One of my favorite quotes of all-time comes from Dick DeVenzio, the founder of PGC Basketball. Dick said, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do what you do.” Ponder that one for a minute. It’s not what we do as coaches, it’s how we do what we do.
We found a great example of two teams living out this quote in the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship game. That night we saw Virginia and Texas Tech, two of the nation’s top defensive teams, square off in an epic battle.
The success of both teams was built on their tough man-to-man defense. And while it’s true that both teams played man to man defense more than 95% of the time, they couldn’t have been more different in how they played it.
Virginia is a pack line team that doesn’t allow the ball to get to the outside, they sit in the gap so they don’t give up drives, and they want to slow you down on offense.
On the flip side, Texas Tech is a team that forces the ball to the outside, they contest the passing lanes, and they want to apply a lot of pressure with their defense.
What made them both so special defensively wasn’t really in “what” they did at all. They were the last two teams playing because of HOW they did what they did. It’s HOW they played defense. HOW they got in a stance. HOW they communicated.
As coaches, we must ask ourselves what we can learn from teams like Virginia and Texas Tech. What can we steal from them to help better prepare our team for success?
As you formulate your plan for the season, you’ll likely think through things like: what offense you’re going to run, what defenses you’re going to play, and how you’re going to execute out of bounds plays. All those are necessary thoughts, but that’s not enough. That’s not where the specialness lies.
The specialness lies in deciding HOW you’re going to do each of these things. To define the HOW, you should be asking yourself things like:
- How hard are you going to cut on offense?
- How hard do your players drive?
- What does good spacing look like for your team?
- What’s the priority of reads when your team is using off-ball screens?
Defensively, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t really matter what we do (2-3, 1-3-1, man, etc.), but rather how we do what we do.
As a coaching staff work to be more intentional in practice, with each coach having a “how” they’ll emphasize during particular drills. That’s where the specialness happens. That’s where the depth of your teaching really matters. That’s where your team will get their unique identity from.
That’s where you begin to have a championship-caliber season, just like Virginia and Texas Tech.
It’s not what you do, it’s how you do what you do.