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Saturday, December 24, 2016

THE LAST DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This will be our last post until following Christmas -- and has become a tradition at Hoopthoughts. We come off of Christmas with three games in fives days so the next few days I will be breaking down tape and squeezing in some Christmas shopping. Below is a motivational passout that Coach Dale Brown would mail out each Christmas. It speaks to our ability to teach...not teaching subjects (or plays)...but teaching students (and players) -- and there is a big difference. Enjoy and may you all have a wonderful holiday season!
 

When Tony Campolo was in Chattanooga last week to speak at the annual “Gathering of Men” breakfast, the noted sociologist told a story that begs to be repeated, especially on this day:

It seems that there was a lady named Jean Thompson and when she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall, she told the children a lie.

Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn’t play well with other children, that his clothes were unkept and that he constantly needed a bath. Add to it the fact Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold ‘X’s and then marking the ‘F’ at the top of the paper biggest of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either.

Now at the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s records and--because of things--put Teddy’s off until last. But when she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.

His first-grade teacher had written, “Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does work neatly and has good manners … he is a joy to be around.”

His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student and is well-liked by his classmates--but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

The third-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy continues to work hard but his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. His is tardy and could become a problem.”

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast.

It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard on that last day before the vacation would begin.

Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in heavy, brown paper of scissored grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne.

But she stifled the laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and she dabbed some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

At the end of the day, as the other children joyously raced from the room, Teddy Stoddard stayed behind, just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”

As soon as Teddy left, Mrs. Thompson knelt at her desk and there, after the last day of school before Christmas, she cried for at least an hour.

And, on that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and spelling. Instead she began to teach children. And Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called Teddy.

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded and, on days that there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember the cologne.

By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and … well, he had also become the “pet” of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. And then he wrote that as he finished high school, third in his class, she was still his favorite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, that he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and graduated from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.

Then four more years passed and another letter came.

This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. That she was still his favorite teacher but now that his name was a little longer. And the letter was signed, “Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.”

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said that… well, that he’d met his girl and was to be married.

He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering … well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.

But I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like … well, just like she smelled many years before on the last day of school before the Christmas Holidays begin.


QUOTES FROM DON YAEGER'S "GREAT TEAMS"

Here are just a few great quotes from Don Yaeger's book "Great Teams:"


"Motivation is short, but inspiration lasts a lifetime."
-Ganon Baker

"Great competitors focus on daily improvement, with the mind-set to win each and every day."
-Bruce Bowen

"I think every leader must have a heart of service."
-Aja Brown

"I believe in winning the day and looking for small victories for my players, whether a great play in practice, a passing grade on an exam, or a personal best in the weight room.  I use these opportunities to reinforce behavior that was consistent with the culture I wanted to build."
-Jim Calhoun

"Promising something like playing time, is setting up disappointment and a breakdown of trust."
-Jim Calipari

"How your team complements each other is just as important as their individual skill sets."
-Jerry Colangelo

"When communication breaks down, mistrust and bad attitudes begin to develop.  I remain in constant communication with my players and staff to ensure they are all on the same page."
-Tom Crean

"Great teams know how to listen in a meeting and understand when feedback is required."
-Randy Cross

"My practices are called the 'competitive cauldron' because of my focus on competition and punishing pace."
-Anson Dorrance

"A shared culture will quickly show the new team member how he is expected to act...Personal agendas are not tolerated within the standards of a strong organization."
-Kevin Eastman

"A talented team will gie its best work every day, no matter what."
-China Gorman


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WHO CLEANS YOUR BUILDING?

