Friday, May 3, 2019


This is certainly a specific set of summer pick-up guidelines from Coach Majerus but you can absolutely see what he is trying to emphasize with his team.  What your points of emphasis in pick up that will help improve your team?

1. Deny every pass; get back-doored every time = Overplay, ear in chest, on & up the line
2. On catch, put your nose on the chest, force dribble, and level him off.
3. Stance = On ball, Denial, Help.
4. Front the Post = At all times when ball is outside of the funnel
5. Foul Shots – All great shooters know their exact FT%; all bad ones preface with “about”
6. Close out to everybody as though they are a great shooter = no jump shots
    Get a nose in their chest;  force baseline

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I'm incredibly excited about this event and looking forward to growing in my personal and professional life on April 10 at the Hall of Champions at Kyle Field.  I've known Don Yaegar for 20 years and he is a transformative speaker.  Ed Molitor is a former coach that has dedicated his life to helping groups and individuals find success.

The Center for Executive Development at Mays Business School in partnership with The Molitor Group

Join Don Yaeger and Ed Molitor in the Ford Hall of Champions at Kyle Field for Unleashing Greatness, a Leadership Performance event where they will share with you the traits and behaviors of high-performing leaders in athletics. They will demonstrate how those same traits and behaviors intersect with remarkable business leaders. More importantly, they will show you how you can further develop these traits and behaviors to unleash your individual and collective greatness.

There is no better setting for this powerful event: the Ford Hall of Champions was part of an unprecedented transformation of Kyle Field and continues in the traditions of the greatness of Texas A&M. For one day, the Ford Hall of Champions will serve as a gathering place for some of the top business leaders and teams in the region.

This setting will provide a memorable experience in a creative environment and help us break away from the typical conference setting. The Ford Hall of Champions setting means fewer interruptions and more focus — a day out of the office provides an opportunity to take a mental break from the never-ending to-do list and the usual distractions that pop up throughout the day.

Our day together will be broken down into three sections where Don and Ed plan to go deep on:
•Unleashing Greatness through Authentic and Resilient Leadership
•Recruiting in a Tight Labor Market and Stopping the Revolving Door
•Embracing the Power of Greatness- Game-Changers that you will not find in the playbook

Additionally there will be an interactive Q&A Section. The practices we cover will equip you with the tools to:
•Increase your self-awareness
•Communicate authentically
•Leverage your strengths
•Develop and strengthen powerful relationships
•Develop an unshakeable foundation of trust
•Build a culture worth fighting for
•Develop a champion mindset built through self-discipline and repetition
•Unleash Your Greatness

Click here for more details and how to register:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Without question, in the very best of organizations, accountability starts at the top.  There are few things more powerful then when the leader stands up in front of all and takes the credit for failures with his team.  

I'm not surprised that Alabama's Nick Saban did just the that with his post game comments after loosing to Clemson in the National Championship game: 
“I just have a feeling that I didn’t do a very good job for our team, with our team, giving them the best opportunity to be successful, I always feel that way, even sometimes when we win, I think there’s things we could do better or that I could have done better. But particularly in this case, never really ever got comfortable with what we needed to do to win this game, especially on defense, especially the matchups we had in our secondary versus their receivers. That was something that was kind of bothering me going into the game, and as the game unfolded, it worked out that those matchups were a big difference in the game.”
Another reason I believe he took that approach is that he worked for and learned from another coaching/teaching great in Bill Belichick. In the book "Belichick" by Ian O'Connor, the writer talks about the Patriots locker room after New England's loss in Super Bowl XXLI.  After all, the Patriots had completed a perfect season to that point with a record of 18-0 before a heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants 17-14 kept them from making history.

