Latest Basketball Blogs

Coach's Guide To Managing the Coach-Parent Relationship
Bar none, the most emotionally draining element of coaching a youth sports team is interacting with the parents.  Having coached youth teams for over twenty seasons and been an officer in multiple youth organizations, I can personally attest to the fact that parent-coach interaction is important to the team's success.  The mismanagement of the parent-coach relationship by the coach, more then anything else, leads to their demise.  By establishing expectations early in the season, having a conflict resolution mechanism, and managing the disagreement discussion, a coach can reduce the emotional impact to themselves and maintain their team's positive attitude. 

Basketball Drill: Baseline Shooting Drill
This is a shooting drill, like the rebounding box-out drill, where the players are trained to follow their shot for the rebound.  When a player shoots it is common for the shot to either go too far and hit the back of the rim or come up short and hit the front of the rim.  When the shot is too short, the rebound comes back in the direction of the shooter.  If the shooter follows their shot, they can be in position to recover the rebound.  The baseline shooting drill re-enforces the "follow your shot" behavior.

Basketball Drill: V-cut Shooting Drill
Against man and zone defenses, a very common offensive move without the basketball is a V-cut that is used to either setup the man defender for a screen or to turn the zone defender's head.  Several years ago, I was coaching a 5th grade basketball team and we were struggling with having our shooters come off screens and quickly shoot the jump shot before the defense would recover.  We developed this basketball shooting drill to teach the players to come out of a V-cut ready to receive a pass in a coiled (or triple threat) position and quickly elevate, instead of receiving the pass, then coil, and finally elevate.  The latter was too many movements that took too long and allowed the defense to recover before the shot was taken.

Basketball Drill: Defending a Fast Break
In a previous post, I described a 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 fast break drill that I use at the beginning of practice.  After a dynamic warm up, the fastbreak drill is used to push players into a full paced sprint while simultaneously getting the minds focused on the fundamentals of basketball: rebounding, passing, defense, full speed dribbling, and quality decision making.  In that description of the drill, I wrote about key fundamentals the offense should follow to execute a fast break.  In this post, I want to follow up with the defensive side. 

Basketball Drill: Fast break
A very common warm up drill in basketball is the fast break drill.  After a dynamic warm up, my teams always move into the fastbreak drill or other active movement shooting drill.  The goal is to take their warm muscles and push them to a full paced sprint while simultaneously getting the minds focused on the fundamentals of basketball: rebounding, passing, defense, full speed dribbling, and quality decision making.  In this post, I describe the 3-on-2 to 2-on-1 fast break drill.

Increase Your Vertical Jump
One of the most exciting plays to watch in basketball is the above-the-rim roundhouse dunk.  This one activity requires a tremendous amount of pure athleticism.  Have your ever tried one, even on a shorter 8 or 9 foot hoop?  You will realize that it not only requires a good vertical leap, but also core strength and hand quickness.  Most resources that work on improving your vertical jump only focus on the leaping ability, but the Vertical Jump Development Bible pulls together a training program that works on ten different elements of athleticism that enable a player to pull off the roundhouse dunk by not only increasing your jumping ability but also your core strength, stability and control, and speed of movement.

Teaching Basketball Players Offensive Floor Spacing
Have you ever noticed that almost all ten and under (10U) youth basketball teams struggle running any type of offense because the players are "bunching" together instead of playing their proper positions and staying spread out on the floor.  This bunching up problem is solvable; in fact coaching colleague of mine cured the bunching problem with his daughter's second grade (7 and 8 year olds) basketball team.  Let explore why it happens and type of drills to help eliminate the "bunches."

Basketball Offense: By The Numbers
The basketball offense by the numbers is a simple but effective offense that can be used against either a man-to-man defense or zone defense.  It is easy for players of all ages to remember and can be used by young teams as the primary offense or by older competitive teams as a special play to complement the primary offense.  The best part about this offense is that it can be very simple for use by a young team and become progressively more advanced for older teams.

Drill For Learning to Dribble the Basketball With Your Head Up
A fundamental basketball skill that should be mastered at a young age is to dribble the basketball with their head up.  The two ball full court dribble is a simple drill to teach your players to dribble the basketball with their head up.

Basketball Drill - Rebounding Box-Out Drill
Last week I wrote about a basketball drill framework that I use in my practices and highlighted how it is used to develop the skills necessary for a two man pick-n-roll play.  This post will continue to expand on that framework by showing how it can be used to practice rebounding and box-out skills. This rebounding drill can be used with teams 4th grad and above.

