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Monday, June 12, 2017


I'm a big fan of Ron Adams -- have been for over 30 years.  Back in the mid 1980's as a men's assistant coach at West Virginia State College, we began putting together a 2-3 match-up that we wanted to play to accompany our man defense.  I reached out to several people but no one responded to the level of Ron who at the time was at Fresno State.  I wrote Ron and told him what we were looking to do and he returned with a three page letter accompanied by 6 pages of diagrams and explanations.  We exchanged several more letters and diagrams before we settled on how we wanted to defend out the match-up.  It was highly successful for us in large part because Ron cared enough to help a coach he'd never met.

The follow are a few take aways from a lengthy article written about Ron -- please take the time to read the entire article as it does a tremendous job of portraying the type of coach Ron is and the impact he has had at every one of his coaching stops.

“You have to like people,” Adams said. “I think that's at the forefront. And it's more than like—you have to really enjoy diversity, enjoy the relationships that you have to have to be successful at this level.”

“Coaching is, at the core, teaching,” Adams said. “Then when you're discussing, when you're looking at this whole aspect of teaching with younger peo– people younger than you, then the whole relational aspect comes into play. I still have a lot of college, or college coaching in me, or college mentality in me simply because at the core, the guys know no matter how great they are, or what they do at this level, they're people. They're just like you and me. And they're fun and they have their idiosyncrasies and they have their various paranoia, paranoias about different things and so on. I'm just kind of like now an old uncle trying to, to direct people and teach them and help them. I really love that. I think that's a very enjoyable part of what I do.”

“I think a lot of people don't really have a philosophy of play,” Adams said. “I think they copy people and so on and then you have other people who are, perhaps, more nuanced in that way, who have real philosophies of play that they have thought through. We all borrow from everyone. It's not like anyone comes up with some original plan on how to play or whatever but I think you have to be really open-minded but have a real philosophy of operation, which any successful person in any area has to have.”

“Well, if you're a teacher like I have been, a teacher of movement—you know, you teach movement, you teach balance, you teach rhythm, it's the really small things that contribute to success,” Adams said. “Everyone does not look at it that way anymore. It's kinda more of a general, general way of looking at movement. And then others are still quite precise in terms of the small things. It's just this building block. I could watch the game film last, with you, last night, and I would say every critical juncture in that game in which we kind of frittered away a lead, let's say, and when we built leads, were all fundamental more than schematically based.”

“Defensively, obviously we're all connected,” Adams said. “What one person does, everyone else has to adjust to. When one person moves, in the best of worlds everyone moves. It doesn't always happen. It's what we strive for. I think defensively, through this, this aspect of connectedness, this concept of connectedness, it's very altruistic. We do something for someone else that's not glamorous. Offense is glamorous. Offense is—except to the purists—offense is notable, to the public. Defense is kind of what all of us have to do in life to not only live good lives, but to make other people's lives better. I think it's a giving thing. Coach Grant—it came back to Coach Grant at Fresno State use to have a saying that he'd tell the guys that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are givers and there are takers. So we had a really strong defensive program then. And defense is giving. So, like, if you want to take it to the next step, it's kind of how we have to live, you know? The thing that I've always liked about basketball, and this whole aspect of connectedness is—I've loved coaching the international athletes. And I've loved my international experiences and I've had quite a few. I think I love it because of the freshness of the people. Their mindset. It's different from mine. I learn from them. Their healthy, I think in many ways, their healthy naiveté of how they look at life from a different culture – and I've lived internationally for a bit, not for very long but I sensed that there and it was a great—I learned a lot from it, I'll say it that way. But I loved the connectedness on these teams. Not talking defense now, just these strange, these different people who come together. Yes, basketball is the thread that runs through everyone. The reason they're there, obviously. But it's more than that. It's the, it's the rubbing shoulders with people who are different from you. And many times, for the international athlete it's rubbing shoulders with someone who is very different from them, and it's a two-way street. It's just adjustment. That, to me, has been really gratifying to see and to be a part of. Which, again, transcends sport and is a lesson for all of us in terms of how I think we're gonna have to live. We're going through a bit of a tough time in that regard in our country but we're – that's how we're gonna have to live. We're all the same. Might look a little different. Might be a different color. Might have a different accent. Might be different socio-economically. But it doesn't make us better than anyone else and I think that's, you know, we have this commonality that we have to develop. I think sport is so great for that.”

“The goal I set for myself at this age is to not, as I age, to not become a negative, bitter old man,” Adams said. “And to have joy in my heart. I made a—especially this year, I made a vow to myself that every day I wanted to go to work with joy in my heart.”


