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A Perfect Sunday of Basketball in Boston

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 19, 2015

Starts off with Beautiful Basics, a clinic for new-to-the-game players and others who just like working on fundamentals, 9am in super trendy Somerville. Followed closely at 10:30am by a robust Intermediate Skills & Scrimmage Clinic in which players run drills like in a college practice and end with a full court game to put it all together.

Noontime brings players in for the Free Throw Project: 100 free throws twice a week (Monday nights, too). Got to improve on our league free throw percentages!

At 3:45pm we swing over to Fidelity House, Arlington Ctr, the gym where Pat Connaughton put together ll the great pieces to his game. Two one hour Parent/Kid Clinics: first for kids ages 7-11 (though my 2 and 6 year olds are allowed to sneak in) and at 4:45pm, ages 12 and up! Play the game the best way, the fun way!

Next, like dessert after a great meal we go home and watch (on tape) the Celtics edge LeBron and the Cavs at the buzzer in a Game One, Round One upset! (posted 17 minutes before tipoff)

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50 Little (Big) Tips (4th in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 17, 2015

1. Want the ball? Show your hands; give the passer a target. A pitcher throwing to a catcher without a catcher giving a target would have a much harder time putting the ball where it should go. Same with receiving a basketball. I worked out Howard Eisley (12 year NBA pro) for a couple of summers and on the first day I told him, “show your hands”; he did it every time for the hours and hours we spent together plus every time I saw him playing on tv. Good enough for for an NBA 12 year pro? Good enough for you.

2. Take a hard last dribble, or at least a firmer dribble when finishing a layup or going up for a jumper. It allows you to feel the ball more solidly coming into your hands and helps establish the rhythm for the shot.

3. Backdoor cuts: don’t wait for the defender to overplay you, wait for the defender to get way out of position; just recognize when the defender’s momentum is taking that player away from the basket and then you plant your foot and go! As soon as their momentum goes out, you go in. Two points plus the foul!

4. Ever start to set a down screen from the wing and find yourself walking into your own defender? Frustrating at first because it feels like they are getting physical with you and not letting you go where you want to go. In fact, you should take a moment and shake your defender’s hand because they are giving you two points! Any time the defender is not between you and the ball, means you can get between them and the ball for an easy catch. Walking down from the wing and walking into the defender means you should take them almost to where you want to screen and then step over with your inside foot, sealing them on your back, arm bars up for the catch and score!

5. If you find yourself ahead of the all the defense and a defender is jogging slightly trailing you and they are looking at you rather than the ball, fake as if the ball is coming on a “home run pass” to you. They react with panic. The ball isn’t coming but it helps make the defender feel stupid; always a good thing.

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50 Little (Big) Tips (3rd in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 12, 2015

Week Three

1. Practice like a pro (

2. Practice “toes to the corner” – shoulder pointing in toward the hoop to protect the ball – finishes (or as I used to hear Rick Pitino say, “put ’em in jail!”)

3. Engage in games, competition: H-O-R-S-E, Streak, Knockout, especially One-on-One (competition is good for basketball development)

4. Play “chest up, high hand” defense (heard Bo Ryan, U of Wisconsin head coach, say this recently)

5. Always run wide on the break (I remember watching Karl Malone run so wide on the break when John Stockton was pushing it up that it looked like Malone was out of bounds or going to run on top of the scorers’ table.)

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

50 Little (Big) Tips (2nd in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 25, 2015

Week Two

First Tip: Layups 12 Different Ways

In games, layups present themselves in a variety of ways; it’s not always the classic “right knee up on a righty layup”, “lefty knee up on a lefty layup”. Here are 12 ways to shoot a layup:

1) right knee up righty layup (the classic);

2) left knee up on a lefty layup (the opposite hand classic);

3) right hand, “wrong foot”

4) left hand, “wrong foot”

5) “Power Layup”; off two feet (right side)

6) “Power Layup”; off two feet (left side)

7) lefty dribble, righty layup

8) righty dribble, lefty layup

9) righty finish left side of hoop (back turned to the middle)

10) lefty finish right side of hoop (back turned to the middle)

11) EuroStep right side

12) EuroStep left side

Second Tip: Alternating Hands Dribble when speed dribbling

When needing to cover a long distance, maybe after a steal or long rebound, and you have no one ahead of you and you want to finish the trip and the play as fast as possible, use the alternating hands dribble technique. Don’t cross the ball over, extend your arm and put the ball down in front of the other hand. 3-4 dribbles and you should be able to cover a full high school (84′) or NBA/NCAA (94′) court.

Third Tip: Sikma Move

Named after NBA legend, Jack Sikma. Also known as “inside pivot”.

Fourth Tip: Use defensive fakes

Especially important when defending a 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 fast break or when helping against penetration on defense and you want to make the dribbler pick up his/her dribble without fully committing to the dribbler.

Fifth Tip: Screening the low side of a defender in a ball screen

Many defensive players, especially in pick-up games or recreational league games react to a ball screen by trying to go under the screen. If so, screen on the low side of that defender so it is even harder for that defender to get under the screen. This will drop the defender so far under that the ball handler who you are screening for will be free for a wide open, undefended shot.