I absolutely loved this passage from Coach John Calipari's latest book, "Succes Is The Only Option."
A business executive by the name of Walt Bettinger likes to tell the story of the only course in college in which he failed to get an A.  Bettinger, the president and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, was in his senior year and really determined to keep his perfect 4.0 grade-point average.  He had spent hours studying and memorizing formulas for a different upper-level business course.
The professor handed out the final exam and it was on just one piece of paper, which surprised everyone because they had anticipated a test with dozens of questions, as Bettinger recalled in an interview with Adam Bryant, author of the Corner Office feature in the New York Times.  One side of the paper was blank and when students turned it over, so was the other side.  The professor then said to them, "I've taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last ten weeks, but the most important message, the most important question, is this:  What's the name of the lady who cleans this building?"
Bettinger did know the answer and receiver a B for the class but gained a valuable lesson. These were lessons I was taught working for Dale Brown and Sue Gunter.  It's not the X & O's -- it's about the people and how you treat them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CHRIS PETERSON ON RECRUITING OKGs

The following comes from Don Yaeger's wonderful book, "Great Teams."  Here are a few segments from University of Washington football coach Chris Peterson on recruiting:
"In the business of recruiting, everybody falls in love with the tape.  But you must remember to fall in love with the kid, not the tape.  We really tried to hone in on the OKGs because not all of the really good guys get the same attention."
What are "OKGs?"  Coach Peterson coined it to refer "our kind of guys."

Yaeger went on to write about specific areas that Peterson looked at to gauge if they were indeed OKGs:
"We just try to do as much history as we can, talk to the kid and the people who surround him," he said.  "We want to tell the recruit what we are all about and find out what they are all about.  I tell them that our place is much harder than other places and our standards and expectations are different than a lot of programs."
Yaeger also said that Peterson "paid close attention to the core GPA of a potential player, because he believed that score painted a picture of that recruit."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

HOW TOM THIBODEAU SPEND HIS YEAR "OFF"

From NBA.com, Mitchell Hansen wrote an article on Tom Thibodeau and in part, how he handled his year away from coaching.  Again, more proof that the best are continual learners and look for ways to improve.

After departing Chicago, Thibodeau took a year off to reflect, recharge and learn before looking for another head coaching job. 
“Last year was a great year. I visited some (NBA) teams in September and October and then went back the last month of the season. I believe I visited 13 teams,” he said. “When you don’t have your own team and you’re not worried about who you are playing next, you have a much broader view on everything. It was a great year and I took a lot from it.”
Along with visiting other basketball teams, Thibodeau branched out to two successful coaches in other sports: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
“You’re talking about two all-time greats in the history of their respective sports and to get the opportunity I had to spend some time with them was invaluable to me," Thibodeau said. "What you find out is the winning characteristics are always the same in every sport. When you start to learn about leadership and what teaching is all about, you can learn a lot from those guys.”

Thursday, November 3, 2016

JIM HARBAUGH ON COMMUNICATING AND TEACHING

Remember, it's you content that's important in communication and teaching.  It's not enough to say "bad pass."  You have to tell them why it is a bad pass so they can correct it.  "We've got to throw the ball away from the defense."

It's not enough to say "good pass."  You have to tell them why it is a good pass so they can repeat the action.  "Great job of passing away from the defense."

Here is a Jim Harbaugh talking about that in an article written by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press:

“You can scream at somebody and tell ’em they did something wrong. Or you can pat ’em on the back, tell ’em they did something right. But you’re still not giving them the tools.
“The teacher or coach that can actually give you the tip or the advice to develop you as a player — those are the real special ones.”

TRAITS OF A GREAT COACH

Last week there was a lengthy article written on Bill Belichick by David Fleming of ESPN The Magazine.  You can read it in its entirety here -- and it's well worth it.  In the meantime, here are some takeaways about him from the piece that I think should resonate with good coaching:

Taking Away What Your Opponent Does Best

Bill Parcells: "With the Giants, we were trying to take away an opponent's best players and not let them beat us. Bill has followed suit on that pretty much his whole career."

Rick Venturi:  "Everybody in football wants to take away what you do best. The difference is Bill would go to an extreme to make you play left-handed. That's Belichick's absolute genius: pragmatism. When other coaches say it's important that we take away an opponent's best receiver, only Bill would commit four defenders on a receiver and play the rest of his defense with the other seven."

Rick Venturi: "Early in the week, before the X's and O's, you meet for hours upon hours as a staff breaking down personnel to come up with a game plan. Once Bill decided what to focus on taking away, he always ended that meeting with the same saying: 'And I don't want to have this discussion on Sunday.' Basically, he was saying, 'This week, not letting their No. 1 receiver catch any balls is one of our Ten Commandments, and no one better break it.'"

