The Basketball Podcast: EP246 with Trevor Woodruff on Defense

RELEASE DATE : 14/12/2022

In this week’s coaching conversation, Bucknell head coach Trevor Woodruff joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on defense and mindset, and how it has made an impact everywhere he has coached.

Through three seasons with the Bison, Woodruff has compiled an outstanding 57-17 (.770) overall record, including a 40-10 (.800) mark against Patriot League opponents. On top of that, Bucknell is 30-5 (.857) when playing at home under Woodruff and 4-2 (.667) in Patriot League Tournament contests.

For his career, Trevor Woodruff owns a 170-27 (.863) record coaching NCAA women’s basketball and a 329-162 (.670) overall NCAA basketball record when factoring in his 11 seasons as the men’s coach at Misericordia. In all, Woodruff has eight conference titles, 11 appearances in national postseason tournaments, and 10 Coach of the Year awards.

Woodruff was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons at Bucknell after leading the team to a pair of first-place regular season finishes. He’s the first and only Patriot League women’s basketball coach to win the award in his first two years. Woodruff also guided the Bison to their sixth Patriot League Tournament Championship appearance in 2021-22.

Prior to Bucknell, Woodruff compiled a 113-10 record and four conference championships over four years as head coach at the University of Scranton.

Scranton was nearly unbeatable during Woodruff’s four seasons with the team. In addition to the outstanding overall record, the Royals went 53-6 in league play, including a 16-0 record in his first season, while winning four straight Landmark Conference titles. The Royals advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four in his last season, adding to an Elite Eight appearance in 2016 and back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2017 and 2018.

Prior to his time in Scranton, Woodruff spent 12 seasons as a head coach in collegiate men’s basketball, including 11 highly-successful seasons at Misericordia, his alma mater. He led the Cougars to Freedom Conference championships and NCAA Division III Tournament berths in 2012 and 2015, and he was named Freedom Conference Coach of the Year in both of those seasons. He was also named Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2008 in the Cougars’ previous affiliation.

Listen Here:

Trevor Woodruff Coach Quotes:

“We made a decision over that break that win, lose, or draw, we were going to define success by how we played defensively.”

“How can we play offense to make sure we meet our defensive goals? `So, we really stress ball security, knowing that . . live ball turnovers are detrimental to your defense, you’re not going to be able to guard those.”

“If your individual 1-on-1 defense is bad, your defense is bad. We start there, and then build it into small-sided games. But all of that stuff has to carry over.”

“Here are the five things, we call them ‘constants’, that we have to excel at. If we do, we’ll accomplish our goal of giving up these shots. Knowing that, at least for us, we’re not going to take away everything.”

“I think if you really understand offense and what makes offense good, that helps your defense. And conversely, if you really understand defense rotations, how teams are trying to take certain things away, I think it helps you as an offensive player.”

“If we have a mistake on defense, it generally goes back to one of those five ‘constants.’”

“Because of the culture that we’re fighting to build every day, because of the identity that we want, I think physical blockouts are a part of that. Because over a 40-minute game . . it has an accumulative effect . . by the fourth quarter, the other team is just sick of the physicality at the point of contact.”

“When you’re early in your career, you want to be all things, you want to do all things. And then the reality is, we get better as coaches once we realize what equals winning and what creates losing, and then develop a mindset around that.”

“For us, we really have to get good at guarding things one way before I’m comfortable changing or adjusting. We’ve got one way to guard the ball screen, and we don’t do it right every time, so how many more can we give them? How many things do we want to be mediocre at as opposed to being really good at one?”

“When we recruit we’re looking for great offensive players with defensive characteristics, meaning they have size, they have length, they have mobility, and then they have to decide, ‘Am I going to buy into the [defensive] concepts?’”

Trevor Woodruff Breakdown:

1:00 – Defensive Conviction
4:00 – Offense
6:00 – Mindset Training
7:30 – Drills and Live Play
10:00 – Non Negotiables
14:00 – Ball Screen Defense
16:00 – Passing Piece
20:00 – Connecting Things to Mindset
25:00 – Practice Plan
29:38 – 30:23 – Membership Sales Ads
30:30 – Weak Side
33:30 – Base Defense
38:30 – Weakened Defensive Concepts
41:00 – Challenges
43:00 – Variability
46:00 – Emphasis on Recovering
50:00 – Shift
52:00 – Offensive and Defensive Talent
55:00 – Conclusion

Trevor Woodruff Links from the Podcast:

Trevor Woodruff

Izzi Metz

Bo Ryan

Landry Kosmalski

Matt Woodley

Chris Mack

Jim Boeheim

Mike Krzyzewski

Dick Bennett

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