Tips on Point Guard Play by Steve Smiley
Here is a quick article that I put together on PG play a couple of years ago… Still relevant for today’s players & coaches..
Here are the key things that I can think of that are crucial for PG play (in no particular order).
1. Vocal Leadership – If your PG isn’t vocal, they can’t command the team. It’s not enough to just “lead by example” on the court; the PG must be able to control the game and keep their team organized (calling out sets, etc)…
2. Lead by Example – We all expect our PG’s to be leaders, so they must lead by example on and off the floor. They have to have leadership qualities to be able to run a team. One good “on-the court” example would be their defensive stance and on-ball pressure as the ball moves up the floor. If they are a ball-hawk and showing extreme pressure to the ball, there is a good chance the rest of the team will also buy in to being in a stance.
3. Have a good relationship with the coach. We all say that the PG must be an extension of the coaching staff on the court, so there must be a solid relationship between the coach and PG so they can always feel comfortable communicating with each other.
4. Not a “Shoot-first” player à They don’t necessarily need to always be a pass-first PG, especially in high school where the PG might also be the best scorer, but they can not be a player that typically will bring the ball up the floor looking to go one-on-one and creating shots just for themselves. The offense will become stagnant and other players will shut down, because they know their chances of being involved offensively are low.
5. Have a high IQ for the game / feel for the game – They have to understand special situations, the flow of the game, the time & score, when to attack, when to pull it out, etc.
6. Have a high conditioning threshold – if the PG isn’t in shape and is expected to play big minutes and minutes at the end of the game, they will break down mentally once their body breaks down, so it is huge for them to be in great shape.
7. Make the easy pass, and not always the “assist” pass – Sometimes PG’s make foolish passes because they know the ball will be in their hand much of the time. Have them keep it simple. The reason Steve Nash can make the passes he can make is because he works on it every day and he is the best in the world. There aren’t a lot of Steve Nashes out there, so use the KISS principle – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.
8. Be able to knock down the open shot – I couldn’t shoot, and I played a lot of minutes, and it definitely hurt my team at times. The PG typically won’t get a ton of shots off of set plays or screens because he or she is setting up others, but the PG must be able to hit the open shot in transition, on post-feed kick-outs, etc.
9. Have “Gears” – I’m talking about a change of pace in their game. The toughest PG’s aren’t the ones who are extremely fast, but the ones that are always playing at different speeds. They have deception in their game.
10. Have a “Motor” – summarizes a lot of the points already made, but the PG has to play extremely hard, and be eager to do all of the dirty jobs. The PG must be willing to guard the full length of the court, push the ball in transition, be vocal, and play with a tremendous amount of energy.
Smiley came to Weber State after spending the six years as the head coach at Sheridan College, a national junior college powerhouse in Sheridan, Wyo. In the six years with the Generals, Smiley posted a 153-43 (.780) overall record and led Sheridan to four North Sub-Region 9 titles and two runner-up finishes. His teams also advanced to the Region 9 Final Four four times and appeared in two championship games. Smiley was twice named the North Region Coach of the Year.
During his time at Sheridan, Smiley had 21 players sign to play NCAA Division I basketball and a total of 38 players moved on to the four-year level. He coached two players who earned NJCAA All-American honors and nine players who earned All-Region honors. Several players wen on to play professional basketball across the world.
In addition to head coach, Smiley also worked as the Athletics Director at Sheridan.
Prior to his time at Sheridan, Smiley spent two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., where he worked under the winningest coach in NCAA history, Don Meyer. During his time at NSU, the Wolves posted a 50-12 record. Smiley was also the head assistant coach at Black Hills State University during the 2005-06 season.
A native of Denver, Smiley graduated from Northern State in 2004. He was a three-year starter with the Wolves and led the Northern Sun league in assists for three straight seasons. He ranks second in NSU history in career assists with 537. As a senior he was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year and the league tournament MVP. He helped lead the team to a 24-7 record and a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
He played high school basketball at Pomona High School in Arvada, Colo, where he was a four-year starter and earned All-State honors twice. He also led the state of Colorado in assists during his junior season.
Smiley and his wife Nikki have two children, Madden and Avery.