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How Bench Procedures and Time Out Management Impact the Game.

8 Oct

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

I. Bench procedures:

– The bench must be totally engaged into the game (mentally and physically). Lack of engagement is a clear indicator to the coach that the player is more concerned with themselves than the team. Being engaged is sending a message to the coaches and the teammates that the player is ready to play and is invested in the game.

– The bench must cheer for their teammates and not sit as a spectator. The cheering must be positive and empowering. It must be the type of cheering that you would want to hear when you are on the floor.

– The players on the bench stand and extent their hand to the teammate that is coming out the game. This is a form of solidarity and a demonstration of TEAMWORK!

– The player exiting the game must “high five” with each member on the bench and pick up their water at the end of the bench from the manager and return to the available seat next to an assistant coach so that they can receive feedback on their performance. The touch and agreeing is acknowledging of their teammates.

– Never go to the end of then bench to sit after coming out of the game. This will only allow the player to disengage with the team and think of themselves. The player will invariably start to ask questions of themselves and others as to why he got taken out the game. Also by going to the end of the bench the assistant coaches can not give them the proper feedback that can be helpful to the player and, more importantly, the team.

– Be vocal, especially when the team’s defense is in front of the bench. This is a great way to start the game engaged. Communicating with your teams while you are on the bench is equally as valuable as the communication that is taking place on the court. Provided that the communication is the same and it benefits the team.

– When a time out is called, sprint out to meet your teammates who are in the game but do not cross half court (rule violation). Whether the situation is good or bad, the team must remain a team (a unit). Furthermore, it sends a message to your opponents that they are playing a TEAM and not a collection of individuals.

II.  Time outs:

Another aspect of the game of basketball that often gets over looked and is often mismanaged are Timeouts.  You can easily identify the most successful teams from the teams that do not win by their time outs. It is their structure and organization that allows for the maximum amount of necessary information to be disseminated during the timeout.  As soon as the ball is put into play you will know right away how much of the information was retained. Winning teams execute after timeouts (ATO).

Each team is given the same number of timeouts per game. How they are used and when they are used often have an impact on the outcome of the games.  I love the rules that the NBA and FIBA use regarding time outs in their games. Both the NBA and FIBA place a high value on timeouts which makes their respective games more interesting from a tactical standpoint.

There are two types of timeouts in the College and High School game; the 30 second time out and the Full time out.  Each must be handled differently by the coach so that the timeout is maximized positively and not wasted negatively.

A. 30 second timeout:

The players in the game must remain standing up and on the court. The players not in the game must remain off the court. So, it is imperative that the players in the game SPRINT off the court to the bench area.  The players in the game should remain in front of the coach standing from the coaches left to right (players right to left) 1-5 (pt.g, g, sf, pf & c). By lining up this way, the coach does not have to look around for each player, he can talk freely because he knows exactly where each position/player is in the huddle.

B. Full Time out/TV time outs:

These timeouts are longer. The managers will hand out the towels and water bottles while the coaches meet away from the team. When the head coach is ready to address the team all water and towels are taken away by the managers so that the players an give the coach their full attention. The players will sit from the coaches left to right 1-5.  Every coach should have a role during full/tv time outs: one coach should know the foul and timeout situation. Another coach should watch for changes in the opponents line ups and potential match ups. The coach responsible for the scout should assist the head coach the most during timeouts. The head manager must help to get the team out of the huddle after the first horn sounds.

III. Conclusion:

Winning is hard!  Consistently winning is even harder. The teams that consistently win have a bench procedure and effectively manage time outs with their organization. They win more games than they lose. They understand the impact that both aspects have on the game. Just watch how engaged their bench is during the game, look how the players coming off the bench perform,and finally, look how well they execute after time out (either offensively or defensively).


