Thursday, May 14, 2015
Thanks to Brooklyn Kohlheim's email newsletter (sign up for it here), we were able to read how important the off-season is even to NBA coaches with an inside look at Brad Stevens and last year's off-season did to support a 15 win improvement and how he is approaching this year's off-season. The article was written by Adam Himmelsbach for the Boston Globe and you can read it in it's entirety here (Great Read). But here are some of my take aways:
During an interview with the Globe last week, Stevens detailed how last summer laid the groundwork for the Celtics’ 15-win improvement and playoff appearance this season. Unsurprisingly, it was a thorough plan rooted in research. And as the Celtics enter another critical summer, clues could be gleaned from how Stevens handled the prior one.
“I just kind of think of things I’d like to know, and I embark on a project,” Stevens said. “Sometimes they end up being worthless, and sometimes they help you. But it’s important to analyze, work, and scrutinize. Be critical of yourself, and start there.”
Stevens keeps a pen and notepad next to his bed so he can scribble a new play or idea when it pops up. Most often, though, the concepts come during the long flights that can be both a blessing and a curse during a grueling NBA season.
When looking back at 2013-14, Stevens knew the Celtics had faltered late in close games. In the final five minutes of contests in which the score differential was 5 points or less, the Celtics had a net rating — offensive rating subtracted by defensive rating — of -25.4, 29th in the league. Furthermore, in those situations they were averaging 16.1 turnovers per 100 possessions, the 28th-worst mark in the NBA.
The Celtics had not executed down the stretch and Stevens wanted to know why. So he began analyzing every possession in the last five minutes of every Celtics game that year.
There are generally about 200 total possessions in an NBA game, and the rate typically increases in the last five minutes because of fouls, so Stevens probably analyzed well over 1,500 plays.
“I broke down every possession in the smallest of details,” he said. “It was the most arduous — well, maybe not arduous, because it’s not real work compared to what some people do for a living — but it was the most boring yet helpful thing I probably did last year. It helped me figure out a lot.
“When you’re not in the season, you detach emotionally and you can see what guys are and aren’t doing, what guys struggle with, what you could have done to help them be successful and how you can be better moving forward.”
At the start of this past season, Stevens presented his findings to his players. His message was simple: You’re closer than you might think.
“He put it to us in a way that gave us confidence, that if we do these few plays a little bit better, it could result in making the playoffs,” guard Evan Turner said. “It gave us an idea of how slim the difference is between having a successful season and not, and we realized they were fixable mistakes.”
This season, the Celtics improved their net rating in late-game clutch situations from -25.4 to -7.5, and they lowered their turnover ratio from 16.1 to 12.6.
Stevens’s offseason focus was not solely on his players. He also identified about 35 stars from around the league whose games he admired. Then he assigned groups of them to his staff — also taking five for himself — and asked his assistants to dig in.
“We studied them inside and out,” Stevens said. “What made them great? What were their flaws?”
Shrewsberry, for example, was tasked with analyzing guards Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Tony Parker, and Ty Lawson. He said the project helped identify traits that they could pass on, and it also gave the Celtics a head start on individual scouting heading into the regular season.
Monday, May 11, 2015
I'm a strong believer that championships are won in the paint. This speaks to both offensive and defensive philosophies.
In 2011, the Miami Heat lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs dominated the paint and the Heat settled for jump shots far too many times. In that off-season, LeBron James called up Hakeem Olaguwon and asked him if he would work with him that summer on his paint game. You have to give great credit to LJ for first recognizing what he need to work on to improve his game and then for not hesitating to ask for help -- those are the two marks of a great player.
Too many coaches think that a "Paint Game" means isolating a big post on the block and working the ball inside. And if you have a big that certainly is a good thing to do. But just because you don't have a big doesn't mean you don't have a paint game. Here are some ways to get the ball to the paint:
1. Low Post Play: develop your post players -- regardless of size -- to post, seal, move without the ball and to finish.
2. Transition Offense: beat the defense to the paint before they get there.
3. Dribble Penetration: being able to put the ball on the floor and drive it to the paint has become increasingly popular with so many teams utilizing the Dribble Drive Offense.
4. Flash Game: flash players into the paint for a touch...this can be post players or perimeter players.
5. Post Up Guards: you may not have a big but if your posts can step away and shoot you can post up your guards inside.
6. Offensive Rebounding: working and emphasizing offensive rebounding above and beyond what other teams might do is another way to create a paint game.
