes to my legal pad. A general idea of what I am looking for is:
- Shot location and type (i.e. dribble penetration in the key or 3pt shots off screens)
- Dominant hand
- How often they successfully finish with the non-dominant hand
- Pet moves
- What percentage of their shots are 3s vs. 2s?
After the personnel section is complete, I then focus specifically on their offensive system. Here I am looking for the most common actions that the team runs frequently and what formations they are run out of. I note every set that is run, as well as how often it is run. If the set is not run frequently, then it will not make the report that we give the players, however, it will go to the head coach. Finding what they run and who they go to in late game is essential as well. I normally draw these sets by hand prior to adding them into FastDraw.
Lastly, I watch their defensive possessions to look for holes that we can exploit, as well as tendencies for when they run man vs. zone and so on. Additionally, I want to know how they guard baseline out of bounds so that we can properly anticipate what we want to call in the game.
Putting It All Together:
Being able to digest and organize all of the information obtained onto a scouting report is an essential skill that coaches must obtain. I generate two reports, one for our head coach , and another that we distribute to the players. The report that I give to the head coach is far more detailed than what I provide to the players. The players’ report must be organized and look professional, as well as communicate the game plan in plain and memorable language.
The first section of the report is always personnel. I split the personnel into two groups, starters, and reserves. Next to the player’s name is the following information:
- One line of their essential stats
- One sentence breakdown of their game
- Once sentence of how to guard that player
I repeat the same process for each of the reserves as well. Additionally, provide the match-ups on the report as well so that players know who they are going to guard.
After the personnel, section comes a style of play section. In this section, I use the two broad categories of offense and defense and then list some keys under each. This could look like the the following:
- 50% of the points are scored in transition
- Free flowing ball screen motion in half court
- Set plays run through players A and B specifically
- Shooting 24 FT/Game
- High-pressure man to man defense
- Pick up ball full court
- 2-3 Zone shown after TO and on BOB situations
- Lots of opportunities for us to back cut and slip to the rim
Again, it is essential that the players only know the information that will have the greatest impact on the outcomes of the game. We will supplement this section by walking through how to defend their common sets (out of our defensive philosophy) in a walk through, as well as showing some actions out of our offense that we want to utilize in order to capitalize on their style of play. I will include a few diagrams of the sets that are run most often for the players as well at the end of the report.
The final section is our keys to victory. This section will include 3-5 keys that we have been emphasizing throughout the practices leading up to the game. These keys are what we have determined to be the most essential for our team to have success. At the end of this section, we will attach a box score, as well as a sheet with their common actions listed on it.
The main objective of the player’s report is to provide the essential information in such a way that is easy to understand and generates a feeling of preparedness and confidence. It does not matter what our staff knows, what matters is what our players understand and can execute in the game. As I mentioned before, I prepare 2 reports, and the one that goes to our head coach is much more thorough than what the players receive. Additionally, some of our players crave the extra information as it helps them feel prepared, so I provide them with the coaches report if they ask as well.
In addition to the paper report, we will also show our team a video that mirrors that report. The video is constructed in the same format as the paper report. The video will begin with the personnel and show clips of how they score and their overall game, followed by video examples of style of play offensively and defensively. We will then do a meeting where we show the video to the team and go through the report with them. I have attached examples of both a paper report (both coaches report and players report) as well as the scouting video that accompanies the form.
Below is a transcript of a handout that I went over with our team recently. Regardless of what sport you coach, buidling the character of the athletes that you get to coach is essential. I hope that the content below can benefit you and your team.
When you are dead and gone, how do you want to be remembered? What do you want others to say about you? What do you want your legacy to be? Take a moment to write out your own obituary.
Your involvement as a college basketball player allows you to have a great opportunity to become the type of person that you wish to be. Often times, however, we are used by our sport rather than using our sport to become who we wish to be.
You are being used by your sport when:
- You feel unworthy of acceptance or love if you do not play well
- You fear failure
- You allow the outcome of your performance to be a judgement of your value as a human
- You experience relief after playing well rather than joy
- Your emotions are a rollercoaster that rises and fall based on your performance
Rather than basing your value and worth off of how you perform on a given day, the more beneficial strategy is to intentionally focus on becoming the type of person you want to be and using your sport as a means to accomplish this.
Before you can begin to use your sport, you must understand this:
YOUR VALUE COMES FROM WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST, NOT FROM WHAT YOU DO
When you grasp this concept and live in it, your involvement/performance as a basketball player is no longer a judgement on who you are, but rather an opportunity to become the person you wish to be.
Take a look at the characteristics that you wrote down in the first exercise. Are these characteristics that you are born with or ones that you can develop?
