Thoughts on Transition Play by Steve Smiley

Thoughts on Transition Play by Steve Smiley

Here are some notes from a clinic I spoke at for the Wyoming Coaches Association in July 2009 with the topic of Transition Basketball. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Enjoy! @coach_smiley

General Thoughts


  • Things I’ve Learned
    • Hard Work
    • Organization / Efficiency
    • Write Everything Down
    • Involvement / Delegation
    • Efficiency (all aspects)
    • Planning System (Planner Pads)
    • Write everything down
    • Humility / Share the Wealth / Deflect Praise
    • Emphasis on Skill Development
  • Things We Do that I believe in
    • Sign-in Sheet (informal time)
    • Individual suggestions / constructive criticism in team meetings (handout)
    • Notebooks
  • Thoughts on Transition
    • Exploit but don’t get exploited
    • Conditioning, Depth & Subs
    • First 3 seconds are the key
    • See biggest part of floor-middle
    • “Best time to score”
    • “Cycle of the Game
    • Must know TIME & SCORE
    • Transition beliefs must tie into your overall system of play
      • OBC
      • BOPCRO (Designate lanes, etc?)
    • Difference between a “transition” team and a pressing team – don’t need to have both


Defensive Transition


  • Initially depends on your “OBC” philosophy (4 vs 3)
    • 4 off reb = 30, 60, 80 rule
    • 3 = better position defensively
    • Don’t recommend 2 or 5
    • Must make sense w/ your personnel
      • Casper Example
    • Must work on 5v0 à transition
      • Teach what to do when the PG drives in.
      • Teach players to “crack-back” – prefer to drift
    • Our system uses the following
      • 3 tailbacks
      • 1 half-back (which player?)
      • 1 full back (which player?)
  • Key for all = 3 sprints & turn
  • Do you teach it or do you EMPHASIZE it????
  • Difficult to do individual breakdown drills à we put more emphasis on the 5v0 or live 5v5 to emphasize Defensive Transition
  • Favorite Drills
    • 5v0 à Imaginary D
    • 5v0 Blowback
    • 5v5 Change Drill
    • 2v1 Conditioner (Dual Purpose)
    • 3v2 Conditioner (Dual Purpose)
    • Cycle Buildup (Dual Purpose)

Offensive Transition

  • Initially starts w/ BOPCRO or opposing turnover
  • Key point is to have shooters to stretch the defense (Billy Donovan)
  • Primary Break
    • 2v1 thoughts
    • 3v2 thoughts
  • Secondary Break into Motion
  • Rebounding ideas / drills (Intro)
    • Bigs rebound & ¼ turn in the air to prepare for outlet
    • PG = #1 Def Rebounder
    • PG = deep outlets (ASAP)
      • Same side as big
      • Vision to middle & up the floor
      • Aggressive (me)
  • Wings Run Wide (Wolf Ears or the Mountains)
  • PG get wide (butt to & on sideline)
  • Posts sprint rim to rim
  • PG can cross “main street”
  • 4 or 5 trails the play for reversal
  • Specific break-down drills
    • Break Package
    • Break Package Cycle
    • Billy Donovan example
    • Whole, Part, Whole
  • Must flow into motion & make sense with your motion settings & philosophy

Follow Coach Smiley on Twitter!!!

smileyThe 2014-15 season marked the first season for Steve Smiley as an assistant coach at Weber State. He joined the Wildcat program in August 2014.

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.

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