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Thursday, March 22, 2018


I don’t take lightly the responsibility of writing a book review — I know how valuable money and time is to us all.  But "Getting To Know Us” by Seth Davis is one of the best books I’ve read in the past several year for our profession.  Davis picks eight outstanding coaches and dedicated a chapter to their journey.  Each chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  We learn from these Hall of Fame coaches the struggles they went through, and in some cases still battle, to maintain a level of excellence.

You will learn that each coach is different in so many ways yet each successful -- which is one of the most important lessons we can learn in doing what we do.

There is insight into coaching, teaching, recruiting, motivating, leadership and overcoming adversity.  You read about the battle to balance your career and your family.  The stories from the coaches themselves, the players that played for them and assistants that worked for them are priceless.

Above all, the title "Getting To Us" implies, we learn the methods and philosophies of how they turn players into teams.

Below I’m listing a short take away from each chapter but I can say strongly enough that this is a book you need to purchase and when you do, break out the red pen or the highlighter.

Urban Meyer

The take away from this chapter was the importance of having a shared vision with everyone involved in your program.  As Tom Herman said:

“The message never deviates with him.  Everybody from the strength staff to the video staff to the equipment staff to academics and nutrition — everybody who toughes the players there at Ohio State gets the same message and the same expectations and the same goals.  I think that’s very rare.”

Tom Izzo

We often talk about the importance of communicating and connecting with our players and it was obviously a huge priority for Coach Izzo.

When Michigan State was building a new office and practice facility for its basketball teams in 2002, Izzo had a novel idea: He wanted his office to have no door. “I thought it would set a tone,” he says. “But I couldn’t do it because of fires codes.

“There were multiple times after a game when I would text him at one or two in the morning.  He would always text me right back,” said Denzel Valentine.  “From day one, he creates a family atmosphere and makes it known that he cares about you as in individual.”

Mike Krzyzewski

As a disciple of Don Meyer, we were taught to plan your week on Sunday and the next day the night before.  It was interesting to read Coach K’s view on this.

Davis wrote: To this day, before he goes to bed each night, he maps out his plan for the next day.

“I think it comes form West Point, where you lay you’re your uniform the night before.  It helps you make effective use of your time. It gets me excited because I’m going to do something I’ve planned to do, what I love to do, and it’s different every day.”

Jim Harbaugh

The very first paragraph of this chapter grabbed me and detailed how competitors want to be in the mix regardless of their role:

Davis writes: He couldn’t take not competing,  It killed him to stand still.  So what if he was a rookie quarterback with a bright future?  He needed to get into the game — now.  So Jim Harbaugh went to his head coach with a strange request: Put me in on special teams so I can cover punts and kickoffs.  “My first reaction was, ‘Are you crazy?” Mike Ditka told me.  “Be he was serious.  He just wanted to contribute."

And Ditka actually used him for a short time on his special teams.

Jim Boeheim

One of the things that Davis brought out about Boeheim was how he handled wins and losses:

“It’s all about losing.  When we win, I’m pretty happy for about an hour, and then I’m thinking about the next game.  When we lose, I’m thinking about that game until we get to the next one.”

Geno Auriemma

In this section, there was a fascinating insight about Geno on self-doubt that helps motivate him to be the best and in turn push his team to greatness.

“I live with self-doubt every day, so I can emphasize with the players I’m coaching,” Auriemma says.  “I know these guys are filled with self-doubt.  How can they not be?  You’re putting yourself out there in front of thousands of people.  You’re being judged and you’re eighteen, nineteen years old.  So you’re thinking, 'Am I good enough to do this?  What happens if I play shitty?'  So this is part of daily life.  I try to tell them, ‘It’s good for you to have self-doubt, because it forces you to look at yourself objectively.”

Doc Rivers

Something profound in this chapter was what his father would always tell him growing up:  “There will be no victims in this house.”

