In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Nova Southeastern Head Coach Jim Crutchfield shares insights from his undefeated national championship team.
The 2022-23 was storybook from start to finish for the Sharks and Crutchfield, as Nova Southeastern became the sixth team in NCAA Division II history to finish as undefeated national champions. Crutchfield’s Sharks were dominant throughout the season, leading the nation in points-per-game (102.5) and scoring margin (+25.7). Crutchfield was honored as the Sunshine State Conference, Clarance Gaines and NABC Coach of the Year.
Crutchfield’s combined record at Nova Southeastern and West Liberty is an amazing 495-82 (.858), which remains the highest career winning percentage in college basketball history among all NCAA coaches, including the likes of Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (3rd all-time), UCLA’s John Wooden (7th) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (21st) who had spent at least 10 seasons as an NCAA head coach.
Crutchfield is known for his pressing, uptempo style of play. During his tenure, he has led the Sharks to a record of 100-21, two NCAA Elite Eight appearances, two NCAA Regional Championships, a Sunshine State Conference regular season title, and an SSC Conference Tournament Championship.
Prior to his arrival at NSU, Crutchfield spent 13 seasons as the head coach at West Liberty University in Wheeling, West Virginia. During his time at West Liberty, Crutchfield led the Hilltoppers to a 359-61 record, which is the highest career winning percentage in college basketball history among all NCAA coaches who have spent at least 10 seasons as an NCAA head coach. He also led the Hilltoppers to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including a national championship game appearance in 2015.
Check out Jim Crutchfield first appearance on the Basketball Podcast and an edit of his high post offensive system:
Jim Crutchfield Quotes:
“When I’m talking to player one, players two through 15 have to be tuned into what we’re talking about. It could be something about a good decision to double in the press or a bad decision offensively on where to move the ball, and I want everybody to hear it. I try to hit it with a matter of maybe 10 seconds, maybe 15 if I need to walk through a couple of things.”
“We have a game that says you’re going to play it our way. Regardless of that, there’s still going to be a certain percentage of the game that’s going to be played in a half court set or maybe a way that we’re not comfortable with, but we’re trying to change the numbers to where maybe, instead of playing 70% of the game in a half court set, we want to play 30% of it and a lot of transition basketball.”
“We’re looking to speed the game up. So, that risk of a double team has to be there and we have to work on that all the time… However, we can’t let them get a good shot. And that’s what’s tough. It’s tough to say we’re going to speed things up, but give you a high percentage shot.”
“It’s about players making good decisions on the court, but getting them to that point where they’re making good decisions is the hard part about practice. It’s hard to dictate to players. because every situation is different.”
“We need to be opportunistic on offense and on defense. It allows the players the freedom to see the game clearly. If you don’t see the game, you don’t see opportunities… we preach.. learning how to see the game. Once you start seeing the game better, then you see the opportunities and you start making better decisions.”
“It has to be crazy, hectic kind of movement and motion and hustle to maybe get a turnover because, honestly, that’s why people don’t press because it doesn’t make sense. On paper it exposes the basket … and potentially gives up a number of advantages. It’s risky. So, you have to work on it. You have to practice it every day.”
“[We want to take] High percentage shots with guys in rebounding position. If we can shoot 50% and get a good high percentage of them back when they don’t go in, then we’re going to be hard to beat.”
“The pickup is a different type of pickup. It’s full court, face guard, chasing from behind, and it’s exhausting. It is exhausting to play the type of full court, open gyms that we put together. I am a firm believer that it’s so much more effective because you condition yourself mentally as well as physically about how to run, where to sprint, not just running.”
Jim Crutchfield Breakdown:
1:00 – Introduction
3:00 – Coaching While Playing
6:00 – Specific Outcomes
9:00 – Playing in Transition
13:00 – Absolutes on Defense
14:00 – System on Trapping
17:30 – Opportunistic on Offense
20:30 – Offensive Philosophy
24:00 – Perfect Drills on Defense
28:00 – One Hand Passes
30:00 – Constraints for Deep Players
32:00 – Advantage Situations
36:00 – Shot Selection
38:00 – Offensive Skill Work
41:00 – Off-Season Conditioning
43:00 – New Guys
45:00 – Reflection on the Game
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