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Kentucky legend Wallace ‘Wah Wah’ Jones dies at 88 years old

Kentucky Athletics

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, one of the most accomplished athletes in Kentucky history, passed away Sunday in Lexington at the age of 88.

Jones played basketball, football and baseball at Kentucky in the late 1940s and is the only Wildcat athlete to have his jersey retired in basketball and football. He came to UK from his native Harlan, Kentucky, where he set a national scoring record in basketball with 2,398 points and led Harlan High School to the state championship. He was all-state in basketball, football and baseball.

At UK, Jones played football from 1945-48 and twice earned All-Southeastern Conference accolades from The Associated Press, first team as a sophomore and third team as a senior. He led the Wildcats in receiving in 1947 and ’48, the only two seasons for which receiving statistics are available, with nine catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns as a junior, followed by 19 receptions for 243 yards and five TDs as a senior. He helped UK to its first bowl appearance, a 24-14 victory against Villanova in the 1947 Great Lakes Bowl. He played his last three seasons under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Jones played basketball from the 1945-46 season through 1948-49, and was a three-time All-American – first-team as a senior, third-team as a junior and second-team as a sophomore. He earned first-team All-SEC honors all four years. He totaled 1,131 points during his career.

Jones helped lead the Wildcats to a 130-10 record in his four seasons and numerous championships under Coach Adolph Rupp:

• 1948 and 1949 NCAA champions
• 1946 NIT champions
• Four SEC regular-season championships
• Four SEC tournament championships
• 1948 Olympic champions

In 1947-48, he was a member of the “Fabulous Five,” along with Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins, that won the NCAA and Olympic titles.

“The word ‘legend’ is used frequently in our society but it is truly fitting when considering Wah Wah Jones,” said UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart. “Wah Wah holds a legendary place in the athletic history of our state as a three-sport star at Harlan High School and the University of Kentucky.  Wah Wah was a central figure during a golden era of Wildcat athletics, noted for his outstanding performances and his versatility.  Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and he will be remembered fondly by the Big Blue Nation.”

Following his time as a Wildcat, Jones was selected by Washington with the No. 9 pick in the first round of the 1949 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Indianapolis Olympians and played three seasons for that team.

After his NBA career, Jones returned to Lexington and was elected Sheriff of Fayette County in 1953. He is also known for founding Blue Grass Tours in 1978, which continues today with his son, Wallace, as owner.

Jones is a member of the State of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame, the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Angel's homecoming

Former Kansas State PG Angel Rodriguez settles in at Miami
Miami (Fla.) Athletics

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- It has been two weeks since Miami basketball fans began mourning the highly publicized decision by superstar free agent LeBron James to leave Miami and return to northeast Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last May, a similar homecoming occurred in Coral Gables. It lacked the same media attention as Lebron’s, but it brought an impact basketball player back to his Miami roots.

Angel Rodriguez, a Puerto Rico native who moved to Miami as a teenager to pursue his dream of playing college basketball in the United States, returned to finish his collegiate career with the Miami Hurricanes. As a child, Rodriguez always imagined playing college basketball. But as he grew up and developed as a basketball player, his goals faded and the vast ocean that separated him from his dream seemingly grew larger.

In order for Puerto Rican basketball players to garner the attention of Division I coaching staffs, it is a necessary part of recruitment for the player to attend some high school in the United States. Rodriguez said the most important step of that process is having a connection and fortunately for him, he had one.

“If you don’t have connections, you won’t get [to the United States],” Rodriguez explained. “I was fortunate enough that I had my cousin [Javi Gonzalez] who actually played for NC State. He went to high school in Miami and in the off season he went to see me play and he liked how I played and asked me if I wanted to go to the U.S.”

ANGEL RODRIGUEZ CAREER STATS

YEAR FG% 3PG% AST PTS
2012-13 .361 .344 5.2 11.4
2011-12 .360 .317 3.2 8.3
Rodriguez knew he wanted to play high school basketball in Miami, but needed to speak with his mother first. After his father passed away when he was a child, Rodriguez’s widowed mother raised him in Puerto Rico. He could not make a move to the United States without her approval.

After receiving his mother’s blessing, Rodriguez moved to Miami and enrolled at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. He was just 15 years old and in a completely new city, but he did not have anything on his mind “other than basketball.” Transitioning to the fast-paced life in Miami was a challenge. It was different than what Rodriguez was accustomed to in San Juan and his new basketball competition was unlike anything he had played against.

