Moving without the Basketball in Dribble Penetration

For teams that are utilizing dribble drive or read and react, this drill is effective. Players are drilled to move without the basketball in dribble penetration.

The drill reminded me of a drill that Bob Hurley Sr. calls Williams (see diagram below).

Both drills incorporate a jump stop off dribble penetration and provide creative freedom to reverse pivot or use a traditional pivot. The crucial difference is the expectation that the drive cues movement off the ball. The other ingredient that Merrimack emphasized was after the pass is kicked back to the perimeter, the player sprints back out to the perimeter. Williams never required high effort to get out of the paint after a pass, but it should.

Merrimack did not add another layer to this drill, but there are two other teaching points worth considering.

Extra Points of Emphasis

First, I really like the idea of giving the ball back to the player sprinting out to the corner. Players are always tempted to become spectators after the ball leaves their hands. Many coaches argue that right after the ball is given up is when the offense is most dangerous. On-ball defenders also have a tendency to relax after the ball is passed. Defending this action takes extraordinary discipline. Given the original drive, there are likely two closeouts required in the span of five seconds. The offense will only be able to execute this if it is practiced. The footwork of sprinting to a corner, planting the feet, pivoting correctly, and then driving will result in traveling if it is not drilled.

A second teaching point Coach Monique LeBlanc told me is passing accurately. The term that their team is using to drive this home is “strike zone.” The idea being that players give a target where they want the ball and the passer puts the ball in that place. Coaches are getting on players for putting the ball out of the strike zone because of the consequences it has on shooting percentage. It is easy for pivoting and movement to steal the central focus of the players. Throwing a pass to shooters that are ready to shoot can get lost in the weeds.

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