Brad Stevens Butler Defense Notes

I received these notes from Coach Steve Smiley from a presentation that Brad Stevens made at the 2010 Florida Coaches Clinic when he coached at Butler.

These are notes and the outline for his talk.  Here is a link to diagrams of his drills:  Basketball Drills

  • Coach Stevens Big into the process, statistics, and numbers.
  • This helps him to coach his team.
  • Always trying to get guys to do the things that are important.
  • Having a Defensive DNA is a big part of that.
  • Gained an appreciation when he became a head coach for how hard it is to prepare the right practice.
  • Your team has to be good at practicing the right things. This puts a huge premium on the head coach being right.
  • Broke their Defensive DNA up into 6 categories
  • Did this because he was coaching a team with 6 freshman who needed to learn how to play  their system
  • What is the best way to teach something at the beginning of the year that instills your system, but is also able to be changed/adjusted later on in the season?

1. Commitment

  • Your players must be completely committed to the system
  • In 11 years, never had a player in the program that worked his tail off on the defensive end that wasn’t a great teammate/student
  • People that do their job on every play make you feel proud to be a part of the program
  • Starts with establishing the correct mindset
  • Referenced Doc Rivers from last year’s clinic: Believe or Leave
  • If your players believe, you can establish a Defensive DNA
  • Felt that when he had young teams, having a great defensive team gave him the best chance to win
  • Challenge your team statistically
    Example: Earlier this season, Butler was giving up 45% from the floor, but they found out that if they had gotten three more stops per game, they would be giving up 39%. Defensive FG% dropped 2 percentage points for every stop.
  • Your team is never too far away from being great, and never too far away from being bad
  • Uses the 10 day break during the season to be tremendously beneficial .
  • Really admires how davidson plays-They are unpredictable, yet they have a system that they believe in.
  • Your system must be built to defend everything, no matter what is being run against it. (i.e. something you didn’t cover in scouting)
  • At the same time, have a degree of unpredictability.

2. Positioning

  • First Step to proper positioning is your transition defense.
  • Your transition drills have to simulate what happens in the game
  • Goals for transition defense
    Stay in front of the basketball
    Protect the basket
    Pick up the basketball
    Find good shooters
  • Defending the ball
    First important question where are you on the floor?
    If you have an athletic advantage, you can pressure more
    If you are at an athletic disadvantage, you can pressure more
    If you are at an athletic disadvantage, you have to trick the offensive player in different ways to keep him off balance
    Butler plays a lot of 1 on 1–both bigs and guards.  Everyone must be able to guard 2 dribbles on the perimeter (Bigs will often switch onto a guard late in the shot clock)
  • Closeouts
  • Three steps then break down (chop your feet) with your arms up; closeout to his dominant hand
  • Closeouts are dependent upon personnel
  • If you’re closing out to a great shooter, close out to his shooting hand and give him less room to get his shot off.
  • If you’re closing out to a great driver, you don’t want to break down as much.  “A great drive beats a great closeout every time.”

3. Prioritizing

  • Are you prioritizing what’s important?  The goal is to stop the other team from scoring
  • Scouting is a large part of the equation
  • Their system must be adjustable and flexible in terms of guarding different teams/players
  • Coach Stevens gave an example of how he used their trip to Italy to work on some different things, and “it took (Butler) three months to get back to our identity.”
  • Even though you (as a coach) are thinking about jumping to the ball/your identity all summer doesn’t mean your players are.
  • Learned that you need to start back over every year
  • Tony Dungy example from his new book: Concept of “regenerative leadership”  Older players spreading the culture to the younger players, and the younger players continue the cycle when they become older players

4. Awareness

  • Awareness can allow a marginal athlete to become a very good defender—more so than a great athlete with marginal awareness
  • The 4 levels of competency:
  • Unconsciously incompetent-You don’t know what you don’t know
  • Consciously incompetent-You know that you have no clue
  • Consciously competent-You know what’s going on
  • Unconsciously competent-You begin to see things before they happen.  You can rely on your habits because of how many times you’ve done it before
  • Coach will allow players to have “mature freedom” to make reads when they are in this stage of competency.
  • When you’re in the first two categories (unconsciously/consciously incompetent), you should be a great follower/listener.
  • 60% of awareness comes from what you have built through practice/drills/habits
  • 40% of awareness comes from who you are guarding or what the other team is running
  • Uses lots of 4 on 4 work in practice

5. Execution/Technique

  • Technique is easy to work on in indivìduals
  • Coach Stevens spent some time at the Indianapolis Colts offseason
    Was struck by the consistency in their approach
    Quarterbacks spent 5 minutes per day watching their handoffs with no defense. (Attention to detail)
    Described Peyton Manning as “Elite in his preparation”
  • Butler ¡s big on drilling and technique
  • Be deliberate in your practice and approach
  • The strength and conditioning coach will drill the players in the offseason around techniques that the players will be executing all season (i.e. hedging a ball screen) “Deliberate conditioning”

6. Completion

  • The importance of “finishing plays”
  • Guys that really care and understand the concept of blocking out
  • Butler teaches blocking out based on the individual personnel of their players
  • Less mobile player’s responsibility is to keep the offensive player from getting the ball
  • A more mobile player (with a nose for the ball) may just hit his man then pursue the ball.I will be posting the drills from the notes later in the week.

Here is a link to diagrams of his drills:  Basketball Drills

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