Igor Grudin has become the coach of the Russian national team in 2004, and won the silver medal at the 2005 FIBA Eurobasket for women and the silver medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championships for women. His career as the head coach of clubs started in France, where he coached Tarbes (1996-97), Mondeville (from 1998 to 2002) and Bordeaux (2002-03). Then he went back to Russia, where since 2003 he has been coaching Samara, where he won the 2005 FIBA Euroleague and played the 2006 FIBA Euroleague final, winning also the 2005 and 2006 Russian titles.
Our national team finished the 2006 FIBA World Championships in the second place, with a surprising 5-4 record, losing to France, USA, Czech Republic, and the final game against Australia. But in the semifinal our team had a game to remember against the U.S. team, defeating them 75-68 and proving that, on big occasions, we can produce great basketball.
A well-balanced team, led by guard Ilona Korstin and our center, Maria Stepanova, we finished as the third best scoring team (with an average of 78 points per game) and fourth in assists (14.3 per game), which speaks highly of our team- oriented offense. We had trouble maintaining our motivation and concentration throughout the championship, but we still were able to obtain excellent results.
Our players were technically very gifted, and we played a smart offensive game, reading he opponent's weaknesses extremely well. Our game was mainly inside-oriented for Stepanova and the power forward, Tatiana Schchegoleva.
A lot of high screens were used and we employed the high-low game with great precision. The guards were quick and had a very good reading and understanding of the game, and, when needed, they were able to take over the scoring by driving to the basket or shooting from the outside. Guard Ilona Korstin carried the team in offense (she had 13.4 points per game), and she was the second best scorer of the team, behind our center, Stepanova, who scored 16 points per game.
- Oxana Rakhmatulina.
- Ilona Korstin.
- Natalia Vodopyanova.
- Tatiana Schchegoleva.
- Maria Stepanova.
OFFENSE AGAINST INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE
Play for the Inside Players
1 passes to 3 on the wing, 4 makes a cross screen for 5, and then flashes to the high post (diagr. 1). 3 passes to 4 on top, while 5 pins her defender down and goes in the middle of the floor for an high-low passing play. 1 and 2 invert their positions, while 5 can receive and play one-on-one close to the basket (diagr. 2).
Play for the Perimeter Players
1 passes to 2 and screens for 4, then 1 goes to the weak side and 4 comes to the top (diagr. 3). 2 passes to 4 on the top and goes for an hand-off pass. 3 can be another option for a hand-off play, while 1 pops out to the wing (diagr. 4). After faking the hand-off, 4 drives to the basket (diagr. 5). If the defense is late, 4 can play the hand-off with 3, and 3 can drive to the basket (diagr. 6).
Quick play for Korstin or Schchegoleva
1 passes to 2 and receives a back screen from 5 (diagr. 7). 2 has the ball on the wing, 4 quickly sets a ball screen and pops out to the corner. 5 steps out and can help on the pass (diagr. 8). 2 has three options: kick the ball to 4, who is in the corner, to 5, who is on the top of the key (and she could pass to 4, if 4 cuts inside), or drive to the basket (diagr. 9).
Double High Play for Guards and Centers
5 and 4 set high screens on the top of the key. 1 drives and passes to 2 on the wing (diagr. 10). 2 can go one-on-one, while 5 flashes to the free-throw area and 4 flares on the wing, out of the three-point line (diagr. 11).
Play for Korstin
The play begins with a pass from 1 to 3, then 1 flares to the weak side, while 2 goes on the low-post area (diagr. 12). 2 can first post-up, if a smaller defender guards her. If not, she can make the "screen-the-screener" action: she screens for 4, then receives a screen from 5, and finally goes to the top of the key (diagr. 13). 3 can pass to 4, who can post up, or pass 2 on the top of the key. 5 quickly comes and sets a screen (diagr. 14). Now, 2 can play the pick-and-roll with 5. After she reads the defense's reaction, she can shoot behind the screen or drive all the way to the basket. 5 rolls to the basket, while 4 flashes high out of the three-point line (diagr. 15).
OFFENSES AGAINST ZONE DEFENSE
Our rule was to pass from one side to the other side of the court in order to move the defense. So, the three perimeter players pass the ball to each other (diagr. 16). When 2 has got the ball on the wing, in this case, 1 flares on the weak side wing, 3 cuts across the lane and goes to the strong side corner, 5 flashes to the high post and 4 goes to the weak side corner (diagr. 17). The ball is quickly reversed from one side to the other side of the floor, from 2 to 5, from 5 to 1 and finally to 4 , who can shoot from the corner (diagr. 18). If 4 cannot receive the ball in the corner, she cuts on the weak side corner, while 3 flashes to the middle of the lane and the ball is reversed again, now from 1 to 5, who can pass to 3, or reverse to 2 (diagr. 19). After the quick reversal, 4 comes out to the corner to get a pass from 2 and then take the shot. 5 cuts to the middle of the lane and 3 steps out. 4 can also pass to 5 in the low-post area (diagr. 20).
We had a zone offense with two guards, one wing, and two centers, one high and one low. On the quick pass from 1 to 2, 4 steps out and receives the ball from 2, who after the pass, cuts to the weak side corner. 1 replaces 2 on the top of the key (diagr. 21). 5 flashes in the lane, 4 reverses the ball, passing to 1, who then passes to 3 (diagr. 22). 3 passes to 2, who is in the corner, and quickly cuts to the weak side corner. 5 flashes down the lane, and spots up at the low-post area. 1 replaces 3 on the strong side wing (diagr. 23). In this way we forced the defense to make many moves, and our quick passing makes the difference. 2 passes to 1, 4 steps out and gets the ball from 1. 5 flashes to the ball and 3 goes out to the corner (diagr. 24).Now, 4 has the following choices (diagr. 25):
- Pass to 3, for a shot from the corner.
- Pass to 5 for a post-up play.
BASELINE OUT-OF-BOUND PLAYS
This is a play for the point guard. 5 and 4 are at the free-throw line, with 1 under the basket, and 3 as the inbounder. 2 screens for 1, who comes out of the lane, and gets the inbound pass from 3 (diagr. 26). 4 sets a ball screen for 1 on the wing, and, at the same time, 5 screens for 2, while 3 goes to the weak side corner (diagr. 27). 1 plays the pick-and-roll with 4, and she can shoot (diagr. 28) or pass to 4, who has gone to the corner (diagr. 29). The other options are an inside pass for 5 (diagr. 30) or for 2 who, after receiving the screen of 5, pops out and shoots from the top of the key (diagr. 31).
3 screens for 5, who cuts down the lane. 2 cuts off 3's shoulder and comes out on the strong side wing (diagr. 32). 3 goes to the top of the key, 4 steps out, and 1 passes to 5 (diagr. 33). 5 can play one-on-one and, if the other defenders help out, 5 kicks the ball out on the corner to 4, who has a good outside shot (diagr. 34).