ESTABLISHING THE INTERIOR GAME

By

Peter Lonergan, BVCC ITCP Head Coach (Australia)

Whatever system you are running, it is important to establish a solid interior game – to create shots in the “80 per cent land of opportunity”. Creating good position in the lane will threaten the defense, increase the opportunity to draw fouls and provide high percentage scoring opportunities.

There are many ways to establish the interior game. The following are just a few hints for making the most out of your “bigs”.

1. HAVE YOUR "BIGS" SPRINT THE FLOOR AND ESTABLISH EARLY "DEEP CATCHES"
One of the easiest way for interior players, particularly younger ones learning the game, to get good position for high percentage shots is to have them sprint the middle lane on transition and present. By running hard and establishing a deep catch position at the mouth of the basket, immediate pressure will be placed on the transition defense and consistent early scoring opportunities will be created.

As with most players in offensive transition, offensive players tend to run, not sprint the floor and if you can break this cycle and get your first “big” down the floor to sprint to the “deep catch slot”, your transition will improve dramatically.

2. PRESENT "Ls" AND DEMAND THE BALL
The work done at the 2002 Australian Junior Camp by Brian Goorjian and Ken Shields reminded us all that by taking care of the simple details, we can improve the play of our post players dramatically. The concept of “presenting L’s” in the post up is one that has made a marked difference in the teaching of post play in our program and is something that we now demand of all players looking to post up.

Watching the AIS men’s team on their successful run through the ABL play-offs, it was evident they were able to get maximum value out of their size and interior game by ensuring all players presented well in the post, in a stance, presenting two “L’s” and thus catching passes that others may have fumbled or had knocked away.

This is an area that perhaps has not had the attention to detail that it should in the past, yet is so vital if you are looking to establish a worthwhile interior game.

3. ENCOURAGE INTERIOR MOVES OFF TWO FEET
With the size and athleticism of players today, it is so important interior players understand the importance of playing off two feet in the lane.

4. THE "BIGS" PLAYING TOGETHER
This was evident in another ABL finals success story this year – the Kilsyth women’s team. Coach Fox worked the interior game to perfection during the finals weekend, playing the likes of Lange, Kerr and Ameagi together and continually establishing shots in the lane.

A highlight of the Cobras offense was the way the interior players worked together, finding each other with high-low action and back screening to create seals. The Kilsyth guards continually found an interior player at the high post/foul line area and invariably, the next pass was to a player camped deep in the lane for a high percentage “look”.

Whether you are playing out of a 3 out, 2 in, or a 4 out setting, the "bigs" should have a “buddy” mentality and work together through screening and high-low action.

5. USE SCREEN/RE-SCREEN ACTION
An interior player that screens often and effectively will be both hard to guard and will assist with creating high quality action for both perimeter and inside players alike. By encouraging "bigs" to have a “screen-first” mentality in the half court setting, you have a chance to create shots for others, but also to create opportunities deep in the lane by players sealing after the screen.

Many teams back-screen on ball reversal --by bringing the"big" back inside by re-screening and sealing, simple, high quality action can be created.

6. BE PATIENT
As a wiser man than I once said – “You can’t win without the "bigs"”

Be patient!

(BasketballsBest thanks Peter Lonergan, Head Coach the the Victoria Country Head Intensive Training Center in Australia. This article reminds us of a number of coaching pointers....offensive players tend to "run" the floor instead of "sprint" the floor...the importance of posting up hard in proper "wide" position...post players playing together in a "buddy" system...and the importance of being patient in running an offense. We coaches must always remember that players will NOT do the above fundametals unless a coach TEACHES and DEMANDS that they do.)