The following is a few excerpts from an article on about "glue guys" and how they can have such a huge impact on a team. The story, written by Jackie McMullen spends some time on Channing Frye and the Cleveland Cavaliers but also speaks to other glue guys.  The entire article can be found here and is worth the read.  It will be something we'll share with our team but here are a few of my take aways:

The Cavaliers group text chain is aptly named BORED. Channing Frye's nimble mind requires constant stimulation, so he instituted BORED shortly after he joined Cleveland in February 2016, contacting the entire roster and encouraging all of his new teammates to share random thoughts.

Last week's BORED text chain, on the eve of the NBA Finals, tackled the burning question of which muscle man is the most iconic.

"The Rock or Arnold Schwarzenegger?" Frye texted. "I'll take The Rock."

The rebukes were fast and furious. LeBron James and Kevin Love, fervent Schwarzenegger backers, immediately fired back with a slew of insults directed at Frye.

"They were killing me," Frye said, grinning. "So let them have a little fun at my expense. It gives them common ground.

"And that's good."

Just days before the NBA trade deadline in February 2016, James got word that the Cavaliers planned to swap one of his favorite teammates, Anderson Varejao, to acquire Frye. Though Varejao had played sparingly that season, James had concerns about losing such a positive locker room presence.

"Hey, RJ," James asked Jefferson. "What about Channing Frye? How's he going to fit with us?"

"Man, you are gonna love him," Jefferson said. "He will bring us all closer. You'll see."

"That," James says now, "was all I needed to hear."

McMullen makes an excellent point on the variety of glue guys:

Glue guys take on many forms. Sometimes they are the best players, redoubtable both in performance and preparation (see: Tim Duncan). Sometimes, more than one player cements team chemistry. The 2015 Warriors, for instance, relied on the whimsical lightness of Leandro Barbosa to infuse the team with energy and play the role of the Draymond Green whisperer. Golden State also leaned on the experience of Andre Iguodala, who, when situations called for a little more gravity, exhibited an invaluable edge.

More often, though, glue guys are the veterans who have been there and done that, imparting their wisdom, toughness or positivity to a team.

James Posey cemented his status as the glue guy of the 2008 Celtics when, during the team's preseason trip to Rome, the players were scrimmaging in a tiny gym and the second unit scored a string of baskets. Kevin Garnett, Posey says, cheated the second-teamers out of a point and declared the starting five the winners. Posey called him out and wound up chest to chest with Garnett. "I don't care how good you are," Posey growled, "you have to be accountable like the rest of us."

"It was the moment," says former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, "that set the tone for the entire season."


The following comes from an article written by Ryan Hannable for and speaks strongly to how much Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick believes in process oriented thinking:

Belichick, who has won five Super Bowls and is considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time, was asked what are some other things he would like to accomplish?

“I'd like to go out and have a good practice today,” he said. “That would be at the top of the list right now.”

What’s after that?

“We'll correct it and get ready for tomorrow,” he added.

Although it’s just minicamp, Belichick was already in midseason form with his response by not wanting to reflect on anything, and showing how focused he is on the task at hand, which is minicamp.


We shared the following post on our HoopBoost blog for players but thought we'd share with our coaches as well.

One of the most important elements to your practice, especially when you are working without your coaches, is that it is both deliberate and intentional.  In other words, don't just pick up a basketball and start shooting.  What shot are you working on?  What move are you trying to develop?

Make sure you are concentrating on the elements of execution and going at a pace and speed that will translate to success on the court.  We had Kevin Eastman speak to our team last season and he told some stories on Kobe Bryant and the "intentionality of his workouts."

Eastman had been told that Kobe might go to the gym and spend two or three hours working on one move -- ONE MOVE!  

When Eastman ran into Kobe they talked about that and he asked Kobe, "How long do you work on a particular move?"

To which Kobe replied, "Until."

That's the mentality of a professional and a great player.  They don't get bored with the repetition of developing their skill.

They work "until."

This reminded me of past post on the same subject.

One of my original mentors in the game of basketball is Marianne Stanley.  During my early years of coaching I worked her summer basketball camps at Old Dominion.  In fact, I was good for two weeks for about nine years in Norfolk.  Marianne ran a great camp -- it was a teaching camp -- because she is first and foremost a teacher.  She is one of the greats of our profession that have fought to get our game where it is now.  That's why Sunday was such a special day as she came by to observe our practice.  Marianne is currently an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics and is doing her homework for the upcoming draft. 

