February 1, 2021 • Coach InterviewsFeaturesFrom the BenchWinning Hoops

The Best BLOB is no BLOB: An Alarming Discovery

by Matt Herting, head varsity boys basketball coach Bishop Verot (FL) High School

After years of watching videos, reading articles, talking to coaching peers, analyzing game film, something strange happened. 

In my 24th year as a high school head boys’ basketball coach, I stumbled onto something that changed my whole view of one aspect of coaching hoops. This is nothing I planned, theorized would work, or even thought much about. It is something that just happened and grew from nothing — quite literally.

Photo: Wesley Sykes / Great American Media Services

Most years, like most coaches, we put in our baseline out of bounds (BLOB) plays. I have tried several different styles and sets. I have tried running many plays. I have tried running a couple of plays with many counters. I have tried having an assistant coach as my BLOB coordinator, focusing only on BLOB production. Most years we spent about 15 minutes at practice on executing our baseline out of bounds sets. All of these plans yielded almost the same result. Plays worked against teams that were poorly prepared or teams with limited talent, but against good teams, the result was usually reaching the goal of getting the ball in safely and not turning it over. This season would have been the same, except for something unforeseen that changed my whole mindset regarding BLOB situations.  

This year, COVID-19 forced me to adapt and change fundamental philosophies within our program. To help reduce contact with other teams, our school mandated that only one team could be in the gym at a time. So instead of varsity and JV sharing the gym for a two-hour practice, each team would have the gym to themselves for one hour. Obviously, this cut our practice time in half. Due to the limited time, I kept cutting BLOB work from our practice plans. Before I knew it, we were starting our last practice before the season opener. Without much thought, I took five minutes and told my assistant to have the scout team give us a man-to-man defense for two-and-a-half minutes and a 2-3 zone look for two-and-a-half minutes. I then told the starters to “just get open and get the ball in.” With so little time, I was not concerned with scoring on the inbounds, but, instead, just wanted to make sure we could get it in and get set up. 

Well, that five minutes was pretty uneventful. We got the ball in some, turned it over a few times, and we moved on to other things we needed to cover. I really did not notice anything good, bad, or otherwise. Well, that all changed in the first game.  

Very early in the first quarter of that first game, we took the ball out of bounds under our basket. No ‘play’ was called but I saw one of our players go up to the guy who was going to throw it in and whisper something to him. The next thing I knew, the kid lines up and acts like he is going to go screen and then wheels around and pins the defender right in front of the basket for an easy two points. They then give each other a high five while laughing running back on defense. The rest of the game was kind of like that on BLOB’s. Guys cutting through the lane looking for shots, guys screening for a teammate to get him open for a jumper, guys ducking in for lay-ups, guys seeing we are not getting it in and flaring back as a safety valve to get the ball in. I knew that night I had stumbled onto something very interesting. The players started to communicate on BLOB situations like they never had before coming up with simple ways to get shots and get each other shots.

At practices, we have never worked on BLOB this season. We have done nothing in regards to taking the ball out of bounds underneath. So far this year, we have scored over twice as many points on BLOB’s than we had in any of my previous 21 seasons at Bishop Verot, and we have only played 17 games so far! Mind you, I am not saying we have doubled our point production from last season — we doubled our next most productive season! As of right now, we are scoring 1.14 points per BLOB! This means we are scoring a basket directly of the inbounds pass over 50% of the time!

» ALSO SEE: Get to the Line More with Isolation Plays

Here are some observations and trends I noticed this year with the “No BLOB Play” plan.

  • Every player sees himself as an immediate scoring threat. Nobody is “the screener” or the “safety.” This makes kids excited for a BLOB situation.
  • There is never any hesitation or confusion. Nobody ever ‘runs the play incorrectly.’
  • Players start to “think” the game much more. Instead of lining up and going from spot to spot like the coach taught them, guys talk and think about what will work.
  • Scouting reports are useless against it. We had one player score on five duck-ins on BLOB’s in one game! The opposing coach told me after the game he “wanted to get that BLOB play.” I told him there was no play, the kids just kept finding openings.
  • It saved a ton of practice time! No more running through play after play 5-on-0 with different guys subbing in and out and then doing the same 5-on-5.

This may be too ‘hands-off’ for some coaches and I never in a million years thought I would be saying this, but the BEST BLOB PLAY IS NO BLOB PLAY!

Matt Herting is the head boys’ basketball coach at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, FL. He is in his 22nd season as the head coach at Verot and his 25th season overall. He has compiled more than 450 wins in that time.