Sunday, May 29, 2011


When it comes to goal development and time management, there are few better than Brian Tracy.  Followers of my blog know how much I believe in Brian and his philosophy in these areas.  If you ever get a chance, don't hesitate to invest in his books and audio items that you can find at

Here are seven goal-setting questions for you to ask and answer over and over again. I suggest that you take a pad of paper and write out your responses.

Question Number One:
What are your five most important values in life?
This question is intended to help you clarify what is really important to you, and by extension, what is less important, or unimportant. Once you have identified the five most important values in life for you, organize them in order of priority, from number one, the most important, through number five.

Question Number Two:
What are your three most important goals in life, right now?
This is called the "quick list" method. When you only have thirty seconds to write down your three most important goals, your subconscious mind sorts out your many goals quickly. Your top three will just pop into your conscious mind. With only thirty seconds, you will be as accurate as if you had thirty minutes.

Question Number Three:
What would you do, how would you spend your time, if you learned today that you only had six months to live?
This is another value questions to help you clarify what is really important to you. When your time is limited, even if only in your imagination, you become aware of who and what you really care about.

Question Number Four:
What would you do if you won a million dollars cash, tax free, in the lottery tomorrow?
How would you change your life? What would you buy? What would you start doing, or stop doing? This is really a question to help you decide what you'd do if you had all the time and money you need, and if you had virtually no fear of failure at all.

Question Number Five:
What have you always wanted to do, but been afraid to attempt?
This question helps you see more clearly where your fears could be blocking you from doing what you really want to do.

Question Number Six:
What do you most enjoy doing?
What gives you your greatest feeling of self-esteem and personal satisfaction? This is another values question that may indicate where you should explore to find your "heart's desire." You will always be most happy doing what you most love to do, and what you most love to do is invariably the activity that makes you feel the most alive and fulfilled. The most successful men and women in America are invariably doing what they really enjoy, most of the time.

Question Number Seven:
What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you would not fail?
Imagine that a genie appears and grants you one wish. The genie guarantees that you will be absolutely, completely successful in any one thing that you attempt to do, big or small, short or long-term. If you were absolutely guaranteed success in any one thing, what one exciting goal would you set for yourself?

Action Exercise
Study the pad of paper that you used to answer these questions. This paper represents your future goals. Look at what you wrote every day and shape your life the way you see it on that paper.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


We'd like to wish everyone that follows us a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  And we certainly hope that you will find the time to reflect back on the many who have made amazing sacrifices for our freedom.


As a young high school coach, one of my annual rites of passage was to travel from West Virginia to Old Dominion University to work basketball camp for Marianne Stanley.  It is still one of the best camps I have worked.  Tremendous teaching was the primary goal of the ODU staff and it spilled over into their treatment of the coaches that worked the camp.  Every night Marianne would host a clinic in the dorm and never left until the last coach was done asking questions.  After seven years of working two weeks a camp each summer Marianne became one of my mentors and someone that has helped me move up the coaching ladder.

Many years ago, I talked her into coming to LSU and speaking at our coaching clinic and here are just a few of the notes I took from her in regard to transition offense:

In order to be a quality fast breaking team, you must be good defensively and on the boards. You can only be so good in transition if you are constantly taking the ball out of the net after your opponent scores.

Defensive rebounding is not talent — it’s heart.

Two important areas for developing transition offense:
Be good in the fundamentals of the game
Train and practice at speed


◄The deeper the better…between free throw line extended and the hashmark.

◄Point guard sprint there, show you back to the sideline and call for the ball.

◄Look up!...majority of guard take outlet and immediately put the ball on the floor dribble and then look up...we want to look up first.

Important quality for guards is body control.

Point Guard: key to good transition is her vision...once she catches the ball Washington teaches for them to look “at the bottom of the net”...this gives a good centering point for their peripheral vision.

Lanes: “Don’t jog, don’t run. Sprint!”

Definition of “sprint” — “as fast as you can” — anything less is not a sprint


I had the honor a few years ago to learn match-up defense from one of the best in former Auburn Coach Joe Ciampi.  Joe came in and spent two days with our staff and went into great detail in to how they played the incredibly successful match-up.  Here are just a few of the notes I took:

Players don’t understand how hard they’re playing…you have to place demands on them.

Realize that as a coach, you are a teacher.

My experience at West Point made me a better coach, a better teacher…taught me how to demand more of individuals and of myself.

Every drill should have 2/3 of the following:
-Have a winner and a loser
-Make it time related
-Make it goal related
-Make it peer related

Before every game I will write three defensive things on the blackboard:

#1 Ball Pressure
-we want the shot pressured, the dribble pressured, and the pass pressured

#2 Take Away The Inside
-take away the inside with our arms first
-take away the dribble with our body

#3 Rebound
-rebound the blocks (especially the weakside block)

Defense must move when the ball moves…not when it’s caught
Important question in playing any type of zone: “How do we handle the dribble?”
Auburn uses three picture words in every one of their defensive drills: delay, disrupt, and deflect. They want to delay the dribbler anywhere on the floor. They want to be able to deflect every pass to the inside. They want to disrupt the shot.

COACH CIAMPI: “Some people say ‘contest the shot.’ We want to disrupt the shot and disrupt the offensive pattern. I want my players to create the action, rather than be reactors, so we run a lot of traps. We traps off the dribble or off the pass. Don’t react, create.”

Auburn uses a man-to-man stance with their inside hand out taking away passes to the middle.

Rebounding philosophy:
“Hit & Hold” any one in the paint
“Hit & Go” any one outside the paint

TEACHING POINT: “Run to the ball” on the rebound

Auburn always wants 2 people to go to the weakside to rebound.

Doesn’t matter what you defense is, there will be breakdowns. What is your recover time from a breakdown? This is what will define your defense.


A reminder that I am on Twitter and often tweet information not found in this blog. I also send out blog updates from Twitter as well along with other coaching information.


Here are five reasons for running a fast-paced transition offense via George Karl and Doug Moe as listed in "NBA Coaches Playbook."

Because only the point guard in our system has what could be called a defined role, the opponent is challenged to match up with every time we break down the court.

