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Monday, April 1, 2013

COACH PITINO AND THE LOUISIVILLE CARDINALS LOVE FOR DEFLECTIONS

Here are some excellent excerpts in article by Pat Forde on Coach Rick Pitino and his method of charting deflections.  This is only a portion of the article and it is very much worth clicking here to read it all:

Mike Marra's playing career at Louisville ended last September, when he blew out his knee for the second time in two seasons. But his contribution to the program is perhaps more vital now than when he was a spot shooter off the bench.

A student assistant coach, Marra is in charge of charting Rick Pitino's most cherished statistic: deflections. Every time a Cardinal tangibly impedes the other team's offense – by tipping a pass, blocking a shot, making a steal, swatting a dribble or grabbing a loose ball – Marra dutifully credits that player with a deflection.
 
This is the hustle meter the 60-year-old Pitino created half a lifetime ago, as the young head coach at Boston University. He took it with him to the NBA, then back to college, then back to the pros, and back to college again. As the game has evolved and changed in countless ways, dedication to deflections has never changed with Pitino.
 
Deflection totals provide the objective data that answers a subjective question: How hard are you playing?
 
The higher the deflection totals, the more active the defense. The more active the defense, the harder the team is playing.
 
And if there is one hallmark of Pitino-coached teams, it is an almost religious fervor for maximum hustle. They simply never relent, as Sweet 16 opponent Oregon will be the latest to learn Friday night in Indianapolis. There is a beauty to their consistent work ethic, and deflections are the most basic building block of that hard-work culture.
 
"I can't say enough about Coach Pitino and how he gets his guys to play for 40 minutes," said Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy last Saturday in Lexington, after his Rams were run over by Louisville 82-56. "As impressive as I've ever seen. … That is extremely hard to get your players to do and a tribute to the players."

As the designated documenter of deflections, Marra is given a prime seat near Pitino at every game – because when the manic coach wheels around in-game barking for information, woe unto the assistant who is not prepared with an answer.

At every timeout, Marra's clipboard is handed to Pitino before the Cardinals reach the huddle. There is other statistical information on the board – mostly shooting percentages and rebounds – but the numbers at the top are deflections. There is a total for the team and a player-by-player tally.

"It's telling you how much effort your team is putting out on the defensive end," Masiello said.

The goal for every game is 17 to 22 deflections by halftime and 35 at the end of the game. Deflection totals are written on the locker room whiteboard at halftime of every game, and sometimes are a barometer for how playing time will be apportioned in the second half.
 
The postgame numbers are put on the board as well, and often are the first thing Pitino comments on. That's the public record for players to gauge their effort. Later on, Pitino will review the film and personally make sure the deflection totals are accurate.

When the numbers were good, the players heard about that as well. Masiello recalls games four years ago where future NBA player Terrence Williams would have a triple-double: points, rebounds and deflections. You can guess which stat mattered most to the head coach.

"He would make a bigger deal about the deflections," Masiello said.

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