Thursday, March 31, 2011


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part VI of those clinic notes:


Coach Stevens says the important question is "are your prioritizing what's important?"  The absolute goal is to stop the other team from scoring.
Despite the fact that a lot of people talk about "tempo" in the NCAA tournament, Butler never mentions "tempo" once.  They just want ot make it difficult for you to score.
Scouting is a huge part of the equation for Butler.  Their system must be adjustable and flexibile in terms of guarding different players/teams.
Coach Stevens said they used a trip to Italy to work on some different things and it took them three months to get back to their identity.  So even though as a coach you are thinking about jumping to the ball all summer doesn't mean your players are...Coach Stevens learned that you need to start back over every year.
He used an example from Tony Dungy -- the concept of "regenerative leadership" -- older players spreading the culture to the younger players, and the younger players continuing the cycle when they become older players.
Next: Defensive DNA #6: Awareness

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The following comes from a book titled "Success Is A Choice" co-authored by Coach Rick Pitino.  Here are his thoughts on the first of his 10 steps.


We cannot minimize the importance of self-esteem. Without it, we become paralyzed. We are unable to move, to go into action.

Extraordinary self-esteem produces extraordinary things.

Much of self-esteem, in fact, is tied to being honest with yourself about whether you deserve victory. Therefore, don’t try to foot the person in the mirror. You’re only wasting time if you do.

When you’re underachieving it’s easy to think everyone else has the secret except you. You look around at successful people and think they have everything going for them.

Underachievers frequently don’t understand their role in things.

Self-esteem comes with a catch, though. We must deserve it. It’s counterproductive to boost someone’s self-esteem when that person doesn’t deserve it.

Here are five key rules for building self-esteem:

1. Help each person see himself or herself as having a significant role, no matter what it might be.

2. Create a significance for the group, whether it’s an organization, a team, or a company.

3. Maintain positive reinforcement for the effort people are giving.

4. Recognize the people who get less attention in the group because they’re not in the glamorous positions.

5. Never forget that it’s imperative to keep people positive, because those who are discontented have the potential to infect others.


“The first thing you must understand is that the person being motivated must have the feeling that the one doing the motivating really cares about you.”

-Billy Donovan


From "Playing For Coach Meyer" by Steve Smiley:

Great men do great things. Coach Don Meyer is a great man who does great things. Everyday he works on giving his gift of knowing the game of basketball and player development away to anybody who will listen, and anybody who asks him. Coach Meyer takes pride in sharing his love and passion for the game of basketball and player development each and every day. It doesn’t matter if you are a 7-year old putting up jump shots in the gym all by yourself, or a successful coach yourself who has been coaching for 20 or 30-plus years, Coach Meyer will go out of his way to help you become the best player, coach or person you can be.

We all know that Coach had won a ton of games but that’s not what I’m going to remember about him after my career is over. I’m going to remember his desire to get better everyday and the way he pushes his players to improve not just on the court, but off it as well.

Coach Meyer made this point simple enough when he said: “As a player, you are always doing one of two things. You’re either bringing energy to the team, or you’re sucking energy away from the team. On our team, we want energy givers, guys that bring energy to the group.” This is a simple enough concept, but Coach Meyer would constantly ask us what type of player we were on an individual level. Was I an energy giver or an energy drainer during the last practice? Did I make the team more energetic, or did I bring the team down? Constantly Coach Meyer would question every player on the team, and as my career progressed I began to see how important the concept was.


The following comes from Michael McKinney of

Self-awareness is where leadership development begins. Self-management and authenticity flow from self-awareness. Self-awareness can be divided into four parts: what is known to us and others, what is known to others but not by us, what we know and others don’t and what we don’t know and others don’t either. Plumbing the depths of self-awareness takes time and more intensive tactics. However, our biggest gain in self-improvement can be had by finding out what others know that we don’t. And they know more than we think.

Here are twelve keys to greater self-awareness:

1. Stop blaming others for your choices. It’s you.

2. Take a personality assessment to help you gain some perspective.

3. Get feedback from as many significant people in your life as you can. This can be uncomfortable for both you and them, but it is the fastest method for gaining a better picture of yourself. (Make them feel safe. It's a big, unknown risk for them!)

4. Get a coach or mentor. They don't have to know more than you. They just have to see you in action and help you to be a better you. You're not as hard to figure out (complicated) as you would like to think.

5. Understand that your biggest irritations look a lot like you.

6. Look beneath your behavior to reveal your assumptions and filters. They dictate how you see yourself and others and impact how you relate to them.

7. Look at your roadblocks. Learn to separate facts from your interpretations of them.

8. Analyze your interactions. A lot of negative interactions signal a selfish approach to life.

9. Reflect daily on your behavior. Ask questions like: How do I handle difficulties? What do I think or do when I don’t get my own way? How adaptive am I? Can I control my emotions? Do I tend to say what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it? Do I judge other people and create conflict? How do others relate to me?

10. Organize your thoughts in a journal. It is one of the best ways to capture what is going on around you and inside you. Make a note of the causal remarks people make about you.

11. Read books and go to seminars that help you rethink your assumptions and address your problem areas and blind spots.

12. Be careful what you say. Words mean a lot. Your language reflects your thinking and attitudes.


One of my favorite books is "The Maxwell Daily Reader" which sits on my desk.  Each day I open to the day's date and read the message that John Maxwell has developed for that day.  One such message includes a story about Vince Lombardi.  I've wrote about this story before but thought it worthy of repeating -- especially with Maxwell's thoughts on motivation at the conclusion:

Vince Lombardi, the famed Green bay Packers football coach, was a feared disciplinarian.  But he was also a great motivator.  One day he chewed out a player who had missed several blocking assignments.  After practice, Lombardi stormed into the locker room and saw that the player was sitting at his locker, head down, dejected.  Lombardi mussed his hair, patted him on the shoulder and said, "One of these days you're going to be the best guard in the NFL."

That player was Jerry Kramer, and Kramer says he carried that positive image of himself for the rest of his career.  "Lombardi's encouragement had a tremendous impact on my whole life," Kramer said.  He wen ton to become a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and a member of the NFL's All-50 Year Team.

