Part One: Point Guard Mentality
Knowledge assist from: Steve Smiley – Head Coach Sheridan JUCO
- UNDERSTANDING YOUR COACH / BE AN EXTENSION OF YOUR COACH
I think that the most important thing that a point guard must do at any level of the game is to understand his or her coach and what their approach to the game is. It is crucial that the point guard knows not only the various plays and sets on both offense and defense but to also understand what the coach expects at various times during the game. Is your coach in favor of an up-tempo style of play, or does he like to slow the game down and get the ball inside? As a point guard, if you’re walking the ball up the court after every rebound or made basket and your coach wants you to push the ball to get easy buckets, you’re going to have a problem.
At NSU, it took me at least two years, if not three, before I understood that what Coach Meyer wanted before anything else offensively was to get the easy bucket. In my first two years of playing, I only pushed the ball at various times, but by the time I was a junior and senior I tried to get the ball up court as fast as possible and as often as possible. Obviously, there were certain times where we needed to slow the ball down and change the tempo of the game (maybe we had a lead late in the game and it was time to milk the clock, for instance), but for the majority of the time, we turned into a fast-paced team and it was amazing to see how many easy baskets we would get by relentlessly pushing the ball and searching for easy opportunities. Even if we didn’t get easy hoops early in the game, it was almost guaranteed that by the end of the game we would either get an easy layup or get a wide open three-pointer by one of our best shooters because the other team had broken down physically. There are so many possessions (and opportunities) throughout the course of the game to get an easy basket, and what we found was that much of the time at a very competitive level the game is usually determined by maybe only one or two baskets.
Of course, if your coach favors slowing the ball down and playing a methodical type of game, that is what you need to do as a point guard. The point here is that as a point guard, you are responsible for understanding how the coach wants to dictate the game, and you have to follow along with his plan if the team is going to be successful.
In more general terms, I also feel that the point guard must be an extension of the coach. The point guard must understand what is expected during practice, on the day of the game, behavior (both on campus and on the road), and of course during the game. I was lucky enough to redshirt my first year at Northern and learn from two excellent point guards; Scott Hansen and Matt Sevareid. This was also Coach Meyer’s first year at Northern, and it seemed to me that the glue that really held the team together by the end of the year was the leadership of Scott and Matt. Throughout the course of the year, as a team we had many guys leave and at times the sailing was “rocky,” but Scott and Matt were both seniors, and more importantly, they were both leaders, and they had an understanding of what Coach expected in practices and games. I always saw them as extensions of Coach Meyer, and when I went through the program I tried to also be that type of an extension. It is so crucial for the point guard (and any team leader) to understand what the coach expects because there are many times when guys on the team would rather come to the leader to discuss certain things than go to the coach, because they don’t feel as comfortable around the coach. As a point guard, you must understand what is the philosophy of the coach and the program in general, so you can help to communicate that philosophy to other people within the program.