Keys to Being a Successful Basketball Big Man

Chances are, you haven’t heard of Matt Costello. If you have, it’s probably only because of this…

Costello is a senior this year for Tom Izzo’s MSU Spartans. Take a look at his basketball bio, and you’ll see words like “tough,” “hard working,” and “strong.” He isn’t flashy. He’s by no means the best player on the floor. You may not even notice him. But for a college post player, he’s a coach’s dream. Here’s why:

1. He Runs the Floor

It puts so much pressure on defenses to play against a post player who sprints the floor. Accounting for a guard in the transition is one thing. Accounting for a 6’9″ big man is another. As in the clip above, even if you don’t throw him the ball, he’s able to clean up anything around the basket because he’s established rebounding position early in the possession.

2. He’s Patient in the Post

This may be the most difficult skill for young big men to master. Most players have a tendency to start moving a mile a minute when they first start playing the position. Identifying double teams, locating shooters, finding cutters, feeling a defender’s positioning, making a post move – that’s a lot for a player to process in a short amount of time. Experienced players like Costello are able to do all those things in 3-5 seconds. That’s impressive!

3. He Does the Little Things to Earn His Team Extra Possessions

You’ll often hear a commentator say, “That guy just has a nose for the ball,” meaning that player just seems to always be in the right place at the right time. Really though, securing a loose ball doesn’t happen by chance. The big man who understands rebounding angles (e.g., long shots = long rebounds, corner threes = weak side rebounds), establishes box out position early, and times his jump will usually end up with the ball if it comes his direction. The result? Extra possessions that often are the difference in a win and a loss.

4. He Never Stops Working

Many players have the mindset, “If I don’t have the ball, I’m going to rest.” If you’re a post player, you’re probably touching the basketball less than 10% of your team’s time of possession. A “no ball = no effort” mindset doesn’t work as a basketball big man. Whether it’s diving for a loose ball, sprinting the floor in transition, talking on defense, rebounding in traffic, or blocking shots as a secondary defender, you can never stop working as a post player.

Run the floor. Play with patience. Do the little things. Never stop working. Do those four things, and I can almost guarantee you’ll see more minutes.

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