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Friday, November 28, 2014

PRESS THOUGHTS FROM BILLY DONOVAN

Teaching Point: On inbounds denial- we are always going to have our hands up in the air.
·         “Show the official our hands.”
·         Do not foul in the press
·         Don’t want to get beat over the top or to the middle
·         Ball Defense-pressure: linebacker blitzing the quarterback
·         Pressing is hard to coach because you are giving up freedom
·         We do not want to allow offense to clear us out and bring the ball up.
·         Do not influence the side line

Trap:
·         Short choppy steps-“close down the trap”
·         Don’t allow “step thru”
·         Back tip: don’t lunge… run through the ball… tip with inside hand
·         “Trap on the ball, steal off the ball”
·         When do you trap the first pass
    o   Ball inbounded small side, below the block
    o   “Coffin corner”
·         What we do in regard to full court press is based on who takes the ball out of bounds
·         May not turn them over but want constant pressure-goal is to be disruptive

Unsuccessful Press:
1.       Foul
2.       Give up lay-up
3.       Or an open 3

·         Inbounder defends goal-don’t let ball get inbounds
·         Level of commitment if you want to press
·         Steal: pass quickly cause defense will converge
·         On trap on the side- all 5 defenders must be on ball side of court
·         Stunt vs. shaky ball handler-“we want him to handle.”
·         It’s the duration of constantly pressing that makes it effective
·         Passing teams take away preparation time from their opponents because they    
           spend extra time on press offense

Thursday, November 27, 2014

LONG-TERM PREPARATION

I absolutely love this story from "Leadership Gold" by John Maxwell.  It speaks to the importance of preparation.  Not just preparation of studying for an exam the night before or prep work the week leading up to a game.  But the years of training -- the lifetime of grind -- all to prepare for a single moment in which you may or may not know when it arrives.  Here is the story shared by Maxwell:

As a small private jet approached the runway, we were celebrating the success of the week. Then, in a moment, everything changed. The plane was hit by a wind shear and dropped straight down to the runway, the wheels hitting out of balance. All conversation stopped and our eyes widened as we realized we were in danger. The pilot, without hesitation, pushed the throttle and launched the plane back into the air. In a split second we went from celebration to sober reflection. We all realized that could have been it! We sat quietly as the plane circled the airfield, and a few minutes later we landed safely.

We all applauded and now began to relax and breathe. As we got off the plane, we thanked the captain for keeping us safe. I said to him, “That was a close call. You responded so quickly to the crisis. When did you make the decision to put the plane back into the air?”

His reply amazed me: “Fifteen years ago.”

He went on to explain how as a young pilot in training, he decided in advance what decision he would make for every possible air problem. “The choice was made long before the crisis,” he said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE COACHING STAFF: TEACHING AND LEARNING TOGETHER

There was an article earlier this week on The Bleacher Report written by Lars Anderson on Coach Nick Saban and his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.  While you can read the lengthy article here in it's entirety, here are a few of my take aways (my comments in bold/italics):

There is no current collegiate football coach more successful than Nick Saban yet after a single loss he spent time in the off-season looking for ways to improve -- ways that included change.
The head coach felt like he had to do something. After Alabama was stuffed on two 4th-and-short plays in the fourth quarter of last year's Iron Bowl against Auburn—a game that Alabama would lose 34-28—Nick Saban decided he needed to revamp his offense. Without telling his staff, Saban invited recently fired Lane Kiffin to Tuscaloosa for eight days last December to "brainstorm" and analyze the Tide's offense, especially its weaknesses.

