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Monday, April 11, 2016

WISE WORDS FROM A WESTERN WRITER

A little bit off the beaten path.  Coach Bob Knight in his book, "Knight: My Story" said that he great enjoyed reading Louis L'Amour.  Then I was rereading some notes from a PGC/Glazier Clinic a few years ago, and going over things I'd written down while listening to Dean Lockwood speak and he had quoted L'Amour so I did a little checking and came up with a list of wise words from the author.

"A wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat."

"Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more."

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning."

"Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value."

"To disbelieve is easy; to scoff is simple; to have faith is harder."

"Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content."

"No one can get an education, for of necessity education is a continuing process."

"The water doesn't run until the faucet is on."
 
 

PRACTICE/TEACHING THOUGHTS FROM SHERRI COALE

Reading some of Don Meyer Coaching Academy notes from 2003 and wanted to share some thoughts from guest speaker Sherri Coale.

Coach Coale said that the #1 question she was asked was did she transition from high school coaching to college coaching:
"There is no secret.  Do the best job that you do no matter where you are.  Be in the right place at the right time.  Coach kids like they are pros.  Everything else will take care of itself.  If you do the right things consistently, people will find you."

Here is a list of things that Coach Coale was said in starting a program:

   Practice planning is most important.

   Teaching is the most important part of developing your team.  How do you go about   
   teaching your kids every day?

   Taking notes is the single most important thing that you can do.

   Keep every kid engaged at all times.

   Every drill that you do must have a purpose.

   Spend twice as long preparing as you do teaching.

   Practices should be designed to be tougher than games.

   Use competition drills as much as you can.  There should be a winner and a loser.

   Use echo yells when practicing.

Five things that Coach Coale said they do everyday in practice:

   Fundamentals (Passing, Shooting, Catching, Dribbling)

   Defensive Transition

   Offensive Spacing and Timing

   4/4 and 5/5

   Rebounding

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

COACHING CONSISTENCY

This afternoon I took a quick break to do a little reading (which I do and recommend).  Today I did some rereading of notes I took from "You Win in the Locker Room First," by Jon Gordon.  The following passage comes from former Atlanta Falcon head coach Mike Smith.  He speaks to the importance of consistency on the part of a coach and his approach to his team regardless of situations and circumstances:
"I see it all too often.  Coaches will begin the season with one philosophy and attitude, only  to change their approach and attitude when the team starts to lose.  As a leader you must be consistent in your leadership style, approach, attitude, philosophy, and tactics.  If you start off being supportive and friendly with players, you cant' go from being a player's coach to someone everyone hates.  You can't go from encouraging to condescending.  If you are not consistent throughout the year you will lose your team's trust, and as soon as that happens, you lose the locker room and in turn lose games.  Please know this doesn't mean you wont' have moments of anger or frustration.  We all do.  If you are a coach with high expectations who yells at times, your team will know that's your style and they will expect that from you.  The key is to be who you are and coach the way you do all year long no matter what your win-loss record is.  Your team must know what to expect from you.  They must see that you stick to your principles and philosophy through adversity and challenges.  You must be the same coach at 0-8 as you are 8-0.  It's hard to do, especially when you are losing and the pressure mounts, but if you don't, then you are doomed for failure.  The character you possess during the drought is what you team will remember during the harvest."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A TRIBUTE TO STUDENT MANAGERS -- WHO'S PACKING YOUR PARACHUTE?

I've always had a great love and admiration for young men and women who are managers.  There is a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice they make in order for the team to be successful.  They are at the gym before the players and long after.  The NCAA has a required day off for student-athletes but not so managers.  My friend and mentor Dale Brown once said that if he owned a business the first people he would look to hire would be student managers. 

Think about it. They obviously have a great work ethic.  They have a strong grasp of time management.  They understand and accept roles.  There is no job too great or too difficult or too dirty for them.  They work together amongst others.  They don't need the limelight or the headlines to be motivated.  They celebrate the teams victories and, believe me, they hurt when the team loses.  They are a special group of people.

It reminds me of a story about a man name Charles Plumb.  Captain Plumb was a graduate of the Naval Academy.  After 74 successful missions he was shot down in North Vietnam.  He parachuted to safety but was captured and tortured for nearly 6 years.

Through courage and perseverance, Plumb would go on to receive the Silver Star, Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and two Purple Hearts.  He took from his experiences and used them as a message, speaking to many groups across the nation.

One day, Plumb and his wife were eating as a restaurant when a man from a nearby table approached him and excitedly said, "You're Captain Plumb!  You flew jet fighters in Vietnam off the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.  You were shot down!"

Obviously Plumb was caught off guard that he was recognized and said, "How in the world did you know that?"

The man replied, "I packed your parachute."

Plumb looked up with surprise.  The man pumped his hand, gave a thumbs-up and said, "I'm glad it worked."