The very pace of a high-speed, fast-break offense often unsettles opponents.  Their comfort zone is disrupted because they have to think and move faster than they do against other teams.

You can't count on the opposition being out of shape; any coach worth his salt will have his players fit enough to compete and win.  But being in condition to run a standard, set offense and being physically prepared to play a high-speed, fast-break attack for a full game are two different levels of conditioning.  And a winded or tired player is very vulnerable player.

At its most fundamental level, winning comes down to scoring more points than your opponent.

Although not a determining factor in our deciding to commit to the break, another plus is that players are enthusiastic about playing a fast-paced style.


Not only is Don Yaeger an outstanding writer but he is also a good friend.  I got to know Don as he spent a year with our LSU men's basketball team writing about Coach Dale Brown and he is one of those journalist that takes great pride in his craft but also greatly cares about those who compete in the arena.  This past weekend I bought his most recent book "Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership from the World's Most Beautiful Game."  It's another detailed look by Don into one of sports most intriguing people -- Rex Ryan. Don's also written with/about Dale Brown, John Wooden, Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn, Jerry Takanian and George Karl - just to name a few.

Be sure to take the time to go to his website ( ) for great blogs -- especially his 16 Consistent Characteristics of Greatness.  This is my 2008th post on this blog and back on September 24, 2008, Don's 16 Characteristics became my very first post -- and a passout to every team I've coached since.

Here is Don's most recent blog talking about Rex and the vision he has set forth for the New York Jets:

Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets since 2009, doesn't shy away from making bold predictions for his team. Even though the Jets haven't won a Super Bowl since 1968, Ryan didn't hesitate to make a promise to the Jets Nation both in 2009 and 2010 that he would "soon" bring the Lombardi trophy back to the Meadowlands. And even though it didn't happen these last two years, Ryan did manage to lead his team to the AFC Championship game both seasons -- a pretty big improvement for a first-time head coach of a team that had been struggling for much of the last decade.

This past month, Doubleday released Ryan's book entitled “Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership from the World's Most Beautiful Game.”

I had the privilege of working alongside Ryan on this project and his unshakable sense of vision is one of the themes we came back to time and again.

Time and again I would ask him on a Monday morning what he thought his team's prospects were for the next week. "We're going to win," Ryan said simply every time. Years of work with coaches have taught me that most will occasionally offer the answer that they are: "not sure how we can win this one given the opponent's talent." Not Rex. He truly believes that he and his coaching staff can build a plan that will help their team win every game. He's not always right, but he believes!

Visualizing victory -- and articulating that vision - can be a tremendous motivating power. The night before the Super Bowl this past February, the Green Bay Packers invited a representative from the Jostens jewelry company to measure each player for his championship ring. Packer players have said that moment crystallized their eventual championship in their minds. While it was killing Ryan that it wasn't his team in that locker room, that's exactly the kind of thing he plans to do when it's his turn.

What Ryan understands -- and what gains him such devotion from his players, staff, and fans alike -- is that vision is a key part of success. His critics discount his predictions as empty bravado, but Ryan will tell you that he's the last person to care what his critics think. By setting bold goals and articulating them publicly, Ryan is not only letting his team know how much he believes in their abilities but he is also holding himself accountable. As a leader, he is willing to put himself and his reputation on the line because he has such a clear vision and strong confidence in what his players can accomplish.

Tips from the GREAT Ones

Everyone wants a leader who has a clear sense of where he or she is taking the team. In fact, if they don't have a clear sense of direction, it's hard to classify someone as a real "leader" at all. Even if you aren't the head of your company or division, you can still lead those around you by inspiring them to see the same road to victory that you do. Often, it is a road they don't see.

Private goals are great to have, but it can sometimes be a huge boost to go ahead and make those goals public, too. By letting the people around you know what you believe you are all capable of achieving together, you can inspire confidence, enthusiasm, and a shared sense of purpose -- all key aspects in visualizing victory.

The way I see it -- and the way his players see it, too -- it's only a matter of time before the Jets take off and win that Super Bowl championship Rex Ryan has promised. Why are we so sure it's going to happen? Because Ryan can see it so clearly that he's willing to stand up in front of the world with a huge smile and a lot of heart, and tell them so.

That's the first step. That's Greatness.


Brian Tracy takes a look at the role of a leader as motivator.

Motivational leadership is based on The Law of Indirect Effort. According to this law, most things in life are achieved more easily by indirect means than they are by direct means. You more easily become a leader to others by demonstrating that you have the qualities of leadership than you do by ordering others to follow your directions. Instead of trying to get people to emulate you, you concentrate on living a life that is so admirable that others want to be like you without your saying a word.

The Most Powerful Motivational Leaders
Perhaps the most powerful motivational leader is the person who practices what is called "servant leadership." Confucius said, "He who would be master must be servant of all." The person who sees himself or herself as a servant to others and who does everything possible to help them perform at their best is practicing the highest form of servant leadership.

The Leader of Today
Today's leaders are the ones who ask questions, listen carefully, plan diligently, and then build consensus among all those who are necessary for achieving the goals. The leader does not try to do it all alone. The leader gets things done by helping others do them.

Qualities of Leaders
The following are important qualities of motivational leaders. These are qualities that you already have to a certain degree and that you can develop further to stand out from the people around you in a very short period of time.

The first quality is vision. This is the only single quality that, more than anything separates leaders from followers. Leaders have vision. Followers do not. Leaders have the ability to stand back and see the big picture. Leaders have developed the ability to fix their eyes on the horizon and see greater possibilities.

Motivate Others
The best way for you to motivate others is to be motivated yourself. The fastest way to get others excited about a project is to get excited yourself. The way to get others committed to achieving a goal or a result is to be totally committed yourself. The way to build loyalty to your organization, and to other people, is to be an example of loyalty in everything you say and do.

The Ability to Choose
One requirement of leaders is the ability to choose an area of excellence. Just as a good general chooses the terrain on which to do battle, an excellent leader chooses the area in which he and others are going to do an outstanding job. The commitment to excellence is one of the most powerful of all motivators. All leaders who effect change in people and organizations are enthusiastic about achieving excellence in a particular area.

