A National Championship Coach Shares His Experiences

Coach Bart Sengers of the Netherlands is a coach at Eurosped Twente in Tubbergen and is also involved with the Team Holland Under 18 womens team as an assistant coach. With his club coach Sengers coaches the women and the Under 16 ladies.

With a very young womens team coach Sengers got some upsets playing quick basketball which helped Sengers get elected as an all star coach and runner up for coach of the year. The Under-16 girls did even better as they won the national title.

Here’s coach Sengers account of the 2010-11 season.

Introduction on the teams and the situation.

Before the 2010-11 season I radically changed the way I play with my teams. That season I would train and coach two teams, a girl’s under-16 team and a first division women’s team. It would be my first season as a head coach in the first division after half a season of being an assistant in that same division. The head coach of that team introduced me to the offense that he had from Vance Wallberg after visiting the states to update his knowledge of the game. He took some elements of that offence and implemented it in the offences he wanted to play that season. I decided to get to know as much about the offense as I could and after learning more and more about it I was sure this was the offense for my teams for the 2010-11 season.

The women’s team would have a very young and relatively inexperienced squad at that level of competition since the club decided we would play our own youth players instead of getting a lot of foreign “professional” players as we had the previous seasons.

Luckily for me and the team our best guard – one of the best guards in the country – decided to stay with the team to learn how to lead a team and work on her offensive skills. She would be the engine of the team. As she is a great driving 6 feet guard the offense suited us perfectly since we would find many ways to start it or give her space to drive. She would end up averaging almost 30 points, 7 assists and 5 steals while learning how to lead a very young team. At the end of the season she got a good contract abroad as a starting point guard what had been her ambition all along. She was ready.

We also had some good shooters and another driving guard that would be injured the first half of the season. When she finally got ready to play we were a pretty good team that lacked some defensive power on the inside.

As far as the under 16 girls, that were really more like 13 and 14 year old girls, I wanted them to learn to attack while playing basketball. In my experience too many girls in our club were not automatically looking to score and in that way didn’t develop their scoring abilities quick enough. They would be one dimensional either as scorers or as passing machines, as I would call them. The “passing machines” might have been open to score and never even have known that since they paid no attention to the basket, but just tried to be excessive team players or run the offense as best as they could. Sometimes they would be scared of making mistakes.

I wanted these players to start thinking of how they could score, so whenever somebody would have the ball we would play for her (but of course there would be some exceptions further on in the season when we used special entries).

The goal the club has for these girls is to get ready to play first division women basketball for our club. Playing the same system they would when going to the women’s team while developing their offensive abilities sounded like a great idea and it would turn out to be. At the end of the year some of the under 16 girls helped the women’s team out during the playoffs and could step in without a problem. Also they would practice with the women’s team when we didn’t have enough players due to circumstances. This season 4 of them will play first division.

Pre season

Pre season was all about getting to know the offense so that we could play by the time the season would start. For the under 16 it would be less of a hurry job since whatever we would do in the competition would not really matter. Our real season, the quest for the national championship would start months later.

Teaching the offense turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. It would take up so much time that defensively we would not do much with either team. We would stand around too much and just watch the point guard, would not start low enough, would not go backdoor, would not remember what to do and keep doing the old stuff we were used to. It would take some real conviction on my part and I had to help them push through their old habits. This would take longer than the preseason for both teams. Doing the little things right would turn out to be real tough as well – like getting a positive pass for example.

We would start the season with shooting around 25 threes a game but during the season we shot the three less and less and lost the balance between driving and shooting. Under 16 girls would have to learn to shoot the 3 and so they hardly shot a three in the beginning but in the end most of them where able to shoot the 3 and being able to do so won us the championship game in which we got zoned the last three quarters of the game.

We would run a lot of simple drills and that would consist of parts of the offense to get it in. Examples are getting to the drop zone, passing to the wing for a drive or a backdoor. Later we would add the post to that and at the end of the season the other forward. Or we would have the PG drive to the basket and have the second guard get behind for a shot. Lot of simple drills like that can be found on several videos on the offense or in coach Olesen’s book. At the end of the preseason the teams would have an idea of the offense and could run it a little. Most successful would be passes to the (relocating) post after a drive. In our competition it is more usual to put the post on the ball side so that different look plus the moving post helped us a lot.

