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Hank Iba's 6 Steps to Winning More Basketball Games

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Legendary Hank Iba (Henry Iba) coached Oklahoma State to two NCAA Championships and the United States Olympic team to two gold medals (and one silver medal) with teams made up entirely of amateurs. Coach Iba used to teach that there are six main areas of focus if you want to win consistently. The more of these areas that you and your team master, the more games you will win. If only a couple areas are mastered, then you're possibly in for a long season.

1. Transition Defense. Good transition defense helps eliminate layups, open threes and fouls while scrambling to cover up, which greatly increases your chances of winning. Teams should have separate plans for getting back after missed shots and turnovers and also for getting back after a made field goal or free throw. Being strong in this area lets the defense play 5 on 5 instead of playing 3 on 1 or 4 on 2.

2. Half-Court Defense. Numerous studies have all shown that FG % is the #1 statistic that influences winning. In other words, if a team can constantly force their opponents into shooting poorly they are going to win the vast majority of their games. Good half court defenses take offenses out of their comfort zone, don't foul and only give up difficult shots by non leading scorers. Coaches often give this one area more attention than all of the others.

3. Fast Break Offense. Effectively running the break gives a team the chance to get some cheap baskets and is still the best way to get an uncontested three point attempt. Teams that run and consistently scores before the defense sets up often forces opponents to play smaller if their "Bigs" can't keep up. One of the most important benefits of fast breaking is that it gives your team "spurt ability" and the opportunity to come from behind if necessary.

4. Half-Court Offense. Great half court offense is basically about accepting roles and understanding good shot selection, regardless of which offensive set is used. Winning offense is NOT equal opportunity but instead is committed to getting the best shooters the most shots. This can be accomplished by always looking for favorable mismatches, consistently feeding the hot hand, and setting limitations if running any type of motion offense. (Five passes unless getting an uncontested layup, post must touch the ball, two designated shooters until end of the shot clock, etc.)

5. Defensive Rebounding. Use one of the four boxing out techniques (Front pivot, reverse pivot, hit & go, or face guard) to keep opponents from generating game changing second shots. Teams that want to fast break obviously need the ball to get things started and should consider a missed shot and subsequent defensive rebound as the first phase of their offense.

6. Offensive Rebounding. While defensive rebounding is mostly about proper positioning, offensive rebounding is all about desire and anticipation. Many coaches feel that there is no such thing as a bad second shot and motivate their non scorers by telling them they can shoot every offensive rebound they secure. We send four to the glass and try to consistently get two perimeter players crashing the boards after getting a running start. (We work very hard on our transition defense and you must too if you are going to send four players to the offensive boards!)

Too many teams overemphasize just one of the six areas at the expense of the other five. While those types of teams may win some games, they lack the balance necessary to be a dominant, championship program. Coach Hank Iba's teams were well known for tough, hard-nosed, physical defense and methodical, ball control offense. However, even though those areas were his team's main strengths, he did not neglect to emphasize the other four areas. As a result his coaching career became so legendary that one of the national coach of the year awards is named after him.

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