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March 1, 2014     Newsletter #32

Dear Coaches, Players, Friends,

Today's Quotes
"Don't give up, don't ever give up." - Jim Valvano
"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth

Today's theme is "Preparing for March Madness".

It's late in the season and we're just about to enter our post-season tournament, aka "March Madness". So what do you do late in the season with your practices and getting your team ready for post-season play?

Do you and your coaches beat your heads on the wall trying to get your players to be more intense in practice... most would. But an observation I have made is that each team has it's own "character"... and characters! And of course, the old dictum is still true that "you play like you practice"... well, for the most part anyway. But some high school kids are frankly a little goofy and immature and just can't be 100% intense every practice. I think you have to figure out your own team... maybe a "soft" practice is not always so bad, if they come out and play hard on game-night. Really, it's about getting your team ready to play as hard as they can during games. So a bad practice doesn't bother me as much as it used to, so long as we play hard on game night, and so long as bad practices don't become a habit.

Late-Season Practices
Late in the season, we shorten practices. We try to get the kids to practice hard and reward their energy and attention by shortening practice to 60-90 minutes. We will do shooting drills and free-throws every practice. We will scrimmage and go 5-on-5 up and get down the floor for some aerobic work-out. By this time in the season, they should know your offenses and defenses, press offense and press defenses. We will however, drill a certain aspect or detail of any of these that needs attention. We might work on some late-game situations. We will quickly review some of our plays.

We will target our practice somewhat to our next opponent... if they play zone, we spend some time on zone offense. If they press, we practice our press-breakers. We will address what they are trying to do on offense and how we intend to defend them. But we don't want to be overly concerned about what our opponent might do... we want to focus on what we want to do, and let them worry about us. Trying to make a big change, such as changing your defense from man-to-man to zone, or vice-versa, at this point in the season will usually cause more problems for you than your opponent. At this point, you have to usually go with what you know you can do.

At the end of practice, we remind the kids to go home and get plenty of rest and sleep, and not stay up all night playing video games. They need their sleep to maintain health and energy, get over sicknesses, heal injuries, and to be good students. We remind them to eat right, and avoid a lot of junk food, and to stay out of trouble and avoid making stupid, bad decisions that might get them benched, or kicked off the team.

Retired Coach Ken Sartini, also recommends that at the end of practice, do something fun... a goofy contest where they could make fun of each other... or use some time to run game "situations", which the kids also like doing.

Adding new plays
We play each of our conference opponents twice during the regular season. By the end of the season, every coach in the conference pretty much knows what everyone else is doing on offense and defense. So we will add a few new plays for the post-season tournament as pointed out in our last newsletter. We will purposely "hold back" a couple favorites and put them in just for the tournament. We will usually add a couple new out-of-bounds plays vs man-to-man and zone defenses, and a couple new half-court plays designed to get good shots for our best players, and maybe a new sideline out-of-bounds play. The plays that we select again depend on our personnel, as we want our best scorers to get the most shots.

Go through the web-site's various plays (see Selecting Plays) and you'll be sure to find something for your team.

Good luck!

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