There was also a key portion of this section where Doc talked about what he had learned from Pat Riley including:

“I learned from Riley that the key to coaching is to get a group of players to believe there’s one agenda, and that you have the same agenda as them.  If you can do that, your players are going to do whatever they can for you.”

Brad Stevens

This may have been the best chapter in the book in terms of my take aways.  David detailed how Stevens and his philosophy evolved including a leadership seminar class he took his senior year that introduced him to the philosophy of Robert K. Greenleaf.

“I remember thinking, this makes sense. Do you want to be around somebody who lifts you up, or somebody that breaks you down?  That’s why whenever people ask me what’s your leadership style, my answer is ‘It should be you.’  There’s an authenticity that is needed for leadership.  If it’s not real, then it’s not going to work.”

Dabo Swinney

Dabo’s story is an amazing one — from his walking on at Alabama (he called it “crawling on) to his leaving football in a variety of jobs until finding his way back to the profession.

One good insight to his message is the utilization of repetition in story telling:
Davis wrote: He is a meticulous planner who tells the same stories, uses the same phrases, and harps on the same messages, even if his guys have heard it all a thousand times. 

“That’s something I learned from Coach Stallings,” says Swinney.  “I spent seven years with him, and every year I’d be like, ‘Here comes the Mama Don’t Fret  story.  Here come the Ben Hogan story.’ That’s how he protected his culture.  When you say it enough so your players can repeat it, that’s when you know they’re getting it.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Maybe one of the most unglamorous parts of basketball is rebounding yet there is a direct correlation between rebounding and winning. Rebounding is also a great way for a player to create a niche for herself on a team. Maybe you can’t dribble the ball exceptionally well or possibly you’re not a good shooter – but if you live on the boards, the coach will find playing time for you.

First and foremost, let’s understand what a rebound represents – a possession! That’s critically important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive rebound or an offensive rebound, you have just given your team a possession that they may not have otherwise received.

Excellent rebounding teams often win because they usually have a greater number of possessions than their opponent. It means they have more opportunities to scores while their opponents have less.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they shoot a higher percentage. They shoot better because they rebound which leads to fast break opportunities. They shoot better because they get second chance opportunities on the offensive glass which often leads to a follow up shot from close in.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they hold their opponents to a lower field goal percentage. They do this by keeping them getting out and running consistently. They also take away the second chance points on the opponent’s offensive end.

Excellent rebounding teams usually win because they get to the free throw line more. They get to the free throw line more because of extra possessions they create for themselves as well as the ones they deny their opponent. How many times do you see a fouling situation occur on a offensive rebound put back?

Excellent rebound teams usually win because they have more heart. It is heart that is a primary ingredient in good rebounding and if you have a big heart on the glass, then it is probably going to spill over to the defensive end of the court as well as the offensive end.

A big part of rebounding is obviously technique and certainly we are going to talk about methods of rebounding – both individually as well as a team. We will delve into offensive and defensive rebounding and the various methods that are used for maximum results. But first and foremost, we should look at the make-up of a great rebounder. The individual that excels in rebounding has a special blend of physical and mental characteristics that allows her help her team on the boards.

A good rebounder is a well conditioned athlete.
Rebounding is one of the most tiring phases of basketball if a player is truly committed to rebounding. The pace of the game already makes is a demanding game but the good rebounder is going hard to the glass on every shot – and over the course of the game, that’s a lot of shots. So the good rebounder is going to understand the importance of conditioning. She is going to work hard with the team during conditioning and probably do a little on her own as well. She must be tireless in her approach.

A good rebounder is physically strong.
Because the good rebounder knows she must sometime move through people as well as over them, she can appreciate the work she must do in the weight room. This doesn’t mean she has to be big and muscle bound but she knows she must have the strength necessary to hold off her opponent when she is blocking out. She’s going to work hard in the weight room, more than the average player and she’s going to do the extra push-ups. Strength is important on the boards and there no reason in today’s game that she can’t improve in that area.

