In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, learn about the matchup based offensive and defensive coaching philosophy of Carleton head coach Dave Smart. Smart has architected one of the most dominant dynasties in collegiate sport history. He served as the head men’s basketball coach at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario from 1999 to 2019, where he led the Ravens to thirteen of the team’s fourteen U Sports national championships in men’s basketball.
Since taking over the Ravens program in 1999-00, Smart won 92 per cent of his games against Canadian opposition between 1999 and 2019. He led the Ravens to a Canadian men’s record of 87 consecutive wins in league and playoff games, from 2002-2005. Smart has been named the Canadian Collegiate Basketball Coach of the Year a record eight times, and the OUA conference coach-of-the-year awards thirteen times.
Dave Smart’s incredible success at the Canadian university level has provided him with several opportunities to work at the national level. In 2012, Smart was named the assistant coach of the Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball National team by head coach Jay Triano. In June 2013, The Development Men’s National Team completed a sweep of the Four Nations’ International Invitational Tournament with a perfect 9-0 record in registering three victories over each of the United States, Latvia and host-nation China.
Additional Notes from Dave Smart
“Everything we do is based on the individuals and the match-ups . . you’re not only looking at what the offense can and can’t do but what the defense can and can’t do against that offense.”
“We’re really all about covering their actions and the individuals in those actions. We don’t need to know what they’re running . . we just need be able to see what each individual does and doesn’t do.”
“Our defense is based on the individual players and what they like and don’t like doing.”
“Part of what I like about what we do defensively is that it forces all of our players to constantly play in their weakness which allows them to get better.”
Q: What are the weaknesses that you look for in a player?
A: The first thing is ‘Where do they struggle to pass from?’ If you can’t pass at a high level, you can’t play.
“[Passing] on target, on time is the key to winning and it is the key to losing if you can’t do it.”
[On defensive closeouts] “When you’re too laissez faire about it, they’re going to be sloppy and not very good at it; when you’re too technical about it they’re going to be robotic about it and they’re not going to do it quick.”
“Everybody shoots different . . but there are certain base mechanics that every single . . high level shooter has.”
“In my mind, it’s got to be development or competitive and you can develop within the competitive . . show [the technique] to them and then let’s get them to do it as fast as they possibly can.”
“Make them compete and make them figure it out on their own.”
“People underestimate how smart these kids are and how easy they find learning.”
“There’s no situation where you shouldn’t be gang rebounding . . so it should be easy to get into whatever lane you need to get into [in transition] . . so we dictate lanes.”
“We get wide open threes and we get them because we’re always diving guys and, if you don’t go with them, you’re going to give up layups.”
“Once they walk on the floor, everybody knows who our shooters are, who our penetrators are, who our post match-ups are. If they don’t like it. Fix it. Train. They fight to get in those spots . . so they’re always developing.”
“If they can’t handle the fact that they’ve got to earn it, they’re not going to be ready for life. Now, how we say it to the university guys and how we say it to the grade 4s is very different.”
“I think competition is extremely important and it’s important within your team, too.”
“I have one of my assistants just worried about spacing. So, in anything we’re doing, he is locked in on our spacing.”
“We want to always have more offensive rebounds than the other team we’re playing and we want to shoot a higher percentage than the team we’re playing. When you’re trying to do those two things, it’s not easy.”
“We want to get a ton of offensive rebounds . . the only way you can do that is if you’re taking shots that everybody on your team expects to be taken.”
“Our shot selection is dictated on who is good at what. And you earn it.”
Click below to listen in if you listen on:
1:00 – Matchup Defense
5:00 – Focusing on Individuals
8:00 – Analytics
11:00 – Help and Rotation Concepts
13:30 – If you can’t pass, you can’t play.
15:30 – Defense is built around passing ability of opponent
22:00 – Defensive Calls
23:00 – Teaching on a Close Out
28:30 – Is Defense Age Appropriate?
33:30 – Middle Drive Run and Jump
36:30 – Defend Off the Ball Screening
38:00 – ADVERTISEMENT (Dave Smart Program)
39:00 – Ball Screen Defense
42:00 – Actions that they Struggle with
44:30 – Post Defense
50:30 -Things He Emphasizes in Transition
53:00 – Dictate Matchups
54:30 – Running Players to the Dunker’s Spot
56:30 – Talking about “Spacing”
1:03:00 – Working on Spacing
1:04:30 – Shot Selection
1:12:00 – Sharing his Knowledge
1:15:00 – Conclusion
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