update

2-12-2018 League Championship Update

This has been a very busy couple of months since my last post and I have some great news for the readers of this site. Ontario has proved that player development and hard work does pay off. For the first time in 25 years Ontario Varsity Girls Basketball has won a league championship.

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In what has been quite a stunning turnaround, Ontario went from being a doormat in league to the top team in just 5 years. Here is where the team stacked up just before I took over:

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After implementing a very rigorous player development program and working to create a system on offense and defense that would create success, I noticed that we were playing at a much higher level. Here are the final standings from this season:

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We are now currently preparing for our first home playoff game in 15 seasons and hope to get a playoff win in the 1st round as we face San Gorgonio. This has been an incredible season and I look forward to continuing to see my team make history.

Hope to give another update in the coming weeks.

12-14-2017 Coaching Update

This is definitely a busy time of year. We have played 10 games in a very short amount of time and my players and I are all exhausted. We have gotten off to a great start with a 10-0 record to start the year. This is the best start at Ontario since the early 1990’s. At this point in the season we have played a fairly weak schedule but our confidence is now sky high.

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Our work that we put in during the offseason is definitely paying off and all of the things that I have blogged about are working. Here are the scores of our opening 10 games:

Ontario 61
La Puente 8

Ontario 68
Glenn 50

Ontario 70
Price 17

Ontario 74
Sotomayor 13

Ontario 55
Montclair 25

Ontario 70
Saddleback Valley Christian 25

Ontario 56
Jurupa Valley 53

Ontario 56
South El Monte 24

Ontario 39
Lennox Academy 10

Ontario 72
Mountain View 40

We are currently in a week and a half period without a game and we are putting in some very hard work during practices. In spite of a 10-0 record, I believe that we have a long way to go to maximize our potential. By drilling down on defense and running to stay in shape, we will hopefully be more than prepared for our next game on Wednesday December 20th against Pomona.

My priority is my team so my next blog post will probably be in January. Have a very happy holidays and may the new year bring your teams all great success.

11-18-2017 Coaching Update

This was a great week for my team. The weekend had us playing 2 fall league games against both Rosemead and Fontana. We finished up with a short week of practices on Wednesday due to a pep rally on Thursday night. The pep rally was introducing all winter sports teams at the school.

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The first fall league game against Rosemead started out a bit slowly with us out to a 2-19 deficit to start the game. Instead of losing my temper, I called a timeout and refocused our offense and tweaked our press break. By halftime we had cut the deficit to 5. By putting the focus back onto our defense, we ended up taking a lead and holding onto that lead for a 36-31 victory. I am encouraged by the fact that we held a very solid Rosemead team to just 12 points in the last 30 minutes of a running clock game. However, we need to be better to start out games and be focused on not digging a hole.

After a one hour break, we then played Fontana High School and had the opposite start of the first game. We led 36-2 starting out the game and were much more focused. After the huge start, I allowed everybody on the bench to get in for extended minutes and pulled off our press. Had this been a regular season game I think that I would have pushed a little bit longer just to ensure that the game was out of reach. This was a great opportunity to allow those players who probably won’t see the court as much to play a lot and get opportunities to score. We ended up winning this game by a final score of 49-12.

In practice we had a focus on conditioning for the first 30 minutes of practice and then spent another 2.5 hours on getting better on the court. Monday and Tuesday went exceptionally well, so I presented the team with a challenge. If they all turned in grade checks on Wednesday and at least half of the team had over a 3.5 GPA, we would have a light day on Wednesday. On Wednesday I found out that 9 of my 13 had a 3.5 GPA or higher and 3 of the remaining 4 had a 3.0 or higher.

Because of the excellent work that they had put in on the court as well as the excellent work in the classroom, I prepared a scavenger hunt as a team building activity for that day. We spent an hour running around campus to solve riddles and find clues. The team enjoyed the activity and also had a great time doing something different from the typical practice. It was an excellent week to close out the week and to prepare for the season.