Action Exercise
Try a new attitude toward your employees; show up on Monday morning and be positive and cheerful. If you are motivational, your attitude will rub off on your employees and they will work more efficiently.
Be sure to check out:


1. “Stay clear between the ears.”

2. “You don‟t have to score to play.”

3. “If you want to find a niche, offensive rebound.”

4. “Need niche guys on your team, find a niche ENERGY guy.”

5. When you work, make sure you and the players work with their „heads‟.

6. “Maybe bad 1st shots, but rarely bad second shots.”

7. "Filling the lane and running rim to rim requires no skill but commitment and will."

8. “If you rebound too much you won‟t come out!”

9. On their role: “May not be the one you want, but what we need to win a championship.”

10. “The more you go after the ball, the more you get!”

Friday, May 27, 2011


The following comes from the editors of Selling Power Magazine:

Motivation is the power that moves you into action so you can accomplish more things in a significant way.

Motivation needs to be part of your own life for you to be effective in conveying it to other people.

Motivation is like bathing. If you do it everyday, you will come out a whole lot better. And if you are motivated every day, your life will be better.

Start with a desire to do the right thing in the right way. When you do that, you empower and encourage other people to do the same thing. And, when you do that, then you’ve got a team that can do more than any one individual can do.

When you encourage others, what you are really doing also is empowering and encouraging yourself.

Hope is a foundational quality of all change. Without hope, there is no action. And action must be a part of life.

I think it is foolish to exaggerate when you are in the sales business, because trust is essential for successful salespeople. You’ve got to build trust. And the only way you build trust is by telling the truth.

I have always encourages people to keep learning new things. The new things you learn help your creativity and keep you excited and motivated.

I’ve had many good things happen to me, many people helping me, many loving me, a wonderful family. I think it would be not only foolish but irresponsible not to recognize the good and focus on that instead of complaining about a negative thing that might happen at the moment.

I don’t worry. When I lie down at night, within minutes I am always asleep. I learned from my mother that if you always do the right thing, you won’t have very many worries.

A positive attitude will let you do everything better than a negative attitude will.

By altering our attitudes we can alter our lives.

I never make a promise in a book, a speech, or a recording unless I give a plan so my reader or listener can achieve that promise.

The likelihood of motivating yourself is greatly increased with positive relationships.


"Ain't no man can avoid
being born average, but
there ain't no man
got to be common."

-Satchel Paige


My second post today involving mentors.  My junior high school basketball coach, Allen Osborne who literally taught me the majority of the basketball I know today and continues to be and educator to me, just sent me this link of another invaluable mentor of mine Coach Dale Brown.  This is a video from Newhope Church in North Carolina, directly from the wonderful website, where Coach Brown gives one of his classic lessons, "The Four Hurdles to Success."

Click here to view Coach Brown's talk at Newhope Chruch:

Be sure to check out Coach Brown's website:


One of my mentors during my stay at LSU was Hall of  Fame baseball coach Skip Bertman.  It's important when developing mentors that you have "range" in those you choose.  If you are a basketball coach, don't just choose basketball coaches.  They can coach other sports or be educators or successful professionals in other fields.  Two of the most important people in my growth as a coach were Coach Bertman and Cal Bailey who is the long-time ultra-successful baseball coach at West Virginia State College.

While I was coaching basketball at West Virginia State College, I also served as assistant sports information director in charge of baseball.  I learned so much about coaching for three years sitting besides Cal in the dugout, eating or driving the team van.  Look for successful people for your circle of influence.

After a baseball career that including 5 College World Series Championships, Skip became our Athletic Director.  He was so driven for all of our sports to achieve success.  He made it part of his job to help us become better coaches.  Below is one of my favorite Skip passages.  He would use it with his players, with us as coaches, and with our teams when he spoke to them.

“I’ve always believed that anything you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must, absolutely must, come to pass.”

-Skip Bertman


The following is a story told by George Allen in his book “Strategies For Winning.”

There is a story told about three bricklayers that describes, in a classic way, the importance of the attitude one brings to a job. When asked what he was doing, the first mason replied, “I’m laying brick.”

To the same question, the second answered, “I’m making $6.60 an hour.”

The third bricklayer answered, “Me? Why, I’m building the world’s greatest building!”


Let’s imagine the story a little differently.

A sportswriter attends a basketball practice and asks a player, “what are you doing?” When asked, the first player said, “Shooting the basketball.”

To the same question, the second player answered, “I’m trying to make some shots before the drill is over.”

The third basketball player answered, “Me? I’m developing the habits necessary to help my team win a national championship!”


Here's yet another angle.

A fan attends a morning workout and asks a player, “what are you doing?” When asked, the first player said, “Running a suicide.”

To the same question, the second player answered, “I’m trying to make my suicide under time.”

The third basketball player answered, “Me? I’m developing my conditioning level to help my team win a national championship!”


Most people, for whatever reason, think natural ability is the most important power a person possesses.

It’s not.

People who achieve the highest level of success have an unbelievable work ethic, the desire to sacrifice. Every body thinks Jerry Rice is the best receiver out there. He certainly is talented, but I guarantee you he’s not even close to being the most talented. He’s not the strongest or the fastest.

But he is the most determined.

Jerry’s mind set was that nobody was going to work harder, prepare better, or sacrifice more. He convinced himself that he was going to outwork every receiver who came into the league relative to conditioning, lifting, studying — everything. He knew that people might not enjoy the practice, but you can’t get to be the best without.

Everyday during the off-season, Jerry would be up a 6:00 AM going through his strenuous stretching drills. He would run seven 5-yard shuttles, which he called “stop and go’s,” and fourteen more 40-yard dashes up and down the field. Then he would line up fluorescent orange cones across the field and weave in and out of each one six times at full speed, working on his acceleration and cutting ability. When he finished with the cones, he would run six more 40-yard dashes, and then 20-yard patterns until he was flat-out exhausted. Then he would lift weights in as quick a rotation as possible, no resting. Bench presses, seated bench presses, incline bench press, power lifts, dumbbell curls with increasing weights. I get tired just writing about it.

