The International Game

31 Aug

I really hope that all of you are glued to your televisions to watch the FIBA World Championships in Turkey for our USA Basketball Senior National Team.  Actually, I will challenge you to watch every game you can. What you will find is what I found by being an assistant coach/director of scouting the last two summers for USA Basketball World Champions u16 and u17 teams.  The International Game!!!

Our USA Basketball Senior National Team is giving the world some truly great basketball.  What could be better? It has:

Great individual talent playing TEAM basketball

Excellent Coaching

The Globalization of basketball

Incredible atmosphere

Players representing their countries


In this blog post, I want to share with you my thoughts and observations that I learned while scouting and coaching against international competitors.

•                Faster game

•                More possessions because of the 24 second shot clock

•                Most all plays start as misdirection’s, because with 10 seconds on the shot clock they are going to run late shot clock play.  Which involves the proper players they want.  This also enables the other players to know when and where to best rebound the shot.

•                The international players penetrate for others and not for self.  They look to drive and kick out vs drive and finish at the rim.

•                Spacing is outstanding on offense.  Players maintain floor balance well.  They are always looking to be 12′-15′ feet apart. They are always moving in the line of vision of the passer to designed spots.

•                Paint touches: either with pass penetration (post feeds) or dribble penetration, both are VERY IMPORTANT.

•                Fouls Drawn is an actual statistic that is kept.  To me this was an interesting stat/concept.  Especially when your player who draws the most fouls is a good free throw shooter. This puts a lot of pressure on the defense.  For our U17 team, this guy was Micheal Gilchrist.  He was very tough to guard/defend.

•                The game is actually played in 5 minutes intervals. The score is kept in 5 minute increments. This too was an interesting stat. As the quarter is 10 minutes long, the coaches had tangible information to share with their team.  The game is played in runs, so it was important to gain control of the game as early as you can.

•                Transition Defense is poor. They do not like to get back on defense.  They will often jam the rebounder. They will take a foul to stop transition offense.

•                Depth and quality of depth is so important. Bench productivity is where often the control of the game is determined.

•                Rebounding, especially offensively is another huge part. Consistent/relentless offensive rebounding puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense.  Offensive rebounding is yet another area where control of the game can and does happen.

Now, I would like to site three areas of the game that will help me illustrate to you the difference in the International game:


•                Post players must improve their post position with the use of the dribble

•                If there is no help defender then the post will play one on one

•                If there is a help defender then the post will kick out to a spot up shooter and/or cutter

•                Post players run for layups. They post up on the block to shoot short jumpers, dribble drop step or face up game for their post moves.


•                Not a lot of time to make several passes in the back court

•                Requires “deep” outlets on both makes and misses

•                Requires pt. guards to call play earlier

•                Most teams initiate their offense as the ball cross half court


•                Is closer than NBA Line

•                Is further back than High School and Colleges

•                Allows for there to be an actual “mid range” game

•                The line serves as a frame of reference for spacing

Another area (in my opinion) that makes the international game interesting is that the rules of the game are applied at all levels.  This allows the players to learn to understand the game at an earlier age and it enables for more consistency in teaching.  For example, most high school players do not play with a shot clock until they get to college.  Then they learn how to play with it. Also, the Three point line is different in college and in the pros.  Lastly, the International game is a combination of the College game and the NBA Game.  It has the atmosphere of a college game with the rules and strategies of an NBA Game.

What do you think about international games? Do you watch any?


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