The best coaches don't just develop their players, they develop all those in their program including their assistants.
"I want to be learning and growing. Coach Saban teaches his coaches every day."  -Lane Kiffin

Benjamin Disraeli once said that "The secret to success is constancy to purpose."  From my time at LSU, Coach Saban's laser-like focus was legendary.
"In all my time with Nick, I think we only had one conversation that wasn't about football. He's the most focused, driven person I've ever met."  -Lane Kiffin

The best coaches have given great thought and detail to all aspects of their program.  And many put it in writing.
Kiffin is learning Saban's template for running a program and literally reading Saban's book on winning, a nearly 200-page, bound document in which Saban details every aspect of running a program, from proper sleeping habits for players to nutrition and motivation. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

GOAL #1: WORK TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT -- NO MATTER THE WEATHER

Yesterday, my friend and colleague Robert Mosley (assistant coach at the University of Georgia) post one of my favorite quotes:

 "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
-John F. Kennedy

We actually shared it with our team yesterday -- thanks Coach Mosely!  We talked to them about what it meant.  We are coming off of three wins in the Maggie Dixon Classic.  By most standards it was a good weekend -- the sun is shining.  But we need some roof repair.  We had too many turnovers and didn't get the job done on the defensive boards.  Our level of execution needs to improve in a lot of areas.  We could sit happy with our 3-0 record or we can be process oriented and climb up on the roof and get to work.

As Coach Don Meyer would say, "Whatever you accept in victory, you must also accept in defeat."  The score can not be the only indicator in our level of play.

A similar concept comes from Lon Kruger: "Prepare for every game like your lost your last game."

It truly is amazing how often we wait for rain to expose the leaks.

The other element is that the best teams are looking to always improve.  The opponent or time of the year has nothing to with that goal -- which should be your ultimate goal.

Most people think Nick Saban's team is preparing for Western Carolina.  Coach Saban is working to improve his team.

Here are some quotes from his press conference yesterday:

"I think the most important thing to do at this time of year is everybody stay focused on what they've got to do. Focus is like momentum. When you lose momentum in the game, it's really hard to get back. So if you don't stay focused on what you need to do to get better, it's not about the other team, it's about what we need to do as a team."

"Are you going to get better that way or not? Taking advantage of the opportunity that you have is much bigger than that. I need to play better. I need to improve. I need to help my teammates play better. We didn't execute these plays properly. We need to start getting these plays right. We've got to do a better job, whether it's covering, blocking, carrying out fakes, catching balls, whatever it is.

"The major thing for me is stay focused on what you need to do to improve, so you take advantage of the opportunity. And that's for every player."

You can see video of this portion of Coach Saban's press conference here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

COACH AURIEMMA ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICE

Following in an excerpt from an article on Geno Auriemma and his love for practice.  Have you have known a successful coach that has not loved practice?  I've never seen a Geno run practice but after playing against him about a half of dozen times and watching tons of scouting video I can imagine it is a thing of beauty -- part-method and whole-method with great attention to detail.

His thoughts below on practice are outstanding but you can read the entire article written by John Altavilla here:

When you win as often as Geno Auriemma has in his first 29 seasons at UConn – and let’s face it, a winning percentage of 86.9 percent constitutes a trend - you would think game day might be the favorite time of his day.

That would be incorrect. Auriemma loves practice. He loves to plan them and run. He loves his whistle. And he especially loves to extend practice when he doesn’t see what he expects.

And this year, his 30th at UConn, has not witnessed any diminishment in that enjoyment. But it has been different.

“Every day at practice [last season] was easy because the players on last year’s team never had a bad day,” Auriemma said. “But hey, as has been the case for 30 years, every year there’s a new team and something new to deal with.”

“Anyone who accomplishes great things does it because they want to,” he says. “Anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t because they also want to.

“There are kids who say, ‘Well, when you need me I will be there and if you don’t need me, I don’t need to be there [be ready].’ That’s selling yourself short a little. You should strive to prove that you should start ahead of someone else or play more minutes than someone else. It’s about coming out every day and sustaining [performance].

“If you go to practice for a week and you have two really good ones and five mediocre ones you are probably a mediocre player. If have five really good days and two bad ones, you are probably a really good player.

