For This Is Basketball, I made an analysis of the first part of the Belgian Euromillions Basketball League. I compare the type of play and results of all teams by taking a closer look to some more profound statistical parameters.
You can download the complete PDF report rightHERE.
This beginning of May I was invited for the second time by the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) and the Qatar Olympic Academy (QOA) as a lecturer for several clinics. Around 80-90 coaches from all over the Arabic world showed to attend this International Coaching Clinic in Doha, supported by FIBA.
Many thanks to the hospitality of the QBF and QOA and to all the participating coaches.
Last week our season already ended with BSW Weert in the Dutch Basketball League, (1st Div men’s basketball in Holland). The days after a season’s ending, as a coach you always make some reflections and an evaluation about your journey. As I did the exercise, I want to share some of these thoughts with the readers of my blog.
BSW Weert – season 2015-2016 (not on picture: Thomas Dreesen)
Well, we ended last in the ranking with only 3 victories over the season… So this could be a very short evaluation, no? Well, maybe not. But if you evaluate a player, a coach or a team only based upon whether he wins or not today, you can stop reading right here.
The season of BSW Weert was generally known as a challenge. Due to two consecutives bankrupties of the capital sponsor, the club has by far the lowest budget of the DBL. The difference with for example title contender Donar Groningen is huge. Donar is a team with a budget which is estimated more then 10 (!) times the budget of BSW Weert and has 7 imports (4 USA + 2 naturalized USA/CAN + 1 CRO). Weert has no import players at all (allthough we could add the Belgian Thomas Dreesen as an “import” in January). But also for example the second last team in the ranking, Aris Leeuwarden, plays with three American imports. Therefore, before the season we kept on repeating that we wouldn’t measure the success of this season by the number of victories in the DBL.
Our championship started with a game on the road against Donar Groningen, who also competed in the FIBA Cup. The game ended with a historic 122-57 blow-out… Probably I do not have to sketch our moral after this opening loss to anyone who ever has been part of such a loss as a player or coach. One of our last games of the season, we played again Donar, a game which was important for them to capture the first spot of the regular season. The game ended 95-98 … with a buzzer 3 pt shot of Groningen in overtime… Close, but no cigar!
Well, you are absolutely right, in sports everything can happen and these surprises make our sports so exciting to watch. One can definitely not evaluate a season based upon the result of one single game.
So, I will look to another way to evaluate our season, in order to check whether we reached our individual and collective goals.
As for the collective progression, let us compare the result of our 5 last games, compared with our first games played against the same teams, which I think is quite remarkable:
I do respect ALL of my players because of the way they kept on working hard this season in very difficult circumstances. By sticking together as a team and continous hard work on a daily base, they kept on growing. I know a lot of other examples where the lack of victories resulted in a misery season which turned out to be lost time for everybody.
As for the individual progression, the focus of the club was on a couple of young talented players on the roster, which are possibly the future of the club. Let me focus on three young talents on the team who didn’t play in the DBL last season and see how they had a huge role on the team during the final part of the season:
Does this mean that in any way that I can be satisfied with this season? Hell no!! Definitely NOT! I’m a winner and one can only be happy or satisfied with a season when results (short term) are combined with individual and collective progression (middle long term). But I can say that this season has been by far the most instructive in my evolution as a coach and I am more ambitious than ever to convert this experience into successes!
Making an evaluation, also means looking to the future. From my very first meeting with the club – the manager and president – when I accepted the challenge of BSW Weert for 2015-2016 (1y contract), I made it clear to be interested to build a program and a plan for several years, on the absolute condition that the club had to grow on all levels in order to become a worthy D1 club: staff, staff support, medical staff, budget, fan base, collaboration with the youth academy, equipment, … This past season the poor financial situation of the club even got worse, which blocked any improvement of the conditions around the court. The future of the club looks uncertain today (where the decision to start in D1 next season has been postponed), which means that I keep my eyes open for other projects with a better perspective to build a program over several years.
iBasketball TV – Episode 23
Thanks for the compliments and I completely understand your funny laughs at the end about the upcoming match-up with Donar, and I would have loved that the buzzer shot had fallen on the other side in our overtime loss… 🙂
The opening game of this current NBA season ’15-’16 has been filmed by 360° cameras. This might be a breakthrough in watching sports games at home. This way, one can watch Stephen Curry’s clutch performance from centre court seats, sit in the middle of Popovic’ time-outs or just stare at the cheerleader standing on the other end of the action. Without a doubt, this will give a complete new dimension to watching sports events at home, as if you are sitting in the middle of the action. Of course, one needs 3D glasses (see picture), but Google’s 10$ cardboards will definitely speed up the spread of virtual reality experience at home.
