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Thursday, November 12, 2015


Our motivational passout to our team today with an assistant from Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown who tweeted this yesterday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


“Rebounding is one of his staples,” said Izzo’s former associate head coach and current Northern
Illinois head coach Mark Montgomery, whose own team finished last year atop the Mid-American Conference in rebounding. “It’s something he’s going to work on every single day.”

We came across an article from a year ago from written by Brett Koremenos on the culture of rebounding at Michigan State and how it is developed by Tom Izzo. The article is titled "How Tom Izzo Turned Michigan State into a Rebounding Factory." Below are a few excerpts I took from the article but you'll want to click on this link for the entire post because Koremenos has video to go along with his column.

Montgomery says that everything Michigan State does — from its film sessions to past players coming back to impart wisdom — is aimed at creating the tough, gritty culture we see embodied in its play every season. The emphasis on rebounding is a key part of that because, along with defense, tracking down a missed shot doesn’t require any basketball-related talent.

“There’s no skill involved,” Montgomery says. “You want the ball more. It’s in your heart. It’s body on body. It’s kamikaze. You go in there and come away with it.”

In order to rebound, as with anything in life, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. And Izzo starts by breaking down his rebounding technique in the form of one-on-zero, one-on-one, and two-on-two drills from different spots on the floor. Except, Michigan State doesn’t drill the traditional boxout that most fans associate with the game. You won’t go to a Spartans practice and find players putting their backsides into an opponent, trying to shield them off from an errant shot. Instead, Izzo teaches a technique for defensive rebounding he calls “hit-find-fetch.”

Michigan State players spend a good portion of their practice time honing this technique and mentality under Izzo’s watchful eye. Many other coaches spend only a cursory amount of time on this facet of the game — not that it makes them inherently better or worse, just different.
Izzo doesn’t just stop at those smaller breakdown exercises, though. In fact, they’re only a prelude to the grand march of rebounding drills: the war drill, a 5-on-5 slugfest featuring one ball and 10 Big Ten athletes trying to secure a rebound amid total chaos.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Here are some excerpts from a well-written article by Anthony Oppermann for the Galveston County Daily News on Houston football coach Tom Herman.  Coach Herman has his Cougars 8-0 and he gives credit to the evolution of the culture he is creating. You can read all of this article here, but here is a section I really enjoyed:

Ask Herman about the team’s perfect record or national ranking, and he will tell you it doesn’t matter, none of it matters.

But then he will say something that does.

“Praise always feels a lot better than criticism in the short term,” Herman said the Monday after the Tulane game. “As humans, we try to seek out praise, and what I told (the team) is the really successful people seek out criticism. They want to be criticized, and they want to be helped to improve on their craft.”

Herman has admitted that his role is equal parts football coach and novice psychologist, especially when dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds.

“They’re prone to just revert back to being primal, and the human element, the human side of things says, ‘I’m just going to cruise through today and do what’s easy.’ What’s easy is to go through the motions,” Herman said earlier this season.

And speaking of primal, there was the moment after Houston’s 59-10 win at Central Florida when Herman applied his primal principle to dealing with adversity.

“The primal human instinct, human element is to freak out and try to do things that you’re not trained to do,” Herman said. “We want to make sure that our guys, even when faced with a tremendous amount of adversity, they’re very mindful, they take a deep breath, and they go just focus on the next play.”


There are different kinds of simplicity.  Some are better than others.

The master instructor knows the details but coaches with simple instructions: stand tall, breath and so on.  The master teacher understands every word of her text but concentrates on the central idea.  The ability to explain complicated things with clarity is a mark of mastery.

Unfortunately, it's sometimes those who have mastered the least who talk the most.

Simplicity is easy.  Clarity is earned.  We earn clarity by confronting complexity.

From "Resilience" by Eric Greitens

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Our team's motivational passout today includes a great quote and concept via Tom Izzo.  Team's that take ownership of their program, that hold themselves and each other accountable, have a far great opportunity of succeeding and achieving their potential than those teams that rely on their coaching staff for everything.  Team ownership and accountability is the ultimate culture.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


As a coach, there are so many things that you deem important -- things you want your players to know and understand -- things that are high on the priority list in terms of what you want to teach players.

