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Tuesday, April 17, 2018


The one thing that I have learned through decades of coaching is that there is no one set way to teach and coach and be successful.  Time has shown us that there are as many ways to be successful as there are committed coaches to their philosophies.  There is no set defensive style of play or offensive attack that is better than the other.  You can push the ball in transition or walk it up and find positive results.  The use of video and scouting reports are also as varied as the number of programs using them.

There is one constant however for those who have sustained success -- they are all continual learners.  They find time to grow their knowledge of the game as well as to improve in areas of communication and relationships.  To remain the same is to fall behind.

It was interesting today that I got an email from my mentor Dale Brown that talked about one of our games great coaches in John Wooden and how he approached learning throughout his career:

How about Coach Wooden actually took a psychology class so that he might be able to communicate with his student-athletes at a higher level.

He believe in watching the practices of other sports and developed some of his time management thoughts from Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy.

It didn't bother coach to reach to UCLA rival coach Pete Newell to talk about defense.  (This also speaks to Coach Newell in his willingness to do so as well)

As did Don Meyer, when Coach Wooden as speaking at clinics, he would arrive early and stay late and be an avid note taker of the other speakers.

Each off-season he would select a phase of the game and pour himself into over the summer.

He was also a ferocious reader that once read the dictionary from cover to cover to improve his vocabulary.

Want to be successful over the long haul?  What your plans this summer to grow YOUR game!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


I’ve spend the last few weeks catching up on my reading — specifically articles I’ve saved off the internet or received via Google Alerts.  Later I’ll blog about my system of reading from these various sources.

However, today I enjoyed reading an outstanding article on Virginia men’s head basketball coach Tony Bennett.  The article was written by Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and discusses the question for coaches of whether they want to be transactional or transformational.  It very well written by Woody and I strongly suggest you click her to read it in its entirety.

Here are some key thoughts from the article:

As Woody starts the article…

A college basketball coach has to make a decision.

Does he want to be transactional or transformative?

A transactional coach tells players what to do and expects them to do it, no questions asked. If they don’t perform as the coach directs, players often are yelled at, belittled and demeaned.

In a perfect world, the transactional method shouldn’t be successful. If you think it’s not, you haven’t been paying attention to the sidelines of college basketball games.
Than Woody takes a look at the transformative method used by Bennett…
If the players buy in, the coach can ask what they’re seeing in games and practices, ask them if what he’s asking them to do is working, and listen if they answer, “No.”

That’s transformative.

“He teaches us off-the-court lessons every day, through basketball and without basketball,” sophomore point guard Ty Jerome said. “On the court, we have our way and do what we do and everyone’s bought in. I think that helps him be a transformative coach. Then he can ask us, and the whole staff, ‘What do you see on that and on this?’

“It’s easier because we’re all so united. That’s a credit to him, to his humility. He could easily be, ‘I have all these wins. We’re going to do it this way.’ ”

Don’t be mistaken. Transformative is not new-age, touchy feely. Bennett coaches 
basketball, a very physical game in a highly competitive league, the ACC. At Virginia, there is no room for negotiation concerning effort, defense, toughness and teamwork. You are fully engaged in all four or you are fully on the bench.

“I come from a unique perspective,” Bennett said. “Yeah, I’m a little more old school. There was a time when you’d come home and things weren’t going well, and it always was your fault. The question was, ‘Why aren’t you listening to the coach?’

“Well, today it can be a little different. I played for my father. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he believed in me. He thinks I can be really good, and I can trust him. It’s built in. He’s my dad. I realized that was almost the secret sauce.
Again, I strongly suggest you read the entire article.

Monday, April 9, 2018


There was an excellent write up by Bruce Feldman at recently where he looked at the football teams at Alabama and Georgia and how those two programs defined discipline. Feldman writes about the importance of discipline and how it specifically has a direct bearing on an organization's culture.  You can read the entire article here.

A few takes aways were the definitions of discipline from members of the staff:

“The ongoing definition around here is to do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it, the way it’s supposed to be done—all of the time,” says Alabama’s head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, who has been with Saban for all six of his national titles, including his first while at LSU. “That is Coach Saban’s definition, and it is ingrained into my head.”

Crimson Tide offensive line coach Brent Key arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2016. His definition: “Doing the right thing all the time, and doing the right thing when you don’t want to do it.” Key, 39, says his definition of the word has changed from his younger days, “when discipline meant being punished or spanked. But to me now, discipline is internal.”

“Discipline is accountability,” says Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, Saban’s ace recruiter since 2015 who was promoted when Tennessee hired away Jeremy Pruitt this winter. “You have to consistently operate to our standard on a daily basis, and that’s where players and coaches hold each other accountable and continue to prepare in the game manner, no matter who we’re playing.”

