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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Basketball Transition Defense: Are you Tom Izzo or Dick Bennett?

Why is this Important?
If you ask most coaches to describe what the game of basketball is when you simplify it to its basic principles they will give you offense and defense. While this is true, Bobby Knight believes that transition is a critical component of sound basketball. Think about it for a second…if you are a great half court defensive team, but you allow transition lay-ups, how good is your defense? In a worse cast scenario, if your players aren’t crashing the glass for the offensive rebound and they aren’t back in transition, then where the heck are they? We are going to examine where they should be in regards to two different philosophies on what a team should do after a missed shot.

Offensive Rebounding or Limiting Transition Opportunities
As a coach you basically have to choose between two options in regards to transition defense. Remember that you can’t be good at everything or you are going to be good at nothing. For example, if you try to crash the offensive glass, but you expect the other team not to score any lay-ups in transition then you are setting your team up for failure. CHOOSE and EMPHASIZE your philosophy based on the talent of your team. Also remember that the philosophy a coach chooses should mirror their offensive philosophy. I would like to present the two basic philosophies that most coaches adopt in regards to transition defense.

The Philosophy to Offensive Rebound
Tom Izzo, the great coach at Michigan State, has built his program on the belief that most teams aren’t good at the defensive box out. His teams are among the nation’s leaders in rebounding margin (+11.7) since he took over the Spartan program. He spends at least 15 minutes each practice on teaching his players the habits to crash the offensive glass. They fight and compete to tip the ball, keep it alive, and own the offensive glass. A byproduct of this hard work is that his teams are fantastic at defensive box outs because they are used to going to “war” (a drill he uses) each day in practice. Most teams don’t compete like the Spartans on the glass. For more information, take a look at his DVD: Tom Izzo-Dominating Rebounding & Man to Man Defensive Drills.

Basic Offensive Rebounding Principles

1. Choose if you are more athletic than the best teams in your conference
2. Point guard to half court line and everyone else to the paint to rebound
3. Stress that 70% of all rebounds come opposite – overload that side on shots
4. Practice and chart – do your players get 4 to the paint and the PG to half court in your
drills? Offense? Defense?
5. Teach them to tap the ball against the backboard if they can’t come down with it
6. Keep the ball alive – TIP it!
7. Celebrate offensive rebounding
8. Never accept it, but be prepared to see teams fast break more often

The Philosophy of Limiting Fast Break Opportunities
On the other hand, another great coach that believes coaches have control over transition, Dick Bennett of Washington State, would send two and sometimes three players back depending on the opponent in an effort to neutralize fast break opportunities. His teams traditionally held opponents under 60 points per game. Coach Bennett’s philosophy was that his team was better than your team at half court execution on offense and defense. His teams only pressed if behind in games late and they played strictly man-to-man defense. In other words, his teams were simple to prepare for, but difficult to beat because of their execution. For more information, take a look at his DVD: Dick Bennett’s “Pack-line” Pressure Defense.

Basic Principles of Limiting Transition Opportunities
1. Choose if you are less athletic than the best teams in your conference
2. Send the PG to the opposite FT line and the Off Guard to the half court line
3. Another option is to also send the shooter back immediately against superior teams along with the two guards
4. Stress that we are not giving up ANY transition lay-ups
5. Work on defending scramble situations in the full court every day
6. Teach how you want to match-up and remember that open shots NOT match-ups beat you
7. Practice and chart – do your players have defensive balance in your drills? Offense? Defense?
8. Choose offensive sets that allow for defensive balance; For example: stay away from 1-4 low sets or the Flex. Instead use 2-3 high sets or 4 out – 1 in motion

Prepare them the best you can so that your team can achieve to the best of their potential because you put them in the best situation to succeed. Transition is often overlooked and the main thing a coach needs to do is decide from Day 1 what their team is going to do in regards to defensive transition. Teach that all year long and emphasize it in practices and games. I hope this article has helped you to better understand the two basic philosophies of transition defense. If you want to learn more about these coaches or philosophies, join our online coaches club.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Memphis Practice Drills on YouTube & Article on Transition Defense

These are 3 videos of some basketball practice footage of the Memphis Tigers. John Calipari has been using the dribble drive motion offense and some of the drills are shown below:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Get Hired Packet & No Post...Plus Other New Notes


I have collected some new notes for you. Some coaches will be heating up their resumes and I have included Ed Schilling's Get Hired Packet which is basically his 18 page resume for Wright State University.

