Monday, November 30, 2009


Thanks to Coach Eric Musselman for the following basketball thoughts from Marc Iavaroni of Toronot Raptors.

1. If you want to know about great offense, talk to the great defensive coaches. Talk to them about what they can't handle, find out waht works and gives them trouble.

2. If you can guard pick and roll offenses well, you've got a pretty good defense.

3. Basketball is a game of counters. What do they do and how are going to counter it?

4. It's all about penetration. If we can keep penetration to a minimum we don't have to rotate and create problems where we have penetration in the paint.

5. With Coach Wooden it was about recruiting quickness. Trying to get a player that was quicker than an opponent and create mismatches at every position.


Video is a big part of the teaching environment at LSU. We obviously video our games as well as every practice. We utilize video in scouting opponents and use motivational videos. Here are some various thoughts as to how we do it.

1. We watch video nearly every day.
We may watch before practice. We may watch after practice. At times we have done both. On a long practice, we might watch video in the middle of practice to take a break and learn at the same time.

2. We watch short spurts of video.
We rarely have more than 10-15 minutes of video to show our team. Even when watching video of a game we played the night before, we won't watch more than 20 minutes. Their attention span won't allow them to concentrate long enough for it to be effective. We might watch 10 to 15 minutes of our offense before practice and maybe watch our defensive clips afterwards or the next day.

3. We will ask our players questions during video.
We might stop the clip and ask our players "is everyone positioned properly?" In regard to our motion, we might freeze the video and ask a player "what are your options right now?" Asking them questions gets them involved and keeps them alert.

4. We chapter our video clips.
For instance, we will watch all our transition offensive clips in one segment. Then we will watch our motion offense clips in one segment. We think by "chaptering" we can really concentrate on one phase with our team and increase their retention. We do the same thing with our scouting video.

5. Utilize balance.
After a well played game we will obviously view clips of us executing well. But we will go out of our way to make sure we have clips of areas that fell short of what we wanted to let our team know that we still have room to improve. The same holds true when we play poorly and there are a lot of clips of our mistakes. We still want to make sure they see some good clips.

6. Utilize example video clips.
We have used clips from teams other than our current ones to show our team what we want. We have used video of past teams playing at a high level to show defensive and offensive clips. Several years ago, we put together a clip tape of the men's team at Texas Tech running Triangle Motion to show our players the type of spacing and screening/cutting combinations that we would like for them to use.


1. Design you offense to rebound. I don't care how good you are, you're going to miss more than 50% of your shots.

2. Design you offense so that your players get shots where they can make the most shots.

3. Work on your fears. I was scared of switching defenses. Whatever our coaching fears might be, I suggest you work hardest on controlling those things.


Successful people, successful teams are persevering. You cannot avoid defeat or failure. However your chosen response will make a difference in whether you succeed or fall short of reaching your potential. In his book (that our team is currently reading) "Talent Is Never Enough," John Maxwell talks about perseverance:

French scientist Louis Pasteur said, "Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lives solely in my tenacity." Perseverance begins with the right attitude -- an attitude of tenacity. But the desire to persevere alone isn't enough to keep most people going when they are tired or discouraged. Perseverance is a trait that can be cultivated. And the initial step to developing it is to eliminate its five greatest enemies:

1. A Lifestyle of Giving Up
If you desire to be successful and to maximize your talent, you need to be consistent and persistent. Talent without perseverance never comes to full fruition. Opportunities without persistence will be lost. There is a direct correlation between perseverance and potential. if you have a habit of giving up, you need to overcome it to be successful.

2. A Wrong Belief That Life Should Be Easy
John C. Norcross, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Scranton, has studied people and their goals, and he has found a characteristic that distinguishes those who reach their goals from those who don't: expectations. Both types of people experience the same amount of failure during the first month they strive for their goals. But members of the successful group don't expect to succeed right away, and they view their failures as a reason to recommit and a reminder to refocus on their goals with more determination. Norcross says, "Those who are unsuccessful say a relapse is evidence that they can't do it."

3. A Wrong Belief That Success Is a Destination
The NBA's Pat Riley has won many championships as a basketball coach. In his book The Winner Within, he writes, "Complacency is the last hurdle any winner, any team must overcome before attaining potential greatness. Complacency is the success disease: it takes root when you're feeling good about who you are and what you've achieved."

4. A Lack of Resiliency
Harvard professor of psychiatry George E. Vailant, in his book Aging Well, identifies resiliency as a significant characteristics of people who navigate the many transitions of life from birth to old age. He writes, "Resilience reflects individuals who metaphorically resemble a twig with a fresh, green living core. When twisted out of shape, such a twig bends, but it does not break; instead it springs back and continues growing. As NBA great Jerry West says, "You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good."

5. A Lack of Vision
Everything that is created is actually created twice. First it is created mentally; then it is created physically. Where does that mental creation come from? The answer is vision. People who display perseverance keeps a larger vision in mind as they toil away at their craft or profession. They see in their mind's eye what they want to create or to do, and they keep working toward it as they labor.


The following comes from the "Management Secrets of the New England Patriots" by James Lavin. It should never be lost upon us that the truly great ones, players and coaches, are constantly striving to improve.