360° view BSW Weert – Apollo Amsterdam
To explore the possibilities, we have set up a test case in collaboration with the Belgian company VR experience, filming my latest game in the Dutch Basketball League, between BSW Weert and Apollo Amsterdam.
Peter Vanherle of VR Experience: “We’ve built our own cameras at VR Experience to achieve the quality we were looking for. Our partner Intel has delivered advanced CPU’s to process omnidirectional imagery (30 x HD) in real-time. We’ve developed a platform that allows you to access your VR experience anywhere in the world on any device (web, mobile, apps, …). Importantly for sports events, we can stream from any place at any time. We filmed the game in Weert with a 360° camera at the half court line and a 180° camera behind each backboard.”
The result are these raw images of the 4th quarter of the game BSW Weert – Apollo Amsterdam (30/1/2016): Please note that the resolution for these raw images is a lot lower because of the limits of Kolor (a YouTube-like platform for VR videos). Right below one can choose for a better resolution if your internet connection is fast enough.
Using your mouse on PC/Mac or your fingers on your smartphone/tablet, one can focus anywhere on any moment in the gym.
The great advantage over well-known systems in sports as Keemotion, is the fact that everything in the gym is captured and can be analyzed. VR Experience created a platform where they can stitch the videos of the cameras and angles in real-time (see picture)! It could be of a huge value for major sports events where every single detail in the arena is captured. I can imagine that a referee commission in major sports leagues would love to have these different angles on any event which happened far from the attention of the classical TV cameras on the ball action including the player’s bench and even to identify fans who misbehave in the stadium. Traditionally, having a lot of camera angles on an event requires a lot of cameras and a bus full of camera men. With this system, a couple of cameras can be installed and all the action is captured! Zooming in, stitching the different views, choosing the angles can be done by one single person afterwards!
3D glasses (Oculus)
Real-time stitching of all camera angles with VR Experience
As a sports fan, this will certainly be the future in experiencing sports events at home. Everybody will have center court seats from his couch at home and imagine himself in the middle of the action.
Me as a coach, I am interested in how these new techniques can change the way we analyze games & match-ups and how it can help us teaching our younger players. The great advantage is that one can show videos from the perspective of the player.
If I think of high level coaching, one can prepare his player for his upcoming match-up with for example Lebron James from the angle of the defender. One can really show the images from the point of view he has during the game with Lebron James in front of him and show the fakes and moves he does!
If one analyses a game with his players, one can focus on their decision-making putting them in the same situation again and show the better decisions. One can go back to the same 3 on 2 transition and show your player from his point of view during the game what would have been a better option!
In a next step, one can imagine that an assistant coach is sitting on the bench during the game tagging some key moments on his iPad, which can be reseen in locker room during half-time. How useful is it to zoom from all angles into the sign that the point guard is making before they run setplay that beat you a couple of times during that 1st half?
As a teacher of the game for children it can also be very interesting. If a youth coach explains his kids to be in help defense, making a triangle where he can see and the ball and their defender (Ball-You-Man), we can show our kids what their view should look like! In analyzing a shooting technique, this method would capture the global motion from all different angles at the same time. Afterwards, one can easily view the same motion into the smallest detail from all different angles.
To enhance these applications, ideally, one would have four 360°cameras permanently in the gym which capture all the gym action whenever there is some activity in the gym. Up to the coach to call back the details that make the difference! Coaching is all about selecting and working with the details that make a difference, and with this technology of VR Experience, one can be sure that all the gym action has been captured from every angle!
Links full game BSW Weert vs Apollo Amsterdam (Dutch Basketball League, 30/1/2016):
Please note that the resolution for these raw images is a lot lower because of the limits of Kolor. Right below one can choose for a better resolution if your internet connection is fast enough.