Everybody needs motivation from time to time.  Motivation makes it possible to accomplish what you should accomplish.  Never underestimate the power of it.

Motivation helps people who know what they should do it!

Motivation helps people who know what commitment they should make it!

Motivation helps people who know what habit they should break it!

Motivation helps people who know what path they should take it!

Motivate someone in your circle of influence today.


"If anything goes bad, I did it.  If anything goes semi-good, we did it.  If anything goes really good, you did it.  That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you."

-Paul "Bear" Bryant


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part V of those clinic notes:
Butler likes the three steps and then break down (chop your feet) with your arms up.  They stress closing out to the dominant hand.
They also guage closeouts based on the skill set of the individual you are closing out on.
1. If you're closing out to a great shooter, closeout to his shooting hand and give him less room to get his shot off.
2. If you're closing out to a great driver, you don't want to break down as much: "A great driver beats a great closeout every time."

Next: Defensive DNA #5: Prioritization

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


At age twenty-six, Ben Franklin outlined his own list of personal values.

• Show commitment. The core values that make you who you are seldom change. This commitment establishes your identity and determines your future.

• Accept the help of others. It is the assistance of others that helps you determine your true identity. Finding out “who you are” is best achieved with the help of someone who can be a sounding board.

• Think positive. You have faults that need to be recognized and minimized. Be humble, but not to the extent that humility makes you set your goals too low. Success is achieved by focusing on, and taking advantage of, your inherent strengths. One wins by leading with strength.

From "Sun Tzu: For Success" by Gerald Michaelson


All the following quotes are attributed to golfing great Bobby Jones...they go beyond golf and even sports:

“You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about.”

“A leading difficulty with the average player is that he totally misunderstands what is meant by concentration. He may think he is concentrating hard when he is merely worrying.”

“I never learned anything from a match that I won.”

“Many shots are spoiled at the last instant by efforts to add a few more yards.”

“The secret of golf is to turn three shots into two.”

“The best exercise for golfers is golfing.”

“Golf is said to be a humbling game, but it is surprising how many people are either not aware of their weaknesses or else reckless of consequences.”

“Rhythm and timing are the two things which we all must have, yet no one knows how to teach either.”

“In order to win, you must play your best golf when you need it most, and play your sloppy stuff when you can afford it. I shall not attempt to explain how you achieve this happy timing.”


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part IV of those clinic notes:

The first important question for Coach Stevens in regard is "where are you on the floor?"

1. If you have an athletic advantage, you can pressure more.

2. If you are at an athletic disadvantage, you have to trick the offensive player in different ways to keep him off balance.

3. Butler plays a lot of 1 on and perimeter.  Everyone must be able to guard two dribbles on the perimeter.  This includes post players because they might switch onto a guard late in the shot clock.
Next: Defensive DNA #4: Closeouts

Monday, March 28, 2011


In his book, "Bo's Lasting Lessons," Bo Schembechler discussed who and why it roomed players on the road and in the dorms.  Great coaches look for many angles to build their team -- here is one way that Bo did it at Michigan:

At the end of the day, all we have is each other, so you need to get to know your teammates. That’s why we decide who rooms with whom, in the dorms and on the road.

This was by design. I didn’t see any point having two seniors room together on the road, because they already knew each other. No, you split them up and put each of them with a freshman who could benefit from a little guidance.

Same thing with the dorm assignments. Two guys from the same neighborhood? That’s too easy. So you pair up the kid from downtown Detroit with the kid from rural Ohio. They get to know each other. Four years later, you’ve got one helluva senior class, and they get a friend for life.


Respect must be earned over time. There are no shortcuts. It is earned through the consistent embodiment of three attributes:

1. Trustworthiness.
People never respect a person they cannot trust. Never. The best coaches know this and work immediately on letting their players know they can be trusted. Mike Krzyzewski, head basketball coach of Duke University, put it this way. “If you set up an atmosphere of communication and trust, it becomes a tradition. Older team members will establish your credibility with never ones. Even if they don’t like everything about you, they’ll still say, ‘He’s trustworthy, committed to us as a team.’”

2. A caring attitude.
In all my years of leading people, I must have said this more than a thousand times: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s true. If players sense that you really care about them, that you have their interests at heart, they will listen to you and respect you. As former University of Michigan head football coach Bo Schembechler said, “Deep-down, your players must know you care about them. This is the most important thing. I could never get away with what I do f the players felt I didn’t care. They know, in the long run, I’m in their corner.”

3. The ability to make hard decisions.
 Players cannot respect a coach who cannot make the hard decisions necessary for a team to succeed. When a coach is willing to make those decisions, the players know he is acting in the team’s best interest. They feel secure, and they in turn are more likely to act in the team’s best interest themselves. Tom Landry said, “Perhaps the toughest call for a coach is weighing what is best for an individual against what is best for the team. Keeping a player on the roster just because I liked him personally, or even because of his great contributions to the team in the past, when I felt someone else could do more for the team would be a disservice to the team’s goals.” He would also lose his players’ respect.

From "Developing the Leaders Around You" by John C. Maxwell


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part III of those clinic notes:


The Butler defensive philosophy stats that your first step in proper positioning is you transition defense.  Coach Stevens believes it is important that your transition drills simulate what happens in a game.

Keys to good transition defense include:

1. Stay in front of the ball
2. Protect the basket
3. Pick up the ball
4. Find good shooters

Next: Defensive DNA #3: Defending the Ball


Like most people I have failed more times than I care to remember. I’ve struck out playing baseball, I’ve failed to win the client, I’ve lost the big opportunity at work, I’ve had to close two of my restaurants, I lost my race for city council of Atlanta when I was 26, I was fired once, I was once a month away from bankruptcy, I was initially rejected by over 100 publishers, I’ve made mistakes as a parent and boss and the list goes on and on and on.

Yet, when I look back I realize that every failure has moved me forward. Every failure taught me a lesson and made me stronger, wiser and better. I failed many times but I failed forward (I first heard this term from John Maxwell).