She took the time to talk to our team about elements that go into taking your game to the next level and the word that came to the forefront is passion.  You have to be passionate about your profession to excel in it.

She also took a few minutes to pass on a conversation she had had with Coach John Wooden.  Many years ago she was asking Coach Wooden about what made Bill Walton such a great player.

"He didn't get bored with the repetition that you need to be great," replied Coach Wooden.

How many players are good but don't work at something long enough and hard enough to excel at it?  The word Marianne used was "mastery."  She said the great ones didn't mind the constant repetition because their goal was to master the parts of their game.


About 7 or 8 years ago, while coaching at LSU, I received a great opportunity to leave and join an organization outside of coaching that would allow me to work camps, speak at clinics and do individual training.  The offer was incredibly gracious -- enough for me to deeply consider it.  As it would happened, Coach Don Meyer was staying at my home a few days after I received the offer and as I did in those days, I asked him for his advice.  And I'll never forget what he said.

He told me I would enjoy many parts of the new job -- especially the teaching.  He told me he thought I'd be good at it.  But then he said, "Bob, just make sure you never forget, there's nothing like having a team...being part of a team...growing a team. When you don't have a team there will be a hole in your soul that you won't be able to fill."

I was thinking about the advice that Coach Meyer gave me when I read an article last week where someone asked Alabama football coach Nick Saban if he was at the point where he considered retirement.

He responded he had not and then said:

"I've said this before: I've been a part of a team since I was nine years old. It scares me to death to figure what it's going to be like when I'm not a part of a team.”

So for those of us that rise this morning as part of a team, let's be thankful.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Two clinic curses:
1. Can’t take it all back
2. I can’t do that because…

“Be good at the things you do a lot.” -Pete Carril

Chart success of your line ups

How fast can you function

Reward role players
1. Win race
2. How many screens set

Transition is about race and space

MN: Player loses two races in a row and she comes out.
Not running floor you’re either tired or unengaged

Rim runners (MN calls “Rabbits”) make for a great transition offense.

Goal for rabbit is to occupy the deed defensive transition player

“Locks” are the left and right corner runners.

“Ball” refers to point guard

“Dragon” refers to trailer

Defender back peddling can’t defend offensive player running down hill

“Make the defense wrong.”

“Reward decision making, not actions.”

Outlet — must be quick or long (or both)

Point guard is passing up the street or crossing the street with the dribble

Doesn’t like to feed the “rabbit” below the foul line on the run — chases her opposite the ball.

“Quick Strike” drill (our Aggie)

“Boom” is call for double drag when Rabbit is late.

“Pirate” = roll and post up

Need a good zone offense because people don’t want to guard you.

MN: We only have 4 players (with options)

Man: defense decides match up

Zone: offense decides match up

“If your best player isn’t getting the most shots, you suck as a coach.”

Key ball screen concepts: Arrive w/out a defender (change speed, direction, angles)

How are you occupying the help

“Argue with an idiot long enough and no one will know who the idiot is.”

Green light shooting...player is given “green light” on game day because she met a set numbers from a series of shooting drills. Players have to earn their “license.”

Ball screen defense — you need to play it more than one way. “Switchin’ and Fixin’”

Post defense: chin on shoulder

Wall up because their aren’t enough good post players to score

If transition defense walls up as a team to take point guard penetration away, your trailer has to be open.

Don’t let coaches pass in drills...use players do all the passing to improve their passing.

Advice he got from Coach Gary Blair: Be great at something.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


We need to be in the business of being great for kids.

Are you creating a culture you’d want your child to be in?

Yelling and screaming are overrated. Must be a tool and not out of frustration. Don’t act like a coach. Be a coach.

Have gave tons of thought to exactly what you want to stand for.

Treat our players as if they are out family.

Question: “Would I do that to my own child?”

Coaches: Do more biting than barking.

You don’t want your team counting down the days until the season is over.

Coach Jankovich: “The games comes down to how good are my shots compared to yours and can I get more.”

More about who than what.

How do I beat the best 3 teams in my league.

Good action = how are we going to guard that? If I have to ask that question about an action it’s a good one.

Spends time thinking about where the game is going to be 10 years from now.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


How do you move up the path?
1. Create a vision
2. Give ownership of that vision way everyday
3. Keep them connected to the vision (hardest thing)
    They have to believe that the vision is what’s best for them.
4. They will have ownership
    If I couldn’t see what works would I be able to hear it at your practice?