Recently, I got the opportunity to have a look behind the scenes with Bayern Munich and Coach Svetislav Pesic. I got to know Coach Pesic personally as the mentor of FIBA’s FECC program, which played a crucial role in my coaching career. Coach Pesic is probably Europe’s most legendary basketball coach, being a former world champion, European champion (2x) and Euroleague winner as a coach. This documentary is certainly must-see material for every basketball coach.
I absolutely think such a short internship is of an incredible value to young coach. Not because of some secret plays that are ran by a winning team. I don’t believe basketball is a game of secrets. On top, the X’s and O’s of a team at the highest level are far from the only things that makes it worthwhile. During those kind of practices, one pays attention to:
– How is the coach preparing his team for the next game?
– How is his personal relation with the players?
– How does the staff function and who has which responsability?
– How intense/long are the practices the day before the game and on gameday itself?
– What’s the schedule on gamedays?
It is difficult to describe the value of these days at Munich for me as a young and ambitious coach. Not only the experience and the knowledge, but also the boost of energy and inspiration makes this 8h driving trip from Belgium worthwhile!
I want to thank Coach Pesic and the Bayern Munich organisation explicitly for allowing me to be a fly-on-the-wall for a couple of days.
Coach Svetislav Pesic and me
On Friday night, I attended the Euroleague game against SIG Strassbourg (with French national team coach Vincent Collet) and on Sunday Bayern played against BG Göttingen in the national league. Göttingen is coached by Johan Roijakkers, which I know since a very long time when we played for the same club in Belgium, Bree BBC. Both games were won by Munich and the atmosphere in a sold-out Audi-dome by 6500 people was great! To me personally, Germany confirmed its reputation as a sports-minded country with an impressive organisation!
March 2015, I got promoted to be FIBA-expert for the project “Development of National Sports Structure in Basketball” (DNSS), a collaboration between FIBA, the Basketball Federation of Albania (FSHB) and the National Olympic Committee of Albania (KOKSH), funded by Olympic Solidarity. More information on DNSS projects, which main goal is to raise the general sports level and coaching structure, can be found here.
Both in April as just now in July, I’ve spent one complete week in the basketball community of Albania.
During the 1st stage of the project, I’ve visited Albania to make some global observations and to determine what the next step is to improve the national basketball structure. I have visited several clubs, spread all over the country, in their infrastructure with their youth players and trainers in practice and game situations. I had meetings with the President and Secretary-General of the Basketball Federation, the President and Board of the National Olympic Committee and the responsible of the University of Sports in Tirana. Supplementary, I’ve attended several senior games at the highest level in Albania, both men and women.
During the 2nd stage in July, I conducted one week full of clinics clinics on the fundamentals of basketball to a group of 35 Albanian coaches. The participating coaches were challenged to write a report on the practices of the national youth teams wehave visited together. Furthermore, lectures on the FIBA rules, injury prevention, first aid, … were organized.
The two most commonly asked questions during my stay in Albania are:
1) Is there a future for the Albanian basketball?
Of course, it is no secret that the political and economical situation in Albanian is far from ideal, which results in very few resources for the federation and clubs. But during my visit I’ve met so many people enthousiastic about the game of basketball. This summer, Albania will participate to 5 European youth Championships of FIBA Europe. During my clinics, I had the chance to work with highly motivated coaches and players. As long as you have kids who play the game of basketball with passion, there is a future. Basketball is passion and passion is priceless!
2) Did you recognize some talent in Albania?
First one needs to define talent. Often you see it in the rythm and coordination of a player, the feeling with the basketball and the finishing touch. Sometimes it is accompagnied with a sparkle in the eyes, a sparkle that reveals passion and devotion for the game of basketball. During the 1st stage of the project, I was highly charmed by this little girl (see picture below) in the private club of Vlora, by her talent and her attitude. She had that sparkle in the eyes too, definitely. I guess she is now 13 years old. Every single kid like this, deserves the change to be guided by a coach that is as passionate as she is. She deserves every opportunity to progress as a player, but also as a person. Individually, and in the framework of a team or a nation. Basketball is passion and passion is priceless!