All people are born with unique personalities, skills, and traits. But, much like physical talent, having it is not enough, you must work to develop your gifts. Basketball provides you with a unique opportunity to develop and grow the characteristics that are most important to you.
Every moment in basketball is an opportunity. Your response to the events that unfold during a game or practice is what will determine whether you are using your sport or being used by your sport. Intentionally choosing to use basketball to develop your character looks like:
- Choosing to show strong and confident body language after a bad play because you want to develop resilience
- Choosing to treat people exceptionally well after a loss because you want to show kindness regardless of your circumstances
- Choosing to encourage a teammate even when things are not going well for you because you want to train selflessness
- Choosing to put in extra work even if you know that you won’t get recognized for it because you want to develop your work ethic
As far as developing character goes, there are 2 types of categories for character traits, performance traits, and moral traits. Performance traits are characteristics that fuel high levels of success such as work ethic, willingness to sacrifice, confidence, competitiveness, responsibility, and so on. Moral traits are the characteristics that allow us to live as Christ lived, as well as live at peace with others. Moral traits are characteristics such as loving others, being honest, being kind, serving others, showing respect and compassion, and so on.
Our culture values performance traits at an extremely high level and shows little regard for moral traits. The problem with this is that if you do not develop moral traits you will lack the foundation that is necessary to support the success that you achieve as a result of your performance traits.
Examples: Tom Brady, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, and so on.
Your situation as a college athlete allows you to have an awesome opportunity to grow and develop your character. Growing character takes time, focus, and repetition, just like anything else in life.
What specific and controllable actions are you committed to in order to grow your character and become the type of person that you want to be:
- In the weight room:
- In my small-group workout:
- In our team workout:
- In the classroom:
Sam is the director of Blue Collar Basketball and also works extensively with PGC basketball. In this interview, Sam shares a lot of value in regard to the topics of player development, teaching shooting, growing as a coach, and teaching leadership to players. Give Sam a follow on Twitter.
I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk hoops with the former head coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bobbie Kelsey. In this interview, Bobbie and I discuss player development, lessons learned from her time at Wisconsin, and how to develop leadership in young people.
I had the absolute pleasure of chatting about hoops with Coach Randy Sherman. Randy is an accomplished basketball coach with a wealth of experience hailing from Texas. In this interview, Randy and I discuss pressure man-to-man defense, motion offense, and an essentialist approach to running a program. If you are serious about growing as a coach, then you need to take advantage of the resources that Randy has to offer. Here are two things that you need to do immediately:
- Follow Randy on Twitter
- Join Randy’s coaching mentorship program (#RAMP) – email Randy or tweet at him to enroll
Enjoy the video!
I had the pleasure of talking basketball with Coach John Zall. John recently worked for the Dallas Mavericks, and is currently in the transition phase to a new college coaching job. In this interview John and I talk all about player development, practice drills, and late-game plays. Follow John on Twitter here.
When it comes to the offensive end of the basketball game, there are so many differing opinions on the best way to attack your opponent and disorganize the defense. Some coaches like sets, others love continuity, and others love a true motion. Each of these offensive systems has their own merit, and it has been proven at all levels that each system can win. Regardless of how you play in regard to style, no system will stand without a foundation of fundamentals and execution.
Personally, I am a big motion offense fan, as I feel that this puts your team in the best position to succeed from a long-term perspective. That being said, I feel strongly that it is imperative to have set plays in your back pocket to use at various points of the game. Although the list below is far from comprehensive, here are some various benefits to having some sets for your team:
- Allows the coach to directly and immediately influence shot selection.
- Allows the coach to directly and immediately influence the tempo of the game.
- Allows the coach to hide less skilled offensive players.
- Allows the coach to specifically and immediately take advantage of how the defense is defending.
All of the above reasons make having sets a valuable aspect of your offense. What is most important, however, is that you teach your players how to read and react within the set play in order to create and use the advantage that they gain over the defense as a result of the actions. The following points will serve as a guide to help you select new set plays, or adapt and examine the ones that you already use.
Factor #1: Does 1 Player Dominate The Ball?
Set plays that feature the ball being stuck in the hands of a single player are hard to run and easy to guard in my opinion. In my experience, it is too easy for the defense to dictate and disrupt the offense when one player is stuck with the ball while other action is occurring on the floor. For the defense to disrupt this play, they simply need to disrupt the vision/passing angle of the ball handler or steer the ball away from where the action will occur if the ball handler has a live dribble.
Here is a set that features some really good action with a single player dominating the ball. While I like the main action of this set, I would adapt how it begins so that one player does not dominate the ball:
The main two actions in this set are 1) screening the post player into a ball screen (ram action) and 2) the original screening filling behind the ball as his defender tags the roll man (single side bump). Below you will see an action that is very similar to the above play but features the ball changing hands prior to the main action.
