How college coaches can learn from NBA

Updated: May 25, 2012, 1:39 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla

With the college basketball season over and with recruiting finished until July, many college coaches use this time of year to recharge their batteries and catch up on family time. Also, some finally have the chance to focus on NBA basketball during the playoffs.

While some fans mistakenly think there's not a lot of coaching in the NBA, in my opinion the league sets the trend when it comes to the way the game of basketball is played.

In fact, one former college coach who has spent the last 25 years in the league told me that the NBA is often five years ahead of the college game. And those college coaches who understand this can pick up some great coaching nuggets and implement ideas and strategies that can improve their coaching acumen and give them an advantage over their opponents next season.

I am not trying to say that the NBA game and its coaches are better, nor am I explaining why college coaches recently haven't had success making the transition to the NBA. In almost every case, the college coaches who made the jump inherited bad teams. Instead, the basketball purist in me is always fascinated by how the game evolves. It usually evolves from the NBA down.

Think about this: An NBA team is involved in about 20,000 possessions in a given season, about five times as many as college teams. Trying to guard the best players in the world or score on the best defensive teams on the planet requires excellent coaching preparation and constant adjustments in an almost trial-and-error manner.

With no recruiting responsibilities and no classes to check, the NBA is effectively the ultimate coaching laboratory. It's all hoops, all the time.

So, let's look at what can be learned by studying the NBA game, especially from the college coach's perspective.