Never Too Late Basketball's Tips & Tales

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2 + 2 = A New You

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 23, 2018

Recreational level adult basketball players don’t practice (much). Those that do, get better. Those that don’t, well, they complain that they don’t have the time. I’m here to say they (you) do.

You walk onto a court, right? It’s before everyone gets there (“how many we got? Seven”) or between games or after. It’s like 4 minutes. Those 4 minutes are always there, but what do players do? They jack up shots, sometimes the first shot when they walk on the court is a three pointer. It’s like they are saying, “just checking it out to see if it’s my day”. How about warming up? How about doing something that we call “Foundational Shooting” or “Foundational Ballhandling”? Usain Bolt doesn’t just get out there, he warms up, does high knee paces, various movements that mimic and prepare him for what he is about to do (set a world record in the 100m or 200m). Tennis players engage in mini-tennis, hitting from the service line to get their strokes warmed up. Basketball players, pro players do the same. I have seen Kyle Korver shadow shoot (NO BALL) at the half court line for 5 minutes before he even takes a shot. Do some stationary dribbling (2 minutes): righty, lefty, in/out, high/low, forward/back. Do some dribble crossovers, inside-out, through your legs, behind the back. For shooting (2 minutes) do some one-hand flip shots, then get your left hand on the ball, move back, don’t go to a new spot till you’ve swished three in a row. Baseline, elbows, add a knockdown dribble, lefthand, right. Finally, add three pointers. Believe me it’ll be your day and in 4 minutes (2+2) you’ll get better.


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Up 2, 4 Secs to Go, Their Ball Full Court

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 26, 2017

I posted this on our Never Too Late Basketball Facebook Page yesterday and am still thinking about it, wondering if players and/or coaches have any thoughts or comments.
Friday night, March 24, 2017, Madison Square Garden, Round of 16: the scenario was Wisconsin just took a two point lead on two very clutch free throws by a pretty shaky free thrower shooter, senior Nigel Hayes (5/10 up till that point, 59% on the year). Florida calls timeout. Their ball, full court, down 2. What can a coach tell his team who is already into the double bonus to help them stop the offense from scoring. Really the issue is not them scoring, the issue is them winning. First and foremost should be the other team does not get three. After that, we’ll take our chances. No doubt what was said over and over in Wisconsin’s huddle was “do not foul, do not foul”. Problem with telling players do not foul is it stops them from playing defense; they are not used to that. You play defense and if a foul is called a foul is called. Certainly do not foul a three point shooter, yes. In fact, last possession of the first half and first possession of the second half Wisconsin did just that giving up 6 points. Beside de-emphasizing do not foul, a strategy to limit Florida’s strengths in that situation was needed. What can a team do in that four seconds? What do coaches usually do? 1) Throw a 3/4 court pass that gets dumped off quickly for a jumper or 2) get it in the hands of a quick guard and let them go. Wisconsin had shown great difficult in staying in front of Florida’s two small quick guards: KeVaughn Allen (35 points) and Chris Chiozza who was driving to the basket at will, in fact, scoring their last bucket on a drive (after a block off what should have been a dunk for Wisconsin). How to stop a full-steam-ahead dribbler? Well, Gard could have said in the time-out: “if they throw it in to one of their guards in the back court, trap immediately, force them to pass, move your feet, hands up” forcing the pass taking valuable time off the clock. Desperation heave. Game over. Or play 2-2-1, 3/4 court and trap in the same way. Move your feet, don’t reach, trap and force a pass. The emphasis on not fouling, playing scared is the worse impulse and no doubt cost them the game.

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Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 23, 2017

Please, never call out the name of the player you are passing to even if things have transpired in a way that you had not expected: meaning they aren’t looking and the pass that you have thrown is on its way. It’s embarrassing to do so. It means that you and he or she were not on the same page and to shout the name, shout in desperation, is a very public acknowledgement of that mistake. Better to see the ball fly out of bounds. Better that the ball smacks your teammate in the back of the head. That’ll teach ’em not to be looking for the pass. No more, “Jamal!”, okay?

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, general improvement, passing, team offense, without the ball | 2 Comments »

A Shot That Goes In and Then Comes Out

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 17, 2016

Basket Interruptus is the Latin term for the shot that for all the world looks like it is going to be counted as two points, or three, but rattles an almost interminable number of times inside the rim and then pops out. So disappointing; so deflating.

Since the beginning of time, I have been telling players at our weekend camps and our
and in one-on-one sessions when the ball goes halfway down and then comes out that it is because they didn’t hold their follow-through. Seriously, if the ball comes that close to staying in but decides to come out what other little thing could have convinced it to finish the job? Some extra backspin to pull the ball down off the rim for sure; some extra backspin that came from some extra follow-through. Hopefully your two or three points will never be interrupted again.

