Flip Saunders Match Up Zone Clinic Notes
Flip Saunders is the Head coach, president of basketball operations and part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has also been the head coach of the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards. He is widely regarded as one the best offensive coaches in basketball. He began his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College where complied a 92-13 record including an incredible 56-0 record at home. In 1981 he became an assistant at Minnesota and helped the Golden Gophers to the Big Ten Championship that season. After five seasons at University of Minnesota, he became the assistant coach the University of Tulsa for two more seasons before moving onto the pro ranks.
Coach Flip Saunders spent seven seasons as a coach in the CBA where he finished with 2nd most number of victories with 253 career wins. Saunders joined the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves on May 11, 1995 as general manager, working under his former Minnesota teammate, Kevin McHale. On December 18, 1995, Saunders was named head coach of the Timberwolves, replacing Bill Blair. Saunders replaced Larry Brown as coach of the Detroit Pistons on July 21, 2005 and under Saunders, the team set a new franchise record for wins during the regular season, finishing with a 64–18 record. Saunders coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas. Upon entering his third season as Pistons coach, Saunders became the longest-tenured Pistons coach since Chuck Daly’s nine-year tenure (1983–1992).
He has been known to have employed his 1-2-2 Flip Saunders match up zone defense in Minnesota and Detroit Pistons and having success along the way. In a clinic back in 2007 coach Saunders demonstrated his philosophy on the match-up press – showing his rules and match-up responsibilities for each player. He also showed various ways offense would try to play against the match-up zone – mostly out of a 2-guard front setup. Various cuts are made and Coach Saunders walks through the rotations and how to defend each cutting action. In these notes you’ll also find defensive rotations against an overloading offense. Coach Saunders also spoke about defending the triple post offense and the pick and roll using the match-up zone press. He constantly emphasises communication as a key to making this defensive system work. Hard close-outs to take away open shots are also stressed throughout the clinic. Coach Saunders, as you’ll find in these clinic notes, speaks about some the reasons as to why using this defence can be beneficial to your team.
Towards the end, Coach Saunders demonstrates some of the drills he uses to teach communication habits. The 4 on 4 change drill or the scramble drill is one that coach uses with his teams forcing players to constantly talk and scramble to open players.
This is a kind of Flip Saunders Match up defense that can be used in high school, collegiate and pro level and can be used as a change-up defence to control the tempo of the game. I hope you find these notes helpful for your team and your programme.
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