Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Screening: How to Use as an Offensive Weapon

Just to let you know, last season we used the Read & React offense and used screens in less than 20% of our offense; mainly because we had speed and utilized the R&R offense to beat our man of the bounce and create help. I have a fundamental belief that screening is a great offensive weapon. Outside of having a great scorer, I'd take a team that screens and understands how and why to screen.

How to Screen
Most of us were taught to get to a spot, stand straight up with our hands "protecting" ourself and be still. The game has changed so much since then. If your player is screening like that versus us we are going to floor him. The screener should:

  •         Get Low, be in an athletic stance
  •         Lean Forward to prepare for the contact
  •         Be prepared to "shape up" to the ball

How to Recieve a Screen
We all probably tell our players to wait for the screen. How often to we explain why or even how to wait? Players have to learn how to set their defender up to ensure the screen is the most beneficial. Here is how:
  •        Get close to the defender by taking away from the screen first.
  •        Sprint to the screen
  •        Come off the screen low as the screener is. 
BONUS TIP:   If your opponent likes to hard hedge and "stand up" the cutter. Run directly into the hedge. Hard. This will free up the screener on a slip. 
     Example: Think Big on Little Screen. Your 5 is screening for your 3 on the block. X5 hard hedges to                   
                    bump the cutter out so X3 can chase. 3 should sprint right into X5's chest and stand him up and 
                    allow 5 to "shape up" and find the ball. 

Here are my three beliefs and how I teach the importance of screening.

#1 A Screen is a Collision
Players have to understand that a screen is a collision. Players have to expect and want the contact. (Check out this post on Contact.) I know Coaches have different uses of screens. I have two types. The first is a location screen. {Ex. elbow screen.}The screener goes to spot on the floor and the cutter is responsible for using it correctly. The second is the Linebacker. The player goes to find the defender and makes direct contact. Both of these take time in teaching but using both gives you two different types of weapons.

#2 Have a Lineman Mentality
Players have to have a mentality of an offensive lineman. An offensive lineman's jobs are to protect the quarterback and open lanes for the running back. Most of us would struggle to name ten offensive lineman in the NFL but we all know the one who misses the block or  gets a holding call. Missing a screen has to be addressed so players understand the importance of it. Nothing is more frustrating than a great play being erased by an illegal screen called. Players have to be willing to sacrifice their personal glory on a play to make sure that the team succeeds. If each player thinks like a lineman, some might become a tight-end, which leads to...

#3 Better the Screen, the Better the Scoring Opportunity
The beauty of Screens is everyone defends them different. Switch all, switch guard to guard, chase, go over the top. Everyone does it based on their belief. By selling your players on screening, the screener has a great chance to be the scorer. If you practice different types of screens, once you scout how the defense defends screens you can attack them however you need.

That's my take on screening. Check out this post on Defending Screens too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Exposure: What You Need to Know: A Must Read for Coaches, Players, and Parents

The first NCAA live evaluation periods are over and as the College coaches return to campus to target the needs and players they will watch in July, you should be doing the same with your players. Most players have the dream of playing college basketball. Most players and parents when you mention college basketball they automatically assume your talking about Division 1. People don't realize how difficult it is to play college basketball on any level. This past month there have been hundreds of teams spend thousands of dollars to travel the country seeking exposure. Players are chasing dreams. Parents are paying for that dream and unfortunately there are people out there profiting off the sale of that dream.

Exposure is a tricky thing. Players can either gain exposure or get exposed. For some coaches and players the thrill of playing in front of a college coach leads to some poor decisions. This isn't just playing decisions. There are players all across the country that think the reason schools aren't recruiting them is because of where they go to high school. YOU'RE NOT GETTING RECRUITED BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A COLLEGE LEVEL PLAYER. If you are a next level player they will find you.

Here are a few things to watch out for:

1 Be Careful Where You Put Your Trust
Sadly, there are people all across our game that are profiting from sale of false hope. These are the guys that give summer basketball, trainers and coaches an awful reputation. With a little work and the help of Google you can get the number of every basketball office in College Basketball. Most of us involved in High School basketball and the top level summer coaches have contacts on the college level. Name-dropping shouldn't impress you. Here are the top questions to ask a summer coach or trainer that say they can deliver a college scholarship:
Who have you coached that received a college scholarship? May I have their number?
Have you called my son/daughter's HS Coach?
The schools that you say are interested in haven't contacted my son/daughter's HS Coach. Why not?

2 Congratulations, You've been selected...
Exposure events aren't only for teams. You will find numerous exposure camps that promise a ranking and getting your name out. The "prestigious" camps also come at a prestigious price. Instead of spending a couple hundred dollars to send your player to a rating camp, print off postcards and mail them to every college you want to. Then you know without a doubt that your player's name made it to these schools.

3. Time Spent vs Reward
Kids are kids once. I understand certain things require sacrifice but what are we requiring these kids to miss? Not every kid will be a college player but every kid can attend prom, can have a weekend with friends and family.AS A COACH YOU CAN REQUIRE COMMITMENT BUT YOU ARE OBLIGATED TO BE TRUTHFUL. What separates college players from high school players isn't commitment. It's skill, athleticism, and size. If you're 5'9, you can get up at 5:30 every morning to workout to prove you're commitment but if you go up against someone that plays the same position you do but is 6'3" the majority of coaches would select the 6'3" player. That doesn't mean always but more times than none. The goal of each Coach should be to take each player to their top level of play. Set the ceiling. 

LAW OF 1000
What is more beneficial to your player? Spending $1000 to possibly play 1 game in front of a college coach that might be interested in you are spend that weekend getting 1000 shots up?

Pride yourself on  honest player evaluations. You don't benefit from players wanting to play college basketball. You benefit by providing the means for them to do so. This starts with honesty. Not everyone that plays high school basketball is going to play college basketball. That is an easy fact. "With hard work anything is possible." If I train a jackass to run will it ever win the Kentucky Derby? We have to be honest with our players and set them up for the success they can achieve. Encourage kids to strive for goals but have enough common sense to not allow them to be destroyed by not achieving that goal.