It didn’t take me long to understand why every time we got to the fourth quarter of a game, while most of the players were slowing down, Jerry could run as fast he did on the first play of the game. On the days he trained, Jerry would cap of his physical work with mental work. He would immerse himself in a game film of the league’s top wide receivers, studying how they ran their routes and what moves they used to get open.

It was amazing to me how he had so many of the all-time records, and he was still working harder than anybody. It would have been so easy for him to be spending that time relaxing at the mall or on the golf course. But Jerry was sacrificing his leisure time to be considered the greatest wide receiver of all time. The only way was the hard way, he believed.

And eventually, even though you may think nobody notices your extra effort, somebody usually does. Your work will off tomorrow, a year from now, five years from now, you don’t know when. But it will!

From "Think Like A Champion" by Mike Shanahan

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Great insight to Marquette's Buzz Williams trying to get a few key points to his team in practice.


Do you suppose that the side with the most troops wins?

Then it is just a matter of going into battle based on head count. Do you suppose the wealthier side wins? That it is just a matter of going into battle based on measurement of grain.

Do you think the side with sharper weapons and stronger armor wins?

Then it would be easy to determine the victor. Therefore the rich are not necessarily secure, the poor are not necessarily insecure, the majority do not necessarily prevail, minorities do not necessarily fail.

That which determines who will win and will lose, who is secure and who is in peril, is their science, their Way.

From "The Lost Art Of War" by Sun Tzu as translated by Thomas Cleary

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


There are so many forms of communication these days...text, tweet, and email just to name a few.  But never forget the importance of a handwritten note.

Many, many years ago as a freshman at Marshall University, I took a basketball coaching class from the late Stu Aberdeen.  Coach Aberdeen spent one entire class session talking about handwritten notes.  At that time, he had a thick, black spiral notebook that he kept all his contacts listed.  Each day he would come to his office, open that spiral notebook up to the location of a paperclip.  He would then hand write notes to the first five people.  Then he would slide the paperclip down and repeat the next morning.  When he would finally get to the end of the notebook he would simply start again all the while adding new people to notebook as he met them.

Coach Aberdeen talked about the feeling an individual gets when reading a handwritten note.  It is one of the most personal kinds of communication.  And he emphasized the importance of writing notes for no other reason than to let the person know you were thinking of them.

Coach Aberdeen also had the philosophy of "writing the last note."  He told us that if you wrote someone a note and they wrote you back to thank you, that you write them back and thank them for thanking you --- make sure you write the last note.

I took that to heart and created my own contact notebook that grew while I coached on the high school level and worked summer camps around the country.  My high school didn't have stationary so I printed my own.  I began to make solid contacts.  Through the years the relationships I created, in large part because of Coach Aberdeen's philosophy, either hired me or made calls on my behalf.

At LSU, I worked for Coach Dale Brown -- another master of the handwritten note.  He wrote note after note after note.

I can remember my first year on Coach Brown's staff and my first big scout against the University of Texas.  I worked hard on that scout and felt good about it.  We were fortunate enough to pull out the victory and the next morning when I got to the office there was an envelope on my desk.  It had a note in it from Coach Brown and a gift certificate for a local restaurant.  The note said:

Bob, thank you for all your hard work in putting together such an outstanding scouting report.  I just want you to know what a great job you are doing and that you are making a difference in our program,


Wow!  For a young coach that had an amazing effect on me.

I'm reminded of a passage in John Maxwell's "25 Ways To Win With People:"

"When you give people credit verbally, you uplift them for a moment.  When you take the time to put it in writing you have the potential to uplift them for a lifetime."

The proof? I still have that handwritten note from Coach Brown all these years later -- a many more.  In fact, I still cherish the notes I get from Coach Brown.  I haven't worked for him in more than 14 years and I still get handwritten notes from him.  Sure, he emails me all the time but he knows that value of those notes.

I've used the value of a handwritten note to motivate and communicate with players.  Sure, I've email our players and text our players but I've also wrote quite a many handwritten notes.  For a player that did something exceptional or possibly for a player that was struggling, they could quite often come to practice the next day to find a handwritten note in the locker to start the day. 

Now in all my years of coaching I've sent a lot of emails to players.  On occasion they have responded via email by saying "thanks."  But I've never -- and I mean never -- wrote a player a handwritten note and not have him or her come up to me at practice and say "thanks."  And what that does is open up possible verbal communication.

So whether you are networking in your profession or trying to inspire those who play for you, never forget the value of a handwritten note.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


While at LSU, we believe a tremendous part of our offensive success was the ability to get to the free throw line. To verify our belief we have charted the following statistics from the 2002-2003 through 2008-2009:

MORE FT’S THAN OPPONENTS: 120-14 (89.6%)


20 OR MORE FREE THROWS: 91-15 (85.9)

Free throw trips are critically important.  If we were to tally a .85 point per possession on offense, we'd be highly successful.  That means if we had 100 possessions in a game, we'd score 85 points.  Dean Smith, while at North Carolina. set a goal of .85 for his Tar Heels.  Hypothetically, if you were to come down the court 100 times and create a 2-shot foul on each possession, you could shoot a mere 50% and your point per possession would be a staggering 1.00.  In that same 100 possession game you'd score 100 points!

Getting to the free throw line is huge!

If getting to the free throw line is so important we need to understand how we can get there on a consistent basis. The first part of that is that we want to emphasize getting to the free throw line.  We can do this a variety of ways:

1. Make sure our team knows it is a priority and why.

2. Making sure we are emphasizing it in practice.  Possibly working on our offense and utilizing the list below as some restrictions.

3. Talk to them statistically in practice and games about your trips to the free throw line.  We also created a Free Throw Trip Percentage Per Possession to go along with Points and Turnovers Per Possession via Dean Smith's Possession Chart.

4. Make sure when showing video both individually as well as to your team that you point out good and bad possessions based on doing things to help you get to the free throw line.  It needs to be a part of their basketball IQ as to how to get there and why it is important.

