The following article comes from Texas A&M Men’s Basketball Special Assistant Mitch Cole.
One of the areas of college basketball this time of year that can occupy the bulk of a coach’s time is scouting of opponents and game planning. Hours upon hours are spent by coaches preparing for what the OPPONENT will try to do both offensively and defensively, as well as figuring out which players are most dangerous AND how to defend them.
There are varying degrees as to how much coaches prep for the other team. Many are still trying to get the players to execute their own system and aren’t as concerned about the opponent quite as much. Others spend a great deal of time devising a game plan to take away the opponents strengths and hide their own weaknesses. Striking the right balance of “worrying about us” and “worrying about them” is a judgement call that every coach has to make from game to game.
In our case, Coach Kennedy divides the scouts among the staff and that scout coach will view at least 5-8 game films on our opponent before playing. We will condense the information through film edits and written reports that make it understandable for the players. We will usually begin our on-court preparation for opponents 2 days before the game.
Below is an example what a typical schedule of Defensive Game Planning might look like:
2 DAYS BEFORE GAME:
Guard/ Forward Breakdown (1v1, 2v2)
Defending Screens Away from the Ball, Ball-Screens, Post Feed Action, Penetration, Rebounding , etc.
3v3 and 4v4
Fundamental Breakdown (Shell etc), Defending Screening ACTIONS, Ball-Screen ACTIONS, Post Feed Action, HELP/RECOVER
1 DAY BEFORE GAME:
Guard/ Forward Breakdown (1V1, 2V2)
5v5 vs SCOUT TEAM
Transition Defense, Game Plan for Defending Opponents Main Actions
Opponents “PLAY CALLS”, Our Zone Defense vs Actions, Out-of-Bounds Plays
*Night Before: Written scouting report and film edits on opponent<
GAME DAY SHOOT-AROUND:
Guard/Forward Action Breakdowns (3v3, 2v2)
Review of opponents’ continuity, sets, actions, out-of-bounds, zone offense (5v5 scout team), and Personnel Review
BEFORE THE GAME:
POSITION MEETINGS TO COVER RESPONSIBILITIES
PREGAME FILM EDIT (3-5 MINUTES) BEFORE WARMUPS
PREGAME CHALK TALK REVIEW OF PERSONNEL, ACTIONS, KEYS AND GOALS
CONTENTS OF WRITTEN REPORTS/FILM EDIT:
1. Overview of Opponent– Key facts about the team we are playing, RECORD, STYLE OF PLAY, ETC.
2. Personnel and Player Tendencies– Stats, Go-To Moves, HOW TO DEFEND
3. Opponent Offense– Full Court Offense, Half Court Offense, Sets and Special Plays
4. Opponent Defense– Press, Style of Man to Man, Zone Defense, Unique Defenses
5. 3-5 Offensive Keys to Winning
6. 3-5 Defensive Keys to Winning
7. Plays and Actions– Diagrams or Names for Opponents Offense
Developing a scouting rhythm and building common terminology for various opponent actions/plays can make scout prep more efficient and intuitive for the players. The goal of the staff is to get QUALITY information across, but at the same time, keep the players “freed up” mentally to play the game with proper instinct! Younger players can sometimes get overloaded with info, but the guys who are experienced and invested in winning usually get better and better at absorbing the content and transferring it to the court!
For more tips on improving your defense, check out this video from Spencer Wood. Spencer stresses the importance of mental toughness as it relates to being a great defender.