A good rebounder is mentally and physically tough.
Going to the boards is a very demanding job. It gets extremely physical inside with a lot of bumping and pushing. Some players don’t mind going to the boards occasionally, but the good rebounder is tough and not only does she not mind the contact, but she relishes it. She loves not only to receive the contact but likes to dish a little out as well. Mentally she knows the importance of rebounding and she blocks out any aches and pains. Mentally she also makes sure the contact doesn’t go too far. She wants to bang with her opponent but not to the extent that she draws a foul.

Good rebounders are smart players.
You have to be smart to read the where the shot may fall off…especially one shot by your opponent. The smart player can anticipate when and where her own team will shoot. She makes mental notes on opponents and understands their tendencies in terms of how she best get around them and get to the backboard.

Good rebounders have a rebounding mentality.
I’ve never seen a good rebounder that didn’t think every shot was a miss. When the ball is shot, they know that ball is not going in and they follow it’s path and try to make a read as to where it will come off. Part of that special rebounding mentality is they have a great hunger to rebound. The good rebounder loves to rebound more than she loves to score.

Good rebounders are relentless.
Good rebounders have a strong desire to rebound – they are relentless. They go to the boards to try and grab the rebound. If they can’t grab the rebound, they are going to work as hard as they can to try and get their hand on the ball where the can tip to themselves or to a teammate. If they get bumped, they recover and keep going. If they get knocked down, they hustle up. They are not going to let anyone or anything stop from going to the glass.

Good rebounders love rebounding.
I've learned this from having the blessing of coaching one of the best rebounders I've been around - Anriel Howard.  This past season, and it's not quite over, she set the Texas A&M single season rebounding record.  Despite only being a junior, she has become the all-time career rebounding here in Aggieland.  She also owns the NCAA Tournament record for rebounds in a game -- 27!  And, please pay close attention -- she is only 5 foot, 11 inches tall.  But if you watch her play and see her grab a rebound in traffic, or chase one down you will see the biggest smile on her face.  She genuinely loves rebounding.

Coach Don Meyer always had a saying, "It's not what you teach, it's what you emphasize."  All coaches will readily agree to the importance of rebounding.  But how strongly are you emphasizing it on a daily basis?

One year at LSU, to commit to emphasizing rebounding, we decided to take the games leading rebounding to the post-game press conference after every game whether the press requested them or not.  The player could've shot 2 for 10 from the field and turned it over 4 times but if she let the team with 13 rebounds that game she was going to the press room.  It was are way of letting our team (and the media and fans) know that rebounding matters in a big way.

Do you break it down in drill from every day?
Are you pointing it out and holding players accountable in practice every day?
Do you have rebounding stats that players can see on a daily basis?
Do you watch specific video clips on rebounding?

As a coaching staff, what are you doing every day to commit to improving your rebounding?

Friday, February 9, 2018


Below are some wonderful thoughts to remember as we work with young people via Tim Elmore.  If you aren't reading Tim's books or signed up for his email blogs you are missing out on one of the best resources available today as we teach and coach millennials. In fact, since being introduced to Tim's materials by Georgia head coach Joni Taylor this past summer, he has become the most important resource I've had this season -- an absolute must if you are a coach, a teacher or parent.

As you work with students to build a healthy lifestyle, remember these truths:

1. Human beings are, indeed, creatures of habit.

2. Habits become addictions as they enable us to cope with life.

3. We often trade one habit for another as we attempt to quit bad ones.

4. We must help youth strive to replace bad habits with good ones.

5. Teens often don’t end bad habits until they feel the consequences of them.

6. One secret to maturity is to live free from the bondage of an addiction.

7. Healthy leadership begins with self-leadership. I must lead “me” first.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Here are a few of the Q & A's from Troy Daniels of the Phoenix Suns on the art of shooting.  You can read the entire article by Scott Bordow here.

Q: How many hours does it take to perfect the shooting form?
A: Wow. It’s tough to say. As a kid, you have a ton of energy. I was always trying to be around basketball. I have no clue, but if I had to say, at least five to six hours a day, just playing around, shooting.