After winning his second Super Bowl in three seasons, Bill Belichick spent two days with his old Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator, Nick Saban, devising new defenses: “He had just won the Super Bowl, for crying out loud, but here he was. We went at it for two days.” Then Belichick picked Jimmy Johnson’s brain about how to hold together a Super Bowl winner:

“Jimmy’s really the only guy in this era who’s lived it, who’s dealt with what we’re dealing with, and more. Who else am I gonna talk to?”

After returning to Foxboro, Belichick went negative on his players, according to running back Kevin Faulk: “You don’t hear [talk about “dynasty”] a lot in the locker room. We know we still have a lot to work on to get to that point. As a matter of fact, we recently met to watch film and coach put up all our bad plays from last year. It’s to remind us who we are. We are no better than the next team if we don’t go out there and try to get it right on every play.”

“I’ve learned in every game and in every season. …I’ve tried to observe [everything] and learn from either the mistakes I have made-and there have been plenty-or the things that have gone well.” -Bill Belichick


I was a poor leader when I started because I had all the answers. Improvement came in direct proportion to my willingness to ask the questions.

Here's the most important question I asked: How can I help our team improve? When I thought of something, I did it. Simple as that.

An effective leader keeps asking that question because there's always something more you can do -- always room for improvement. Always.

From "The Essential Wooden" by John Wooden and Steven Jamison

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It's one for the ages -- the motivational poem with an anonymous author -- but coaches have heard, read and used The Man in the Glass for as long as it's been around.

From comes a story of Virginia football coach Al Groh reading the poem to his team moments after losing to Virginia Tech and just before he lost his job. Always hate to see coaches get fired, especially the good guys. Here is a portion of the article:

In his postgame news conference, Groh did not directly answer a question about his future, but instead read a poem, "The Guy in the Glass," about how the most important person an individual has to please is himself. He closed with a testimonial about himself.

"When I visited the guy in the glass, I saw that he's a guy of commitment, of integrity, of dependability and accountability," Groh said. "He's loyal, his spirit is indomitable and he's caring and loving. I'm sure I will always call the guy in the glass a friend."

Groh also read the poem to his team before meeting with the media, and besides their disappointing finish, the players were emotional about falling short in Groh's final game.

"It's sad to see him go like this," defensive end Nate Collins, one of six captains on this year's team, said afterward. "I know me and the seniors talked this week, and we were just doing everything we could to get this win for him and for the coaches, because none of the coaches know what their futures are going to be like after this game. It's just tough.

"I hope the best for Coach Groh. I love Coach Groh like he's a father, and he's been a father figure to everyone here, and I don't think anyone can really say otherwise."

Read the entire article:

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in you life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

He’s the fellow to please-never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.


From "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

To understand execution, you have to keep three key points in mind:

1. Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy.
2. Execution is the major job of the leader.
3. Execution must be a core element of an organization's culture.

Execution is a systematic process of rigorously discussing hows and whats, questioning, tenaciously following through, and ensuring accountability.

The heart of execution lies in the three core processes:
1. The people process
2. The strategy process
3. The operations process

You need robust dialogue to surface the realities of the business. You need accountability for results. You need follow-through to ensure the plans are on track.

Friday, November 27, 2009



Some thoughts on conducting basketball practice from Coach Bob Hurley

"I love practice. If it were up to me, we’d not play any games, we’d just practice.”
-Coach Bob Hurley

Maximize your facility
1. Whatever you have, maximize it. Take pride in it. Make it clean.
2. Sweeps floor before every practice and at halftime of JV game. “This shouldn’t
be the custodian’s job. The coach should take pride in doing this.”
3. Practices after school during the week and in the mornings on the weekend (either 9:00
am-11:00 am or 8:00 am-10:00 am)

1. Team play
2. Keep individual skills up
3. Prepare for opponent

Early season practices
Know exactly how many opportunities you have to work with your team before
the first game. We have 16 practices and 3 scrimmages before our first official game.
2. First day of practice: 4 hours with a 15 minute food break (bananas) at the 2 hour
mark. This practice is followed by another 4 hour session the next morning (a Saturday)
and a free clinic Sunday morning for area coaches.
3. Post your practice plan:
4. It doesn’t have to fancy or even typed out, but it has to be on paper.
5. Players should have an idea of what practice will be about. They won’t study it,
but give them an idea at least.
6. Be careful not to overcoach on the day before a big game. Your players will catch on and
they will know something up (2 bad things can happen: they’ll tense up or, later on, will
relax during the next “day before” practice when you’re not as tense)
7. Bad coaching: spending too much time on one thing
8. “I love teaching, but how long can you maintain their attention?”
9. Late in the year if you’re in a drill that’s scheduled for 4 minutes, but you’re
sharp and after 2 minutes you realize your guys get it, call it after 2 and move on. “Don’t
be a slave to your practice plan.”