Feldman also talked about the importance of making sure that recruits knew of the importance of discipline and what they would be getting into:

“During the recruiting process we are very up-front with them, and those guys are smart enough to know what they are getting themselves into,” Burns said. “In my position specifically [Burns has since moved to an off-field role after 11 years as running backs coach], they know that we’re going to play a lot of guys, so I want them to understand that, and to come to work every day and not let that affect them. We have been really fortunate to have the right personalities to do that. We’ve always had one guy that sets the tempo in terms of what it takes to be a running back at the University of Alabama and not to be selfish. Play your role. Take it very seriously. Be ready for the moment. When I first got there, it was Glen Coffee, and he took care of Mark Ingram, and then Mark took care of Trent Richardson, and then Trent took care of Eddie, and Eddie Lacy took care of T.J. [Yeldon].”

The interesting aspect that Feldman shared from the Georgia staff was the attention to detail -- even thought every day meetings to make sure they were all on the same page:

“No detail is left un-talked-about,” Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says. “We dot every I and cross every T. It sometimes might be a little uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s gonna be talked about. Kirby is diligent as heck about all that.”

Awkward as they may be at times, these conversations become the norm. “It’s had every day,” Georgia quarterbacks coach James Coley says. “I always felt like when you walked in staff meetings, you were there to get your players better. Everybody’s trying to get better, but now you’re saying to yourself, ‘How can I get better in this staff meeting?’ Because you really get better as a coach. Coach Smart has done a great job helping us all get better as coaches."

Thursday, March 22, 2018


I don’t take lightly the responsibility of writing a book review — I know how valuable money and time is to us all.  But "Getting To Know Us” by Seth Davis is one of the best books I’ve read in the past several year for our profession.  Davis picks eight outstanding coaches and dedicated a chapter to their journey.  Each chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  We learn from these Hall of Fame coaches the struggles they went through, and in some cases still battle, to maintain a level of excellence.

You will learn that each coach is different in so many ways yet each successful -- which is one of the most important lessons we can learn in doing what we do.

There is insight into coaching, teaching, recruiting, motivating, leadership and overcoming adversity.  You read about the battle to balance your career and your family.  The stories from the coaches themselves, the players that played for them and assistants that worked for them are priceless.

Above all, the title "Getting To Us" implies, we learn the methods and philosophies of how they turn players into teams.

Below I’m listing a short take away from each chapter but I can say strongly enough that this is a book you need to purchase and when you do, break out the red pen or the highlighter.

Urban Meyer

The take away from this chapter was the importance of having a shared vision with everyone involved in your program.  As Tom Herman said:

“The message never deviates with him.  Everybody from the strength staff to the video staff to the equipment staff to academics and nutrition — everybody who toughes the players there at Ohio State gets the same message and the same expectations and the same goals.  I think that’s very rare.”

Tom Izzo

We often talk about the importance of communicating and connecting with our players and it was obviously a huge priority for Coach Izzo.

When Michigan State was building a new office and practice facility for its basketball teams in 2002, Izzo had a novel idea: He wanted his office to have no door. “I thought it would set a tone,” he says. “But I couldn’t do it because of fires codes.

“There were multiple times after a game when I would text him at one or two in the morning.  He would always text me right back,” said Denzel Valentine.  “From day one, he creates a family atmosphere and makes it known that he cares about you as in individual.”

Mike Krzyzewski

As a disciple of Don Meyer, we were taught to plan your week on Sunday and the next day the night before.  It was interesting to read Coach K’s view on this.

Davis wrote: To this day, before he goes to bed each night, he maps out his plan for the next day.

“I think it comes form West Point, where you lay you’re your uniform the night before.  It helps you make effective use of your time. It gets me excited because I’m going to do something I’ve planned to do, what I love to do, and it’s different every day.”

Jim Harbaugh

The very first paragraph of this chapter grabbed me and detailed how competitors want to be in the mix regardless of their role:

Davis writes: He couldn’t take not competing,  It killed him to stand still.  So what if he was a rookie quarterback with a bright future?  He needed to get into the game — now.  So Jim Harbaugh went to his head coach with a strange request: Put me in on special teams so I can cover punts and kickoffs.  “My first reaction was, ‘Are you crazy?” Mike Ditka told me.  “Be he was serious.  He just wanted to contribute."

And Ditka actually used him for a short time on his special teams.

Jim Boeheim

One of the things that Davis brought out about Boeheim was how he handled wins and losses:

“It’s all about losing.  When we win, I’m pretty happy for about an hour, and then I’m thinking about the next game.  When we lose, I’m thinking about that game until we get to the next one.”

Geno Auriemma

In this section, there was a fascinating insight about Geno on self-doubt that helps motivate him to be the best and in turn push his team to greatness.