Q: There are certain things good golfers have to do with their swings. Are their certain things good shooters have to do with their stroke?
A: I’m a firm believer that I don’t really think it matters what shot you shoot. If you shoot your shot, if you work on it every single day, literally get up 1,000 to 1,500 shots a day, you’ll master that shot. I really think that, honestly. I don’t think there’s a certain way to make a lot of shots. (Stephen) Curry shoots a different shot, Klay (Thompson) shoots a different shot, J.J. Reddick, they all shoot different shots and come from different places. Their stance and their balance, everything is different. So I think if you just master what you do, I think the sky is the limit.

Q: Do you study other shooters?

A: I don’t study shooting but I do study how shooters play. I’ve watched a lot of film on J.J. Reddick, how he moves without the ball. I watched a lot of film on Kyle Korver. Everybody watches Steph, but you can’t be like Steph because he’s different. I think as a shooter, 75 to 80 percent of it is confidence. It’s all mind, all mind.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


As Coach Saban's coaching tree continues to grow, there was an article at that delved into what if any advice Coach Saban gives to his assistants as they gain head coaching positions. Here are a few excerpts of the article form Andrew Ashtleford:
Nick Saban says the same thing to his former assistants when they move on. He said he told Kirby Smart upon taking the job at Georgia, "Be your own man. Be yourself. Do it the way you think it ought to be done. Don't try to be somebody else."
That’s quality advice from Saban. It would be tempting for any of the coach’s former assistants to try to pattern their coaching styles after Alabama’s successful leader.
However, the greatest success comes when someone is able to place their own fingerprints on a program in a unique way. Clearly, Smart has done that this season in leading Georgia to an SEC title and an appearance in the National Championship Game.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Anytime we can pass along a resource that could be valuable to you or your team we do so.  Such is the case with "The Leadership Playbook" by Jamy Bechler.  It's one of those few books that would be beneficial to a coach as well as a player to read.  A big component to teaching is story telling and Jamy shares so many great stories to help get important points across to your team.  Don Meyer says "Your example isn't the main thing -- it's the only thing."  And Jamy has so many examples in this book that can relate to so many different areas to your players.

Each chapter also starts out with several motivational quotes -- something we are always looking for to help us paint a picture for our players.

Jamy has done his homework as well including this passage on Kwahi Leonard of San Antonio:
During the 2015-16 season, Kwahi Leonard shot 44.3% from the three-point arc.  Only J.J. Redick and Steph Curry shot better.  Considering that Leonard was First-Team All-NBA, that hardly seemed strange.  However, a few years earlier he had been a very poor shooter.  I his two years at San Diego State University, he shot 20.5% and 29.1% from the three-point arc.  It is a testament to Leonard's coachability and work ethic that we was willing to honestly evaluate his game and his goals.
There are so many of these types of stories that can help motivate a player.  We have used several with our team already.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Some great thoughts from Coach Nick Saban when asked after Alabama's hard fought 31-24 victory on the road at Mississippi State about the game being harder than he wanted it to be:

"Sometimes you need hard.  If we're going to beat really good teams, if we're going to be able to compete, we've got to learn how to compete in close games.  Where every player counts...where you've got to play every play for 60 minutes in the game...every third down is important.  There's lots of opportunities in critical situations in the game for players to make plays.  And we don't always have that when we win 49-0."

Sunday, November 5, 2017


From time to time I will take the opportunity to review and recommend a book to coaches.  I don't do this lightly.  Having said that, there are few books I would recommend more strongly to those coaching and teaching today than "iY Generation: Secrets to Connecting with Today's Teens and Young People in a Digital Age."  The book, written by Tim Elmore, was brought to my attention by Georgia Head Coach, Joni Taylor.

