About Coach Matt Monroe

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

John Wooden’s Favorite Maxims

Taken from CoachWooden.com and the LA Times blog:

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

“Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

“Be prepared and be honest.”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
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Quick Hitter: 32 Corner

The following is from Dave Leitao, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Missouri:


#1 passes to #2 #1 makes a cut to the corner
#4 flashes to the top of the key






The ball is swung around the perimeter
#5 flashes middle and then goes to the block
#2 and #4 set a double staggered screen for #1

The Ten Practice Commandments

1. Use at least half of your practice time developing the fundamentals.

2. Use the basketball when conditioning.

3. Teach motion offense concepts. We want to develop basketball players.

4. Teach pressure man-to-man defense.

5. Keep drills and offenses simple.

6. Demand intensity during practice.

7. Coaches must have a practice plan.

8. Begin practice by stating your goals for the day.

9. End practice on something positive.

10. Connect with all players and coaches in the program.

Credit: Coach Matt McCarty, Head Coach, Vernon Hills High School (IL)

Purdue Drill

Purdue Drill 001

• Two lines are set up across from each other on each sideline (4 total)
• #5 guards #1 to start on each side
• The offensive player zig-zags down the court and the defender guards him
• When they get to the next line, offense goes to defense and a new offensive player steps in.
• Defense goes to the end of the line.

Purdue Drill 002


• They repeat the same action coming back down the court.
• This drill is continuous 1 on 1 ball defense (similar rotations to a game of full court cut throat)

Aggressive Zone Trapping Philosophy

The following is from Jason Burkiewicz, Head Girls’ Basketball Coach, Annawan High School (IL):

Full court:

  • 2-2-1
  • 1-2-1-1
  • 1-2-2

Half court:

  • 1-3-1

Rules and thought process to trap our trap defense:

  • Constantly have two people on the ball pressuring
  • The ball is never allowed to go middle
  • Remaining three players off the ball are playing gaps and reading the next pass
  • Our goal is to get our opponents to focus on simply getting rid of the ball and hoping for a shot rather than running a comfortable offense that they practice over and over.

Player thought process:

  • We do not play “safe.” We rotate and go for steals in the passing lane all game long
  • We will trade a lay-up for 3-5 steals any day so our players are quickly taught to not get discouraged when we allow an easy lay-up
  • I choose zone traps because most coaches choose the same or similar ways to attack them.  By midseason our girls have a great recognition of what opponents will try to do and it can often times be like playing the same game over and over again.
  • The two trappers are relentless
  • Our two trappers on ball are taught to force the ball handler toward each other leaving 2-3 ft. gap between them while the player is dribbling
  • If we leave that gap the ball handler is tempted to split, where our ball side defender will sweep the ball as it cannot be protected dribbling between two people.  It will be exposed to one. (We have become very good at this over the years)
  • We want them to pick up the ball as much as possible to promote as many passes as we can in order to try and take one out of the air for a lay-up
  • I put my quickest defender on the left side of the court always to protect against the guards who always want to dribble right.  Their rule is to keep their right shoulder outside of the ball being dribble in the right hand of the ball handler.  In addition they should never fall for jukes, stop and go’s, etc.  I know that ball handler wants to stay right.
  • When they overplay the right hand and get the ball handler to pick it up, that’s when we immediately go on the attack.  Their partner who was 2-3 ft away closes quickly
  • Our goal from here is to get that person to throw it quickly to the first person they see or turn their back on us.
  • Lastly, if they keep the ball and turn their back on us we show our players and drill that the offensive player only can pivot, whereas us on defense can continue to move our feet.  Therefore we will continue to slide our feet and keep our bodies in between our opponent and forward progress.  They will not be able to pivot out or complete the only pass we leave open.  The long ball!
  • Many coaches want to throw the ball long on us as we do often times leave a girl open.  However we only rotate and leave her open after we feel we have the trap that takes it away.
  • If these things take place we feel we will have a lot of success
  • The ball handler never splits our traps.  In fact we bait you to go there and we’re ready when they do.
  • Opponents that have failed with the pass begin to try and dribble through our pressure defense
  • When this happens we teach the ball side defender only to sweep at the ball
  • If they get a piece of it their job is to head to our basket and the next level’s job is to pick it up and throw it ahead for a lay-up

