In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, European coaching legend Mike Taylor joins the podcast to discuss building a national team program and coaching trends in international basketball. Since 2014, he has coached Poland’s national basketball team. He has helped end their 52-year World Cup absence of qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. This will be only the second FIBA World Cup appearance for Poland. The two year qualification process, saw Poland compiling an 8-4 mark, winning their last five games, upsetting Croatia twice and Italy once.
Taylor is also currently the head coach of the Hamburg Towers of the German ProA. In his first season, he won the championship with the club and led Hamburg to its first promotion to the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL).
He also has G-League coaching experience as in the 2011-2012 season, he was the top assistant for Nick Nurse with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets D-League affiliate. After just one season with the Vipers, the Boston Celtics hired Mike as head coach of their D-League team in Portland Maine, the Maine Red Claws. He was the head coach for two seasons before returning to Europe.
“The coaching style I brought to Poland was more of a modern style . . very positive, very player friendly . . trying to build confidence in the team and confidence in the players . . and I think the players really responded well.”
“The positive approach was like a breath of fresh air for these guys. There was not a coach that was confronting them or always against them. There was a coach that was trying to get to know them and put them in a position to be successful.”
“What we tried to create was environmental comfort for the players so they understood what was coming . . they knew how we would prepare and how we would build up the team.”
“We’ve been very task oriented and focused on system – getting the players to learn the system, I think it gives the players something to work together and grow together towards.”
“As you start to work on all these different details, the natural strength of the players lead them toward different plays.”
“It starts with the players’ natural strengths and abilities . . they do certain things well so you emphasize those things.”
“I think it’s important that you focus on your own team. I feel like it’s important you develop your team to be the best version of itself . . if you spend too much time worrying about what your opponents are doing, you lose some of that.”
“It’s not just about the system . . you’ve got to have the team prepared to make those adjustments.”
“It’s important that everyone read the game . . how is the defense reacting? . . can you create a mismatch . . or a driving opportunity?”
“There are certain situations where we want to try and deny [defensively] . . if you’re going to be a team that . . fundamentally tries to shrink the floor, there’s got to be times where you have some adjustments and you come out and pressure.”
“You have to give them [players] a clear picture of what you want and then you’ve got to be able to have these adjustments built into your system.”
“When you have these really high level players . . you’ve got to give those guys some freedom and flexibility within your system to make things happen.”
“When teams start to pressure you defensively, you’ve got to have something to go to. There’s got to be a part of your offense that’s not so structured.”
“Your team has to be ready when it’s a player’s game. It’s not always a coach’s game.”
“What you’re seeing in Europe is a trend toward really small, athletic, mobile big men . .”
Click below to listen in if you listen on:
1:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Creating a Positive Environment to his Team
4:00 – Positive is almost Confronting to the Players
6:00 – Things to Focus on in a Short Time Frame
8:00 – Preparing for FIBA tournaments
11:00 – Flexibility and Versatility
13:00 – Game Plan in Advance
15:00 – Flexible System Means
17:00 – Reading the Game
19:00 – Walkthroughs, Active and 55/50 Drill
21:30 – Zero Coverage
24:00 – Defending the Dribble Handoffs and Whip
27:00 – Flexibility of Defense between Situational Denial
29:00 – Different Adjustments
31:33 – Dealing with Really High IQ Players
34:40 – 5-on-0 Pop Penetration
38:00 – Spending time on 5-on-0 Pop Penetration
39:00 – Talk about the “5” Position
42:00 – What to Expect to Poland Basketball
44:00 – Fun Seeing in the World Cup
45:30 – Practical Things Coach Mike Done to Bring Team Together
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