Friday 31 August 2018


It all started innocently enough, with me coming across a video clip of Doug Moe Passing Game:

While they don't use the spacing provided by the 3 point line, I saw similarities to the motion offense we run: the constant moving, constant screening. And researching more about Doug Moe and his offensive philosophy I came across a theory that speaks to me and my philosophy..The Chaos Theory.

 Doug Moe, former Head Coach Denver Nuggets

As you will see in the article I found below, the Chaos Theory incapsulates a view that makes for good offensive basketball: 

Create a "reflexive, furious play opponents can’t predict." Our program's plays are more concepts from which we play from.  We'll call "LA' which means the initial action is a UCLA Cut, but after that we're just playing our motion offense. While in our motion, we read the defense and flow into screens and cuts based on eye contact, and indiscernible hand signals. It is movement that is organized but unorganized.

Alex English who thrived in the offense says:

“A lot of teams, they talk about moving the ball, we were all about movement and it was all organized. It was not all just pick and roll stuff. It was basketball at it’s purest form… It was pushing the ball up, cutting to the basket, passing if he was open and continuous movement,” English said. “People are trying to get to it, but I think a lot of coaches feel like they have to look like coaches and design plays. Doug didn’t design any plays. It was very simple. Our offense was pass, cut, set good screens and if you had a good shot, you take it.”

Alex English

There is not much out there to reference to concerning the Chaos Theory, but the below article from Curtis Harris on ESPN's True Hoop is a pretty good place to read up on the philosophy.

And I wish to thank and compliment Mr. Harris on an article that best articulates a view I truly embrace: "Elevating your team’s play to chaos is the pinnacle of a team in control of itself and sure of its mission."

The Chaos Theory of Basketball by Curtis Harris (True Hoop - March 1, 2014)

It seems counterintuitive that chaos is something NBA coaches could ever want on the court. “In all sports,” Sloan panelist Bill James chimed, “all coaches overuse strategies that give them the illusion of control.” Calling copious plays and taking timeouts at the slightest hint of trouble are hallmarks of this illusion. Coaches who have real control of their team have put in countless hours of practice and embrace the beauty of chaos during games.

For former NBA coach George Karl, being a masterful play-calling tactician is the tip of the iceberg for good coaching. Below the surface is an insistent faith in chaos. This doesn’t mean teams are bumbling around the court. Instead, it signifies reflexive, furious play opponents can’t predict.

George Karl with Carmelo Anthony

A coach should do more than drill memorized plays into the collective brain of a roster. Great coaching goes a step further and creates a cohesive unit that operates seamlessly without thought. Karl particularly emphasized the end of third quarters and beginning of the fourth quarters as times when he wanted his team to unleash pure anarchy. By playing a helter-skelter brand of basketball, his squads could whip themselves into an unstoppable fury while demoralizing the opponent.

The knock on this chaos theory, though, is that it doesn’t lead to championship-caliber basketball. In the playoffs, you have to know how to grind out a tough seven-game series. Strengthening this thought is Karl’s 2012-13 Denver Nuggets. They reeled off 57 wins. At home, feeding off the supportive crowd, they were an impressive 38-3. After all that, though, they were bounced in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Other masters of mayhem seem to have suffered this same fate. Mike D’Antoni, Doug Moe, Don Nelson and Karl have a combined 4,605 regular-season wins, 20 division titles, five NBA Coach of the Year Awards, and even 14 conference finals appearances. But they have zero NBA titles. Depending on chaos appears a dead end road for winning titles.

Despite the lack of titles, those four coaches are some of the best the NBA has ever seen. D’Antoni reinvigorated the league a decade ago with his Seven Seconds or Less Offense. Moe created offensive juggernauts in Denver in the 1980s. Nelson abstracted positions at all his coaching stops and made it easier for future coaches to reimagine what skills could be harnessed at different positions.

Let’s not forget as well that some of the most successful, title-winning coaches in NBA history have also embraced the up-tempo chaos Karl championed.