 

11-9-2017 Coaching Update

We are a couple of weeks put from the start of the regular season and we have started to really ramp up practices. I am a strong advocate for making the two weeks prior to the regular season a very difficult challenge both with conditioning and basketball skill work. The reason behind this is that it help your team improve and also gives them a sense of accomplishment when they’ve finished what they have set out to do.

This week I had practice just Monday-Thursday but they were some solid practices. We did 30 minutes of sprints, defensive slides, and burpees, followed with 2.5 hours of basketball work. My team worked hard and did an excellent job of showing tremendous growth. As a reward, I gave them Friday off from practice which they were excited about because it’s a non-school day.

One of the best signs from this week was when we scrimmages against our freshman boys basketball team. In the past we have scrimmages this team and never gotten a victory. On Wednesday we beat them in two out of the three games that we played. The team is starting to really come together and I have come up with a fun team-building activity for next week as a reward.

Team Concepts (Offenses, Defenses, Baseline, Sideline, & Press Breaks)

As you will read tomorrow on the blog, we are going to change the format for a few months. When we come back from the hiatus, we will be running a series of posts on different team concepts that will fill your playbook. Here is an outline of the different chapters of the series that we will delve into:

  1. Offenses
  2. Defenses
  3. Baseline Inbounds
  4. Sideline Inbounds
  5. Press Breaks

 

The Key Fundamentals (Ball Handling, Shooting, Passing, & Defense)

Today starts a series of posts that I will refer to as the fundamental series. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of posts detailing different aspects of each fundamental.

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The four main fundamentals that we will be focusing on will be:

  1. Ball Handling
  2. Shooting
  3. Passing
  4. Defense

I recognize that rebounding can be considered its own category but I lumped this into the defense category and will be posting more about rebounding at a later date. If you have anything that you would specifically like to see me cover when it comes to any of these fundamentals, please send me a message and I will include an answer in the post it pertains to.

The hope is that this series will be useful to coaches of all levels as they look to improve the fundamentals of their teams.

Footwork

One of the first things that you can do to help improve your athletes skills is to emphasize footwork. In my first few seasons at Ontario, I jumped right into basic skills like ball handling, passing, defense, shooting, and rebounding. These are all great skills but without proper footwork, your teams will not have the building blocks necessary to compete at their best. This past offseason, with all of my athletes including those with years of experience, we committed to spending part of each practice learning and improving our footwork.

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The result of my offseason emphasis has shown on the court and we improved greatly over the summer in virtually every statistical category. Most noticeably, we lowered our number of turnovers per game which I see as a result of our new found understanding of footwork.

Some coaches might wonder how I can spend an entire post talking about footwork as it only applies to one or two aspects of the game. I counter with the fact that footwork plays a key role in every basic fundamental as I will outline below:

Ball Handling- When dribbling the ball at full speed in a game, I am sure that most coaches have told their players to jump stop. Teaching players how to jump stop and pivot will help reduce the number of turnovers on a fast break. Additionally, learning how to jab step and use fakes with footwork will help players become better scorers.

Passing- Many player will turn the ball over because they do not step into passes on the outside. Step right to throw right and step left to throw left. When trying to get a pass into the paint, you need to be able to step through with your opposite foot to protect the ball and create a passing angle.

Shooting- I have coached a lot of players who do not set their feet before they shoot. When working on jump shots I like to teach players to keep a back foot down and step in with their lead foot to power into a shot. Also, footwork on lay-ups (a euro-step is an excellent move to teach starting in high school) also plays a role in player skill development.

Defense- Pushing off the back foot when sliding is a basic technique when discussing footwork but I also point out the fact that you want to teach your athletes to keep their toe pointing forward and not out to the side because you want to use big muscles like glutes and hamstrings to power your slide. Sticking your toe out to the side works the adductors which do not have as much power and ability to provide you with a quick slide.

Rebounding-Using your feet to seal someone on  a box-out is a great technique to teach when rebounding on defense. On offense you can teach a jab and spin to help improve your offensive rebounding as well.

As you can see from the above that using attention to detail when going over footwork will help your teams get better and also further develop the skills of your athletes. I incorporate footwork into every practice and see it as a huge benefit to us.