“Kids need to understand that it’s here [practice] where you learn to be a good player. I don’t want to hear anymore of this crap about how some guys are game players, not good practice players.

“I’ve never met anyone that was a great game player who didn’t have tremendous work ethic and practice habits. The challenge for everyone, at least those who come here, is learning how to practice with such consistency that you know you are going to perform consistently when you go into a game.”

TOUGH TEACHERS

The following is an excerpt that ran in the Harvard Business Review.  It is a review of a book "Strings Attached" written by Joanne Lipman & Melanie Kupchynsky.  The book is about the importance of tough love and how are best teachers in life have been the toughest.  Here is part of the article below -- you can read it in it's entirety here:
     
1. Banish empty praise.
Mr. K never gave us false praise, and never even used words like “talent.” When he uttered a “not bad” – his highest compliment — we’d dance down the street and then run home and practice twice as long.

It turns out he was on to something.  Harvard Business Review readers will recall the landmark 2007 article written by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, “The Making of an Expert.”  That piece is most often cited for his pioneering work establishing that true expertise requires about 10,000 hours of practice.

But Ericsson also cited two other elements, both of which Mr. K seemed to know intuitively. One is “deliberate practice,” which requires pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, as opposed to going through the motions.  The other, as Ericsson wrote, is this : True expertise “requires coaches who are capable of giving constructive, even painful, feedback.” And “real experts … deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who could challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance.”

2. Set expectations high.
There’s a tendency to step in when a less experienced colleague is having trouble. Sometimes it seems it’s just easier to do the work yourself. Or to settle for less.

Not in Mr. K’s world.  His standards were uncompromising – and while at first we students found that intimidating, we ultimately understood it was a sign of his confidence in us.  He never wavered in his faith in his students to achieve more and better.  When he first began teaching me the viola, his most frequent admonition was “AGAIN!” most often marked in capital letters on my lesson assignments. But his students knew that he was hard on us not because we’d never learn, but because he was so absolutely certain that we would.

3. Articulate clear goals -and goal posts along the way.
Mr. K insisted that his students audition and perform constantly. He constantly kept us focused on the next challenge.  How would we prepare, and what would we do to improve the next time?  By articulating these intermediate goals, he encouraged us to continually stretch our abilities a bit further while reaching for objectives that were challenging, but ultimately achievable.

4. Failure isn’t defeat.
Mr. K never penalized us for failure. Sometimes we succeeded at auditions; sometimes we failed. But Mr. K made it clear that that failure was simply part of the process – not an end point, but simply an opportunity for us to learn how to improve the next time. And he transferred responsibility for figuring out the solution to the student. His favorite saying wasn’t “Listen to me!” It was, instead, “Discipline yourself!”

Years later, his former students – now doctors, lawyers and business executives – would credit that approach for instilling self-motivation.  As one of his former students told me, “He taught us how to fail – and how to pick ourselves back up again.”

5. Say thank you.
This is the one we often forget. My old teacher had witnessed unspeakable horrors as a child growing up in Ukraine amid bloodshed and destruction during World War II.  He didn’t reach the U.S. until after the war, as a 19-year-old who spoke no English and had never had the opportunity to learn to read music despite his passion for it.  He never lost his sense of gratitude to this country for the opportunities he had, despite a catalog of horrors in his own life, including the disappearance of one of his beloved daughters.  He passed that gratitude on to us, with a huge heart, empathy for the underdog, and a commitment to public service, taking us frequently to perform at hospitals and nursing homes and then insisting we stay to visit with the patients.

Friday, November 7, 2014

JOHN MAXWELL'S DAILY DOZEN

The following comes from "Be All You Can Be," by John Maxwell:

Examine your life at the moment. The first step toward making your dream come true is to find out where you are right now. That takes close scrutiny.

Exchange all of your little options for one big dream. Every dream has its price.

Expose yourself to successful people. It is true that birds of a feather flock together. Express your belief in your dream. Write it down or talk about it frequently.