The following is a list of ways to put pressure on the defense and create situations where they will foul us.

Intelligently but aggressively beating your opponent down the floor...running the lanes...sprinting to the rim...passing ahead...attacking the goal.

This starts with our post players’ ability to “get a piece” of the paint — to bury the defender...we then need for a proper feed to the post...the combination of these two leaves the defense with basically two choices — allow the easy shot or foul.

Aggressively but patiently attacking the defense...having great shot selection...ball reversal…give the defense an opportunity to foul...quick shot teams don’t get to the free throw line...this of course would also cover shot selection.

You can’t get to the free throw line if you don’t take care of the strong with the ball...utilize your sweeps...pass away from the defense.

Keep the defense spread...this allows us room to cut and drive which puts the defense in poor position to defense which leads to fouling.

There is nothing more difficult for the defense to handle than cutting and screening when it is executed well -- including screens on the ball as well as off the ball.

Few perimeters players know how to defend on the block.

A great number of 3-point plays occur on put is difficult to defend an offensive rebound.

Best was to get a defender out of stance and out of position.

Attack the gaps of a zone defense with the dribble puts pressure on the defense...driving the basketball is also effective in getting to the free throw line it combined with good spacing.

Flashing into the middle of the zone — paint touches — forces the defense to play in a very reactionary manner.

Create closeout situations...inside-out or ball reversal.

MAJOR KEY: Combine several of the previous mentioned factors and not only will you get to the free throw line but you will also have great offensive possessions. An example would be a possession of good SPACING, with BALL MOVEMENT, tied in with CUTTING & SCREENING. There is nothing more difficult to defend than cutting & screening when coupled with ball movement.

Of course, a solid separation in free throw shooting between you and your opponent is also an indicator as to how well you are playing defense and we will discuss this at another time.


Thanks to Mike Neighbors for passing this Zig Ziglar writing on to me:

It’s the one thing every one of us is familiar with, the one thing we’re able to accomplish, and even the one thing we have done our whole life. Yet, when it comes to winning, many of us lose so much because of this one key ingredient. Amazingly, you’re doing it right now, but are you doing it to win?

If you study winners, over-achievers, the movers, the shakers, the top percentage in any class - regardless of gender, race, age, or religion, you will find a constant thread that’s so common it’s almost scary. And here’s where the really scary part comes in. The ones who are not part of the overachievers group are actually partaking in this common thread even more, yet they’re not reaping the benefits. Now that’s insulting, unfair, and downright cruel. But it’s all by choice, our choice!

The ingredient I’m speaking of is Managed Pain.  Huh?  Yes, let me explain. We’ve all heard “No Pain, No Gain,” but it’s interesting to note when you study the core differences between winning and losing you will not discover a lack of talent, knowledge, brilliance, hard work, or raw skill. What you will find is those who consistently win have learned how to manage the pain they face on the way.

I’m referring to pain as anything that’s not pleasurable, such as; inconvenience, change, effort, sweat, boredom, confusion, loneliness, fear, etc. Winners realize pain for the proper purpose is productive. You see, all of us will go through a lot of pain in life. Winners spend more of their time going through pain that aligns with their goals, their vision, or their purpose. Amazingly, those who aren’t winning are also dealing with pain and to make it really bad, the pain they’re in is often not for a proper purpose! Why is this? Lots of reasons: not knowing our purpose, not having written goals or visions, afraid, no system in place, or we simply give up on our inner capabilities. Regardless of why, those who miss out on the winning certainly don’t miss out on the pain. What a letdown. If we’re going to go through pain anyway, shouldn’t it be planned, managed, and on purpose as much as possible?

I spent many years running from pain. To put it simply, I’m a pleasure junky. But the more I ran from pain, the more pain I went through because there’s pain on all roads, even the detours. I’ve finally learned that pain is a major part of winning. It’s the pain from losing that makes the pleasure from winning so wonderful. Think about this: thirst is what makes water so valuable. Being cold is the only way we can ever appreciate and enjoy being warm, or vice versa.

Did you know when you grasp the idea that pain is part of the process you can instantly win more out of life than you’ve ever imagined? Your new perception will tell you recessions, layoffs, or other unforeseen adversities are part of the process. Instead of getting a bad attitude and immediately running from it you will stop, analyze the situation, check it against your goals or visions for life, and if it lines up you will go through the pain instead of take a detour!


Back in 2005, I attended a Baden Coaching Clinic in Florida with a great headline of speakers including Coach Don Meyer.  I just came across these notes and thought I'd share a few with you today.  The first one I think is of great importance.  It doesn't matter if you are a head coach, associate head coach or the third assistant.  It doesn't matter if you are coaching on the junior high level or at a BCS school.  What matters is why do you coach.  Have you given it detailed thought?  If you have then you can start aligning your principles based on those answers.  Another Coach Meyer mantra is "it doesn't matter where you coach, it matters why you coach."

1. Teach toughness (life skill)
2. Teach team attitude (everyday)
3. Teach fundamentals
4. Teach life skills

THOUGHTS ON PRACTICE of the things you can control...not looking for pretty—looking to get better.

Hank Iba: “You must practice the game in the manner in which it is played.”

Joe Paterno: “It’s a coaches job to replicated game situations in practice.

1 thing YOU did well and WHY
1 thing WE can do better and HOW

1. Blind enthusiasm
2. Sophisticated complexity
3. Mature simplicity

Physically touch 1/3 of your players every day. LaRussa—red fungo bat — converse with players at batting practice

“What motivates me? Being around coaches who care and love to teach."
-Don Meyer

Monday, May 23, 2011


The following comes from Bill Walsh and his outstanding book, "The Score Takes Care of Itself."

A defining characteristic of a good leader is the conviction that he or she can make a positive difference – can prevail even when the odds are stacked against him or her. A successful leader is not easily swayed from this self-belief. But it happens.

In my view a truly effective leader must be certain things. Here are twelve habits I have identified over the years that will make you be a better leader:

1. Be yourself.
I am not Vince Lombardi; Vince Lombardi was not Bill Walsh. My style was my style, and it worked for me. Your style will work for you when you take advantage of your strengths and strive to overcome your weaknesses. You must be the best version of yourself that you can be; stay within your framework of your own personality and be authentic. If you’re faking it, you’ll be found out.

