Monday at Hoop Group we will conduct our 2nd session of point guard school. Most coaches, players and parents don’t understand what it takes to develop a point guard. Many people don’t understand that the game has changed and EVERY GUARD AND WING PLAYER MUST HAVE POINT GUARD SKILLS.
Developing a point guard is not easy and if anyone tells you different it’s because they don’t understand the position. There are many things a point guard learn, but none more important that taking care of the ball. Now the question is how do you teach this to them (now understand I am talking all guards period). Taking care of the ball starts with the most basic skill set…DRIBBLING THE BALL. Now that sounds simple right? Well I can tell you for a fact it’s not and many talented players at every level lack this skill set. The reason they lack this skill set is because they don’t understand how to develop it.
I have seen cones, tennis balls, ropes and other props use to help players develop there ball handling skills. Call it what you want, I NEVER USE TENNIS BALLS. I try to avoid cones as much as possible. When it comes to ball handling I always say live drills. Always a defender in front of that player dribbling and it’s for a simple reason. Cones do not fight and get you out of your comfort zone, cones don’t move, cones are not quick and cones don’t have hands or compete with a edge. . Doing dummy ball handling drills are great for hand, eye coordination and getting a feel for the ball but do NOT MIRROR GAMES.
So whats the hardest thing for a point guard to do? My answer… STOP..AS LIKE ON A DIME! Now most people hear this and go what? Well next time you watch a game, pay attention to how many times a player with the ball stops on the dime. Now the great ones can do it, you know Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and etc. Now let me tell you exactly how many players I have seen in the shore that process that skill set..EXACTLY TWO! KILLIE CROUCH(sjv) AND CHRISTINA ANTONAKAKIS (rfh)…thats it folks.. TWO! Players who can stop on the dime, change speeds and not turn the ball over are not just dangerous, they cause defenses to rotate and more importantly watch the ball. Now the question is how to you teach a player this? Simple, you must expose them to this skill set and explain in detail. Why? because it sounds so simple but yet very hard to do. You must teach this set skill in a live setting, not with cones. Because the moment you use cones, those cones become RED and GREEN lights. There are no lights to tell you when to stop and go on a basketball court.
I try to explain to point guards, to please be careful what you are learning as youngster, if you want to play at the next level. I say do next level stuff now, why wait? But it’s hard to always do next level stuff when a player is young. Many things a player does now that won’t work later, are paying off in high school or grammar school. For example…When I see a player drive to the lane and fall on the floor in high school and walk to the fouls line I am not impressed, why? Because when they hit the floor in college, they NEVER give you that call unless you force the contact. If the ref see’s any space at all…PLAY ON. The player must be taught how to take the contact, look under control and stay on there feet.
Here is another example, can the player finish in the lane off the bounce against size…now notice I said SIZE! Because in high school the rim is protected by one and at the most two bigs on the floor at any one time. Not the case in college, where even some guards are 6ft and players are way quicker at rotating to the ball. Therefore I ALWAYS watch and see if a player is getting that ball high off the backboard when they are in the lane. Now if that guard does not have size..FORGET IT, I WANT TO KNOW AND I WANT TO SEE IT. Now don’t tell me that is a easy skill set to master, because right now I know one guard period in the shore that has all the shots in the lane. The baby hook, the floater with both hands, the pull up, the tear drop in traffic, the euro hesitation which is way better than your euro step. That player would be Molly Collins of Donavan Catholic. Now who thought that name was coming? Now let that bounce around your head for a minute….see folks, I see the game a little different that most and so do college coaches.
In high school there are stagger screens, side screens, center screens, elevator screens, down screens, up screens, fades screens and thats about it. But what do you see missing? BALL SCREENS, you see teaching how to use ball screens is not easy. But guess what? In college and the NBA thats all you see…again folks NEXT LEVEL… Most high schools that do run ball screens, run side and center screens and thats it…WHY? The talent level is not there and in order to teach ball screens you must have a real understanding of screening angles and how your feet point depending if you are in the middle, side or baseline. You must teach throw backs against hedges…you must teach back dribble against traps…you must teach sprint screens, ball side stagger, baseline side screens and I could go on…is your head spinning? Well let me ask you a question, why are teams afraid to run ball screens against SJV? …. IT’S BECAUSE THEY TRAP AND HAVE TREMENDOUS LENGHT . It takes a seasoned guard with next level vision to handle that. Now do you understand how hard it is to teach the point guard position?
