Thibaultís Tips: Knowing Your Opponent

This is the fifth of a weekly series of offerings from Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault and his staff designed to make you a better basketball player.

Thibault Thibault
Knowing Your Opponent
By Mike Thibault

As many of you begin to play in your school or recreational leagues, you will learn that each game presents a different type of challenge. One of the things all young players should start to do is develop the ability to size up an opponentís strengths and weaknesses.

Your ability to gain an individual edge will go a long way toward helping your team gain an edge.

Here are eight things to look for:
1. Do you know which hand your opponent prefers to shoot or dribble with?
2. What is the shooting range of your opponent? Is he or she only good around the basket, from 15 feet and in, or all the way out to the three-point line?
3. Does your opponent like to go to the offensive boards? If so, are you prepared to block them out every time?
4. Can your opponent make free throws? Knowing who to foul at the end of a game may make the difference between winning and losing. 5. If your opponent is a back-to-the-basket post player, do they favor turning one way over the other?
6. On defense, does your opponent turn his or her head to watch the ball, allowing you to back-cut them for layups?
7. Do they shoot better off the dribble, or after catching a pass?
8. Do they pump fake before they drive?

Learning the answer to some or all of these questions will help make you a more effective basketball player. That, in turn, will improve your teamís chances for success.