One Dominant Voice

One player is the alpha male and his voice is the one that’s heard most often.  More importantly, his voice is the one that shuts other voices down, keeps them silent.  His voice can be positive or negative, usually it’s some of both.  But when you only hear one voice that team likely isn’t getting the best out of everyone.

Lack of Emotion

A blank look in their eyes.  Talking to them, asking questions, yelling at them, film work, on the court, workouts.  When you can’t get any real response – positive or negative – they may be compliant but not invested.  They’ll do what they’re told, often reluctantly.

Uncontrolled Emotion

The player that goes after his teammate in practice for something, and won’t listen to his teammates or coaches.  The guys who celebrate a great play so much that they forget to get back on defense.  Players on the bench who turn cheering for their teammates into talking trash to the other team.  Outbursts at the officiating that affect the next play.  Emotion can be good and is necessary, but dysfunctional teams can’t control it.

Bad Transition Defense

Easy baskets in transition decide so many games.  Transition defense is really important, and it takes no talent.  It’s just effort, focus, commitment and buy-in.  Teams that are really bad at it have something wrong.

No Communication

Great defenses – and great teams – are loud.  Being loud means you are selfless and invested – you are concerned about the team more than just yourself.  Saying that you have quiet players and that it’s just their personality is a cop-out.  Teams that don’t talk are in trouble.

Open Teammates Shaking Their Head

Every team in every game misses the open man at some point.  It happens for a number of different reasons, not just because one player is selfish.  But when that guy who gets missed stands there with his hands up shaking his head, that’s usually not a good sign.  He doesn’t trust his teammate just missed him or made a bad read – he thinks he was selfish, or it was on purpose.

Too Much Engagement With Officials

I’m not just talking about emotion or technical fouls – obviously that doesn’t help any team.  But the prolonged conversations with officials, continued engagement and constantly asking questions or explaining during free throws is a bad sign.  It shows me you are worried to much about stuff you shouldn’t be, and you want everyone to know you have an excuse – it was the ref’s fault, not mine.

Fly-Bys and Bailouts

Guys that move over to help and get their body out of the way, swinging at the ball hoping to get a steal while giving up a lay-up aren’t making the tough sacrifices for the team.  It’s a sign they won’t do the hard stuff.  Guys who bail out in help side or in transition, giving up easy lay-ups help you lose.

Getting Stuck In The Paint

The offense is moving the ball well and has your defense in a scramble situation.  You had to help on the ball, and now as the ball whips around everyone is sprinting to help.  Then the offense makes the extra pass to the corner, and no one is running at them.  Two guys have stopped in the paint, looking at each other, thinking the other one was going to get there.  We call this getting “stuck.”  If it happens often, your team is going to be stuck.


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