Here is what O'Connor wrote about the post-game locker room:
Almost to a man, the Patriots were slumped at their lockers and silently blaming themselves.  Ever after a soul-crushing defeat, these players were wired to look in their own mirrors when assigning culpability.  It was part of the ethos of what would become known as the Patriots Way.
Into this dark abyss stepped the head coach of the New England Patriots.  What is he going to say? players thought to themselves.  What can any coach possibly say in this moment?  Belichick stood among these shattered men and started to speak.  “It’s more emotional than I’ve ever seen Bill,” said Heath Evans.
As low as he’d ever been, Belichick rose to his chief responsibility.  “He said, ‘We didn’t prepare you guys well enough.  The coaches didn’t do a good enough job, and that falls on me.  I didn’t prepare you guys well enough, and I’m really sorry for that,” Stallworth recounted.  “He didn’t blame the coaches.  He blamed himself for everything and he apologized for that.  He could easily said, ‘It sucks, but we dint’ make enough players.’  He didn’t mention the players at all...To me, that shows a lot about who he is as a person.”
Evans said Belichick took specific responsibility for the offensive failure in the game.  “He owned the situation, and it wasn’t verbiage,” the fullback said.  “He owned the situation, and it wasn’t verbiage.”

As a leader, part of taking charge is taking ownership of the failures and giving credit to others for victory.  It's what the best leaders do.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


There are so many thoughts regarding effective transition defense.  You must first convert mentally.  There is nothing more important than the beginning -- the first three steps are essential for the possibility of success.  Straight-line sprint -- critical key for success.  But another facet of great transition defense occurs once your cross half-court.  We are constantly talking to our team about "pointing and talking" -- in other words everyone should be talking and pointing to who they are picking up in transition and seeing if someone has been missed.  Great effort getting back is wasted effort if we don't effectively pick up are assignments.

One the absolute best books I've read in the past couple of years is "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.  It's a book that I think can help you in so many ways and I strongly urge you to pick up a copy.  One of the stories that Clear shares is the "pointing and communicating" system used by the Japanese railway system:

"The Japanese railway system is regarded as one of the best in the world. If you ever find yourself riding a train in Tokyo, you’ll notice that the conductors have a peculiar habit.

As each operator runs the train, they proceed through a ritual of pointing at different objects and calling out commands. When the train approaches a signal, the operator will point at it and say, “Signal is green.” As the train pulls into and out of each station, the operator will point at the speedometer and call out the exact speed. When it’s time to leave, the operator will point at the timetable and state the time. Out on the platform, other employees are performing similar actions. Before each train departs, staff members will point along the edge of the platform and declare, “All clear!” Every detail is identified, pointed at, and named aloud.

This process, known as Pointing-and-Calling, is a safety system designed to reduce mistakes. It seems silly, but it works incredibly well. Pointing-and-Calling reduces errors by up to 85 percent and cuts accidents by 30 percent.

Pointing-and-Calling is so effective because it raises the level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level. Because the train operators must use their eyes, hands, mouth, and ears, they are more likely to notice problems before something goes wrong."

We shared this with our team, talking about how much more effective it made the subway and how it can help our transition defense.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


No stone unturned. 

Everything matters.

A reason for everything.

Fight for your culture everyday.

Coach Saban is about the process.  What is being done at this particular moment to make us better.  

It fascinates me to watch how Coach Saban never misses an opportunity to maintain the philosophy of process -- to hold strong the culture of daily improvement.  The language and daily message to his team is critical to this process.  This was true again at his weekly press conference where he explain the way they view an off week:

"I think the players got the idea from what I talked about yesterday at noon, was can you create momentum during a bye week by what you do. Define what a bye week is. Is a bye week a week off or is a bye week a week that you don't have a game but you have an opportunity every day to go out and improve on the things that you need to improve on, whether it's from a mental intensity standpoint, having lapses. Whether it's in a game. Those things happen in practice. So you practice those things so that you have the opportunity to improve." 

"A bye week is also about getting rest, getting hydrated, working on your strength. We try to balance those two things but we also take a lot of things that we're going to face in the next four weeks and try to get a little bit of work on all those things. So that's what we tried to do today. “

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Gregg Popovich speaks to the keys of Erik Spoelstra's success in an article in the Miami Herald written by Anthony Chiang:

“First of all, he did his work,” Popovich said. “He didn’t just pop up all of a sudden. He worked hard in the organization and learned the right way from coach (Pat) Riley. It was obvious he had not just basketball knowledge, that he knew about the game and he had his Os and Xs and knew what wins and loses. He was well schooled. But it’s way more than Os and Xs to be a successful coach.

