The Basketball Podcast: EP276 with Colby Blaine on Building Conceptual Players

RELEASE DATE : 12/07/2023

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, College of Idaho head coach Colby Blaine joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on emotions, sub chart, building conceptual players and zone defense.

Colby Blaine helped lead College of Idaho to the 2022-23 NAIA men’s basketball national championship for the second national title in program history. He helped lead the Yotes on a school record 36-game winning streak and set other program records for wins (36), points scored (3,192), field goals made (1,195), field goals attempted (2,395), scoring margin (22.6), and tied the school record for scoring defense (63.3 ppg). The 36 wins are the most of any other college basketball in the state of Idaho history. To go along with the national championship, College of Idaho was the regular season and the tournament champion in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Colby Blaine as the 2023 NAIA Coach of the Year. Blaine earlier in the year was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year for a third time — the most in program history. He has previously been named the 2020 and 2022 CCC Coach of the Year and was honored as the 2020 NAIA Division II National Coach of the Year.

He began his time with the College of Idaho as an assistant coach during the 2014-15 season. Prior to that, he had coaching stops at Montana Western and the College of Southern Idaho where he won a National Championship in 2011-13.

Colby Blaine

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Colby Blaine Quotes:

“One thing we talk about in terms of how do we achieve our goals is who do we have to become? And so, it’s really been cool over the last couple of years to see this squad develop into who they needed to be to achieve [their goals].”

“We are traditionally up at halftime in about 95% of our games . . And so, one thing we would talk about at halftime all the time is momentum . . Second half, the other team has to come back. They’ve got to do something to come back. And so we would always take a big deep breath if they started to come back, because we understood that that’s supposed to happen . . we’ve actually prepped for the emotion of that.”

“Robotic teams can win games early in the year, but by the end of the year, you’ve got to be able to read and react and make your own decisions. We really spend a lot of time off the court helping our guys grow as individuals.”

“Stress comes from the unknown . . we really feel, as a coaching staff, it’s our job to help take the stress out of the game. There’s already going to be plenty there by making and missing shots or just the intensity of the crowd and the game . . We believe that if we can educate them on the emotions of the game, that might actually take some of the stress off of them.”

“I truly believe that players, young men and young women, want accountability. They want to be pushed. I don’t believe that aggressive energy is negative. It’s the words you use that make it negative, in my opinion. Just because we have an aggressive coaching style doesn’t mean it’s not a positive style. Our players are prepared for how to deal with those emotions.”

“We’ve found that the benefits of the subchart [substitution chart] outweigh the negatives . . Our leading minute getter only played 25 minutes . . I believe that if you’re going to play as hard as you can, you cannot play 40 minutes, you cannot play 35 minutes . . all year long . . I also believe that for us to be a championship team, we have to get the most production we can from the deepest bench that we can provide. Can you win a game with six players? Yes. Can you win 38 games with six players? I don’t think you can . . And so, for us to be a championship team, we want to play 8,9, 10 guys, and we want all of those guys to be confident.”

“We know for a fact is that communication builds trust. We want our players to become great communicators. That is a conceptual part of life. The better you communicate, the better your life is going to be.”

“We watch a lot of film outside of practice just to show them concepts and show them how they’re moving and what decisions they’re making, but we definitely try to make it a little more free flowing in practice.”

“I totally agree with the merit of building the player in man defense. They need to learn those principles. Our zone defense is based on man principles. We just happen to start in what looks like a zone. You watch the Miami Heat, and here they are in the NBA Finals as an eight seed using a zone, and their players are conceptual, and it’s making those other teams think outside the box . . and if they don’t think very well, you could beat them in a game or two.”

“We play back-to-back Friday, Saturday nights in our conference, and we found that playing the zone helps our prep . . You want to have a good zone, you cannot be soft in the zone. You’ve got to play hard. We’re not playing zone back-to-back nights because we want a break. We’re playing it because our prep for the next team is a lot easier.”

“As a coach, you might say, ‘How do you teach all this?’ And the truth is, you build conceptual players and they will lead the way. You don’t have to have an answer for everything. Take away layups, take away open threes, don’t foul, and play as hard as you can. That’s it. I don’t have to have an answer for everything that’s going on.”

“Teach one thing that’s going to fix ten things. Don’t teach ten things because you’ll fail at all of them. For us, we believe in contesting three pointers, because if you’re going to contest every three, you’re probably playing super hard, you’re probably running around, you’re probably thinking a pass or two ahead. And so, we get a lot of result out of just demanding that you contest every single three.”

Colby Blaine Breakdown:

1:00 – National Champions
5:00 – Emotion
6:30 – Scouting
11:00 – Being Aggressive
15:00 – Substitution
19:30 – Tweaking
25:00 – Sub Chart
28:00 – Building Conceptual Players
30:37 – 31:50 – Hoopsalytics Ads 4
31:50 – Think Outside the Box
35:00 – Practice Structure
38:00 – Two-Way Coaching
39:00 – Zone
48:00 – Drills
52:30 – Cutters
56:30 – Playing Against Zone
59:00 – Conclusion

Colby Blaine Selected Links from the Podcast:

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