Observations from the European Basketball Championships

The 2019 U18 European Basketball Championships forecasts trends in European Basketball. These trends in European Basketball can stimulate our thinking about coaching techniques and tactics. Great Britain Under 18 National Head Coach, and current Reading Rockets NBL D1 Head Coach, Alan Keane shares his observations from the 2019 European Championships. His observations from the European Basketball Championships focused on offence, ball screens, post and guard play, and defence. These areas stood out the most to Coach Keane and will help us better understand the trends in European basketball. Each section corresponds to a video compilation included in this post.

Coach Keane is no stranger to sharing the game. He joined the Basketball Podcast to help us rethink some traditional coaching ideas. Ideas like the pre-game, half-time, timeout interactions and interventions coaches traditionally use were discussed, along with methods for better empowering players in the coaching process.

Episode 41: Alan Keane, Rethinking Traditional Basketball Ideas

OFFENCE (00:04)

  • All offences were a series of quick-hitters. Only one team I saw playing with a continuity. A lot of side pick and roll to pitch back to point guard were used to ignite go to actions. 
  • The most common offensive entries included Iverson cuts and diamond alignments.
  • “Spain/Stack” ball screen was common with many teams. It was interesting how teams were defending it with mostly bigs staying and the guards switching.
  • The middle third ball screen often ended with a point guard hook passing a pass cross court. This tactical read and skill application attacked the weak side for open corner three-point shots. This pass exposed the low tag. The passing skill used in these situations was accurate and effective.
  • Every team turned defence into offence as fast as possible. Live ball turnovers were important for the offense. Players anticipated and responded aggressively to opportunistic turnovers.
  • There were few times where players held the ball, or stopped the ball movement. Almost every player was ready to play off the catch and attack aggressively using a zero seconds mindset.

What is Zero Seconds and Basketball Decision Training?


  • It was incredible how many teams struggled to defend empty corner ball screen actions.
  • France proved to be the best at defending the empty corner ball screen. The low tag loaded all the way over to the ball side anticipating the pass to screener. This left a 2-on-1 on the front side. It did not hurt them as they switched out the help while the low tag recovered. 
  • The short roll on ball screens was only used by the better teams. The impact was dependent on the screener’s awareness and the guard’s ability to create a “line of pass” with dribble vs. aggressive ball screen coverage.
  • Players consistently set up ball screens using patient dribbles and movements, but the quick decision making coming off screen separated the better players.

POST PLAY (05:08)

  • Post play was alive and well. Skilled post players were effective, and used to create advantages inside.
  • A good passing post player was valuable. This was especially evident vs. pressure. Using the 5 as a pressure release solution was key.
  • The best post players created space on offence. They created space using deep seals and great screens.
  • It was very challenging to double team the best post players as they passed well out of double teams.
  • Offensive rebounding was an emphasis of some more than others. The best offensive rebounding post player’s made an impact on games which made it a useful skill.

GUARD PLAY (06:43)

  • Guards composure under pressure was impressive. The game slowed down for the better players who made and executed great decisions.
  • The best guards had the ability to finish in paint vs. bigger players. Skills like the floater, euro step, one step, same hand and foot finishes, the mid-range, and contact finishes were all evident.
  • Players made plays often with one hand. The most common examples of one hand skill applications were passing off the dribble and one hand finishes without touching the ball with the other hand.
  • Teams commonly posted their guards. Big guards had an advantage in scoring and being play makers from the low post.
  • Guards who were doubled teamed often tried to split the trap. The split was set up by fakes to go outside the trap and than step through middle gap. Delivery is composed & efficient whether it is inside/outside player.
  • Full court pressure was ineffective because guards attacked with speed, and stopped on a dime, to create separation. 

DEFENCE (09:00)

  • It was common to effective defence for 20-22 seconds of the shot clock, followed and by an easy opportunity for the offense in last 2 to 4 seconds of the shot clock.
  • The ability to defend the ball in one-on-one situations, and to pressure the ball, may have been the biggest key to winning.
  • Teams who could switch on defence with post players were disruptive.
  • It was great to see a team impact and change the rhythm of the game with 1-3-1 zone. This was effective because the player at the back of the zone was talented enough to cover space. 

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