Opals Assistant Coaches Share Knowledge – Video Updated

Posted on Apr 26 2021

The three assistant coaches from the Australian Chemist Warehouse Opals recently conducted a clinic for Basketball Queensland coaches as part of the Opals camp on the Gold Coast. Chris Lucas, Cheryl Chambers and Paul Gorris shared some insights on transition and the Opals defensive systems.

All three coaches have enjoyed multiple championship success at the WNBL level as head coaches and were on staff when the Opals claimed a silver medal at the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain. They have also led Australia junior national teams with great success, so have a broad range of experiences to share with the coaches.

Thanks Basketball Queensland for organising the clinic. Here are some key take-aways from the clinic –

Cheryl Chambers – offensive concepts 

  • “The more long close-outs you can create, the better your spacing will be “
  • Concepts in “split, kick, extra” – importance of decision making in young players
  • Decision making – importance of reading the close-out, especially on the “extra”
  • Transition – establishing lanes and everyone doing their job key to early spacing
  • Wings – if no lay-up, must get to corner as quickly as possible to flatten defence
  • Running post – rim to rim
  • Appropriate spacing in transition will create opportunities but also assist with spacing in the half court setting

Chris Lucas –

  • “Voice is a great tool to create pressure defensively” – importance of teaching young players to communicate at the defensive end
  • Communication must become a training habit
  • Conversion a crucial aspect of defence – the ability to convert quickly from offence to defence
  • Use of 3 v 3 continuous drill to teach defensive conversion and fast break concepts – teams of 6, 7-minutes on clock or first team to 7 – good drill for conditioning also
  • Important to develop “next play” mentality in young players
  • On the “hedge switch” (jump switch) of the pick and roll – “defender’s foot outside the ball”


Paul Goriss –

  • Stance on the ball and hand pressure the foundation of your defence
  • Hand pressure a big focus for Opals
  • Concept of “punch at the ball” – hand pressure, make the ball hander uncomfortable, create pressure around the ball
  • Off ball positioning – important not to get too deep in help position, rotations too long against skilled international players
  • Positioning – stunting, “stunt the stunter”, early help and early recovery key elements of Opals defence
  • Be active in the pack defence – it is a myth you can’t be disruptive and active in pack positioning
  • Can’t stress enough the importance of teaching and consistently drilling the close-out with young players
  • Defensive disruption and pressure –
    • Ball pressure
    • Hand pressure
    • Great communication
    • Aggressive stunting, rotations and activity
    • “What are you prepared to give up?”


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