Certainly there are numerous things that players need to learn and improve on.  Some they are willing participants in the education and development process.  Work with a player on improving his or her shot and chances are you will have a focused pupil.  The same can be said in dribbling and ball handling.  All players, regardless of position, want to be able to put the ball on the floor.  And while this at times least to the overuse of the dribble, players certainly will list and work if you want to help them improve this area of their game.

But it is important for them to understand that the large majority of the game, on the offensive end, they will be playing WITHOUT the ball.  Their ability to properly execute the fundamentals of footwork while learning to move without the basketball is far more important than many of them understand.

And nobody has phrased it better for them to understand it than Coach John Wooden:

"What you do before you get the ball, 
determines what you can do after you get it."

That is a very profound statement yet not enough coaches spend the time to develop this area and of course very few players give thought to it.

Are you teaching the proper footwork for moving without the basketball?  The most foundational cut in basketball is the your players master it?  The v-cut allows them to get open on the perimeter or to set up the defender for a back cut.  The v-cut allows them be better screeners or to utilize screens better.  The v-cut allows a post player to move better in the post.  Are you working to improve your v-cuts daily?

The ability to read the defender makes a difference in if, when and where you catch the basketball.

We mentioned screening.  I'm not sure there is a better way to get open than by being an excellent screener.  The key is being "excellent."  Are you teaching a correct screening stance couple with the proper screening angle?  Are they sprinting to screen?  And, the biggest key, are the screening with the screener is the 2nd cutter mentality?

Do you show video of your team or other teams and have your players focus on what's going on away from the ball?

Because the best offensive players in the game truly understand Coach Wooden:

"What you do before you get the ball, 
determines what you can do after you get it."

Friday, October 30, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part III (and the last segment) of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

“We can accept our circumstances as they are, or we can do all we can to change them and turn them into something positive. That’s one of the things I’ve admired about our team — they’ve accepted every challenge.”


“To me, we all owe it to each other and the organization to give everything we have every single day. Just concentrate on what’s in front of us. Practice well today, get ready for our opponent tomorrow, concentrate on improvement, and get better. You never know what happens.”


On Taj Gibson:
“You can’t say enough about Taj. He is tough as nails. Whatever you ask him to do he does. You can start him, bring him off the bench; he guards everybody, he rebounds, gives you great effort, pure heart, plays for the team, plays to win, disciplined, practices every day, practices hard. He is a great practice player. He has a great motor. When you put him in the game, he doesn’t need 5-10 minutes to warm up. He’s ready to go.”


On Marco Belinelli
“He plays for the team. The team is first all the time with him. I was not surprised that San Antonio picked him up because I know how much Pop values those things.”


“We’ve got a core of guys that understand it (on defense) and are really good at it. Our guys put forth the effort. That is what it is all about. As a team they are committed to that. We know if we defend and rebound and keep our turnovers down we will be in a position to win. Right now, when you are shorthanded, that is what you have to do. It is also what you have to do in every game, when you are completely healthy.”


“We’ve got to get the fight. That’s the first part of it — the determination, the fight and the will. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We have to turn it around tomorrow. We have to get ready to play and we have to come out with an edge.”


“On nights you are not shooting well, there are many other things you can do to help yourselves win.”


“It’s hard to execute when you don’t practice. We need time in the gym.”


‘‘We’re improving, but we still have a long way to go. You’re trying to build concentration over a long period of time, and you’ve got to grind. This season is about grinding and working. You’ve got to put the work in. You can’t skip steps, you can’t take shortcuts. You’ve got to put a lot of work into it.’’


‘‘I measure everything on whether it’s being done at a championship level. Whether it’s your preparation, how you practice, how you conduct yourself in the weight room, how you conduct yourself in a film session, how you conduct yourself on the bus. There’s a lot that goes into winning, so you’ve got to be willing to pay the price.’’


On Kyle Korver:
“Every year he gets better and better. It’s a tribute to the way he works at it, studies, and prepares, his offseason conditioning work he puts in. It’s incredible. It’s not an accident what he’s doing. Everyone knows it’s coming. He knows how to get open. He plays for a team whose shooting complements its stars. And he’s a star in his own way. He has always embraced his role. He has always played for the team. The numbers say that (he’s among the elite all time shooters).”


