Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coaching Basketball 101

I got an interesting lesson in basketball this past week that I want to share.    When it comes to COACHING any team (whether NBA, college, high school, kids or even adult recreation league), the coach's goal is win.  To do so, you have to "Maximize your team's strengths" and "Minimize your team's weaknesses".  

Nowhere was this true this week in two of my adult basketball leagues that I play in.  I am the captain / coach of my Monday night basketball league team.  The strength of my Monday night team is balance. All seven players are all about the same level.   Everyone has some different things they excel in.  One of our players is a great shooter when left open.  On the other hand, my Monday team is not all that explosive.  We don't have a definite #1 scorer that we can do to during crunch time.  

Early on, I worked the offense through our best shooter early on.  It worked pretty well early on but as the season has worn on, other teams have adjusted and our best shooter has slumped.  I haven't done a good job getting the team readjusted.  Additionally, I have not yet found a way to overcome our lack of a crunch time scorer.  Thus the team has one win and four losses.  Fortunately, the team's got another three games to recover in the season. 

On the other hand, I also play in a Thursday night basketball league.  The team is super top heavy with three good scorers, a solid fourth guy and four other guys (including me) as role players.  The team has done well and entered this week undefeated at 4-0.  This team's strength is that all of the players are fairly athletic.  We have a good PG (our captain) and two guys who can score at will.  The role players fill in with defense, rebounding and occasional scoring.  If there is a weakness is that we are not the quickest on the perimeter.  Plus, we are not real good in the half court.  We are much better in transition.  

The regular captain was gone this past Thursday so I took over captain duties.  Additionally, another one of our scorers was not present so we were left with six guys.  We chose to go zone defense early and let the other team just dominate us early as we fell behind by about 12 points.   When the other team is scoring like that, it is hard to get your transition offense going.  

The zone defense had made my team a bit passive so a switch to man-to-man was in order.   The other team was a little short on guards (only two present at game, one was out of town) so I stuck our #1 scorer (and also best defender) on the other team's best shooter.  The other team was forced to try and dump the ball into the post which was effective.  But the other team's offense became one dimensional and my team slowly chipped away. 

We were fortunate to get away with the 67-63 win even though we were missing two of our top players.  But it was one of those things where we maximized the strength we had (good defender) and minimized our weaknesses (only six players, 1 top scorer).  

People who just play basketball think it's just a one-on-one game but the reality is you need to take advantage of your strengths and avoid the weaknesses.  

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