Tom Izzo Open Practice Series

Written by Coach Peterman

I have coached at the NCAA Division 2 (Southwestern Oklahoma State University), NAIA (USAO), and JUCO Levels (Blinn College and Carl Albert State College) as well as high school. I just felt that fellow coaches especially young coaches need to constantly work on their “game”. Just like the basketball players that we coach. We as coaches need to improve ourselves. That is my story and why I do this blog.

November 6, 2015

Tom Izzo Open Practice Series

Tom Izzo Open Practice Series

Open Practice: Offensive Playbook – Basketball — Championship Productions, Inc.

with Tom Izzo,
Michigan State University Head Coach;
3x National Coach of the Year, 2000 NCAA Tournament Champions;
7 Final Four appearances;
7x Big Ten and 4x Big Ten Tournament Champions; 3x Big Ten Coach of the Year

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is widely recognized as a master technician when it comes to basketball’s X’s and O’s. In this open look at a Michigan State practice, you will get an unparalleled amount of insight into the offensive philosophy of Coach Izzo. He explains the theory behind his offensive system, diagrams some of his favorite plays and demonstrates them in a live practice setting.

Favoring pro-style offensive sets and half-court execution in order to get the right shot, Coach Izzo guides players through every detail within each set’s execution. Numerous aspects to the offensive playbook are on display, such as sets relating to zone quick hitters, man-to-man half-court offense, transition offense, and end-of-shot-clock plays. Using whole concepts, Coach Izzo runs through each set multiple times as the coaches actively teach and reteach the offense.


Understanding why Coach Izzo runs certain plays at certain times is essential to implement the Michigan State offense. He loves to use set plays to get his guys and the ball where he wants them. You’ll learn why Coach Izzo likes to run a pro set and let his players freelance as well. He discusses his player’s roles, some of the special players he’s had through the years and how he used them.

Zone Offense

Believing that quick hitters are the best approach to attacking zone defenses, Coach Izzo utilizes a whiteboard to diagram several sets aimed at applying pressure to the weak areas common to zone defenses. With the core philosophy being to always attack from the inside out, each set applies pressure to the back end of the zone, whether it be in the corners or on the blocks. The basic form he sets up is the 1-3-1. Within this set, he is able to attack 2-3, 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 zones. Having a universal set can simplify how your team attacks the zone.

Coach Izzo diagrams three of his go-to plays against 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone defenses in addition to demonstrating several more on the floor in practice with walk-through and scrimmage segments. The 1-3-1 Double will free up an open scoring opportunity with a double screen by forcing the outnumbered defense to leave a player undefended. Other plays make use of ball screens, lobs, high post flashes, and pin downs to help you score against the zone in a variety of ways.

All plays are on display in a live practice setting as the zone offense segment closes with a lengthy scrimmage session in which Izzo offers corrections in order for each set to be effective.

Man-to-Man Offense

Coach Izzo uses packages of set plays in his man-to-man offense. He breaks down five plays in his Horns and 452 series of quick hitters on the whiteboard before you get to see two scrimmage formats in practice.

Utilizing the Horns alignment, each set is equipped with a counter attack that is available depending on how the defense chooses to cover it. All plays are designed to get the ball into the key in some fashion, either by a wing pick & roll towards the middle or a direct entry to either high post player.

Structured Transition Offense

Learn how to stay organized while playing fast. In addition to Coach Izzo’s explanation of the break, you get a chance to see it in action through two practice drills. These drills show you all of the scoring options available with a walk through in the 5-on-0 Break and how they translate in live competition with the Dummy War into Break drill.

End of Shot Clock Execution

Coach Izzo places 10 seconds on the shot clock and has the team execute a series of quick hitter sets in order to get the best shot possible when the pressure of a shot clock violation arises. A brief, but effective segment has the Spartans execute several of the plays previously mentioned, but at an elevated pace in order to beat the clock.

Tom Izzo and his teams at Michigan State know what it takes to be great. This inside access to a MSU practice will show you how to get the best shot available against man-to-man and zone defenses.

118 minutes. 2015.

Tom Izzo Rebounding and Defense Drills

Open Practice: Defense & Rebounding Drills – Basketball — Championship Productions, Inc.

with Tom Izzo,
Michigan State University Head Coach;
3x National Coach of the Year, 2000 NCAA Tournament Champions;
7 Final Four appearances;
7x Big Ten and 4x Big Ten Tournament Champions; 3x Big Ten Coach of the Year

Tom Izzo is considered one of the best defensive coaches in college basketball. His teams have always played with a physicality and intensity that is hard to match and a chore to score against. In this open practice, you will learn about Coach Izzo’s man-to-man defense through unique interview segments, markerboard sessions, and the practice drills used to establish this perennially dominant defense.

