What do you think the biggest difference is between high school basketball players and college basketball players?
Yes, college players are usually bigger, stronger, and faster. Yes, college players are usually more skilled and have a higher basketball IQ. Yes, college players are usually more mature in every aspect of their game.
However, I believe communication is the biggest separator. College basketball players effectively communicate better than high school players do.
Recently I watched a marathon of college basketball -- caught two games in their entirety and saw bits and pieces of four other games.
What did I see?
College players talk! They talk on screens. They talk on inbounds plays. They talk when sprinting back in transition D. They thank the passer on an assist. Between the squeaking sneakers and constant chatter...a college court is never silent.
College players listen! They listen when they huddle before free throws. They listen to their coach during time-outs. They listen with their eyes and their ears.
Obviously, these are blanket statements. Not every college player does these things...and some high school players do. However, in both cases, those are the exception rather than the rule.
Despite having sufficient talent, lack of consistent, effective communication has been one of our Achilles Heels this year. When you don't talk on D, your opponent gets easy buckets. When you don't talk on O, things get scrambled.
Bottom line: lack of communication causes breakdowns on both ends of the floor.
Learning to effectively communicate is something that will come with age and experience. I am a much better communicator now than I was when I was in high school.
However, it is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced daily... no different than practicing your crossover or step back jumper.
As I continue to make detailed notes on what our players need to work on this off-season, I have highlighted communication as a focal point. I will choose drills and team building exercises to reinforce this. I will give our players articles and books to read about players and teams who communicate well.
I will make effective communication a habit with our players.