The report on Michigan State’s Keith Appling before their game Nov. 28, 2012: “Left to basket, Right for either pull-up or rim. Gambler on D, MUST BE BALL TOUGH. Push in transition. MUST STOP THE BALL NO HEAD OF STEAM!”
The report then includes summaries of the opposing offense and defense.
Breaking it all down
On the Spartans’ defense: “MSU Defense is #8 in the NCAA in Points Per Possession. They are very much a pack defensive team with the exception of Dawson running through passing lanes for dunks. They do a very good job guarding the ball and beating screens. We must be patient and wait for our screens to be set.”
Next is a sheet with team stats, best and worst free-throw shooters, best three-point shooters and best offensive rebounders. There is a list of the team’s top 15 to 20 offensive plays. Then, 10 pages of those plays diagrammed.
“The players don’t have to know all the stats and information, but we do as coaches,” said Caputo, who attended Archbishop Molloy High School in New York, the same school as Larranaga. “My job is to condense it all. I want to give them an edge, a few hints of what to expect.”
The game preparation typically takes two days. Caputo spends 12 hours watching tape of the opponent, and then with the help of the staff videographer Jaime Vathielil, puts together a 20-minute “long edit” for Larranaga and a 12-minute shorter version for the players.
Last Monday, the staff met at 9:30 a.m., watched tape and started to strategize. They could tell from the tape that Georgia Tech’s freshmen were playing better now than the last time they played. At 3 p.m., the players got a three-minute “Sneak Peek” video of Georgia Tech. “We just want them to see the team’s identity. Are they great offensive rebounders? Do they press? Are they a transition team?” Konkol explained.
“The key,” Caputo said, “is making the players feel comfortable and confident. We try to keep the same routine for every game. We set up the chairs the same way, do everything at exactly the same time. The calmer we can make them, the better they will perform when the lights come on.”