Sunday, October 21, 2012


The second week of preseason practices are devoted to Team Defense, and despite my tongue-in-cheek comments a few days ago, we do enjoy putting in this phase of the game. 

Today we started by installing our press against a 2-up and 3-up press-breaker.  I like to use what I call the "5-count Drill," handing the ball to the inbounder and then counting down from five to one as defenders deny hard and try to create a violation.  We teach switches on all screens and crosses, and show players how to trap quickly and rotate into passing lanes, especially the "lag" pass back to the inbounder. 

Our other point of emphasis today was to chase hard and try to catch up and turn the ball when a dribbler escapes the initial trap.  I believe this is a critical skill in women's basketball, because if you can force a handler to just change directions, it often gives other defenders time to recover and re-trap the offense.  Men's teams will typically just spin or crossover such a tactic, attack the rim and score, but many female ball-handlers will either stop their push of the ball when forced to change direction, or even kill their dribble!  So, turn the ball!

A final point was the play of our safety.  Today one of our safties decided to gamble, rotate up and go for the steal on a long downcourt pass.  She didn't get it, and the opponent got a wide-open layup.  So...

I got really excited, stopping the practice to point out and lavishly praise her courage and aggressiveness.  I wanted that defender feeling 10 feet tall for taking a calculated risk, because safeties have a tough job, and when they gamble like that--and fail--they are exposed for all the world to see.  Nevertheless, they MUST take those risks, because if they don't, our press is constantly defending with 4 against 5!  We want safeties to gamble (intelligently, I hope) therefore we never criticize the attempt, whatever the result!

But, I did quietly instruct her weakside teammate to get the heck back to the rim next time and cover for her teammate. 

Which reminds me of General Anthony McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, surrounded by the Germans at Bastogne in WWII, during the Battle of the Bulge.  When the German forces demanded his surrender, McAuliffe replied, "Nuts!"  When told of McAuliffe's reply, General George Patton said to an aide, "We've got to get up there fast with reinforcements... a man that eloquent deserves to be rescued!"

Your safeties are your "General McAuliffes," but everybody else had better be your "General Pattons!"

Here's today's defensive practice plan.

Practice #6, Sunday                                                                                       Gregory Arena           
October 16, 2012                                                                                                                   

EMPHASIS:      55 Press after a Score
12:05-12:20  WARMUP
                        Cone Layups-Laybacks-Jumpers
                        Dynamic Warmup

12:20-12:35     SHOOTING
5x10 Threes, Moving(5 standing/5 moving*            / Posts- Position work

12:35-12:45   TRANSITION
                        FC Figure 8/ 2 on 1
                        HC 3/2                                       Penetrate lane; Beat front defender

12:45-1:00       GROUPS
2/1 HC                                     Sprint to lane; Bluff & retreat; STAY SQUARE! Contest shot
1/2 Trap
                         Water Break

1:00-1:30       TEAM DEFENSE
                        55 Press-Dead Ball                             Walk through vs. 2-up, 3-up, & Help
                        55 vs. 2-up:  5 count Drill                  Down and Back; Rotate

1:30-1:45       SITUATIONS
                        OB-Under Defense                             Walk through vs. OB3 (Box)
                        Cardinal Break                                     One shot at far end, score on return

1:45-1:50        OMPETIVE SHOOTING        
                        Three in a Row Threes!            3 Groups, 5 spots; Shoot 3 & rotate, 1 pt/make; +2 Bonus


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