Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You can't produce successful teams without developing knowledgeable players

In 1973, when he was hired as the first-ever African American coach at Harvard, Tom "Satch" Sanders (pictured here), a member of eight BOS title teams in the 1960s and who coached the team in 1978, pledged to help his Crimson team gain a better understanding of the game, saying:

"My teaching as coach will be geared to fundamentals along with defense. You can't produce successful teams without developing knowledgeable players."

When he was coaching the Pistons, Flip Saunders would tell his players that "the game is not black and white - it's played gray. What gray means, you got to make decisions every play, offensively and defensively. I don't believe there's one way to play."

In his 2004 book, "The Basketball Handbook," Lee Rose, a Bobcats assistant who coached Purdue to the 1980 Final Four, described a player with a "high basketball IQ" as one "who consistently makes the right decisions."

What does making a good decision mean? For basketball, it means doing the right thing at the right time. Coaches who demand discipline, concentration, and focus usually have teams that make fewer mistakes. This concept is not complicated. To avoid making mistakes, players must thoroughly understand the game.

According to Coach Rose, the question is whether coaches "can teach players to make good decisions."

Yes, players can improve their basketball IQ if they pay attention and absorb what they're taught. But if they don't have natural instincts, peripheral awareness, and the concept of unselfishness, chances are slim that they will make consistently good basketball decisions.