03 Apr Tribe Spotlight: Tappan Zee Girls Basketball
I have been coaching basketball at the high school level for 17 years. The first 12 were spent coaching at the JV boys level and the last give years I have been coaching the Varsity Girls at Tappan Zee High School. I remember watching the first infomercial about the Read and React and being very interested in what Rick was talking about, but never pursued it any more. I was still coaching JV at the time and I wanted to be a good assistant coach and try to teach whatever the varsity coach wanted at the time.
Fast forward to give years ago when I took over the girls varsity team. I started out pretty much coaching the way I assisted the previous 12 years, I had a very talented team that probably would have had success no matter what offense we ran. That group graduated after my 2nd year and now I had a different dynamic of players. I knew that I had to change some things and that is when I was on a different basketball website and saw an advertisement for the Read and React. I watched some sample videos on YouTube and decided I was going “All-In”. I purchased every Read and React video there was and studied everything about the offense and how to teach it.
Year 1, may not have gone as well as I would have liked but our players were learning more than just an offense, they were learning how to play. As much as I thought I was giving them control, I still had a lot. I would color code actions that I wanted them to use and they would only look for that action which was not my intended purpose. I still liked how they were learning how to pivot, pass, catch, and play in the post, regardless of position and spacing. The fact that we were working on offense but at the same time teaching defensive concepts (collapsing time frames) was invaluable to me.
Year 2, I had the same core group of players coming back. We continued to work on all the actions in 3-player drills, 5-on-0 and 5-on-5. In games I gave them a little more freedom than the previous season but I still had 5-6 Quick Hitters that I would use to get my best players shots, which I believe I relied on too much.
The Read and React has been the best decision that I have made as a coach.
The Fall of year two, which is when we have our open gym and I have my team in a Fall League one day a week, is when we starting working on all of these new concepts. I was committed to give up control by giving players the freedom to decide and how to decide when to make the “Next Best Action” to make my team better. It definitely was not easy at first and there were a lot of “teachable moments”, but they started to show improvement and it was really nice to see them put it all together and how the offense just flowed when there were 5-player coordinated movements. At the same time they were starting to become players with a higher basketball IQ because of the fact they were starting to process when was the right time to Pin Screen or Back Screen, and when we needed to pass to the Shape Up player if the defense cheated or fought through a screen.
Year 3, this core group returned once again only losing one Division I player to graduation. We continued to do all of the drills that we had done in the past, which I’m sure every Read and React coach does and now I added player 3-on03 Live every day for 15-20 mins. I made them stress an action but they could use any other action they felt they needed to use when hunting for a scoring opportunity as well as making six different decisions once they entered the “Decision Box.” Once I felt they were comfortable with this after couple of weeks we went to the same principle 5-on-5. I really believe that doing this got my team to function at it’s highest level of the Read and React since I started teaching it. Multiple players were able to make decisions and take shots. I still had three quick hitters that we used but not nearly as much as years past.
The Read and React has been the best decision that I have made as a coach. Being able to teach the skills within the offense is critical. This season, we would do our shooting circuit each day strictly out of Circle Movement/Post Slides, 12-16 minutes each practice. Each group (5-6) would MAKE anywhere between 120 to 150 baskets in that time. Every player on my team has become comfortable posting up and understanding how to “Chin” the ball and score off the Laker Cut using move and a counter move. We are able to teach Man to Man Defense and Zone Defense and the offense learned how/why to stress different actions. My players have become thinkers versus robots running to spots. This was also the first year that my JV program started learning the foundation layers which is so important for the players. I was able to bring four players up from JV as we started the post-season and even though they were limited they were able to jump in and participate in practices.
That core group graduates this year and I only have five returning players. I embrace the challenge of this off-season of getting the younger players up to speed with the offense as well as the proper fundamental skills needed to have success. I also plan on taking my team to the Read and React Team Camp at Adelphi University this summer.