The Effective use of Social Media

18 Jun

Written by Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach
Georgetown University

The Effective use of Social Media has:

1. Allowed me to become and stay relevant

2. Allowed me to establish, cultivate and grow my target audience

3. Given me to have a platform to communicate what I am about.

4. Allowed me to create a brand, grow my brand. Create brand identity.

5. Allowed me to create brand awareness.

6. Allowed me to connect with people who have similar interest.

7. Allowed me to share ideas and thoughts and create future potential connection opportunities.

8. Allowed me to promote my brand without writing in the first person.

9. Allowed me to communicate to a wider audience more quickly and easily. Reach a new audience that I normally would not.

10. Allowed me to show different sides of my personality with different forms of Social media that I use.

Deserving success/victory

26 Feb

Deserving success/victory
Written by Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach – Georgetown

I am a firm believer that you must deserve success/victory. How does one “deserve success /victory”?
1. By being concerned about success of the team 1st.
2. By respects the game.
3. By valuing and enhancing the culture of the team.
4. By showing respect for their teammates
5. He/she “buys in” to helping the program become successful.
6. By understanding that Deserving success/victory is a “action phrase”
7. By committing to the principle that success/victory is about sacrifice.
8. By believing in the system, the game plan, the team and the coaching staff.

In a nutshell, deserving success/ victory is about creating your own luck through the collective habits, culture, and spirit of the team, and it is about working to reach the potential of the team through “shared suffrage” and “selfless service”.

There is a distinct difference between wanting success/victory and deserving success/victory.

Everyone wants success/victory. Those deserving success/victory spend their time in action, working toward earning their success/victory.

Deserving success/victory encompasses the emotional, the psychological, the intellectual as well as the physical wellness of the team.

Building your scouting report for the second time that you play an opponent

14 Feb

Written by Kevin Sutton, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Georgetown

When you are building your scouting report for the second time you are playing an opponent, the second report should be different than the first report. The focus of the report should be on what has happened in the last 5 games leading into your game. You should also look at the summary notes that you have taken from the first time you played the opponent. You need to look at the first game again on film and make edits of the games., as well as take notes from the film.

Here are several questions that I use to help me formulate the second scouting report:

1. What are the recent trends of their team? Are they now playing more man or zone? Offensively are they running new sets?
2. Have there been any changes in their rotation?
3. Are there any injuries? What role will it play?

Statistical Breakdown:
1. Look at stats of starters
2. Look at stats of substitutes
3. Look at the overall stats
4. Look at the stats from the conference
5. Breakdown of the stats from the last 5 games
6. Look to determine if they are shooting more free throws than earlier in the year.

Video Breakdown:
1. Personal edits
2. Offensive edits
3. Chart their offensive frequency and efficiency
4. Chart their out of bounds plays

Second scouting reports should focus more on the opponent’s personnel and not so much on their style of play. Knowing more about the individual tendencies can help you when you are defending them.

Second Scouting reports should focus on learning the keys to tipping off their plays.

Second Scouting reports should focus on figuring out trends of your opponents, such as play sequences, play frequency, substitution rotations, after time out tendencies. Offensively-calls for OB plays, set plays, Defensively – do they change defense from man to zone or zone to man.


The Second Scouting Report should put the players in a proper frame of mind for them to perform at their best by having a “digestible amount” of information. The outcomes of the game will more often than not be, determined by the team who plays there hardest together throughout the course of the game!

What Makes a Great Recruiter?

9 Aug

By Kevin Sutton-Assistant Coach
Georgetown University

In my attempt to improve and grow in my craft as a recruiter. I asked myself this question: What Makes A Great Recruiter? I also asked that question of coaches at all levels of the game of basketball that I have a great deal of respect for.

To gain a better understanding of the question, I decided to define recruiting. Recruiting is the accurate evaluation of the talent that can fit your program’s culture in the following areas:

1. Academically

2. Athletically

3. Socially

It is also creating a desire for that talent to crave your program’s culture.  Recruiting is not an exact science.