Trapping Drill

  • Put a ball handler on the end line starting at mid-lane with a goal of trying to dribble to halfcourt
  • Have your two trappers start at the elbows
  • Teach them to come down the lane line to start.  It is important to teach angles to your players in order to get you opponent to pick up the ball.  If your player runs straight at them they are going to allow their opponent to blow around them.
  • I teach when the ball handler is aggressively coming forward we need to move backward with them while staying in front to slow them down.  We call it, “catching” them first.
  • After the ball side defender gets the ball handler to slow down, stop, or even retreat.  That is our cue to begin the attack.

The ABCs for Young Coaches

The following is from Eric Millstone, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Palatine High School (Illinois):

  • A mentally tough team will never beat itself.
  • Be the role model many of your players need.
  • Chemistry and cohesiveness can make up for a deficiency in talent.
  • Don’t try to be the next Coach K—be yourself.
  • Empower your players; give them a voice and ownership.
  • Fundamentals are the backbone of every successful program.
  • Give your assistants responsibilities.
  • Halftime talks should focus on one offensive adjustment and one defensive adjustment.
  • If you don’t practice it, don’t expect them to run it in a game.
  • Jump shots are like the weather—some days you can count on them, some days you can’t.  You have to be able to score inside.
  • Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Listen to the tone of a parent issue—if it’s civil, then you need to hear them out.
  • Make time to shoot the ball every day at practice.
  • Never project a loss or a bad practice on your students in class the next day.
  • Over plan and over prepare—don’t be caught off guard because you weren’t prepared.
  • Practices should incorporate drills that your players love and drills that your players hate.
  • Quit worrying about what you don’t have and focus on what you do.
  • Rebound the first shot.  The first offensive shot in a possession goes in 33% of the time, the second shot 50% and the third shot 80%
  • Shortening practice as the year goes on ensures fresh legs and fresh minds.
  • The court is your classroom—teach them!
  • Usually wins and losses are a byproduct of the process or lack thereof.
  • Vary the location of your team meetings every now and then.
  • Watch film with your entire team for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • X’s and O’s are really Johnnies and Joes.  Never lose sight of the fact that you are coaching human beings, not letters.
  • Your end-of-the-bench kids should feel just as much a part of the team as your star.
  • Zero in on the game and your players, not the referees.

Drills: Kansas Closeouts

The following is from Tom Kleinschmidt, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, DePaul College Prep (Chicago):

Kansas Closeouts

• Cones are placed in both corners and on both wings
• Defensive player (x1) closes out to each cone in this order: wing, to corner, to opposite corner, to opposite wing
• After all 4 closeouts are complete, x1 slides to the sideline and x2 begins the drill

Coaching Points
• Emphasize all closeout techniques
• Sprint to closeout but don’t jump into closeout
• Keep hips low on slide steps and do not bring your feet together

Keys to a Successful Offense

The following is from Matt Monroe, Assistant Boys’ Basketball Coach, Saint Patrick High School:

1. Communicate your actions with your teammates.
2. Share the basketball.
3. Move the ball side-top-side. Get reversals!
4. Work for the BEST shot each possession, not the first one you see.
5. Pass to the next open man.
6. Maintain good spacing regardless of your offensive alignment.
7. Be in constant motion off the ball, but move with a purpose.
8. Put players in a position where they can take makable shots.
9. Diversify your offensive actions.
10. Read your teammates’ actions and react accordingly.
11. Look to push the ball in transition. Get out and run!
12. Exhibit patience and toughness with the ball.
13. Be an inside-outside offensive team first and foremost.
14. Get to the free throw line.
15. Execute our sets with efficiency and precision.
16. Work on the fundamentals on a daily basis in practice.

Coaching Strategies to Prevent Negative Behavior

1. Establish clear expectations of appropriate team behavior.

2. Challenge players to establish a team philosophy including a statement recognizing the importance of proper conduct.

3. Have players develop standards of behavior that they value and that they can adhere to on and off the court.

4. Have a team meeting where everything is spelled out.

5. Let the team know how appropriate behavior can help team performance.
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