I prefer the play from the Celtics as opposed to the play from North Dakota because it features multiple touches and a ball reversal prior to the single side bump action. Additionally, the screen and roll action occurs in the middle third of the floor, making it harder to guard because there is space to attack regardless of whether the ball handler uses or refuses the screen. The other aspect I like about the pick and roll is that it occurs off the catch, making it easier for the screener to make contact with the on-ball defender because they are not defending a live dribble. The big key for this set is for the ball screener to sprint to screen suddenly as his defender is staring at or helping on the slip from the first down screen. This will enable the single side bump action to be much more effective.
Factor #2: Does The Ball Change Sides?
It is common knowledge that the offensive team’s field goal percentage rises as the number of ball reversals per possession increases. That being said, having a set where the ball changes sides is an effective way to get the defense moving and guarding prior to the main action of the set. A set play where the ball is stuck on one side of the floor can be easily disrupted because space is limited and defensive help is increased because the ball is clear on one side of the floor.
As you can see from the Trailblazers ball screen and flare screen action (Ray action), keeping the ball on one side of the floor shrinks the space and options that the offense has to work with. The point guard has little space to utilize on the side, making it less imperative that the screener’s defender help and be late to the flare screen. Once the defender does recover, the ball handler is forced out of the action and to play in a crowd. Below you will see the same ball screen flare screen action, but this time, it is preceded by two screens and a side change. As a result, the screener’s defender as to cover more ground and is late to the cutter after the flare screen, causing a switch and a mismatch in favor of the cutter.
Factor #3: Can The Set Be Run From Multiple Formations?
Starting the same play from different formations can be a great way to increase how difficult it is to scout your team’s set plays. By being able to run a set from horns, 1-4 high, or flow our of your motion, it will become harder for your opponents to sniff out your actions before they start based on the formation that the play begins with. In the set below you will see how the Atlanta Hawks run the same single side bump action from multiple sets.
Factor #4: Does The Set Make 1 Defender Guard Multiple Actions?
A huge advantage of set plays is having the ability to attack a poor defender or free up your best scoring by forcing their man to guard multiple screening actions. One of the best actions that you can have in a set play is to use your best scorer as a screener. This is effective because it is unlikely that the defender guarding your best player will be apt to help, allowing for a clean screen and an easy shot. If the defender does give help on the screening action, your best player now has space to work with and can make a play. Below you will see a set from the Warriors where they use Curry as a screener and make his defender guard multiple actions.
As you can see above, using Curry as a screener allows Barnes to cut with no help and get an easy 2. In the clip below, you will see how Curry’s defender electing to help allows Curry to have extra space to work off the DHO following the screen.
Factor #5: Is There Ample Space For Players To Deviate If They Make A Read?
It is common knowledge that everyone knows everyone’s plays after December, and as a result it is vital that players are able to read how the defense is guarding them and have ample space to attack should the defense be over-aggressive. This is one of the main reasons that I am such a motion offense fan. If players are used to and well-versed in their ability to read and react to their defender, you become incredibly hard to guard. This same concept should apply within the framework of your set plays.
A great example of this concept is the motion weak action that is so common in the NBA. Below you will see 4 clips of various reads that can be made out of this simple action.
In this first clip, you will see the play run through to the main option, a post-up.
In the second clip, you can see the cutter who is supposed to make the post-up on the ball-side will deviate and read his man, electing to use the down screen rather than the block to block cross screen.
In the two clips that follow, we can see how the first cutter and second cutter are also options to receive the ball should they be over or under-pursued by their defender.
Factor #6: Who Is Responsible For Defensive Transition?
One of the critical factors to any set play is where players will end up once a shot is taken. It is imperative that you discuss defensive transition responsibilities in relation to your set plays so that all players are on the same page should a shot be missed. If you prefer to send your point guard back in transition, who is responsible for getting back if the point guard attacks the rim off of pick and roll? This is just one of many considerations that must be taken into account in regard to defensive transition and set plays.
Greg Popovich once said that “what wins is consistency and competitiveness”. This is essential to keep in mind in regard to using set plays or any offense for that matter. The offense is not magical and will not work if consistency in execution and a competitive spirit by the players is lacking. I strongly believe that set plays have their place, but more important the the X’s and O’s are the individual abilities of the player’s to make shots, make decisions, and read what the defense gives and consequently take advantage of how you are guarded. I hope that this article serves as a guide to help you think through the sets that you use. What are your thoughts? Fee free to continue the conversation with me on twitter.