We place great emphasis on our scouting reports as we prepare for any upcoming game on our schedule. Whether it’s the first game of the year or a familiar conference opponent we go through the same routine to prepare our players before every game so that they have the information necessary to understand our game plan – both the how and why of what we’re going to try to accomplish on the court.
We start with a 1-page overview of our opponent. We’ll have their record and general notes about their team, including key personnel and concepts that they’ll employ (i.e.: “This team will be more patient offensively than our last three opponents” or “#7 isn’t a big scorer but is really the key to their defense”). We will also give an overview of their offensive and defensive tendencies and stats on that first page so that our players have an idea of what they can expect to see at each end of the floor throughout the game. We finish the first page with our “Win The Game” section, which is five bullet points that we believe will allow us to be in position to secure a victory. The first few are always the same and deal with how many points we think we should allow, what the rebounding margin should be, and a maximum number of turnovers. The last two are generally more opponent specific and related to things we really want to either take away or be sure to emphasize.
Our second page is a roster breakdown of the opponent. We will typically watch 1-2 games of non-conference opponents and 3-4 games of conference opponents to break down what they run and the tendencies of their players. We have a page with ten information boxes on it. We’ll include a player’s name, number, height, weight, position, and class in each box. Additionally we have five bullet points for stats and tendencies. When looking at stats, we’ll take their season averages, and then either A) what they did the last time we played that team, or B) what they have done in their last 3-4 games depending on time frame. This gives our players a visual of either how a specific player has performed against us in the past, or how well they have played recently. After the statistical breakdown we have room for player tendencies. This could include what types of moves a player uses frequently (“euro in transition”, “pull-up to his left”, etc.), a breakdown of his shots (“34 of his 43 shots on the year are 3’s”) or other relevant information. We conclude each player breakdown with a list of 3 things we MUST do in order to make that player less effective. This usually includes taking away their preferred move to the basket (or shot type), how to attack them defensively, and if we’re making any adjustments to our normal defense on that player.
We then include a team roster, season stats, and recent box scores. We finish the packet with play diagrams. For the players, we try to limit this section to 2 or 3 pages front and back. Each of our diagram sheets has 4 diagrams on it, so that’s a possible 24 diagrams if all were used on 3 pages. We don’t want to overwhelm our players, but we do want to make sure they understand the action they’ll be going up against and how we want it guarded.
We hand out our scouting reports two or three days before a game if possible, depending on when we last played and when we play next. We give them to the players with the expectation they will learn the information provided, not just be able to read it back to us. We go through a walk-through of the play diagrams either in practice or pre-game shoot around, and quiz the players on the personnel information during our pre-game meal. We then post reminders on the board for our pre-game meeting with the team so that they get one last look at specific things we want to make happen.
Our staff tries very hard to keep this routine as consistent as possible. We want our players to regard every opponent on our schedule as a team capable of being beaten, but also as one that has quality players who can make plays. We feel that by setting the tone through thorough scouting reports on every opponent, we can send the message that we as a staff are not taking anyone lightly and neither should they.
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