2. Be committed to excellence.
I developed by Standard of Performance over three decades in the business of football. It could just as accurately (although more awkwardly) been called “Bill’s Prerequisites for Doing Your Job at the Highest Level of Excellence Vis-à-vis Your Actions and Attitude on Our Team.” My commitment to this “product” – excellence – preceded my commitment to winning football games. At all times, in all ways, your focus must be focused on doing things at the highest possible level.

3. Be positive.
I spent far more time teaching what to do than what not to do; far more time teaching and encouraging individuals than criticizing them; more time building up than tearing down. There is a constructive place for censure and highlighting negative aspects of a situation, but too often it is done simply to vent and creates a barrier between you and others. Maintain an affirmative, constructive, positive environment.

4. Be prepared.
Good luck is a product of good planning. Work hard to get ready for expected situations – events you know will happen. Equally important, plan and prepare for the unexpected. “What happens when what’s supposed to happen doesn’t happen?” is the question that you must always be asking and solving. No leader can control the outcome of the contest or competition, but you can control how you prepare for it.

5. Be detail-oriented.
Organizational excellence evolves from the perfection of details relevant to performance and production. What are they for you? High performance is achieved small step by small step through painstaking dedication to pertinent details. (Caution: Do not make the mistake of burying yourself alive in those details.) Address all aspects of your team’s efforts to prepare mentally, physically, fundamentally, and strategically in as thorough a manner as humanly possible.

6. Be organized.
A symphony will sound like a mess without a musical socre that organizes each and every note so that the musicians know precisely what to play and when to play it. Great organization is the trademark of a great organization. You must think clearly with a disciplined mind, especially in regard to the most efficient and productive use of time and resources.

7. Be accountable.
Excuse making is contagious. Answerability starts with you. If you make excuses – which is first cousin to “alibiing” – so will those around you. Your organization will be soon be filled with finger-pointing individuals whose battle cry is, “It’s his fault, not mine!”

8. Be near-sighted and far-sighted.
Keep everything in perspective while simultaneously concentrating fully on the task at hand. All decisions should be made with an eye toward how they affect the organization’s performance – no how they affect you or your feelings. All efforts and plans should be considered not only in terms of short-run effect, but also in terms of how they impact the organization long term. This is very difficult.

9. Be fair.
The 49ers treated people right. I believe your value system is as important to success as our expertise. Ethically sound values engender respect from those you lead and give your team strength and resilience. Be clear in your own mind as to what you stand for. And then stand up for it.

10. Be firm.
I would not budge one inch on my core values, standards, and principles.

11. Be flexible.
I was agile in adapting to changing circumstances. Consistency is crucial, but you must be quick to adjust to new challenges that defy the old solutions.

12. Believe in yourself.
To a large degree, a leader must “sell” himself to the team. This is the most important unless you exhibit self-confidence. While I was rarely accused of cockiness, it was apparent to most observers that I had significant belief-self confidence-in what I was doing. Of course, belief derives from expertise.

13. Be a leader.
Whether you are a head coach, CEO, or sales manager, you must know where you’re going and how you intend to get there, keeping in mind that it may be necessary to modify your tactics as circumstances dictate. You must be able to inspire and motivate through teaching people how to execute their jobs at the highest level. You must care about people and help those people care about one another and the team’s goals. And you must never second-guess yourself on decisions you make with integrity, intelligence, and a team-first attitude.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Thanks to Coach Creighton Burns for this list:

1. Hand signals for defense.

2. Huddles on the floor during the game. (Not on the sideline)

3. Tired signal (This is given on the offensive end of the floor. It is never given when you are on defense.)

4. Run and Jump Defense.

5. Point Zone Defense.

6. Calling a Time Out after you score a field goal.


The following comes from "How to Succeed in the Game of Life" by Christian Klemash in which she poses the question, "how do you view failure?"

Brian Billick:
“I think it was Churchill (and I may be getting two quotes confused), but he said ‘Failure is nothing more than the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.’ And the other one was ‘Success is born of going from one failure to the next.’

John Chaney:
“One of my great mottos that I’ve already had licensed is ‘Be the Dream.” Don’t dream, be the dream. Another is ‘Winning Is and Attitude.’ You win with good attitude. You get a job because you go in with a good attitude. You’re not a failure because the score is not in your favor. You’re a failure if you say to yourself that you didn’t accomplish your goals, if you admit to yourself that the other guy was a winner because of the score. You cannot measure winning and losing by the score. There is such a thing as losing and there is such a thing as a loser. Losing is found in the score. Loser is when you internalize it to mean you. It’s about your attitude.”

Tony Dungy:
“Failure to me is doing less than what you’re capable of doing. I’ve been on some great teams that didn’t win championships but got close, and didn’t maybe play up to their potential all the time.”

Dan Gable:
“Failure to me is really just a lack of preparation.”

Tom Osborne:
“I think failure is essentially not being true to the gifts you’ve been given. In other words, if you have abilities and talents and you don’t use them or if you squander opportunities, to me that’s failure.”

Joe Torre:
“Failure is such a tough word because the only way you can ever learn how to win is to know what it feels like to lose. Failure is something that you have to put behind you in a hurry.”

John Wooden:
“There is no such thing as failure to the person who makes the effort to do the best they could do. It’s like character and reputation. You’re the only one that knows your character. Your reputation is what others perceive you to be. Character is far more important. For example, I think you can be successful and be outscored in a game. I think you can be unsuccessful when you outscore an opponent. You know, it’s sort of like my definition of success; it’s peace of mind, and without peace of mind, I don’t think we have much.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011


You defend a great shooter by relentlessly dogging him to restrict his opportunities to touch the ball.  You always want to be close enough to touch him when he catches the ball, before he has a change to put up a shot.

