Monday, October 22, 2012

Keeping it Simple

Today we introduced our "Missed Shot Press."  As most of you know, it is essential in System basketball to transition instantly from offense to defense when losing possession, a concept I've labeled "zero transition time."  I use terms like "zero transition time" because they sound very impressive and complicated... something I learned from hanging around football coaches in my younger days.

The other reason for having a missed shot press is that it prevents opponents from slowing tempo.  They cannot catch their breath by walking the ball to half-court.  Instead, they are under pressure from the moment they secure the rebound, or (preferably) from the moment we score and get into our "made shot press."  This constant pressure not only wears down the opponent physically, but just as importantly, psychologically. Imagine how it feels to play 40 (or 32) minutes knowing that every time you touch the ball, two defenders are going to be running at you waving their arms and yelling "Your mother wears army boots!"  (or words to that effect).  Really wears you down, to say nothing of how your mother must feel.

We started our Teamwork Period by reviewing the "On" made-shot press today, before progressing to the missed-shot press.  ("On" means simply that we are matching up on all five opponents, with one of our defenders on the inbounder.  Our other basic press alignment is "Off").  We introduced "On" yesterday in a dead-ball situation, having a coach serve as referee and hand the ball to the inbounder, giving our defenders time to get into the proper stance and position on the potential receivers.  We teach this positioning first against a "2-up" (1-2-2) press break alignment, then show them the 3-up set.  We also teach players how to switch any screening or crossing action, and how to "cheat" the weakside defensive wing towards the inbounder so that when the ball is passed in, we are close enough to quickly rotate into the "Lag" passing lane (back to the inbounder). We ALWAYS take this pass away completely in order to force the opponent to attack downcourt (not backwards!)

We teach the missed shot press via a simple drill which we call (drum roll please... wait for it...) the "Missed Shot Press Drill."  Offensive players line up at the curl and fade spots, with a post on the block.  Defenders have the inside position as a coach with the ball behind the backboard passes out to any of the four perimeters.  They are instructed to catch and shoot, and the defense may not block or contest the shot.  On the shot, everyone except the shooter crashes the boards, while the shooter rotates to the top of the key to become the safety in the missed shot press should we fail to secure the offensive rebound.  Regardless of whether the offense makes or misses the shot, they will pretend the shot was missed and immediately trap the rebounder as soon as the defense gains possession.  Our simple rule is "Nearest two players TRAP, next two defenders GAP (cover the gaps between the ball and the nearby outlet receiver(s), while deepest player is the SAFETY (the three-point shooter in this case).  Two Trappers, Two Gappers, and a Safety.  Simple!

I asked our players today why they thought we liked to using these terms: Trapper and Gapper.  One answered, "Because it sounds cool, kind of like a football coach."  Good answer, but wrong.  We use these terms because they rhyme. :-)  More to the point, we use them because they are easy to remember.

But since we are on the topic of football coaches, did you hear the one about old Coach Smith, whose team was 0-9 going into the last game of the season?  Being 0-9 was definitely a problem, but he knew he could keep his job if only he could beat the big cross-town rival in the last game of the season.

Unfortunately, with a minute to play his team was down 10-7.  They had possession on the 50 yard line with no timeouts remaining, so Coach Smith sends in Play #17.  Loses 5 yards.  Then he sends in Play #9.  Loses 5 more yards.  Having no time to send in another brilliant play, the poor coach turns to the stands, ignoring the fans who are booing and cat-calling, locates his wife and yells, "Honey, go start the car so we can make a fast getaway!" 

But just then the crowd erupts in pandemonium, and as Coach Smith turns back to the field, he sees his running back crossing the goal line with the winning touchdown!  Running onto the field he grabs his quarterback and says, "Son, what happened?!!" 

"Well Coach, you called Play 17, and that didn't work. And you called Play 9 and that didn't work.  Then I saw you weren't sending in another play, and I decided I better do something.  So I just added up 17 + 9, and I called Play #25, and it worked!"

The old coach took the dim-witted quarterback by the arm and said, "That's all fine and well, son, but there's just one problem...  17 + 9 is 26, not 25!"

To which the quarterback replied, "Dang it if you ain't right, Coach Smith... but if I was as smart as you, we'd of got beat."

Keep it simple:  Two Trappers, Two Gappers, and a Safety.

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