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Poem Inspired by an NTL Weekend Camp

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 19, 2016

On The Occasion Of Playing Basketball
for Nine Hours in Two Days
One Week Before My Sixtieth Birthday

Being as sore as I was this morning is OK,
but if I were to elaborate on that just a little, I’d say
it’s like getting a voice-mail message

from a childhood friend who is evidently calling
from a noisy truckstop in the Midwest
and who is evidently drunk, saying that

some s**t has gone down, some bad s**t, actually:
that his mom sold her house and its contents
without having discussed it in advance

or even let him get his stuff,
including concert-ticket stubs tacked
to the bulletin board beside his door;

not to mention his original X-Box,
which admittedly is not compatible with
today’s games but for the love of god,

there were some great ones
that you cannot get anymore,
and simpler graphics are not necessarily worse graphics.

Would it have been such a burden to call your only son to say:
“Hey Granger, this is your mom. I’ve decided to move
to an assisted living facility, in Rockford”?

Arthur Russell, Nutley, NJ, NTL Camps (1993-2016 . . . ) “winner of the NTL Lakeside, Michigan Weekend Camp 2016 Baron Davis Award for Returning to the Game in Terrible Condition But With a Still Passable Handle.”


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80 Shot Drill

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 3, 2016

At all our NTL Weekend Camps, in our Boston NTL Videotaped Shooting Clinic, and, every week at our NTL Intermediate Skills & Scrimmage Clinic in Jamaica Plain (Boston), we do the 80 Shot Drill. I always reference Bill Musselman, head coach of the then new-to-the-NBA expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, as the person I stole the drill from. (Musselman is the basketball mind that is most often cited as the greatest influence on Tom Thibodeau, one-time Musselman assistant and later – and, who knows, future? – NBA Coach of the Year.)

Here’s his son, Eric, former NBA head coach himself (Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings) and now coach for the Nevada Runnin’ Rebels, talking about the value of the drill.

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“Nice Touch!”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 17, 2016

The ball dances on the rim, three, four bounces, maybe even a little bump on the backboard, all soft as a shower in a five-star hotel, and then drops, nestles in, really, through the hoop. Someone on the court, the poet, the evangelist, the self-anointed coach on the floor, says what should be said: “nice touch”. This makes the shooter feel good.

At our NTL Weekend Camps and at our NYC and NTL Weekly Practice Program clinics, we talk about shooting a lot and when we talk about shooting one of the things we emphasize is the follow-through, the act of your hand staying with the ball as long as possible, as intentionally as possible (see hand in cookie jar; see goose neck in photo below).follow-through

One of the other things we say is: when the ball is on the rim, it knows where it came from, it knows what the quality of the last contact was. Did the hand flick it, let it go without care, hard like a hammer throw, hoping the ball will go in? The opposite of “nice touch” is “brick”. You don’t want brick. There is a connection between you and the ball. Keep that feeling between you and it as long as you can and when the ball is still on the rim, bouncing, deciding its fate, and your hand is still high in the air, following through, saying to the ball “I’m still with you!”, it will have a much better chance of rewarding you with another two or three points and the glory of all the players on the floor knowing that you are in possession of “nice touch”!

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50 Little (Big) Tips (8th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 23, 2015

1. When making a move to score in the post, a move which began with your back to the basket, make a conscious effort to locate the rim before shooting the ball. I once heard the late, great (best coach I ever knew) Rick Majerus say “there is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent looking at the rim and the chance of making the shot”.

2. If a teammate is cutting toward you with a defender trailing and the teammate is open for the shot pass the ball to the inside shoulder (meaning the shoulder closest to the hoop). If the teammate is not going to be open for the shot pass to the outside shoulder (meaning, ready for this?, the shoulder farthest from the hoop). At a clinic long ago, I heard the out-of-the-box basketball thinker, Rick Pitino say, “the passer is the eyes of the shooter”. I thought that was clever.

3. This is pretty simple and pretty obvious but it is surprising to me how many times I see this played wrongly and I think of what I once heard Bobby Knight (this was before he became the more mature “Bob” Knight) say: “when feeding the post, pass the ball to the side away from the defense”.

4. Before getting out on the court and playing and even before stretching, do a Dynamic Warmup (which we start each practice at our NTL Weekend Camps doing) to engage and ready the various body parts and movements you’ll be using and performing: running, cutting (changing direction), jumping, arm strength and lift and movement, fast twitch stuff, etc. (I got an idea! Practice falling down!)

5. Pass the ball early to a cutter, pass it as soon as they emerge from the screen. The ball takes time to travel through the air from point A (you) to point B (cutter). If you wait, then the defense has time to recover, your teammate will be flatfooted and the whole thing is botched!

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50 Little (Big) Tips (7th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 5, 2015

1. When going left, dribble lefty. When going right, dribble righty. When you don’t know where you are going, don’t dribble at all.