Steve Kerr is the first rookie coach to clinch the NBA title since Pat Riley in 1982. Is it a complete surprise that he does so well or is it somehow written in his DNA to be an excellent coach? Well, I think it is the latter. But don’t understand me wrong, I don’t believe this DNA to be God-given. Every basketball coach is responsible for his own DNA.
The DNA of a basketball coach is his philosophy on the game of basketball. Writing such a philosophy is a never-ending process of adding new knowledge, discovering new ideas, adjusting to new trends in the game, … One key quality of a coach should be his open mind: Open to new ideas, willing to listen to different ideas, willing to discuss other opinions, …
Therefore, I think it is crucial for a young and eager coach to invest and travel to meet other coaches, philosophies and structures. This is something I’ve put very high on my priority list for several years and each and every investment was worth it. Every single time I traveled to go to a clinic or to meet a coach – in Belgium, in Europe or overseas – added at least a couple of strings to my coaching DNA. I can only recommend it to other young coaches.
I think it is no surprise that winning an NBA title in a rookie season, is achieved by Steve Kerr. When you go back into the career of Steve Kerr, you will find a lot of collaborations – being a player, manager or analyst – with some of the best coaches in the history of the game. Being a guard, a coaches partner in crime on the court, Kerr served respectively for 5 and 4 seasons under Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich, probably the two best NBA coaches of the past 50 years.
The San Antonio Spurs, one of the most succesfull teams of the last decade are known for having the most international influences in the league: Parker and Diaw (France), Ginobli (Argentina), Splitter (Brazil), Mills (Australia) and assistent coach Ettore Messina (Italy). Also as an organization the Spurs aim for a rich DNA. A model that clearly worked and that one tries to copy in several other places, witnessed by the popularity of all former members of the staff of Popovic:
Fall 2013, I had the chance to be sent by FIBA for an NCAA apprenticeship as a coach at Saint Joseph’s University. During my stay, I was more than happy to be invited at several practices of Brett Brown and the Philadelphie 76’ers. During the final phase of preseason, Coach Brown was finetuning a playing style, called “Summertime” with his players. “Summertime” was a playing mode, where everybody on the court should have plenty of fun, mostly by sharing the ball very quickly and insisting to make the extra pass.
Coach Brett Brown and me
A couple of days ago, I’ve read an excellent article by Jackie MacCullam for ESPN on “How Spurs’ majestic 2014 Finals performance changed the NBA“. To me, the victory of the Spurs over the Heat was mostly the victory of one of the most impressive and most beautiful types of TEAM BASKETBALL ever seen over the dominance of the most complete athlete in the world, Lebron James. I am sure that plenty of youth coaches all over the world, in different languages, used this story to convince their kids that sharing the ball is most effective on a basketball court. At least, I hope everybody seazed the opportunity, since too many isolation plays for Lebron might crown the Cavs this year. What to tell your kids then? 🙂
The ESPN-article describes more detailed the playing style of the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA-Finals:
“Pop had his own name for it: Summertime,” Brown says. “It’s when you’re playing. Just playing. The ball’s moving, and the game’s flowing. You make a decision to shoot it, pass it, drive it. ‘Point five.’ That was the directive. You’ve got half a second. You’ve got a good shot, but he’s got a great one. So you pass him the ball, and there it is. It’s Summertime.”
Reading the article made me grab to my notes back in Philadelphia. It describes exactly the same principles Coach Brown was trying to install in his team. Which shouldn’t surprise, since Brown was for 7 years the assistent of Greg Popovic in the Spurs organization.
David Blatt and me
To be honest, I hope to see some more Summertime during the 2015 Finals from tonight (Game 5) on. The confrontation between a handicapped Cavs-team that runs too many isolation plays for Lebron and a struggling Golden State, hasn’t given many glimps of Summertime basketball yet. Allthough I have to admit that I am enjoying so far every single second of this Mastermind-game between Steve Kerr and David Blatt. Two new faces in the NBA, who were drinking a coffee together on an airport in June ’14, where Blatt practically agreed on being Kerr’s assistent. A couple of days later, he received a phonecall of the Cavs… I am thrilled to see them meet again tonight … in Game 5 of the NBA Finals!