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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, force 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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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 »

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 (http://video.sfgate.com/Stephen-Curry-and-the-Art-of-Dribbling-28411894)

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 »

Harvard’s March Madness Win and the NTL Weekend Camps

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 22, 2013

Though I coached at Harvard for seven years, since then I haven’t always been a fan of the team or rooted for them, after all, by not giving me the head coaching job way-back-when, they essentially fired me. (Thereby waiting much, much longer to get to the NCAAs then the should have!!!) But after they gave Tommy Amaker the job, a guy I knew from when he was an assistant at Duke and I at Harvard, I started to warm up to the program again. His top two assistants have run many NTL clinics in Boston the past few years and do a great work. It’s been fun to reconnect.

So, other than liking Amaker and his assistants what made me excited about Harvard’s great win last night? (You did watch it, didn’t you?) Not their mascot; they don’t have one. Not their pep band; they are more like a chamber music ensemble. Nope, it was the way they played and the way they played is exactly what we preach and teach at the Never Too Late Basketball Camps. They won because of strict adherence to fundamentals, the same fundamentals that can help you play better and enjoy the game longer: excellent floor spacing and ball movement on offense; understanding and executing roles and responsibilities and goals on defense. Plus they’ve worked on sills. Plus they shot well, but a big reason they shot well is they shot in rhythm, never forcing a shot or taking a shot they don’t practice. It was beautiful.

After drills and skills and getting players to pay attention to the small stuff during those practice sessions, we run four sets of “coached scrimmages” at the weekend camps. By the time the Sunday morning scrimmage rolls around, we expect to see some of what we saw from Harvard last night: patience; spacing; a willingness to trust teammates and to move the ball; a belief and understanding of what you are trying collectively to accomplish on defense.

Plus we have a cool NBA style Three-Pont Shooting Contest, the winner of which this year will get the “Laurent Rivard Award”! (That kid can shoot!)

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

Rajon Rondo: My New Favorite Player

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 21, 2010

From what I witnessed last night, I’d now say that Rajon Rondo is the de facto on-court leader of the Boston Celtics and one of the smartest players in the NBA. That combination (along with the way he impacts play over every inch of the court both on offense and defense) makes him a favorite of mine to watch. From our ninth row behind the visitors’ bench vantage point, here’s what I saw: on one possession, Devon Harris, still in the backcourt, is dribbling the ball upcourt slowly as Avery Johnson, Nets’ head coach, calls out the offense play (or set). Rondo watches Johnson and when Johnson is done, Rondo turns and yells the play out to Lawrence Frank (serving as one-game Celtics coach in Doc Rivers absence), swivels and tells the Celtics defenders where to cheat, where to overplay. I’d read that Rondo studies film more than anyone on the team, and here was the beautiful proof. Then he did the same thing on a handful of possessions. It was like he was cheating, making the game unfair. (Imagine that you are teenagers and you are dating Rondo’s sister. Rondo would be telling his dad and your sister every move you planned to make before you even got to hold her hand. Unfair.) On another play, 3rd quarter in the midst of the inevitable Celtics run, Shaq rebounds, outlets to Rondo who, seeing Ray Allen trailing, veers off and lays a perfect bounce pass to Allen who, knifing down the lane, goes up to the rim, but flips a nonchalant finger roll that slips off the rim and out. (Allen did get fouled.) The shot was totally makeable; either a dunk or something stronger than what he tossed up there. Here’s what was interesting: Rondo gave Allen a piece of his mind. Walked up to him, sneered. Snarled. At a 14 year veteran heading for the Hall of Fame! I mean, if you care about the game, think that every play ought to matter, that a championship is earned through the accumulation of effort from the beginning of the first day of practice till the final horn, you had to love what Rondo was about last night. I did.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, notes: college & pro | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Deception on Defense: The Steal After the Score

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 27, 2010

When saying “basketball is a game of deception”, most of the images and examples that come to mind are the deceptions on the offensive end of the court: I’m going left, no I’m not, I’m going right. I’m taking this outside shot, sorry, I think I’ll drive to the hoop now that I’ve deceived you into thinking I was shooting! I’m stepping outside to catch this pass, oh-oh, backdoor pass for a layup! And on and on. But what of deception on defense? Deception cannot apply only to half the game, can it?

Deception is “the game within the game” and it takes place all over the court. There are numerous examples of where and when deception proves worthwhile on defense. I’ll tell you my absolute favorite in the hope that it will become your favorite defensive ploy and that you’ll use it, too. (Larry Bird, by the way, was the best ever at this.) After you’ve scored and you are under the hoop, teammates herding down the center of the court to your defensive end and as a couple players from the opposition are about to casually inbound and catch the inbounds pass, respectively, you act like you are going to join your mates; you’re just looking all lazy, slow to get back. Noting where the receiver is, you turn your back to the ball, taking one or two or more steps away (gauging when the ball will be thrown in) and then, quick as a cat from under a bush, you step into the passing lane and grab the inbounds pass, that lazy unsuspecting inbounds pass (probably a fat slow bouncing one that nestles into your hands, hip high, thank you) and either you score yourself (fun!) or wait for your teammates (who now regard you as a hero, and who probably won’t really ever trust you, either, deceiver that you are).

Posted in defense | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Defense Wins!

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 8, 2010

When I was a beginning coach, I worked Dave Cowens’ Basketball Camp in Weston, MA. One of the lecturers one of the weeks I was there was Togo Palazzi, College of the Holy Cross legend from the 1950s. Togo was older, crew-cutted, physical and fierce, energetic. He went through a defensive drill and the reward for winning was getting to play defense again. This got me to thinking: If I were your coach and I convinced you playing defense was paramount, when I suggested that once we got the ball, we should just give it back to the other team so we could play defense again, would you still want me to be your coach?

Posted in defense | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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