Well, I just got back an hour ago from the Run & Gun Clinic at Jackson Community College (Michigan) where--as expected--we all had a great time. But I was honestly surprised (shouldn't have been) about how much I can still learn about the System... as long as I keep an open mind!
Years ago, as a young coach in Texas, I remember the time I was at a clinic talking to a friend of mine named Joe Lombard. Joe is now at Canyon HS, and is one of the best high school coaches in history, with a career record of something like 1100-85, and too many state titles to count.
Anyway, at the time of our conversation (about 1983, I think), Joe had already won 5 state championships in his first five years of coaching, and I made a comment to him about how I hadn't gotten much out of the clinic lecture that we had just attended. Joe said something I'll never forget: "Oh, no... I thought it was really valuable! I learn something from every coach I listen to!"
That was a great lesson from a great coach. Even when you've been doing it for 35 years, there's always something more to learn. And wow, was there ever a lot of great ideas being presented in Jackson! Andy Hoaglin and Jon LeBeau of Jackson CC talked on their System Offense and Defense respectively which averaged 42 turnovers a game last year! Gary Smith (Univ of Redlands-retired) also had some great thoughts about pressing situations (Gary has the college basketball record of 132 ppg, set in 2004... numbers fueled by his great press defense).
Dave Arnold (Manchester HS, Michigan HS) sat in a swivel chair up front and shared some fascinating and hilarious stories about the joys and pitfalls of coaching system basketball at the high school level, and young David N. Arseneault (Coach A's son) who is currently interim coach at Grinnell, did a great job of sharing some details about the Grinnell offense, and gave us all some helpful insights about some options within their offensive movement which--after a decade if studying it--I'd never heard before.
Thank you coaches for your contributions! And thanks to Bob Belf for moderating the clinic, and to all the coaches who attended. It was a pleasure meeting many of you for the first time face to face.
Now, down to business. Tomorrow we have our first practice at North Central. In DIII, unlike my gig at Olivet Nazarene, we can have no basketball-related contact with players until October 15. Can't even watch them play pickup games! So, I'm flying blind here, but am following a basic plan which Michelle and I have roughed out for the first week. Here are some details:
1) First of all, this is "Fast Break vs. M/M Week." I never introduce the press until the second week of practice because we need to learn how to run first. Can't do that efficiently if we are working on the press, too, so we'll install that component during Week Two. Week Three will be "Fast Break vs. Zones Week," along with some review of our pressing schemes, and of our Fast Break vs. M/M sets.
2) This week we will introduce our first "Situation" on Monday: Fast break after a rebound. We work on this situation first because, IMO, it is the simplest to teach (but of course this entire blog is "my opinion!" (-:) We will explain our fast break routes when our safety (5) rebounds, when a wing rebounds, and when the PG rebounds.
3) We will also introduce the end of break options on Monday. For teaching purposes, I organize these options into three phases:
- Early Break: quick passes ahead for an immediate shot by the post running to the rim, or to either wing spotted up on the arc for a 3-pointer,
- Middle Break: passing for an immediate shot following PG penetration inside the arc... i.e. breaking down the defense, forcing them to help, and then kicking to the open shooter, and
- Late Break: our offensive scheme when must make more than one pass to score. Think of Late Break as our secondary break... we have no regular half-court offense in the conventional sense, and in fact would prefer that we never have to use anything but Early and Middle Break, which is, unfortunately, not possible. Anyway, on Monday, we'll only cover Early and Middle Break.
4) Final point of emphasis? We want to start the process of "hardwiring" the tempo into their nervous systems. This means retraining them to learn how to really run! Most players have never actually sprinted full speed on a basketball court in their lives, except (maybe) in a conditioning drill. So tomorrow, we learn what "System Speed" means.
Let the fun begin!