Thanks to Zak Boisvert, student manager at Fordham University for these great notes

Thursday, November 26, 2009


1) Wants to steal the ball or give you a bad shot
2) Rebound the bad and done
3) Do not let the opponent run what they practice/what their strength is
4) Set tempo...pressure the defender at dribble


“Contentment is for cows; a challenging purpose is for people.”
—Denis Waitley

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
—Henry J. Kaiser

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
—Arnold Palmer

“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”
—Terry Bradshaw

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
—Albert Einstein

“There aren’t any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.”
—William F. Halsey

“I will say this for adversity: People seem to be able to stand it, and that is more than I can say for prosperity.”
—Kin Hubbard

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”
—Peter Marshal

“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They’re what make the instrument stretch—what makes you go beyond the norm.”
—Cicely Tyson

“A feeling of confidence and personal power comes from facing challenges and overcoming them.”
—Brian Tracy

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
—Arnold Schwarzenegger

“The walking of Man is falling forwards.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fortunately, problems are an everyday part of our life. Consider this: If there were no problems, most of us would be unemployed. Realistically, the more problems we have, and the larger they are, the greater our value to our employer.”
—Zig Ziglar

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
—Margaret Thatcher


Thanks to Coach Eric Musselman for passing these along to me:

1. Starts with basic man principals of ball-you-man.

2. Win or lose – make sure you played "your way." No one ever likes to lose, but when you watch game film, you always want to see that you played "your way," win or lose.

3. The trapping and switching nature of their defense is based on "Calculated Risk." They don't want to miss an opportunity to "Blitz and Step-Up."

4. Situations where Calculated Risks are appropriate for Blitzing include: 1) anytime the ball is dribbled toward you as a defender. 2) Your man brings you to the ball. 3) The ball is dribbled to the baseline setting up a trap from behind.

5. They want to Blitz all ball screens or dribble hand-offs when defenders react to the Calculated Risk situations. Teaching point is that the trappers should never foul or get steals. Trappers are deflectors.

6. When a 2-man game occurs, the other three players "load" to the 2-man game.

7. Man guarding the screener calls the "Blitz" or "Switch." If you are guarding the ball-handler, always assume "Blitz" and he must step over the top to trap, or to be put in a ball-you-man position on the roll man if a switch occurs. If a big switches on to a small, the other three defenders should "load to the iso."

10. Never want to switch for convenience, would always prefer to "Blitz" if they can.

11. These rules are all applicable in the scoring area, approximately three feet beyond the three-line and in.

12. Coach Del Harris commented that it is an effective technique to teach someone going over a ball screen to do so by crowding the man with the ball and then throwing his leg and arm over the top in one motion.


The below passage comes from Jim Rohn but reminds me of a lesson that Skip Bertman constantly taught us (and sometimes had to re-teach us) when he was our athletic director. He was always about being in the now -- what we can do NOW to help our team. His thought was that if we spent any time complaining about a problem that we had just robbed ourselves of time that could've been used to solve the problem.

The coaching profession is really nothing more than solving problems.

1. From teaching and motivating our players to creating game plans against difficult opponents.
2. Working with media and administrators to boosters and parents.
3. Developing relationships and developing life skills in our student-athletes
4. Discipline problems
5. Lack or resources and sometimes support

The thing I got from Coach Dale Brown was to not just work hard to solve problems but to be excited about the challenge. His mindset when faced with something difficult was unique to me in that he would be exhilliarated when faced with some form of adversity.

Here are some thoughts from Jim Rohn:

We must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.
Humility is a virtue; timidity is a disease.

If you spend five minutes complaining, you have just wasted five minutes. If you continue complaining, it won’t be long before they haul you out to a financial desert and there let you choke on the dust of your own regret.

You cannot take the mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you devastate.


Some thoughts on reputation:

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
—Abraham Lincoln

“The Bible gives us a list of human stories on both sides of the ledger. One list of human stories is used as examples—do what these people did. Another list of human stories is used as warnings—don’t do what these people did. So if your story ever gets in one of these books, make sure they use it as an example, not a warning.”
—Jim Rohn

“Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.”

“Reputation is character minus what you’ve been caught doing.”
—Michael Lapoce


From my Brian Tracy email news letter comes a great piece on prioritizing.

The very worst use of your time is to do what need not be done at all. The Pareto Principle says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of the value of your activities. This means that, if you have a list of ten items to accomplish, two of those items will be worth more than the other eight items altogether.

To achieve great things, you must always be concentrating on the small number of activities that contribute the greatest value to your life and your work.

Determine the Consequences
The value of anything in your order of priorities can be measured by assessing the potential consequences of doing it or not doing it. Something that is important has significant consequences to your life and your career. Something that is unimportant has few or no consequences of significance to your life or career. The mark of the superior thinker is your ability to consider possible consequences before you begin.

Ask the Key Question
Continually ask yourself, "What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?" And whatever it is, work on that. Your ability to discipline yourself to work on those few tasks that can make the greatest difference in your life is the key quality that makes everything else possible for you.

Action Exercises
Here is how you can apply this law immediately:

First, make a list of everything that you do as a part of your job. Now, analyze the list and select the three to five things that are more important than everything else put together.

Second, imagine that you are going to receive a $100,000 bonus at the end of the month if you can work on your highest priority items every minute of the day. How would that change your behavior? What would you do differently?

Coach Wooden's Four Values of Respect

Respect for others

Respect for sincerity

Respect for loyalty

Respect for time


"Practice is also about developing your strengths. Having already analyzed our weaknesses and what the competition does better, we must also take time to determine where we find our competitive advantage. What are the things that your team can do better than the opposition? The answer comes from investigating the competition in addition to analyzing your own talent and resources. The way you practice, then, is determined both by the language of your competitive environment and what you find to be your own competitive edge."

