Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue #125 – DeSalvo Article

Here is my article that was just published in this week’s Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 125 – DeSalvo Contribution.

Specifically I want to touch on my second point “Don’t Be Afraid to Change”. Here is the story behind this important point.

Last season, as the Head Coach of Southern Connecticut State University, our team was struggling due to an injury to Mariah Hankton, the team’s senior co-captain, 2nd leading scorer and end of shot clock shotmaker.

The loss of Mariah not only hurt us from an X and O’s standpoint, but our players were demoralized and emotionally void. Before Mariah’s injury we were an impressive 10-5 in the NE-10, with five games to go.

Predictably, we struggled without her, but needed just one win to secure the three seed and a first round bye in the conference tournament.

I told our team “we will not lose the same way” which is one of my philosophies as a coach. It is my responsibility to figure out a way to not keep repeating the same mistakes and do whatever is necessary to help our team be successful.

With that in mind, we played zone defense again the College of Saint Rose, something we had not done all season long. This bold strategy kept Saint Rose off balance for the entire first half and without Mariah, we won a buzzer beater (who had 26 points in our first meeting in a 78-75 road win at Saint Rose) against the Golden Knights, 65-63 (see buzzer beater), on senior day. This strategy coupled with expanding our bench, specifically with contributions from Abby Hurlbert, was really the difference in the outcome of the game

This philosophy held to one our team’ standards of “Flexibility”. I think it is very important to be flexible with your players in all aspects. I think our staff did a nice job of being flexible with players who were late arriving from class, allowing some to miss community service if they had a nursing test to study for, and listening to them as a whole regarding practice intensity/duration.

I hope this personally story helps some coaches have some confidence in being willing to change.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


The Post Up Game: Don’t Call it a Comeback (or Call it a Comeback?)!

Thanks to Joe Ticotsky of the CT Starters for sharing this article with me the other day. 

Great read — Makes you think about what analytics are really telling us and that sometimes a good ‘ol fashion high percentage post up IS the best shot!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Notes from the Final Four on Men’s Basketball Hoop Scoop

Thanks to Coach Peterman and Men’s basketball Hoop Scoop for sharing some of my notes from my recent trip to the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, FL.'s_Final_Four_Logo

Notes from Eldon Price’s “A Friendly Basketball Dictator”


Here is a special treat for you today.

I recently spoke to Coach Eldon Price, author of his new book “A Friendly Basketball Dictator: Non-Traditional Ideas, Opinions and Insights from 47 Years of Coaching”” and he encouraged me to share these notes with all of you. Coach Price’s book was just released in mid-January 2014 so this is hot off the press!

These notes are just some of the coaching nuggets I found interesting throughout Coach Price’s book. However, to get the full effect, I do encourage you to buy it for your own coaching library. I have included the ISBN for your convenience in the notes.

Please enjoy these notes and share with your coaching colleagues.

As always I appreciate your interest and any thoughts/feedback you give I will make sure Coach Price gets them. I know he will enjoy hearing from coaches from around the globe about his almost half a century in the game.

— A Friendly Basketball Dictator Notes by Eldon Price

Use BLOB’s Situations as a Weapon

Scoring in Baseline out-of-bound (BLOB) situations can make a huge difference in a game. Think about how many games are decided by just a few points, if you can score (or defend) 4-8 points a game from BLOB’s that can make all the difference.

I see far to many times where the team’s goal is to simply get the ball in-bounds instead of looking to put pressure on the opponents. I feel as though in BLOB situations, it is a great time to put pressure on the opponent because 1) you are very close to your offensive basket, and, 2) it is a unique basketball scenario. The proximity of the rim and the fact that most coaches do not spend tons of time in the BLOB defense, makes this an area of the game you can capitalize on.

That is why having a sound philosophy is key against BLOB’s both offensively and defensively.

What has worked for me in the past is working out of a “Box Set”.

As a Head Coach, I do this for three reasons:

1. Gets us organized efficiently–I always liked to have players in similar spots in the “box set” to get us organized. They tend to be able to run their stuff if they can remember quickly. You can also use hand signals and have players call the plays if you can get orgaized quickly.

2. Tough to scout–If the players are in the same spot in the same starting alignment, it makes it tough to scout on tape (especially in those gyms with bad or no sound when recording…trust me, I’ve seen it more than you care to know). Now this is not to say that you cannot get into a flex set, etc. after the ball has been inbounded, but whatever your alignment, if you keep it the same, if gives you the advantage.

3. Can set opponents up–Some opponents may see this on tape and decide to go zone against you BLOB’s. GREAT! That is when you have them and you can run your best zone BLOBs to really give them headaches.

Decide what works for your team and start with a few BLOB’s that you can expoit your opponents with (mismatches, perimeter shooting, interior scoring, etc.) then build from there. Depending upon the coaches in your conference, you may have to add more sets if you play a double round robin or if you have been coaching against the same coach forever.

To get you thinking, here is a “Box Set” that the Kansas Jayhawks ran during their National Championship run in 2008. This was against the North Carolina Tar Heels on April 5, 2008.

Here it is in diagram form:–5-Sprint&showEmbed=true

This obviously was for a 3pt shot opportunity, however there could be an isolation threat on the ball side of the floor too.

Kansas is great in BLOB situations so I encourage you to watch them as much as possible. They look to attack their opposition, just as you should!

Catch you on the rebound!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Defending the Pick and Roll

Most coaches will see the pick and roll in some form or fashion, no matter if they are coaching a recreation team or a pro squad.

From a college coach’s perspective, I believe what is important when defending the pick and roll is that you have a game plan as to what you want to accomplish.

As a head coach, my philosophy was to have a particular way to defend the pick and roll and build off of it. We would play the pick and roll differently on side pick and rolls and also differently at the top of the key and at different times in the shot clock.

This was our “base defense” and our players knew what we were trying to accomplish on each and every ball screen.

In addition, some coaches may defend the ball screen based upon who is in the action (i.e. big on little, little on little, etc.) whereas other coaches define the ball screen by location on the court or origination point. That is all personal preference and what coaches feel comfortable coaching.

Nevertheless, I also think that as a head coach you have to prepare your players to defend things differently depending upon your opponent and their strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, in certain games, we were going to just do what we do. We felt as though we wanted to send a message and not deviate from our strengths.

In other games, we would mix it up based upon their personnel, especially if they were familiar with our base defense and we wanted to surprise them or just take some thing away from them that they did well (i.e. switch pick and pop teams).

Some coaches take this philosophy to the max, such as Bulter’s head coach, Brad Stevens.

Coach Stevens likes to change how they will defend the pick and roll every media timeout. Mixing it up every four minutes gives his opponents things to think about during the game. It philosophy also makes Butler’s opponents use precious time working against traps, hard hedges, soft hedges, switches, going over, going under, etc. in the practices leading up to the game.

I believe that you can get more complex with your sqaud if you take the necessary time to work on the different defensive responsibilities in the pick and roll. It is not something that is easy and, again, takes time and patience.

What you will be able to present to your team is really how much you think your players can handle from a basketball IQ standpoint and what you are comfortable teaching.

Whichever X’s and O’s fit your coaching philosophy, hopefully you decide to discuss with your coaching staff which way best fits your personnel when defending the ball screen.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo