The Basketball Podcast: EP144 Jay Larranaga on Transition Offense and Defense

RELEASE DATE : 30/12/2020

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, NBA assistant coach Jay Larranaga joins the Basketball Podcast to NBA discuss transition offense and defense tactics and techniques.

Jay Larranaga is currently the top assistant for the Boston Celtics. Larranaga joined Doc Rivers coaching staff in 2012 and has been with the team since. Throughout his time in Boston, he has coached several great players like Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Isaiah Thomas, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker. Jay also has made an impact on winning and has helped guide the Celtics to 7 playoff berths in 8 years.

Before Boston, Larranaga was the head coach of the Erie BayHawks. In his short stint with the team, he earned two playoff berths, the most wins as a coach in the team’s history, and 8 NBA Call-Ups. Jay started his coaching career with international basketball. One of his first jobs was as an assistant for the Ukraine national team. After some success there he became the head coach of the Ireland National team.

Prior to coaching, Jay had a successful playing career. He spent 12 years playing across Europe. He played for some of the biggest clubs like Napoli, Real Madrid, and Paris Racing. He earned all-star honors in France and won the Spanish league title with Real Madrid. Jay also grew up emerged in basketball. His father Jim has been coaching in the NCAA for nearly 50 years and is currently the head coach at the University of Miami

Jay is a proven winner and has shown his attention to detail at each step of his career. Coach Larranaga will continue to display his high-level coaching ability with the Celtics this season as they look to compete for a championship.

Jay Larranaga

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Jay Larranaga Quotes:

“The absolute best half-court offense in the league last year was not as good as the least efficient transition offense. So the more we can run, the more we can attack when the defense isn’t set. And then the more that we can get our defense set and be on the same page defensively, those are the most important possessions in a lot of games.”

“San Antonio, when they had their great teams for years and years, I can remember asking one of our stat guys . . San Antonio gets more layups in the fourth quarter than other teams . . did they run more than other teams in the fourth quarter?. . It wasn’t that they ran more, it was that they ran the same as they did in the first three quarters, and the rest of the league slows down . . transition is super important.”

“It’s also a reminder to your players that, even in the fourth quarter, you want to not be out of control but play at a pace where you can take advantage of any mistakes that the opponent makes.”

“They saw great value in transition offense and they saw great value in transition defense . . It’s just the consistent effort. It’s just that they treat every possession like it’s the same.”

“You teach multiple efforts at both ends of the court . . play the right way, that’s what you’re trying to teach your players on a daily basis. And even before you get to play the right way, it’s live the right way and treat people the right way. And so do you want to be the guy that jogs in transition on offense? Or doesn’t get back on defense? Or do you want to be the guy that when he’s on the court, he competes as hard as he can?”

“This is all stuff that we’ve taught . . everybody has to get a man and in transition, you might not be matched up with the guy that we said in the pregame talk that you’re matched up with. The basket is the priority, the ball is the priority, and then you just got to find the nearest guy.”

“I think as coaches . . we feel the same way. The number of times where you give up a transition shot or layup or three, it’s not because you don’t have enough players back. It’s because you have two guys that ran to the same guy, or one guy assumed he had the ball, but no one declared the ball. It all falls back on being a great communicating team and being a multiple effort team.”

“If defense is really about quality, then offense is about quantity . . So I think the number one thing is, you just create an environment and a value to transition possessions.”

“If you want your team to be a good transition team, you’ve got to get your guys to run faster without the ball and you’ve got to slow down a little bit with the ball.”

“When you’re shooting a shot, your teammates should expect you to shoot that shot. If you’re shooting a shot that surprises your teammates. Maybe that’s not a good shot.”

“‘Most players do just enough not to get in trouble, and not enough to make a difference.’ And he was talking about running, right? They’re going to jog  with the pack down on offense, they’re gonna jog with the pack down on defense, and they’re just not maximizing their physical potential for a lot of the time they’re on the court.”

“So how do you hold people accountable? The number one thing is you set expectations. This is what we expect. This is our standard. This is what you’re capable of. And there’s different ways of showing that but having a standard is really, really important.”

“‘The only difference between feedback and criticism is how the person takes it.’”

“The ball is not what you’re using to beat the guy. The ball is what you’re using to deceive the defender from what you’re doing with your feet. So, . . anytime we do any type of dribbling routine, guys’ feet have to be moving.”

“It’s not your man that’s going to make you miss at the rim. It’s the help. So do everything you can to eliminate that help through deception.”

“I would encourage coaches in practice situations . .  making your guys shoot more reverse layups, making your guys shoot more off of two feet in the paint. We all do drills . . or guys do layup lines before every game . .  you might as well practice something that’s more applicable to real games and helping you score and helping you be a better finisher.”

Jay Larranaga Breakdown:

1:00 – Transition Offense and Defense
3:00 – Consistent Pacing into Transition
5:00 – Teaching First and Defensive Focus
9:00 – Communication Cues
12:00 – Positioning Yourself
14:00 – Takeaways about Offensive Focus
17:00 – Primary and Secondary Breaks
20:00 – Point Guard
22:30 – Attack Mentality
26:00 – Developing Defensive/Offensive Transition
30:00 – Pack Mentality
32:00 – Push Challenge Feedback
35:00 – Pace of Play of Transition
37:00 – Types of Feedback
40:00 – Visual Feed, Auditory Tactile
43:30 – Rhythm and Speed
47:00 – Dribbling with Goggles
50:00 – Misconceptions about Dribbling
54:00 – Conclusion

Jay Larranaga Selected Links from the Podcast:

Boston Celtics


Mike D’Antoni

San Antonio Spurs

Mike Budenholzer

Milwaukee Bucks

Eric Bledsoe

Scott Morrison

Jason Kidd

Brad Stevens

Klay Thompson

Anthony Morrow

Russell Westbrook

John Wall

Sam Cassell

Bradley Beal

Stu Vetter

Damien Wilkins

Jason Capel

Jim Crutchfield

Morgan Wootten

Jayson Tatum

Giannis Antetokounmpo

 LeBron James

Kyle Korver

Trae Young

Joe Mazzulla

Tim Grover

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

Massimo Antonelli

Evan Turner

Jamal Crawford

Kyrie Irving

Payton Pritchard

Alex Sarama

Tiago Splitter

Jay Larranaga:

Bio: https://www.nba.com/celtics/roster/coaches/jay-larranaga

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