From "The Gold Standard" by Mike Krzyzewski

Four Things Winning Teams Have In Common

From John Maxwell's "Teamwork Makes the Dream Work:"

Look at hundreds of winning teams, and you will find that their players have four things in common:

1. They play to win: The difference between playing to win and playing not to lose is often the difference between success and mediocrity.

2. They have a winning attitude: Team members believe in themselves, their teammates, and their dream. And they don’t allow negative thinking to derail them.

3. They keep improving: The highest reward for their efforts isn’t what they get from it, but who they become because of it. Team members know intuitively that if they’re through improving, they’re through.

4. They make their teammates more successful: Winners are empowerers. As Charlie Brower says, “Few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Here is an excerpt from an article in The Times-Picayune by John Reid that speaks to how a player can still contribute even though out with an injury. It also says something about the rookie Darren Collison being receptive to coaching:

During practices and games, injured New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul has been in rookie Darren Collison's ear, giving him pointers on the finer things about playing the position in the NBA.

Collison said since he took over the starting role for Paul five games ago, several veteran teammates have offered guidance, but he said the most beneficial has come from Paul, who remains sidelined indefinitely with a sprained left ankle.

During shootarounds, Paul has sat next to Collison when the team breaks into position groups and has gone over details about the opposing point guard as an assistant coach would. He’s also chimed in on how to get around pick-and-rolls.

Several times during last Saturday's 96-88 victory against Atlanta at the New Orleans Arena, Paul met Collison as he approached the bench during timeouts to give him tips. Often when timeouts were about to end, Paul continued to give Collison advice after instructions had come from GM/Coach Jeff Bower and lead assistant Tim Floyd.

“I’m trying to take everything in he says every day,” Collison said. “It might be a lot of information, but he’s one of the best point guards, and he’s definitely been a blessing. I’m appreciative of everything he’s told me.”

With that kind of mentorship, Collison is progressing rapidly since Bower took over coaching duties for Byron Scott, who was fired after a 3-6 start. Since his first start at Atlanta last week, Collison has scored in double figures in five consecutive games, including a game-high 22 points and 11 assists (his first double-double) against Atlanta last Saturday.

“I try to talk to him all the time, and it’s like I can never say enough,” Paul said. “You only get one rookie year, and you have take full advantage of it. In this league, you see all type of different things, and you see some guys that play harder and see some who let the game come to them. I just try to tell him to be you and always play as hard as you can.”

Read the entire article:

Monday, November 23, 2009


From "Talent Is Never Enough" by John Maxwell comes our passout for our team today:

What happens when you don’t prepare? Things you hoped won’t happen do happen — and they occur with greater frequency than the things you hoped would happen. The reason is simple: being unprepared puts you out of position. Ask negotiators what happens at the bargaining table when they are out of position. Ask athletes what happens when they are out of position. They lose. Preparation positions people correctly, and it is often the separation between winning and
losing. Talent-plus people who prepare well live by this motto: “All’s well that begins well.”

Preparation Principles:

1. Preparation Allows You to Tap into Your Talent
2. Preparation Is a Process, Not an Event
3. Preparation Precedes Opportunity
4. Preparation for Tomorrow Begins with the Right Use of Today
5. Preparation Requires Continually Good Perspective
6. Good Preparation Leads to Action

Sunday, November 22, 2009


A special thanks to Coach Eric Musselman for bringing this Sports Illustrated article to my attention. Written by Phil Taylor, it talks about the importance, understanding and recognition of good defensive play. Here are just a few passages from the story:

• Defense earns scholarships.
Contrary to popular belief, coaches sometimes recruit players more for their ability to get stops than to get points. Four years ago then Nevada coach Mark Fox (now Georgia's head man) was so impressed by 7-foot JaVale McGee's promise as a shot blocker that he decided to recruit him after watching a summer-league game in which McGee scored only one basket. McGee went on to block 122 shots in two seasons at Nevada before becoming the Washington Wizards' first-round draft pick in 2008.

• Defense brings playing time.
Kramer, Purdue's 6'3" linebacker-tough stopper, thought he might be headed for a redshirt season as a freshman until then assistant coach Cuonzo Martin explained to him how he could avoid that fate. "He told me that if I played defense—I mean really dedicated myself to playing defense—I could play here right away," Kramer says. He followed the advice so well that he started 24 games in his first season and made the Big Ten all-defensive team.

• Defense wins awards.
Or at least nominations. Tiller was named one of the 50 finalists for the Wooden Award for national player of the year even though he has never averaged more than 8.4 points per game. "It's tremendous that a single-digit scorer could make that list," says Missouri coach Mike Anderson. "It shows what kind of impact he has. Scoring a ton of points isn't the only way to make people remember your name. Good defenders can get themselves noticed."

To read the entire article:



Successful people often share similar characteristics. But I have come to believe that the single thing they have most in common is that they find success on the far side of failure.

What do I mean by that? I find that almost all successful people have experienced significant failures in life or in their work, but they have learned from their failures.