Plumb rose to shake the man's hand telling him, "It certainly did work.  If it had not worked, I would not be here today."

Captain Charles Plumb had a restless night thinking about the encounter.  He wondered if he might have seen him at some time while serving and not even said, "Good morning, how are you?" He thought of the many hours the sailor had spent bending over a long wooden table in the bottom of the ship, carefully folding the silks and weaving the shrouds of each chute, each time holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn't know.

And while it may not be life or death, managers, student-trainers, student workers and a variety of staff often do thankless jobs that make such a big difference in the success of a basketball program.

What I've done in the past with some of our teams is given them the Charles Plumb passout and ask them to write at least one thank you letter to someone who has "packed their parachute" this past year.  As a coach, I never miss an opportunity to let these people know how important they are to me and our team.  I meet with them to learn what their dreams and goals are so I can help them along the way.  I have them over to my home.  I work hard to help them find jobs.  It's the least we can do for such a dedicated group.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ARETE -- TO BE EXCELLENT, PRODUCE EXCELLENCE

Those of those who followed and learned from the teachings of Coach Don Meyer are very familiar with the word "arête" -- it was one that Coach spoke of constantly and challenged is teams to aspire.

Arête is always framed in definition with the word "excellence."  It is also attached to moral virtue though in his incredible book, "Resilience," Eric Greitens offers us some outstanding views on the mindset of arête and it's relationship with results and intentions:

We are ultimately measured by our results, by the way our actions shape the world around us.  Without results, all the kind intentions in the world are just a way of entertaining ourselves.

It may be helpful to think about the difference between intentions and results by looking at how the Greeks through about right action.

The word that shows up again and again in their discussion of ethics is arête. As we've already discussed, arête doesn't really mean "virtue," though that's how it's often translated.  When the Greeks used the word arête, it referred to excellence.  They used the same word to describe a vase, the excellence of a great runner, and the excellence of a person.

To be excellent is to be someone who produces excellence.  There is no such things as an excellent shoemaker who regularly turns out flimsy shoes.  So think a big about what the Greeks must have believed about having an excellent character.  Your character was judged excellent not before you acted, but after.  The judgment was based not on your intentions, but on your results.

When we think of virtue as an excellence, we don't ask, "What did I intend?" We ask, "What did I do?"

Friday, March 25, 2016

DRIBBLE USAGE VS. THE ZONE

Today we are sharing a small excerpt from the book "Attack The Zone Defenses" by Del Harris and Ken Shields.  It is simply the most thorough book I've read on Zone Offense and is a must read for all coaches.  It has great detail to simple concepts with over 300-pages that without question will improve you Zone Offense.

There are six positive functions for the dribble against the zone defenses.  The first three actions are fundamental and well recognized.  Dribble Rotation and its value as noted in points four and five are more advanced and lesser understood.

1. Drive the ball to the goal for a score, with four teammates moving into positions to complement the attack on the basket, according to our bailout rules.

2. Punching (penetrating) into a defensive gap to shoot or to create a shot for a teammate by drawing defenders to the ball, thereby creating more space for him to operate when receiving a pass.

3. Using the drag dribble to improve a passing angle by bouncing once or twice laterally for a post entry, or to shorten the angle and distance for a perimeter pass, and especially to key popping a high post player out for a catch as an entry into a potential high-low post action.

4. Dribble Rotating the defense down to stretch or distort the defense.  This is done by dribbling while guarded by a defender out of one zone into an adjacent one toward the sideline or baseline in a non-penetrating angle.  The ball handler dribbles the ball one slot over on the perimeter to pull the ball defender to the edge of his area or into the next primary zone area.  This intelligent use combined with reading the defense creates excellent open space options.

5. Dribbling Rotating the defense up or across the top.  Dribbling up away from the baseline, or near sideline, in a non-penetrating angle involves the same process as the Dribble Down, but offers different space openings.

6. Freeze dribbling a defender to make him engage the ball. This clever action Ken has specialized in serves to have the effort of helping to pull a low wing defender out of his preferred position.  It is also a tool used often at the top of the zone to allow better timing for cutters to get into place.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

TOM CREAN UTILIZES TONY LA RUSSA'S SUBSTITUTION SYSTEM

Turns out that Indiana and Coach Tom Crean took a page from baseball's Tony La Russa in utilizing your bench to prepare them for the post season.
“I learned something from Tony La Russa a long time ago.  He said he tried to get his back-ups, his subs, a game a week, whether an inning here on Monday or an inning on Tuesday. You know what? The same thing applies to basketball. You know when you get guys minutes, quality minutes in the duration of the season, when they get in pressure situations, it doesn’t feel like pressure."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY

We showed this video to our team in our season closing meeting. Can't imagine a team or individual that wouldn't benefit from the message and passion of Inky Johnson.


CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP -- WHEN THE COACH IS WAY

There was an article that ran on Al.com written by Michael Casagrande regarding Coach Nick Saban and how he handled spring break with his team.  You can read the entire article here.  There were a few things that stood out to me in the article and they were related to the culture that Coach Saban has built.

I'm a big believer in the fact that great teams, championship teams are developed when the coaches aren't around -- the locker room, off-season workouts, in the community.  "Who's running your locker room" is always a key factor.  Can your leaders work in such a way that the young one's will follow?  This is where culture comes in.

In a meeting with his team before parting for spring break, Coach Saban told his team he wanted them to workout four times over the break. Saban commented:
"And we'll know the players who worked out four times and did not dissipate in terms of gaining weight and who took care of themselves, because you won't be able to respond in practice like you want to if you don't do those things. Now, we don't call and make sure they do it. We don't have a postcard that they fill out. We can't make them do it, so we encourage them to do it."


I believed this statement showed trust on Coach Saban's part as well as a standard of accountability that could be checked when they returned.

The other statements from this article that was impressive came from the players themselves that showed both leadership and commitment to their team:

When linebacker Ruben Foster was asked how his trip to Miami he said he didn't make it to the beach.  Instead he:
"Worked out. Studied. Tried to call the young guys, check up on them, them checking up on me."
Tight end O.J. Howard and quarterback David Cornwell travelled to Houston together to work on routes with each other.  As Howard stated:
"We both want to win for the team so whenever you've got a bunch of guys on the team who are dedicated like that it's going to help the team in the long run."


Culture and process makes the difference over the long haul.  One final statement from Coach Saban shows his trust in his players and the belief that culture is strong:
"I didn't ask anyone how much they worked out over spring, but it's a real indicator of how important football is to them, and how important that is for them to be a good player. If a guy just went and did nothing for the whole time, he's not very committed to improving himself and having a significant role on the team. I think it tells you a lot about a player's competitive character, how important football is to them, and how important the team is to them in how he does those things."




GOING FROM ASSISTANT TO HEAD COACH

The following list comes from Coach Mike Deegan, the head baseball coach at Denison.  Coach Deegan came to Denison after being as assistant at Marietta College where he was part of a staff that won three National Championships.  Often as assistant coaches we assume the transition to head coach is not as difficult as it may seem -- Coach Deegan gives us some great insight.
 
The following list comes from an article that you can and should read hear.  Coach Deegan, in the article, gives some great advice for assistants wanting to make the move up.
 
1. Get ready to be unpopular: As an assistant, everyone likes you.  As the leader, that won’t be the case.  The happiness of our players, parents and coaches is really important to me, probably too important at times.  Let me be the first to tell you, not everyone will be happy and they will more than likely blame you.  Can you handle that?
 
2. Get ready to be questioned: As an assistant you make suggestions, as a leader you make decisions.  There is a huge difference.   And guess what, everyone knows more than you.  People with fractions of the information will tell you what you are doing wrong.  The questions will come from everywhere.  In my profession that means assistant coaches, players, parents, bus drivers, fans, administrators, faculty….the list goes on and on.  Can you be confident enough in yourself to make bold decisions?  Can you stay strong and not allow outside influences to affect your decision making process?
 
3. Get ready to have your character challenged:  I recently had dinner with a Federal judge.  We were discussing the coaching profession when I said, “you are never popular as a head coach.”  He responded by saying, “tell me about it, I’m the most hated man in America right now.”  If you decide to lead you will be attacked at some point.  People will take shots at you either directly or more often than not, behind your back.  How will you handle this? 
 
4. Get ready to have your family affected: Yes, your family will feel the impact of your leadership position.  Don’t let anyone fool you; this will be tough on your family.  The hours will be longer and you will never be completely “off” from the job.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come home from a long day at work and tried to shift gears into dad and husband when I’ve received the “emergency” text or email.  This absolutely impacts the family.   Yes, dad is home but now dad is distracted. 
 
5. Get ready to be on an island:  There will only be a very, very select few people who know what you are going through.  Other people may think they know but they don’t.  You won’t have the ability to “vent” to many people.  You will have to find a core group of friends that will be there to support you, provide you with advice and help you through the difficult times. 
 
6. Get ready for a different type of relationship with your players: This may be the toughest challenge.  As an assistant, typically, you have a very close relationship with the players.  However, as an assistant, you are not making the final decision.  The leader needs to maintain a healthy distance.  You will have to guard against getting too close; you have to make sure it doesn’t appear that you are “playing favorites.” 
 
7. Get ready to deal with people who just don’t get it: You will work around the clock trying to provide growth and contribution for those you lead.  You will sacrifice your personal time for others.  And, there will still be some people who don’t get it.  In my profession, it all revolves around playing time.  You will strive to teach the life long lessons that sports provide.  It won’t matter to some.  This will hurt.  Can you stay the course? Can you continue to try to do what’s right despite of the criticism?