[Continued from The Big Kid and Basketball Part VII … the Snake]
I have a number of pet-peeves and one in particular having to do with basketball is what is called “giving up baseline”. It drives me crazy when watching a game at any level to see a player beat the defender on the baseline and have a clear shot to the hoop. (Yes, I do think about these things while watching games.)
So brilliant me … now that I have the “snake” and am officially responsible for making out the lineup for each game (thus more confidence ) decides to offer a coaching suggestion to Coach Smith.
“Hey Jim”, I say, “when playing ‘D’ our players along the baseline are consistently letting the ball handler drive right past them and directly to the hoop. They are not stopping baseline. Have you thought about coaching our boys to literally place one foot out of bounds along the baseline in an effort to cut off that baseline penetration?” Brilliant, right?
Coach Smith responded to me: “Is that legal?”
And of course I said with great confidence: “Of course it is.” (Who was I kidding?)
Why wouldn’t it be I thought. Silly question I know.
So at the next game Jim and I are conversing along the sidelines during a break in the action and one of the refs comes over. Jim looks over to him and describes what I had recommended regarding the baseline. (As he is doing so I am praying “please be right…please be right”.)
The ref looks at Jim and then looks at me and with a smile says:
“Oh, that is something you do not want to be teaching. By placing their foot out of bounds as soon as the defender makes contact with the ball it would be a turnover. They themselves will be out of bounds.”
Jim thanked the ref and then looked at me, smiled, shook his head and walked away thinking:
“What an idiot, I can’t believe he is an assistant coach for my team. What was I thinking? And I have him making out the lineup too? ” (As I said, I can read minds.)
Of course, from the time Jim walked away to the time of our next practice I am rationalizing in my head:
“Turnover? If we don’t do something we will continue to give up easy layups by allowing baseline penetration. I will take the turnover if we stop the easy penetration and keep them outside.”
But of course no one was reading my mind. Oh well… I am not the head coach.
Time to step up and make a difference
As I assess the team I make note that as with most boys this age these boys do not “box out”. Well, all except one. Can you guess which one?
Now how to get these boys who love to shoot and love to dribble to box out like the “Big Kid”, like my son Tommy, the Lion?
It is time to go to “war”.
From back when I was wearing out Google researching basketball drills and plays I recall finding a drill called “war”.
War consists of 5 defensive players and 5 offensive players getting in basketball position (with the defense playing man-to-man). The Coach’s role is to set the two teams up in good position, blow the whistle and call out “war” and then dribble, move, shoot and miss. (Great! I can do that real well).
The defensive team is to call out “shot!” as the shot is attempted to alert teammates to get in position and then immediately turn and box out their man. The offense’s goal is to get around the box out and get the offensive rebound. The defense’s job is to use the box out to get good position and get the defensive rebound.
Sounds easy right?
So from the time of the infamous baseline error until the next practice I run this drill over and over in my head. And now it is Wednesday night and it is almost time for practice.
Tommy of course is yelling “Dad! We are going to be late.”
I, of course, am spending more time in the bathroom than a pageant queen, but for different reasons. (No offense Miss Maine USA 2014 (Samantha)). And then we are off to the practice.
On the way I tell Tommy about the drill and I can see that he is not getting it (meaning I am not explaining it well).
Once we arrive at practice I take a deep breath or two while changing into my basketball sneakers and then seek out Jim.
“Jim, I have a drill I would like to use tonight that will improve our rebounding by improving our box out skills.”
Jim begins to smile that big smile of his and responds, “If you can get the boys to call out ‘shot’ never mind boxing out I will be impressed”.
Nothing like pressure.
So Jim begins the practice. He sets the boys up in his standard layup drill. Make the layup … great. Miss the layup … pushups. (More on that later.)
After layups Jim gives the boys a water break and then calls them to the center of the court. He informs the boys that Coach Dahlborg will be leading the next drill. Coach Dahlborg? Hope I don’t have to say that.
