Handing out responsibilities to the staff can help a head coach concentrate on the game. That’s why Brendan Mann comes into the preseason prepared with a schedule set for how he’s going to utilize his staff during the season.
Both Mann, the head junior varsity boys’ basketball coach at Central High School in Phoenix, and Brice Crowther, head varsity girls’ basketball coach at Sangre de Cristo Undivided High School in Mosca, Colo., are fortunate to have plenty of capable assistants. The key is utilizing them in the most effective way possible.
Mannbegins by focusing on the strengths of each coach.
“So if there’s a coach that’s particularly good with guards or bigs, they’ll kind of run those sections,” Mann said. “Sometimes we’ll split up offense and defense; it just really depends on what needs to be developed.”
When the games start, both coaches usually have extra coaches on the bench. Mann generally has four coaches on the bench. He puts them all to work.
“The head coach is usually standing; the next assistant is next to him with a clipboard and helps out with subbing,” he said, “and then another coach doing stats and another for bench management.”
Crowther also puts his two top assistants to work. He relies on them for specific areas.
“Pregame, a lot of times it depends on the team we’re playing, and their strengths and weaknesses and what we’re wanting to do,” Crowther said. “But definitely I always have one coach that's in charge of rebounding, our offensive and defensive rebounds. That’s pregame, during the game and postgame. I always have that coach in my ear. That’s something we really pride ourselves in is rebounding. Teams really have to prepare for us as far as offensive rebounding.”
Crowther’s other top assistant is concentrating on the team’s defense. The coaching staff likes to throw a bunch of different looks at its opponents, so the second coach needs to try to think ahead on how the defense can pull the team ahead or help them pull away.
There’s also a student manager who’s in charge of stats. Crowther, who always in the back of his mind knows how many fouls each of his players have, keeps in close contact during the game with the manager.
“She’s gotten pretty good at running the GameChanger app,” Crowther said. “Halftime and postgame, I’m getting stuff from her, because she knows what kind of stuff I like to look at — assist-to-turnover ratios, things like that.”
Mann and Crowther use similar approaches once the game starts. Mann and Crowther both utilize their GameChanger stats as a guide to decide what to talk to his players about.
Crowther believes it’s important for his assistants to have responsibilities to free himself up more for the game.
“It’s huge, and that’s something I learned being an assistant coach,” Crowther said. “Not only is it taking weight off the shoulders of the head coach, but it gives the assistant coaches some accountability and some leadership in what they’re doing. I value their opinion and I value that they understand certain aspects of the game, and I’m getting their input as the game goes on.”
After each game, Crowther and his coaching staff address the players on the game stats. The first-year varsity head coach feels that the postgame stats from GameChanger are very telling and can teach the players quite a bit. Going over stats postgame could lead to being more prepared the next day at practice.