31 Oct Tribe Spotlight : Connecticut Attack – Think Outside The Box
Author Note: A Division II Coach who wishes to remain anonymous has written this review of Coach Ulysses Garcia, and the impact of the Read and React Offense being used at the CT Attack (Connecticut Attack) program.
As coaches, we always hear the phrase, “Think outside the box”. We are encouraged to think unconventionally to find new ways to put our team in positions to succeed. A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Ulysses Garcia, the Director and Head Coach of the CT ATTACK, to talk about his program. What I found out was that the CT ATTACK was far from ordinary in their approach. They truly define what it means to think outside the box.
This approach begins with their philosophy. The CT ATTACK is not merely a mascot; it is a mindset. This is something Coach Garcia emphasizes to his athletes in basketball and in life. I’ve seen the CT ATTACK in many different settings: practice, skill sessions and tournament games. Their players are the definition of what it means to attack. Every player ATTACKS on both the offensive and defensive end. They approach every possession with a purpose and never back down. They are resilient in their approach, attacking tough opponents and challenges head on.
Being a member of the CT ATTACK program comes with many responsibilities. Coach Garcia and his staff empower their athletes to be leaders on the basketball court and in the community. Typically, AAU programs divide teams based on age with an occasional younger player playing up because of their skill set. This helps create a competitive environment with a balanced skill set. The CT ATTACK had a similar approach until they decided they wanted more from their program. During skill sessions, it is not uncommon for 7th graders to be working out with 11th graders. Coach Garcia challenges players to hold each other accountable. Veterans are expected to pave the path for the future of the CT ATTACK program. Players are constantly put in positions where they must embrace leadership. Working on and developing leadership skills at such a young age will not only make players successful at the collegiate level but in life as well.
Through their philosophy and their focus on leadership the CT ATTACK has created a strong culture throughout their program. They take their out of the box thinking a step further in their approach to X’s and O’s. The CT ATTACK is a member of the READ & REACT Tribe. Every team in their program runs this offensive system. Coaches are trained in the offense prior to the start of the season so that they can effectively implement the offense with their individual teams. Many coaches may be skeptical at first when hearing this, but that just means they don’t know what the READ & REACT is all about.
The READ & REACT is the definition of Positionless Basketball. The offense consists of ten layers driven by principle with an emphasis on fundamentals. Players are put in positions where they must make decisions for themselves. Offensive players must read the defense and react based on the principles within each layer. The foundation layers are so simplistic yet effective that teams of all age levels can implement this offensive system. Not only does the READ & REACT provide an offensive system for your team, but also it presents the potential for player development within the layers. These skills can be as complex or simplistic depending on your team’s capability. The READ & REACT provides limitless opportunities for teams to be successful at all levels.
The first time I watched the CT ATTACK play in a tournament I was intrigued by their style of play. Coach Garcia’s players played with so much confidence and freedom, which made it really enjoyable to watch as a college coach. Players were constantly moving and reacting in patterns I could not describe to you at the time. There were no play calls and the athletes never had a possession that was the same. There were no set positions within their offense, guards and posts played inside and outside. They seamlessly transitioned from five out, to four out one in, or even three out two in without hesitation. Players were constantly moving and filling spots forcing the defense to shift in unique ways. What amazed me was that even with all of this offensive movement the players knew exactly where their teammates were going to be at all points throughout their offense. It was as if they had their own language. The athletes were passing and creating great shots before the defense even had a chance to react. It was beautiful to watch. Over the course of the game the defense made adjustments but with each adjustment the CT ATTACK had a counter. No matter what the defense did they were always wrong. This was the first time I was exposed to the READ & REACT.
After watching the CT ATTACK and studying the offense our team decided to become a member of the READ & REACT Tribe. As coaches, this offense forces us to give up some control on the offensive end. However, it gives our players ownership of the offense allowing our players the freedom to make decisions. Drilling and creating the habits presented within the read and react layers presents limitless opportunities for our team on the offensive end. What I love most about this offense is that no possession is ever the same, which makes it really difficult to scout and even more difficult to defend. Regardless of what adjustments the defense makes, there are built in counters. No matter what the defense does they are always wrong. We don’t have to call a timeout to make adjustments because these actions are built into each layer of the READ & REACT. With all of the movement throughout the offense, we put defensive players in positions where they must make decisions and communicate. Putting the defense in these positions presents more opportunities for miscommunications. The READ & REACT creates a language unique to the offense. Players know where their teammates are going before the defense can react, making the offense that much more difficult to defend. The READ & REACT is truly a masterpiece. Each possession gives the offense the opportunity to make decisions for themselves while putting stress on the defense.
Since the implementation of the READ & REACT, the CT ATTACK has embodied the meaning of Positionless Basketball. Coach Garcia believes in developing the whole player. Regardless of age or position, all players work on mastering all skills. CT ATTACK coaches create an environment conducive to learning. Players are expected to ATTACK every drill regardless of age or skill set. This mentality, combined with a learning environment, allows players to thrive and succeed in their player development. I have had the opportunity to see skill work at the Division I, II, and III levels and I have never seen anything like the skill work that the CT ATTACK does with their players. They provide all of their players with a strong foundation to succeed at the next level.
Coach Garcia and his staff have created a culture unique to the AAU circuit. They develop college ready players through their dedication to fundamentals, skills, and leadership. Their program puts an emphasis on the process, which in turn creates results. Players leave this program with the skills to attack on the basketball court and in life. The CT ATTACK is a truly special program.