“Basketball here was a lot different,” he said. “But, it was what I expected. I expected to play against much bigger people, more athletic. That actually gave me a lot of trouble when I got here, but I got used to it and it was normal.”

The improved competition forced Rodriguez to elevate his game. As a sophomore Rodriguez started at guard on the varsity team, leading the squad in scoring and assists. He guided the team to a district title and was named first team All-Dade County by the Miami Herald. Rodriguez’s sophomore campaign was the first of three that ended in all-county honors.

Following his junior season, Rodriguez was tabbed the Miami-Dade County Player of the Year. By the time he was a senior, Rodriguez was the No. 4 rated player in the state of Florida. The talented guard was averaging 23 points per game along with six assists and was garnering recruiting interest from the likes of Rick Pitino at Louisville and Billy Donovan at Florida.

Rodriguez was attracted to the program Cuban-American and Miami native Frank Martin was building at Kansas State. Martin is highly regarded in Miami basketball circles, where he began his career locally at Miami Senior High, coaching high-caliber players such as the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem. “My high school coach had a good relationship with Frank and he always showed loved from the beginning and I built a good relationship with him,” Rodriguez said, reminiscing on his recruiting trip. “I felt like I was at home. Frank is Cuban and back then I didn’t know much English and it was comfortable for me to have a good relationship with my coach going that far away from home.”

Rodriguez was also intrigued by the success transfer Denis Clemente had at K-State after playing at the University of Miami. Clemente was a Puerto Rican guard from Miami and the system the Wildcats played was something Rodriguez looked forward to becoming a part of.

As a freshman, Rodriguez made an immediate impact in Manhattan, starting in 17 games including the team’s two NCAA tournament contests. As quickly as Rodriguez defined his role at K-State, he was not sure if he was to remain a Wildcat for the remainder of his college career. At the end of the season, Frank Martin stepped down and accepted the head coaching position at South Carolina. “I was lost when Frank said he was leaving,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Bruce Weber was named Martin’s successor at Kansas State, and after speaking with his AAU coach and mentor Marcos “Shakey” Rodriguez, Angel decided to stay in Manhattan and play for Weber.

“Shakey told me to relax,” Rodriguez said. “They signed coach Weber and I figured I might as well stay. He had a good reputation with guards and we figured we should stay because regardless if I transferred, I still had to sit one year and try a new coach. It was the smartest decision to stay.”

Rodriguez was in a new system under Weber, but he was still the same dynamic player. As a sophomore, he started all 33 games for Weber, leading the Wildcats in 3-points field goals (55), assists (173) and steals (50) and earning spots on the Big 12 All-Defensive team and All-Big 12 second team.

Despite two winning seasons at K-State and surviving a coaching change, Rodriguez believed it was time to move on from Manhattan.

“When I made that decision, I really wanted to come and get close to my family,” Rodriguez said.

Kansas State granted Rodriguez his release and schools immediately began calling the highly-coveted point guard, including Jim Larrañaga’s Miami staff. Rodriguez’s first and only recruiting trip as a transfer was to Coral Gables, but this time he did not arrive in South Florida alone as he did as a 15-year-old.

Angel’s mother joined him on his visit and he will always remember how Coach L and his staff embraced her.

Denny Medley | USA TODAY Sports Images
Angel Rodriguez started 50 games at K-State.
“We went around the campus on the golf cart, they were showing me everything and as coach L was talking to me, my mom was riding in the back and they had a translator for her because she doesn’t speak English,” Rodriguez said. “It felt special. Coach L wanted her to feel like she was part of it, which she was, and no school had actually ever done that.”

His visit to Miami assured Rodriguez that the Canes were the program for him.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better once I said I was going to transfer,” Rodriguez said. “That’s why I didn’t even waste my time visiting other schools.”

Rodriguez was unable to play, sitting out 2013-14 due to transfer rules. While he could not make an impact in games, he was an active member of the Hurricanes in practice. But his biggest impact may have been drawing the attention of another talented Big 12 player looking for a new opportunity.

“Shortly after Angel made a decision to come to the University of Miami, Sheldon McClellan announced that he going to be transferring and Miami was going to be one of the schools he was going to consider,” Larrañaga explained. “Angel was instrumental in helping us recruit Sheldon.”

Confined to bench, the highly competitive Rodriguez watched helplessly as his team lost close game after close game, seven of which were decided by five points or fewer. Rather than sulk with his teammates in defeat, Rodriguez provided support by motivating them and ramping up his efforts in practice. As the point guard, Rodriguez was the quarterback for the scout team and simulated the opponents’ game plans. Larrañaga ensured that his tenacity in the gym “made every scrimmage situation very competitive because he was trying so hard to win.” In practice, Rodriguez would become angry and frustrated if his team would not win.

