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  • Jack Fleming

10 Ways Jeff Van Gundy Changed The Way I Think About Basketball

Jeff Van Gundy, long time ex-NBA head coach and head coach of USA basketball for the FIBA AmeriCup.

1. Why do you take a guy out with 2 fouls?

- You are fouling him out yourself

- Don’t just do what everybody else does, does not mean it is right.

2. Can your team repeat what your team identity is?

- Defend, rebound, low TO, extra pass, high quality shot.

- You have to know what loses before you know what wins.

- Quiz your players on anything and everything.

- Everybody in your program should be speaking the same language.

3. What do you run at the end of the quarter?

- 1–4 flat isolation is the shot you never want, so why do you run it?

  • Do you zone? Negatives isolation and middle pick and roll.

- Get action before the real action so that bodies are moving, defence is not set. Below is my preferred end of quarter play, taken from Scott Skiles.

  • Try and get the shot you want, a lay up or free throw.

4. Everybody on your team should look exactly the same when you close out and when you screen.

- One hand or two hands? No middle or square?

- Hold screen or separate quick?

- Roll forward pivot or reverse pivot?

5. The game is played 5v5, therefore you need to practice 5v5.

- I have never seen a game in the NBA played 3v3.

- If you don’t practice up and down it will kill your team.

- It will evaluate your conditioning, talent and real game decision making.

- Play 3 minute games with 4pts the difference, you’ll see every situation.

- Practice your D schemes, full talk and intensity at half speed.

6. As a coach you are totally in charge of defensive transition

- Getting to the FT line = perfect defensive transition. Cannot be undervalued.

- Are your rules personnel based?

- Must be moving on the rise of the shot, or else it’s too late.

- Load your trailing big to the ball.

- ‘Hit’ = go and soft trap PG at half court. Then deny back. No rotation, hedge and recover.

- Perfect against PG dominated offence, that starts with middle pick and roll.

7. Culture starts with your best player

- Have to unite and inspire the group

- Has to set a tone of intolerance for anything that gets in the way of winning.

8. Addressing your team

- Don’t just give constant noise to the players.

- Don’t give them the daily rah rah speech of how hard work is required, you don’t think they know that?

- If you speak too much, when you have something valuable to say they won’t listen.

9. Einstein “Be as simple as you can.. and no simpler.”

- Simpler is better, but don’t be ignorant.

- Narrow it down to basic concepts.

- Don’t waste practice time on needless drills.

- What wins and what loses, spend time on that.

10. The Coaching Craft

- You get better at what you do it doing it.

- If you coach every day, you should be getting better if you’re self evaluating and have people around you telling the truth.

- Having time off doesn’t give you a different perspective, the only thing you get is rusty.

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