Andrea Capobianco begins his career in 1994, as assistant coach of Battipaglia, in A2, the Italian second league. After three years spent as head coach of Salerno in the Italian minors, in 2000/2001 becomes assistant coach of Avellino in serie A (Italian first league). He returns in Salerno as head coach and remains three years. In december 2006 becomes head coach of Jesi in A2. In 2007/2008 he wins the Coppa Italia of the second league. In 2008/2009 is head coach of Teramo in serie A and wins the Best Coach of the Year Award.
“...an attentive and precise preparation stimulates creativity and helps in finding solutions to the unpredictable”
The last-shot situation is a frequent event, partially predictable, and therefore something you can work on in practice sessions.
The first set (diagr. 1 and 2) is a situation in which the team uses the pick-and-roll to take advantage of the defense. In the first diagram, 2, after having used the stagger screen, receives the ball from 1 and plays a pick-and-roll with 5. At the same time 4, 1, and 2 set themselves up in their proper spots.
In the second case (diagr. 3 and 4), the team will take advantage of a 1-on-1 situation. The start is the same as the first set. It will be important to maintain offensive spacing to preserve the offensive advantage. Move in too close, and you give the advantage back to the defense.
In the third situation (diagr. 5 and 6), the team will take advantage of a 1-on-1 in the low (or medium) post. The start is the same as the last two situations but 2, once he’s received the ball, dribbles towards the opposite side from where he’s gotten the pass. At this point, 3 screens for 5 and then goes high (screen-the-screener situation), or else goes far away from the ball.
When 5 receives the ball to play 1-on-1, the spacing must be maintained by the other players in order to keep the advantage over the defense.
Which play should be used and when? Who will be the player who will make the offensive move? The player that is eventually chosen will be one who is able (technically, tactically, physically, and mentally) to take advantage of the defense and maintain it. And if the defense changes and helps out, he must be able to find and pass to an open teammate.
The sets I have described are the same ones we use normally throughout the game. What makes it all special, however, is the word “decisive.” A decisive move is what makes these plays work, and having the player who can make the decisive move is the one to take the last shot.
Basketball is a game filled with emotional ups and downs. Capitalizing on the ups and minimizing the downs is what will help you win more games than you lose. I want my players to be integrated basketball players. That is, they are attuned to the technical and physical aspects of the game as it takes place on the court, but they also have a psychological relationship with themselves and the other players as the game is on going.
There are several last-shot situations to consider. I want to keep chance out of the equation and go to a higher level and make use of categories. Think of these categories as containers in which you can insert various situation. For example, in the category “Take advantage on offense,” we will insert all situations in which one or more players play to achieve that goal. The situations need to be clear and comprehensive, and we can practice to take advantage of these situations.
In the model called “integrated basketball” and described in the book “Becoming Coach”, the general categories in which are included the technical, physical and psychological aspects, and in which we expect to find all the situations that happen on the court are:
It’s impossible to foresee everything in a practice basketball situation. You can have a big model, but it won’t be as big as reality. For this reason, I suggest that you insert new and unexpected situations. Training for these totally unexpected situations of your own design helps increase the instinct and thinking capability of your players. It is instinct and thinking that are two important crutches that will help your team confront any possible adversity in a last-shot situation.
Let’s look at a common last-shot situation. Your team is down by two points with 15 seconds left in the game. In a situation like this, the psychological component becomes absolutely fundamental; the most important component, actually. Why are players often scared of taking the last shot? Why are their hands trembling? Or why does a bad freethrow shooter suddenly become a great free-throw shooter when he is under pressure? Why does a player step up and ask for the ball so he can take the last shot?
Thinking this over, it becomes clear that understanding the player’s psychological capabilities is essential and often crucial when a coach selects a player for his team, and even more important in a last-shot situation.
Let’s look at some of the psychological skills that your players should have”:
1.Emotional capacity. This is the ability of managing your emotions and your teammates’ (and rivals’) emotions. I define it as the ability of conserving or increasing the technical and physical skills in high-pressure situations. There are players who normally have poor shooting percentages but in high-pressure situations they are absolutely reliable; it’s important to value the individual numbers in the moments of highest pressure of the game.
Here are some other capacities to look for:
2. Capacity to think independently.
3. Capacity to take care of yourself and the team.
4. Capacity of self-sacrifice.
5. Capacity of self-assertion.
6. Capacity of self-criticism.
Another important aspect is to understand the strength and weakness of your rivals. When you know this, you are able to take advantage of every opportunity. Ask yourself: “Which player on the opposing team is the worst defender? Who doesn’t want to sacrifice himself on defense? Who is the defender that, in a high pressure situations, loses the necessary technical and physical skills?”
In the end, the coach must give his best when preparing for an upcoming game, but he also has to be fully conscious of the inherent psychological weaknesses of his players. Understand that we are human beings, and we are not perfect.