“He develops great relationships with players. He knows how to walk the line between demanding discipline and letting them know he cares about them. To develop those relationships so there’s a player-coach trust is the whole key. I always feel like players have great B.S. antennae. If they don’t trust or they think you’re blowing smoke, it’s over quick. He’s the opposite of that. He’s one of the best.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Today we are excited to add two new segments to this year’s Gary Blair Coaching Academy.  Billy Kennedy and his Texas A&M men’s basketball team will conduct a full practice as part of the Academy schedule.  Since taking the reins of the program, Coach Kennedy has guided Texas A&M to an SEC title and three trips to the postseason, highlighted by a run to the 2016 Sweet 16 which matched the school’s deepest run in the NCAA Tournament.

Also, on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM, the Aggie Women’s Basketball Team will have a Defensive Practice.  While not part of the Academy, coaches that get into town early are welcome to attend.

A reminder that the Academy also includes:
     ◄4 Complete Clinic Sessions featuring the entire Aggie Basketball staff and team.
     ◄Two sessions with Hall of Famer Gary Blair
     ◄Guest speakers Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone
     ◄Breakfast and Lunch (Dinner will be on your own)
     ◄Jump Drive that will include:
             •Segments from the Academy
             •Aggie Defensive Drill Notebook
             •Aggie Offensive Playbook
             •Clinic Notes & Book Notes
             •And much more!

Each year we work hard to bring in the best of the best as guest speakers and this year is no different.  In Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone, we have not only brought in a wealth of knowledge but some of the most experiences clinicians in the nation.

Bendan Suhr’s career includes NBA stops with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. Working with Chuck Daly, Suhr helped the Pistons to two World Championships. Surh was also the chief scout for the “Dream Team” in 1992 in Barcelona.  College stints have included Fairfield, UCF and LSU.  He is also the founder of Coaching U, one of the most dynamic clinics in the nation.

One of the most sought out clinicians in the nation, Jim Boone has had a remarkable career which includes over 500 career wins which ranks 12th among active Division II Coaches and is in the top 50 all-time among Division II Coaches.  He has also captured 7 Conference Championships, 4 Tournament Titles while making 11 Post-season appearances which includes two Final Fours.

The cost for the Gary Blair Academy is only $50!

For those coaches wanting to pay by credit card, simply click on this link:

Coach may also pay at the door though we request you email Coach Starkey at to reserve your spot.

Or use the form below to write a check and mail it in:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Here's a great passage on how much Bill Belichick values communication via "Gridiron Genius" by Michael Lombardi:
Once in New England, Belichick ripped all the numbers off the preseason practice jerseys. Everyone thought it was intended to confuse the media and other onlookers, but really it was to force the Patriots defenders to learn one another’s names and get used to talking during the play. Belichick always said that if you want to know how well a defense is working, just listen. Defenses succeed only if the players know the scheme. But they really thrive when the players are talking to one another on the field.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


One of the most anticipated reads I've had in sometime was Kevin Eastman's "Why The Best Are The Best."  And it didn't disappoint.

I've known Kevin for over seven years and have heard him speak on numerous occasions including at Coach U and to our team at Texas A&M.  Two things are going to happen when you hear Kevin speak -- you are going to gain knowledge and your are going to be inspired.  The same is true with "Why The Best Are The Best."

What is special about the book is that you just don't have to be a basketball player or coach to gain from it.  You can participate or coach any sport and come away better.  In fact, forget the athletic industry as a whole.  If I worked with a group of people in any facet of life, this is a book that would help me to lead and build teams.

The book starts quick with Kevin's "25 Power Words" -- worth the price of the book alone.  Here are just a couple of my favorites: 

1. Truth - The ultimate “must have” for personal and team success; without it we’ll live in the world of frustration and regret.

