Here is a description of how Michigan State Basketball does there scouting reports. It was unclear as to wether it was the men’s or women’s program and as to the nature of the document, it may have been a class assignment but nevertheless it is a detailed description of a scouting report. You can find the document here and the contents copied below.
Michigan State Basketball Team Scouting Reports
TO: Bill Hart-Davidson, WRA 320 Instructor
FR: Brandon McMann
DT: September 21, 2004
RE: Creation and execution of a good scouting report.
This document will examine how and why Michigan State’s basketball program creates scouting reports of their opponents. The focus will be on the way Michigan State conducts this process, mainly because scouting reports are not the same across the board and all the information gathered for this document was courtesy of Michigan State’s basketball program. There are some similarities among all college basketball scouting reports such as; the NCAA does not allow live scouting unless the teams are in tournament play, therefore all scouting is conducted via video exchange, the type of information gathered is the same in nature (rebounding, offensive plays, types of defense, player stats, turnovers, team defense…), the diagrams for drawing out plays are the same, the symbols and acronyms are consistent across the board. The major factor that separates a great scouting report from an average one is how detailed and extensive it is. Larger schools have a greater advantage because they have better technology and more resources to scout effectively.
The creation of a great scouting report:
The first step to creating a scouting report is obtaining videos of the opponent, which can be a complicated process. It is not likely that an opponent will send video to an opposing school willingly or in a timely manner. A scouting report is typically constructed from 5 or 6 different game films and will range from 10 to 20 pages in length, depending on the complexity of the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. Once the season starts there are two games every week, so it is important to think ahead and have the opponent’s game films well in advance. MSU tries to tape every college basketball game that is aired (which is helpful for tournament time) they also acquire game films by contacting teams that have already played the opponent being scouted. In an interview with Asst. Coach Mark Montgomery, he said, “It helps to have close friends in the conference and across the nation.” The information is out there, but teams have to be willing to seek it out.
After the videos are collected, two of the coaches will watch each tape. One is responsible for set plays and personal, and the other is responsible for defensive plays, BLOBs and SLOBs (baseline out of bounds and sideline out of bounds plays), and zone defenses. The coaches are provided with a sixteen-page handout to assist in diagramming plays, and an eight-page handout for player information and stat recording. Together they keep track of the stats, offensive/defensive rebounds, turnovers, free throws, etc. Each tape takes several hours to watch; the coaches are constantly pausing and rewinding the tapes in order to accurately diagram plays. They look for hand signals from coaches and players in order to match them up with the plays they are running. Coach Montgomery stated, “It is crucial for the information to be complete and accurate in the scouting report, because the players count on us for correct information and we as coaches study, know and teach this information so there are no surprises come game time.” After the films have been studied, the coaches compare notes and write out a draft of the scouting report. They make sure all acronyms; symbols and diagrams can be understood by anyone who would need to read the report. When MSU coaches diagram a play, players are numbered one through five (where number one is the point guard, number two is a shooting guard, number 3 is a swing man, number four is a power forward and number five is the center). If there is a circle around the number, then that means that player has the ball; a dashed line with an arrow represents a pass; a solid line with an arrow represents player movement; and screens are represented by solid lines with a perpendicular line intersecting at the point of the screen. Look for examples one and two below for visual representation of a diagramed play.
Once the coaches have drafted a version of the scouting report, the secretary and video team see the report next. The secretary types up the report to make it presentable, while the video team and grad assistants enter the numbers and plays into a computer program. The computer program converts all the statistics into percentages and electronically diagrams the plays. This information is finally married with the secretary’s typed copy, and the scouting report is complete.
What a scouting report is used for:
Coach Montgomery was asked if scouting was a key in having a successful college basketball program and very seriously replied, “No doubt, it gives you an edge. This is what sets us apart from other big schools, we feel we have the best technology and we put a lot of effort into scouting. There is a tremendous amount of time and energy designated to scouting and I believe we put more into it than other teams. Our reports are extensive and we use them as teaching tools and the players as well as the coaches benefit from that.”
