• Jack Fleming

University of Virginia - Practice Notes

Notes from Virginia Men’s practice in October on 2017 on Basketball Queensland Coaches Tour, including post practice discussion notes with coaching staff. 26 Page Virginia Pack Defence Resource available, original document from University of Virginia.


3v3 Perimeter Shell Drill

- Cannot get beat to the outside

- High hand close outs on every single catch

Free Throw Break

- Catch and shoot, make 17 in a minute

Guard/Big Breakdowns — Blitz the Post

- 3v3 perimeter spots, ball has gone in the post,

- High and Low I: see the ball, check all cutters at the rim.

- Head on a swivel.

- On the dribble out, retreat to your own man.

- When the ball is in flight to the post, other big is arriving to double.

- From anywhere on the floor.

- Cannot foul, take up space with hands.

Coach Bennett: “Do you always have vision? Are you moving on air time?”

4 out 1 in — Blitz the Post

- 4 high hands on the trap.

- Have the urgency to not get beat.

- Hips and chest into him.

- Stance and vision off the ball are crucial.


5v0 into 5v5 Half Court

- Flare screens, corner split action.

- Make the defence decide and punish their decision.

- Note: assistant coach with white board on sideline, preparing the next team to come in (Engaging participants mentally who are not physically in the drill)

Note: In all half court games, by the time the ball has hit the rim 3 players must get behind half court. Reinforce defensive transition habits daily.

Coach has a passion for defence, you can see it in his players.


3 Possession Games

- Half court, full court, full court

- On third possession shooting team must sprint back vs the 3rd team waiting on the baseline with a 12 second shot clock.

- 3rd team can go as soon as the shot leaves the hand.

- Communication in D trans driven hard by the older players, others were held accountable.

- Sending 3 back, 2 to the glass.


5v5 Full Court

- Best high hands closeout team, visually hard to see when watching from the sideline.

- Assistant coaches are the louder voices, head coach is quiet.

- 2 foot finishes in the paint were noticeable.

- Once the ball is picked up, leave the pack and deny hard.


Dick Bennett

- “I can tell if a team is tired by their defensive posture and high hands.”

- Meet the ball in a stance.

- Always be onto the next play.


Coach Bennett — observations

- Quieter, stands at a distance.

- Short drills: 5–8 minutes

- CONSISTENT and CLEAR MESSAGE — spoke through himself and his assistant coaches in the same language.

- Assistant coaches drive the energy and big concepts, Coach Bennett cleans up the detail

- Has a standard for defence and does not accept anything else

- “When we walk into the gym, we cannot be soft and we cannot be nice.”

- “Get nasty defensively, get after it and toughen the fuck up.”

- “Play the right way, this is real. That’s what it takes.”

- “Open yourself up to more, this a blue collar underdog program.”

- “You can find more. And it’s a decision.”


Coaches Discussion Notes

Larry Mangino — Director of Scouting/Recruitment

- Very simple: Tony Bennett demands pack defence every single day.

- What you enforce is what you get.

- Close out technique: two hand hands and sit back, mirror the ball and pop back on movement of the feet or when the ball is brought down.

- You don’t get an NBA contract for being in your gap, but you will help your team mates.

- Cannot have a kid who is thinking about himself before the team.

- Double teaming the post is surprisingly effective, whether you’re playing a dominant post or not it is a weapon. It is a way we kill shot clock and apply pressure.


Orlando Vandross — Director of Recruiting/Player Development

- Non Negotiables: no easy baskets in transition, cannot get beaten to the outside, 5 guys must hit engage a box out and pursue the ball.

- Habitual drills: 3 line closeouts every single day.

- Assistant coaches at practice: One coach on ball pressure/close outs, the next on gap positioning and the third coach on rebounding. One job do it well.

- Assistant coaches during games: one coach offensive efficiency what shots are we getting, one coach how are we matched up, another coach special situations.

- Standards are expected every day and collectively that must be emphasised.

- FREE THROW LADDER: we have a ladder that goes from 1st to last in terms of our free throw scores at practice, every practice somebody on the ladder will challenge somebody above him to go ahead of him on the ladder.


Thoughts on Coach Bennett: he knows who he is, not influenced by others. Pays attention to detail, holds people accountable. Genuinely nice guy. Does not show that he is affected by pressure, his players believe in him because of it.


- Dick has found ways so many years that has allowed his lack of talent to compete.

- As coaches are we working as hard as our players?

- The secret to fixing ourselves is studying us.

- 6 hours of film a day. Recruiting requires a lot of organisation, efficiency is massive. You cannot win without players.

- Must continue to ‘recruit’ your current players, by spending time with them and investing.

- Hiring coaches: have a great idea of exactly what you want. How are you going to fill holes in your coaches strengths/weaknesses and personality/style?

- Find out the great people behind a successful operation. We’re on a clear mission, we know who we are and we treat everybody the right way.

  • Coach is all about family. He doesn’t say it he shows it. All the kids come in from the coaching staff and hang out together, we always have events where everybody’s family is invited. Nobody is detached, bring everybody in. Coach prioritises this every single day, that’s how he gets the most out of his coaches.

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