Skill Development with Joy Cheek: Assistant Coach for Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball

Joy Cheek is entering her second season as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Vanderbilt University. She was hired by head coach, Stephanie White, prior to the 2016-2017 season. Cheek, a former WNBA player and standout at Duke, comes to Vanderbilt from Ohio State, where she spent three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Prior to that, she spent two seasons as an assistant and co-recruiting coordinator at her alma mater, Duke.

Skill Development Philosophy at Vanderbilt

  • Ideally, Vanderbilt would like all of their players to be able to do everything offensively: handle the ball, pass and shoot. This is particularly helpful because Vanderbilt runs a pro-style offense. Because their “5” players work on guard skills, they are able to step out on the perimeter as well.
  • Last year the staff had to get creative because they were not the most athletic team. To compensate, they focused on developing their players’ usage of proper body positions on the court. On the offensive end, protecting the ball and attacking the right angles was emphasized.
  • Vanderbilt varies their workout groups weekly, based on analysis of previous workouts. There is always a team workout for 1 hour each week during the preseason.
  • The one-hour skill development sessions during the preseason include:
    • Breaking the offense down piece by piece to help players learn. Whether it be pick and roll action, getting shots within the offense by reading and reacting to what their teammate does, or etc.
    • The staff believes it is important to take the time to explain what they are doing because players do not always see the full picture of how things mesh.

Preparing for their Summer Foreign Trip

  • Defensively: try to implement everything because the level of competition is unknown until arrival.
  • Offensively: they kept it simple so they could watch them play freely.

First Few Workouts with Freshman/Transfer Posts

  • Emphasis: high tempo of workouts, ability to hit the high-low shot from 15 feet, importance of sealing the defense and deep positioning when posting up
  • There is a lot of development needed 1 on 1 for post players that are not team or situation focused. Post players come in not using their lower body to post up. Girls are mostly strong with legs vs. guys being strong all over. For example, a lot of guys can post up and hold players off with one arm as protection as women tend to call for the ball with both arms and need to use their legs as protection.
  • Transition actions: how to look for the ball when running the floor, head positions, and what hand to have up with rim run
  • Vanderbilt likes to keep it simple, and by that standard, an “up and under” is considered a special move. If you do the work early from proper positioning, you do not need a bunch of “special” moves to score.
  • Vanderbilt wants their freshman to understand their on-court terminology. The staff believes you have to show players what you are looking for.

Other Skill Development Thoughts from Coach Cheek:

  • Although much of the Vanderbilt staff has WNBA experience, the only thing that is similar to WNBA practices is the emphasis on scoring during situational play. They consistently dedicate time to “After Time Out,” “BLOB,” SLOB,” or “Late-Game situations” between drills.
  • Her advice for new coaches is to learn how to teach things: you have to learn a language that allows you to teach the players to do the things you wish to see.

Follow Coach Joy Cheek on Twitter @CoachJoy21

Guest Writer: Tobias Pinson – Assistant Coach for Winthrop University 

Tobias Pinson is in his first season with the Eagle basketball program after being hired in June of 2017. Pinson went to Winthrop after serving as an assistant coach of the women’s basketball program at the University of South Carolina Upstate in 2016-17. Prior to his job with the Spartans, Pinson was a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball team at Walsh University (2015-2016) in North Canton, OH. He also served as head JV coach for the women’s basketball team. He began his coaching career as a volunteer basketball assistant at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC while pursuing his undergraduate degree. Pinson is in the U.S Air Force Reserves in Air Transportation for the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield in Fayetteville, NC.

Follow Coach Tobias Pinson on Twitter @tobiastalks_



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