1. Great recruiters are confident in their abilities and they recruit to their abilities.

2. Great recruiters have a knowledge & a understanding of their university.

3. Great recruiters know how to represent their universities.

4. Great recruiters have abilities to develop relationships with the recruit and their  “Circle of Influence”

5. Great recruiters have built over time, a network of contacts that help them to get a lead on the recruit and possibly secure a recruit.

6. Great recruiters  must be sincere, authentic , creative, imaginative, and persistent in their approach and delivery of a recruit.

7. Great recruiters must be tremendous communicators. They have an understanding and knowledge of the effective and proper use of Social Media.  They know how get their message heard verbally, written word, visually etc.

8. Great recruiters do their research on the recruit, the high school coach, the AAU coach, the school, the parent(s), and “who is calling the shots”.

9. Great recruiters must think like a General Manager: Do they fit our needs? Whom can we get? What will it take? How is our team built for the future ? Is this recruit a program changer?

10. Great recruiters recruit and sign players a level higher than they presently are.

11. Great recruiters are like pitchers in Baseball (Starters/Middle reliever/Closer). As a recruiter, you are either in one of those three position in the rotation with a particular recruit. Often times you could be in at least two positions. (Ex. Starter/closer)

12. Great recruiters – SELL THE DREAM!

“The dream” of earning a scholarship, getting a college degree, winning championships, playing in post season tournament and playing at the next level!

Ten key things that an Assistant Coach can do to help their Head Coach be the most Successful

15 Jul

By Kevin Sutton – Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

“Think like a head coach, but act like an assistant coach” – Tommy Amaker Head Coach of Harvard University.

That quote says a lot!  A good assistant must always have at the forethought of their mind: they must do everything they can to help the head coach be successful.  Plain and simple the more successful the head coach, the more opportunities the assistants will have to advance in their careers.

Here are ten things that an assistant can do to help ensure the head coach is successful:

1. A good assistant develops a relationship with the head coach that is built on the following:

– Trust,

– Loyalty,

– Mutual Respect,

– Dependability,

– Accountability,

– Responsibility

– A mutual desire to build a successful program.

2. A good assistant must be a Great Communicator with the:

– Administration of the school

– Athletic administration

– Players

– Support staff

– Community

– Media

–  Entire coaching staff

– Admissions office

– Housing

– Security

3. A good assistant must help to establish “Buy in” and promote the culture/philosophy of the Head Coach:

– This must be accomplished in written form (writing), verbal form (spoken words) and non-verbal forms (actions) both internally and externally in the program.

– The direction and the pace of the advancement of the program must be articulated by the head coach to the assistants clearly on a regular basis.

4. A good assistant must make the head coach look good at every opportunity including but not limited to in front of the:

– Team

– Recruits

– Alumni

– Boosters

– Coaching peers

5. A good assistant must be a BUCKET FILLER”:

– Exhibit positive energy giver

– Explain what the head coach saying

– Have a positive attitude

– Never have a bad day

6. A good assistant must know their craft/profession (Continuously getting better):

Know the rules of the governing body for your profession.

– Be on top of the trends in the profession

– Recruiting

– Technology

– Ability to manage the following relationships: Head Coach-Assistant Coach, Assistant Coach-players

7. A good assistant must limit the distractions that the Head Coach has to deal with by having relationships with the necessary people on campus:

– Academic support team

– Training staff

– Campus security

– Housing department

8. A good assistant helps to promote the brand, create brand awareness and brand identity:

– Acting professionally

– Dressing professionally

– Being visible in the community

– Being a spokesman for the when asked to speak publically

– Properly using Social Media.

9. A good assistant must have a tremendous work ethic:

– Exhibit an attitude of “No job is too big or too small”:

– Be willing to do whatever to help get the job done

– Understand that there are only beginning hours never ending hours.

– Do whatever it takes ethically to make the head coach and the program a success

 10. A good assistant must be consistently unified with the head coach:

 – No “YES MEN”. Have an opinion. Be able to articulate your opinion and recognize that you offer suggestions, but the head coach makes decisions.

