Offensive Flow With the Golden State Warriors

Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

Let me begin by saying that our Division III college men’s basketball team is not the Golden State Warriors, nor do we expect them to be.  However, with the Warriors at the top of the basketball world, many of us in the coaching profession have attempted to emulate or at least find applications from the Warrior offense – and our staff is no different.  We don’t have Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green, but we do have some terrifically gifted young players.  The Warriors’ style of play, which has often been called Flow, fits our team well and over the past few years we have adapted many of their actions into how we play.  Not only does it work for us, but it aligns very well with the attitude we want for our team.  We want to spread the ball around, play unselfishly, and allow each of our players to find a role in our offense – much like we strive for in our lives off the court and in our faith.  The challenge, though, is to make it flow.

BASKETBALL – Flow

Here’s one look from the myriad of videos you can find on the internet showing the flow of the Warriors’ offense since Steve Kerr too over in Oakland:

It looks so easy, doesn’t it?  In reality, the offense is a culmination of lessons leaned by Kerr throughout his playing, coaching, and broadcasting career as outlined in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle – Warriors’ Secret?

From the wisdom of Kerr, here are some of the thoughts we’ve used to develop the flow in our offense – mind you, our flow is often a trickle, but we’re getting there!

No Isolation – Rather than put the burden on one player, like Steph Curry, to score or distribute, Kerr did away with the old style of isolating players in desirable match-ups.  The Warriors want to use everyone and so do we.  Ball movement and player movement make that happen.  No one on our team should feel or take on the burden of being our only scoring threat.  That’s not how the Warriors play and it’s not how the Falcons play.

espn.com

Structure Without Structure – The Warriors always look to push the ball and score in transition, which often does not have structure, but when the defense takes away advantages, the Warriors move into simple structured patterns without resetting the offense.  This has been a difficult one for us – getting players to improvise and react, without feeling like we have to continually label and call out what we are doing.  We want to attack, but we often need some structure.  We are definitely a work in progress.

Communication – Through verbal and nonverbal cues, the Warriors move and respond to each other.  That comes through constant repetition and a complete willingness to hunt down good shots.  That’s our focus now – communicating to our players and to each other the best shots to take and what concepts we can use to get them.  For us, it typically comes down to movement without the ball – unselfish movement to help the team, not to just get the ball.

si.com

Awareness – Kerr refers to jazz music when he talks about his offense.  While Jazz musicians often improvise, they do so with an awareness of what their cohorts are doing.  There is individual freedom, with an awareness of team principles – keeping the ball moving and taking care of the ball.  We mentioned this last year in No Ball Stopping  – We must be aware of teammates and what the main objectives are for the offense.  When our team responds to each other and is keenly aware of being on the same page, we tend to be a very good offensive team.

LIFE – Getting Unstuck

Do you ever feel stuck in life?  Have you had those days or seasons of your life when things are just not clicking like you want.  We all know life is difficult and we know that there are plenty of other people who have suggestions of how to be happier, be more productive, and to be more . . . whatever.  We also may perceive that other people have it all figured out, but truly none of us really does.  That’s why we often get stuck.  If you need to get unstuck and find your flow, don’t isolate yourself.  Reach out to others and allow them to reach out to you.  Getting stuck often happens when we shut others out and think we can handle the uncertainties on our own.

FAITH – Flowing

I want my faith to be strong, to be unshakable, and to be productive.  In short, I want to grow closer to God and I want to see the world through His eyes and do all I can to share His love.  All four of our basketball concepts about achieving flow relate directly to my faith.  Isolation stops my faith from flowing – not the quiet time I enjoy spending in devotion and prayer, but when I withdraw from other people, which can be easy for me to do, I miss out on God’s plan to use them to speak his message into my life.  Too much structure may lead me to be rigid in my habits, views, and perspectives and can lead me to miss incredible opportunities to grow in my faith.  I need structure to make the most of my days, but I have to be able to respond as a growing Christian to the complexities of this world.  Constant communication with God keeps me mindful of his plans and purposes for me and my awareness of His love, His grace, and His plan of salvation helps my faith to flow.

So when you’re feeling a little stuck, in your life or in your faith, take hope.  It can flow again, but if you find it difficult to use any of these ideas always remember that God’s promises are true and if nothing else, draw close to Him.  Make it a priority to get unstuck:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)

 

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My Bad! Reducing Turnovers in Basketball

If you play, coach, or just watch basketball you know that turnovers are not good things.  In the first few weeks of practice, even without our coaches telling them or bringing it to their attention, our players know that turnovers are bad. They respond with “My bad” when they realize a mistake, but nevertheless, turnovers give the ball to the opponent without our team having a chance to score.  They come in all varieties – bad passes, bad catches, dribbling violations, offensive fouls, clock management, and poor decisions; just to list a few.   We don’t want turnovers and I know our players don’t want to produce turnovers, but can we ever get rid of them?  Can we reduce them?  And is the same true about the mistakes we make in life, or, even deeper, the sin we commit in a fallen world?  I know I don’t have all the answers and quite honestly at this point in the season, I’m hoping to just help our players become more aware of the turnovers and more importantly, to begin adjusting their habits to limit and reduce our amount of turnovers. Continue reading

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Pour Yourself Into A Teammate

Billups

Luther

Last week I wrote about the RUC attitudes we are instilling in our basketball team, with the U being unselfishness.  It’s not an easy attitude to develop, but recently I came upon a terrific story about former NBA all-star Chauncey Billups that demonstrates the power of unselfishness between teammates, while at the same time I uncovered a similar example from some reading I had been doing about the Church Reformation of the Middle Ages.  This week the Protestant Church celebrates the 500th anniversary of the movement that has directly impacted our Christian faith.  I spent time digging deeper into some of the ideas and history that have greatly impacted my own personal journey.  Martin Luther has a similar story to Chauncey Billups about the unselfishness of teammates, so let’s take a closer look at how their examples can help each of us. Continue reading

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