In this week’s coaching conversation, Craig Pedersen, the head coach of the Iceland men’s national basketball team, joins The Basketball Podcast to discuss competing with a smaller talent pool. Coach Pedersen talks about adjusting playing styles and competing with talent challenges. He also previews some of the teams for the upcoming World Cup of basketball in China.
Craig Pedersen is a Canadian basketball coach and is one of the longest serving national basketball team coaches in the world. He has coached Iceland, one of Europe’s least populated countries, at the EuroBasket 2015 and EuroBasket 2017.
Previously Pederson was the head coach of Svendborg Rabbits from 2003 to 2015 and an assistant coach to the Danish men’s national basketball team from 2004 to 2009. In 2014, he was hired as the head coach of the Icelandic men’s national basketball team. Pedersen played professionally in Denmark from 1989 to 2003 with Horsens BC, Horsens IC and Skovbakken, winning the Danish championship in 1998.
“When I first started the team was based on being undersized, switching stuff, doubling in the low post . . The real key to those teams . . was the chemistry.”
“Right away, we said we were going to move the ball through the 5 man because these big teams . . are probably not going to deny him . . we also added an offense that involved our guards posting up and playing out of the low post.”
“We’re trying to get movement, we’re trying to get cutters . . sometimes our 4 man would swing it and if he did that . . we would automatically flare him with the 5 man.”
“We knew that we would never find a player to match him [Chris Christofferson, 7’2”, 277 lbs.] so we had to find players that would give him problems.”
[On changing style with a bigger 5 man] “We want to try to keep our 5 man on the other team’s 5 man now so we don’t have to help as much.”
“Teams have gotten so good at punishing double teaming in the low post.”
[On the rise of Icelandic basketball] “The players are dedicated to getting better . . They spend a lot of time in the gym in the off-season, not just shooting but doing a lot of different skill work and understanding of the game.”
“Some of the things with regard to cutting . . we try to teach . . is the timing of the cut . . the change of pace in their cut but also just as important is when you cut you usually are going to suck in another defender and that other offensive player has got to react to that and move into that open space.”
“That’s something we try to emphasize . . that cut is going to open up someone else and it’s a very unselfish play.”
[On defending ball screens] “We’re trying to keep everybody in behind the ball as opposed to coming out and hedging out . . we’re trying to keep things tight and so we’re trying to high contain and stunt in from the other side.”
“I love looking at plays from other coaches and other teams, looking at them sometimes not to run them exactly . . but some kind of action to maybe fit into what we’re already doing.”
[Offensive actions vs. a big center] “A lot of teams . . use two 4 man shooters so they’re always picking and popping and keeping him out of the paint . . creating some confusion . . not just the typical roll [by the] 5 man.”
Selected Links from the Podcast
Click below to listen on:
1:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Challenges in the Icelandic Basketball Men’s National Team
3:30 – Techniques that he found valuable in their System
6:00 – 5-Man
7:00 – Ideas of Switching and Doubling
8:30 – Hard to Post a Smaller Player
9:30 – Double Teaming the Post
10:30 – Things that Cue to Decide to Double Team
11:30 – His Offensive System Adapted on his Roster
13:30 – Intentional Masking
15:00 – Lesson Learned Coaching the National Team
17:30 – Sticking to what you believing In
19:00 – His team compete at another level
21:00 – Unique Player that he have
23:00 – New Generation of Players vs Past Generation
24:30 – Things to Develop Cutting
27:0 0 – Reading Plays
28:00 – Defending Ball Screens
31:30 – Things in place to help evaluate the Progress
36:00 – Fitting Players for a Particular Set
38:00 – More Engagement to the People
39:40 – Running Plays in FIBA Games
40:30 – Teams to Watch in the FIBA World Cup
42:00 – Popular Offensive Action and Counters
44:00 – Next Move From Him
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