Failing to win a client taught me what not to do so I could start winning more business. Shutting-down restaurants taught me to be smarter about picking the right locations. Losing the race for city council led to me leaving Atlanta, moving to the beach in Florida and doing the work I do now.

I’ve realized that sometimes we have to lose a goal to find our destiny. Sometimes we have to fail to move forward.

I know some of you might be saying, “Well that’s you Jon. You’re just lucky. It doesn’t work that way in my life. You have no idea what failure has done to me.” I hear these comments often and I always respectively disagree.

I believe there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who fail and those who fail forward. We all fail but what we do with our failures is our choice. At any moment we can stop being someone who fails and become someone who fails forward.

Through each challenge and failure we must stay hopeful and know that failure always leads to a better future if we have an attitude of faith, are open to the possibilities and trust that new and exciting opportunities are coming our way. We have to look at failure not as a dead end but rather as a detour to a better outcome than we could have ever imagined.

If you are experiencing a failure right now at work or home please know you are not alone. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t lived. It’s time to ask what you can learn from your failure. What is it teaching you about yourself and your team?

Don't be afraid to fail, just make the choice to fail forward. Use it to learn, grow and become the you who you were meant to be.


Perhaps the most outwardly identifiable quality of a high performing man or woman is "action orientation."

1. Take Time to Think and Plan
Highly productive people take the time to think, plan and set priorities. They then launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and objectives. They work steadily, smoothly and continuously and seem to go through enormous amounts of work in the same time period that the average person spends socializing, wasting time and working on low value activities.

2. Getting into "Flow"
When you work on high value tasks at a high and continuous level of activity, you can actually enter into an amazing mental state called "flow." Almost everyone has experienced this at some time. Really successful people are those who get themselves into this state far more often than the average.

In the state of "flow," which is the highest human state of performance and productivity, something almost miraculous happens to your mind and emotions. You feel elated and clear. Everything you do seems effortless and accurate. You feel happy and energetic. You experience a tremendous sense of calm and personal effectiveness.

3. Become More Alert and Aware
In the state of "flow," identified and talked about over the centuries, you actually function on a higher plane of clarity, creativity and competence. You are more sensitive and aware. Your insight and intuition functions with incredible precision. You see the interconnectedness of people and circumstances around you. You often come up with brilliant ideas and insights that enable you to move ahead even more rapidly.

4. Develop a Sense of Urgency
One of the ways you can trigger this state of flow is by developing a "sense of urgency." This is an inner drive and desire to get on with the job quickly and get it done fast. This inner drive is an impatience that motivates you to get going and to keep going. A sense of urgency feels very much like racing against yourself.

5. Create a "Bias for Action"
With this ingrained sense of urgency, you develop a "bias for action." You take action rather than talking continually about what you are going to do. You focus on specific steps you can take immediately. By employing this technique you concentrate on the things you can do right now to get the results you want and achieve the goals you desire.


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part II of those clinic notes:


"Your players must be completely committed to the system.  In my 11 years I've never had a player in our program that worked his tail off on the defensive end that wasn't a great teammate and student.  Defense is about players that do their job on every play and that makes you feel proud to be part of the team."

Commitment starts with establishing the correct mindset.

Coach Stevens referenced Do Rivers from last year's Florida clinic: "Believe or Leave."  If your players believe, you can establish a Defensive DNA.

Coach Stevens felt that when he had young teams, that creating a good defensive team gave him the best chance to win.

He is also a big believe in utilizing statistics to challenge your team.

Example: Earlier in the season Butler was giving up 45% from the floor, but they found out that if they had gotten three more stops per game, they would be giving up 39%.  Defensive field goal percentage dropped 2 percentage points for every stop.

Coach Stevens also likes the 10 day break during the season to work on developing his defense.

A key to the Butler defensive system is that it is build to defend everything no matter what is being run against it -- whether you had it in the scouting report or not.  At the same time, he wants his defense to have a degree of unpredictability.

Next: Defensive DNA #2: Positioning


From a clinic given at the University of Florida comes some great notes from Butler's Brad Stevens talking about the Bulldogs' defensive principles.

Here is Part I of those clinic notes:

Coach Stevens is big into the process and relies on statistics and numbers to help him coach his team.  He is always trying to get his team do the things that are important.  He is trying to create a "Defensive DNA."

Coach Stevens said he gained an appreciation when he became a head coach for how hard it is to prepare the right practice noting that "your team has to be good at practicing the right things."  This puts a huge premium on the head coach being right.

In regard to his defensive philosophy, he broke the team's "Defensive DNA" into 6 categories.  He explained that he did this because he was coaching a team with 6 freshman who need to learn how to play their system.

He also spoke of having a system that also had flexibility.  he thought is was key to find the best way to teaching something at the beginning of the year to create a foundation but that cal be adjusted later in the season.

Next: Defensive DNA #1: Commitment

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This list comes from Pat Anderson via Creighton Bruns:

These 6 principles will dictate the way your team cuts, screens and rotates in your offense. They apply to ALL man to man offenses, are simple, easy to teach and wildly effective. (You might want to print this out and keep it handy at your next practice)

Here we go:

1) When a player receives a pass on the perimeter or in the high post, he should immediately square up and go into triple threat position. This allows him to see the court, and puts his body in a position where he can shoot, pass or drive in one motion.

2) When using a pick/screen, always wait for your screener to be set. Then use a misdirection cut to set up your defender. If the defender tries to fight through the screen, the rub off the screener's shoulder and cut to an open area. If the defender trails (ie. runs behind the player coming off the screen), then curl around the screen and cut towards the hoop. If the defender tries to cheat over top of the screen, then fade to a region away from the defender.

3) ONLY dribble to accomplish one of these goals:

a) To penetrate towards the basket

b) To maintain floor balance or proper spacing with teammates

c) To improve passing angle

d) To get out of trouble

Too many players waste their dribble by going nowhere, frustrating their teammates and causing the offense to bog down. Remember, dribble with a purpose!