With the 2014-15 campaign only months away, Rodriguez has begun to cement his role as a leader, using his experience and work ethic as cornerstones. “I’m definitely a bigger leader because I have a lot of experience and I know what it takes to get where we want to go,” he said. “I can lead the guys based on my work ethic and how hard I practice and I can lead them to the right path.”

Rodriguez has become a court commander, being more vocal in practice. No longer simply leading by physical example, Rodriguez now has the confidence to call out directions and plays like the team leader that he is. Coach L has witnessed his tenacity translate into a relentless style of defense from the point guard.

“Angel is a bulldog on defense, he’s one of those guys that clenches his teeth, sinks his teeth into you and doesn’t let you go,” Larrañaga described. “You’ve got to try and shake free from him. It’s a great characteristic for a point guard and a great way for a coach to build the team defense.”

Rodriguez’s homecoming has brought him back to the city that provided him the possibility to chase his dream of playing college basketball. While some would feel pressure playing in their home city, the Puerto Rican is finally comfortable in his adopted hometown and is eager for the chance to play in front of family and friends.

“I never feel pressure,” Rodriguez said. “I am excited. I’m looking forward to having a great year so the BUC will be packed every game. You attract fans by winning and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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Penn State hires former California athletic director Sandy Barbour

Jim Carlson | The Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State hired Sandy Barbour as athletic director, a month after she stepped down as AD at California.

The 54-year-old Barbour replaces David Joyner, who announced he was resigning last month. Joyner took over at Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and held the job for two and a half years.

Barbour was given a five-year contract that pays $700,000 per year with potential bonuses worth a potential additional $200,000 per year.

She said she intends to bring a "student-first" approach to the job when she takes over on Aug. 18.

Robert Stanton | USA TODAY Sports Images
Sandy Barbour
"Creating conditions for success for students and creating a world class experience for them while they're here impacts the rest of their lives," she said. "Penn State alumni and athletic alumni experienced that while they were here and I only intend to grow that."

At a news conference Saturday, new Penn State president Eric Barron said Barbour was the unanimous choice of the university's screening committee. Barron said Barbour's salary makes her the fifth-highest paid among Big Ten ADs. She's the first woman to hold the position at Penn State.

Barbour spent 10 years at Cal and oversaw 19 team national championships, 92 titles in individual events, a Pac-10 co-championship in football, the first men's basketball conference title in 50 years and the first Final Four trip for the women's basketball team.

But her tenure was not without its troubles. Cal had the lowest graduation rate for football players among major conference teams, according to data released by the NCAA last fall. In 2010, she approved cutting baseball, women's lacrosse and men's and women's gymnastics because of budget concerns. Each of those four sports ultimately received private financial backing to retain varsity status.

"What it really boils down to is I stayed too long," Barbour said of her time at Cal. "Leading a program like Cal's, like Penn State's, in terms of a major conference and a lot of sports and a lot of moving parts, 10 years is a long time.

"If you look around the country there are very few (ADs) that have that kind of length. Ultimately, it's about having stayed a little too long, but it was about that I was loyal; I am a loyalist. In the end, at some point, you stay too long. I don't know that this is a fresh start and I don't know that a fresh start is necessarily a good thing because I bring a lot of experience that I think is going to be really valuable. This is my Penn State start."

Barbour, a Maryland native, has served as assistant AD at Notre Dame and AD at Tulane. She coached field hockey at Northwestern and competed in field hockey and basketball as a student at Wake Forest.

At Penn State, Barbour will oversee 31 varsity sports and more than 800 athletes, including a football program that remains on NCAA probation that includes no postseason bowl-game participation through the 2015 season. Penn State's athletic budget is $115 million.

"We are going to aspire to win national championships in 31 sports," Barbour said. "We're going to look at what it takes to be successful in football, men's basketball, lacrosse, fencing -- you name it."

The university also has been fined $60 million by the NCAA because of the Sandusky scandal and the athletic department is making five payments of $12 million each.

"All of us that cared about college athletics followed that very closely," Barbour said about the sex-abuse scandal that led to the ousters of Penn State's president and athletic director, along with Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.

"As Dr. Barron said, we are committed to being life-long learners, we want to learn from other situations so maybe we don't have to learn from our own mistakes. I watched it very closely," Barbour said.

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