Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We led most of the first half while it was a close game the whole time. We were up only two points at halftime. In the second half, they grabbed the lead early and we were fighting back and forth. With two minutes left, we were down five points and had the ball. We came up empty on that possession and only had one more basket the rest of the game. We didn't execute and they turned up the defensive pressure late.
In the second pool game, we played a tough Wisconsin Playground Warriors team. When I say they were tough I mean physically and also good players. They took the lead early but we fought back and gained the lead about half way through the first half. Our big guys were carrying us as most of our points were coming from in the paint. The refs were letting a lot of contact go underneath and I think that actually worked to our advantage.
We were up about 12 or so with three minutes left when Wisconsin made their run. They started pressuring us and turning us over leading to easy baskets for them. We remained calm and ended up breaking their press a couple times after a time-out to get everyone on the same page. We ended up only winning by four points, but it was a good, hard-fought game. We have lacked physical and mental toughness so it was good to see.
We went on to win our first tournament game in overtime. It was a pretty sloppy game and we had a big drop off in energy and effort from our game against Wisconsin. It seems like we have a habit of taking two steps of progress and then the next game we take a step or two back. We can't just keep building on our success. I guess that can be attributed to lack of maturity.
We lost our second tournament game to Ohio Basketball Club. They were a really tough team. Two big guys around 6'6 that we had no answer to. We could have done some things differently to get the big guys away from the basket but defensively we had to way to stop them. They were highly skilled which is rare for big, young guys.
After going 2-2 in this tournament, I believe that puts our season record at 14-12. Winning is definitely not the most important thing at this level. I just want the players to have improved fundamentally with a better sense of what they need to do to grow as players. I believe most of our players have at least improved one part of their game. Optimally, I think we could be 16-10 or 17-9 but again that isn't the most important thing for our players.
I'm in the process of finalizing all the college camps I'm going to work this summer. I know have four committed and hope to add two or three more. I'm looking at it as getting paid to improve myself as a teacher/coach. One thing I think I have greatly improved on is my teaching of the game. When I first started I let a lot of small mistakes go just because I didn't want to stop the players every two seconds. I now know that I need to really focus on the details and correct them as soon as possible so they don't become bad habits. So hopefully, I learn a couple things that help me become a better teacher.
Here's what I want to achieve through working college camps...
1) Become a better teacher as mentioned above
2) Make multiple friendships/connections with college coaches. Never know if an assistant will get a head job somewhere and will be looking to fill out their staff in the next couple years. Just like any other business, coaching is about who you know as much as how much you know. Head Coaches hand pick their coaching staffs.
3) Make some good money doing something I like to do. Enough said here I believe.
4) This kind of goes with number 2, but I want to pick the brain of multiple assistants about teaching the game and game strategy.
That is what I want to do on my summer vacation.
Random thought...I really like that song "Hey there Delilah" I like the sound of it. It's very relaxing and can clear my mind of frustrations.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Everyone wants to excel in front of the college recruiters. This means everyone wants to be in the game at all times. That is difficult though because most teams are basically all-star teams with good players 1-10 on their depth chart. So, in many instances players get upset about not starting, not playing enough minutes, not getting enough shots, not getting enough touches, not playing down the stretch in close games. I think we can all see the drama building.
That drama created between players and coaches and players and players is compounded when you throw in the parent factor. They are also worried about their kid and their kid only getting minutes and points and stuff like that. The small amount of drama created between players and coaches is nothing compared to that of coaches and parents. Parents are usually less understanding and less patient.
The drama often boils over into fights and verbal arguments. Parents being the ones who usually start the verbal abuse. Players usually just gripe to a couple teammates and once in awhile say something small to their coach. Parents will complain to other parents in the stands and then to the coach at some point. A lot of parents are being bad role models to their kids about how to deal with problems and it is pretty disgusting.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
This weekend my AAU team played in the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a pretty big tournament for the older divisions. The AMC is mainly a Senior-to-be and Junior-to-be tournament like most AAU tournaments are geared for. I got a chance to see many top rated players from across the country. I was most impressed with Terrence Jennings, who plays for So Cal Academy. He is an Amare Stoudemire look-alike and plays very much the same way. He is rumored to be heading to Arizona in the class of 2008.