One the shooter catches the ball, don't go for ball fakes; crowd him and force him to put it on the floor.  Don't let him get a good look at the basket.  If he goes up for a shot, get an extended hand to the ball to challenge the shot.  If you're smaller than the shooter or if you have quick hands, try to strip the ball from his hands before he can get the ball into shooting position.  Always force him to shoot with his weaker hand and from the direction he least prefers.

From "NBA Coaches Playbook"


Through the relationships I've developed via twitter, one of the people I've greatly enjoyed following is Clarence Gaines, Jr. -- son of Hall of Famer Clarence "Big House" Gaines.  So this evening he reminded us that it would have been the 88th birthday for his late father.  And then he shared a link to wonderful story written by another talented person who left us too soon -- Ralph Riley.  I took the time to read the article -- it's incredible!  Great stories and insight into Coach Gaines -- on his successes and the adversity he overcame to achieve them.  Here are just a few tidbits I took from the story with my comments in "yellow italics."

Coach Gaines was about teaching (life and basketball) -- it was about the process for him:

"Could've won a thousand, had he been all into winning," says equipment manager Fernandez Griffin. "He took the athlete who needed a second chance. He'd tell the players, 'Learn one thing here that will help you live well.' They'd say, 'Coach, what about winning?' He'd say, 'That too.' "

Don't know if I ever met an outstanding coach that didn't have a special greasy spoon place to eat...and "friends" to enjoy the meals there:

"Well, guess I've got to take you to this one particular place. Bobby Knight's got his place. Dean Smith's got his place. John Thompson's got his place. Come on. I'll drive the van and show you one of mine."

This turns out to be Mama Chris's place, a greasy spoon a few miles from campus where you can get a plate of hot food slammed in front of you without much trouble—a place quite unbecoming a legend. Gaines finds a table as if he had been born there.

Again, Coach Gaines goes beyond X & O's in understanding success:

What's the secret to winning basketball games?

His eyes are closed, his breathing deep. With great relish, he puckers up and enunciates the one word flawlessly. The Great Truth of coaching....


Coach Gaines knew how to appreciate the talent he was blessed to coach:

Coach Gaines, what about Cleo (Hill) and Earl (Monroe)?

"I treated them like great musicians," he says, "like the artists they were. Then I treated them like kids because that's all they were when I had them. Cleo was completely scientific. I'm talking scientific. There was no phase of the game he didn't have in hand. Earl was innovative, creative. Blessed."

Coach Gaines, like so many of his era did it all -- that paved the way for ALL that we have today:

"By '47 I was teacher, 'laywer,' 'judge,' football coach, basketball coach, ticket manager, trainer and what passed for athletic director—eight jobs for one salary," Gaines says. "I looked at myself. What would I look like hovering over a bunch of eight-year-olds, or an open mouth? I was born to coach young men."

Coach Gaines got it!  And he taught it:

"Clarence Gaines was a father figure to me," says (Earl) Monroe. "I went to school to play ball, but he turned that around in my first year. He let me know what I was there for, no matter how well I could play."

This is a lengthy story filled with great stories and history about our game...please find time to read it.  It's important for us to learn and remember our past if we want to make a difference in the future.

Here is the link:


The following comes from Coach Creighton Burns Newsletter (one of my favorite resources as a coach):

I just finished reading the Buster Olney book, "How Lucky You Can Be," which as many of you know is the story of Coach Don Meyer. Needless to say, I was in tears while finishing the book. If you have never read the book, I would give it my highest recommendation. If you work with young people, or if you want to know how to deal with people, it is a MUST. It will be educational and very worth while. My daughter gave me the book as a Christmas present, and I read most of it while I was at her home this past Christmas, but came home, put it down, and had not picked it up again until today. You know how retired people are -- they jump from task to task and can't remember what they were doing 5 minutes ago. I am sure glad I left it out by my recliner. It is well worth the read.

I have met Coach Meyer, coached against him he was at Lipscomb and was on a clinic with him in Chicago, He, like Coach Wooden, is one of our treasures. Just think about how lucky all the guys were, who had the opportunity to play on one of his teams at Hamline, David Lipscomb, or Northern State. I will not get into the game we played against his team at Lipscomb, other that to say that we did not win. His kids were so well coached, very organized, executed very well and so disciplined! It is easy to see how he won over 900 games.


Readers of our blog already know that there is no bigger fan of Point Guard College than Bob Starkey.  I have known their CEO Dena Evans from her playing days at the point guard position at the University of Virginia.  We have encourage our players to attend PGC and many have and they always come back with a different mindset.  And that's what it's all about -- thinking the game -- the mindset. 

I don't like to refer to PGC as a camp -- because it's's an incredible concept in the way they teach.  Dena and her staff (and they so committed) are GAME CHANGERS -- they are changing the game for the better.

Here's an outstanding video of Dena speaking on Mental is so good I'm going to post it at (our blog for student-athletes).

If you are interested in your players having a unique experience this summer in such a way that it will impact them and your team then by all means please check out Point Guard College at:


Outstanding post by Brian Tracy on some common traits shared by outstanding teams.  I found it interested that some of the key words were share and action.

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, May 20, 2011


For those reading this blog, you may or may not be aware of the path of our senior captain point guard Latear Eason.  Tia (as she is known to her teammates and staff) is a native of Chicago.  And you'd better know that!  She will stand up and fight for the Bulls, the Bears, the Cubs and even Chicago-style pizza.

Unfortunately, 10 days ago, she was diagnosed with Gullian-Barre Syndrome.  While she is expected to make a full recovery, it is an extremely difficult illness.  She has limited used of her arms and legs, is unable to speak and has been in ICU for the past eight days.  The nature of the illness is for the patient to struggle for two to three weeks.  It is part of a virus that effects the nervous system.  After three weeks, Tia will have up to several months of rehab and therapy.

Not that I'm worried about her...Tia Eason is one of the toughest players to have ever worn an LSU uniform.  She has already come back from an ACL, a broken clavicle, and two concussions.  And when I say come back, she sticks her nose right back in the hornets nest.

Today, Tia officially graduated from LSU.  Unable to walk across the stage, we will have a ceremony with her family tomorrow afternoon.  But the disappointment of not walking today was overshadowed by a surprise gift.