On the other hand, people who don’t recognize their failures or don’t seek learning from them, are often the ones failing again and again. Why? Because they haven’t learned the lessons from the failure—they haven’t gained self-awareness or understanding; they haven’t understood others or their marketplace; they haven’t developed the maturity for humility and integrity—and they find themselves repeating their mistakes again and again.

Think about the failures or mistakes you have made. How did you respond to them? What outcomes did you get? How have they helped you today? How have they not helped you—do you have something still to learn from your failures?

If you want to make significant progress in your life, don’t forget to find success on the far side of failure!


One more from Creighton Burn's today and it's a really important post. I believe Coach Burns got it from Randy Brown and it points to some important factors that coaches must keep in mind in regard to their jobs.

The following suggests a few ideas for you to use and incorporate into your coaching career.

1. Coaches must understand the ground rules of the job that they hold.
Too many times a coach and parents or the administration have different ideas about expectations. A coaches first task is to develop a philosophy and share it with his superiors to put both parties on the same page. A coach who is not in line with his administration is treading in deep water.

2. Define the terms success, progress, and direction of the program.
The next time a coach is fired, look for these words as they almost always are thrown out. It is imperative that these words are defined and agreed upon by all parties before moving ahead.

3. Develop a long range and short term plan for your program.
Why? People want to win and win now! Fans, alumni, and administrators are very impatient when it comes to winning. Many of them do not understand the difference between present progress and long term vision for the program. Everyone wants to win in today's sports arena and this has made a coach's job much more difficult.

4. Self-Improvement Program for coaches.
As a coach, you must be on a consistent self-improvement track. You cannot afford to stand still in terms of new trends in the game and changing player personalities. This cannot be done by just going to clinics. This is where coaches miss the boat. I recommend that you take courses in communication and player-coach relational skills. Coaching is teaching, and teaching is about relating to players in terms of what you want them to execute on the floor.

5. Develop excitement in your program so players buy in.
I believe that another mistake by coaches is assuming that everyone will fall in line with the program without effort. This is short sighted thinking. You coach a dozen different people and personalities. The art of coaching and teaching is to reach all of your players as you build a team concept. Look at your program and philosophy from the outside/in and you may discover some interesting things. Be flexible, willing to change, listen to players, and help them get excited about playing basketball.

6. Coaches need a "Plan B".
Forever I have been amazed at how coaches think they can coach forever. This firm belief is to the point where they have no idea what other kind of job they would do. This is a scary thought! Do you think this way too? You must prepare for the future to protect you and your family. In today's climate, a person will have eight different jobs in a lifetime. Based on a changing world, you will not coach "forever" as coaches once thought. You must develop a Plan B and a tool for an additional income stream.


Thanks to Creighton Burns for this list:

1. No transition lay-ups
The first girl to get back must get under the rim and draw a charging foul or force a 10 foot jump shot. If she tries to stop the ball at the free throw line they will get a layup. You must teach her to get all the way to the rim.

2. 30 or more defections
Deflections are the barometer of aggressive defense. They reflect your layers intensity. Whenever a defender touches the ball, there is a chance a teammate might steal it. Deflections create easy scoring opportunities and give the defense a decided edge in the psychological battle. (Tom Crean)

3. 12 of more steals

4. 20 or more forced turnovers

5. 15 or fewer free throw attempts by your opponent.
You will need to get 15 more free throw than your opponent.


Jim Rohn is a renowned motivational speaker but this passage in his email newsletter leads me to believe he'd be a good coach as well:

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying fundamentals.

There are no new fundamentals. You’ve got to be a little suspicious of someone who says, “I’ve got a new fundamental.” That’s like someone inviting you to tour a factory where they are manufacturing antiques.

Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn’t going to get the job done.

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.


From Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune comes a good artcile on some of the motivational ploys of New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton:

Motivation is weekly challenge for New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton. In addition to compiling a game plan for the upcoming opponent, he spends time each week preparing a mission statement to mold the minds of his players and hone their focus. He delivers it in a power point presentation to the team on Wednesday morning to set the tone for the week ahead. The message typically highlights a few simple keys to success in the upcoming game and sets the tone for the week of preparation ahead.

Last week Payton reached deep into his bag of motivational tricks for a game against the St. Louis Rams. The Saints were coming off a pair of emotional wins against NFC South Division rivals Atlanta and Carolina. The Rams were 1-7.

So as he does every week, Payton tasked his football operations staff to mine relevant statistics about St. Louis. They found a doozy: NFL teams coming off a bye week have won 62 percent of their games.

Forget that the statistical sample only covered the past three seasons or that it didn't factor in the success rate of one-win teams.

Payton had effectively seized the attention of his team as it prepared for a two-touchdown underdog. By the time the Saints kicked off at the Edward Jones Dome they were convinced they had only a 38 percent chance of winning the game.

"Yes, 62 percent winner, " Brees said this week. "That number still sticks in my mind."
Payton spent three years studying under Coach Bill Parcells in Dallas before joining the Saints and he admits he borrowed a few motivational tricks. Like Parcells, he's not afraid to use props if necessary.

In previous years, he littered the locker room with mouse traps to warn players to "not eat the cheese" during a winning streak. He left empty gas cans in the lockers of veterans Joe Horn and Hollis Thomas back in 2006. He also brought baseball bats to the facility before a game to encourage players "to bring the wood" on Sunday.

