Coach Jim Boone: As a basketball program that’s philosophy is firmly rooted in our Motion Offense and the Pressure Pack Line Defense, the development of our offensive and defensive fundamentals, coupled with the enhancement of our individual skill level are of paramount importance. We have always taken great pride in the emphasis that we have placed upon skill development, and the improvement that our players always make over their time in our program.
Therefore, when at Tusculum College, our primary focus in our Pre-Season work has always been with this objective; the Fundamentals of our System of Play and Individual Skill Development work. Again, our feeling has been, as our individuals improve, then so do we collectively as a team.
However, in taking over our program at Wesleyan, with a Team that has played an entirely different style, we have rethought this premise, and have redirected our focus to that of developing the Big Picture, our Team Offense and Defense. We are fortunate that the NCAA changed the Division II rule for this year, allowing us to work with any number of players for a maximum of two hours during the week. I believe that in order for our players to fully benefit from our skill development work that they must first see the Big Picture, to understand how the parts fit in. Thus, we have utilized the time provided by the NCAA to conduct Team Practice, and to introduce our players to the principles and structure of our Motion Offense, as well as, the rules and structure of our Pressure Pack Line Defense.
Our basic schedule has gone as follows:
Odd Weeks: Two 1 Hour Team Practices
Even Weeks: Two 30 minute Skills Development Sessions
One 1 Hour Team Practice
Today we will conduct a Team Practice, emphasizing Spacing and “Holding the Ball for a Two Count” – something that non-motion teams do not do, yet a must for us – “it’s better to be a little late than early offensively”. We will teach screening and cutting, reading the defense, and then apply this in a 3/3 ball-side drill, again emphasizing spacing and exactness of movement in a limited area, and then to 5/5 Offense to Defense. We will also work some conversion offensive breakdown and spend about 5 minutes on our closeout technique early on in this practice.
We feel that by following this schedule our players will develop a better understanding of not just how we play, but how the various components of our skill development activities fit into this play.
Also, we have used this time to teach our players how we practice, how they must prepare and approach practice, the pace of practice, the discipline and work ethic that we demand in practice, the communication of practice and our play, along with their ability to maintain their utmost concentration throughout practice. Our time on the court is very high intensity, there is no wasted time, an energetic and positive attitude is expected and demanded. This has been different, very different for our players, and not that it’s the right way or the wrong way, it’s simply our way, the Bobcat Way! So, we have used our Team Practices to not only teach our system of play, but how we want our players to go about learning and practicing this system.
It has also been an administrative adjustment regarding our practices. This is our class room, our teaching time – I am a teacher first and foremost, and our time on the court is precious. Our Arena is a multi use facility, thus ourselves and our Facility Management personnel have both had to make some adjustments. We have practiced at some odd times to accommodate our colleagues, and Wesleyan has changed their approach to scheduling practices in order to work with us and our desire to create the absolute best teaching and learning environment possible. It’s been awesome, and I commend our administration for their cooperation and support!
I am really pleased with the progress our team has made in our first 30 days on the court, we are beginning to screen and cut as a habit versus a coach’s directive, we are gaining an understanding of the critical importance to positioning regarding the success of our defense, we are learning how to communicate, and we are embracing the pace and chaos of practice. And, we are beginning to look like a Bobcat Basketball Team as we progress through practice. Yes, we have sacrificed to some degree in our individual skill development, but we will re-focus our attention to this most important area as we begin official practice on October 15th, providing our players with an opportunity to first understand how these building blocks fit into the big picture, and even more so, understanding how we go about practice at West Virginia Wesleyan.