What Makes a Good Team

A great basketball team should be made up of 3 components:

1) Great Rebounders 2) Great Shooters 3) High Basketball (IQ) Intelligence.

If your team does anything to detract from these 3 things, you’re going to have a challenging season.


So, what kinds of actions detract from these 3 components?  Here’s what our coaches say:

  • Excessive Pressing – How many points or possessions are you gaining from your full court press? If you’re struggling to score points, chances are you have a team that presses a lot. If you’re not blessed with great shooters a full court press could help you gain a few more possessions.  However, if you DO have great shooters the press can exhaust those shooters.  This exhaustion will reduce a shooters ability to take good shots.  This results in no points and more turnovers.  So, check your stats again.  Also, if you can’t break a press you’re probably going to lose points and possessions too.  Ask yourself: WHEN is your team turning the ball over, HOW MANY possessions are you gaining from the press, and WHICH players are being effected by exhaustion.
  • Expecting Defense to Win Games – Defense doesn’t really win games. Scoring points wins games.  Fans of NCAA Hoops and the NBA can attest to this.  Most NBA players don’t play defense.  You may see a few NBA superstars turn up the defense in the 4th quarter or in the playoffs, but that’s about it.  The same goes for most of the top teams on any level.  So, what wins basketball games?  Rebounding offers your team the opportunity to score more points.  Like Coach Gregg Popovich says, “win the battle of the boards.”  (247sports.com) As head coach of the 5 time champion San Antonio Spurs, Popovich would know a little something about what wins games.  Good high school, college, and NBA teams all have great rebounders.  Great rebounding teams will show up in the post season.  If your team is falling short on the boards, you should probably do nothing else but have rebounding drills for at least half of each practice.  Your players will hate it, but you have to make them understand.  Set rebounding goals.  Offer incentives.  Show them how their hard work is paying off statistically.  They will start to love this new found skill.  You will start to love the additional scoring opportunities.
  • Not teaching your players – Coaching is nothing more than teaching and leading. Coaches should go into a season expecting players to have a high basketball IQ . It’s just like science, math, or history.  If you think of it as being less of a sport and more of an educational opportunity for your players, your team will soar.  You’ve already had tryouts and have the best basketball talent available at your school.  Now, grade those players, teach your players, and set expectations or goals.  It’s just like a bigger classroom in the school.  Players who don’t normally score well in other subjects might be excited to receive a B+ grade in basketball.  Thus, it may translate into confidence in other subjects. Basketball junkies will remember that Phil Jackson, coach of the championship winning Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers, would hand out reading material to NBA players on his teams.  He would also have in depth conversations about the game and force members of his teams to take ownership and develop knowledge.  Knowledge is power. If you can match Intelligence with Athleticism, your team will succeed.