“I live with self-doubt every day, so I can emphasize with the players I’m coaching,” Auriemma says.  “I know these guys are filled with self-doubt.  How can they not be?  You’re putting yourself out there in front of thousands of people.  You’re being judged and you’re eighteen, nineteen years old.  So you’re thinking, 'Am I good enough to do this?  What happens if I play shitty?'  So this is part of daily life.  I try to tell them, ‘It’s good for you to have self-doubt, because it forces you to look at yourself objectively.”

Doc Rivers

Something profound in this chapter was what his father would always tell him growing up:  “There will be no victims in this house.”

There was also a key portion of this section where Doc talked about what he had learned from Pat Riley including:

“I learned from Riley that the key to coaching is to get a group of players to believe there’s one agenda, and that you have the same agenda as them.  If you can do that, your players are going to do whatever they can for you.”

Brad Stevens

This may have been the best chapter in the book in terms of my take aways.  David detailed how Stevens and his philosophy evolved including a leadership seminar class he took his senior year that introduced him to the philosophy of Robert K. Greenleaf.

“I remember thinking, this makes sense. Do you want to be around somebody who lifts you up, or somebody that breaks you down?  That’s why whenever people ask me what’s your leadership style, my answer is ‘It should be you.’  There’s an authenticity that is needed for leadership.  If it’s not real, then it’s not going to work.”

Dabo Swinney

Dabo’s story is an amazing one — from his walking on at Alabama (he called it “crawling on) to his leaving football in a variety of jobs until finding his way back to the profession.

One good insight to his message is the utilization of repetition in story telling:
Davis wrote: He is a meticulous planner who tells the same stories, uses the same phrases, and harps on the same messages, even if his guys have heard it all a thousand times. 

“That’s something I learned from Coach Stallings,” says Swinney.  “I spent seven years with him, and every year I’d be like, ‘Here comes the Mama Don’t Fret  story.  Here come the Ben Hogan story.’ That’s how he protected his culture.  When you say it enough so your players can repeat it, that’s when you know they’re getting it.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Maybe one of the most unglamorous parts of basketball is rebounding yet there is a direct correlation between rebounding and winning. Rebounding is also a great way for a player to create a niche for herself on a team. Maybe you can’t dribble the ball exceptionally well or possibly you’re not a good shooter – but if you live on the boards, the coach will find playing time for you.

First and foremost, let’s understand what a rebound represents – a possession! That’s critically important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive rebound or an offensive rebound, you have just given your team a possession that they may not have otherwise received.

Excellent rebounding teams often win because they usually have a greater number of possessions than their opponent. It means they have more opportunities to scores while their opponents have less.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they shoot a higher percentage. They shoot better because they rebound which leads to fast break opportunities. They shoot better because they get second chance opportunities on the offensive glass which often leads to a follow up shot from close in.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they hold their opponents to a lower field goal percentage. They do this by keeping them getting out and running consistently. They also take away the second chance points on the opponent’s offensive end.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they get to the free throw line more. They get to the free throw line more because of extra possessions they create for themselves as well as the ones they deny their opponent. How many times do you see a fouling situation occur on a offensive rebound put back?

Excellent rebound teams usually win because they have more heart. It is heart that is a primary ingredient in good rebounding and if you have a big heart on the glass, then it is probably going to spill over to the defensive end of the court as well as the offensive end.

A big part of rebounding is obviously technique and certainly we are going to talk about methods of rebounding – both individually as well as a team. We will delve into offensive and defensive rebounding and the various methods that are used for maximum results. But first and foremost, we should look at the make-up of a great rebounder. The individual that excels in rebounding has a special blend of physical and mental characteristics that allows her help her team on the boards.

A good rebounder is a well conditioned athlete.
Rebounding is one of the most tiring phases of basketball if a player is truly committed to rebounding. The pace of the game already makes is a demanding game but the good rebounder is going hard to the glass on every shot – and over the course of the game, that’s a lot of shots. So the good rebounder is going to understand the importance of conditioning. She is going to work hard with the team during conditioning and probably do a little on her own as well. She must be tireless in her approach.

A good rebounder is physically strong.
Because the good rebounder knows she must sometime move through people as well as over them, she can appreciate the work she must do in the weight room. This doesn’t mean she has to be big and muscle bound but she knows she must have the strength necessary to hold off her opponent when she is blocking out. She’s going to work hard in the weight room, more than the average player and she’s going to do the extra push-ups. Strength is important on the boards and there no reason in today’s game that she can’t improve in that area.

A good rebounder is mentally and physically tough.
Going to the boards is a very demanding job. It gets extremely physical inside with a lot of bumping and pushing. Some players don’t mind going to the boards occasionally, but the good rebounder is tough and not only does she not mind the contact, but she relishes it. She loves not only to receive the contact but likes to dish a little out as well. Mentally she knows the importance of rebounding and she blocks out any aches and pains. Mentally she also makes sure the contact doesn’t go too far. She wants to bang with her opponent but not to the extent that she draws a foul.