We are not suggesting that you abandon your offensive system but having a paint game allows you a chance to score and draw fouls on the opposition when the mid-range or 3-point shooting has gone cold. Some people point to the fact that Duke and Mike Kryzewski has become great proponents of the 3-point shot. Watch how many of them come off of a paint touch -- either dribble penetration or post feed to a fan pass. The "Paint Touch 3" is a great way of setting up a good three point shooter while still pressuring the defense to play interior defense.
Part of having a solid paint game on offense is understanding defenses and how they are played today. We all know the Chuck Daly mantra of "Spacing if offense and offense is spacing." Well, the same can be true of defense. While offense is looking to spread the defense, defenses are now looking to shrink the floor -- getting and sitting in gaps.
Even the best low post players have a difficult time of getting a good look off of the same side entry pass in offensive play. Two keys that will be beneficial include:
1. Reversing the basketball. While at LSU, with Sylvia Fowles dominating the inside, we would tell her to start opposite the ball in our motion offense and reverse the ball to her side forcing the defense to go from help to ball and ball to help.
2. Occupy the helpside. Movement away from where you want to enter the paint with the ball is critical. Making defenders guard two things at once will help you to get the ball to the paint more efficiently. Another one of our basic concepts is for players to "cut to create help." If we are cutting hard and correctly, we have a chance to draw a helpside defender which creates more space for drives or post feeds.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Thursday, May 7, 2015
2. You cannot win if you do not begin.
3. Spend Time with Other Enthusiastic People. Denis Waitley, says, “Enthusiasm is contagious. It’s difficult to remain neutral or indifferent in the presence of a positive thinker.”
Elbert Hubbard said, “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.”
1, Include your leaders with a meeting before the standards meeting
Before your standards meeting with your entire team, I highly recommend you sit down with your key leaders to discuss their thoughts and insights on the process. You want to all be on the same page going into the meeting so that you understand each other.
2, Involve Instead of Impose
As with your vision and core values, be sure to involve your team when establishing your standards of behavior. It will value their perspective and help garner their commitment. As leadership author Stephen Covey once said, “No involvement equals no commitment.”
Similarly, Coach K says, “In putting together your standards, remember that it is essential to involve your entire team. Standards are not rules issued by the boss; they are a collective identity.”
3, Create and clarify your standards in writing
It is important to put your Standards in writing to help clarify and codify them for the short and long term. Unwritten standards are easily forgotten and can become an easy excuse when someone breaks them because they can say they weren’t clear about them.
While establishing your standards on the front end is a critical part of developing a Championship Culture, the key part is sustaining the standard throughout the course of the season. Many teams talk about the standard at the start of the season but don’t meticulously maintain them throughout the course of the season.
“It all starts with everyone buying into the same principles and values… If you don’t define the expectation for everybody in the organization and the standard, what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it, then how can you know whether someone is mediocre or a high achiever… We clearly define personally, academically, athletically what the expectation is for every player and they have to be accountable to it.” –Nick Saban
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
John Calipari from "Players First: Coaching From The Inside Out"
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Here are some links to just a few of my favorite presenters and the notes I took while they spoke:
Mike Rhodes, now the head coach at Rice, gave us a look inside the "VCU Havoc Press Defense."
Joni Crenshaw, now the head coach at Georgia, spoke about "Presenting Yourself and Thinking Like a Head Coach."
Karen Ashton, now the head coach at Texas, shared thoughts about "Positioning Yourself as a Valuable Part of the Program."
A study published recently in the journal Education + Training found that there is an important line to draw between parental involvement and over-parenting. “While parental involvement might be the extra boost that students need to build their own confidence and abilities, over-parenting appears to do the converse in creating a sense that one cannot accomplish things socially or in general on one’s own,” wrote the authors, two professors from California State University Fresno. The authors of “Helicopter parents: An Examination of the Correlates of Over-parenting of College Students,” Jill C. Bradley-Geist and Julie B. Olson-Buchanan, go on to detail how over-parenting can actually ruin a child’s abilities to deal with the workplace.
Bradley-Geist and Olson-Buchanan, both management professors, surveyed more than 450 undergraduate students who were asked to “rate their level of self-efficacy, the frequency of parental involvement, how involved parents were in their daily lives and their response to certain workplace scenarios.”
The study showed that those college students with “helicopter parents” had a hard time believing in their own ability to accomplish goals. They were more dependent on others, had poor coping strategies and didn’t have soft skills, like responsibility and conscientiousness throughout college, the authors found.You can read the entire article in its entirety here.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Let comrade answer, “Here!”
The most important word in building successful athletic teams is “culture.” You don’t want to have a great team — you want to have a great program. You want to build something that will sustain both success and failure.
To countless sons of Texans yet unborn