– You can disagree in private but you MUST ALWAYS agree in public with the head coach.

– Assistants make suggestions and the Head Coach makes decisions.


The quality of the staff is a direct reflection of the head coach and their leadership/management style. Synergy amongst the staff is so important. The top level programs understand that, they embrace that and they live that. That is way they are successful.   

SCREENING – The act of doing for others

18 Mar

SCREENING – The act of doing for others

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach at GWU


Screening is an oxymoron.   It is an unselfish selfish play. Screening is an unselfish act because you are trying to get your teammate open. Screening is a selfish act because when you set a good screen the screener  is often open. Blake Griffin,  DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, and Dwight Howard are all examples of good screeners/scorers.


Proper screening allows for the offense to run smoothly and effectively. The quality of the shots, the shooting percentages and the assists all improve because of good screening.


Good screeners play at two speeds. They are either slow to set a screen and then fast with their cut. Or they are fast to set a screen and slow with their cut.   By playing at different speeds it puts the defense at a disadvantage in their ball screen coverage.


Screening puts a lot  of pressure on the defense.  When a solid screen is set the  defense is forced to:

1.  react to the cutter

2. react to the dribbler if the screen is a ball screen

3. react to the screener

4. rebound out of their coverage area

5. scramble to defend  the action


In the game today  there are so many types of screens that the defense must defend:

1.  Pin down (narrow & wide)

2. Back screen

3. Fade/Flair

4. Cross(Big on  Big), (Little on Big), (Little on Little)

5. Diagonal up

6. Staggered Double

7. Wall

8. Elevator


Ball screens are their own separate category of screens.  Ball screens are very popular in the  game right now.  Here are some of the different types of ball screens and actions:’

1. Flat – when the screener sets the screen directly behind the defense.

2. Wing – when the screener sets the screen on the wing

3. Sprint – when the screener runs out to set the screen

4.Step off the block wing screen – The post player steps off the block to set ball screen on the wing.

5. Wall Double – Two players stand side by side to set a screen

6. Horns  – Two players line up at the elbows

7. Staggered double ball screen – two players set individual staggered screens

8. Drag in transition – Trailing post player sets a ball screen

9.  Double Drag in transition –  The two trailing post players set ball screens

10. Screen/Re-screen  – The screener set a screen and turns to re-screen


The actions that are being employed by the screeners are very creative and interesting.  The actions are:

1. Slip and Slam:  The first screener automatically slips the screen and the second screener slams the defender. Xavier does a tremendous job of running this type of action.

2.Roll  and Replace: The screener rolls after setting the screen on the ball and the opposite big replaces high to fill the vacated spot. VCU does a tremendous job of executing this action.

3.  Roll :  long to the basket and short for short jumper

4. Pick and pop  – usually run with a shooter as the screener. This action has been a staple for St. Louis.

5. Ball screen/flair screen for a jumper – You see this action from many of the International teams.

6. Ball screen/back screen for a lob. UNC has run this action out of the secondary break.


The ball screens  are coming from almost every angle imaginable and almost  every possible location on the court.  Even more intriguing is that the ball screens can be run with almost every combination of players.  With all of these factors present the defense must process a lot of information in a very short time or the ball screen actions will destroy the defense. The information that must be processed by the defense:

1. Location of the ball screen

2. Which players are involved with the ball screen and both of their skill sets

3. Angle of the ball screen

4. Time on the shot clock


Setting screens is such an important part of the game.  I think there  should be a stat called “screen assist”.  It would reward the player for setting a screen that led to his teammate getting open and making the shot.  This would  be a great incentive to screen.


Screening takes place on EVERY offensive play. The label of being a screener has now become an attractive adjective, “SCREENER  SCORER”. Screen for others and you will reap the benefits.  SET A SCREEN!