How good was the book? I took 41 typed pages of notes!  I spent a couple of days on the road with Mike Neighbors talking about the book and the challenge of teaching millennials.  I went as far as to invite Mike to speak at our Coaching Academy this fall on the subject.

P.S. - If you haven't already subscribed to Elmore's email blog you are missing out on information that can be extremely beneficial to helping your team!

Listening to Buzz Williams this summer at Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, he made the comment, "Don't be that coach that complains about how difficult it is to coach this generation."  His challenge was for us to adjust...think outside the box in an attempt to be better teachers.

Elmore's book, in my opinion is an absolute must read for anyone coaching and teaching.  He goes into great detail as to how and why today's young people are wired the way they are today.  He then gives thoughts and concepts to help us to bridge the gap and maximize out ability to impact our players and teams.

A couple of quotes that Elmore opens with sums it up completely:

“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help the next generation.”
-Chinese Proverb

“Our children are messages we send to a generation we will never see.”

Again, I took 41 pages of notes -- here's brief section that speaks what we are seeing in the iY Generation:

Observation #1: They Want to Belong Before they Believe
Elmore states that this generation isn't one uses facts before making decisions.  In fact, he says, "hey would rather join and belong to a small affinity group before they embrace the beliefs of that group."

Observation #2: They Want an Experience Before an Explanation
The book uses an analogy from Leonard Sweet in describing today's generation.  Sweet says they are "EPIC" -- Experimental...Participatory...Image-Rich...Connected.  Elmore states that to effectively teach that we must understand that a lecture won't do it anymore.  We must connect to them by capturing their imaginations. Elmore says: "So instead of asking, 'What do I want to say?' We should ask ourselves, 'How can I say it creatively and expe-rientially?.”

Observation #3: They Want a Cause Before They want a Course
Quite simply Elmore says "If you want to seize the attention of students today, plan to give them a reason for why they need to listen to your words."

Observation #4: They Want a Guide on the Side Before They Want a Sage on the Stage
Elmore explains that today's youth aren't really looking for experts..."especially if they are plastic or untouchable."

A strong example he gave? "When students were recently asked about their heroes, for the first in over 20 years they did not list an athlete at the top of the list. Their number one response was Mom or Dad. They hunger for more relationship than for information—even relevant information."

Observation #5: They Want to Play before They Pay
Elmore also delves into the instant gratification syndrome that many millennials have -- the microwave philosophy of now.

From Elmore: "I find many characteristics of Generation iY healthy and fascinating. However one may cause trouble for them later in life. For students today, almost everything comes instantly. They don’t like waiting for anything. 'Pay now, play later' mentality tends to be foreign.  Results have to come quickly, or they may lose interest."

Observation #6: They Want to Use but Not Be Used by Others
Elmore also points out another characteristic of iY Generation: "Millennials love to use any means possible to get what they want—the internet, cell phones, IMs, or purchasing music for their iPods. At the same time, they tend to be very weary of anyone they suspect of trying to use them."

Observation #7: They want a Transformation, Not Merely a Touch
What the millennials see today: "The expectations of students get higher and higher with each decade."

One other statement from Elmore in this section that is critical for us as teachers to understand: "To connect and influence Generation iY, we’ll likely have to adjust to them."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


The following is my favorite passage from the book "The Last Arrow," by Edwin Raphael McManus.  The book is an emotion read as McManus and he was on his way to completing the book was diagnosed with cancer.  It is incredibly well written with the thesis of time and what we are doing with it.  It's about giving life your best, until you've used that "last arrow."

Here a just a sampling of takeaways from this book:

On Life
When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.” What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets. On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did.

On Time
Time seduces us into believing that it is the one friend who will never run out on us, but the cruel truth is that it always does.  It would not be unfair to say that time lies to us.  It tricks us into believing that we can wait until tomorrow to do the things we should have done yesterday.  And while I find an endless number of reasons why people leave things in life undone, I find one unifying characteristic of those who leave nothing for the next life: a sense of urgency.