12. Choices - If I listen to the right voices, I tend to make the right choices. 

16. Habits - The good ones are the most powerful and most needed; they are hard to create and difficult to break.

25. Talent - Overrated, unless we add an e and a d; in my world the e and the d stand for “extra dimension.”

Going back on "truth" Kevin expounded by saying truth needs three things:
       You must be able to live it.
       You must be able to tell it.
       You must be able to take it.

A few more thoughts that hit home that I will share with our team.


But competition is more than simply you against me. It is a mindset to bring the best that you have in you each day, no matter how things are going. Competitors get their reputations not from just playing or working hard; those are given in the world of competition. True competition comes in when you are willing to continue to give the best of what you have even when you are losing. 

Some other highlights of the book included:

Kevin shares the 12 pillars in the Boston Celtics Standard Of Excellence.

There is also a section titled “Success Triangles”  that list three words bonded together that make a different in teams and competitors.  Below is the list but the book is a must read for the details Kevin gives on each.  

   ◄Capability, Knowledge, and Team-Ness

   ◄Three dimensions of success: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. 

   ◄Three sets: Skill set, Mindset and Reset.

   ◄Three C’s: Overcoming Complacency, Conceit and Compromise 

   ◄Three bests: The best, my best, our best.

   ◄Three don’ts: Do not dismiss obvious, age and ideas

   ◄Three battles: Combating fear, failure and limitation 

   ◄Three ingredients for success: Respect, Trust, Like

   ◄There ins: All-in, not-in, Give-in 

   ◄Three ups: Showing up, Shutting up, Keeping up 

There is also a section on the power of lists.  If you've heard Kevin speak you know he the master of "bullet points" -- sharing knowledge in short lists...and he shares some great ones in the book

The book also has tons of quotes — many that I will use with our team.  Here are three of my favorite:

“Having respect in this league is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not just about how you perform but how hard you work. Hard work gives you respect.” – Kevin Garnett

“Sometimes you have to put your heart into something knowing that it may be broken.” -Doc Rivers

“We have plenty of talent, but talent is not going to be good enough.”- Steve Kerr

Possibly the best part of the book are the numerous stories Kevin shares to bring home the power of his talking points.  Again, if you’ve heard Kevin speak you know he is a master story teller and an expert at painting pictures.  I’d share a few of those stories but I’d be cheating you — you need to get this book!

Monday, September 24, 2018


I've known Sam Nichols for around 20 years now -- whether he was working our basketball camps at LSU or running into him at Don Meyer's Coaching Academy.  And while he was an outstanding coach, he's saved his best act for post retirement where is Founder and President of Basketball Smiles, a program of free basketball camps in the inner city playgrounds of the Bahamas. Below is a post by Sam with a great list on how to have successful practices:

Recently I had a young coach ask me for some suggestions on how to plan more efficient and productive practices. Here's a few ideas for I came up with for coaches to consider to help you plan your practices. Believe me, during my 33 years of coaching I learned there is an art to designing and executing your daily practices to where they contribute successful team development.

Hopefully, these thoughts will be helpful - here they are, in no particular order:

1. You can't be good at everything.
I heard Jim Calhoun say this at a clinic years ago. He said, "As a coach, pick out three things that you want to excel in, and focus on them. And your practices should reflect these three priorities. Another coach should be able to walk into your practices and be able to pick out those three things based upon what you're doing in practice."  Set priorities for your program and organize your practices to reflect your priorities. One of my favorite quotes: "We always find time for the things we put first." Decide what's important to and frame your practices around those priorities.

2. Coach both the "What" and the "Why"
Don't just tell your players "What" to do, tell them the "Why." Fundamentally, people "buy in" to the "Why" of anything, and if you take time to explain to your players the logic and reasoning behind your press or offensive philosophy, I believe your practices will be more fruitful.

3. Remember the 90-10 Rule
This comes from one of my mentors - Coach Dale Brown who always told me, "Be careful and not talk too much in practice - let them practice their skills 90% of the time and you talk only 10% of the time."  There's a difference between teaching and overcoaching.

4.  Have some part of practices stressful with consequences
Frankly, basketball is a game of performing under pressure and some segments of practice must be framed with pressure with resulting rewards for performing at a high level and consequences for poor performance.

