The Warriors

Great look at the Golden State Warriors – how they got to 21-3 and what they can do next – by Zach Lowe of Grantland.

How great is this paragraph about Draymond Green making the extra pass?  A great description of what team basketball and trust can do:

It’s such a selfless play. It is tangible basketball generosity, and every Golden State game has a half-dozen instances of such above-and-beyond sharing. All that giving has to add up to something. The knowledge that every teammate truly wants the best for you, and will sacrifice whatever it takes in the moment to help both you and the team — that has to be a powerful feeling. It must will you to do special things in return, and when everyone has that will inside of them, true team greatness can grow.

What’s More Important – Practice or a Game?

When evaluating your players, what’s more important to you – the way they perform in practice, or the way the perform in a game?

Say you’ve got a young kid who is still learning how to compete at the level you want him to and therefore inconsistent in practice.  You know he’s good enough to help you, but he hasn’t earned a starting spot or consistent minutes based on the way he’s practiced every day.  But he does get into the rotation, and when he does he’s very productive.  How do you evaluate that?  If it’s clear that he’s one of your best players in games but doesn’t compete hard in practice, which one is more important?

It will happen often in a season, when a kid who hasn’t really brought much to the table gets a shot in a game and plays really hard and helps your team.  But then you go back to practice the next day, and he’s back to being inconsistent and not really competing.  Do you keep him in the line-up because of his production in the games?

It can be a tough dilemma as a coach because the kids certainly know who the best players are.  Once the ball goes up, they want the kids out there that can help them win, and they probably aren’t thinking back to practice the way you are as a coach.  They’ll have no problem with you playing the guys who are out there producing when there’s a chance to win the game.  You want everything to be earned through what you do in practice, but how much are you allowed to earn by the way you play in a game?

There is something to be said for a kid who gets himself ready to play on game night, who you can count on to bring it when it counts.  We’ve also all coached players who make an impact in practice every day but struggle to produce when the ball goes up.  Evaluating that can be a great challenge.

Long-term in our program what we do in practice every day is who we are.  We want to establish the way we compete and the toughness we need to win on the practice floor, so that is where you earn minutes.  If you really value practice and the way your guys bring it every day, then that needs to be rewarded.  And it’s OK if you don’t.  You can make a great case that the guys who bring it on game night are the guys you want to reward.  But you need to know who you are and what you value, and be consistent with the reward.

Ideally the kids who bring it every day in practice are the same kids who produce on game night.  But when someone gets on a roll in a game even though he hasn’t been great in practice, you have a decision to make.  What is more valuable to you over the long-term?


“Standards are better than rules because standards you own, rules you follow, they may not be yours. With a standard you hope that it becomes yours. If a group has ownership of a certain way of doing things, they’re much better able to be successful.”

- Coach K

Post Players – Action Without A Screen

Every year we watch a video from the NCAA with points of emphasis for officiating.  It seems like every year one of those points of emphasis is to clean up “rough play” in the post.  There has been a lot of talk about freedom of movement in the game over the last 10 years, and I think it’s the right approach.  But ultimately when it comes to changes, it’s hard to make major strides.  You still have powerful coaches yelling at officials who make a lot of money, who want to make sure they continue to get the assignments in the elite leagues.  This is not a criticism of officiating at all, I think NCAA officials do a great job.  It’s just human nature, when you have coaches and fans who mostly take a “let them play” attitude, you don’t want to call a lot of fouls off the ball.  So a lot of that physical play is let go.  And to be honest, when I’m coaching on the sideline I’m generally on the side of “let them play.”

It’s interesting to think of how more physical play can affect your basketball approach.  While a lot of the “clean up” has happened on the ball-handler, not as much has taken place off the ball.  There are a lot of physical battles that take place in the post, and I think most coaches coach their bigs to “be physical” down low.  Does this affect your approach to getting your bigs the ball inside?

I’ve found it to be more effective when trying to get a big the ball inside to not set any screens for him.   When you go screen for a big, you are now bringing 4 players into a small area near the basket where generally the play is more physical than it is on the perimeter. With four guys you end up with a bit of a wrestling match – physical body-to-body contact that is hard to officiate.  A lot of “incidental” contact takes place that isn’t called a foul, but can bother the timing or spacing of your offensive set.

So think about stuff to get the ball into your bigs that doesn’t involve a screen.  Don’t bring other bodies to him in the post.  It can be effective to have him set a screen for a guard coming off and then seal – or even fake setting a screen and just setting his man up.  A quick ball-reversal and a duck-in can get him good position, or even a back-door cut with a reverse pivot and a seal.  There are a lot of ways to get your big on the move and create timing with the right ball movement to get him position in the post.

I’ve found the best big guys are most effective when they are on their own down low.  By trying to screen for them on the blocks, you just create a lot of traffic and take up some of the space they can generally use to their advantage.  Give them some room, keep them on the move and don’t allow the defense to clog the lane and get really physical.  It will give your post the best chance to be effective.