About Coach Matt Monroe

Matt Monroe - Head Sophomore Basketball Coach - St. Patrick High School (Chicago)

High School Home Visits

By Paul Harris, Head Basketball Coach, Highland Park High School and John Camardella, Head Boys Basketball Coach, Prospect High School

Former IBCA President Mike Kolze used to say that being a Head Basketball Coach is “like putting beads on a string with no knot at the bottom.” There is always something to do, especially in November.  One aspect of our job that many of us dread is the general parent meeting once our team has been selected.  Our Athletic Directors want us to have these meetings “to open the lines of communication” and “get everyone on the same page”.  Unfortunately, these general meetings often do the opposite.  It is hard to open communication when 99% of the general meeting is the coach doing the talking.  And because players and parents are coming into this experience from different perspectives, it’s unlikely a ½ hour meeting will help everyone get on the same page.  

As a result, we have implemented a system of communicating with players and parents that may seem dangerous, but has produced very positive results.  The idea is a Home Visit for every varsity player in the program.  We got the idea from current DePaul University Men’s Coach, Jerry Wainwright.  When Coach Wainwright was a high school coach at Highland Park in the late 1970s and early 1980s he used the Home Visit to get to know players and their families in a more thorough way and to get the community excited about basketball.  He would bring the player his uniform or a new set of practice gear as well as a gift for the parents, such as a button or bumper sticker.  There is no doubt that Home Visits helped establish a positive culture in the Highland Park community.  

Many coaches will say that they don’t have the time to visit each player’s home or they are fearful of opening themselves up to criticism from a disgruntled parent.  While those risks exist, we have found that the rewards far outweigh any risks.  The following list highlights some of the advantages we have discovered through this process.

  1. It allows you to tailor your presentation – a general meeting is just that, general.  It is impossible to individualize your speech to fit the needs of all your players and parents.  The Home Visit allows for discussion that is relevant to that particular family.  For example, a coach may want to communicate differently to a player who has the potential to play in college than to a player who may not see much varsity playing time.  The same is true if you are communicating with the family of a senior player versus the family of a freshman you have moved up to the varsity.
  2. Gives you a chance to talk about where the player fits in to your team – While this may be one of the tougher parts of the meeting, this is the part that may save you some headaches as the year goes on.  One thing we guard against in these conversations is overpromising.  Nothing gets coaches into trouble more with players, and with parents, than overpromising and then underdelivering.  Honesty is the biggest key when discussing a player’s role.  By discussing the possible roles a player will have the opportunity to compete for in front of their parents, we are doing more than getting everyone on the same page.  We’re trying to get everyone on the same sentence, reading at the same speed.
  3. It’s a chance to see the player’s family dynamic – We can learn so much about a player by going into his/her home.  This information often allows us to reach that player and in turn get the most out of him/her.  It is good to know if the player is the youngest of 7 children or an only child.  This information may help us to understand why the player is acting a certain way.  It’s also important to know if the player has both parents living at home or if there has been a divorce or death in the family.  The more information we have, the better able and prepared we are to have an impact, both on and off the court.
  4. It’s an opportunity to lay the ground rules for how communication should occur throughout the year – By having this meeting face to face, we establish a culture of direct and honest communication.  Too many times parents want to send a long-winded e-mail or an emotional voice message; this is our opportunity to let them know how we do business.  It is also a chance to discuss with parents the things we will and will not talk about.  For example, we often tell parents that we will talk to them about anything they want to talk about except playing time, team strategy, and other student-athletes.

Being a varsity basketball player is a big commitment.  We ask a lot of the players and parents in our programs, and The Home Visit gives us an opportunity to show parents that we value everyone who is making this commitment.  From our All Conference player, to our student manager, everyone is important.  We have found that the Home Visit leads to a mutual respect between coaches and parents.  By acknowledging to the parent that there may be times when we will agree to disagree, we help to diffuse potential issues.  This mutual respect can come in handy when you walk past a group of parents at a Saturday morning JV game after a tough conference loss.  It also should be a reminder to us as coaches that we are handling someone’s most prized possession.   By spending a little bit of time in each player’s home we show parents that we are taking that responsibility seriously.  For more information, feel free to contact us at pharris@dist113.org / john.camardella@d214.org .