I look at each boy and see in their eyes “Coach Dahlborg? Who? What does he know?” (Yup … still reading minds I am).
So yes it is my turn to actually “coach”. I take a breath and call the boys down to the far end of the court.
I tell the five starters that they are now on defense and playing man to man. I tell the other five boys to set up on offense. Once they are set up I explain this drill.
“We are going to play ‘WAR’”.
I ask, “Who knows how to box out? Who knows why we would want to box out?”
Tommy knows and he explains.
That’s my boy.
I thank T and then further instruct each defender on how to box out and to yell “shot” when a shot is taken.
I explain why both of these things are important. I also instruct the offensive players on how to beat the box out and get the offensive rebound and try to score on a “put back”.
It is now time to run my first drill. I begin to dribble at the top of the key. I move right and then back to the left and put up a shot. It misses. (Surprised?).
No one yelled “shot”. No one boxed out. 9 of 10 players went for the ball creating what looked like a Rugby scrum. Success? Well, not so much.
Time to regroup.
“Set it up! Set it up!” “Let’s run it again. You all can do this. This is the type of thing that makes good players and good teams great. Let’s go. When I put the ball up I want to hear all 5 defenders yell shot, box out and then attack the rebound. Let’s go!”
We try again. I shoot. I miss. (No comment.)
I hear “shot”. Not loud mind you but I do hear “shot” nonetheless. And I also see some of the defenders begin to try to box out. Success? A beginning. Our beginning.
“Set up! Set up! Let’s run it again! This time if the team on defense gets the ball I want to see them run a fast break to the other end.”
I shoot. I miss. I hear “shot”. This time louder. Yes.
I see some more attempts at boxing out. The offensive team gets the rebound and puts a second shot up (a put back). No “Shot!” heard. No box out.
“Okay. Okay. We can do this. Each and every time a shot is attempted the defense should yell ‘Shot!’ very loud to alert teammates to box out. On the first shot. On the second shot. On each and every shot. Now let’s get at it. I want to see the fast break! I want to see Magic!” (Pun intended)
Wow. Was I getting fired up? Was I getting loud? Is this coaching?
I shoot. I miss. I hear “SHOT!” loud. I see boxing out. I see the defensive team grab the rebound. I see them run a rudimentary fast break and hit an easy layup. Magic to Worthy … bang!
“Nice! Very nice! See what can happen? Basics lead to points! Let’s run it again!”
This is fun.
And so it goes. Up and down the court we go. First with the starters on defense and then with the second team on defense. In fact, each team gets pretty good at it. Lots of shouting “Shot!” Lots of rebounds. Lots of fast breaks.
After about 15 minutes I tell the boys:
“Great job! Go get some water!” All the while thinking to myself “I experienced coaching. At least I think I did.”
Shortly thereafter Jim shouts out that magic word that all players want to hear during practice … “SCRIMMAGE!” and the boys run and jump and yell and hustle to put on their pennies (nylon mesh scrimmage jerseys) and get in position for a jump ball.
“This will be great” I think. “Now Jim will see that I can actually coach and make an impact”.
I was feeling great as I walked to the sideline to stand with Coach Sampras (the calmest and coolest of the coaches … hmmmmm … would love for him to be my assistant coach … hmmmmm … ).
So the scrimmage begins and at first it is a little helter-skelter but then the boys set up their half-court offense and the defense gets in position. The offense dribbles, makes a pass, and takes the shot. “Shot!” I say to myself. “Box out!” I say to myself. Nope. No one yells shot. No one boxes out, except for one. Perhaps next time down the court. I wait. I watch. “Shot!” Nope. In fact, not once did anyone yell “Shot!” and not once did anyone box out, except one boy.
The scrimmage ends with lots of laughter and winded kids. Jim then pumps the team up for the next game and thanks me for my coaching.
I, of course, am thinking, “But it didn’t translate to game conditions (or scrimmage conditions in this case). I didn’t make a difference at all.”
TO BE CONTINUED …