The great ones are intentional and deliberate in the approach to work and improvement. Listening to Mike Dunlap at a coaching clinic a month ago he talked about a big key in Steph Curry's success is hit ability to create space -- before and after the catch -- to get his shot off. This is not an accident.
There was an outstanding article on SI.com’s written by Rob Mahoney. It a lengthy, well-written article and should be printed and passed out to your players -- you can read it in its entirety here.
For now, here are a few take aways starting with the price paid on the college level under the tutelage of his college coach:
Stephen Curry saw the white flag wave. It danced before him in a taunt as he went bullied and beaten, made to second-guess himself as he never had before. The wispy guard was put through the wringer in one-on-one workouts against bigger, stronger, more experienced players lined up one after another by Davidson coach Bob McKillop. This was Curry’s first day and McKillop intended to test the freshman’s mettle.
“I was tired and kind of frustrated and he came out and waved this white towel in my face,” Curry said. “He kept saying, over and over again: 'You wanna surrender, don't you? You wanna surrender? Go ahead, surrender.’”
Curry played on but never triumphed. Instead, he endured just as McKillop hoped he might—standing up, again and again, to be humbled.
Mahoney also writes of Curry’s growth from the standpoint of understanding shot selection:
“The biggest thing for me was the coaching aspect of understanding the balance between taking chances or making the simple play,” Curry said. “When to force the issue and when not to and understanding that dynamic of what happens on the court. I can go out and not be afraid to make mistakes, to turn the ball over every once in awhile if you're trying to make a pass through a tight window or something like that. But over the course of the game, you've got to make smart decisions and then use whatever footwork, whatever coordination to get the ball from point A to point B.”
The key? Curry’s relentless work ethic. We talk about game shots at game spots at game speed — Curry takes it to another level. Writes Mahoney:
"We do a warm-up drill every day that we practice where we literally work on just pivoting, stepping through, and pick-and-roll footwork. Just break it down, step by step. Those things happen so many times in a game that you might take it for granted—just the coordination it takes to be explosive in certain situations on the floor.
So we work on that in practice. Outside of that, I just kind of work on footwork in moves that I normally will make in a game, whether it's dribble moves into shots or the footwork coming off a screen, things like that. You drill that while you're getting shots up so that you'll obviously be efficient and make your workouts tough. But staying on top of that simple fundamental makes you a little bit faster, a little bit more creative, a little bit more efficient on the floor."
“With the stuff he does, he challenges himself to get less rhythm and use harder cuts and more speed,” said Warriors assistant Bruce Fraser. “He's always constantly pushing himself to make shots challenging so that when he gets in the game he's done that a lot.”
Mahoney also points out that not only Curry coachable, but he wants to be coached and coached hard:
“I respond best when a coach is able to get on me where he's raising his voice, yelling and whatever, because he expects greatness from me—especially when I'm not performing the way I'm supposed to,” Curry said. “I like to have, obviously, a mutual respect, and a guy who can be as consistent as possible with his message. But if I need to be yelled at and refocused, I'm open to that and I usually respond well.”