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Introduction to Coaching Basketball

Many persons have contributed to this manual of basketball plays, either directly or indirectly. I feel certain someone will be left out. If I do... please accept this apology in advance.

There were many coaches who greatly influenced my life. If a single individual had the greater impact, it would be Coach Kern McGlothin, "The Wizard of Winslow." Dan Scism, sports editor for the Evansville Courier, hung that name on Kern long before Johnny Wooden earned his reputation as the "Wizard of Westwood."

Another coach with direct influence was Coach Arad McCutchan, winner of five National Division II championships. Coach McCutchan gave me the opportunity to study his style and learn. It happened that I was Coach McCutchan's first student assistant at the beginning of his college coaching career at what is now the University of Evansville. It was from this bench, I witnessed some of the finest coaching strategies that have ever been taught and also met some of the best coaches who ever lived.

Basketball coaching legends

Johnny Wooden coached Indiana State and the famous Ed Diddle coached Western Kentucky. Both were opposing coaches, but best of friends with Coach McCutchan.

Ed Diddle was a unusual coach who always had time to talk with young guys like me. Once in our conversations concerning Sonny Allen, an all-state Kentucky High School player, then playing at Morehead State, coach Diddle in his famous southern drawl exclaimed, "Son, if ah had that boy here... he'd be burnin' the nets!" Yours truly kept scrapbooks and notes on them all. It is from these notes this web page gives rise.

Personal basketball experiences 

After college this writer coached several years at both the grade and high school levels with a fair amount of success. Unfortunately, old athletic injuries kept reoccurring which required considerable time in and out of hospitals. Hospitals don't come cheap and the former coach followed the field of civil engineering until his retirement from Peabody Coal Company in 1985.

With the basketball flames still burning inside, yours truly accepted the position of traveling agent for Evansville Thunder, then a member of the CBA. Here, the old guy honed his basketball knowledge under the late Roger Brown of Indiana Pacer fame and watching the likes of present NBA coach Phil Jackson. Phil paid his dues coaching the CBA team at Albany, New York.

Basketball, today, is still the same game as it was in my youth. The ball and hoops are still the same size and the goal is 10 feet off the ground. The fundamentals are still the same, but the players are bigger and quicker.

When CBA's Thunder went under, a friend and my former assistant coach, Rich Risemas, was experiencing good success at Evansville Memorial High School. Rich asked his old friend to join him as assistant varsity coach. When Rich retired yours truly continued as assistant to coach David Hayden. Coach Hayden is a fundamentalist and an excellent teacher. His team's achievements certainly prove this opinion. He has most the qualities it takes to make a good coach.

Indirectly, others through clinics, or writing, greatly influenced my thinking. They are: Clair Bee, Branch McCracken, Johnny Wooden, Marion Crawley, Cabby O'Neil, Dick Meyer, Del Harris, Woody Wilson and Jack Ford.

This manual was developed from a scrapbook that I have kept for forty-five years. This information found herein is not new. The basic fundamentals of basketball are much the same today as they were in 1946. "If nothing has changed," you might ask, "why the need for this manual?"

The reasons are:

  1. To find an offense or defense that fits your personnel.
  2. To find a different offense or defense to replace your old one.
  3. To help you perfect your own ideas of offense and defense.
  4. To find old drills and the "little things" that will make your ideas work better.

Basketball is a simple game. There is no need to make it complicated. Yet, there are a lot of "little things" you may have time to perfect even if you are blessed with talent. On the other hand, these "little things" may make average players into championship teams. Fundamentally sound teams are usually winners. It is true that great athletes can overcome their fundamental mistakes and still win; however, if the athletic ability of two teams are nearly equal, the team most fundamentally sound will emerge the winner.

This manual takes the most basic plays in basketball and deals with them individually. They are shown within an entire offensive and defensive concept. Individually, each of these basic moves can be developed into an entire offense. If a player can perform these offensive maneuvers, he can perform any offense. On the other hand, if he can defend these plays, he can defend any offense.

The offensive concepts are many. They are applicable to both man-to-man and zone defenses. The same concepts are carried into special situations, out-of-bounds plays, press offenses, delay offenses, etc. and are easy to install. The concept is expandable and can be run as a continuation of the fast break.

The manual can be used by coaches at any level. The elementary and junior high coach can definitely use the basic fundamentals and even use each play as an offense. These fundamentals eventually will fit into any high school program. The freshman and junior varsity programs can continue the development of fundamentals in preparation for the varsity. The varsity coach can use the fundamentals to sharpen his offense. This manual is not a cure-all and it doesn't cover every single aspect of the game. However, if every player on your team could master these basic fundamentals, your job would be much easier.

One of the most demanding problems in education today, is deciding what to teach. This same problem extends into coaching.

The offense, or defense, you choose may determine your success or failure. Every coach will tell you he wants a fundamentally strong team. Yet, many of them have so little time in which to prepare for the season, these "little things" are forgotten and he reverts to a patterned offense, such as the flex. This is why this manual was prepared. It doesn't necessarily have to be that way. It allows, you as a coach to choose an offense that best utilizes his player's talents. Also, the players are allowed more creativity and enjoy the game much more.

Most every high school coach has searched for the ultimate offense. This perfect offense would be one that he would never have to change during his entire coaching career, no matter what his personnel was like. He would like a offense so simple that it could be used in the elementary and junior high systems; yet, complicated enough to compete against today's better defenses.

Unlike the college or pro coach the high school coach cannot recruit a big pivot man or a slick guard to run a specific offense. He must make a team of whomever turns out; and the offense must fit the personnel.

As stated earlier many people have contributed to this manual of basketball plays, either directly or indirectly. I feel certain someone will be left out. If I do... please accept this apology.

I hope you enjoy this manual as much as I have in its development. All of it is "borrowed" from other coaches of the game. As Jack Ford states, "The fun of basketball is winning."

Ken Lindsay
14 March 1992

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