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

50 Little (Big) Tips (1st of 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 23, 2015

In our Boston NTL Weekly Practice Programs, we are running a clinic during the winter term called “50 Little (Big) Tips & Scrimmage”. The idea is to present 5 “tips’ each week for the ten week duration that don’t usually get talked about, tips that heeded and added up can make you a much better basketball player. We introduce and demonstrate and practice them and look long and hard for players to implement them during the practice-ending scrimmage.

Week One

1. Weakside offensive rebounding on shots taken from the corner:

Missed shots taken from the corner go long 2/3rds of the time. Since defense positions themselves between the ball and you, pin them underneath the basket and take those 2/3rds of the time misses as they go long.

2. Whenever you have the ball and you see the back of a defender’s head, pass to the person that is being face guarded. It’s 2 points and an assist for you.

3. “Fake a pass to make a pass.” Can’t get the ball to where you want to pass it? Fake a pass to get the defense to step off and then make the pass where you originally intended.

4. Offensive rebound by predicting where the rebound is going by watching the flight of the ball and then move to that spot. (Where the ball hits on the rim will determine where the ball will go. Practice it. Get good at it. Go get the ball like Dennis Rodman. “The ability to read the ball in flight and predict where it is going.”)

5. Attack the defender’s top foot. Defender’s right foot is up? Attack it by going to your left. Defender’s left foot up? Attack it by going to your right. Having that foot up makes the defender crossover step, a slower move, and a move that puts them a step behind you.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, rebounding, shooting, without the ball | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ode to the Free Throw by Phish, “The Line”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 11, 2015

“Every shot I’ve taken, has led me to this moment since I was four feet high.”


Dry mouth push it out I can hear my heart pound,
A hero’s what I’m not.
Voices scream, flashes flare, frozen as the people stare,
My crucifixion shot.

Friends were electric on the western side,
While triangles were shifting on the floor.
Squeezing out the breath that I don’t have,
The quiet now they only want two more.

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

Every shot I’ve taken, has led me to this moment since I was four feet high.
Big Dee is watching I remember what he taught me: “Don’t let them see you cry.”

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

You try to see your future from the line.
You’re clinging to the notion you’ll be fine.
But the circle’s getting smaller all the time.

Dry mouth push it out I can hear my heart pound,
A hero’s what I’m not.
Voices scream, flashes flare, frozen as the people stare,
My crucifixion shot.

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

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Mastering the Free Throw

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 5, 2015




The simpler the better. The more complicated your shot is, the more movement there is, the harder it is to duplicate over and over, especially in pressure situations. Develop a short stroke.

See the target.

Shoot straight.

  • Give Yourself a Reason to Trust the Technique

Know what works.

Prove it many times.

  • Trust Technique

Once you’ve proven it, you no longer have to worry about missing. All you have to do is apply the technique.

  • Practice alone
  • Practice with someone
  • Practice


  • 1) Feet form a wide base. Feet set. Knees bent. Big toe that is on the foot that is the same as your shooting arm (right foot/right hand) on the nail hole at the middle of the FT line
  • 2) Set your shot. Ball set. Forearm straight up and down if possible.

Take a good look at the rim. (Never rush. Players who shoot quickly are players who are afraid of missing.)

  • 3) Stand and extend. (Simplicity.)
  • My mantra: “Start straight, finish straight.” (Elbow in at finish.) Start straight means shooting forearm as straight as the walls around you.
  • Imagine the shot. Imagine what it takes from legs and extension to not be short. Never be short.
  • Take a good look at the rim. (As Al McGuire used to say: “the answer is in the eyes”.) This helps you figure out range. Don’t get mesmerized and woozy looking at it; just figure the distance and say hello to the rim.
  • Follow through at the rim, directly straight at the rim. Good follow-through will give you good rotation.
  • Stay with the shot. Pose. (Think Christian Laettner.)


  • You always want to be relaxed and apply your technique. You go to the line in the middle of a game and you should think of nothing but applying your technique, the technique you trust. You apply the technique, you make the shot.
  • In game deciding situations, you never want to think about missing. If you think about missing, you miss. Instead, think about applying the technique you trust. Don’t say to yourself, “can I make this?” Instead say, “can I apply the technique I trust?” The answer, of course, is “yes!” You’ve done it hundreds and thousands of times.
  • And that is why you need to develop a technique, a method that is simple and easy to duplicate. Start straight. Short stroke. Finish straight over the rim.
  • Practice.
  • Practice.
  • Practice under pressure, even if it’s make-believe pressure.

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Made My Day!

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 16, 2015

At Tufts University gym this morning about to do a shooting session with an adult player, a once a week thing. He’s over on the first row of bleachers putting his sneakers on when a kid (there was a big gymnastics event going on next door and his mother and sister dumped him in the gym) walks up to me with a ball and says “play a game of one-on-one?” Who can say “no” to a game of one-on-one? I ask how old he is, I’m thinking 11, 12. He says “15”. So I take the ball, smack it hard, make a couple of hesitation type moves (I’m not really going by anyone these days) and put in a couple of 8 foot modified hooks. Kid says, “that all you going to do is shoot hook shots?” I say, “what you want me to shoot?” He says, “outside shots.” So I hit four in a row from just beyond the top of the key and he says, and this is what makes my day, “you in the NBA?”