"If it were every week it might come across as gimmicky, " right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. "But he knows when to pick his spots."

Two weeks ago players found leaflets in their lockers with a photo of the Superdome beneath shots of Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme and coach John Fox and a message: Who's house is it: Theirs or ours? The reference was to Carolina's then six-game winning streak against the Saints in the Superdome, which the Saints snapped with a 30-20 victory.

Linebacker Scott Shanle sees a lot of Parcells in Payton. He said Parcells was a motivational master. He knew exactly what buttons to push for each of his players. Payton, players said, similarly pricks the egos of his players. And no one is spared.

He's gigged Jon Stinchcomb about his pre-snap penalties, Jammal Brown for his weight and Shanle for his ability to cover the tight end.

Earlier this season he even picked on Darren Sharper, who, at 34, is enjoying arguably the best season of his 13-year NFL career. After a win against the Detroit Lions in which Sharper intercepted two passes, the coach chided the veteran free safety that he couldn't return a pick for a score unless all of the players on the opposing offense were blocked or fell to the ground.

"That gets everybody laughing, " Brees said. "It's funny. It's humorous. But I guarantee you Sharper being the competitive guy he is walks to his locker and is like, I have to prove that I can take one back."

The ploy worked. A week later Sharper returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown in a win at Philadelphia.

"He knows little ways of motivating you, " Sharper said. "And it's motivation you can understand. It's not B.S. motivation."

Read the entire article:

Saturday, November 21, 2009


At the 2009 Pump Coaching Clinic, Jerry West was asked his response when a player asks what can I do to play?

"Kick the guys ass you are going against in practice."

"No mental mistakes."
"Stay after and communicate with coach."

His response to how he prepared to be "Mr. Clutch?"

His best friend in West Virginia was him… He practiced all the time by himself envisioning that his team was down 1 w/ 2 seconds to go.

Never be afraid to fail but if he did miss that shot, the next day he was back on the court practicing shooting.


Slam dunk from my Brian Tracy email on the Five Qualities of Top Teams:

Over the years, exhaustive research has been done on top teams. There seem to be given characteristics or qualities of peak-performance teams that you can incorporate into your own business. Here they are:

Shared Goals and Objectives
In a smoothly functioning team, everyone is clear about what the team is expected to accomplish. The goals of the team are shared and discussed by everyone. Each team member gives his or her ideas and input into how the goals and objectives can be best achieved. Each person feels like a part of a larger organization.

Shared Values and Principles
In excellent teams, there is regular discussion about the values, principles, and behaviors that guide the decisions of the team. The leader encourages values such as honesty, openness, punctuality, responsibility for completing assignments, quality work, and so on. Everyone discusses and agrees on what they are.

Shared Plans of Action
In this phase of team building, you go around the table and have each member of the team explain exactly what part of the work he or she is going to accept responsibility for completing. At the end of this discussion, each member knows what every other member is going to be doing and how his or her own work fits in with the work of the team.

Lead the Action
There must always be a clear boss or leader in any organization. Democracy is a fine concept, but it goes only so far in business. Someone must be in command and take charge. And that someone is probably you. On a good team, everyone knows who is in charge. The leader sets an example for the others. The leader becomes the role model.

Continuous Review and Evaluation
In this final phase, the team regularly evaluates its progress from two perspectives. First, is the team getting the results that are expected by its customers or other in the company? In dealing with customers, does the team set up mechanisms to continually ask customers, "how are we doing?"

Bringing the Team Together
One of the most important things you do in building a peak performance organization is to hold regular staff meetings. Bring your people together weekly, at a fixed time, to talk, discuss, catch up on progress, learn how the company is doing, and generally share ideas, opinions, and insights.

Action Exercise
Conduct a values clarification exercise with your entire team. Then mutually agree to live and work by the common values.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The following comes from an article by Kevin Ding of the Orange Country Register:

If you are able to dig up a copy of Tex Winter's triangle-offense book, initially composed in 1962 and not too long ago cited by Phil Jackson as "our Bible still," you know that post play is paramount.

They are literally items 1A and 1B in Winter's "Seven Principles of Sound Offense." Principle No. 1 is "Must Penetrate the Defense," and written below is "A. Good percentage shots ..." and "B. Stress inside power game."

Yes, Michael Jordan made the triangle famous, and he slashed more than he posted for a Bulls team that had some pretty nondescript centers. Yet that's exactly why Jackson and Winter found irresistible the prospect of coming to Lakerland and dropping post-up powerhouse Shaquille O'Neal into their offense.

Three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards? O'Neal really should've been called "The Big Apex" for how perfectly the triangle fit him.

But to reinforce our post-up point, let's check in with Jordan, too. Here's the scene ...
Where: Nike sponsorship function. When: Summer, 2005. What: Kobe Bryant picking Jordan's brain about Bryant's impending move from guard to Jordan's wing/small forward position in the triangle.

Jordan's primary advice: "Go to the post a lot."

Jordan wound up there often as time went by in Chicago. More and more, he appreciated it was the place to be in the triangle and a great spot from which to take care of business. But the real crux of it is that illegal-defense rules in his era enabled Jordan to dominate absolutely in isolation on the wing – an option the NBA's legalized zones took away from Bryant.

