In this week’s coaching conversation, Birmingham Squadron NBA G-League associate head coach TJ Saint joins the podcast to discuss practice, video and analytics in modern basketball.
Saint has spent time as a video coordinator, player development coach, director of basketball operations with the Georgia Bulldogs, Detroit Pistons, Butler Bulldogs, Belmont Bruins and Pure Sweat. He was named Georgia Basketball’s Director of Basketball Strategy and Video in October 2018. Saint is responsible for preparing strategy during the pre-scouting process and then assisting the coaching staff with scouting of opponents. He also will lead efforts specific to data analytics and manage the design, development and creation of videos used for team motivational and recruiting purposes.
Prior to Georgia, TJ Saint spent four seasons with the Detroit Pistons from 2014-18 as the head video coordinator and also had player development responsibilities, including being responsible for Anthony Tolliver’s development. In addition to organizing all scouting and personnel reports, Saint was the lead coach for pre-draft workouts, a coach for the free agent mini-camp and an assistant coach for the Pistons’ summer league team.
Prior to his stint in Detroit, Saint was a member of the staff at Butler for three seasons. He served as a graduate assistant from 2011-13, assisting with film exchange and breakdown, on-court practice, scouting and recruiting scheduling. Saint then joined the Bulldogs’ staff on a full-time basis as Director of Basketball Operations for the 2013-14 campaign before moving on to the Pistons.
Saint was a student assistant as an undergraduate under Rick Byrd at Belmont for two seasons from 2009-11.
During his five seasons at the collegiate level, Saint helped Butler and Belmont reach the 2011 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments, respectively.
Saint began his college career as a recruited walk-on point guard at Mercer, playing for former Bulldog Mark Slonaker for one season before transferring to Belmont.
Saint also has extensive experience as a national skill development coach with Pure Sweat Basketball in St. Louis, Mo., from 2009-11 and also coached AAU basketball teams in the Nashville and Indianapolis areas during that same time frame. Saint also gained experience serving as a coach for numerous summer camps on college campuses, including those at Butler, Texas, Vanderbilt, Belmont, Santa Clara, Clemson, Oregon and Illinois.
TJ Saint Quotes:
“[With video analysis] . . you can really get a good sense after two or three games of what a team is trying to accomplish.”
“You should use the technology as much as possible. Let it do the most work for you.”
“When I’m watching a particular clip . . I’m usually not watching the ball, I’m watching the other eight players in the action.”
‘If your best handler . . can get the ball at the nail where most rebounds go . . you can start your transition quicker . . which means more points and more fouls in transition.”
“I always try to reverse engineer around the problem rather than just try to have this eureka moment to try to discover the answer.”
“Really understanding where the good shots come from in a game is going further and seeing the second line of defense or third line of defense.”
“Any shot outside of the lane, I would never jump at because . . what you do see a lot is getting lifted by the shot fake and then rewarding them with two free throws.”
“Defense is not going to be perfect but . . the effort, concentration and discipline can put you in the best position possible.”
“There is no talent in not going for a shot fake. It has to be drilled . . but it doesn’t require talent.”
“As much as you do on little things, you can cover up and have a better margin for error in other areas.”
“I would encourage everyone when you’re teaching your team, especially on defense, use names then information.”
“The three components of trust are . . Are you being authentic? . . Does what you’re telling them to do make sense? . . And the third, and most important part is do you have empathy?”
“As much as player development is about the on-the-court stuff, the biggest part of it is do you care and can they tell?”
TJ Saint Breakdown:
1:00 – Introduction
2:40 – Ideas for Watching the Video and How they can Improve
5:00 – Checklist and Watching Games like a Fan Live
7:30 – High Percentages of Rebounds go down to Nail
11:00 – Covering the Nail
12:00 – Studying Top 4 NBA Teams and their Corner Threes
15:00 – Players often Figure Stuffs out before Coaches Do
17:00 – Driving along the Slot Line and 25%
18:30 – Low Man and Pick & Roll Situation, The Next Level
19:30 – Hit the Roller and Skip
21:00 – Tim Duncan
22:30 – Big Man being able to Drive than Shoot
26:20 – Should we leave our Feet to Challenge a Shot?
27:30 – Defensive Conversation
29:00 – Team Lines
31:00 – What is a Veer?
32:30 – The term “Scram”
34:30 – Level of Communication is Undervalued
35:30 – Adding The Names of the Call
37:00 – General Feedback
38:00 – 3 Components of Trust
40:30 – Defining Reality
42:00 – How Much the Player Cares
43:00 – How Much Basketball is Part of their Identity
44:00 – Conclusion
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