I forgot to mention he was about 4’11”.

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Glossary of Terms For Post Play (Part One)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 6, 2015

(excerpted from the outstanding handbook, Practical Post Play, by Pete Gaudet*)

Passing Angle: “Draw a line from the ball (spot A) to the target. Now imagine the easiest spot from which to feed the post successfully (spot B). A line from both spot A and spot B to the target form an angle. When a player moves the ball from spot to spot B, the passing angle has improved.”


Bzomowski adds: Passing angles are crucial; improve your passing angle and you cut down on turnovers. You improve it by (in the case of feeding the post) reading where the defense is playing and moving the ball (via dribble, pivot or pass) so that it is fed to the post player as close as possible on a perpendicular angle formed by ball line to post player’s chest.

*Coach Gaudet is former head coach at Army, longtime assistant at Duke University as they went to 7 Final Fours and 2 NCAA Championships, lead instructor at the famed Pete Newell “Big Man Camp”, overseas coach and a member of Never Too Late Basketball’s Weekend Camps’ staff.

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Open Letter to the Boston Celtics Management

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 14, 2014

Please get rid of the Celtic Dancers

I am a longtime season ticket holder, veteran basketball coach, fan, husband, and father. With the eye of an instructor to (mostly) adult players, and from our seats directly behind the visitors’ bench, I watch the opposing coach(es) and study the moves of the players on the floor. Game in and game out, there is on display the intelligence and athleticism and dedication of the players, the hard work of the coaching staffs. I’m a former longtime college coach who was dedicated to that game, meaning the college game, but, really, the best basketball in the world is in the NBA. Brad Stevens has the Celtics playing hard. They are bought in. The games are close and competitive. It’s great to watch the games.

Still, there is something missing for me. It’s simple and sad: I wish I could bring my daughter who loves basketball to the games. But I can’t. I just don’t know how I can bring an impressionable five-year-old girl to the games when the Celtics (and all NBA teams) demean women and negatively impact girls of all ages by insisting on including in the program barely clad, pelvic-thrusting, butt spanking, hair-flying, out-of-rhythm undulating, on the floor writhing, porn-straddling, quote-unquote dancers. It is ridiculous and embarrassing and completely unoriginal. Honestly, how am I, or any father or mother, supposed to sit there with my daughter, our daughters (and sons) and watch that? What message is my daughter going to take from it?

She loves to watch players dribble, shoot, pass, steal the ball. She can dribble already with either hand and doesn’t look at the ball. She’s proud of this. Yet I can’t take her to these games to see the best practitioners of this skill in person.

Imagine I am at TD Bank Garden. Celtics are playing, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving. Crazy talent. Awesome basketball game. Interesting on about 40 different levels. Dazzling to a child. And then the Celtics Dancers come on. My daughter, my sweet impressionable kindergartner who, in addition to playing ball, likes to dress-up as a princess every now and then, is staring at the women, grownup girls, who are on the floor, literally on the floor, half butt-naked, in front of a sold-out crowd. I wanted to bring my daughter to see the best basketball in the world and I am sitting there feeling like I will have to answer to the Department of Social Services. It’s porn.

It’s not that a five-year-old wouldn’t be drawn in to the flash and noise of the “family entertainment” on full display. My question is how do I explain the Celtics Dancers? That men like that? That women like to act like that so men will like them? In public? In front of 18,624 people?

There are so many other halftime entertainment options: kids’ drum corps, musicians, skilled athletes from other endeavors, acrobats, leprechauns, and real dancers from all our neighborhoods and all walks of life. Why can’t you choose these? There are enough other awful things to explain about life: war and death and meanness of all kinds. Why must you add another?

What does this display have to do with basketball? Better question: What does this have to do with the attitude of men toward women?

Oh look, here is the answer made evident by watching: Women are objects, pieces of meat, and what’s wrong with slapping around or knocking out a piece of meat every now and then? Right, Ray Rice? What do you say, Jason Kidd? Connect the dots, Celtics ownership.

Another question: Do the Celtics have such little faith in the product they put on the floor during games that they feel they must peddle porn during time-outs? The tepid applause after the dancers leave the floor ought to be instructive.

In February 2004, Red Auerbach said, “They’re just waiting for me to die so they can get cheerleaders”. He was so right (though cheerleaders would be an improvement on what you have now). You waited until Red was dead. And the dancers writhe all along the spot on the floor where it says Red Auerbach. Nice.

So finally, what should I say to my daughter when she stares out on the court and sees a bunch of young women who are there to peddle the sexual aspect of their bodies, and nothing more? That’s life? That’s what important, smart, rich men think you and the world need? If the Celtics ownership had any vision or wisdom or heart or, frankly, balls, they’d step up and be the first to get rid of the dancers; have it be about basketball and teamwork and hard work and fun rooting for the home team for everyone, little girls and boys and their dads and moms included.

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »


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