So this past week the 4,5,6 of January I had the chance to go and see the top Junior teams in Europe compete in one of the most prestigous youth tournaments and the games did not fail to disappoint. I would say the thing that stood out to me the most was the size of the players. These kids were big, although I guess that is to expect considering these are the best talents from across Europe.
The Top Juniors in Europe Got Game
A few thoughts: DKV was really impressive in their relentless defensive pressure for 40 minutes. I saw their “infantil” team play about a month ago and the Junior team played the exact same way and they played it to perfection, sending well timed double teams and jumping passing lanes and just making it really difficult if not impossible for the opponent to do anything they wanted to on offense.
There were a couple of teams from Eastern Europe and their coaches have a very distinct style of coaching, putting a ton of pressure on the players and being on them the whole time and when they couldn’t break the press or get good shots just calling a time out and completely ripping into them. And these teams had some bigs that didn’t look like men, but were men. Built and ready to go right now to play in one of the professional leagues.
Perhaps the most enriching part of the day for me was being able to sit with my former coach here in Spain Miguel Panades and talk basketball with him for an extended period of time. A few of the things that I found most interesting was his take on why teams from Spain struggle so much to play against zones when they play international competitions. In Spain it is frowned upon to play zone in the lower levels so the teams never do it, as a result they don’t know how to play zone defense or attack a zone offense.
We were talking about yelling at teams while watching the Lithuanian’s play and I asked him what he thought about ripping into team’s at half time and he told me it’s only a good idea if you’re losing to a team that you feel you are better than. If you should be beating them and you are losing by a good margin, but other than that, as with the majority of situations for a coach, emotions are not going to help you win basketball games or get the most out of your teams. Intelligence and pyschology yes, but celebrating when you are happy and screaming when you are mad are not generally helpful things for a basketball coach.
Another thing that struck me as important were almost all the players on the good teams the first thing that they did when they got the ball is looked at the basket and faced up in an agressive position. Then the responses varied but were all very solid in their ability to square up.
Some ideas that came up: the imporatance of teaching young kids the imporatance of change of pace, something that I will incorporate into the technificacion sessions. When rebounding the elbows should be above the shoulders. The importance of young kids using and defending the pick and roll.