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  • Jack Fleming

Want to Become a Great Scout? Here’s How to Do it versus Duke — Zak Boisvert

Notes from the Solving Basketball Podcast by Jordan Sperber, make sure you follow him on Twitter @hoopvision68 or check out his Youtube channel linked below. In this podcast, assistant coach Zak Boisvert of Army University and founder of the famous PickandPop website dives deep into their scouting process. Army played Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium immediately following their 34 point demolition of Kentucky. Please enjoy the notes below.

“Players don’t care what shape, size & colour you are — if you can help them they will respect that competency.” — Zak Boisvert

1. Scouting Delegation

  • 4 scouts, we own one game each and rotate through.

  • Try to get the same scout every year when we play the same teams. Creates consistency.

  • Lot of Princeton offence teams in our league, one coach gets all those teams providing the same voice for similar concepts.

  • One scout as a big focus for our defence, and another has the offence.

  • Defence: what are they running and how are we guarding it?

  • Offence: how are they defending, what are we using in our system to attack it?

  • Creates a collaboration between us that disperses to the head coach.

2. Scouting Personnel

  • Personnel is always the first thing looked at.

  • Want to see every guy they are playing and how they score, create a very preliminary list of tendencies.

  • Allows me to see the schemes through the lens of the strengths of their best offensive players.

  • Provides a ‘Why’ to the actions they run.

  • Method: Synergy clips, last 25 baskets of each player.

3. Schemes

  • Want to watch full offensive possessions of their last 5 games.

  • From furthest to most recent game.

  • Same process follows for defence.

  • Creates efficiency and clarity for what I am seeing.

  • Eventually — see the latest game in full to watch the interaction between the offence and the defence.

4. Information Presentation

  • It’s a thing line you are always walking between what you have and what you give to your players.

  • Knowledge is quickness, however you don’t want them over thinking.

  • You only have so much time.

  • Long gone are the days of printing out scouting reports, they will get it on their phones and tablets first.

  • We make graphics and short videos along the way, create fun and jokes within it.

What’s the Priority?

“Bill Walsh was the best at — put everything on the back burner these are the three things you need to focus on.” — Michael Lombardi

Statistics vs Video

  • Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman — humans are terrible at taking a large data set and drawing conclusions from it.

  • Hence, if we just watch video and don’t use stats it creates a lot of potential bias.

  • Statistics provide a head start on framing opinions.

  • Love statistics for personnel on the last 5 games.

“Statistics accuse, but film convicts.” — Fran Fraschilla

Questionable Statistics

  • Rebounding margin does not reflect how well you rebounded.

  • Offensive and defensive rebounding percentage is the correct reflection.

  • Shooting percentage is the next most ineffective statistic with regards to how well your team played.

Marcus Aurelius: “All victory lies in the organisation of the non-obvious.”

Preparing and Planning For Duke

  • Coach Allen: Duke have become super heroes, I don’t want the personnel edit to be a Sports Center highlight reel. They’ve been watching that on ESPN all week.

  • Let’s see Zion dribbling off his foot, struggling to play in crowds, pulling up for 17 footers.

  • It’s not ‘Zion’ it’s ‘#5 Williamson’. We cannot glorify these players.

How to Defend Duke

  • Major point of emphasis: make them play in crowds.

  • Stick in our gaps for a second longer, make them beat us with contested 3's.

  • Made them attempt 36 3pt shots, most they’ve had in a long time. They made 15, great teams do that.

  • Basketball is a fight for space, we use switching 1–4 to cover the tremendous skill in our league.

  • Kept our ball screen defence the same, didn’t want to get pulled too far away from what we normally do.

  • No transition baskets, they only got 6pts which is a huge win for us.

How to Score vs Duke

  • We wanted to play with less passing and put them in pick and roll.

  • Reduces chance of turnovers vs teams with great length & athleticism.

  • We didn’t force shots at the rim vs their length, if we didn’t find a great one we would kick out and find 3’s from the perimeter.

  • We like to play fast and run off misses and makes, we kept that exactly the same.


Connect Deeper

If you would like to continue the basketball conversation, provide your thoughts or ideas please message me on Twitter @jackfleming1 or e-mail me at

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