We got home late last night from a scrimmage downstate, and I figured that anything I had to say at 3 a.m. wouldn't be worth the pixels they were printed on. But now it's 8 p.m. and with four hours of quality sleep to recharge my literary brain cells, I'll start by quickly recapping our scrimmage results.
We played fairly even with our opponent throughout the game (I think it was 86-84), and had some good moments, but our biggest problem right now is offensive flow. As you know by now, one of my favorites is John Wooden, who said he never devoted the same amount of time to defense that he did to offense because on offense you have to coordinate both player and ball movement into your plan of attack.
That's definitely true for us right now. At this point in our development our drive and kick game looks decent, but our pass and screen away action is stagnant. We just haven't worked on it enough, and that will be addressed in the next few days.
How? Maybe by doing some "20 passes, no dribble" offensive movement drills. Knight always taught pure motion offense via the "no dribble" restriction, and although we never want to make 20 passes before shooting (or even 2, for that matter), I believe you have to do "excess pass" drills in order to get players into the habit of movement! That's really all we are doing with a 20-pass rule: ingraining the "pass and screen-away" habit. (We've already mastered the "pass and stand there" habit.)
After working 5/0, we may run our Half-court 5/5/5 "Cutthroat" drill (Offense stays if they score, if not they are out, defense takes over on offense, and a third group comes in on defense). Great way to develop the half-court game, and although we definitely prefer a quick shot off the first or second pass in transition, when things bog down it's nice to have some plan for how to move, screen, and maintain spacing.
Now, I know Paul Westhead claimed that at LMU he didn't even give his players an offense to flow into at the end of the break because, as he lamented, "doggone it if they won't try and run it!" I'm pretty extreme, but not that extreme, so by giving our players a plan of movement, our hope is that at least they can learn how to stay out of each other's way.
In our case, we have a very simple rule: any time you pass outside the arc, screen away. It's a natural, common sense offensive concept, and as long as you've spent time developing good screening and cutting techniques, the "Pass and Screen Away" series will be running like a top by mid-season.
And, paradoxically, the better you get at making 20 passes in November, the easier it will be to create an open shot after just 3 passes in January.