On Jimmy Butler:
“I get a kick in the off-season, everyone’s had a great summer, everyone looks good, but Jimmy actually puts the work in. He doesn’t have to say anything. You look at him and his actions tell you what he’s doing. There are no shortcuts with him. He puts the work in and gives you a solid day’s work. You can’t say enough about it him. He takes big shots, plays defense, and gets to the line. He makes plays, plays unselfishly, plays hard and doesn’t take any possessions off.  My thing to him is why put a lid on it? Where can it go? I don’t know. All I know is [his ceiling] keeps going up. That is how I want him to approach it. He brings great concentration and great effort every day. You bring those things and couple that with his talent, great things are going to happen and he’s showing that. The best leadership you can have is by doing all the right things. You can’t put any more in than he’s putting into it now.”


On Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich:
“Two great pros. Tough minded, give you everything they have. Both of those guys are great pros. When you have young guys like we do, that’s the best kind of leadership you can have. They come in every day, they practice hard, they execute. Do all the right things.”


On Anthony Davis From USA Basketball:
“He was all business. That’s what stood out the most. He’d get there early, work on his game, practice hard, and get in the weight room. You can tell he’s hungry.”


“If they say we’re playing at midnight on the roof, you should be saying let’s get the ladders.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I took the time to watch University of Minnesota Jerry Kill's press conference where he announced he had to step down the the Gopher's head football coach due to health reasons.  It was obviously that he is very passionate about coaching and therefore leaving his profession that he clearly loves was extremely disappointing to him -- and to all of us that love our jobs and viewed the press conference.

Let it give us perspective.  Had a bad practice yesterday?  Have a player with an attitude problem yesterday?  Have a conflict with an administrator yesterday?  The media get after you a little bit yesterday?  A recruit turn you down yesterday?

The key word is "yesterday."  Because if you woke up "today" and you still get to coach -- if you still get to that thing you love so much, then we are truly blessed.

Here are a few take aways from Coach Kill's press conference.

"Last night when I walked off the practice field, I felt like a part of me died.  I love this game.  I love what it's done for my family.  I thank God for giving me the opportunity to coach this game...

"I don't want to cheat the game...

"This is the toughest thing I've ever done in my life...

"I went as hard as I could."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part II of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

“We’re excited. Whenever they tell us to play, we’ve got to be ready. There are no off nights in the NBA. That’s the one thing. Even being here, when you see all the great talent that we have in our league, if you take someone lightly, you’re making a big mistake and we can’t just talk about it. We’ve got to put the work into it because there’s a lot of work and commitment that goes into winning. To say that we’re going to win because we feel we’re talented—doesn’t work that way. There’s a lot of talent in this league. It’s the teams that are willing to make that commitment and endure throughout during the course of the season, to work hard all summer, to work hard in training camp, to work hard throughout the season, to commit to playing for each other, those are the teams that build winning habits and that’s what we have to do. We have to build winning habits throughout the course of the year.”


On His memory From the 2013-14 Season/Team:
“How they wouldn’t quit. When I look at the team, we took a couple of big hits the last couple of years, actually the last three years. They fought like crazy that year. These guys, they fought like crazy to make sure we had a good season. When a team commits to playing as a team, playing together and playing for one another, they give you everything they have, there’s nothing more you can ask for. I think other people would have just laid down and we didn’t do that.’’


“Five-man offense, five-man defense, and everyone is connected. If one guy is not doing their job, it’s going to make everyone look bad. We have to be tied together.”


“We’re not changing. We’re trying to win games. We’re not changing our approach. Every game, analyze what we’re doing well, what we’re doing not as well as we would like, make our corrections, move on to the next one, know the opponent well, keep moving forward. That’s all we can do.”


“Rah-rah is good, but it’s more the effort plays that matter. I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness. Our guys have the will to continue to fight.”


“I don’t see any negative from practicing hard. I don’t see any negative from playing hard. You’re building habits every time you step out there. I think you’ve got to develop a physical toughness and a mental toughness along the way. Because down the road when you do get there, there’s going to be a lot of fire that you’ve got to go through. And you’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.”