5. Situational Segments
I learned the value of this from my Dad who, as a baseball coach, had us practice "situations" every day. Coaches cannot do all of the thinking for their players, nor make all of the pressure-packed decisions for their players - players have to think for themselves, and situational segments develop the confidence in players to where they believe they can make good decisions in games, because they have practiced similar situations in practice. Set up game-like situations on a regular basis and make them a routine - it will pay off!

6. Don't just work your starters together during situations
Shuffle your lineup during situations - late in the game, chances are, not all five of your starters will be in the game for one reason or another, so work situations with different lineups.

7. Make your players think for themselves and get themselves out of trouble  
In a loud gym in a meaningful game, your players won't be able to hear you "coach every dribble," so, especially in situational drills, keep your mouth shut and don't blow your whistle to correct every mistake. Instead, be quiet, and make your players work together to come up with a solution. Pat Riley says, "You must be a participant in your own rescue." Make them think - get themselves out of trouble - it will build their self-confidence and sense of teamwork.

8. Praise Extra Effort
If you want your players to play hard in games and give extra effort, you must praise and reward it on a daily basis in practice. As Don Meyer was fond of saying, "Your players will reproduce what you emphasize."  I encourage coaches, "Catch your players being good!"  Unfortunately, we all do a much better job catching them making mistakes. Let's balance that by intentionally praising extra effort. As you do this, that extra effort will be contagious.

9. Focus on You and Your Stuff
During the season, especially during Conference play, it's a great temptation to spend a disproportional amount of time on your opponent's offense and defense, out-of-bounds plays, etc.  The result - you neglect your stuff - your press break, your offensive sets, your defensive, then of course, on game day your execution suffers.

10.  Drills should relate to your offense and defense, and not just be "trendy" drills
As my Dad was fond of saying, "Know why you're doing, what you're doing." Practice time is too precious to waste, so don't just run drills that you saw at a clinic - run drills with a purpose. Utilize drills that have a direct correlation to your offensive and defensive schemes.

11. Understand there will be good practices and bad practices
Don't get overconfident and complacent when you have a good practice and everything clicks, and don't overreact and burn the gym down when you have a bad practice. The season is a grind and there is an ebb and flow to practices - you'll have some great ones, and from time to time your practices will, frankly, stink. A great coach knows that every day is a new day - build on the great practices, and flush the bad ones.

12. Practice doesn't happen in a vacuum
As much as we would like to have our players total focus and attention, we have to remember that they (and you) bring the sum of their entire day with them to practice. Develop relationships with your players so, hopefully, you can identify when one of them is having a bad day with issues maybe unrelated to basketball, but is affecting their performance.  It's also important to know yourself - if you're tired, on edge, etc., it can make you a miserable coach during practice.  I heard Coach K say one time, "When you are tired as a coach, you fall back into bad coaching habits."  So true!

13. Know When to Quit
Some days, your practices get bogged down and it's better to just shut down and call it a day! It's not your fault, it's not your players fault - as I said, the season is a grind, and there are times it's not going to be a productive day, so shut it down and re-group the next day. For sure, some days, when it gets bogged down, you have to push through and keep going, but that's where you must know your players and use good judgement. But, don't be afraid to know its time to send them home for today!

14. The Three Laws of Learning - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition 
Not every player “gets it” the first time or the tenth time, and if something is important, you must organize your practices where repetition of that skill ii systematic. You can’t teach skill development on a “every now and then” basis – if you want your players to learn something, you have to teach it over and over and over again! Repetition is the key to knowledge.

14. "See everything - overlook a great deal - correct a little" - Pope John XXIII 
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time and I had it written on every daily practice plan because I tended to "See everything - overlook nothing - correct everything."  I finally discovered that seeing every mistake and correcting it was counterproductive to what I was really wanting to develop in my players - individually and as a team. When I learned to relax and show some mercy, patience, and understanding, the entire atmosphere in practice improved and so much more was accomplished. I found a balance - I could still hold my players to a high standard of accountability, but I could do that with a lot less pressure on me and them!  We all enjoyed that so much more!