So, Jordan told Bryant, it's a different game than Jordan played – so Bryant had to embrace all that the post offered.

Bryant has done as he was told, integrating post play into his repertoire that very 2005-06 season, although this season without Gasol has seen him far more aggressively seize post position.

It got to the point that Jackson told Bryant to save it for certain times – and now that Gasol is back, that's precisely what can happen. Bryant, Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest and occasionally Lamar Odom will all set up in there, because the Lakers want to use all their size and skill, especially when given mismatches, and because triangle is built for all the positions to be interchangeable.

"We have a bunch of guys who can post," Bryant said. "We have the advantage."

Read the entire article at:

Thursday, November 19, 2009


What I believe separates good teams and individuals from great ones is the manner in which they handle adversity.

One of the greatest comments I ever head about adversity came from the current Duke University president, Richard Brodhead. He said to me, “You outlive your darkest day.” In other words, failure can never be your destination.

From “Beyond Basketball” by Mike Krzyzewski with
Jamie Spatola


In teaching our players, I tried to concentrate on the process rather than the result. I think it’s the best way to teach. If a coach starts out on the first day of practice talking about winning, that approach can actually get in the way of winning.

Building a team takes patience and planning. We went through the process step by step, no shortcuts. We repeated drills until good habits were established. We stressed sound fundamentals. We drove home the point that basketball is a team game and the team members need to depend on one another. We talked about the soundness of putting the team first. We taught the players not to dwell on the consequences of failure. We valued each possession, and I encouraged the players not to look at the scoreboard until it became a smart thing to do with a few minutes left, although that was difficult for them to do. We went to great lengths to reward unselfish behavior, and we profusely praised those acts that we wanted to see repeated.

Of course confidence helps, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, but false confidence and hubris don’t pay off. False praise as a weapon to build confidence? I didn’t believe in it.

A person isn’t going to wake up one morning and suddenly become confident. It’s not that easy. Words aren’t going to do the trick. Confidence must be earned. It takes time, work, dedication — on the part of the teacher and the pupil.

Confidence can be as fragile as an eggshell. Coaches can’t talk players into being confident, although praising players when praise is deserved can help them become more confident. Bet they can do the reverse if they tear players down with criticism. Then self-confidence may never bloom.
Basketball is not a game of perfection. Mistakes are part of it.

Thorough preparation does wonder for anyone’s confidence. We tried to put our players through every situation in practice that they might experience in a game.

Hard work that results in success equals confidence. That’s the only formula I have. I know of no other way. That’s why bad practices really got me down. I never really learned how to handle them.

From, "The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From A Life In Coaching"
By Dean Smith with Gerald D. Bell and John Kilgo



Failure is part of success, an integral part. Everybody gets knocked down. Knowing it will happen and what you must do when it does is the first step back.

My Five Dos for Getting Back Into the Game:

1. Do expect defeat. It’s a given when the stakes are high and the competition is working ferociously to beat you. If you’re surprised when it happens, you’re dreaming; dreamers don’t last long.

2. Do force yourself to stop looking backward and dwelling on the professional “train wreck” you have just been in. It’s mental quicksand.

3. Do allow yourself appropriate recovery – grieving - time. You’ve been knocked senseless; give yourself a little time to recuperate. A keyword here is “little.” Don’t let it drag on.

4. Do tell yourself, “I am going to stand and fight again,” with the knowledge that often when things are at their worst you’re closer than you can imagine to success. Our super Bowl victory arrived less than sixteen months after my “rain wreck” in Miami.

5. Do begin planning for your next serious encounter. The smallest steps – plans – move you forward on the road to recovery. Focus on the fix.

From "The Score Will Take Care of Itself" by Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh


Kevin Eastman's "Perfect Defensive Possession"

1. Get back and set our defense
2. Stop the ball
3. Pressure the ball
4. Stay between the man and basket
5. Contest all shots
6. Rebound

I couldn't agree with Kevin more. The key is what are you doing on a daily basis with your team to improve and maintain in each area?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Seek Circumstances Which Assure Victory from Sun Tzu: For Success by Gerald Michaelson

Thus, there are five points in which victory may be predicted:

He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will win. (scheduling)

He who understands how to handle both superior and inferior forces will win. (system of play)

He whose ranks are united in purpose will win. (chemistry)

He who is well prepared and lies in wait for an enemy who is not well prepared will win. (practice)

He whose generals are able and not interfered with by the sovereign will win. (leadership)


The following comes from Coach Ray Lokar's blog which all coaches should have bookmarked:

During the preseason, as basketball coaches are introducing the offensive and defensive game plans, philosophies, and strategies, it is easy to forget some basic actions that can improve players and the team. There are some fundamental things that ANY player can commit to doing, simply by putting their mind to it, without needing to get better at any "basketball fundamentals". These "commitments" can make the player more effective IMMEDIATELY without getting any better at “basketball skills”.

Always stay in an athletic stance. It is your point of maximum explosion. Be just like a track sprinter coming out of the blocks. Have your knees bent. Be on balance. Be ready to move. You will get open on offense more often. You will guard your man on defense easier. The player with the lowest active stance usually wins.

The only person who can score is the one with the ball. Go guard him even if he is not your man. Help your teammates when their man is open. Go guard him. Contest the shot even if it means leaving your feet, but don’t fall for a head fake too easily!

