Today's Quote: "A person really doesn't become whole, until he becomes a part of something that's bigger than himself." - Jim Valvano
Today's Theme... Preparing for March Madness!
"March Madness", tournament play, is about to begin. Let's discuss late-season practices and getting your team ready for tournament play.
Late-Season Practices - shorten practices to 60-90 minutes. We do shooting and free-throw drills every practice, and scrimmage 5-on-5 full-court for some aerobic work-out.
They should already know your offenses and defenses, press offense and press defenses. We however might drill a certain aspect or detail that needs attention. We might work on some late-game situations and will quickly review our plays.
Practices are targetted somewhat to our next opponent... if they play zone, we'll work on zone offense. If they press, we'll practice our press-breakers. We discuss and drill how we intend to defend them.
Making a big last minute change, such as changing your defense from man-to-man to zone, or vice-versa, will usually cause more problems for you than your opponent. Go with what you know you can do.
We remind players to get plenty of rest and sleep to maintain health and energy, get over sicknesses, heal injuries, and to be good students. We remind them to eat right, and avoid a lot of junk food. We tell them to stay out of trouble and avoid making stupid decisions that might get them benched, or kicked off the team.
Adding new plays - we play each of our conference opponents twice during the regular season so by the end of the season, every coach in the conference knows our offense, defense and plays. We will add a few new plays for the post-season tournament... a couple new OB plays vs man-to-man and zone, a couple new half-court plays, and a new sideline OB play. We add plays that will get our best scorers good shots. See the plays on this page: Basketball Late-Season Tune-Up
Winning Tournament Games - play hard every minute of the game, and play together. "Play to win"... not "play not to lose". This means not worrying about winning or losing, making mistakes and missing shots. Just play! Key players must avoid getting into foul-trouble.
Big tournament wins and upsets are usually the result of the underdog team playing tenacious defense, and out-hustling and out-rebounding the favored team.
In tournament time, you must not rely night after night on winning with 3-point shooting. Your shooters will feel more pressure and when you have an off-night shooting, you're done. You must attack the rim, get the ball inside and get to the free-throw line.
Pre-game jitters - being nervous is a good thing, to be expected. Players should use that nervous energy early in the game to play tough, hard pressure defense, hustle and dive after loose balls, and be aggressive on the boards for rebounds. If you do the hustle things well, your offense will usually fall into place too. On offense, make the easy pass and avoid turnovers.
Some coaching strategy... finish the quarter with the last shot if you get the chance, especially if you have the possession arrow for the next quarter... this could result in back-to-back baskets for you. The last 4-5 minutes of the first half, and the first 4 or 5 minutes of the second half often set the tone.
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