The Miami Heat under Erik Spoelstra are at their most dangerous and scintillating when they get into the open court and transform into the Flying Death Machine of Dwyane Wade dunks and LeBron James tomahawk slams. Sounds like harnessed chaos. Spoelstra’s mentor, Pat Riley, did similar things 30 years earlier with the Showtime Lakers. They absolutely thrived on Magic Johnson dishing to James Worthy and Byron Scott on the break for high-flying finishes. Definitely a championship dynasty hitched to havoc.

And the most successful team in NBA history -- the 1960s Boston Celtics -- was predicated on the chaos theory. Their coach was so confident in his, and his teams’, abilities that he had no more than 10 plays, plays that in actuality were no more than abstract concepts. Instead of X's and O's, what Boston coach Red Auerbach hammered home to his players was confidence in their chaotic philosophy.

That commitment to chaos didn’t mean abandoning common mathematical sense. When defensive powerhouse Bill Russell was forcing shots on offense early in his rookie season, Auerbach rebuked his star center. Russell wasn’t out there to put up 25 points a game -- which could happen only on terrible efficiency. The Celtics coach reminded him that his greatest asset was defense and rebounding. If Russell could dominate those things, it’d allow Boston to enforce offensive chaos the opposition could not control.

The array of analytics has multiplied dramatically since Karl began coaching -- and certainly since Auerbach’s days. These increasingly sophisticated numbers herald new avenues to control the action on the hardwood. Some things haven’t changed that much, though. The relationship a coach takes with his players still commands the success they will ultimately achieve. If Auerbach and Russell had an abysmal working relationship, the earlier reprimand could have ruined Boston’s season. Instead, they won 11 titles in 13 seasons.

A similar discussion on someone’s advanced metrics today brings the same hazards. It also can bring similar rewards. The direction it goes depends on a coach able to effectively communicate a philosophy to his players. Dictating plays from the sideline night and day isn’t the peak of great coaching. It’s an illusion of cohesive control. Elevating your team’s play to chaos is the pinnacle of a team in control of itself and sure of its mission.

Thursday 29 December 2016

All I Want For Christmas... (Part 2)

In Part 1 of my blog entry “All I Want For Christmas…”, I shared some of my reflections on recruiting.  But now in Part 2, let me do a little hard sell about why I'm taking on the role of recruiter.

Team Hurricane Basketball Academy has a new Global Training & Educational Initiative that seeks to support talented international student-athletes from Bermuda and the world beyond in an intensive academic and basketball training program here on the paradise island of Bermuda. Although we're in Bermuda, we're a hop, skip, & jump away from the United States. (1 1/2 hours from such key cities as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.)

These student-athletes will have the opportunity to do academic and enrichment coursework through our Hurricane Preparatory Academy and/or Bermuda College, an accredited institution. 

The program is designed to provide a rigorous instructional program whereby students will have unique opportunities to infuse their academic learning with basketball training. This major initiative will provide international student-athletes with an opportunity to take part in a program that is dedicated to the advancement of its student-athletes to collegiate level through academic preparation, exposure, exclusive player development, and elite competition.

College coaches are highly selective in their student-athlete search. As a result, players who come through a strong post-graduate program have a recruiting edge by becoming a well-rounded prospect athletically, academically and socially. An additional year of athletic performance training, academic profile improvement, academic profile improvement, and physical maturation, will give Team Hurricane student-athletes the ability to transition more effectively at the collegiate level on the court, in the classroom and socially.

Through intensive on-court skills training, basketball specific athletic performance training, and top-level competition, our student-athletes gain skills and experience necessary to expand their college recruitment and create additional options for their collegiate careers.

We ultimately seek those with an adventurous spirit to take part in such a unique endeavor. Team Hurricane is looking for articulate and disciplined student-athletes of high integrity. 

To learn more about this program, please contact Coach Reed at:

Also, visit our website:

Please visit and "Like" our Facebook Page:

And to share how one can support the Global Program please visit:

So international players and coaches don't hesitate to drop me a line to learn more about studying and training in PARADISE1

A paradise island...

...gorgeous beaches...

...and magnificent sunsets!

"All I Want For Christmas..." (Part 1)

The holiday season is upon us. The season of giving and receiving. It's a time when I say, "All I want for to recruit some talented players with a jump shot."

