“The Jacek Duda Drill”
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 27, 2007
One of the all-time favorite Never Too Late Basketball drills. I stole it, I guess that’s what I did, or appropriated it, from Rick Pitino when he was at Providence College. Tom Thibodeau (then a Harvard assistant with me and now with Jeff VanGundy and the Houston Rockets and Yao Ming’s personal post-play coach) and I used to high-tail it out of Cambridge after our practices or on days off and on down to Providence where Pitino used to let us sit in on his practices. We must have observed over a dozen of them in 1987, the year Pitino took them to the Final Four.
Pitino is a great coach. He has his foibles and maybe, I don’t know, maybe, he’s not as committed as he once was, but there were years when Pitino got more out his players than any college coach in history. 1987 was one of those years. You pay attention to a guy like that.
At Providence, the team that featured the reclamation of one-time chubby boy, Billy Donovan, to first team all-Big East honors, Pitino wanted to maximize the team and each player’s quickness, speed, stamina, fitness and mental toughness. This is one of the drills they used to meet those goals. I call it “The Jacek Duda” after one of the Friars who played then: a 6’10”, slow-footed recruit from Poland who, despite seeing limited action was, like every player on that team, a role player, an important piece of the puzzle. (Duda went on to play pro ball in Germany.)
The player lines up on the baseline with the ball. On the whistle, the player takes off dribbling for a full-court layup at the other end, grabs the ball quickly out of the net and comes back, fast as possible for another layup, grabs the ball again, transitioning quick as can be, and sprints out to the other end, and so on. Total of six layups. Rest by shooting five free throws (two, step-off, then three). Repeat the drill for a total of three “Jacek Dudas”. The coaching staff at PC then, included (incredibly): Gordie Chiesa, Stu Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Sean Kearney. They would, dutifully, chart each player’s times with the goal of getting faster, fitter, competing with greater resolve. Pitino set goals for guards (28-30 secs), forwards (30 secs), big men (32-34 secs). And we’re talking an NBA/NCAA full 94 foot court!
Get out there with a friend and a stop-watch and try it. And then try it again next week and the week after. Let’s go, you gotta be faster than Jacek!