My team made progress in many areas of the game. We had better effort on defense. Our defense is definitely a work in progress. Most of the players were never forced to play help side defense and their man-to-man perimeter defense was pretty poor. They have been making an effort to improve on both accounts. There are obviously still makes made, but I believe the effort to do what we want is there.
Offensively, we really made a lot of progress in regards to ball movement and not being stagnant. We have one player that forces a lot of shots. The way the other players have dealt with it is to force their own shots. It’s a snowball effect to the definition. We have started to put a stop to the forcing of shots, but it is again a work in progress. The number of forced shots has gone down drastically though. I really don’t think parents understand the concept of progress at least in terms of basketball. I will come back to this point later.
Saturday morning, in our second game, we played a team with average talent. They were solid players, but nothing special. A team we should beat and beat by 10 points. They didn’t have any post players and their perimeter players were average athletically and above average shooters.
We lead the whole first half. We were in control up until the final few minutes of the half where they made a little run and I could feel the momentum slipping. I believe we were up something like 5 or 6 points at the half. In the second half, they started to penetrate and kick out for three point attempts. Of course, our player would get beat off the dribble and someone would have to come help. When that happened the shooters were left wide open and we didn’t recover quick enough to bother their shots. They got hot and we could never get anything going.
I was really disappointed with our team effort in the second half. We don’t have anyone who will step up and stop someone from penetrating. If you are a competitor like I think a few of my players are, you find a way to stop someone. It is really bothering me that no one will step-up to a challenge and find a way to get it done.
Parents have understandably been upset about one player forcing shots and making multiple turnovers with no punishment. The parents obviously don’t know the whole story and don’t quite get basketball. I don’t take players out because of a turnover. I will take them out if there are multiple turnovers resulting from something that I have told them not to do.
The parents are not seeing the progress made. They see one or two forced shots and think he is still getting a green light for any shot when that is not true at all. We made a lot of progress in that area with the whole team. Things take time to correct completely.
Hopefully things keep improving in the next tournament and we can continually get better in all aspects of the game. Especially on the defensive end in terms of help side defense and stopping people one on one.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
First game of the tournament was horrible. Our defense couldn't get worse than what we played the first game. The team we played wasn't bad by any means, but it was a less talented team. Our fundamental defense was poor; both individually and as a team. We were reaching instead of moving over to stop penetration. When we did come over to help, our second rotation was non-existent. They are in for a rude awakening in high school. They only care about offense and not having themselves look bad.
We ended up losing the game by two points on a shot with about 10 seconds left. We should have won by 10 points, easily. Our offense was all one on one with no patience or movement. It was really poor to even watch.
The next two games, we played really weak teams and we crushed them. In these tournaments, there is a wide range of teams. Some teams are really talented and some look like they are 4 years younger than everyone else.
We ended up winning a draw to get a number one seed and a bye into the semi-finals of the tournament. In that game, we ended up playing a really good team that we had lost to earlier in the year by 30. They really are a solid team, athletic and very unselfish. We had it within 6 points halfway through the 3rd quarter but couldn't get any closer.
I have made some adjustments to our offense. I am going to be a lot more liberal with my enforcement of what I want done. If they don't understand what needs to be done every possession, they will not play. It is really killing the team when people are forcing shots. Defensively, I am just searching for people who will put the effort and desire to stop people. We don't have a player who will step up and take the challenge to shut down the other team's best player.
We have a tournament in Bloomington this weekend. I am looking forward to it and I expect us to do well. Along with a lot of changes to take place. It is embarrassing as a coach to have a team look non-fundamental and unorganized. I have reached a point where I won't put up with it anymore. That being said, this weekend could get interesting depending on how the players adjust to my new, strict policy.