“There’s not a lot of difference between the elite teams. It’s will, determination. That’s not something you develop once you get there. You’d better develop it all along the way.”


On What a Team Can Take From a Loss:
”Study, learn, correct and grow.”


“To me, it’s preparation. You’re guarding a great shooter and you’re going under on a screen — it doesn’t make any sense to me. Or you’re just whacking at a guy after he’s already buried you in the paint. To me, that makes no sense. That makes no sense. You got to play this game with energy and toughness, and intelligence. And you got to get yourself ready, and you’re on the road. You have to have a mentality. This is business. This ain’t hanging out having a good time. If you’re serious about winning you prepare yourself the right way.”


On Joakim Noah:
“There are not many players like him. His all-around defense, every aspect, the rebounding effort, to seeing things early (and) how they’re developing. It’s just great effort. But the most important thing is his ability to make two, three or four efforts on the same play. Oftentimes I don’t know how he gets to the ball. It’s just great effort. I think when you see those types of things, that helps unite and inspire your team.”


“I’m going with the guys who I think give us the best chance to win, I don’t care who they are. So when we hit that six-minute mark it’s based on what we’re doing and what we need, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”


“We have good guys. Sometimes when things aren’t going your way there’s a tendency when you’re trying to get out of a hole to try to do more yourself. And that’s what you have to (fight). You have to do more together. Not more yourself. So while the intentions are good, sometimes they’re misguided. So if we try to go too much one on one we’re not going to have success like that … we can’t be fragmented. We have to be together. Through the good, the bad, and just keep fighting. We have to fight the good fight every night. We can’t sideways and that’s a big part of this league.”

Monday, October 26, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part I of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

Taj Gibson on Coach Thibodeau:
“If you want to be coached & pushed, he’s the coach for you. If you don’t want to get better, this isn’t the team for you.”


“You want to be a championship team, there’s a price to pay. And that’s what you have to do. There are no shortcuts. You can’t shortcut your way to success. I’m going to give everything I have each and every day, and I have no regrets.”


‘‘On the first day of camp, if you went to all 30 teams, everyone would say, ‘Yeah, we want to win a championship.’ Very few teams are willing to make that commitment over a long period of time in putting the necessary work into it each and every day. It’s easy to say it; it’s harder to do it.


“We’re asking everyone to sacrifice and put the team first, so we have quality depth. Some night’s guys will play a little more than others, but they’re all sharing and they’re all going to have to sacrifice, and that’s what’s important for our team. As you wind down, it’s situational. A lot of it is what’s going on in the game: Do you have a lead? Are you trying to protect the lead? Do you need more scoring? Hopefully you have that answer on the bench. The big thing is everyone is sacrificing for the team. You have to put the team first. Whatever gives us our best chance of winning, that’s what we’re going to do.”

“You have a pretty good idea of who you’re going to finish with. But that can change if guys are performing well. The big thing is it’s not an individual thing. It’s how the group is performing. We look at everything.”


“Trust is work. That’s how you build trust. You got to know what you’re doing. You have to be tied together. You have to work at it. Where you get trust is from the work. The magic is in the work. It’s working together. It’s timing. It’s being tied together. One guy being off is going to hurt. You need everyone working together. And it doesn’t end. You’re not going to have it figured out in three days. You’re trying to do something great. Nothing great was ever achieved without great work and great ethic. It’s really that simple.’’


"People always talk about going on offensive runs. But you can go on defensive runs too."


“I’m watching San Antonio, and they’re going after it. Parker, Duncan, they’re playing huge minutes right off the start. I think it’s a strong message what they’re saying right now. They’re preparing themselves to defend their championship. And so in order to get that way from them, you’re going to have to wrestle it away from them. They’re not just going to give it away. Your mind-set has to be right.’’


“Your mindset has to be right. They say Duncan never leaves the gym. When you look at great players, when you read about guys who have achieved something great, it’s usually them getting past adversity, them making great effort – their readiness to accept a challenge. I think you need a great commitment from your team if you want to do something special. That commitment has to start at the beginning, and it has to remain throughout.”


“Whatever it is that you’re facing, you’ve got to be ready to accept that challenge and be ready to play.”