These are the latest editions with more to come. Check out for a complete list of the notes offered on the DVD.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Feedback & Kansas Notes

In honor of the Jayhawks National Championship, I have added some Bill Self notes to the DVD.

Bill Self Hi/Low Offense (35 pages)
Kansas Press Break
Kansas Zone Motion

I hope you enjoy. Keep trading notes!!

Also, this is the feedback I have received from one coach...keep sending feedback fellas...thanks.

Coach D:

The DVD is absolutely fantastic! I really appreciate it. You have covered everything with the DVD! I went through it the other night, and I spent two hours on the DVD. The funny thing is I had another 1000 hours to go through. So much stuff. Great stuff. Lee, you are a true basketball junkie!!


Dan Kiser
Boston Mavericks

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reviews & Top 5 Defensive Clinic Notes

Check out our entire set of notes at

Thank you to everyone that has purchased the DVD and I appreciate your support. Soon I am going to post all of the reviews of the DVD.

Top 5 DEFENSIVE Clinic Notes

These are the ones I thought were the most informed and well put together from the notes that I have collected. I have notes on any topic that you may be interested in from man to man, to junk defenses, to full court presses, to zones, and all you need to do is email me in order to receive them. Let’s share notes.

5. Mike Dunlap’s Defensive Philosophy – This is a small set of 7 pages of notes that discuss his ideas on defense. Now with the Denver Nuggets, Dunlap talks about his ideas on rotating vs. helping and other drills he focuses on to make his teams effective defensively.

4. Dick Bennett’s Pack Line Defense – This collection of notes is over 20 pages and includes his philosophy of the “pack line” and forcing the ball middle. While most defenses push the ball to the baseline, this defense tries to keep the ball middle in order to limit post touches and with the idea that there is no help/recover move because the defense is already in help. This defense has to have a team committed to smart closeouts and an understanding of the “pack line” which is an imaginary line inside the 3 point line at approx. 16 feet. The basic rule is that if your man does not have the ball then you are inside the pack line ready to help while all out pressure forcing the driver middle is put on the ball. A good set of notes to understand the old philosophy of funneling the ball middle.

3. UW Green Bay & Mike Heideman – This is a great collection of notes based on the same “pack line” ideas as Bennett. It is over 25 pages of diagrams, break down drills, and coaching philosophy on this popular defense. Used by many NBA teams, the idea of protecting the gaps in helpside is not new, but the presentation delivered in these notes is excellent to help coaches understand this system.

2. Jim Calhoun’s Multiple Zone Defenses – Calhoun is a master teacher/coach and this collection of 20 pages of notes covers his 2-2-1 zone press, 1-3-1 zone, and match-up zone. Also included with this set of notes are his breakdown drills for the different defenses. I have included this as a basic guide of a 2-2-1 zone press and odd front zone defenses. Effective in his teaching, this is a good starting point for coaches wanting to learn more about these types of zone defenses.

1. Ernie Wood’s SOS Pressure Defense – This is a PowerPoint presentation of 31 slides with detailed pictures of the basic slides and terminology of this defense. Kloppenburg, a former NBA assistant, also makes a case for the reasons to play this style of defense and shows many of the adjustments that can be made. All out disruption similar to Bobby Huggins’ box defense, it is a different way to defend and has to be committed to 100% to be effective.

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