Work Ethic

Phil Savage: "Saban might be the greatest college coach ever, and I can honestly say in the last eight years at Alabama I have never once seen him tired. But in Cleveland, under Bill, he'd go slump down against a wall and stutter, "I gotta get out of here, I can't function anymore." Bill could outwork all of us."

Bob Quinn: "I'd get to the office somewhere between 6 and 6:30 every morning and he was always there. In 15 years I could probably count on both hands the number of times I pulled into the parking lot and he wasn't there. When the leader of the organization does that, it's really easy for everyone else to kind of take that mentality too and say, 'If he's doing it, we all should do it.'"

Rick Venturi: "His philosophy from the beginning was 'No stone left unturned' and 'No envelope unpushed in order to win.' And the result of that was you worked to exhaustion. But he never asked you to do anything he wasn't doing. I look back on that first season as the greatest year in my coaching life."

Caring For Those You Work With

Jon Robinson: "After my daughter was diagnosed at 6 with Type 1 diabetes, a week later on my desk there was a little teddy bear, with a Belichick hoodie on it. And he had written a little note: 'I know this doesn't cure it, but just something for Taylor to know we are thinking about her and praying for her.' She knew it was from Coach. She named her bear Hoodie."

John Harbaugh: "Bill called our owner at like 3 in the morning to recommend me for the Ravens job. I was just really grateful and I couldn't believe it. I called Bill up and thanked him right away. He just said, 'Ah, don't worry about it, you should've had the job three days ago.'"

Jim Schwartz: "He did a great job of coaching coaches. It wasn't just the players. He coached the coaches."

The Importance of Details

Jim Schwartz: "Probably the biggest thing I learned from Bill is that there isn't anything that is not important. Anything that touches the team is important. That philosophy of 'Don't sweat the small stuff'? Yeah, that was never his philosophy."

Phil Savage: "He proceeds to go through all these little intricacies on the game film ... and it's 20 minutes on one play. Twenty minutes! In my immature mind I'm sitting there in the dark doing the math: Three games to break down on each side of the ball, 60 plays in each game, 20 minutes a play means I can get through three plays in an hour. My god, I'll never sleep again. And I didn't."

The Culture of Teaching

Phil Savage: "Most coaches specialize on one side of the ball. But he's one of the few out there who have a global perspective of the entire game and all 22 positions. He's a true coach of all 22 positions plus every specialist. That's a rarity. He's one of the few coaches out there who, if you dropped him on the staff at Drake University and said, 'Hey, be the tight ends coach,' he could absolutely coach those tight ends to the nth degree."

Adam Vinatieri: He knew what was going on in the building at all times. He controlled which doors we went out of. The way in and out of our locker room to our cars was right by his office. I think when they built it, there was probably planning involved."

Rosevelt Colvin: "The dude's a walking football encyclopedia. He can give you the history of the spread formation or the single wing. I tell people all the time, if you ever had a conversation with him about football it would be one of the greatest conversations you ever had in your whole life."

Kevin Faulk: "We prepared for everything. Not saying we perfected it, but we prepared for everything. There's no second-guessing or hesitation when you play for Bill. When you have to think on the field, it slows you down. When you know exactly what you're doing and how to do it and why you're doing it, that allows you to play faster, and your talent flows freely. It's like being in class. They hand you a test, you open it up, look at the questions and go, 'Wow, I know all the answers already.'"

Don Jones (Patriots Safety, 2014): "Tuesday they would give us the scouting report, and on Wednesday morning Bill would go around the whole room -- from Tom Brady down to the bottom man on the roster -- and ask everybody about the person they were going against. You really didn't want to be the one not to know."

Heath Evans: "Those Q&A's could get really, really stressful because he could ask you anything and you'd better know it. [Former Patriots tackle] Matt Light always sat right behind me, so any time Bill did ask me a question early on, Matt would be whispering in my ear all the wrong answers."

