The Basketball Podcast: EP282 with DeLisha Milton-Jones on Drop Coverage

RELEASE DATE : 23/08/2023

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Old Dominion head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on keeping it real, drop coverage and relatability.

DeLisha Milton-Jones is a 2022 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She had a decorated professional career in the WNBA and overseas. She was a 2× WNBA champion and a 3× WNBA All-Star. In 2020 she became the head coach of the Old Dominion after previously an assistant coach at Syracuse and a head coach and assistant coach at Pepperdine. In her three seasons at Old Dominion, Milton-Jones has improved the overall record of the team posting back-to-back 20 win seasons the past two years. She has an 91–65 overall head coaching record.

Milton-Jones has excelled at every stop of her basketball career. She started her college coaching career as an assistant at Pepperdine in 2016-17. After one season, she moved into the head coaching role and led the program to unprecedented success. In the 2017-18 season, she guided Pepperdine to 10 wins, the most at the Malibu school since 2012. In her second year, the Waves finished 22-10, winning 12 more games than the previous year in one of the best turnarounds in the country. The Waves’ 22 victories in 2018-19 also marked the program’s most since 2002. Pepperdine earned a WNIT bid for the program’s first postseason tournament appearance, and then advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over St. Mary’s and Cal Baptist Prior to the head coaching position at Old Dominion she also served as an assistant coach at Syracuse.

DeLisha Milton-Jones

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DeLisha Milton-Jones Quotes:

“The most valuable asset that I have from my playing time that I bring into my coaching realm is the intention and ability to relate. There is nothing that my players are going through, will go through, or have gone through that I have not experienced in some shape or form.”

“You have to have some level of rapport with them . . and you have to give them the truth in order for them to truly understand where they should be in this moment in their lives, how they respond to it, how they grow from it. And [let them know] I still love you, I still care for you but you need to hear the naked truth in this moment. And it may hurt.”

“We have to understand that I’m not trying to make you me. I’m just trying to bring out the best, enhance everything beautiful about you. I’m just trying to enhance that. And now you can present yourself to the world as the best version of you.”

“We all know that you have to put your players in situations that are uncomfortable . . It’s not just important for how your players respond, but it’s also how I respond because . . you teach people how to treat you. So, players are going to have their triggers that can manifest in a negative way when they’re in tough moments. So now, as a coach, I have a decision to make. Am I going to apply grace or am I going to apply force?”

“If they [the players] are doing everything in 140 characters or less or a minute or two minute long video, then the way that I have to give information has to be to the point. I don’t have time to skip through the lilies and try to figure out creative ways to say it. I just need to say it. You need to receive it, and then we can move on.”

“Whether you are guarding the ball or you are off ball, your job is critically important. No one can take a play off when we’re on the defensive end. Everyone has to be locked and loaded. When you are into action with the ball and it’s a pick involved, then there has to be a high level of communication early rather than late. That’s number one. Now, number two when we’re in the coverage is for my bigs to be able to not just sit back and allow guards to have choices. We want to dictate.”

“We took away your first go-to, which was the three. Your second go-to is to get to the rack. But if every hole is clogged up and you’ve got hands and feet and legs and bodies in your driving lanes, the only thing left to do is to shoot a shot that you probably don’t practice that much . . Now you’re playing into our hands.”

“For the guard, her job is to not allow there to be any space so you can’t get hit by the screen . . Turn your feet, chase over it. The screener is nonexistent. As soon as you pass her, you should be sprinting to either get to that hip or get back in front of your man. While you’re doing that, the big is being low and wide, not tall, because if you see a big coming out tall, the guard is going to think aggressive and go penetrate. But if she sees us low and wide, she’s going to think, my drive isn’t there, so let me look for my shot. And now, by the time you’re getting into your shot, guess who’s coming back? The guard.”

“The most common mistake would be how you’re communicating. How soon are you communicating? What are you communicating? You have to give the right information. I don’t want, ‘Hey, watch it. Pick.’ No, come have a seat, because you sound like the fans. I need for you to be in the moment. The same way that we want players to be one step ahead offensively because they’re reading the defenses, you have to have that same mentality when you’re on defense. Be a play ahead.”

“As a big, you’re going to take pride in how you communicate, and that will eliminate mistakes that we can make on ball screen action. Then as a guard, do what you hear. If our drop coverage is black, when you hear black, you already know, ‘Turn my feet, get on a hip, chase her off, sprint in front.’ That’s it. Bigs communicate. Guards do what you hear.”

“My best coaches were the ones that were great communicators, that understood their vision, they understood how to explain it, and they could get that information to me so I could listen well . . So, everyone has to be on board giving the same type of information, even if you have delegated those responsibilities to a coach on your staff. Everyone needs to speak the same language so that when we’re on the bench, we’re all giving the same information and expecting the same results.”

“So, [defensively] it’s a lot, but when you drill it every day and you’re constantly having conversations about it, you see success from it. You show your players on film the success from it. They get excited about it. They’re going to want to repeat it.”

“An eye opener for me when I went to Europe to play was the system and . . utilizing ball movement and body movement. And I realized then how difficult it was to defend teams when bodies moved just as much as the ball, because now everyone’s an option.”

DeLisha Milton-Jones Breakdown:

1:00 – Shaping Coaching Philosophy
4:00 – WNBA All-Star
8:00 – Shared Experience
11:00 – Drop Coverage
17:00 – Stance in Drop
20:00 – Cues for Recovery
23:00 – Pick and Pop Situation
27:00 – Mistakes on Drop Coverage
30:06 – 31:09 – IMM Videos Podcast ADS
32:00 – Rejecting Ball Screen
37:00 – Off The Ball
40:00 – Personnel
43:00 – Ownership in Defense
47:00 – Post Moves
52:00 – Fluff and Bad
54:00 – Recruiting Players
57:00 – Notetaking
1:00:00 – Old Dominion Basketball

DeLisha Milton-Jones Selected Links from the Podcast:

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