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A new coaching team takes on the world of Japanese basketball using new tools to bring a specific philosophy and understanding of the sport to life.

This is the story of the new era of analysis at Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka.        

Hired before the beginning of last season, Head Coach Moncho Lopez and Assistant Coach Isabel Lemos oversaw an 11th place finish in the Japanese B2 League. This finish near the bottom of the table signaled the need for change ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

“We came here last season and were hired for a project to change the team philosophy and improve the results for this club, because they needed more,” said Lemos. “We could see this was a club lacking a lot of things to achieve better results, so we have worked a lot ahead of this new season and we are in a much better position now with more staff, more resources and new tools for our team to use.”

We are a team of four coaches that work together to achieve the club’s goals. Moncho Lopez, Honoo Yamaguchi, Yu Matayoshi and me, Isabel Lemos. 

New Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka Head Coach Moncho Lopez has a clear vision for the new style of basketball he wants his team to adapt to.

New era, new philosophy: “Basketball that never stops”

To implement this new era at Rizing Zephyr, the coaching team distinguished the philosophy as “basketball that never stops.” 

“Basketball that never stops means we want the players to be aware of everything that is happening on the court and be able to quickly respond in a collective way,” explained Lemos. This is on both offense and defense. 

For the players, this is a new approach to decision making on the court and to introduce this new philosophy, our players have had to work a lot on learning new information and ways to communicate. This is where video and data work has become important for us to show things visually, rather than relying on explanation through talking.”

The Fukuoka-based professional basketball team are on the rise following new coaching appointments and a new philosophy

A new way of opposition scouting in Fukuoka

Coach Lemos and Head Coach Moncho Lopez are long-time users of InStat and have brought the video and data analysis tool with them to Fukuoka. 

“With InStat, we have a very important thing for our team, which is all of the data available and video footage included together,” said Lemos. “We are now using InStat in a lot of different ways. We go first for specific play types of teams and also the specific threats or specific weak points of opposition players.”

InStat provides best-in-class statistics which ensures Rizing Zephyr have both the data and video footage to make detailed and informed decisions in their opposition scouting. 

“We use InStat as a searching tool for our scouting purposes, Said Lemos. “For example, when we look up play types for an opposition team, we can see, for example, they run 25% of their offensive possessions as transitions. So in that case we can see we are playing a team that we have to be aware of defending the full court offense. 

After analyzing this data, we can go further and try to see what kind of success they have in this kind of ball possession. So they have 25% running time, but how many points and how do they score. - this is important to consider in our way of defending against them. 

We always want to be a team that doesn't stop, so we are always working with both mind and body, with players who can adjust and adapt to the opponent at hand.”

InStat platform used for opponent scouting - namely ball handling percentage stats of the opposition
InStat shot chart for opposition analysis of Ehime Orange Vikings showing all handoffs made by opposition players. The chart can be modified to show a number of actions for each opposition player down to the type of shot and hand the ball was shot from.

How visualizing analysis brings opposition scouting to life 

With the opposition scouting side of analysis covered, the next step is for the coaches to feed the information to the players as quickly as possible.

“We use the platform for easy collaboration with players to show specific video packages we put together or individually for them,” said Lemos. “We show a video just before practice, so our key ideas are fresh in mind when we go to the court and we also have Hudl video showing on a screen in the locker room.” 

The Rizing coaching team work in many different ways with their practice footage and previous game footage to educate their players on specific subjects that we are trying to improve on.

“With our video analysis, we always link back to trying the philosophy of the team we are playing against,” said Lemos. “Are they an attacking team, are they a running team, are they a team that looks for set plays more, are they a team stronger on the inside, or are they stronger coming off screens?

We review offense footage of opposition players on how we can match up on balls inside, on posting up, how they defend the pick and roll, the point guard’s movement, and the shooter's handling. All of these give us evidence to make decisions on how we want to defend against a team.

Analyzing how the opposition defends is also important, this time in terms of our philosophy, because we want to be able to play our non-stop game and look for the best solutions against the defense of a particular opponent.”  

How to find the best solutions for particular opponents

To find the best solutions against particular opponents, Rizing’s Head Coach uses the The Hudl Assist Database to compare footage of teams across the league.

Hudl Assist includes a database which allows a team to deep dive into past performances from other teams across the league and find competitive insights.

“There are two values we can look at here: number of possessions and points per possession in comparison with other teams in the League,” explained Lemos. “These values can show us if we, for example, have good selection for the amount of times we possess the ball.”

To play basketball that never stops, some important statistical indicators are turnovers, assists, shot selection and shot percentage.

“InStat is very good for individual player scouting across the league, because you can see five seasons of information from one player and this is strong data and trust for scouting information,” said Lemos. “It's not one game, it's not two games, It's a lot of games, so for example we can see if an opponent is left handed but when he plays pick and roll he prefers to go to the right. Across 100 or 200 examples, we can find this kind of information.

With individual scouting, it's all about the quantity of information available.”

Ready to take your basketball analysis to the next level? Take a closer look at InStat