Expect opposition to your dream. Every nitpicker who doesn’t have a dream will oppose yours. Regretfully, there are ten nitpickers for every person with a dream. You will never rid yourself of them. As long as you understand that, you won’t let them hinder you. Remember that those who have no dream cannot see yours, so to them it is impossible. You can’t have what you can’t see.

Exercise all of your effort, all of your energy, toward the dream. It’s worth it. Pay that price.

Extract every positive principle that you can from life. Constantly be on the lookout for anything that will enhance that dream.

Exclude negative thinkers as close friends. You’re going to have some friends who are negative thinkers, and no doubt some are members of your family. But if the negative thinking drags you down, which it will, you don’t need to spend much time with them. There are people in my family and in my wife’s family who are spirit-dampeners. We have chosen, for the sake of our kids as well as ourselves, not to spend a lot of time with them. You may need to put some distance between yourself and your negative thinking friends.

Exceed normal expectations to make your dream come true. If you’re to reach your dream, you’ll have to do that which is beyond the normal. Dreams are not achieved by average energy.

Exhibit an attitude that is confident. I believe that if you are outwardly confident, you will become more confident inwardly. The way we act outwardly affects what we are inwardly.

Explore every possible avenue to reach your dream. Don’t let any detour or dead-end street stop you on your way to a dream God has given you. There are more routes up a mountain than just the east side. Go around to the south side. See what else you can do.

Extend a helping hand to someone who had a similar dream, and both of you will climb together. Mountain climbing is not an individual sport. It’s a team sport. One holds the line for the other. As we hold the lines for others, we can all make it to the top, and our dreams can come true.

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Here's some really great stuff from Mitch Cole of the Texas A&M men's basketball staff.  Mitch puts out an outstanding email newsletter and if you haven't signed up for it your missing out.  Email Mitch and request to be on the list and you will regularly get stuff that will help your program.  Here is some of what's in this week's edition:

As I gathered some notes from various clinics, conversations and roundtable discussions this off-season, I wanted to pass on a few random phrases and thoughts that I jotted down as I heard them from different coaches, leaders, and basketball people during the past few months. I thought you might find some of them interesting:


ON LEADING A PROGRAM:

-Fight for your culture everyday.

-Be "relentlessly self critical" as a leader.

-in the off-season, teach the players: 1. How to work 2. How to love one another.

-Most leaders vastly UNDER-communicate their vision.
 

ADVICE FOR COACHES:

-Establish key roles for players that don’t revolve around scoring.

-Coaching is taking a player where he can’t take himself.

-Embrace the other coaches in your department.

-The best coaches continue to learn.

 
ON DEFENSE:

-“I’ve never heard a coach say “hey, you need to dribble more”. Therefore, we want to deny all passes to make the other team dribble more!”

-If you are a help team, the HELP cannot get beat.

-Have your "nose on his top hip" when guarding the wing.

-Always convert on any steal in practice.

-Pressing coaches need to have “amnesia.” You might give up a layup, but forget about it.

-Always Chart contested shots and deflections.

-Use more film, less drills.

 
ON OFFENSE:

-Shot selection is a HUGE factor in offensive rebounding.
 
-Goal is to get 45% of misses back vs Zone Defense.

-2 things that will not be tolerated: 1. Lazy cuts 2. No effort on offensive glass.

-Work on pivoting to finish, and pivoting to pass.

 
ON EVALUATING PLAYERS:

-Need on court and off court selflessness.

-Need players I don’t have to rev up every day. Motor!

-Can he guard his position? More than one position?

-Does he have a realistic view of himself?

-How does he handle adversity?

 
ON DEALING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA:

-Players are now concerned with THEIR BRAND more than their game.

-Confront the disillusionment of a player’s ego.

-Social Media is a privilege. Your BRAND is not bigger than OUR BRAND.

-Most players are not equipped to handle it. If you like taking compliments, you better be ok with taking criticism.