Monday, October 13, 2008

Six keys to playing with four guards

Had a good email exchange yesterday with Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (pictured here) about the keys to success when your team is playing with a small line-up (i.e., four-guard offense):

1. If you're going small, it's critical to control the tempo. The game must be played at your pace and your team's "identity." You must hold a grip on the game.

2. The guys on the floor must "out-react" the opponent to loose balls and long rebounds. Your "smalls" are going to have to play physical and have plenty of mental toughness.

3. Take care of the ball. Turnovers will hurt a small line-up . That's true regardless of what you're running, but it's magnified when you have a small group on the floor.

4. Play to your strengths. A small line-up had better be able to penetrate and draw fouls.

5. Stretch out the defense. Smalls must have the ability to not only knock down the three-ball, but dribble-penetrate.

6. Defensively, intense and consistent ball pressure is important. Force turnovers. Do this through switching 1-4 and mixing up trapping defenses.