4) Never stand in one place for longer than two or three seconds. Player should move with a purpose, and never remain stagnant. If all else fails, screen away to the opposite side of the court, or cut through the key for a pass.

5) Maintain floor balance and spacing at all times. Players should always keep around 15 feet of space between each other on the perimeter, and 10-12 feet of space in the post. Keeping the floor spread opens up lanes for driving and cutting, and makes defensive rotations longer and harder to make.

6) If a player is being aggressively denied, he should not fight the defensive overplay. Instead, react by cutting to the basket (ie. a backdoor cut or back cut) or screening for a teammate.

Ingrain this stuff into your players minds. You'll get better spacing, better ball movement and higher percentage shots.


I got this story from Creighton Burn's most recent newsletter:

On March 5, 2003 I turned on Good Morning America while eating breakfast. Charlie Gibson was interviewing General Earl Hailston, the commanding general of Marine Forces Central Command. The general was waiting with his troops just a few miles off the border of Iraq...waiting to go to war. Toward the end of the interview,

Charlie asked him if he had any hobbies.

The general said, "Yes, I love photography, especially taking photos of my men." He shared that while he had been waiting for the past few days he took photos of his men, and at night he would email the photos with a brief note to their mothers back in the USA.

Charlie asked if he could see a sample of a letter, and the general walked into his tent, turned on his computer, and read the last letter he had sent. It said:

Dear Mrs. Johnson,

I thought you might enjoy seeing this picture of your son. He is doing great. I also wanted you to know that you did a wonderful job raising him. You must be very proud. I can certainly tell you that I'm honored to serve with him in the U.S. Marines.


General Earl Hailston

Wow! I had goose bumps as I watched Charlie randomly interview a few of General Hailston's men, and without exception, you could feel the genuine love and respect that every one of them had for their leader.

You may have heard the quote..."They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Well, here's a man who truly understood what caring, kindness and leadership is all about.

-- Shared by Mac Anderson

Friday, March 25, 2011


The following comes from "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield.  I believe strongly in this theory and it is one of the reasons I keep books (positive, inspiring and educational books) near my bed and in the living room near the television.

Here is what Canfield says about the most important 45 minutes of the day:

Because whatever you read, see, listen to, talk about, and experience during the last 45 minutes of the day has a huge influence on your sleep and your next day. During the night, your unconscious mind replays and processes this late-night input up to six times more often than anything else you experienced the during the day. This is why cramming for school exams late at night can work and why watching a scary movie before bed will give you nightmares.


We did it that Monday before the Final Four. An hour before practice that day I wrote this pledge up on the board:

I pledge to my teammates and my coaches, that I will give 100% mentally and physically on every defensive possession these next 7 days. I cannot imagine letting my teammates down on this nor can I imagine the hurt I will cause myself.

Underneath I drew 17 lines, and then I went out to the court. When practice was over, I peeked into the players’ locker room and all 17 guys had signed it.

From "Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court" by Roy Williams with Time Crothers


Good stuff from Brian Tracy to help us better manage our time:

If everyone agrees that excellent time management is a desirable skill, why is it that so few people can be described as “well organized, effective, and efficient?” Over the years, I have found that many people have ideas about time management that are simply not true. But if you believe something to be true, it becomes true for you.

Your beliefs cause you to see yourself and the world, and your relationship to time management, in a particular way. If you have negative beliefs in any area, these beliefs will affect your thinking and actions, and will eventually become your reality. You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.

Barrier 1: Worries About Organization
The first myth of negative belief, of time management is that if you are too well organized, you become cold, calculating, and unemotional. Some people feel that they will lose their spontaneity and freedom if they are extremely effective and efficient.

Many people hide behind this false idea and use it as an excuse for not disciplining themselves the way they know they should. The fact is that people who are disorganized are not spontaneous; they are merely confused, and often frantic. The key is structuring and organizing everything that you possibly can: Thinking ahead; planning for contingencies; preparing thoroughly and focusing on specific results. Only then can you be completely relaxed and spontaneous when the situation changes.

The better organized you are in the factors that are under your control, the greater freedom and flexibility you have to quickly make changes whenever they are necessary.

Barrier 2: Negative Mental Programming
The second mental barrier to developing excellent time management skills is negative programming, which is often picked up from your parents, but also from other influential people as you are growing up.

If your parents or others told you that were a messy person, or that you were always late, or that you never finished anything you started, chances are that as an adult, you may still be operating unconsciously to obey these earlier commands.

Time management and personal efficiency skills are disciplines that we learn and develop with practice and repetition. If we have developed bad time management habits, we can unlearn them. We can replace them with good habits over time.

Barrier 3: Self-Limiting Beliefs
The third mental barrier to good time management skills is a negative self-concept, or what are called “self-limiting beliefs.” Many people believe that they don't have the ability to be good at time management. They often believe that it is an inborn part of their background or heritage. But there is no gene or chromosome for poor time management, or good time management, for that matter. Your personal behaviors are very much under your own control.


“Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it.”
—Jim Rohn

“Success is not a pie with a limited number of pieces. The success of others has very little bearing on your success. You and everyone you know can become successful without anyone suffering setbacks, harm, or downturns.”
 —Denis Waitley

“You don’t become enormously successful without encountering and overcoming a number of extremely challenging problems.”
 —Mark Victor Hansen

“Always demanding the best of oneself, living with honor, devoting one’s talents and gifts to the benefits of others—these are the measures of success that endure when material things have passed away.”
—Gerald Ford

“When you identify something that you do well, that you enjoy doing, and that supports the values that are important to you, you have defined success in your terms.”
—Nido Qubein

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ ”
—Brian Tracy

“Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.”
 —Zig Ziglar


Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.

Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences.

1. Character is More than Talk.
Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character. Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do.

2. Talent is a Gift, but Character is a Choice.
We do choose our character. We create it every time we make choices.

3. Character Brings Lasting Success with People.
True leadership always involves other people.

4. Leaders Cannot Rise Above the Limitations of Their Character.
Arrogance, aloneness, adventure-seeking, adultery.

To improve your character, do the following:

Search for the cracks.

