In this week’s basketball coaching conversation George Washington assistant coach joins the basketball podcast to have a focused conversation on rebounding.
Zak Boisvert joined the GW men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach in May 2022.
In his first year in Foggy Bottom, Boisvert was responsible for opponent’s scouting. He helped lead the Buff & Blue to their most overall wins (16), most A-10 conference wins (10) and first winning league record since 2016-17.
Boisvert comes to D.C. with 11 years of coaching experience, most recently at Indiana State. A former student manager at Fordham, Boisvert has also spent time at Army West Point, Maine, Fairleigh Dickinson and Iona.
Boisvert has made his name primarily on the offensive end of the floor and in the development of point guards. During his five seasons at Army, Boisvert was key in developing Tommy Funk, one of the program’s all-time great point guards. Funk averaged 17.5 ppg as a senior, earning First Team All-League honors while also shattering the Patriot League record with 728 career assists.
The 2019-20 Black Knights, under Boisvert’s guidance, ranked 12th in the country in assists per game and two-point percentage, while leading the Patriot League in field goal percentage.
Originally from Portland, Maine, Boisvert spent two years at the University of Maine. He assisted the Black Bears to a five-win improvement from his first year to his second with freshmen and sophomores accounting for nearly 70% of the team’s offense in 2015-16. He was also tabbed as Maine’s offensive coordinator, increasing the team’s points per game from 60.4 ppg to 76.6, the largest scoring jump in Division I from 2014-15 to 2015-16.
Prior to Maine, Boisvert gathered three years of experience at Iona and Fairleigh Dickinson. In his lone year with FDU, he led the Knights to their first conference tournament appearance in four years and equaled the program’s conference win total from the three previous seasons.
Boisvert was a part of the 2012-13 NCAA Tournament team at Iona. In his two years with the Gaels, he guided future NBA player Scott Machado to career highs in points (13.2), field goal percentage (41%) and assists (7.6). He also aided Lamont “MoMo” Jones to MAAC Player of the Year honors after finishing third in the country with 22.6 ppg.
Boisvert has experience in the A-10 as a student manager at Fordham, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 2010.
Zak Boisvert Quotes:
“Is there a way we can teach [rebounding] better? . . I think a way to do it via the use of film and just try to glorify the rebounding efforts you want. And glorify out of area rebounds, engaged rebounds, guards coming down. “
“[Charting defensive blockouts] . . is another approach that’s had some success. You’re bringing accountability to the exercise of ‘Did you block out?’ And for guards . . it was checking to see if their man was coming and then taking steps into the paint.”
“The elbow and nail area can be a great rebounding area for guards . .but also any missed shot that’s rebounded by the guard, it automatically initiates that fast break.”
“That coach drastically improved his team’s rebounding with that exercise of . . charting [blockouts] . . they would have a team blockout percentage and each player blockout percentage.”
“Fancy drills are nice . . but, at the end of the day, coaching is the ability to observe. The ability during 5-on-5 play to extract details and extract teaching points . . and to bring it back to central themes and central points of emphasis.”
“Pete Newell was very innovative in his rebounding philosophies . . he talked about positional rebounding where every time a shot went up he wanted to fill certain spots on the floor and one of those was that nail area.”
“Offensive rebounding . . I think it’s simply a matter of the more you go after the more you get. It’s great to talk about all these offensive rebounding moves. I think the most important thing is availability.”
“The vast majority of offensive rebounds occur when someone isn’t blocked out, so it’s more about just going.”
“Is what you’re working with your roster correlate to their role within the team and what’s going to happen a lot in the games?”
“How does our offensive rebounding philosophy shift to how spread we’re playing?”
“At times that may be the best way to talk about it — your positioning on the court when that shot goes up . . by position, maybe you’re saying to your 3s, 4s and 5s, ‘Anytime if you’re on the weak side below the break, you’re going to the rim; if you’re above the break we’re getting back.’
“The best way drill-wise to do it [rebounding] is just try to find unscripted situations where they’re boxing out in space.”
“What I really like about the games-based approach is it really gets the coach to cross-teach . . John Wooden said it . . the ability of a coach is to be able to cross-teach and to able to work on two things at once.”
“It’s really interesting the battle right now for space . . in that teams are trying to create it with range shooting . . and then the defense’s fight to take that space away.”
Zak Boisvert Breakdown:
1:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Defensive Rebound
3:00 – Games Approach vs Drill Approach
4:00 – Rebounding Drill
6:30 – Noticing Progress
9:00 – “Just Do Get The Ball”
10:30 – Balance of “Box-Out” and “Go Get It”
12:00 – Ability to Observe and Absorb on Drills
13:30 – Rebounding on Nail Area
16:00 – Teaching Outlets to the Wings
18:00 – Positional Rebounding
19:00 – Understanding Player’s Spot
20:30 – Transitional Offense Rebound
23:00 – Offensive Rebound Philosophy
26:00 – Discount Learning all Year?
27:00 – Having A Role
29:00 – Talking about Player’s Position on the Court
29:30 – Points on Offensive Rebound
32:00 – Rebounding Your Shot
35:30 – Thoughts on Concept Drills of Coach Chris
37:00 – Finding Unscripted Situation
38:00 – Game-Space Approach
39:30 – Battle for Space
41:00 – European Model relating to US Basketball and other Countries
45:00 – Final Thoughts
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