1. One thing that I seem to see a lot is a real weakness in passing. So many of the turnovers happen because they are simply not ready to pass, and they are not recognizing things fast enough to truly hit someone when they are becoming open. Have you noticed similar things? How have you corrected that?
Starting out this was one of my biggest concerns and frustrations as well. Two solutions: 1. Have the girls play so much together that everything becomes second nature to them. 2. Design all passing and shooting drills around your offense. Explain to them when people should be coming open and where to deliver the ball when they get open. (This doesn't happen overnight). I coach all the girls grades 3-12 in some capacity so whatever is taught in our program I know about it. 2. Everyone tells me that girls are way better -- and more comfortable -- with running set offenses, vs teaching them how to play motion basketball. Do you agree with that? I feel like some patience in this regard, and really teaching them how to read and react on drives, read screens, and cut appropriately would pay off major dividends.
I think the coaches who say this are more comfortable with their girls running settles personally. Teaching motion basketball at any level takes a lot of teaching, patience and basketball IQ. You can't do it overnight. It took me working with a group of girls from their freshman year until they were juniors with a lot of work in the summer to run true motion offense. Patience and teaching are the key. I still run a lot of sets because I still need certain people to get shots at certain times throughout the game. 3. The biggest thing I've noticed from watching is the team who can press better wins -- do you agree or disagree? How do you counter that offensively? And what are your favorite presses, defensively?
I agree and disagree. The better pressing team can usually man handle lesser talented teams. A team full of smart basketball players and ball handlers can usually handle a press just like the mens game. I like to use a variety of press-breaks that all are very similar but have subtle differences. It gives the defense a different look to adjust to, but is still simple for the game. Having multiple handlers helps a great deal. This again comes back to having the patience and time invested in the program to develop these skills along with the kids who want to put in the time. As presses go I have found that a run and jump is my bread and butter. I didn't discover it over understand it fully until I got deeper into my career, but it has worked great. There are a lot of good videos that teach it. Do worry about creating turnovers those will come in time. You'll frazzle the other team without fouling or giving up lay-ups.
4. Does athleticism play as big of a role in womens as it does in the mens game? From what I have seen, the margin between an average athlete in the women's game and an elite athlete is not very large. Whereas in the men's game you could be talking a massive difference in athleticism. Same for height and size -- In the men's game, you might see on the court at one time a 5'11" guy and a 6'10" guy. Where in the women's game the difference between a point guard and 5-man might be 5'7" to 6'3". How important is it to field an athletic, tall team?
Size and athleticism are always nice. I have found the biggest difference is the value of a true point guard that can control the action. In the men's game you see a lot of combo guards who can get the job done. A stud point in the women's game can take you to the state tournament. I've had teams with no one over 5'7 make a district final. Preparation is the key. A well implemented scouting report is huge at all levels. We've won games we had no business winning because myself and my assistant put in hours of scouting and preparation. 5. Would you suggest switching most screens, especially ball screens? I ask this because of how I concluded the previous post with the size differentials.
It really depends on your team and how they're made up. I like to switch everything on the perimeter or go underneath the screen. I'd rather get beat by 20 foot shots instead of lay-ups. There aren't that many girls that can consistently knock down a 3 off the dribble. Of course there are some out there and I'd suggest switching and getting into the shooters face. Again what you do goes back to your personnel and the scouting report. I started my career as a man-deny defensive coach. Now I'm a sag and pack the paint coach.
My last piece of advice is the best piece of advice I ever got when it came to coaching girls. Remember that coaching is coaching no matter the gender. Focus on skill development and teach them how to make plays first. Teach them how to play fast. It is much easier to slow a team down that it is to speed them up in a controlled manner. Good Luck