Mark Few and Gonzaga’s Coaching Style

When you watch Gonzaga play it’s very clear how fundamentally sound they are both offensively and defensively. They don’t have any special drills or fancy tricks; their staff just does a better job teaching concepts than most coaches. It’s clear when you watch them in practice their team culture won’t let guy’s cut corners or go through the motions. Here is a breakdown of a few of their drills and how they coach them.

If you want to see way more GU practice film to learn from these guys I highly recommend looking into these. Below is the free stuff we can all use:

Gonzaga Triangle Drill Gonzaga triangle trap drill

Watch how Tommy sets this drill up. This is the first time they have ever run this drill. He’s clear and concise with the “why” and the “how” of the drill. After that he lets them go live and figure it out once. Then they dive into their main teaching points. It’s clear how the guys improve in the drill and understand the skill by the end of it. Their intensity also picks up as they understand the concepts better

  • Why
    • Tommy starts off by telling everyone the reason they are doing the drill “This is a pressure and trap drill. And it’s a passing drill on offense”
  • How
    • Then he tells the guys the rules and spacing.
      • 2 guys on the ball. Read the ball and get a steal
      • Need 4 deflections.
  • Live play – This is what the coaches are saying mid drill
    • Have to read it
    • Play angles
    • Break on one
    • Anticipate
    • Few calls out the offensive player for getting his ball deflected. Trying to push some competitiveness on the players. Nobody gets better when they’re comfortable.
  • Break & teach comments
    •  Guy’s need to play angles. If you go to trap someone you can’t just go square on them.  Take away the closest angle you can. Take away his next pass.
    • Take some chances, calculated chances
    • If I can’t get a steal, I should be taking away the next pass
  • Live
    • They go way harder the 2nd time after the teaching points. And do a better job of playing angles
  • Break & teach comments
    • You have to play angles better. Guys are coming in flat
    • Anticipate and take a chance. Quit being conservative
    • Try to trap every time. Run at him, it’s not normal defense, you’re trying to bluff and giving him time. Put it on him!

Gonzaga Closeout Drill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxGXAwkxRNo

This closeout drill is about as basic of a drill there is, but watch how they teach details and make sure their guys understand the fundamentals.

Defensive points they were trying to get across

  • Whatever side the ball is on R foot should be high but still have butt to the rim.
  • Active hands. Same hand up as the foot you have high (left foot high, left hand high)

Teaching points to get those points across.

  • Head on inside shoulder – don’t jump around
  • Chop your feet
  • No angles to the rim
  • When the ball is up but the bottom hand under. Maybe you get a deflection
  • Active hands.
  • Ready to take on a driver
  • When they jab. Go straight back. Don’t go R or L. When he brings it back hop right back in
  • Exaggerate hands back on the bounce
  • When they do something right, encourage it.
  • Butt to the rim
  • Explode out of your first step
  • Young guys. Slow down. Stick to the fundamentals. Re-explain the keys

Gonzaga Post double shellhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQXKWVN3J9k

This one starts off as they are already going live. It sounds like they did the drill vs their practice players first to understand the concept. Then they threw their players in to go live. Love that teaching progression. Ideally for me it would go

  • Video before practice
  • Coach set them up in spots and have them going against practice players or managers. Breaking after ever rep and teaching the main ideas. Give them confidence and make it perfect against lesser competition
  • Going live. Compete, try not to stop it too much. Get them reps
  • Watch film of themselves going live. Teach through film.

Again it’s clear they don’t let their guys cut corners on the fundamentals. When they stop play and talk they don’t just tell a guy bad job. They are correcting and teaching them the right way to do it. There’s always

Teaching points

  • Guys off the ball should deny passer back, then the other 2 should be “top hole” and “bottom hole”. Bottom hole needs to fight the big. Top hole needs force skip if you can. They are playing 2on3.
  • Guy on the ball needs to have baseline side. Can’t let him spin baseline on you because the double is coming from high side
  • Double has to come quick. As the ball is in the air you need to be going! Should be 4 hands high on trap. Can’t be scared to get hit. Put your chest on him and body him down. If you don’t he can snap an easy pass

Gonzaga off-ball screen defense https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNs_GoQj2NM

Mark Few is a great teacher. Watch how simple he makes this sound. He’s clear and concise with his words. It’s easy for the players to understand what they need to do.

As I’ve watched these videos, I love the little verbal jabs he throws at players to make them compete. Nothing too personal, but calls them out for not being their best.

  • Keys
    • You guard them depending on where the ball is (one pass away, two passes away)
    • Can’t wrap guys up off the ball. No fouls
    • As soon as you clear the screen you need to jump to the inside and get your positioning correct
  • 1 pass away
    • Guarding the guy coming off the screen
      • unless they are a horrible shooter go over the top.
      • Don’t fight the screen, get through it
    • Guarding the screener
      • Be one step above the screen. Loose
      • Bump the curl. If he curls he will run right into the big’s chest
      • Top foot even with your man so he can’t slip
    • On the ball
      • Pressure and ready to jump on a curl and rake at the ball.
  • 2 passes away
    • Both guys should be in help. Come right up the middle and stay in help. Don’t need to be chasing
  • Back-screen
    • Guarding the guy coming off the screen
      • Get up into your guy and go over the top of it
      • Stand him up unless he’s a horrible shooter
    • Guarding the screener
      • Take a step off. Put his hands up
      • If he’s guarding a shooter he needs to be able to come up to recover. They will either throw for  a shot or a ballscreen action, and he can’t be all the way down for his ballscreen coverage
    • Need great ball-pressure

Thanks for reading. Again, if you want to see way more GU practice film to learn from these guys I highly recommend looking into these

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