The entire basketball program uses a finished scouting report to prepare every game. Once the final draft is assembled, it is broken down. The video team creates mini-reports, five to seven pages in length, for the players. The players receive these mini-reports, along with a fifteen-minute highlight video of the opponents they will be facing in the game. They go as far as to create different highlight tapes, one for the guards and one for the post players so they can focus on the players they will actually be guarding. The mini-reports also consist of offensive and defensive keys, motivational comments and individual opponent player stats. The players study this information; they get a feel of what their opponents tendencies are before they ever step on the court. They can pick up hand signals, body language, if a player goes right or left, are they lazy or hard working…all factors, which can make a huge difference in the outcome of a basketball game.
The coaches study the main scouting report and videos; they look for good plays, consistencies, how they were beat or how they won against other teams. Coach Montgomery said, “If we see a great play and like it, we may take it and use it. We are not afraid to implement a new offensive or defensive play that we have picked up from another team.” The coaches can feel as if they have already coached against the opponent even if it is the first meeting ever between the teams. They compare the teams to other opponents they have faced for similarities.
The scouting report is also given to a scout team. The scout team studies the style of play of the opponent and then comes in and mimics them in practice to give the team a chance to see their offense and defense live, instead of on paper or film. Coaches see this as a very effective way to evaluate their own players, and see how they are reacting to certain situations they will encounter in a real game.
Visuals in a scouting report:
There are a variety of visuals used in a scouting report. There are actual photos of players, along with charts and tables on almost every page. There are several diagrams depicting half court offenses, early offenses, BLOBs, SLOBs, and special situations. A finished scouting report has a very nice appeal: it is well-organized, easy to read and has a very clean look.
The first page of the scouting report contains the opponent’s team name, the starting line up and major bench players. There is also a leader board column listing the team leaders in several relevant categories including points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentages. The next few pages consist of more team credentials, offensive and defensive breakdowns, and statistics.
The middle of the scouting report contains photos of the opponent’s top 10 players, along with detailed descriptions of each player’s strengths and weaknesses. Following the individual player breakdown, there are several pages of blank diagrams for early offense, defense, zones, special situations etc.
The process of writing a scouting report begins very informal; it’s a couple of coaches taking notes on game films. Once the note taking is finished however, a very formal process begins. The coaches must organize their material and combine it, it must be legible for the secretary to understand and convert to a well-organized document. The document must be neat and organized in order for the video team to find the correct video clips and input the correct numbers and diagrams into the computer program. The document must then be re-organized and made into one final report combining all text, graphics, and photos.
Another reason the final scouting report must be so formal is because it is the foundation for the creation of the mini-reports for the individual players, and it is used by the entire basketball staff to prepare for the upcoming game. If information is incorrectly documented, it could be the difference between a win, or a loss. The coaches use these reports to learn, teach and prepare. They also keep these documents on record so they can be referred to and shared with other teams; they can be used as leverage when trying to acquire a scouting report on a different opponent.
MSU’s scouting reports make MSU an elite basketball program:
Consider the amount of time and effort that goes into the process of creating just one scouting report. Coach Montgomery said, “It takes about 2 or three days to prepare one scouting report.” MSU will play over thirty games in the 2004 – 2005 season, which is three months of preparing scouting reports. In order for a program, at this level, to devote that amount of time energy into one aspect of preparation speaks volumes for the level of importance it has in the success of the program. In just nine seasons as MSU’s head coach, Tom Izzo has lead the Spartans to one NCAA National Championship, four regular-season Big Ten Championships, and three Final Four appearances. MSU prepares these scouting reports with pride, everyone in the program is involved and everyone believes in the reports. It is hard to argue with the success that the Michigan State Basketball program has had and it is clear that executing great scouting reports is a large part of that success.