An estimated 250 Italian coaches learned at the side of their most successful peers on Saturday at the Final Four coaches clinic sponsored by Union of European Basketball Leagues (ULEB) and the Italian basketball coaches' union (USAP). Dan Peterson, European champion with Milan in 1988, Ettore Messina of Kinder Bologna, two-time Euroleague champion, and Real Madrid head coach Sergio Scariolo gave four one-hour sessions with their best coaching tips to an appreciative audience.
The Final Four clinic was held at Pallestra Virtus, Kinder Bolgna's training site, which is hung with the team's championship banners. Peterson, who started his European coaching career at Virtus, looked around before opening the morning session and spotted the banner for the team he coached to the Italian League title in 1975-76. That had been the first Lega title by Virtus in 20 years. "I won that one," Peterson joked. "That doesn't belong to Ettore."
After Peterson gave a talk about fastbreak tactics, Scariolo lectured on an offense using four small players. Due to Madrid's injuries all season, it is a subject Scariolo knows quite well, but he said that with only a few adjustments, he was able to use his team's normal offense even though only one big man was on the floor.
Within his talk about offense against zones, Messina made a point to the coaches about the importance of not making tactics that are too confusing for players moving at high speeds in the modern game. "There are two ways to make it simple and clear," Messina said. "One is to do less by cutting out a lot of what you plan. The other is to be specific and concrete in your instructions so that players know exactly what they are expected to do on the court. I prefer the second way."