Coach’s answers #3

Georgis DikeoulakosHere's the third part of your questions answered by our expert coach Georgis Dikeoulakos. We are glad to see more question being sent. Yet again thank you all for asking interesting questions and keep them coming.

Nate, United States: Why is it that some players have a real difficulty adjusting to the NBA style of basketball? Example, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Arvydas Macijauskas are two of the best European players in the last decade and neither could adjust to the NBAs style, yet they both go back to the EL and both are playing very well again…..why is that?

Georgis Dikeoulakos: Well, that may happen because that kind of European players, have used to play at every game more than 35', and touching the ball at every possesion. In NBA they wait too long to play and for some players it's difficult to adjust to this new status. As I saw from Spanoulis case, his coach was trying to have a totally different player than Spanoulis used to be. I also noticed that NBA coaches do not respect European players, especially if they don't have any US college experience. On the other hand European players do not have patience, they don't want to waste time sitting on the bench, as I told you it's the first time it's happening something like that in their careers. Remember the legend Drazen Petrovic at his first year in NBA, it was a big disappointment, but he stayed in NBA, he changed team, and he started playing excellent. Of course I don't blame anybody for these situations. I also think that different styles of game can play a small role, especially for peripheral players.

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Guy Anchelovich, Israel: Hi coach, I was wondering about the issue about what makes Lithuania and ex-Yugoslavia countries so good in producing good young talented players. What should a country like Israel do in order to get to the same level of producenes? And the last question, what do you think about Omri Caspi?

Georgis Dikeoulakos: I can talk only about ex-Yugoslavian way of developing basketball because I have played and I have worked there. The word "details" is what makes the difference. Ex-Yugoslavian coaches work and insist a lot on details, especially on fundamentals. Countries like ex-Yugoslavia and Lithuania, first of all have a program, something which other countries don't! At this program their only care is how to build as best as they can the player's fundamentals. They don't care if they'll have any cost, I mean if they'll loose some games especially at the very young ages because they know that after few years these players will be stars. I know and I have seen many coaches working on fundamentals. But the coaches from the countries you mentioned are analysing and working on every simple detail. Countries like Israel, first of all they have to make a program for producing young talents, no matter if this program is good or bad. The main thing is for a program to be present and every year to improve it. After that, all the coaches that are coaching young players should be at the same page. Association of basketball coaches has to organize clinics specialized only for basketball at young ages.

The only thing that I can say about Omri Caspi is that he is an NBA prospect. But there is still a long way for that. I believe that at the next 5 years he will be the leader of his team, and after that he'll be ready to play in NBA.

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George Bitz, Greece: Dear coach, I have two questions. 1. Which is the best defence in PNR (head, side, horn)? 2. How many set plays must have a team for better results in a season? (PNR, isolations, conditioning, side/base outs, zone plays, special situations etc…?)

Georgis Diekoulakos: 1. There is no good or bad in Basketball, so in that way there is no "best". In order to defend the pick n rolls, you have to see the individual characteristics of each attacker, and first of all the player with the ball and the picker. After that you check the other three players and then you decide what kind of defence fits in every situation. One of the modern defences which I think that many teams will use in the future is the following: When O5 is setting a screen to O1, defenders switch very simply (picture 1). Now we face two mismatches = two problems. One is the inside mismatch, and the other is the outside mismatch. As you can see from the picture 2, we protect the inside mismatch by sagging inside and our point guard fronting the post. If a big man receive the ball, we are ready to trap him. Now, how can we protect the outside mismatch? As soon as we see that point guard is preparing to play 1vs1 with our big man, then immediately a perimeter player (from his left hand, or from the week side, or his closest man, always depends from your philosofy) goes for the trap (see picture 3). Point guard for sure will try to pass to the corner and there is a big possibility of stealing the ball from the defensive rotation which you can see it from the picture 4. Steal is not our goal, just destroying the pick'n'roll.

On a "horns" offense, what I like most is the following: First of all X1 forces his opponent to dribble to O4' side. He close one lane, and X5 protects the drive. (But even if O1 manage to come off O5' screen, nothing will change). At the screen 4+1, X4 is stepping out and he is taking O1. X5 takes the cutter O4. X1 takes O5, but before that, he stays above the free throw line to discourage O1 to play 1vs1 with X4 (see pictures 5 & 6). If O5 wants to post up X1, everybody are ready for the help-trap.

2. If team's philosofy is pick n rolls for example, then team must use 3 pick n roll plays with multiple options, and 3-4 different plays for  taking advantage of some player's characteristics (posting up a point guard if he is big, a stagger screen for a shooter, a shuffle cut for his forward etc). Add 2-3 inbound plays and a transition game,and 4 set plays and inbounds plays against zone defence.

So I think that a team must have at least 15 offensive plays. Dusko Ivanovic (ex Barcelona's coach) had more plays, but during the regular season was not using five or six of them although he was practicing with all of them. At the time of the playoffs he was thinking which play was good and which was not effective, he was keeping the effective plays and he was adding the new ones (which as I explained they were not new, but as old as the previous). My experience have taught me that you must keep things simple in your team, knowing the weapons of your team and trying to take advantage of them, and not make your players overthinking. Don't have plays just because you want to cover all situations. We want clever players, we want them to play and think, but you have to know that as much they think, they loose energy from their legs.

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Christian Lemaire, coach from Canada: I want to know what is the best tactics to beat man-to-man sagging defense.

Georgis Dikeoulakos: I think that there are many solutions, but you have to insist on 2 things:
1) Good spacing (we don't want one defender to control two offenders);
2) Cuts (It's impossible for a defender who sugs inside to watch the player with the ball and his man who's cutting).

A very good example of spacing  with cuts, which in my opinion every team must have in their philosofy, is the following: Everytime a perimeter player drives to the basket (to the baseline), everybody must move as you see (picture 7). Imagine who could be the guy who'll stop the ball! Everytime a perimeter player drives to the basket (to the middle), everybody must move as you see (picture 8). If perimeter player feeds the post man, the other big man must cut inside, the player who passed the ball now he must set a sceen to his closest perimeter. If defence switch then player#2 must cut inside. If there was no switch then there is a big possibility for an open shot from 1 (picture 9). When all these are happening, player#5 sees that there is nowhere pass and he decides to go to the basket. So now we have the same moves: Everytime the post man with the ball makes a move to score, the other big man moves opposite (picture 10+11)

There are many combinations like the passer cuts to the basket and the other perimeter players replace him, or the passer sets a screen for the other big man for a shot from the high post. I have many combinations and different situations with one or two cutters, and of course some small details for which I need many gigabytes to explain them writing on papers, but if you need anything more like tutorial drills etc., please Christian feel free to contact with the administrator of the site and he'll give me your mail address.

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