The strategic element

SDSU women’s basketball associate head coach Mike Jewett is responsible for leading scouting efforts to help create the perfect game plan and inform players concerning their upcoming opponents.

Despite being a standard element of game preparation, how scouting reports are compiled and then utilized varies from team to team. 

“Every coach has a different philosophy,” Jewett said.

Jewett and the Jackrabbits subscribe to the belief that 90 percent of the focus should be on their own team and 10 percent of the focus should be on the opponent. But that does not mean the coaches are slacking in the game-planning department.

“That still means we watch film on them,” Jewett said.  “We have a scout team. We create a scouting report that is kind of two-fold. There’s a personnel side to it and there’s an offensive and defensive system to it. And so in that regard we’ll go through their personnel, go through match ups – if they’re in this particular lineup then this is how we’re going to match up. If they would move this kid from maybe the three to the four then this is how we would line up.”

What Jewett mentioned are largely in-game adjustments. The 90 percent where the Jackrabbits focus on themselves is when it comes to their overall schemes, which Jewett said remain constant.  

“We don’t tweak what we do very often, meaning that if somebody’s going to run a lot of ball screens we’re going to defend those one or two ways. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel just for one particular game,” Jewett said. “Our tendency is to teach a system, execute that system and then make adjustments as you need based on the flow of the game.”

When it comes to watching film, technology has been very kind to coaches like Jewett who still remember the days of watching games and recording clips all on VHS. Now a computer program called Synergy is able to break down games and work on all mobile devices.  

“Synergy loads all of these games, breaks them down offensively, defensively, out of bounds plays, whatever,” Jewett said. “That allows us to go in and we can watch however many games are there.”

Using the program, Jewett can select specific type of plays he wants to watch and Synergy will filter those plays. Also, Synergy generates stats and tendencies that, before its existence, required coaches to keep track on paper as they watched games and then in the end add it all up just to find out whether a player preferred going to their right or left, something Synergy can instantly present them with a percentage on.  

Jewett said that he still watches eight to 10 hours of film on an opponent, but Synergy makes those hours more efficient.

Watching film and creating scouting reports is much more difficult early on in the season due to a lack of film available on opposing teams, forcing coaches to watch film from the past season involving players who have moved on and failing account for new players, player development and schematic changes.  

“It’s very cloak and dagger in the exhibition games,” Jewett said. “People don’t like to stream it on the internet because then opponents can watch it. A lot of times teams will come to an agreement with their exhibition opponent, saying ‘Hey we’re not going to give this game film out to anyone who asks.’ Sometimes the best you can do is get a verbal scouting report – what kind of offense did they run, what kind of defense did they run.”

While the lack of information on teams may make it hard to prepare for the season opener, teams do have the advantage of having a great deal of time to prepare for one opponent. This luxury is not likely to come again at many points during the season when they are often playing two games a week.

“As coaches you have to be more than a game ahead because even though you’re preparing for the next opponent, maybe during that preparation too you’re also throwing in something for the opponent that follows the next opponent,” Jewett said.

Through the coaching staff’s studies of an opponent, they are able to compile a great deal of knowledge about their opponent and then condense it into practical nuggets that the players can easily grasp which can fit into their busy lives.

Jewett said that the student athletes receive a highly filtered version of what the coaches go through including information on the opposing players and sets that they study on their own time as well film prepared for them by the coaches

“We do it [the film] in two different parts – 15 minutes of live film just to introduce our opponent and then we probably watch 45 minutes of film that gets more specific and detailed on what they do and how we’re going to defend it,” Jewett said.

Building off of the foundations of sets and film, the players have opportunities in practice against a scout team running specific sets, allowing the student athletes to get comfortable with them ahead of facing their opponent on the court.

On other occasions, Jewett said they will insert elements, from something an upcoming opponent does, into a drill without the players of even knowing.

So far this season, all the behind the scenes work has come to fruition, helping the Jackrabbits to start their season with a win against Brigham Young University