Monday, October 24, 2016

COACH MEYER: THE NOTE TAKER

The past few days I've been rereading "How Lucky You Can Be," by Buster Olney which is a wonderfully written book on the life of Coach Don Meyer.  I came across a story that made me laugh out loud but at the same time displayed what made Coach special and great:

Don Meyer was the worst fisherman that Ron Vlasin had ever seen.  Years before Meyer's accident, Vlasin and Meyer had gone out on Lake McConaughy, Nebraska's largest body of water.  Shortly after the two men had dropped their lines, Meyer asked Vlasin a question about the high school basketball team that Vlasin coached.  With his back to Meyer, Vlasin started answering the question keeping his voice low for fear of disturbing the fish.  After a few minutes, Vlasin had glanced over at Meyer at the other side of the boat and saw that his friend had put down his rod, had pulled out a notebook, and was writing everything that Vlasin had said.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

THE PREPARATION MINDSET OF CHAMPIONS

The following comes from "How Champions Think" by Dr. Bob Rotella:

I heard a story from Brad Faxon recently that illustrates the way champions are single-minded. Brad is a New Englander and a big fan of all the New England teams, including the Patriots. He’s become friends with Tom Brady. A couple of years ago, New England pulled out a big win against San Diego in the final minutes. On the day after the win, Brad called Brady. “Congratulations. What a great win!” Brad said. “Man, that must’ve been some party on the flight home.” “Brad, we have a no-drinking policy on our flights,” Brady said. “By the time we got on the plane in San Diego, every player had a computer at his seat with next week’s opponent broken down position by position. That flight home is the best five hours we’re going to get to prepare for next week. Monday will be taken up with a lot of physical rehab. Tuesday is taken up with a lot of PR and endorsement stuff. If we waited until Wednesday to start getting ready for next week, we’d have already lost. There wouldn’t be enough time.” That’s what single-mindedness looks like on a team level.




Monday, October 17, 2016

JIM JABIR: BUILDING YOUR CULTURE

We were blessed this weekend to have Jim Jabir as our guest speaker at the Gary Blair Coaching Academy. Coach Jabir had two sessions with our coaches, one on Building Your Culture and the other on The Phoenix Transition Offense.  Here are a few notes from his lecture on culture.

Goals vs. Process

Goals can cause you to lose sight on what you need to be doing at that moment.

It's like climbing a mountain.  If you are constantly looking at the top of the mountain as you climb, you're going to misstep and fall.  They key is to keep your eye on each single step and step by step you'll arrive to the top of the mountain.

What do people see when they see your team?

You must have a philosophy/program of substance -- it must be bigger than the game.

Coach Jabir wants his program to represent unselfishness, intelligence and playing hard.

Important to control what you can control.

Greatest compliment he's received as a coach was at a recruiting event.  He was on another court when someone came up to him and told him there was a "Dayton player" over on court 1 -- meaning there was a player that displayed the characteristics that this person related to being a Dayton player.  When Coach Jabir went to the court to check the player out, it turned out to be one that had committed to him earlier.

First thing he did when getting hired at Dayton was write "FAMILY" on the board and then outline all that it meant.

"Greatness comes from being consistent in your belief system."

Coach Jabir wants kids that love each other and will win because they want to win for each other.

It's a game of trust.  You can't love someone you don't trust.

We talk about "what" but we don't talk about "why" enough.

Great leaders inspire action.

It's not enough to give a kid a role -- you have to help them understand it and it's importance.

Has had the opportunity to observe Geno and the big thing with him is that he challenges them every day.

You can't be good at everything...what's your team equipped to do?  Work on that.

Are you "complaint" or are you "compelled."

Everyone says they want to play fast but do they want to do all that it takes to successfully play fast...painful work...discipline.

Archie Miller sign in locker room "Do Your Job" (Patriots)

Don't hype your opponent -- be factual.

Advancing in the post season is believing in what we do.

Coach Jabir doesn't use conditional statements -- doesn't say "if."

You need a certain level of stress to succeed.  Create stress levels in practice but reward them when they get it right.

Be in the present!

Can't be afraid of making a mistake.

Great players aren't great by coincident.