Look for patterns.

Face the music.

Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future.

A man took his young daughter to a carnival, and she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy. As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, “Sweetheart, are you sure you can eat all that?” “Don’t worry, Dad,” she answered, “I’m a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside.” That’s what real character is—being bigger on the inside.

From "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader" by John C. Maxwell


The following comes from and shows two outstanding coaches with different philosophies in regard to conversion.

If you ask most coaches to describe what the game of basketball is when you simplify it to its basic principles they will give you offense and defense. While this is true, Bobby Knight believes that transition is a critical component of sound basketball. In a worse cast scenario, if your players aren’t crashing the glass for the offensive rebound and they aren’t back in transition, then where the heck are they? We are going to examine where they should be in regards to two different philosophies on what a team should do after a missed shot.

Offensive Rebounding or Limiting Transition Opportunities
As a coach you basically have to choose between two options in regards to basketball transition defense. Remember that you can’t be good at everything or you are going to be good at nothing. For example, if you try to crash the offensive glass, but you expect the other team not to score any lay-ups in transition then you are setting your basketball team up for failure. CHOOSE and EMPHASIZE your basketball philosophy based on the talent of your team. Also remember that the philosophy a coach chooses should mirror their offensive basketball philosophy. I would like to present the two basic philosophies that most coaches adopt in regards to basketball transition defense.

The Philosophy to Offensive Rebound
Tom Izzo, the great coach at Michigan State, has built his program on the belief that most teams aren’t good at the defensive box out. His teams are among the nation’s leaders in rebounding margin (+11.7) since he took over the Spartan program. He spends at least 15 minutes each practice on teaching his players the habits to crash the offensive boards. They fight and compete to tip the ball, keep it alive, and own the offensive glass. A byproduct of this hard work is that his teams are fantastic at defensive box outs because they are used to going to “war” a rebounding drill he uses each day in practice.

Basic Offensive Rebounding Principles
Choose if you are more athletic than the best teams in your conference

Point guard to half court line and everyone else to the paint to rebound

Stress that 70% of all rebounds come opposite – overload that side on shots

Practice and chart – do your players get 4 to the paint and the PG to half court in your drills? Offense? Defense?

Teach them to tap the ball against the backboard if they can’t come down with it

Keep the ball alive – TIP it!

Celebrate offensive rebounding

Never accept it, but be prepared to see teams fast break more often

The Philosophy of Limiting Fast Break Opportunities
On the other hand, another great coach that believes coaches have control over transition, Dick Bennett formerly of Washington State, would send two and sometimes three players back depending on the opponent in an effort to neutralize fast break opportunities. His teams traditionally held opponents under 60 points per game. Coach Bennett’s philosophy was that his team was better than your team at half court execution on offense and defense. His teams only pressed if behind in games late and they played strictly man to man defense. In other words, his teams were simple to prepare for, but difficult to beat because of their execution.

Basic Principles of Limiting Transition Opportunities
Choose if you are less athletic than the best teams in your conference

Send the PG to the opposite FT line and the Off Guard to the half court line

Another option is to also send the shooter back immediately against superior teams along with the two guards

Stress that we are not giving up ANY transition lay-ups

Work on defending scramble situations in the full court every day

Teach how you want to match-up and remember that open shots NOT match-ups beat you

Practice and chart – do your players have defensive balance in your drills? Offense? Defense?

Choose offensive sets that allow for defensive balance; For example: stay away from 1-4 low sets or the Flex. Instead use 2-3 high sets or 4 out 1 in motion offense

Prepare them the best you can so that your team can achieve to the best of their potential because you put them in the best situation to succeed. Transition defense is often overlooked and the main thing a coach needs to do is decide from Day 1 what their team is going to do in regards to defensive transition. Teach that all year long and emphasize it in practices and games. I hope this article has helped you to better understand the two basic philosophies of transition defense.


Thanks to Coach Joey Burton of Mississippi State for passing on this article from ESPN Chicago written by Nick Friedell on Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Carolos Boozer could tell that Tom Thibodeau was a little different from the moment he started working out in the Berto Center. Unlike most of his counterparts, the career assistant decided not to change any of his ways when he finally got a crack to become the Chicago Bulls head coach.

"It wasn't the assistant coaches that were down here working us out," Boozer recalled after Thursday afternoon's practice. "Thibs worked me and Joakim out [in] July, August, September. He was down here working us out himself. We gained respect for him right then and there."

Having been in the league for close to a decade, Boozer knew just how rare this was.

"This is the NBA," he continued. "Most NBA head coaches don't do that. They usually watch from the side [and] let their guys work everybody out. Coach Thibs was working me and Joakim out this summer and that's where I gained a lot of respect for him because he wanted to be hands-on. And if you guys had access to everything that we do, you would see how hands-on he is from each practice we do. He's in charge of every practice. From our scouting reports [on]. He does the entire scouting report every time we play. He's as prepared a coach as I've ever been around."

The preparation never seems to end in Thibodeau's world.

There's always another video to watch or a scouting report to construct ... no matter how well the Bulls are playing.

While the endless work cycle may seem strange to some, it's that constant desire to improve which endeared the veteran coach to his players.

"He watches more tape," Boozer said, before pausing and pointing up at an office window. "Like while you guys are interviewing me right now, he's up there right now watching tape. So for us, we were excited to see how he would be and the respect that we give him, he earned it. And you can tell his system works. When we do his system during the course of a game, we usually win, so I think players can respect a coach that puts [in] a system on offense and defense. And as professionals, we can see the success rate that we've had doing it his way. I think the respect has been earned."

That old-school work ethic seems to have rubbed off on his players.

"If you want to win, you'll do it, [and] separate yourself from all the other teams in the NBA," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said recently. And we got good guys on the team, where they're winners. [They do] extra stuff; like shooting before practice, shooting after practice.

"When you come into practice, having the right attitude, making sure that you don't mess up practice. You don't want to be the one that messes up a whole practice, because if you're messing up that practice, there's other teams that are having great practices around the NBA and that could put you back a little bit. We just try to come in, work every day, especially defensively, work hard and try to learn [about] each other better on the defensive side."

