August means that college coaches everywhere are planning for the first few weeks of preseason conditioning as they gear up for the first day of school and official practice beginning right around the corner, in October.
It is interesting the different routes that coaches map out for their programs due to the NCAA restrictions regarding on-court time in the preseason. Many coaches use this time for team drills. Others may use it to implement offense/defensive systems. Some may use it for individual skill improvement or a combination of all of these strategies.
Logically, I believe the preseason philosophy that each program takes should support their head coach’s recruiting philosophy.
What does this mean?
It means that in the age where prospects who show “potential”, “upside” and “athleticism” trump those who are “fundamentally sound” or “a basketball player”, coaches need to focus on what these players need to be successful. Coaches who recruit student-athletes that have athleticism but lack strong basketball fundamentals, need to seriously consider allocating more time to their growth than putting in press defense, BLOB’s, etc.
Offensive and defensive schemes are all necessary and important but when does shooting, passing and dribbling – the fundamentals of the game – take precedent?
I personally do not think that coaches work on shooting, passing and dribbling enough. Many coaches get so enamored at putting “their stuff” in that fundamentals suffer. In addition, when systems are implemented in practice, what usually happens? It tends to lead to hurting the pace of practice/momentum and lots of standing around.
I think that as coaches it is easy to point fingers at student-athletes and say “these are different kids” and “when I was their age…”. As coaches it is our responsibility to our players and the game of basketball to not complain on the mindset of the current generation of players but instead help change their mindset and help them understand that nothing can replace the fundamentals of the game and hopefully make them value that as well.
Furthermore, if coaches are not willing to dedicate time in the preseason or regular season to skill development and individual improvement then they may consider recruiting more fundamentally sound players who at least have a reasonable foundation in fundamentals.