Thursday, May 21, 2009

Defensive Philosophy

We pride ourselves on working hard at the defensive end of the floor. Any success we will have as a team will derive from our work ethic and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. We take the right attitude that, although we may have good and bad shooting nights, we will still be able to win games if we can give a greater defensive effort than our opponents. To get this tremendous effort on a consistent basis, the players must BELIEVE totally in the system. There are several things that we can do X-and-O-wise to prepare, however, no component is more crucial to defense than BELIEF!!

The foundation for this belief is a derivative of the three things that I teach each and every student athlete in our program: LOYALTY, WORK ETHIC, and ACCOUNTABILITY. From the first meeting with the team at the beginning of the year, I stress the importance of each of the aforementioned ideals in every aspect of their lives. I want my student athletes to understand the positive impact these ideals will have not only in the athletic realm, but also their academic, personal, and spiritual realms. I want my players and staff to feel, act, and interact like family. If I can cultivate an understanding of these ideals within my basketball family, I have a better chance of getting my players to believe in themselves, their teammates, and the staff.

If the players believe in the staff, it stands to reason that they will believe in the system that is taught. When this point is reached, it becomes easier to sell the players on the absolute necessity of the all out effort and intensity that will allow them to outwork their opponents. This same intensity and work ethic must also be brought to the gym on a daily basis by me and the rest of the staff. If I want my players to be excited and go hard each day in practice, then I must be totally prepared, organized, and very intense myself.

The foundation for defensive intensity and hard work begins the first day of workouts. I demand an all out effort. I communicate to the new players that in order to be a part of our basketball family, they must be willing to give us everything they have in the way of LOYALTY, WORK ETHIC, and ACCOUNTABILITY. I am upbeat, intense, and organized. My team and I don't go half speed in anything we do. If practice time is cut down (ie: mid to late season) we don't cut down the intensity. I want my players to understand that if they are on the floor for five minutes or five hours (obviously I would never keep a team for five hours!), the intensity level will remain the same.

Leaders will assert themselves throughout the course of the season. However, it is my hope that the seniors will have matured to the point of providing solid leadership. I remind the players that if they want to lead they must understand that they live in the proverbial "glass house". In our world this means that they must be the ones working the hardest both in the classroom and on the basketball court. Once the players understand what is expected, belief and intensity begin to perpetuate themselves. The veteran leadership sets a level of intensity that forces those new to the basketball family to keep pace. Players begin to expect giving the type of effort needed to be successful on the defensive end of the floor. Once this point is reached, practices become more productive because coaches can focus more attention to the specifics of what is being drilled, rather than about the effort being put into the drill.

Once this level is attained, the pressure shifts to me as a coach. I must know each drill and every component of the defensive system to a "T". Nothing will break things down quicker than a player asking me a question and I can't answer it or I give the wrong answer. If I am ever running a drill, I make sure I stop and give the right answer if there is ever any question about something we are doing. This has allowed me to develop a great deal of trust with the players. I often tell the players, "You can ask a question about the philosophy, but don't ever question the philosophy." I encourage the players to ask questions if they are unsure about something. Being prepared always allows me to have the right answer and this cements the trust factor. Once I have secured the trust of my players, I know they will never question the philosophy. It only stands to reason that if they don't question the philosophy, they must BELIEVE in it.

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