When I watch a point guard I know right away if they are my type of guard (again this goes for all guards). I look and say DO THEY UNDERSTAND HOW TO FEED THE POST. You know, do they understand they must be below the foul line when feeding from the wing? Do they throw to the corner of the baseboard vs weak side help? Can they run pick and roll and understand every single read? Because while pick and roll is a two man game, the guard most understand where to pass the ball, if the roller is not open. They must understand what to do if the defense hedges, switches or what to do if the ball defender goes underneath or fights over the top. They must process all of this information in a instant. Now you think thats easy to teach? Now please don’t tell me you have an elite guard if that kid has not been exposed to this teaching. There is only one guard, period in the shore with these skills sets and don’t even think about arguing with me about it..because it not worth the conversation…the guard is again Kellie Crouch. This is why I tell people… her game transfers to college maybe better than any player in the shore. Now if you said to me who is the best at shooting behind screens I give you Nicole Morris and Kelly Campbell. But the total package in this one area of the game…KELLIE CROUCH!
The most important element for winning teams…end of games. Now when you look at the end of every tight game. A few things are going to happen. First somebody is going to be losing and therefore pressing the ball, be it full or half court. Next there is going to be somebody winning and they are going to have to make free throws. Then lastly somebody is going to have to make a shot. Now if you don’t teach that point guard how to get the ball late when everyone is aggressive and the refs are letting the contact go…forget it! You are not developing a great point guard and just yelling “get the ball” is not going to get it done.
Next if you don’t make that player understand the difference between free throw shooting percentage in the last two minutes vs the first 30 mins or 38 in college…forget it, they are not going to be a stud guard. This is about a understanding of what is important as well as clock and situation. Kelly Campbell at the foul line at the end of games is murder, why? She understands the moment. Don’t assume they know! Because I have seen many coaches send there best free throw shooter to the line late and miss…Why? they don’t understand the difference of free throw shooting percentages late in game vs early in games. Great point guards are taught this and TOLD how important this is…
I have no idea why people think the best player on a team is the closer. This to me is silly and makers zero sense because it been proven over and over, over the years that it’s JUST NOT TRUE. You see the closer is not always you best player. But let me say this, if your point guard is your closer, you have a big advantage . YOU DON’T TEACH THIS SKILL SET. Two years ago SJV could not win a close game, why? They had problems closing games. This past season they won almost every close game they were in…WHY? TINA LEBRON was brilliant down the stretch in close games. This summer again in Baltimore she won a game at the buzzer. Does anyone believe Tina LeBron is SJV’s best player? Most likely not, but if you had to pick someone on that team to take the last shot…who you picking? The track record says Tina Lebron. Now why do I bring this up because great guards can go get you a bucket when your stuff breaks down or your sets are not working… Your Point guard doing that?
Developing Point Guards most do not understand is hard. Now the player must be willing to work, but they also must be given the right drills and tools. Now there is also a mental game to all this that I did not discuss among other things. Like here is one I tell college coaches all the time..NEVER RECRUIT A POINT GUARD THAT CANNOT DEFEND. Why? You can’t play them late in games, because they make your defense rotate.Then because they are not in games late your offense suffers. Make sure your point guard is in great shape, why? Because they are the one player you never want to take out. You want to be a better ball handler or get a better understanding? Get in the gym and improve and understand it doesn’t happen over night….it’s that thing I keep getting back to …YOU MUST SHOW UP EVERYDAY…just like developing a point guard, its sounds easy but yet VERY HARD TO DO!
POINT GUARD CAMP STARTS MONDAY… college players home you are invited!