As my Team Hurricane Basketball Academy seeks to make the leap into prep school basketball, the time has come for me to reflect on just what is it a basketball coach looks for in recruiting players for their program. I have my ideas which I'll share shortly. But since I plan to deal with high school players looking to do a gap year, I thought I'd look around and share what some college coaches had to say about recruiting and what they look for in players.

First, let's look at a general recruiting philosophy.

John Calipari, University of Kentucky:

“You have to know what (the recruit’s) dreams and aspirations are, and chase those with them. I’m trying to help them succeed, so we become one of the places where everyone wants to work.”

John Calipari has 5 Rules of Recruiting

Rule 1: You have to know the people you recruit.
“I ask them, what do you want out of your college experience, where do you want basketball to take you? And then, from there, I’m doing everything I can to help them succeed.”

Rule 2: Honesty is key.
Calipari never promises playing time or NBA stardom to his recruits, only opportunity.
“The last thing you want is someone who isn’t going to thrive in your system. The more they fail, those results begin to hurt your recruitment.”

Rule 3: If someone moves, don't forget about them.
“Are you taking care of people on the way out? Or is all just about what they can do for you? That’s all part of recruiting.”

Rule 4: Social media is your friend. 
Calipari has more than one million Twitter followers, more than 500,000 Facebook followers and frequently updates both accounts. Why? For him, it’s a way to get the real Calipari out, without the filter of the mainstream media. Going back to his point of being honest, the more he can show the world what the real John Calipari is like, the more likely he is to get recruits who are a good fit. 

"Social media, if you are not doing it, you are already losing,” he said. “If you are doing it, it’s more or less to be transparent.”

Rule 5: Follow the Golden Rule.
"Ultimately though, what it comes down to is treating people the right way. If you are honest, if you legitimately help people achieve their dreams and if keep a good relationship with them after they leave, you are going to have a successful organization."

John Calipari

Coach Mike Krzyzewski 0f Duke:

"As far as the kid we go after, we look at three things: Is he talented enough to help us win a championship? [That doesn't mean he has to be a pro right away.] Is he academically prepared to do a good job here? And third - and they all have the same importance - what kind of character does he have? Does he have great character?"

Mike Krzyzewski

Once you've established a philosophy about recruiting what specifically do coaches look for in players. 

Bill Self, University of Kansas: 

Athletic ability is the first thing to look at. How explosive, how quick twitch, fast might not be the right word, how explosive a first step, first jump, ability to slide, those things. The next thing to me is can they shoot? I didn't say score, but can they shoot? In a perfect world I would rather have a great athlete who is a great shooter rather than a great athlete who is a great scorer. It's easier to teach somebody how to score than it is to teach somebody how to shoot. The last thing is if they are tough."

Bill Self

So, upon reflection, here are some keys that I'm looking for as I hit the recruiting trail:

Tough players, who play to win. Nothing to do with the final score, but rather their approach to the game, every drill. They give their best effort always. They don't pout nor get discouraged easily.  They fight through the adversity the game will bring. Applies to their schoolwork as well. They don't give up on assignments or go through motions with their schoolwork.

Play with  enthusiasm. Enjoys the game. 

Winning Habits
Like players who warm up properly. Or are they out there chucking up 25 footers the moment they step on the court. Are they into the game when they're on the sidelines. Are they talking the game with teammates or talking about girls. Seek players who are disciplined in thought and in character. 

Good Academics - Speaks for itself.  I mean, it is the reason why they're in get good grades and take an interest in learning.

Skill set
Like Bill Self, I want shooters more so than scorers. But I love those with passing and dribbling skills as well. Our program doesn't stifle those who pass and dribble with creative flair as long as it's within reason. :-)

Long, lean and quick/fast.

Basketball IQ
Players who can run and learn offenses and defenses. Don't seek out players who see basketball as a free-for all pick-up game.

Do they fit our system. I like to play fast. Not necessarily run and gun, but play at an uptempo pace with discipline. That's a unique skill set. To play fast but not wildly. Comes back to being disciplined. Our motion offense system is tailored for creative players,  creative thinkers. I want players who can figure things out on their own. Who can improvise within the basic rules of our system. It's a system that has roles for slashers and catch-and-shoot jump shooters. Players with good decision making skills in the open court.

