I sat down with North Andover High School assistant Kevin Tanglis. We discussed yelling “dead” when the dribble gets picked up, the assistant’s role during timeouts, and consistency at all levels.
Yelling Dead to Force Five Seconds
I asked Coach Tanglis about the team’s abilities to force five second calls and shot clock violations. Whenever I have seen them play I have admired their ability to generate pressure on offenses to this extent. One detail particularly stuck out. At all levels – including freshmen where he coaches – they are very focused on yelling “dead” as soon as a dribble gets picked up. Once the yelling takes place everyone picks up their intensity. He and the players on the bench are yelling it. They even yell “dead” in practice drills. The team has a drill called fundamental lines.
While Coach Tanglis is proud of the identity of the team when they yell “dead” he knows that they can be better at communication.“Let me know when you play a great talking team,” he shared with me in frustration. He elaborated a little more on the communication by breaking down their ball screen defense. Initially they had tried to teach blitzing the ball screen, but they found that the players could not consistently execute this. Now they will switch if it is guard to guard and usually fight over the top on guard to forward ball screens. The challenge with the word “usually” of course is that the players must communicate. Coach Tanglis emphasized that regardless of how well you stress this, a team can always do it better.
Assistant Coaches During Timeouts
During their timeouts it is customary for the head coach to immediately huddle with the assistant coaches. This is something seen all the time in the NBA where timeouts are longer, but not something I’ve seen much in high school. The head coach will take about ten seconds to listen to what the assistants have to say. I asked Kevin why was this was done. He said it was mostly to counteract emotion from getting in the way of basketball. The head coach (his brother) was so invested in the play on the floor in the details, that he would miss the big picture. It also gave the head coach a moment to pause instead of turning unnecessarily negative. His role as an assistant coach is simply to observe. Thus, during the first ten seconds of a timeout he might out point out a mismatch on either end or one thing to focus on. They do have an assistant coach that tracks fouls and timeouts as well and this information is often relayed as well.
The last question I asked Coach Tanglis is something I like to ask every coach. What one thing did he feel their program did that other coaches could easily implement? He paused for about ten seconds and then with confidence replied, “consistency at every level.” If a player on the Freshmen team was brought to a JV practice for a day, that player would know what to do in the drills. Same could be said if the player was brought to the Varsity team. The concepts and the terminology are the same. And if the head coach makes a change schematically, that change is then used in all levels of the program.
Additionally, he stressed that every component of practice involves competition. A shooting drill, for example, is split into two teams. He is not afraid to threaten punishment for the losing team either. “I know it [punishment] sounds bad, but the players respond.” I have seen Coach Tanglis’ run a practice and the punishment he refers to is not anything excessive. And the kids do compete.