Drills: Huskie Shooting

The following is from Jason Dycus, Head Girls’ Basketball Coach, Naperville North High School:

DYCUS Huskie Shooting

• Players get into partners.
• There are 5 spots (baseline, elbow, free-throw- elbow, baseline). Each partner must make 10 shots at each spot.
• They must start close in, back pedal out to three point arch, sprint in low and read to shoot. Must back pedal after every shot.
• The other partner rebounds.
• First team to complete all 5 spots does not get consequence (and could pick the consequence if we want).

Ollie Shooting Drill

Ollie Drill

• Player slides from dead corner to short corner.
• Once he gets to the block, he sprints to just above the top of the key, and cuts back for a pass from the coach and a shot.
• The player then sprints down to the baseline, slides to the opposite block, and sprints out again for another shot.
• He sprints back down to the baseline, slides all the way the opposite corner from where he started.
• Finally, he cuts out and receives another pass for his final shot.

The following is from Jeff Powers, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Naperville North High School:

2008-2009 Duke Standards
 It starts here.  We do the dirty work.

 We believe in our own abilities.
 We believe in each other.

 We let nothing linger.

 We look each other in the eye.
 We tell the truth immediately.

 We have each other’s back.

 We have what we need to win.

 We have winning faces.
 We show no weakness.

 We can be counted on.

 We win and lose together.

 We bring energy every day.
 No bad practices.

 We are always on time.
 We prepare for every opponent

 We don’t complain.
 We can handle any situation.

 We take good shots.
 We are aware of team fouls.
 We know the scouting report.

14. CARE
 We give aid to a teammate immediately, on and off the court.

 We play hard every day.


 We make the extra pass.

 The time is now-not the past.

 No one is closer.

 We represent the best program and best school in the country.

Teaching Defense Through Defending Flex

The following is from Paul Brettner, Head Girls’ Basketball Coach, Vernon Hills High School (IL):

I learned something about early season defense several years ago from a coaching friend that I deeply respect. During that first two weeks (could be more, but our state high school association allows 2 weeks of practice prior to games being played) I had always just done daily shell drills and breakdown drills while building up our man to man defense. We did our build up of position, help etc, and we still do a fair amount of that, but we have added something to it. On day one of tryouts we have a portion of our time dedicated to learning and defending FLEX. Our team does not run FLEX, but a couple teams on our schedule do. FLEX has a lot of actions that we will have to face during the year with a FLEX cut, a down screen which is a screen the screener, and ball reversal. This patterned offense helps us to get better at some of the man to man principles that we want our players to execute. We practice straight man, switching screens, no help on a player, and some trapping. An added bonus is you can see during tryouts if players can pick up offensive action quickly.

On day two we have a portion of our time dedicated to learning and defending dribble drive. We have some dribble drive teams on our schedule and penetration is part of most team’s offensive behavior. On day three we move on to the Swing offense, on day four we move on to Wheel and on day five we move to a pick down pick across motion. On days six – twelve we recycle through these again. Most of the teams on our schedule have at least some facets of these offenses so we are preparing to go against many teams in our first two weeks. Then when we are preparing for a FLEX team we don’t have to try to learn it the day before the game, we already know it and sometimes as good or better as the team we are defending. Now in our time we do not become a fantastic FLEX or Dribble Drive team with all the nuances of those offenses, but we have a decent understanding of what teams are trying to do to score and we have reviewed many of the actions that we will face during the season. Whatever offenses you know you will encounter you can add it to the list.

This does not take the place of shell or any defensive fundamental breakdown drills, but it allows us to enhance those while being in a position to be competitive and keep score. When we keep score with one of these offenses we discover more nuances that we will have to defend because kids are not just trying to run the offense, they are trying to score. We have also found out some things about our team offensively and borrowed some actions from some of these offenses in our own stuff.
Practice time in those first couple of weeks is at a premium but we feel this benefits us all season long.