What is your language specific to your program?
We are over the top with our terminology being consistent

Coach Williams ask recruits to explain their practice/game to get an idea of their basketball IQ

Only BCS coach without an agent

Has 10 staff members that report directly to him.

Coach Williams is big into researching “I need to score right now plays.”

Reads newspapers of every team on their schedule and certain college football programs where I know the coach.

“Don’t be the coach that says ‘It’s hard to coach this generation of players.’”

Adaption to how you of maturation not to adapt.

“Teams in the post season that succeed are engaged.”

Must measure to have consequences.

Don’t burn your emotional tank on things that aren’t measured.

Not into destination with relation to our path.

“How do you keep your team engaged?”

Chart: Stop-Scores

When ball is penetrated to baseline something should happen.
   Fill (Crack)
   One More (Pro)
   Seal/Space (I Cut)

Coaching is figuring out your why.

Not enough truth tellers.

Monday, June 5, 2017


Smartest people don’t have the best answers, they have the best questions.”

“Recruiting” most overused work in college athletics. Coach Williams never asks a recruit “who’s recruiting you?”

“We don’t recruit.”

“Culture = Habits”

When taking the Virginia Tech job he told the team: “I’m not getting rid of anyone. I will coach all of you harder than you’ve ever been coached.”

“You don’t have to tell someone what your culture is — your habits will.”

Culture has nothing to do with talent.

Figure out the right habits.

“Recruiting” is a sales word...we like “Life Decision.”

 Virginia Tech takes the entire staff recruiting even though it may cost them days. Home visit = entire staff. Game = entire staff.

You can only manage what you measure. Not enough to say “play hard” — how can you measure that — find a way.

In individual workouts Virginia Tech measures everything. In some instances you must achieve a certain measurement before moving to the next level.

Boot Camp

Virginia Tech doesn’t teach play until November.

Doesn’t want plays for how we play but for his team to understand how to play.

Quote shirts

Doesn’t do business cards — does quote cards.

Primary philosophy: “Get better”

Created “Get better” bands for team

Always looking for things under $1.50 to give away

3 Worst Things for a Player to Say: “I got this.”

3 Worst Things for a Coach to Say: “I know this.”

Stay away from the feeling, “I know this.”

Coaching mailout every 6 weeks.

Must get app for articles - “Pocket”

What are you doing on a daily basis for your brand?

“The people you think of the most are the ones that are invested in you.”

Coach Williams’ mission: Tell the Truth
   Help as Many People As I Can
   If you ask anyone, would they say you your mission is?

Not as much about playing hard as about loving each other.

Beware of “imposters on your path” — like winning and losing. Be process oriented.

Has manager in charge of pulling clips from the newspaper on his opponents.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


A day following an off day, Virginia Tech has an “Early Bird.” Might watch video, walk through something or do individual work...during season if will be about opponent, us, short and off-season if will be about life — not basketball.

Everybody in our program is the head coach of something...they are in charge of something.

Coach Williams has a “Head Coach in Charge of Time.” He also has a “Head Coach in Charge of Calendar.” Team and Coach William’s calendar are updated daily.

“If you struggle getting up early, you’re probably not very good.”

Likes to start day with quiet time — reading books.

Circle of influence in many “spokes” are there to the wheel — what is your plan in building a relationship with each.

Coach Williams uses W-C-E-T

Monthly contact list — changes monthly

List changes about 10% each month

Consistency in relationships

Can never achieve greatness unless you can max your pettiness.

Writes 2 thank you notes daily.

Sends team a “Teaching Text” every Tuesday.

Utilized Greg Brown type note card

Man Offense
Zone Offense
Special Situations
Short Clock — obsessed with short clock plays

Scouting Reports on their way out...don’t give written reports to their kids.

Left Brain...Right Brain...Wires Crossed

Ways to learn:
   Do It

First coach Coach Williams worked for said “If I every catch you without pen & paper you’re fired.”

First thing you do with a new play? Teach it to your staff.

When teaching, you must understand that different players will pick it up differently based on how they are wired.

Goal: improve retention rate

“My best gift is I can help people.”

Huddle: Draw — Hear — Walk Thru guys are dead in front of me and last ones he talks to coming out of huddle.

Has football based mentality in preparation:
   2 Days before playing routine
   1 Day before playing routine

Coach Williams has few friends in basketball coaching. Lots of his friends are football coaches.

If your kids or coaches are asking “What are we doing in practice today?” you’re a poor coach.

“The best coaches are the exact same everyday.”

Coach Williams likes coaching kids with problems.

Beware of “imposters on your path” — like winning and losing. Be process oriented.

