Northwestern Press

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern head coach and his staff use video to scout opponents and prepare for games. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern head coach and his staff use video to scout opponents and prepare for games.

Videos produce victories

Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Rich Strack tnsports@tnonline.com in Sports

You watch a high school basketball game, and you think the coaches of both teams are deciding their offensive and defensive strategies based upon what they see.

Think again.

More than likely, their game plans were put into place days before.

Both Marian Catholic’s boys coach John Patton and Northwestern girls coach Chris Deutsch agree that breaking down videos of their own teams, and of their opponents, is an essential tool to gaining an edge to a winning record.

“We use video a lot,” said Deutsch. “We can analyze our opponents’ shooting zones, whether they press on defense or play man or zone, or both, and if they play up-tempo or half-court.”

Huddle is the website where teams upload game videos with the agreement that coaches will trade film.

There is a process with video breakdown that requires time and effort of the head coach’s staff. First, an entire game is filmed. Then coaches extract certain video clips of their team’s play and they also produce clips of their opponents’ tendencies.

Deutsch gives each of his players the option of watching the videos on her own.

“Our players all have accounts with Huddle, too, so they can watch the games on their own time if they choose,” said Deutsch. “Some of the girls are into video and some are not, so that’s why it’s only an option.”

While Patton does not game plan against an individual player from an opponent because “the rest of their team can still beat us,” Deutsch believes video is a valuable asset to defending the go-to girl from the teams they play.

“We can see how they set up to get the ball to her with an inbounds pass. We can see if she likes to dribble right more than left so we can get her to change direction,” he explained. “These are the little things that can make a big difference in the game.”

Of course, game planning from video breakdown is not always reliable.

“We play some teams twice on our schedule and the team we scouted for a December game can do things much differently in February,” said Deutsch.

Along with videos, coaches have access to high-tech statistics that include percentages of shots made by individual players from different spots on the court.

Patton recalled the days before the convenience of internet video availability.

“We’d have to send a coach with a video camera, a tripod, and a VCR tape to scout an opponent,” said Patton. “Sometimes he’d have to drive an hour each way and film the whole game and then bring it in to be reviewed. Now we have four coaches who help break down video, and the only time they might have to scout is if there’s no video available on a team or it’s a playoff game against an unknown opponent.”

After a game, Deutsch prepares himself for a long night that sometimes will keep him awake until 2 a.m. He gets home and immediately downloads the video of his game just played.

“If I’m watching a game where we lost by one or two points, I’m too emotionally involved to review our game plan. We miss a shot here, a layup there, and it’s like someone is sticking a hot knife through my heart. I have to watch the video two or three times before I’m calm enough to evaluate the game plan we used. That might take a few hours before I move onto the film of our next opponent.”

Patton added that this winter weather has had his team playing three games in four nights so film review cannot always be done with his players who have limited practice opportunities.

“With so many games to make up, my staff and I will watch our next opponent’s film at 10 p.m. after a game we just played so we can put together a quick plan.”

Technology has certainly revolutionized game preparation for high school basketball coaches, but both Patton and Deutsch said that no matter how much video helps to get their teams ready to play, winning on paper doesn’t always translate into victory on the court.

Both coaches agreed that players still have to go out and execute the game plan.”