On Success
Success is a tyrant that will enslave you just as quickly as failure.  If you let success own you, you will find yourself trapped by your success and terrified by the possibility of failure.  Success will lie to you and tell you that your future is just an extension of your past, when at its best, success is simply preparation for new challenges.  Every day you will have to choose between living in the past, staying in the present, or creating a future.  The great danger lies in that the easy path is to hold on to what you know, cling to what you have, and make the future an extension of the past.  Though there is no way to stop time, you have to choose the future.  Although you are grounded in the past, you must not be grounded by the past.  And while tomorrow is coming regardless of what you do, the future comes because of what you do.

On Greatness
Greatness is a gift given to individuals by those who choose to surround them with their own greatness. Let me repeat myself: no great endeavor has ever been accomplished alone. Yet this realization does not diminish the greatness of the individuals we hold up as inspirations to us all. The fact that personal greatness is never achieved alone, the fact that personal greatness is always the sum total of the hard work and deep commitment of an untold number of people, does not in any way diminish the grandeur of an individual’s accomplishments. In fact, it elevates it. It’s much easier to do something yourself. It takes so much more work, it demands so much of yourself, to create an environment where highly talented, skilled, and intelligent people can work together for a common goal. If anything, this is the true genius behind all greatness. It is most certainly true when we are dealing with sustained greatness. What I’ve observed over the years is that all of us can have moments of greatness and glimpses of greatness, but what seems so unattainable is sustaining the level of commitment, resolve, and quality that achieves sustained greatness. That is why I am always fascinated by those who not only accomplish something extraordinary once but do it over and over again. 

On Seizing Opportunity
Striking the last arrow is not only about seizing every opportunity; it is also about being the right person at the right moment.  The moment requires action or even reaction.  Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are.  The best way to ensure that you will seize every action or even reaction.  Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are.  The best way to ensure that you will seize every opportunity is to be the best expression of who you are. 


I've just finished read "Teammate" by David Ross and my friend Don Yaeger.  I've spoke to my friends who love baseball and they love this book -- with good reason.  You get a great insight into the career of Ross but more importantly a peak in the dugout and clubhouse of the Chicago Cubs World Series run.

For me, I was fascinated with the title of the book and some of the thoughts regarding being a good teammate.  

This first pass is one that I will be sharing with our Aggie Leadership Council -- the art of being aware.  Having a pulse for your team to help often solve problems before they become problems:
I think good teammates have a high level of self-awareness. If you are self-aware, you have a better chance of focusing on the moment, you have a better chance of processing information. If you know yourself and are able to make adjustments, you will improve as a player, or have the potential to help those around you improve, because you understand the. Self-awareness is tied to authenticity. People who lack self-awareness tend to be more narcissistic because they can’t truly read themselves.

The next point is often lost an players and even coaches.  Just because you not in the lineup doesn't mean you responsibilities of being a good teammate are minimized in any capacity. In fact, that when they grow in importance.  The player who is a great teammate when he's not on the field or the court is the best kind of teammate:
Whether I was scheduled to play on a given day or not, I always tried to bring my personality and my energy to the ballpark. That was a very important part of being a good teammate to me. If I didn’t have my energy that day, it was difficult to invest in the team. If I was dragging or not into that day, I hurt the team And my teammates expected it of me. As a veteran if I was not checked in at all times, it took away from my credibility. It would be hard to criticize a teammate and be respected. I think that’s important from a manager and as a professional baseball player—you’ve got to be the same guy every day. Everyone has good and bad days and mood swings. I did too. But I tried to be the same guy every day that I went to the field.

And again, teammates aren't great because they have an amazing stat line.  As Ross says below, it's not "about numbers."
Being a good teammate and leader, in the long run, wasn’t about numbers. It was about presence and how you were perceived by the rest of the group. That’s what mattered most. Talent is part of the equation, but when you combine talent with accountability and authenticity, it is tough to beat.

A lot more to this book on Ross' thought of being a great teammate and how he actually grew into that role.