Development of the players

Every practice we would warm-up with some dribbling- and ball handling drills. After that we would shoot. We needed to become better with the ball and so of course it showed at the end of the season.

During the season I must say the girls developed as basketball players. They did not just become better ball handlers but they also read defenses better (there is still some work to do here but the first step has been made). Most of them look to attack first now, and they have become better drivers and they can finish in more ways. Also very important is the aspect of spacing. They have got a better understanding of spacing and how to use it. Better than any other team I have ever coached.

Aspects that need to get better and we did not do well the first season.

  • Staying in the offense
  • Using the skip pass
  • Getting the details in like starting positions, positive passes and throwing passes to the post high and being patient in the corners
  • Making use of the backdoor
  • Getting to the foul line, finishing with contact and getting the contact
  • Shooting the 3

 Development of the offense

At the start of the season we tried to get a fast break in that would fit the offense at the same time. We had a hard time doing that. During the season we did run some kind of break but it was not organized and ended up usually in us just playing an entry into the offense. That is something we will do better this season. I think a big reason why we didn’t get the fast break right is me as a coach not being sure how I wanted it in every situation and not practicing it enough as well as emphasizing it. During the summer I made sure that this season it will be different as now I know how we will run our transition in every possible situation.

Another thing that was really clear for me during the season is that it was easier teaching the offense to the u16 team than it was to the women’s team. That might sound strange since you might expect it to be different due to the women having more experience with the game. The u16 girls just did what they were told and found success earlier. They played in a boys competition but as soon as we played an international tournament versus girls teams all of a sudden they were able to score so easily and found their believe in the system and way of play. They would win the tournament and end up being 24-1 against female teams for the season. Most of those teams started playing zone against us since man to man they simply had too much trouble stopping us. The older and more experienced women always knew another way we could play or pass or… You name it. They were always looking for their old habits to fit into the offense and that slowed our development in playing the offense as a team a lot. Another reason was that many of the team would just stand and watch our point guard. I am however convinced that this season we will be better playing the offense as a team if our guards stay healthy.

What I have learned:

Playing the offense the first season with these two teams was great choice for the teams and me personally. It brought us a lot of fun and success. It got us a lot of compliments of the crowd and even standing ovations after a loss.

For me as a coach it was a challenge since there was a lot on the line in my first season as a head coach and I definitely feel that I took some risks playing the offense since I had no experience with it. There are no regrets at all.

I expected it to take a lot of time before we would be able to play the motion in a good way. I had hoped it would go quicker but it didn’t. There is still some work to be done but we are getting there. Still we were looking to score more and so even though we wouldn’t play it the right way our mindsets did change quicker and we would usually come up with high scoring games which is fun for almost everybody. I decided to change different numbers for our players. So the 1 would be my main point guard. The two would be right next to her. The 3 would be in the right corner ( the 3 side for us) and the 4 in left corner ( 4 side for us), 5 would be our post. The reason is that I wanted it to be easier for them since these numbers is what they are familiar with. Also I would often play with a power forward and she would have to go the left corner anyway. I made it easier for them but harder for me since whenever I read something about the ddm I have to convert positions. Also I came up with different terms for the dropzone and rackzone. The dragzone I do not talk about. I think it made it easier for them.

Putting in a fast break that worked well with the motion was harder than I thought. To me it looked simple but for the team it wasn’t. Due to the fact that we can only practice three times a week we hardly had a chance to work on our defense. We spent our time on fundamentals and offensive tactics.

If I had a chance to do it again I would not have worried about the break and have them play offense 5 on 0 more. What really worked for the younger kids was playing 5-0 every entry we had going into the motion. We would play an entry and let that flow into the motion then kick it out and start the next entry. That way they would be playing a 5 minute offense and all the outside players will end up on every spot.

I will need to find more ways as a coach to make them do the little things the right way. I will demand more of them next season. Being way more comfortable with the offense will make it a lot easier as well. The team and I were learning the offense at the same time even though I would always be ahead of course.

Good luck with your team.

Bart Sengers

Eurosped Twente Tubbergen


This entry was posted in Championship, Dribble Drive Motion, Dribble Drive Offense, Fast Break, Player Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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