So there you have it. A few thoughts on recruiting.  I recruit 24/7 so don't hesitate to let me know about talented players of good character and beautiful jump shots!

Coach Reed

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Bruce Weber & the Principles of Zone Offense

Hey's been a little while since I last posted.  I wanted to share some notes from a recent video purchase, Bruce Weber: Drills & Plays for Scoring Against Zone Defenses.

I've always found Bruce Weber, Head Coach of Kansas State University, to be an intriguing coach. Maybe it's because, if I'm honest, we share some offensive sensibilities. He's been quoted as saying about shot selection:

"Closer isn't always better. Open is better." ("K-State basketball under coach Bruce Weber has unique tempo, strategy", The Collegian, February 7, 2013)

And regarding his offensive philosophy:

Weber’s offense has been predicated on the ability of his players to make open jumpers. His fluid motion system is meant to create these opportunities. Players are constantly on the go, making instant reads on how to react. What it does not do is present a plethora of opportunities to get to the foul line. (The Collegian, February 7, 2013)

When he was at the University of Illinois, it was said...

“Weber's offense…requires players to create significant spacing in a half-court setting to spread out defenders and establishes roles for players either to screen or cut for the ball with astonishing quickness.

The players are in constant motion without a distinct directive, making it extremely tough for opponents to scout the Illini. Each time Illinois runs motion, its unpredictability leaves even Weber guessing what might happen next.

"I lose control; they have freedom," Weber said. "Some coaches can't deal with it and can't run motion." ("Poetry in Motion", Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2005)


Regarding his thoughts on zone offense as he shared in his new video:

“You want to teach them how to play. The more you teach them how to play, it makes it easier on you as a coach. If you have to draw a play and have them execute it every time down the court you’re going to fail as a coach.”

Against Zone
1.)   Push the basketball. Don’t let the zone set up. Worse thing you can do is see that they’re playing zone and start to walk it up. Get into a secondary break.
2.)   Take the basketball up to the defense. Have the confidence to make someone guard you.
3.)   Reverse the basketball. Move the ball and make the defense work.
4.)  Get the basketball inside every 3 or 4 possessions. Make the defense drop in and open up the outside.
5.)  Attack the gaps of the zone. Make two guys guard one. Attack closeouts so you can get into the gap. That gives you an advantage.
6.)   Use the skip pass to distract defenders.
7.)   Overload the zone to create advantages. Put more players on a side than they have defenders.
8.)  Use screening actions against the zone. Screens are difficult to defend. Use the same screening actions from your man offense, you’ll put the defense in a bind. Ball screens can lead to overloads and the defense scrambling. Cross screens to put defense and let someone flash, you’ll put the defense in a disadvantage.
 9.)   Space the court. You want to be where they’re not…like the short corner, mid-post.
10.) Use the misdirection. Take the ball one way to pull the zone and then go back the other direction, you get the defense to shirt.
11.) Rebound.

Here is a clip from Coach Weber's video: 

In the clip below, is one of Team Hurricane's favorite sets, VCU "Flood".

And here is another clip of some quality zone offense plays:

Wednesday 12 August 2015

In The Zone

Started this blog with every intention of primarily focusing on offense – my favorite aspect of the game. But for those who know my tendencies as a coach, they know while I like offense, people also know that when it comes to defense….I’m in the zone.

I guess what else would you expect from a Syracuse University grad?!?

When I first started coaching I wanted to be a man 2 man coach. Aggressive, denying the pass, in your face, mug you kind of defense. But quickly, I soon saw the value of playing zone. Here are 4 reasons why I love playing zone.

1. The size and quickness of the players can effectively take away the open 3-point shot.
2. Teams spend most of the season working on their man-to-man offense.
3. It is easy for a team that plays zone to know what its opponent will do against them. There are far more man-to-man offenses to prepare for than zone offenses.
4. The zone can dictate the tempo, not to mention momentum, of the game.

Numbers 2 and 3 are key elements. I’ve noticed that very few teams will run plays against our zone. They just pass it around hoping to get a good shot. And in many cases, when teams don’t have plays to run against our zone, what inevitably happens they get frustrated and their frustration becomes visible. You see teams start bickering and arguing amongst themselves.  They get exasperated with one another.  I absolutely love that element of the game….playing the type of defense that gets inside the head of an opponent. I love this psychology part of the game. Getting into the minds of opponents.

