Anyway, one thing Coach Knight said in the video was, "We don't teach plays... we teach players HOW to play." I never forgot that because it is at the heart of System basketball, which as you probably know is not real big on set plays and rigid structures.
And this is where it differs significantly from conventional basketball. I went to a clinic several years ago in which a college coach was demonstrating his pick-and-roll offense. He said at one point, "We have 80 specific plays that involve the pick and roll."
And he was serious! 80 plays??? Last year we had 3 plays, and when I found another play I wanted to run, I deleted one of the original 3 from the playbook. Didn't think we could master 4 plays, I suppose. Well, maybe we could have, but really, what's the point? I disagree with Bob Knight about many things (after all, he is the Godfather of Ball-Control Basketball), but absolutely, 100% agree with him that our job is to teach players how to play! But so many coaches confuse plays with playing. To say nothing of the problem: how do you work on--and remember--80 plays?
So, the System doesn't rely much on plays, but rather on a basic structure, with options that flow from that structure, options which are chosen based on how players (particularly the PG) read the defense. Same goes for System Defense.
What I'm getting at is this. In the System you don't teach plays. You don't even teach offenses or defenses in the conventional sense. You teach situations.
What's a situation? This term has traditionally referred to OB-under, OB-sideline, free throw, jump ball plays, and late game strategies. In the System, "Situation" can mean all those things, but more commonly refers to the following:
- Fast Break after a Score
- Fast Break after a Rebound
- Fast Break after a Steal
- Creating a quick shot after a Dead Ball ("referee handle").
- Creating a "second-chance three" after an offensive rebound
- Press after a Score
- Press after a Missed Shot
- Press after a Dead Ball (endline, sideline, underneath)
- Press when the opponent is trying to hold the ball on you
Well, today we introduced Defensive Situation #4: Pressing and trapping an opponent running a spread/delay offense against us. It is fun to see the players start to cut loose from the bonds of conventional defense before our very eyes, as we explain to them "There are no zones or individuals to cover. You might be anywhere on the floor, relative to the ball. You might need to rotate completely out of your original area, and as long as we are trapping the ball and denying the lag pass, it's all good! There are no wrong answers here, with the exception of less-than-maximum effort."
The first day of "Defense Week" we worked on Situation #3 above, which is the easiest to execute because it starts with everyone standing still. Yesterday we added Situation 2.
See? One brick at a time, and the wall goes up. The concrete is still wet, so the wall isn't close to being solid. Not yet. Come back to situations regularly (especially offensive ones). Eventually, the concrete hardens.