I asked Coach Heather Stec if she has developed any new insights lately. She mentioned two things. The first is that she has developed a passion for the style of offense that Army West Point head coach Dave Magarity has implemented. The offense involves no set plays and gives players positionless freedom. Coach Magarity borrowed the ideas from Noah Laroche and Rob Sanicola. The second was not a new insight, but remembering an old nugget. Everything in coaching starts by first building relationships with players.
The Noah LaRoche and Rob Sanicola System
When I asked Coach Stec to elaborate on the offense, she admitted to me that she never has enjoyed offense more. There are some coaches and teams that thrive on the first 20 seconds of a play being scripted. Coach Stec is not one of them. She actually has always prided herself on being a defensive minded coach first. Coach Magarity developed the system a little from Integrity Hoops founder Noah LaRoche.
The system originally took hold at St. Joseph’s in Maine. That is where LaRoche graduated in 2006. Since graduating, LaRoche has grinded through a path that has put him in position to train some of the NBA and WNBA elite. LaRoche’s coach in college was Rob Sanicola, and he is still the coach today. A little over a year ago, Sanicola put in an entirely new offense with LaRoche consulting. The players loved it. These videos have traveled well in coaching circles, but if you haven’t seen them they’re worth a gander. The six basic principles are broken down in greater detail.
Coach Stec’s Takeaways on the Motion Offense
The videos discuss the six principles, but it was helpful to hear Coach Stec’s perspective after implementing the system for a year. There were ten things that stuck out to me as she highlighted the offense in her own terms.
- Quick Reversals.
- Don’t hold the ball.
- Aim for lay-ups and 3’s.
- No consecutive drives.
- Limit players to 2 dribbles.
- Teams were overly focused on the first cutter, but missed the second cutter.
- Dribble at a a player cues an automatic backdoor.
- Players cannot be indecisive on backdoor otherwise turnovers ensue.
- Coaches need to be ok with losing control.
- Practice requires spending a high percentage of time on small-sided games.
**UPDATE**: Please check out a follow-up blog post I did with another West Point assistant Benjamin Chase that provides more detail about these principles.
Relationships Are Still the First Responsibility
Within all of the excitement of implementing the new offense at West Point, Coach Stec was reminded of the importance of building relationships. In the offseason, coaches acquire new information and understandably anticipate the new season.
Coaches are hyper-focused on making the most of their two-hour practices and being efficient. Coach Stec cautioned me that the two hours are much better spent once a relationship with the players is in place. During the social distancing of the past couple weeks, Coach Stec has put together videos for players and gotten to speak with them over video conferencing software. Although it is not where they want to be as a team or anyone as individuals, the team is making the most of the situation.