Basketball

Before the Jump: Top Coaches Offer Advice for the New Season

Our network of coaches discuss what's on their mind heading into the upcoming season.

The beginning of a new season brings new and exciting challenges. But it also presents new questions coaching staffs across the country need to answer before their season tips off.

We reached out to a group of key coaching influencers and asked what they think about in the lead up to the new season. They provided us with some great insight - focusing on replacing production, identifying trends from the previous season, addressing your team's strengths and weaknesses, and setting goals that lead to success.

Adam Tuttle - Angola High School (Ind.)

Tuttle focuses on replacements for the production they lost from last season.

I think the most common question is who is going to replace what we lost? But I think a better question is what system puts our top 10-12 in the best position to win a championship based on what they know and their skill.

“I think most coaches will know exactly who their top 10-12 are. It is identifying their knowledge and skill that will help generate your plan for the season. It is also important that coaches take a step back and realize that all of the planning that they are doing sits upon the foundation of the culture that they have built or are looking to build.”

Using stats and video to identify trends is vital for the Denver Nuggets.

Travess Armenta - Denver Nuggets

“Specifically for our offense/defense weaknesses/strengths, we’ll make edits. For example, I’d make an edit of all the three-pointers made against us. Then we’ll look to see if they came in transition, corner threes, drive and kick, etc. We’ll break it down and see where we are weakest there and try to figure out how we can improve.

“Another way for us is through stats/advanced stats. We try to find things like what quarter did most our turnovers come in—was it because of fatigue, lineups we had out there, not being ready to start, things like that. Just basically trying to find trends to help decide where we need to improve, then figure out a way to do that.”

Joe Jackson - Wichita East Basketball (Kan.)

Jackson and his staff perform a deep analysis of their offensive and defensive strengths and weaknesses to address them before the season.

“We like to perform an offensive and defensive analysis of our returning personnel to help us determine what style of basketball we are going to play in the upcoming season.

“This season we are going to be smaller than we have been in the past, and we will adapt our style of play to a combination of 4 around 1 offense with certain lineups in. We will also drill several actions that cater to our best scorers. Everyone knows this, but basketball is not an equal opportunity sport. We definitely want our better shooters/scorers taking more shots than those that don’t shoot it as well.

“Because of that analysis of our personnel, we have spent a lot of time in the offseason developing what other teams may perceive as a weakness, and ultimately hope to be able to have to keep teams honest defensively.

“I also think it’s very important to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball, too. I’m a firm believer that great coaches adapt to the best style that fits their players. It’s much easier for us, as coaches, to be a chameleon and change a style to what suits our players, rather than having multiple players trying to adapt to fit the coach’s style, when it may not be their strength. There have been years that we’ve been a pressing team, and years we have played sagging defense. We drill man-to-man defensive principles everyday. I never think you can get enough of that.

“Most teams at any level would agree that there is always room for improvement with rotations throughout the course of a game and even a season!"

Identify your style of play after you analyze your team.

Andre Noble - Imhotep High School (Penn.)

Before every season, Noble sits down with his staff and makes a clear list of goals for his team.

“Some goals came through college coaches that we talked to and some of it was just brainstorming what we thought worked for us and what we could reach as a team. Our past experiences as a team, being a solid defensive team and rebounding, played into that. Some of it came from experience and looking at the numbers from previous years. Some came from outside sources.

“Every time we hit all six, we won by 20 points every time. For me, it was great to let us know when we were on point and when we weren’t.” 

If you’re ready to dive into data and and video to prep for season, check out our series on basketball stats to get started.