In the bygone era of the mid-2000s, when WikiLeaks and Twitter were born, college basketball coaches were still using VHS tapes of movies to scout their opponents.

University of Albany women’s basketball coach Colleen Mullen, then an assistant at Southern New Hampshire, used VCRs to create a highlight reel to show off her players.

Assistant coaches like Mullen were also responsible for ensuring opponents filmed their matches, whether that meant staying overnight or driving to meet another assistant halfway through.

“It was a lot of work, a lot of organization,” she said, even after DVD players replaced VCRs.

Before ESPN aired every college basketball game, there was no way to get a movie but from the school itself, though mutually assured destruction meant coaches wouldn’t refuse. usually not requests.

“We needed movies from other people, so you were going to give them movies,” Mullen said. “When I did a movie swap, I always wanted to be on top so they know we’re always respectful and want to make sure they reciprocate.”

Back then, the coaching staff would choose the best two minutes to show the players.


“Now we have seven clips for each player and their tendencies,” Mullen said. “It’s gotten a lot easier and you can just have a much more focused game plan.”

The internet has revolutionized the way Mullen and other coaches spot their opponents. Instead of having to request a film from each school and send tapes after each game, schools upload their film to an online database that anyone can access.

The most common platform, and the one that member schools of America East mandates use, is Synergy, which not only contains NCAA game movies, but also college and high school ones.

The conference began mandating the use of Synergy in 2020, although due to the pandemic some schools only started using it this season, America East spokesman Sean said. Tainsch.

Synergy was selected “after a lengthy bidding and evaluation process,” Tainsh said.

Having so many movies available “seems more overwhelming,” Mullen said, “but when you get down to it, it’s nice to have access to all that information.”

Synergy and its competitors also break down movies for coaches and can show them everything from each time a specific player takes a 3-point shot to a team’s pick-and-roll games.

Knock down the enemy

At UAlbany, like most schools, each assistant coach is assigned an opponent to scout. They research the team, watch the film, and shoot the most relevant clips.

“The first element is the player personnel,” associate head coach Megan Methven said. “Getting on them and how they get their touches, where they score the majority of their points. And then offensively, what types of things we need to be prepared for. What kinds of things with ball screens, what kinds of sets a team runs.

Methven also takes note of what works well against a particular team’s offense so UAlbany can try to replicate it.

After Methven, or the assistant assigned to a particular opponent, trims the clips, she reviews them with Mullen to decide which one to show players.

“We try to focus on five things for the game that we really need to make sure our players are successful,” Methven said.

No matter how crazy the Great Danes schedule gets, Mullen doesn’t watch a movie about an opponent until he’s finished with the last one.

“I’ll be up all hours of the night,” she said.

Once Mullen and the assistant coaches come up with a game plan, they need to teach it to the players.

In practice, UAlbany players will act on their opponents’ tendencies so that their teammates can learn to defend against them. As the team prepared for New Hampshire, for example, Fatima Lee and Abby Ray starred as UNH’s MVP Amanda Torres.

The scout team plays an important, if unglamorous, role.

“The scout team has just done a tremendous job and I can’t say enough about their focus. It really helps prepare us and they’re really confident and make us all better,” Mullen said.

On game day, the scout coach is responsible for giving the pre-game speech in the locker room.

They present a few bullet points for each opposing player – the player’s tendencies and the plan to defend them – as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the team, five keys to winning the game and five offensive and defensive keys for the Great Danes. .

“We’re trying to really simplify it for players, but it’s a lot of information for them to remember,” Mullen said.

Then the game begins and the players do their best to perform what they have learned.