Always catch the ball with 2 hands--concentrate on the catch before you do anything else. Rebound with 2 hands--and try for every one. Pick up a loose ball with 2 hands--pick it up, don’t dribble it. You will get more possessions for your team and each possession is another chance to score.

You will usually break their will with your first three steps. Get ahead of the defense and your teammates will throw you the ball. It will help you get easy shots on offense with your fast break. If you beat the offense back, they may not even try to run their fast break. Getting back on defense will help stop their fast break and cut down on their easy shot attempts.

Passing the ball is faster than dribbling it. If you move the ball, you make the defense adjust and they might make a mistake and leave someone (maybe you!) open. If you see an open teammate--throw them the ball. Don’t wait for a better pass. Remember - "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Read this entire post which includes "Offensive Extras" and "Defensive Extras" at:


In 2008, Pat Williams, the GM of the Orlando Magic and a tremendous motivational speaker put out a book, "The Ultimate Coaches' Clinic." It is a fascinating book because of the style Pat utilized. He surveyed over 1000 coaches and administrators for insights to what is important to successfully do their job. From time to time I will share a few but it is a great book to own and I highly recommend it. Here are some thoughts from George Halas (Former Chicago Bears Head Coach):

Each player is an individual and must be treated accordingly. Sometimes that turns one man on and will turn another off. You must sense what makes a person go.

The strength and character of the personnel determines the strength and success of the team.

The team that has the greatest desire to win will win if the two teams are evenly matched.

Usually the desire comes from a certain amount of pride in excelling in playing the game.

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.

At least 80 percent of the success of the football team is determined by the fight and spirit that they put into their play.

Every player should know every play precisely, exactly, immediately, and without the slightest doubt as to how it should be executed.

Before it is possible to achieve anything, an objective must be set. You need a purpose, an objective toward which to work. You can achieve only that which you will do.

Every organization must have leadership in the area of captains, players, and coaches.What makes a good coach? Complete dedication.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wish I could remember who sent this to me but it's a good list of things to incorporate in your offense regardless of the fact that you run motion, continuity or quick hitters. The list comes was created by Peter Lonergran:

When deciding on which offensive structure or system to implement with a team, it is important to understand what components make for a successful offense. The “six point checklist for offensive structure” can assist in simplifying the choice of structure and ensures that the coach does not waste time implementing and teaching an offensive system that does not provide consistent and scoring opportunities.

Perhaps the most important aspect before even selecting your offensive structure or putting it to the “six point test” is that it suits your playing personnel and is something your players have the ability and skills to operate.

Any offensive system will only be as good as the fundamental base of the players and the bulk of practice and preparation time should be devoted to individual skill development. The next step is to put your offensive structure or system to the “six point checklist."


Any offensive system needs to be able to provide scoring opportunities early in the possession, either after a defensive stop or a made basket. Basic full court organization, perhaps with an inbuilt counter for extended pressure and clear roles for all players in transition, are valuable in creating quality shots early in the possession and possibly “easy” baskets. The transition or early offensive system needs to flow quickly and smoothly into the half court set to ensure shot clock pressure is not created as the offense “burns” clock in getting organized.

This is perhaps the most important aspect of any offense. Without it, the ability of individuals to execute one on one skills and key elements such as post play and penetration are limited. Whatever the system being used, all players need to have an understanding of spacing and just as importantly, how to identify and react accordingly when spacing is poor.

As with spacing, the ability to shift the defense through ball reversal is essential to effective team offense. Most effective offensive systems have “in-built” ball reversal, that is, they explore one side of the floor, then create action away from the ball and a conduit to take the ball to that action on the opposite side of the floor. This can be achieved through stepping interior players to the perimeter to reverse the ball, reversing through hands or through the post.

Ask coaches what is the toughest thing to defend in the half court. Many will reply containing the ball and handling dribble penetration. Penetration of the ball into the key is a vital element of team offense and places pressure on the defense in terms of stopping the ball and then reacting to players in receiver spots. The “drive and kick game” has become more and more prevalent with the change to the FIBA shot clock and most players have the ability to break down an opponent off the dribble. It is essential for an offensive system to provide “penetration lanes” and create action that leads to close-outs and opportunities to “put pressure on the rim” through dribble penetration.

The focus of any offensive system is to create quality, high percentage scoring opportunities and this is often done through the post or creating shots in the lane. The lane and post area can be described as the “80 per cent land of opportunity” so common sense would suggest it a sound idea to create action that provides scoring opportunities in this area of the floor.

When all is said and done, the name of the game is scoring and putting the ball in the hoop. This can be done in a variety of ways, but good teams combine a combination of early offense, with post play, shots in the lane and perimeter shooting. To ensure a team is both hard to guard and scout, creating opportunities for shooters is important in providing offensive balance and making for a balanced attack. If an offensive set or system has all the above ingredients and players have a fundamental base, there is a strong chance it will provide plenty of quality scoring opportunities.

This checklist can also be used as a reference point during games. Often the offense may struggle because one of the above six points is not in place. There are rarely even magic solutions to team offense or coaching in general, but the application of this checklist and reference to it during the course of practice and games is one way to ensure your team is a tough proposition for any defense.