But how do Rose and his teammates maintain the laser-like focus that Thibodeau demands of them?

"He demands it," Rose said. "There's nothing [else]. He demands that. He watches everybody, watches everything you do, everything. So if he sees one player going the other way, he's definitely going to call you in for a meeting, just to see what's going on or get one of the coaches to talk to you."

Read the entire article:

Thursday, March 24, 2011


If you've only recently started visiting our site we wanted to let you know of another site that we have called Hoop Boost.  It is a site that we created specifically for student-athletes.  It is purely a motivational site with quotes and insights that can relate directly to athletes.  We update it about once every week.  If you get a chance check it out and maybe pass it on to your players.


Great stuff on point guard play from Sheridan College's Steve Smiley.  Steve played point guard for Coach Don Meyer so you can bet he got a great education on his position.  So good that he actually wrote a book titled "Playing for Coach Meyer" which is a great read.  I recommend the book for coaches and players alike:

Here are the key things that Coach Smiley thinks are crucial for PG play (in no particular order).

1. Vocal Leadership
If your PG isn’t vocal, they can’t command the team. It’s not enough to just “lead by example” on the court; the PG must be able to control the game and keep their team organized (calling out sets, etc)…

2. Lead by Example
We all expect our PG’s to be leaders, so they must lead by example on and off the floor. They have to have leadership qualities to be able to run a team. One good “on-the court” example would be their defensive stance and on-ball pressure as the ball moves up the floor. If they are a ball-hawk and showing extreme pressure to the ball, there is a good chance the rest of the team will also buy in to being in a stance.

3. Have a good relationship with the coach
We all say that the PG must be an extension of the coaching staff on the court, so there must be a solid relationship between the coach and PG so they can always feel comfortable communicating with each other.

4. Not a “Shoot-first” player
They don’t necessarily need to always be a pass-first PG, especially in high school where the PG might also be the best scorer, but they can not be a player that typically will bring the ball up the floor looking to go one-on-one and creating shots just for themselves. The offense will become stagnant and other players will shut down, because they know their chances of being involved offensively are low.

5. Have a high IQ for the game / feel for the game
They have to understand special situations, the flow of the game, the time & score, when to attack, when to pull it out, etc.

6. Have a high conditioning threshold
If the PG isn’t in shape and is expected to play big minutes and minutes at the end of the game, they will break down mentally once their body breaks down, so it is huge for them to be in great shape.

7. Make the easy pass, and not always the “assist” pass
Sometimes PG’s make foolish passes because they know the ball will be in their hand much of the time. Have them keep it simple. The reason Steve Nash can make the passes he can make is because he works on it every day and he is the best in the world. There aren’t a lot of Steve Nashes out there, so use the KISS principle – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.

8. Be able to knock down the open shot
I couldn’t shoot, and I played a lot of minutes, and it definitely hurt my team at times. The PG typically won’t get a ton of shots off of set plays or screens because he or she is setting up others, but the PG must be able to hit the open shot in transition, on post-feed kick-outs, etc.

9. Have “Gears”
I’m talking about a change of pace in their game. The toughest PG’s aren’t the ones who are extremely fast, but the ones that are always playing at different speeds. They have deception in their game.

10. Have a “Motor” 
Summarizes a lot of the points already made, but the PG has to play extremely hard, and be eager to do all of the dirty jobs. The PG must be willing to guard the full length of the court, push the ball in transition, be vocal, and play with a tremendous amount of energy.


Studying and practicing the principles of effective delegation have given you the foundation necessary to exploit the power of leverage. We will now examine other forms of this key tool of professional and business success. Each of the seven forms of leverage can help you expand the reach of your own talents and strengths. Each involves building on the work, talents, experiences, and contacts of other people.

Leveraging Other People's Energy
The most productive people make sure they have time for the few things that give them the highest payoff by routinely seeking to delegate or outsource their lower-value activities.

Leveraging Other People's Knowledge
Applying one simple piece of key knowledge to your situation can make a world of difference in the result you achieve. Finding and applying knowledge from another source can spare you tremendous amounts of money and labor. Follow the lead of successful people and scan books, magazines, tapes, articles, and conferences for ideas and insights you can use to help you achieve your goals faster.

Leveraging Other People's Successes
Study the successes that other people and companies have achieved to gain insights into their challenges and solutions. Most successful people have paid their dues in terms of money, energy, commitment, and even failure to arrive at the top of their fields. Learn from their experiences.

Leveraging Other People's Failures
As Benjamin Franklin said, "Man can either buy his wisdom or borrow it. By buying it, he pays full price in personal time and treasure. By borrowing it, he capitalizes on the lessons learned from the failures of others." Listen carefully to the stories of truly successful people. Those who genuinely wish to support you will share with you their failures as well as their successes.

Leveraging Other People's Ideas
A single good idea, developed with passion and commitment, can give birth to a fortune. The greater your exposure to a range of ideas—gained through reading, studying, interaction, and experimentation—the greater the chance you will come across one that will lead you to enduring success.

Leveraging Other People's Contacts of Other People's Credibility
Everyone you know has friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts. Many of these people can make a positive impact on your career or business. Among all the people you know or are connected to in some way, who might open doors for you?

Action Exercise
How will you leverage your talents, skills, and actions by leveraging the energy of others?


This question was posed by Christina Klemash in her book "How to Succeed in the Game of Life." 

Scotty Bowman:
“Probably the most important thing is attitude. I really think that there are a lot of things you can’t change, that are out of your control, but your attitude is in your control. The right attitude is something that will help you be successful. There are not many successful people that don’t have the right attitude. There are other things you have to have: You have to have some patience, you have to have perseverance obviously, and you have to maybe have had some adversity too. But the main thing I’d say is attitude. You can always do something to help your attitude.”

John Chaney:
“I think it’s the kind of integrity that one should have, the honesty that one should have. And it cannot be tainted with a bad understanding of what the integrity of a sport is. You can’t taint it. You can’t allow somebody to accept success or to accept anything from anybody when you know it is in a dishonest form.”

