Monday, February 2, 2015

Gary Smith

I have been blessed to have been around some great educators in my life. One of them is Coach Gary Smith, the former Redlands men basketball coach. In this email he sent out recently, he talks about the Sacramento State women basketball team and how they practice and execute in games. Thanks Gary for letting me post this.

"Thought the group might be interested in the goings on at Sacramento State with Bunky Harkleroad.  They are 7-1 in conference, 1st place, after two very impressive home blow outs last week.  They are in Montana for two games - tonight and Saturday afternoon.  Their slow start was largely a result of the very tough schedule but also that the many new recruits had to adjust to this new style.

So how are they doing it.  Of most interest might be the fact that Sac State does not assign press positions or lanes to run on Offense or Defense.  They communicate and take the near position.  The only person, offensively, running the same position is the point guard.  The closest person to the ball on an opponents made field goal takes the ball OB and becomes the trailer; the lanes they run are all dependent on where they are on made basket.  This results in all kinds of combinations with no predictability (more to learn ie. the slow start but also more difficult to prepare for).  They subscribe to the preferred shooter concept very effectively in running the double or triple stagger screen action, ala Grinnell.

 Defensive the same thing is in effect, the near person fills the various press positions.  Last season most all conference opponents had success vs. Sac State by playing defense while on offense (spreading the floor, turning down shots, often lay ups, in the first 15-20 seconds of a possession) and the expectation was that they'd have success with that again this season.  Well it hasn't turned out that way.  They have evolved to two groups, each doing different things defensively.  One group zone presses with traps, lag denial gapping off the ball (similar to what most/many system teams do).  The other (once league play has started) is picking up in full court denial man defense (again, find the near person and play) and then they are in a quite aggressive "run and jump" defense with significant "heat" on the ball.  The two looks create constant pressure in different ways and they've improved execution of rotations, chases and so forth consistently throughout the season.

Offensively they have a few sets they run to create options quickly for specific players.  They are adept by now at drive and pitch and have multiple people who can execute this within their early offense or their 5 out (or 4 out 1 in) alignments with pass and a- go cut b- screen w/ dive cut c- screen with back cut d- fake screen and slip or e- fade screen -- all quickly into drive and pitch.  OREB's have been a huge emphasis from day one.  They spend a great deal of time, early to mid season, on skill development (dribbling, handling, passing, lay ups and, of course, shooting) along with more non scrimmage cardio work in skill drills than one might expect.  75% or so of drills have a score kept with losers paying a price.

Bunky has a very good staff and he consistently delegates practice responsibility.  They make considerable adjustments to their "script" as the game progresses; his assistant in charge of this played for him and coached with him at Glenville State before coming west with him.  He has one local coach, a local high school legend known throughout california for his pressure defense, who has major role with team. The other assistant is in charge of, among other things, the post players -- where in a good number of breakdowns he works on post skill development; it has been interesting to see the improvement in this area positively impacting game play.

They are very exciting to watch and have engendered considerable community interest and support.  The Hornet "nest" comes alive when they play.

gary

This coach has learned a great deal in watching them practice play."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Vinny Curta


Coach Mike Curta of Eisenhower High School  sent out a letter talking about his point guards record setting 34 assist night. He was kind enough to let me publish it here on my blog. By the way, his point guard is his son.


"Hi Coaches,

It has been an interesting month for the Cardinals to this point. We are currently at 12-7 (5-3). We have a two game lead in our league and have rebounded nicely after going through a three game skid over the first two weeks of January. The injury and illness bug has gotten us a bit which has caused some adjustments in shifts and rotations but the kids have continued to play hard and through those things. This brings us to last night's game against a Chicago Public School, Benito Juarez. We had a pretty good idea that they were not going to be very competitive based on some of the scores that we were getting, and ten minutes into warmups this was confirmed. It was going to be a severe mismatch. I had talked with the seniors and mentioned that this might be a good game to try and break a record, and they came up with the plan:
 
They wanted to get my son the state record for assists in a game (old record 33) and our other top player the school scoring record of 53. Turns out our scorer was out sick yesterday so we modified the plan to strictly go for the assists based on the kids and what they were looking to do. I actually gave Vinny the option of what he would like to try for, and he went with assists. Looking back this really kept all of our kids involved and a big part of the accomplishment. What unfolded was a very interesting and strange game.
 
