Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers

Bo Ryan, Phil Martelli and more Final Four Coaching Lessons

If I learned one thing from this year’s Final Four, it was that I should have stayed for Monday night’s championship game. Each of the past two years that I have gone down, I have stayed through Monday night’s game and seen a champion crowned. This year I went down Wednesday afternoon and only stayed until Sunday.


Monday’s game, of course, was possibly the greatest college basketball game of all time, given the stakes and the heroics involved in UNC’s tying three-pointer and Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beater to win Villanova the national championship.

Two years ago I saw Shabazz Napier and a surprising UConn squad beat Kentucky in Dallas and last year I witnessed Duke overcome a veteran Wisconsin team to cut down the nets in Indianapolis.

My favorite memory of those two years was probably witnessing James Young do this in person:

But as exciting as that was, it was not this:

Still, my time in Houston was amazing and I am already waiting for 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.

While in Houston I tried to maximize my learning at the NABC Coach’s Convention. I heard a number of veteran coaches speak about a variety of different topics. Below are notes from a few of the speakers I saw.

Grey Giovanine – Head Coach Augustana College, Division III (Rockford, IL)

Giovanine led Augustana to a 29-2 record in 2016 and since 2003 has a 295 – 91 record, which is good for a 76.4 winning percentage. A big part of the success Giovanine has achieved is due to his DEFEND/REBOUND/RUN philosophy, which he talked about on Thursday morning.

Defend – Hold opponent to one CONTESTED shot

Rebound – When the shot goes up, the WAR begins

Run – Secure the rebound and attack the defense by outlasting and sprinting to lanes

Giovanine breaks the game down into six categories (transition defense, half court defense, defensive rebounding, transition offense, half court offense, offensive rebounding) and tries to be great at three and good at the other three.

Each game Giovanine titles his best rebounding guard and best rebounding forward the “Chairman of the Boards.”

Gives rebounding cues to players. To offensive player being boxed out: “Get off his back.” To perimeter offensive players: “Run to the rim.” To defensive rebounder: “Check and chase, not check and hold.”

Why transition offense?

  1. Players love it.
  2. Fans love it.
  3. Recruits love it
  4. Rules encourage it (shot clock, hand checking rules)
  5. Why play 5 v 5 if 2 v 1 or 3 v 2 is available?
  6. Makes us the aggressor
  7. It’s the carrot to defend and rebound
  8. Offensive rebounding advantage in transition

When Augustana outlets off a defensive rebound, it’s not always the quickest pass available – they are patient to allow for as long of a clean outlet pass possible.

Jerod Haase – Head Coach Stanford

Haase, who recently accepted the Stanford position after a lot of success at University of Alabama Birmingham spoke about transition and leadership.

When you get a new job, ask yourself: What’s urgent? What’s important? What’s both?

First priorities at new job: Address players, meet key administrators, call key donors, call key recruits. Then: put together staff, start building culture.

Roy Williams thinks of himself not as a basketball coach, but as a leader of a basketball program.

Core Values of his program at UAB: Honesty – Loyalty – Accountability – Appreciation – Unselfishness

On leadership:

  1. Be confident in what you’re doing.
  2. Be humble with your confidence.
  3. No job is too small.
  4. Delegate (balance: not too much or too little)
  5. Make tough decisions – gather info and make the RIGHT decision
  6. Have thick skin
  7. Build relationships with players

Q: How can I move up in the profession? A: Do your job phenomenally well and you will get noticed.

Phil Martelli – Head Coach St. Joseph’s University

Better practices:

  1. Doesn’t wear a whistle – train your team to react to your voice like they do in game
  2. Always have a written practice plan
  3. Use your scoreboard – get players used to noticing time and score
  4. Have a plan for assistant coaches – give them responsibility (or assistant coaches suggest specific responsibility to the head coach)
  5. Never made his team run a suicide in 28 years – not a track coach, having assistant coach check lines makes that coach lose trust

Martello doesn’t like doing 3 v 2 to 2 v 1 transition drills, because he does not think the set up is game realistic. Instead prefers free throw line transition (player across from the ball touches baseline, has to recover to stop transition).

Had multiple varieties of 1 v 1 that could be played almost every day.

Bo Ryan – Former Head Coach Wisconsin

When small forward, power forward or center is crashing the offensive glass, he asks them to attempt to make one counter move against the box out.

Encouraged inside – out three point shots. Are highest percentage 3s, because toes and shoulders are already square to rim – also how you practice with a friend rebounding/passing under the hoop.

Transition Defense: First man back is the goalie – protect the rim (outside the charge circle) and cut off direct angle to rim.

Ryan liked progressive transition drills, like 5 man weave to 3 v 2 to 2 v 1 to 1 v 1.

Steve Prohm – Head Coach Iowa State

Prohm showed a number of player development drills that help with shot warm ups and emphasizing footwork. He also showed a few different sets that he used at Iowa State this season.

“Don’t fear failure, fear being successful at things that have no value.”


One comment on “Bo Ryan, Phil Martelli and more Final Four Coaching Lessons

  1. Pingback: Final Four Notes and Lessons – HOOPS CHALK TALK

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2016 by in Coaching, College Basketball.