While my teams don’t have the length of Syracuse there are many elements that about how Syracuse plays zone that I look to emulate with Team Hurricane.  Here are some basic thoughts and notes:

1.     Contrary to popular belief, Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is not a “passive defense” by any means. It’s not a defense that Jim Boeheim uses to mask his team’s weaknesses, rather it’s a defense he uses to utilize his team’s length and athleticism. For my team the zone best utilizes our quickness and athleticism, in particular our guards. We have quick, pit bull guards who can be very disruptive. Coach Kent Tacklyn is big on pressure and has our guards pressure the ball, he wants to disrupt the ballhandler as they cross halfcourt. As a result, we play an extended zone. Not passive in any shape or form.
2.     There are a multitude of traps that Syracuse can run out of the zone but it is not generally known for forcing a lot of turnovers. Instead the zone holds the opposition to a low shooting percentage by forcing them into uncomfortable shots altered by the length and athleticism of its defenders.
3.     "It's not the way it works," Boeheim says, "it's the way these guys play it. You can't simulate that. It's like Louisville's pressure. You can't simulate that. You can practice it all you want, but it's not the same.”
4.     As University of Cincinatti coach Mick Cronin says, “You shoot jumpers, that’s what they want. You’ve got to be able to score from 15 feet in. If you can’t, you’re not going to beat them.  It’s like this: If you’re constantly putting from four to six feet, and I’m putting from 15 to 20, you’re going to beat me, eventually.’’
5.     The way Boeheim coaches the 2-3 makes it even more impenetrable. “He concedes the baseline. The back three in the zone allow foes five feet out from the baseline. If you try to exploit that gap by passing to it, they trap you with two monsters. If they’re late getting there, they’ll block the shot. (Mick Cronin).
6.     With the baseline ignored and the zone extended, good shots become hard to find. That’s when the psychology of the zone kicks in. It takes so much effort, constantly cutting inside and back out, just to get a shot. If you miss it, that’s where it really affects you psychologically.’’ (Mick Cronin).
7.     What people don't talk about is the quickness, the speed that allows Syracuse to recover and to close a gap that for a split second looks open. This quickness plays to my team’s strength as well. It’s the players' speed that is deceptively critical. As Jim Boeheim’s right hand man Mike Hopkins says, “It's like when Miami started putting safeties as linebackers and defensive ends," he said. "It just looks like speed so it's like, 'Oh, that's open. Uh-oh, no it's not."
8.     “Everybody’s talking about the 2-3 zone. That’s not a 2-3 zone. The 2-3 zone has been with us since the dawn of time. It’s the way it slides and moves out there, like a damn amoeba. “The only time it’s a 2-3 zone is when they’re waiting for you to bring the ball to it. Then, it becomes something else.” (John Thompson, Jr., Georgetown University)

An excerpt from The Triangle by Brett Koremonos encapsulates why I love Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and playing zone for my team:

It almost looks choreographed. You can see two men slide, and then two men slide over behind them, and, anytime a slice of daylight appears, there’s an arm and a hand there to block it. The traps come suddenly, and from all angles, and with startling speed. You never get two identical looks from the zone on successive possessions. It is a simple defense played within a universe of creative variations.

And they play it cleanly; they had only 11 team fouls against Marquette, and only 17 against Indiana. To watch the five men move almost as one, and to see the gaps disappear as quickly as they do, is to see that Thompson’s basic point is correct. This is only a 2-3 zone when it is completely at rest. In full cry, it is, quote, “something else.”

The movements are so precise, and the results so thorough, that the Syracuse zone has unique effects on the game completely missing from any other team that plays this most basic of defenses. Usually, teams facing a zone play patiently, and the game slows to a crawl. However, teams facing the Syracuse zone seem to lose their minds, cranking up the tempo to a preposterous pace. Sooner or later, you just look desperate, which means you feel desperate, which means you are.”

And there you have it, why I love to play zone. For me personally, as I mentioned earlier, it plays into the psychology of the game. When played well, it can get into your opponents head. And that, many will say, is half the battle in playing winning basketball.