2. You are playing a league game or a game where there’s a ref or somebody who is going to impose rules. It’s your team’s ball, side-out in the front court. Pass the ball to a teammate in the backcourt. (You can throw the ball into the backcourt from anywhere and it is not a backcourt violation. Just don’t touch it till you get both feet in the backcourt!) The pass to the backcourt eliminates the danger of a) catching in the front court near the half court line and stepping on the line and getting a totally demoralizing backcourt violation and b) getting trapped by a defender and the sideline/backcourt corner.

3. The first overnight basketball camp I ever went to was Friendship Farm run by Jack Donahue, the great Lew Alcindor’s (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) high school coach. The camp was heaven on earth; all basketball all-the-time. Great high school players and great high school and college coaches. (Bobby Knight came in on day and nearly killed us with defensive drills.) One day during a break, Warren Isaacs, all-time Iona College great and long-time big-time pro in Italy, pulled me aside to work on my hook shot. At one point, Coach Donahue walked by and muttered, “you’re only as good as your running hook”. Whatever Coach Donahue said, I took as gospel. You should too.

4. When you play a game of one-on-one, vary the rules. Don’t always start at the top of the key, don’t always leave the rules open ended. Some ideas: a) top of the key but one dribble maximum; b) start on one or the other low post areas, back to the basket, and go three dribbles maximum (anything more is grammar school ball); c) start in the corner or the wing; d) play one-on-one full court; e) ball handler starts at 1/2 court with a live dribble, defense starts at the top of the key. What game do you want to play?

5. Unless you are dunking the ball or dropping the ball down into the hoop, use the backboard to finish layups, especially breakaway layups. Angle out on the last step if you are coming down the middle (easy to do) and finish around the rim, not over the rim. Over the rim (meaning straight into the hoop) without using the backboard can result in the ball rolling off the rim and out. So depressing. I cannot tell you home many times I have seen heads hung after the ball rolls off the rim and out on “all alone layups – even in the pros! Take the rim out of the equation. Ball + backboard = 2 points.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, post play, rebounding, rules, shooting, team offense, without the ball | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (6th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on September 14, 2015

1. As in any thrown ball, if your hand goes to the outside of the ball, the ball will curve. In basketball, pretty much the only time you throw a “baseball pass” is when you hit a teammate who has gone ahead of all the defense and you are throwing a 70′-90′ pass. If you throw it with your hand rotating around the outside of the ball, it will curve away and not hit your target. Instead – and this is absolutely beautiful, try it! – finish with your thumb down, your hand coming under the ball rather than around the side. This gives it a smooth backspin rotation, just like on your jumper, which we know, always hits it target!

2. When Tom Thibodeau (NBA Coach of the Year, 2010-11) and I coached together for four years at Harvard, we played a ton of pickup games together. During those games, he talked a lot, some of it smack but a lot of it just random basketball stuff. One thing he used to say was “never catch a deflected pass”. You know: someone throws you a pass and a defender deflects it. Don’t know where Thibs picked this up (it sure sounded like he was parroting something he had heard) but it makes sense in that one is likely to misjudge the flight of the ball and it will deflect off you and out of bounds.

3. When Robert Parish got traded to the Celtics in 1980, he was a four year veteran with plenty of skills. Playing with Larry Bird over the next decade, he added many more. Bird used to outlet the ball 3/4 court left-handed. He’d rebound on the right side of the rim, turn over his right shoulder and looking up court, use the hand that was away from the middle (where defense tends to be) and the hand that he could outlet quicker with, his left. Three years later, Robert Parish was outletting lefty too. If an NBA veteran can pick up a skill like that, so can you.

4. When you run the break, you run wide, right? But don’t run wide all the way to the baseline or corner (unless you are spotting up for an NBA style three pointer in the corner, the NBA’s favorite shot). Instead, hesitate when you are wide but even with the top of the key, and then angle in so you come to the hoop above the block. (I got this from Rick Pitino when he was at Providence College many years ago.) This angle allows you to A) catch and use your body to protect and finish on a layup; B) gives you the angle where you can use the backboard (rather than on a baseline drive where it’s just rim) and C) hit a teammate with a bounce pass angling in from the opposite wing. (Defense is between you and the hoop thus giving you a window to make the pass through the lane; couldn’t do that if you were coming in from the corner!) Again: angle in above the block, please. You will never regret it.

5. Similar to the efficiency of the lefthand outlet, after rebounding and deciding you are going to dribble the ball up rather than outletting with a pass (a la Magic Johnson), take the first dribble with the inside hand, the hand that will allow you to stretch the ball up court quickest. On the right side of the court, that would mean your left hand. On the left side, your right hand. If you are not outletting, you better get moving and using a long inside hand dribble is the best way to start your speed dribble up court!

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, rebounding, shooting | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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