In this week’s coaching conversation, Nagoya Diamond Dolphins head coach Shawn Dennis joins the Basketball Podcast to timeout effectiveness, D4 penetration reaction principles, tagging up and so much more.
Shawn Dennis has coached in the Japanese professional basketball league called the Japan B League since the 2016-17 season. The 2016 Australian NBL Coach of the Year with the Townsville Crocodiles has considerable experience coaching in Australia and New Zealand prior to his first coaching position in Japan as an assistant coach with the Link Tochigi Brex. His first head coaching position in Japan came the next season as he joined the Shiga Lakestars.
Dennis, who played 197 games in the NBL for Newcastle and Hobart before coaching becoming a head coach in the NBL with both the Newcastle Falcons and Townsville. He has experiences at all levels of Australian Basketball but has also coached in New Zealand. Dennis was previously the New Zealand National Women’s Basketball Team Head Coach and won an New Zealand NBL Championship and the league’s coach of the year honor with the Hawkes Bay Hawks.
Shawn Dennis Coach Quotes:
“When I moved to Japan, I found such a different culture. And when you got angry or aggressive in your response to the way the players were behaving, they would shut down on you completely. I realized very quickly that I can’t do that and I’ve got to make changes to me, and how I deal with things.”
“I changed my approach to a more questioning approach, which is still difficult . . because it takes a little longer, but what I’ve found is it’s become a much better learning environment and the lessons that the players learn as it goes on tend to stick, and then you start to see that flow into the game.”
“I think the most important thing you should consider . . is how much information is actually going to be retained by the players. A great little test you can do is have the players in a locker room before practice and give a pregame speech. And then after the warm up, ask the players some of the specifics of that pregame speech and see how much they actually remember.”
“I heard a coach say he did three things, one defense, one office and one general thing [during timeouts] and I started that approach and I’ve found that sometimes even that’s too much information . . I’m at a stage now where it’s virtually one thing, ‘What’s the most important thing right now that we need to talk about coming into this timeout?’”
“A big one I look for [in timeouts] is my team flattened down? I can’t jump and be angry, if they look down, I’ve got to find a way to lift them back up. Now, that might be making a substitution, making sure that I give very solution-based information.”
“The D-4 Principles are: Drive, Drift, Drag, and Dive. We just want to create an advantage. Once the advantage is created, it’s all about the D-4 principles. The number one golden rule in the D-4 principles is never let one guard two.”
“Every practice, the first 30 minutes is about driving the ball, finishing the ball, creating space, never letting one guard two and working very, very hard.”
“I realized that the players that play off two feet, generally made better decisions with the basketball.”
“One of our defensive philosophies is we want to try to pin the ball as close to the sideline at all times. The closer to the sideline we can force catches, then the shorter the peel switch in the strong side corner.”
“The other thing I like about peel switching is it creates tempo. And tempo is big for what we’re trying to do on offense. So, by taking some of these calculated risky switches, it’s creating tempo.”
“The other difficult thing I found with peels, which is when the players start to just play for the peel switch, rather than actually working hard on the ball . . that created no pressure on the offensive guy with the ball. And so that’s something where we’re working hard at that, the peel is only there as a last resort.”
“The coach . . knew he had a great culture when he realized that the players are enforcing everything about their program. It’s led by the entire group. That’s what I’m trying to instill in every team I’m part of, is that it can’t be one person standing at the top.”
“I want to be able to go to where we build a program that others want to come and be part of, the players there really love playing and being part of that program.”
“We have job descriptions for players, we have our identities and themes, and we have our culture. And we evaluate these every three weeks. Are we living up to these? I have different players run the sessions, so everybody gets used to speaking. And that’s a challenge for some of our guys, particularly the younger players, . . but I want to build something that’s long term; I don’t want short term success.”
“Our guys are really, really starting to buy into it and love it. You see how much fun they have now coming to practice, how much fun they have being around each other. They understand hard work is part of what we do. But intelligent work is part of what we do, and they’re getting better and better at it and keeping each other accountable.”
Shawn Dennis Breakdown:
1:00 – Coaching in a Different Culture
6:00 – Getting Out of Comfort Zone
9:00 – Improving Timeout Effectiveness
12:00 – Filmed Timeouts
16:00 – Reading Emotions
19:00 – Who Can Talk During Timeouts
26:00 – Defensive Transition
34:00 – Emphasis on Reducing Turnovers
38:00 – Playing Off Two Feet
42:30 – Peel Switching
48:30 – Building a Shared Culture
56:00 – Conclusion
Shawn Dennis Links from the Podcast:
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