Our rule was that the first shot taken in any possession was to be taken only on a pass from Vinny unless we got a steal in the backcourt or on an uncontested offensive rebound. We are not the most basketball savvy group, so the kids took it to the extreme and no one would shoot at any time unless Vinny passed the ball. He had 11 assists in the first quarter and 22 by halftime. It actually helped keep the game somewhat workable because the score could have been really lopsided at the half. Starting the second half our opponent decided that they would not defend against Vinny. They had been playing zone in the first half and in the second they sort of matched-up with our four other guys in the game and left Vinny open. I must add that Vinny took a total of two shots in the game. A floater in the lane instead of taking a 3 second call and a three when he was left completely open and the opposing team was yelling "shoot it". It was a bit weird to watch Vinny to continue to try and find spot up shooters and cutters while basically being unguarded.....I am sure any purists either at the game or watching the stream had to have been horrified. We continued to do our thing through the third and into the fourth. With about five minutes to go in the game and the assist count at 30, our opponent pulled out the ball and decided to not attempt a shot. We chased and trapped, and then instructed our kids to allow them to score so we could keep the pace going. They wouldn't shoot the ball. Twice we stood and watched their player get to the rim uncontested and with no one near him and he stopped, looked at the rim and then tossed it back out. We were able to turn them over and keep going to a degree...there was roughly a 35-40 point differential at this point. There next strategy was to foul Vinny when he crossed half court to not allow him to make the assist pass. He finally tied then broke the record and after their second foul I felt it wise to remove him so as not to sustain an injury. There was nothing malicious about the fouls, however there was no need to take a chance, or so we thought.
 
This is what we learned:
1. The opportunity to do something like this with a good group of kids is priceless. Everyone was a part of it and they all kept track of when they made a shot off his pass. Kids knew the number in their head throughout the game. We had several kids come out of the game visibly upset after taking what for them was a questionable shot. They were apologizing for hurting Vinny's chances at the record. Of course they did not do this on purpose, but it was great to see kids pulling for each other like that.
2. A practice at how to play in this situation would have been helpful. We went into the game cold because of the changes and with the score getting out of control and everyone focused on his assists, the game was a bit strange.
3. Social media is a powerful tool. Within an hour after the game, through Twitter, USA Today picked up the story as well as local newspaper and television outlets. Not sure if more will come of it, but the fact that our program was out there in the spotlight for a brief moment was great for the kids. It really energized our team in a tough part of the season.
4. This particular record was really beneficial for a number of kids. We had two boys who had not shot the ball well find their groove at different points during the game and you could see their confidence swell. I think that this could be extremely valuable to us for our next conference game on Fridayas well as the home stretch of the season.
5. Finally, to be able to do something like this and having the support of all of the kids was really special for my son. To share his night with him and see the respect that he got from his teammates was something that I will never forget. And then to get home and talk with him, the family, and my son Nick calling from Grinnell was once in a lifetime. I wish all of you could have seen his face when he heard from Coach Dave in Reno and then spoke with Coach A about the game....what more could a dad ask!
 
Thats' it for now. Good luck to everyone playing this week.
 
Curta
Eisenhower"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Issues 1/30/2015

What problems does Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch face as she goes against the Senate Judiciary Committee?  Who is the chair of that committee?

What educational issues face the Iowa legislatures this term?

Talk about the profit IPhone has made the last three months.

What is Uber and why is it threatening traditional taxi service?

Should Jordan free Sajida al-Rishawi so that ISIS frees Moaz al-Kassasbeh? What problems and issues will follow if they do or don’t?

Was the father right for calling out his African American daughters bullies on youtube? Know the story, watch the video.

Is the case of the 43 missing student teachers from Mexico closed? Should the Mexican President be removed from office for saying, “…we just can’t dwell here.”? Know the story.

Fox news says Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. Is this true? Know the entire story.

Know the story of golfer Robert Allenby and draw your own conclusions.

Super bowl predictions. Support it with statistics.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How Bad Do You want It?

When there us something that you want, ask yourself this question; "How bad do you want it?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Issues of the Week

How is Ferguson different from Selma and the protests of the 1960's?

Can Ohio State stop Oregon and football on roller skates in the National championship game Monday night? How?

What is the latest on the terrorist attack in Paris?

What legislation will the Republican controlled Senate pass this term?

Should they seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev? Why of why not?

What is causing gas prices to drop in the U.S. and is it good for the world?

How did Stuart Scott change broadcasting of sports?

What bills will be passed in the Iowa legislature this term?

Should schools police their students social media?

Is the police union in New York disrespecting the Mayor?

Predictions

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Talent

Talented people must face contention in order to appreciate success.