Tia's family contacted the Bulls Derrick Rose and informed him that Tia was a home-grown Chicago native that admired him and was a big Bulls fan.  So today, Tia received two photos and a rookie card autographed by Derrick and a note encouraging her to keep the faith.

All of this while he leads his Bulls in the playoffs!  That's what a real MVP is -- MOST VALUABLE PERSON!  Now it doesn't take too many games to watch and fall in love with his play -- but he has gained a lifetime fan in Bob Starkey

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Marking the 10th anniversary of the passing of Coach Dick DeVenzio I am reminded about accepting an assistant coaching position at Marshall University under Judy Southard.  On my first day of work she walked in my office and handed me a copy of Dick's book "Stuff Good Players Should Know." 

She simply told me, "Read it and know it."

Years later when I joined Dale Brown's staff he did the same thing (it certainly put me in good standing with Coach Brown that I had already read the book).

So here are just a few of some of the great STUFF from Dick's book:

Five guys working together doing the "wrong" thing have a better chance of winning than five guys all doing their own thing because each thinks he knows best.

Good players get their hands on the ball on defense. They deflect some passes going inside, they hit a dribble in the lane, and they touch one or two of their man's passes.

Against a zone, you want to receive the ball each time in a position where two defenders feel they need to take you.

Faking, almost all fakes, work great in games, and there is a very good reason why. Most players, even a lot of good ones, don't fake, or at least not very often. As a result, very few defenders have had the opportunity to react to fakes, so when they meet one in a game they fall for it and get faked out. The most important rule on faking is, "Use fakes."

Good players often think about the possibility of losing. In fact, many of them think more about the possibility of losing than they think about the joy of winning, and there is a very good reason for this. Good players are usually accustomed to winning, so for them winning carries with it no great joy. A certain measure of satisfaction, yes. But not jumping-up-and-down joy. What motivates a good player is not so much any thrill involved with winning, but instead the wrenching disappointment -- the agony -- of losing.

No team ever lost by playing the wrong defense. They lost by playing that defense poorly.

Bad shots, probably more than anything else, lose basketball games, yet bad shots are ridiculously common. Go to any playground and you will see more bad shots taken than good shots. Players seem to love taking bad shots. Winning teams are most often the teams who pass up shots and wait for better ones. What is the difference between a 45% shot and a 60% shot? Not much. A bit more time. A step closer in. A bit more confidence and certainty about the one. Yet again, the 60% shot wins and the 45% shot loses.

Good players beg for the ball, not so much with their tongues (though they do sometimes shout) as much as with their body movements and facial expressions. Good players want the ball, and that want is obvious to whoever has it. The average fan would likely say that all players want the ball, and they do, but not like good players want it. Good players want it in a way that they are always close by, always popping out, always looking at the guys with the ball with a sort of desperation.

Dena Evans and Point Guard College sell Dick's books including his classic "Stuff." If you are interested click on this link:


I'm dedicating this post to Dena Evans, all the great people at Point Guard College and everyone of us coaches who have been effected directly or indirectly by Dick Devenzio

At the heart of PGC is the word “SCHAPE,” an acronym invented by PGC’s Founder, Dick DeVenzio. PGC says that its mission is to SCHAPE the basketball world—but what does that mean and how does it impact you?

The verb “shape” means to mold or to form, as in the way that a potter “shapes” clay into a vase. Dick DeVenzio changed the spelling of “shape” and created an acronym in which each letter stands for an essential aspect of championship performance. Dick’s acronym—“SCHAPE”—means not just to form, but to transform—to uplift, change or alter something in order to make it the best it can be.

The essence of SCHAPE is to bring passion, intensity, care and full attention to whatever is in front of you—the task at hand—so that whatever you do, you do it the best that you can. We then apply this “psychology of excellence” to what our athletes and coaches care the most about—striving to achieve excellence in the game of basketball.

At PGC, we attempt to “SCHAPE the basketball world.” How? By injecting the six crucial ingredients represented by the acronym into everything that we say and do. We teach players how to SCHAPE their practices, their games, and their off-court environments in ways that make everyone that they’re associated with the best they can be.

The full meaning of the acronym is much deeper than what we can cover here, but here is a brief overview of what the six aspects of SCHAPE mean to PGC:

The following passage comes from his book, "Think Like A Champion."
Our passion and enthusiasm. We inspire coaches and athletes to get in touch with what they truly love about the game.

We communicate our values in everything that we say and do. We use a creative vocabulary to make our teaching and communication more memorable and effective.

We consistently look to do more than our share and more than what’s expected.

Our actions are always aligned with our purpose. We are always conscious of and consistent in our approach, making sure that our actions are sourced from our values.

We pay attention to the little things in all that we do and maintain an unwavering commitment to excellence.

We continually look for ways to make our curriculum, our staff, and the athletes and coaches that we work with the very best they can be.

The notion of SCHAPE-ing pervades everything that we do at PGC. This is not about a fancy pep talk or another topic for a lecture: The acronym SCHAPE provides the foundation for all of our courses and is the thread that runs through all that we teach and do.

SCHAPE is the essence of Dick DeVenzio’s legacy. This legacy is what makes PGC unique—SCHAPE-ing the basketball world is “The PGC Way.”

"Any athlete involved in a team sport can often help his team by instructing his teammates, but this can be a delicate subject. There aren’t two athletes out of a hundred who like being told what to do. It’s bad enough having a coach constantly barking out commands without having teammates do the same. Nevertheless, I think this whole subject can be dealt with effectively by keeping on rule in mind. Instruct before a mistake is made. Not after."

Excellent advice for players but can certainly apply to coaches as well!

Dena and PGC sell Dick's books including his classic "Stuff."  If you are interested click on this link:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


“We try to teach our players to play intelligently.  A key to that is getting them to understand not just that something works but why.”

-Bob Knight


“A team doesn’t need dozens of patterns and scores of intricate plays in its offense…if cuts are sharp, if screens are set and players make their breaks correctly, and if the timing is precise, the shots will be there.”

-Billie Moore
From "Basketball: Theory and Practice"