Has manager in charge of pulling clips from the newspaper on his opponents.

Coach Williams likes to do everything in 4’s (keys to the game, etc.)

Thursday, June 1, 2017


The following comes from the TABC Clinic on May 20, 2017

Want to be a blue collar program
     We determine the outcome

We’re going to foul but game will be played on our terms.

Detail & disciplined in the little things.

Don’t get bored with accountability.

Emphasis for us:
     Offensive Rebounds
     Turnovers Forced

“Never bet against consistent behavior.”

Never lost 3 games in a row.

What we’re about — ACT the right way

“Chance favors the aggressor.” — only sign in locker room

We teach team attitude and mindset everyday.

Meets individually with each player for 10 minutes weekly — no basketball.

Write a note to someone who has helped you but you haven’t talked to in 3-5 years.

What we emphasize…
     1. No fast break lay-up
     2. No paint touches
     3. No middle
           Influence baseline
     4. No rhythm 3’s
          No ballside 3’s
     5. No straight line drives
     6. No 2nd chance points

Don’t do defensive rebounding drills — demands two-handed, two-footed rebounds

Offensive Rebounding — Must do one of these four on 80% of the opportunities:
     1. Swim
     2. Rip
     3. Spin
     4. Pin

Need steals and turnovers to overcome defensive rebounding.

Takes all 5 defenders:
     1. Vision
          1/3 up the line
     2. Communication
          “Talk to the ball”
          “Talking makes us quicker”
     3. Active
          Always adjust your position.
          “If you’re standing, you’re in the wrong place.”
     4. Off Ball
          Box taped at top of the key — deny zone
     5. Terminology
          Staff created an app for the team — got the idea from the Phoenix Suns

Staff created an app for their team -- got idea from Phoenix Suns
     1. Team’s terminology
     2. 3 Best games that individual has played
     3. Highlight video of team
     4. Highlights of their favorite NBA player

Things That Require Daily Maintenance
     1. Conversion Defense
     2. Pressure
          Want offense to turn back to defender or hold ball above head
     3. Closeout
          Play 3’s and Drivers
     4. Post Defense
          Pressure teams can’t play behind
     5. Blockout
          Hit - Find - Get

Conversion Defense Priorities
     Basket - Ball - Ballside
     Sprinting - Straightlines
     Build out
     No Easies: Zero Lay-ups

Loves to start practice w/conversion defense drills to emphasis and get into their conditioning early.

Rat Race Drill: Continual 3/2
     Everything they do has a winner and loser

4/2 Continuous Drill: Our 4/4/4

Pressure Ball
     1. Make ball handler uncomfortable
          Above head or turn back
     2. It starts with closeouts
          Run them off the 3-point line
     3. High hands
          Trace—guard 2 dribbles
     4. Quick twitch
     5. No Middle
     6. Flatten the ball
          4/3 Contest (SMU Drill)
          Offense 3 passes, 1 Dribble
          3 Straight Stops

     1. Can’t be late — move on airtime
     2. Can’t be short — take away the 3 
          (Coach Wade: “3’s get you beat”)
     3. Principles—Low, chop feet

Post Defense
     1. Front
          Knock ‘em back
          High hands
     2. Early and big
     3. Wall up
          Square ‘em up
     4. Two areas
          Post box and perimeter
          Know where to fight

“Whether you say you can or can’t you’re right.”

We don’t trap post because of 3 point philosophy.

We don’t believe 2’s will beat you.

Exception: Will trap post with poor passing skills to create turnovers

“Hamer” = forearm

“Punch thru” = swim to fronting position

Low man wins in the post

4/1 post feed drill: Offensive post don’t always flash — “hold the real estate”

     1. Emphasize every day
     2. Drill must finish with a clean rebound
     3. Make first contact — take away initial step

The Sandbag
     After 10 Turnovers
     Missed Blockout 
     Sprinting the Floor
     Court Balance

Has 10 balloons tacked to a board each day at practice...each turnover a manager pops a balloon...when all the balloons are gone they run.

Assigns an assistant coach to something specific…
     Head Coach of Turnovers
     Head Coach of Offensive Boards
     This is what they coach at practice in all drills

Game Standards
(Goal is to meet 3 of the 5 each game)
     1. 5 or more Turkeys (3 straight stops) 
          were 21-4 when they met this one standard
     2. 12 or less turnovers
     3. 40% of offensive rebounding opportunities
     4. 5 or less miscommunications
     5. Changes per team they play — often about 3 point defense

Ball screen defense — no switch, fight thru