Contributed by Brett Ayers. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Certainly the big three, UNC, Kentucky and UCLA have all been going through what can at the least be called a point guard crisis and at the worst it can be called a four alarm point guard fire. Recruiting a ready made point guard is certainly one way to cure the problem. Even in doing this, I see very few high school points who do and possess all of the point guard skills and attributes necessary to make them instantly great at he college level out there anymore.
Even if you don't recruit a great point guard, you can develop if not a servicable point guard maybe even a very good to great point guard by working with him on certain things.
One of the first things that I think to many points do not understand is what they need to be doing within a certainn coaches system. If you have an average point guard but good or even great players around him I think really stressing that your point get the ball up the court to these players as quickly as possible is a must. If you have a good to great point and shaky players at the 2 and 3 spots when it comes to handling the ball then you need to impress upon your point that he needs to get the ball into the front court with the dribble and not give the ball up until he is ready to start the offense. Last year Mr. Boone started to finally understand in the second part of the year he was better bringing the ball up with the dribble and keeping it off the sidelines as opposed to trying to throw the 60 foot cross court pass.
Here are some of the basic things that can be done with a point guard, regardless of skill level to improve his ability to get the ball from point A to point B without turning the ball over.
1. Working on dribbling. Now, this sounds rather obvious but you would be surprised how many points do not work on this on a regular basis. Getting your point to utilize the more necessary dribble moves like the cross over and the behind the back and staying away from others like the between the legs dribble that really take you no where and make it easier for the defense to pick your pocket, trap you and or just apply more pressure. Another dribble that is vitale, but really should only be used in the backcourt and not near the sidelins is the spin dribble. The key with this dribble and with the cross over dribble is getting your point to drop his butt right before making the move and keeping the ball low. With the spin dribble the object is to pull the ball through and come off of the defender as tight as possible. The cross over's key is in crossing over low and when coming out of crossing it over going somewhere other than horizontally with the ball.
Like anything else in this game the object offensively is to get either by your man and or even with him. You do this you have him beat and all he can do is either let you go and or foul you. One of the problems that many point guards have these days is the inability to understand that if you dribble without purpose and or use a dribble that takes you no where you are playing into the hands of the defense.
2. Balance - One of the things that John Stockton has as well, maybe better than any other point guard out there is balance. John is able to stay balanced for two reasons. First is he drops his but down like he is sitting in a chair. Second is his head. A lot of folks are not aware of how much the head plays into a player being on or off balance. I see points out there who get themselves way to strung out horizontally because of leaning their head out over the ball when they dribble and or drive. I have seen John driving at full speed, seemingly out of control but get of a very controlled shot even if he is floating one way or the other because his head is always over his butt, his center of gravity.
Point guards need to be constantly drilled in this facet of the game. Balance, balance, balance must be constantly preached. From the "basketball position" a player becomes much quicker, more responsive and ready. You play better defense, you don't expose the ball and you can both get shots off and passes off with more precision and crispness.
3. Intangibles - Now this is a rather large topic but you will hear it said often, and it is true, that you as a coach would like your point guard to be a tough minded leader on the court. An extension of the coach is what is often said. I am not sure I want exactly that, but I want a kid with some toughness and who can grab his teammates and get them together and re-focus them. A kid who can recogonize defenses and who has the hot hand.
These are things that can be learned and taught in practice by running certain controlled drills and stopping practice and scrimmages when needed to constantly ask your point guard why he did something. Challenging your point to think is one of the biggest keys in developing a top notch point guard.
One of the next facets of his game that a point must really come to understand is that scoring is his third priority. His first one is game and offensive tempo and flow. The second is defensive pressure. When it comes to flow of a game a point guard needs to be cognisant of getting certain players touches and in places he knows they have the best chance to be successful scoring. A point does not give the ball to a big man on the dead run in the break. Once again, much of this can be learned in practice.
The mantra of every point guard should be this; I must run my team and I must first handle pressure then apply pressure.