Good rebounders are smart players.
You have to be smart to read the where the shot may fall off…especially one shot by your opponent. The smart player can anticipate when and where her own team will shoot. She makes mental notes on opponents and understands their tendencies in terms of how she best get around them and get to the backboard.

Good rebounders have a rebounding mentality.
I’ve never seen a good rebounder that didn’t think every shot was a miss. When the ball is shot, they know that ball is not going in and they follow it’s path and try to make a read as to where it will come off. Part of that special rebounding mentality is they have a great hunger to rebound. The good rebounder loves to rebound more than she loves to score.

Good rebounders are relentless.
Good rebounders have a strong desire to rebound – they are relentless. They go to the boards to try and grab the rebound. If they can’t grab the rebound, they are going to work as hard as they can to try and get their hand on the ball where the can tip to themselves or to a teammate. If they get bumped, they recover and keep going. If they get knocked down, they hustle up. They are not going to let anyone or anything stop from going to the glass.

Good rebounders love rebounding.
I've learned this from having the blessing of coaching one of the best rebounders I've been around - Anriel Howard.  This past season, and it's not quite over, she set the Texas A&M single season rebounding record.  Despite only being a junior, she has become the all-time career rebounding here in Aggieland.  She also owns the NCAA Tournament record for rebounds in a game -- 27!  And, please pay close attention -- she is only 5 foot, 11 inches tall.  But if you watch her play and see her grab a rebound in traffic, or chase one down you will see the biggest smile on her face.  She genuinely loves rebounding.

Coach Don Meyer always had a saying, "It's not what you teach, it's what you emphasize."  All coaches will readily agree to the importance of rebounding.  But how strongly are you emphasizing it on a daily basis?

One year at LSU, to commit to emphasizing rebounding, we decided to take the games leading rebounding to the post-game press conference after every game whether the press requested them or not.  The player could've shot 2 for 10 from the field and turned it over 4 times but if she let the team with 13 rebounds that game she was going to the press room.  It was are way of letting our team (and the media and fans) know that rebounding matters in a big way.

Do you break it down in drill from every day?
Are you pointing it out and holding players accountable in practice every day?
Do you have rebounding stats that players can see on a daily basis?
Do you watch specific video clips on rebounding?

As a coaching staff, what are you doing every day to commit to improving your rebounding?

Friday, February 9, 2018


Below are some wonderful thoughts to remember as we work with young people via Tim Elmore.  If you aren't reading Tim's books or signed up for his email blogs you are missing out on one of the best resources available today as we teach and coach millennials. In fact, since being introduced to Tim's materials by Georgia head coach Joni Taylor this past summer, he has become the most important resource I've had this season -- an absolute must if you are a coach, a teacher or parent.

As you work with students to build a healthy lifestyle, remember these truths:

1. Human beings are, indeed, creatures of habit.

2. Habits become addictions as they enable us to cope with life.

3. We often trade one habit for another as we attempt to quit bad ones.

4. We must help youth strive to replace bad habits with good ones.

5. Teens often don’t end bad habits until they feel the consequences of them.

6. One secret to maturity is to live free from the bondage of an addiction.

7. Healthy leadership begins with self-leadership. I must lead “me” first.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Here are a few of the Q & A's from Troy Daniels of the Phoenix Suns on the art of shooting.  You can read the entire article by Scott Bordow here.

Q: How many hours does it take to perfect the shooting form?
A: Wow. It’s tough to say. As a kid, you have a ton of energy. I was always trying to be around basketball. I have no clue, but if I had to say, at least five to six hours a day, just playing around, shooting.

Q: There are certain things good golfers have to do with their swings. Are their certain things good shooters have to do with their stroke?
A: I’m a firm believer that I don’t really think it matters what shot you shoot. If you shoot your shot, if you work on it every single day, literally get up 1,000 to 1,500 shots a day, you’ll master that shot. I really think that, honestly. I don’t think there’s a certain way to make a lot of shots. (Stephen) Curry shoots a different shot, Klay (Thompson) shoots a different shot, J.J. Reddick, they all shoot different shots and come from different places. Their stance and their balance, everything is different. So I think if you just master what you do, I think the sky is the limit.

Q: Do you study other shooters?

A: I don’t study shooting but I do study how shooters play. I’ve watched a lot of film on J.J. Reddick, how he moves without the ball. I watched a lot of film on Kyle Korver. Everybody watches Steph, but you can’t be like Steph because he’s different. I think as a shooter, 75 to 80 percent of it is confidence. It’s all mind, all mind.