Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thoughts from Pat Croce & Lead or Get Off the Pot!

The "Triple-A" of building a passionate team:
- Attitude - It is contagious!
- Assets - Provide the necessary tools needed to maximize individual assets while removing the obstacles that would minimize them.
- Ambition - The belief that there is something personal at stake.

Be aware of the goals, roles, and tolls that affect each staff member.

Always look for moments to recognize staff members PUBLICLY!
3 Rules of Praise:
- Personal
- Punctual
- Public

The Dirty Dozen of Team Building:
1 - Praise in public, criticize in private
2 - Be more curious and less critical
3 - Pull and don't push
4 - Check integrity
5 - Foster positive emotions
6 - Strive to understand others
7 - Show confidence in people
8 - Promote charity
9 - Celebrate diversity
10 - Unleash potential
11 - Set the tone
12 - C.A.R.E (Compromise Apologize Recognize Empathize)

Six C's of Communication:
1. Clear
2. Concise
3. Consistent
4. Credible
5. Courteous
6. Current

** Life has no dress rehearsals and each of us has a responsibility to celebrate the journey. **

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Posting Up Against Fronting Defense

I'm sure we've all experienced playing against man-to-man defenses that front the post. Many of my post players over the years have expressed their frustration with fronting defenses. Some of those frustrations have to do with limited touches, but the one I hear the most has to do with getting called for pushing off on a lob pass.

The best advice I have gained for post offense against a fronting man-to-man came from former Whitworth head coach, Warren Fredrichs. I have used this technique since 2002 and have found great success with it.

- Chest to the baseline side - A lot of post players want to face halfcourt when fronted. This actually creates a more difficult passing angle from the wing. It is also more likely that the pass will be easier to play for the helpside defenders. By facing the baseline, the only option on a lob is to pass it toward the basket allowing for an easier finish.

- Elbow in the defenders back - This is one of my favorite teaching points ever (Many thanks to Coach Fredrichs)! The offensive post players non-target-hand elbow should be right in the middle of the defenders shoulder blades. The forearm should be perpendicular to the floor making a vertical "L" shape. This is contrary to what most post players are taught and/or naturally have the habit of doing. This does three things: 1) It is far less comfortable for the defender, 3) It creates less contact surface area for the defender [more contact favors the defense, less contact favors the offense], and 3) It eliminates the offensive push-off foul.

- Big target hand - The hand closest to the basket should extend almost straight up. This provides the passer on the wing clear vision of the target. Many times, post players will extend a target hand parallel to the floor (as seen in the picture above with the defense playing behind) and the passer simply cannot see it.

- Release and retrieve at forehead - Hold the seal until the ball is directly above the offensive player's head. Releasing too early allows the defender an opportunity for a deflection or steal. By holding the seal until the ball is directly overhead, the offense gains an advantage. As my Twitter compadre, Ray Lokar, recently told me, stopping the defense negates any speed advantage because both players are at the same speed. Once the ball is directly above the offensive player, it is now his responsibility to aggressively retrieve the ball with both hands.

It is also important to teach perimeter players to make lob passes properly. By teaching them to aim for the corner of the backboard, it will keep the pass from going into heavy helpside traffic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Power of the Reverse Pivot

Watching the Suns and Spurs tonight, I watched Tim Duncan on the block. He fought and battled a physical defense all night. The times he was really successful getting wide open on the block was following a ball-reversal and he reverse pivoted sealing his man. This is something I teach our post players as well.

The reverse pivot is a powerful move. It can create space, as I talked about in my previous post, but it can also create contact and a strong seal. Without the ball, a reverse pivot can provide the offense a passing angle both on the post and on the perimeter.

When posting up, I teach our players to step into the defender and make contact first. Next, stay low and use legs to drive the reverse pivot. This will bury the defense deeper and create an easier finish.

On ball reversal, our posts are taught to reverse pivot on the leg closest to the defender. If the defense is playing on the low side, the foot closest to the baseline is the pivot. This will push the defense further towards the baseline and give an open high/low look. If the defense is fronting or playing on the high side, the foot closest to the freethrow line is the pivot. Again, this pushes the defender out of position and creates an easy post entry.

After teaching the footwork, I use variations of shell offense with a 1-on-1 situation in the post to drill. Initially just a wing feeding the post, then add a ball reversal to the point, then 3 and 4 on the perimeter.

I see a lot of players, especially young players, attempting V-cuts or L-cuts with little success. Adding a reverse pivot to these will allow these players to get open. One coach mentioned that this could potentially "slow down the offense." I disagree. By drilling the timing, it can actually improve the offense by reversing the ball with more ease.

A wing player trying to get open can use the reverse pivot with the V-cut and/or the L-cut. Using the V-cut, the player would still walk his defender to the block (or wherever you teach your players), make contact with his defender, and reverse pivot into his defender on the high leg. The L-cut works similar at the elbow. Change of speed is still critical to completing the cut. This can also be executed at the top of the key for ball reversal.

This will allow the offensive player to get between the ball and the defender. It will slow and/or stop the defender's momentum, creating a valuable split-second difference in recovery time and an open passing lane. It will also cut down on off-the-ball fouls. Players use their lower body instead of pushing off to get open.

I use 1-on-1 situations to drill this initially; from the wing and top at first. Once the players have a grasp of the footwork, I work on the timing factor by using a 3-on-3 ball reversal situation.