Tony Dungy:
“You have to have self-motivation. You have to have vision—to be able to dream and set goals that everyone can’t see. And then you have to have focus—to keep that in perspective and stay after your goals.”

Bill Parcells:
“Integrity. You can’t bullshit yourself, excuse the language. You need to have integrity. You know I read something about Warren Buffett one time where he said that having intelligence and ambition without integrity will kill you. [Laughs.] I think you have to be honest and forthright. I just think that’s important.”

Dick Vermeil:
“Compassion for other people. I think a lot of the athletes we coach today come from almost dysfunctional families. And I think that the more they trust you and the more they respect you as a leader, then the more they’re willing to work to be what they have the ability to be. I don’t know if compassion’s the right word, but I know it’s a high priority. And I automatically think number one is a tremendous work ethic. It’ll overcome a lot of faults and it will empower all your strengths.”

Bill Walsh:
“Patience. Tenacity. Passion.”

John Wooden:
“I have as the cornerstones of my Pyramid of Success, and I think these are the most important—all are important—but the most important are industriousness and enthusiasm.”


First it’s preceded by a good shot (simple yet important concept given by Coach Eastman -- bad shots lead to poor floor balance and usually start you defense at a disadvantage in transition).

1) Get back and set defense

2) Stop ball

3) Pressure

4) Stay between man and basket

5) Contest shot

6) Finish blockout with rebound

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


“Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

-Chuck Swindoll
From John Maxwell’s “The Difference Maker”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Coach Don Meyer likes to use "One Minute Assessments" in teaching.  Pay close attention to the language.

a. Tell the player one thing that YOU are doing WELL and WHY?

b. Tell the player one thing WE can be doing BETTER?

Before correcting a player, give them something they are doing well.  By saying "you" you give the player ownership for the good deed. 

The "why" is critically important.  Don't tell a player he/she made a good pass.  Tell he/she why it was a good pass.

Wrong Example: "Good pass Katherine."

Right Example: "Katherine, great job of utilizing the pass fake to set up the feed to the low post and giving her the ball away from the defense."

By telling "why" you allow the player to understand what she did well.  She can process it as a good thing and work to repeat it.  If you just say "good pass" she has no idea why so she may or may not repeat the action.

After the compliment, you will have the attention of the player and they will better listen to the correction.  Coach Meyer likes to us "we" so that the player knows that we are in this together in terms of improving in that particular area.

Terminology is critically important.  Good coaches work and practice at how they talk to the team and individual players.


Excellent article on the importance of "culture" in the success of your organization.  As our basketball program at LSU slid slightly each year I felt it was in part to a departure of the culture that had lead us to success.  There are a lot of important phases to a successful basketball program -- recruiting, system of play, staff, etc.  But all of these should fall under the umbrella of your culture.  What is the overriding purpose of your program?  What is the mission statement that centers everything?

The following in an excerpt written by Nilofer Merchant for the Harvard Business Review and titled: "Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time."

Trust, fights, and child care. When I'm advising start-up teams nowadays, I ask a lot of questions around those three areas. Which makes it sounds more like a marriage counselor's office, rather than a boardroom, right?

Quite often, the teams I'm talking with think culture is some woo-woo stuff that doesn't make any difference in the end, or even if they think it does matter, they have an excruciatingly hard time describing what theirs is.

Which begs the question: does culture matter?

Culture's all that invisible stuff that glues organizations together, as David Caldwell, my management professor at Santa Clara University, taught me many years ago. It includes things like norms of purpose, values, approach — the stuff that's hard to codify, hard to evaluate, and certainly hard to measure and therefore manage. Many other experts, such as Senge and Kotter have certainly added to that understanding with complex and nuanced constructs, but Caldwell's invisible glue comment holds a truth.

This "invisibility" causes many managers to treat culture as a soft topic, but it's the stuff that determines how we get things done. For example:

Do We Trust Each Other? A team I was recently working with reminded me of 6-year-olds playing soccer, where every team member simply surrounds the issue much like a team of kids surrounds the ball. They then travel en masse, afraid to move away from the proverbial "ball." In this culture, no one owns a position on the field. This "we're all in it together" cultural norm is certainly egalitarian, but it doesn't support specialization, scale, or accountability. I worry that as this team grows, and when they're not all in the same room, they will fail. When they are huddling, what they are signaling is that they don't know how to trust one another to do their unique part. They — like many teams — simply don't know how to "let go" to and with others, thus risking their ability to scale results.

Disagreements Mean What? We all know that we want the best ideas to triumph for the best innovations to take place, but sometimes we act as if that only applies when the idea is our idea. Two members of a team were recently disagreeing vehemently on something. Both had facts that backed up their point of view. Both were fighting for the benefit of the company. Each believed they were "in the right" and wanted the CEO to simply pick the winner, making the losing party wrong and mostly likely, gone. How we handle disagreements and dissent are also part of culture. When teams don't know how to handle disagreement, molehill issues can become do-or-die mountains, or, conversely, passive-aggressiveness insinuates itself as a mechanism to avoid overt disagreements at all costs.

Who Cares About the Baby? A team that is part of a 50,000+ organization recently described an issue where one team does their best right up to a handoff milestone, then relinquishes any part of the project's ultimate success. They described their discomfort with this using a baby analogy. "Will you take care of my [baby] the same way I would, knowing our shared goal is to [get this kid to a good college]?" When the "baby" or in this case, business performance isn't co-owned by everyone, things can easily fall through the cracks. And truth be told, that's where most business problems happen in our high velocity world; between the cracks of divisions or silos or the "white space" no one owns

Read the entire article:


Going over a new set of Coach Don Meyer dictaphone notes and came up with a few pearls:

"Your friends and your parents can often be your biggest obstacles."

"Sometimes the best shot is the one you don't take and the best pass is the one you don't make."

"Do not pick up your dribble without a pass or a shot."

"Go where your help came from."