`Defense Wins Championships’ Approach

Coach Izzo explains the program’s philosophy as it pertains to

team defense
side and top screen and roll coverages
“Hit, Find, Fetch” approach to rebounding
transition defense
the six eye approach to half-court defensive positioning
Live Practice Session

Coach Izzo motivates and pushes players through defensive drills, as well as implementing program core principles such as defensive positioning and toughness that are at the heart of an all-defense approach to playing winning basketball.

Through 10 practice drills, you will see how this man-to-man defense is established with on-court instruction by the Michigan State coaching staff. All of these breakdown drills will build essential defensive principles by quickly getting players numerous repetitions in short, focused drills. Drills include:

Jump to the Ball and Negaunee drills – Players work on adjusting their defensive positioning, pressuring the ball, and denying cutters.
Three Man DHO Switching drill – Learn two strategies for defending dribble handoffs based on the player positions involved in the action.
Pin Down & Flares drill – Coach Izzo teaches how to defend against two common off-ball screens
Beat and Belt drill – Challenge players to deny flash cuts into the high post and quickly adjust to stop the back cut.
You also get to see several variations of Michigan State’s Shell Drill through a whiteboard segment by Coach Izzo, accompanied with on-court demonstration showing each layer to the drill being run.

Defending Ball Screens

Shut down pick & rolls with multiple defensive tactics that will allow you to counter the talents of your upcoming opponent. Coach Izzo provides options for you to limit your opponents’ effectiveness versus shooters off the dribble, drivers, or stretch bigs. The Ball Screens drill focuses on the two defenders committed to the ball screen action and gives them several repetitions to refine their technique.

The Continuous Ball Screens drill gets your whole team quick repetitions to work on defending ball screens. This will help you work on multiple ball screen coverages without taking too much of your practice time.

Rebounding and Transition Defense

Using both the whiteboard and on-court demonstration, Coach Izzo shares his two favorite rebounding drills: the 2-on-2 and 5-on-5 versions to his famed War Drill. You’ll get a chance to see these concepts in action with the War Drill into Live Break drill. All of Coach Izzo’s defensive emphases are put together in a 6-on-5 defensive scrimmage segment to end practice.

With all the drills, Coach Izzo looks to instill a tough, hard-nosed mentality within his players by challenging them both mentally and physically to form a presence that will never be outworked by an opponent. The energy on the court throughout the video is unmatched!

Coach Izzo shows you the concepts and practice drills that form the base of his defensive system and can immediately help you improve your team’s defense.

68 minutes. 2015.

Tom Izzo Skill Development Drills

Open Practice: Skill Development Drills – Basketball — Championship Productions, Inc.

with Tom Izzo,
Michigan State University Head Coach;
3x National Coach of the Year, 2000 NCAA Tournament Champions;
7 Final Four appearances;
7x Big Ten and 4x Big Ten Tournament Champions; 3x Big Ten Coach of the Year

Tom Izzo’s players consistently perform their best toward the end of each season. One thing is certain come March: Coach Izzo’s team will be poised for a deep tournament run. This annual assertion is a testament to Izzo’s player development throughout the long regular season.

Now you have the opportunity to see how one of the nation’s elite programs develops the skills necessary for a deep postseason run. You’ll observe players performing a variety of team and position-specific skill development drills that work on ball handling, finishing at the rim, passing, shooting and more. In addition, Coach Izzo explains his practice planning philosophy and how to develop a great coaching staff.

Ball Handling and Attacking the Basket

In this practice, you’ll see eight practice drills that improve a variety of basketball skills. The Daily Dozen drill works on several methods of finishing at the rim so your players are able to get past shot blockers. Garland Ball Handling is a perfect drill for getting your entire team dribble move repetitions without taking too much of your practice time. Coach Izzo also includes his favorite practice drill, Three Man Shooting, which has perimeter and post players maintain their spacing off of dribble penetration and ball screens to create open shots.

Position-Specific Shooting Drills

Your players will work on their footwork to pull up into jump shots under control from off the dribble or on the move. Guards work on taking jump shots while running the floor in transition, creating shots off of dribble hand-offs, and spacing off of dribble penetration for open shots.

Learn how to develop a series of scoring moves with your post players. Players demonstrate scoring from the block and rip moves to get to the rim from the high post. They also develop their mid-range game with jump shots in transition or from flashes into the paint.

Becoming a great team with consistent success is all about player development. Coach Izzo shows you how he helps his players become better on a daily basis in this live practice video. Through Izzo’s fundamental concepts and high energy practices, you’ll get to see the magic behind Michigan State’s success.

63 minutes. 2015.

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