In this week’s coaching conversation, New Zealand national team assistant coach Ross McMains joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss the offensive system New Zealand implemented during the 2019 Basketball World Cup.
McMains, who has been in various roles in the G-League and NBA, is currently an assistant coach with the New Zealand national team as well as an assistant coach with Melbourne United in the Australian NBL.
His coaching career in the NBA began as a special assistant – a role that saw him focus on player development – with the Sacramento Kings for the 2012–13 NBA season, before spending the next two seasons with Sacramento’s D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.
He returned to New Zealand in 2015 and was named assistant coach for the New Zealand Tall Blacks. He went on to win the NZNBL Coach of the Year as head coach of the Taranaki Mountainairs in 2016. From there, he returned to the United States and spent two seasons in the NBA G League as an assistant coach with the Santa Cruz Warriors and Westchester Knicks, before joining the New York Knicks for the 2018–19 season as a player development coach.
After high school, McMains got a job working with the New Zealand Breakers organisation in 2007. A year or so later, he returned to the U.S. and started in player development, working with a mix of pro players in Los Angeles. That led to an opportunity to work with players in Latvia, France, and China. He also ran NBA Pre-Draft Preparation for two years in Santa Barbara, while also running off-season workouts for a selection of NBA and international players.
New Zealand Basketball Offense Playbook
“Rule number one: Ball Don’t Stop. It’s got to keep moving . . we’ve have to have first touch decisions . . understand what you’re doing before the ball hits your hands.“
“The third rule: Into Space, Out to Space. Once you drive or cut into that space in the paint, how quick can you rocket out to space so the next guy can make a play?”
“We have to do something systematically, as a group, that raises our ability to create an advantage on any given possession.”
“Can we be a transition team? Can we be a fast-paced team? Can we be a team that’s searching out advantages from the moment when the ball touches our hands, not starting at the 16 second point on the shot clock?”
“The three tenets of our transition reaction were: the ball changes hands – sprint. Number two: find the nearest sideline unless you have an opportunity to get behind the defense . . And number three was stay with your spacing.”
“Running teams aren’t great at running because they run to specific spacings, they’re great at running because they create out-numbered situations relentlessly.”
“We knew . . we had to do something different to be able to put ourselves in a position to win these games.”
“There were certain threes that we’d show on film . . we’d have a discussion about as a team . . but overall . . making sure a player was in rhythm and on balance – if those two things were there, we were very comfortable with those shots.”
“Going into facing any coverage . . our mindset as a staff is do we want to kill the coverage or do we want to punish the coverage?”
“One thing we were always aware of was never being a prisoner of the coverage . . and being able to shift the script from that.”
“The things we tracked . . were some really base measures that we constantly talked about that helped build our pace and transition game.”
[On stats tracked] “For the ball handlers, was how often we could get the ball below the free throw line extended by 17 seconds on the shot clock.”
“We layered in a lot of decision making drills . . whether we go 3-on-3 or a lot of times we’d go 4-on-4.”
“Sometimes we’d give them good spacing scenarios to play out of in those decision making drills and sometimes really poor ones.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:30 – Offensive Advantage Pie Chart
3:30 – Dominos
6:00 – Increasing recognitions
9:00 – One of the Fastest Pace Teams
13:00 – Buy-ins
16:00 – Triggers
19:00 – Progression on the Practice
21:00 – Handoffs without Dribbles
24:00 – Cross Angles
28:00 – Process of Working Hard as a Coaching Staff
32:00 – Handshake
34:00 – Defining Shot Selection for Players
36:00 – The Coverage Solutions
40:00 – Measuring the Track of the Analytics
43:30 – Evaluation in terms of the Analytics
46:00 – Percentage Shots and Player Evaluation
49:00 – Players Who are Hard on Themselves
51:30 – Struggle of Traditional Bigs
54:00 – Advantages
56:00 – Melbourne United Basketball
58:00 – Conclusion
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