On Motivation: "Some players start on their own.  Some you push down a hill or crank start."

"Make your opponent beat you with their execution and not their athleticism."

"Passing is not just about 'on target' -- it's also about timing."

On Shooting: "Talk your misses."

"Don't run past a blockout."

"Concentration vs. worry...worry makes you double minded."

"Concentration takes credibility."


"A good coach will make his players
see what they can be rather than what they are."

-Ara Parseghian


From the guys at Hoop Tactics come some great thoughts on inbounds offense:

Offensive Situations: Automatic Reads Are The First Option On All Out of Bound Plays

Some coaches just like to get ball inbounds and then set up a play, while other coaches find it a great opportunity to attack; and, since most teams are poorly prepared to defend out of bounds situations, they deploy several inbounds plays during a game. However, no matter what philosophy is utilized, automatic reads are the first option on any out of bound play.

1. Players should cut to basket for lay-up any time their defender plays with their back towards them watching the basketball.

2. When the inbounder is left unguarded, they should execute a quick "give & go" with the inbounder making a quick inbounds pass and cutting to the basket for a return pass.

3. If a defender faces up and plays with their back to the inbounds passer, players should have the "Green" light to execute a lob pass over the defender for shot.

4. If the inbounds passer's defender plays with their back to the ball, the inbound passer can simply pass the ball off the defender's back, step in bounds, pick it up and score.

Note: On automatics, players should communicate using eye contact and body language.


Thoughts from Bill Walsh on being the best coaching you can become as outlined in his book, "Finding The Winning Edge."

Be yourself.

Be committed to excellence. You must be willing to work extremely hard and make whatever reasonable sacrifices are necessary to achieve the organizational goals that have been established for the team. At all times, the focus must be on doing things properly. In reality, the talent level of most NFL teams is relatively even. As such, one of the critical keys to success is execution. Players making plays is what wins football games. More often than not, the primary catalyst for the occurrence of such plays is an unwavering commitment to excellence.

Be positive. Your staff and your players will respond better to a positive environment than to a negative one.

Be prepared. No aspect of coaching is more important than preparation. While coaches cannot actually control which team wins a game, they can determine how their teams prepare to win. Good fortune on the playing field (i.e., performing well, winning, etc.) is a product of design. Attention to detail is critical.

Be organized. It is critical that you make the best possible use of the available time and resources. Being organized is the single best way to avoid wasting either.

Be accountable. You must accept responsibility for those matters over which you are in charge.

Be a leader. An effective leader is an expert in his field.

Be focused. The key point is that at least three elements must be present to build a winning team: talent; strategies and tactics; and conditioning and execution.

Be ethical. You must have a strong value system.

Be flexible. While consistency is important, if the situation changes, you must change with it. Within the specific framework of your system, you must be bold, creative and willing to take risks when necessary. “There is only one way to do anything: The right way.” (Golda Meir)

Believe in yourself. It is also important that you sell your program to your players. They must believe in you in order for them to be able to make the sacrifices that will be required of them. Everyone in the organization (e.g., your staff, the players, the athletic trainers, the team managers, etc.) must believe that your plan for success will be effective.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Thanks to Coach Eric Musselman for passing on this article on Bill Self by J. Brady McCollough  of the Kansas City Star:

Self was 30 years old, a former assistant at Oklahoma State who thought he knew everything. But his first of four seasons at Oral Roberts showed Self how much he needed to learn before he could build a team and shape it into a consistent winner.

He exuded confidence, but it became harder to believe in his methods later that season, when Oral Roberts lost its last 15 games. The team was downright miserable, finishing 6-21, and eight players had quit.

Less than a year after taking the job, Self’s coaching career was at a crossroads.

“Right then, Coach had to make a decision,” said Barry Hinson, then an assistant at Oral Roberts. “Either go back to being an assistant — and maybe get another shot at being a head coach. Or … if we turn this around, we can do anything.”

At that moment, though, it was hard for Self to imagine success. He was as discouraged as he’d ever been, the doubt starting to creep in.

That Self even wanted the job to begin with showed that he was a believer. Oral Roberts had undergone a two-year transition period from the NAIA level of competition to NCAA Division I, and Self’s first season would be Oral Roberts’ first as a full-fledged Division I member. The Golden Eagles didn’t have a conference, which meant they couldn’t automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Friends and trusted colleagues told Self to run away. But he had always wanted to be a head coach by the time he was 30, and this was the position that was open.

Oral Roberts had gone 5-22 the previous year, and, problem was, the Golden Eagles were still playing with NAIA talent. Self had to keep an open mind in recruiting. One day that fall, he was eating lunch at a Subway when a young man named Earl McClellan approached him. McClellan was a freshman from Providence, R.I., who had come to pursue his faith. He also was interested in walking on to the basketball team.

Eventually, Self realized that he was going to have to tweak his style on and off the court.

Self dropped the motion offense he learned under Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State and switched to the high-low set that he still uses today. Oral Roberts immediately began to improve, but there was more to the turnaround than X’s and O’s.

“He became a lot more comfortable,” Kruse said, “just in relating to the players. The first couple years he was very pulled back. He didn’t allow a lot of personal time, just hanging out, talking about life. My junior year, we went over to his house to eat. He became someone we could build a relationship with.”

When the 1996-97 season arrived, Self had surrounded captains Kruse and McClellan with three classes of recruits, and the program began to feel like a family. In the second game of the season, the Golden Eagles played Self’s offense to perfection and beat Arkansas 86-81. That was no fluke, because Oral Roberts later knocked off Oklahoma State 71-60. Self’s boys went 21-6 and returned to the postseason, losing to Notre Dame in the NIT.

That loss felt totally different than the 21 they’d survived in 93-94. When it was over, Self walked around the locker room and doled out hugs to everyone.

Self took the University of Tulsa job that offseason, and his career took off from there to Illinois and then Kansas. But he’ll never forget the players at Oral Roberts who stuck with him.

“Those are ones that will go down as some of my all-time favorite players to coach,” Self said. “I probably learned more from them than they ever learned from me.”

Read the entire article: