Monday, June 30, 2014
1. Saban took a chunk of his coaching philosophy from Bill Belichick thanks to the four years he spent as the Browns' defensive coordinator from 1991-94 before leaving to take the Michigan State job before the last of Belichick's five years in Cleveland.
"Y'all ran us both out of Ohio," Saban said with a laugh.
But Saban took a lot of Belichick with him.
"He defined everything in the organization. Everything," Saban said. "The standard for personnel, what kind of players we wanted, what he expected from the coaches, what he expected from the players on our team. Everything was defined, clearly defined. We had one sign in the building – 'Do Your Job.'"
2. Saban and Urban Meyer may be able to relate on this point. Alabama was the two-time defending national champion and 11-0 and No. 1 last season before finishing with two losses. Ohio State was 24-0 to start Meyer's career in Columbus before ending last season with two losses.
"I hate to say this, but sometimes a group needs to lose, they need to lose," Saban said. "They lose their respect for winning. And I love our team, I loved our team last year. It's not like we had a bad team, but compared to the championship teams, there was a little bit of complacency in terms of buying in. This year's team has a lot better chemistry. Whether we have the same talent or the talent at the right positions to be capable of that, I don't know.
"But losing the games helped everybody gain a perspective for winning and not taking things for granted and the importance of paying attention to detail. And maybe that's the only way you can learn."
3. "Mediocre people don't like high achievers. And high achievers have no tolerance for mediocre people. So if they're going to co-exist in your organization, you're going to fail. You're never going to have any team chemistry because they won't respect each other."
4. "We don't have a sign in our building – never have, never will – that says win championships. We don't have anything in our building that says win the SEC, win the national championship – never have, never have.
"We have a sign that says, 'Be a champion.' Everybody talks about there's no 'i' in team. But there is an 'i' in win. And that 'i' is for individual, because the individual makes your team what it is."
5. "When you raise the trophy up, when you win a championship, as soon as you put it down, you become the target for everybody else that competes against you."
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I remember a handwritten letter by a young man from New Jersey who wanted to learn our system and serve as a student manager. I was the head coach at Kentucky and returned his letter suggesting he would be better served to apply at schools in New Jersey. I informed him that UK was predominantly Kentuckians and he might feel like a duck out of water. I suggested that he look at Seton Hall or some of the other programs in the Northeast. He was not deterred and wrote back that he wanted to study our style of play. I agreed and Frank Vogel was hired as one of ten people who would aid our team on the periphery. Like most student managers, he worked diligently to do all the grunt work with very little recognition, only earning increased financial aid with more time served in the program. This young man was a true student of the game, a good high school player who wanted to learn all facets of our profession. After graduation he became a graduate assistant helping with our video and scouting operation. When I moved on to become coach of the Boston Celtics, he came along as video coordinator. After my departure he stayed on and helped my assistant Jim O’Brien when he took over as head coach of the Celtics. Of course, today Frank is the highly successful coach of the Indiana Pacers. Frank had energy and drive. His strong ambition helped him achieve a level of success that I never could have imagined when I was reading that initial letter. Through hard work, and given just a crack at an opportunity, he crossed that bridge with so many of the managers and assistant coaches I’ve had whose dream was to learn and one day run their own program.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
I watched a great number of games on the College World Series. I have become of big fan of Vanderbilt's baseball coach Tim Corbin through Don Meyer. I love studying coaches that have a passion to teach and care about their players. The following our excerpts of an interview with Vanderbilt's baseball coach Tim Corbin. Interestingly it was written in 2011 by Margaret Reynolds for BreakthroughMasters.com. You can read the entire interview here. I say interestingly because I think it gives great insight in to what Coach Corbin's philosophy is in some key areas that has culminated with a National Championship last night. I have added a few thoughts in bold/italics.
What some coaches don't realize and what most players fail to see is how early the process starts in developing a championship culture. Fans see the game winning home run, the buzzer beating jump shot, or the last second field goal in a championship game and think that is the defining moment. Championship cultures are created long before the championship is won and Coach Corbin addressed that here:
I think that the key to success of where we are right now and how we got to Omaha stems from an event that happened back to 2003. I mentioned this to the kids last fall. I was trying to explain to them how I thought that they were in the position to win a National Championship. I think it stems from a home run that was hit by this young man named Worth Scott in 2003 that sent us to the SEC tournament. Why that was so big was that Vanderbilt had not been to the SEC Tournament in 11 years. Why that moment was so big is that it gave our program a ton of confidence and propelled us to a Super Regional the next year. Why that was big was when we went to that Super Regional in 2004, just our second year in the program, it gave us a major lift in recruiting. Because of the recruiting it propelled us two, three, four years forward into the situation that we were in last year. I think the reason we were in that situation last year is because we put together a lot of very nice freshman, sophomore players that played a lot early in their career and we felt we could take this group of guys and develop a championship team with them. Then from there, we really tried to continue that type of thought process. Once we got a good group of kids together, we came back year, by year, by year improving both mentally and physically. We talk a lot about rehearsing victory and in a way each year was a rehearsal for the next. Once we knocked down one door, we went for the next one. The door to Omaha had been opened long ago; we just finally blew through it.
Some coaches want to pretend that great teams are egoless. I've certainly never been involved with one. The key is how to channel those egos to perform towards team goals as Coach Corbin talks about:
Being self centered is a good thing from that fact that you have to be self centered, selfish and driven in order to be a very successful player. That is a truism for a lot of players. What you have to do is take that selfish part and intertwine it into the team. That internal strength and confidence could either be a hindrance to what we want to do or it could be productive, enabling us to be stronger as a group.
Here is a great excerpt with Coach Corbin talking about molding a team and developing roles and more importantly, making each role important:
The part that has to be taught is how you can take each individual, with their strengths, and bring them into one group, especially knowing there are 35 of them but only about a third of them are going to have an opportunity to show their skill on the field at any one time. The other part of that is making sure the kids that don’t get to play on a day to day basis feel like their function is worthy, that they have some self worth and what they do is just as important as anyone else on the team. I think that is the puzzle that a coach has to work through when he is trying to put a team together. It isn’t very different in some ways than the military. You take people from all different experiences, backgrounds and skill levels, and throw them into one group of people—whether that is the Army or the Navy for example—and mesh them into one core group working towards one goal. It is the part of college athletics that can take the most time if you let it go and leave it to chance; chances are it could take your team over. I think through good leadership, you can teach that. The desire or willingness to do it is often innate. We teach it and talk about it every day. We get the kids to move in that direction where they think, ok, it is important for us to drop some of the things that we want to do and ingrain ourselves into the team. It is a very difficult thing to do in order to get it just the way you want it and in order for a team to be very successful like this one was.
This is something that I've heard Duke's Mike Krzyzewski talk about. He once was asked about "repeating" as National Champions and Coach K explained that it is impossible to "repeat." Each team, each season is unique and you must realize this to coach them properly as Coach Corbin shares:
Next year’s team will be a different team than last year. It will have its own personality. It is like children; they are each different. This particular team will be a different child and have its own personality. That is good. It will have its own path. It will be as successful as it wants to be. I think the thing that is left for us is to try to get back to the College World Series again, try to win a National Championship, try to become that team that does everything at a high level. I think the experience we just had as a group will help us. It will give us visual pictures and feelings of what is possible when 35 people and a support staff jump in the middle of something and hold hands and won’t let go for an entire year. There are a lot of great things that can happen so I am looking forward to doing that with this group. I don’t know what the expectations will be of us. I tell the kids “expectations of others never matter; our expectation within our own group is what matters most. We are going to achieve exactly what we think and what we see we are going to achieve.” If we don’t see it, or talk about it and move toward it, then nothing is going to be achieved with this group. I look forward to moving a step forward from what we did this last year.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
1. Closeouts and Individual Defense
2. Transition Defense
3. Pick and Roll
4. Post Up Defense
5. Catch & Shoot
7. Scramble/Disadvantage Situations
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
H. A. Dorfman
Monday, June 16, 2014
1. Have a great transition from offense to defense. Don't give up fast breaks with quick, easy, offensive shots. Make the opponent score five-on-five against a set defense most of the time, not two-on-one or three-on-two.
2. Push the ball to a sideline in order to establish a good weakside defense as early possible. A good weakside helps fortify the entry side, puts them in positions to attack penetration, and makes better defenders out of the players on the strong side.
3. Keep the ball from reversing easily from side to side. To allow the ball to swing easily creates defensive problems for the weakside people, preventing them from giving adequate help angles.
4. Concentrate on stopping penetration via the dribble and pass. Setting the defense early helps accommodate this.
5. Prevent a consistent low post attack. Do early work to prevent good positioning inside; challenge cutters and post up people. If the ball does get to a good position inside, it is vital to have a system of attack in terms of helping, trapping and rotating to reduce the damage.
6. Rotate to assist a teammate who has gotten into trouble by getting beat on a drive, cut, post-up or by losing a man.
7. Rebound and pick up loose balls.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I was fascinated by an article in Inc. titled "100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask." The magazine asked some of the leading CEOs and leaders around the nation what should we be asking of ourselves to grow and improve. It really got me to thinking. In fact, I've created a list for coaches that I will share tomorrow. But for today, here are a few of the questions from the article that resonated with me. You can catch all 100 here.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
-Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers General Manager
Friday, June 13, 2014
Fast forward to a few weekends ago when I traveled to Nashville for Coach Meyer's Memorial Service at Lipscomb where I ran into Coach Patterson. Those that know coaching and teaching know Coach Patterson. Bob Knight once called him the best coach in the state of Indiana -- while Knight was coaching the Hoosiers. After the service we were talking and Bret's name came up. Coach Patterson told me he had wrote something amazing. He went on to tell me that Brad Stevens had actually read it to his Boston Celtics team.
I asked Coach Patterson to send me a copy which he did. He was right -- it's amazing. I then reached out to Bret to ask his permission to put it on our blog and he was glad to share. He's one of us coaches that want to share and help. In fact, his newest venture is developing a program to help athletes/coaches separate who they are from performance in competition and overflow excellence. You can find out more about that at: http://championshift.com/.
It's a bit lengthy but well worth the read. As did Coach Stevens with the Celtics, we are going to share this with our team as well.
I believe in the value and place of an academic education, but it doesn’t compare to the real life, applicable lessons that are taught through athletics and competition. The trick is you have to be paying attention to learn. Before learning anything most guys will get their butts kicked everyday and blame it on someone else or on circumstances out of their control. At some point they will get tired of losing and take ownership of the results. Then they get serious about what they are doing and start paying attention. That’s when competition reveals life and spiritual lessons that are taught in a way unique to any other avenue.