Watching some film from the season, going through one of our games, when they go inside the huddle. The opposing coach says, “Right now our inability to score has completely taken all the fight out of us on defense.” It’s a good point, and one that is pretty commonly talked about amongst coaches. When teams aren’t scoring, they don’t seem to have the same energy on defense. When they score, they tend to guard better. We talk about that dynamic all the time.
It’s so common now that it’s almost become accepted. If we can’t get the ball in the basket, we aren’t going to have a lot of energy defensively. But we should be trying to achieve the exact opposite – finding a place where the energy on defense is what makes our offense better, not the other way around.
It’s not that easy to do, so it’s something you have to really be intentional about. Once you get your guys thinking that way, the evidence is there. You’ll always get some easy baskets off of great defense. So if you get stops, it’s going to help your offense. A breakaway dunk or a transition 3 can be a great momentum play, and often times those start with your defense.
It’s really a shift in mentality that has to come from you. You have to emphasize the defensive end of the floor, and make sure you reward great effort on that side. The kids have to no it matters. Then you have to show them how it translates into offense – how you can get easier shots and score more points. Connect the dots for them, and continue to emphasize and reward the defensive effort. That will go a long way towards flipping your mentality.
If defensive effort is a constant – and non-negotiable – for you, it shouldn’t be affected by anything else. Not the previous possession, a missed shot, or a lack of points on the scoreboard. You have to drive that point home, that no matter what happens, we are going to guard. And if it’s not something you generally pay close attention to as the head coach (it should be), turn it over to one of your assistants and let him or her be the bad guy. Create that mentality that the way you guard will never change. Make it something you know you can count on.
It’s not easy, but winning isn’t easy. Everyone of your kids would rather play offense than guard somebody. So be intentional about it. Don’t accept the fact that when your offense doesn’t click, your defense is going to get worse. Flip it around, and put it on your defense to pick up your offense.