Sunday, July 31, 2011


The following "Offensive Myths" come from Bob Ligouri's book "Building A Championship Offense."

1. Good teams do no put the basketball on the floor
Analysis proves otherwise. Even solid passing game teams do allow their players to put it on the floor. The dribble is used to score, improve passing angles, create scoring opportunities for teammates, and escape trouble.

2. Good teams do not allow 1 on 1 play
Analysis shows that 1 on 1 play is effective for both women and men. Good offensive teams break their opponents’ defense down and 1 on 1 play is critical to achieving this goal. They keys to 1 on 1 effectiveness are recognition and timing. Good teams have players that recognize legitimate opportunities within the team concept, and use the move to not only create a shot for themselves, but also for teammates. A coach must teach spacing and spot ups if they want to maximize the efficiencies of the 1 on 1 move. In addition, good teams do not allow 1 on 1 play on initial entry movement unless they enjoy a clear advantage. Usually, against good teams, the most effective 1 on 1 moves come after 2 or more court reversals.

3. The ball screen is obsolete
Analysis shows that the ball screen is effective. Many top teams use it, and with great success. Against good defenses, teams use the ball screen after 1 to 2 court reversals or after 4 to 5 passes. As with both the use of the dribble and 1 on 1 play, ball screens are more effective when the coach teaches spot ups and proper weakside spacing.

4. A team must have a center for effective low post play
Analysis showed that come of the top men’s and women’s teams in the country developed strong low post attacks without a true center. They flashed forwards or guards into the strongside low post, or they set solid off the ball screens to create mismatches in the low post area. In many games, pass selection, spacing, and patience all had more of a negative impact than size on low post play.

5. A player/team must have quickness to effectively penetrate a defense
Naturally, blur quickness was an advantage for point guards, but tape analysis showed many excellent teams with average speed point players. They good teams structured opportunities for the perimeter players to penetrate. Ball screens, high post step outs, and flash cuts all provide ball penetration within the defensive perimeter. The ability to break down a defense is critical to offensive success. The top teams structured their attacks to feature the strengths and hide the weak areas of their players. Winners found effective methods to penetrate, even without good quickness at the point guard spot.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


The following comes from an interview by John Maxwell of Coach Wooden.  Obviously there are many coaches who adhere to the philosophy of a player signaling to a teammate after a good pass.  But do we as coaches and human beings look ways and opportunities to acknowledge the contributions of those that we work with and live with on a daily basis?

In 2003, when I interviewed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, he told me how he would often teach his players who scored to give a smile, wink, or not to the player who gave them a good pass. “What if he’s not looking?” asked a team member. Wooden replied, “I guarantee he’ll look.” Everyone enjoys having his contribution acknowledged.


At Coaching U Live a few weeks ago, Boston Celtic assistant coach Kevin Eastman spent some time talking about the role of the assistant coach in regard to their contributions to the head coach.  He brough out some interesting points and I'll post them at some point down the road.  For now however, these points by John Maxwell from his book "360 Degree Leadership" on the topic of how we can lighten the load for our bosses.

1. The one thing that the top leader can never let go of is final responsibility.

2. As an employee, you can do one of two things for your leader. You can make the load lighter, or you can make it heavier.

3. I should mention that motives do matter when it comes to lifting your leader’s load. I’m recommending that you lift up, not suck up.

4. “Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well.”

5. When you help someone bigger then you, it makes you part of something bigger.

6. Lifting others isn’t meant to be a one-time occurrence. You can’t add value to people by helping them once.

7. It’s not how heavy the load is. It’s how you carry it.

8. From the perspective of the top leader, the question that must be asked is, “Am I better off with them on the team?”

9. The lift you give for the leader often leads to the leader lifting you.

10. Do Your Own Job Well First

“It isn’t hard to be good from time to time in sports. What’s tough is being good every day.”

11. When You Find A Problem, Provide A Solution

“Don’t find a fault; find a remedy.”

12. Tell Leaders What They Need To Hear, Not What They Want To Hear

“Very few big executive want to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men.” -Burton Bigelow

13. Go The Second Mile

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

14. Stand Up For Your Leader Whenever You Can

“When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”

15. Stand In For Your Leader Whenever You Can

16. Ask Your Leader How You Can Lift The Load


1. Meaning of motivation poem: I’d rather see a sermon than to hear on any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way; The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear; Fine counsel is confusing, but examples are always clear. And, best of all, the preachers are the men who live their creeds; For to see good put in action is what everybody needs. I soon can learn to do it, if you’ll let me see it done; I can see your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run. And the lectures you deliver may be very fine and true, But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do; For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give; But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live!

2. Motivation is the will to do something to the absolute best of one’s ability. A motivated man refuses to surrender even when there is nothing left to give. The enormity of the task does not matter. Neither do overwhelming odds against success. An effort may at times fall short of its goal, but a motivated team never allows itself to come up short of effort. Success isn’t a case of never making mistakes. It’s a case of never giving up after making mistakes. That’s motivation! Ordinary men make promises to achieve excellence. Motivated men are fearless. They take it one step further. They make commitments, and they never compromise. The late Bob Zuppke, who coached the University of Illinois football team for 29 years, once said, “The difference between champions and near champions is the ability to play for something outside of self.” That’s motivation! No one can achieve lasting success without it.

3. The wise coach knows that true motivation comes from within. The successful coach understands how to share that marvelous uncompromising spirit with every member of the football team. People often mistake motivation with the histrionics of a pregame or halftime speech. Normally those kinds of speeches serve only to prove that, given the opportunity, a coach is capable of making as many promises as a double-talking salesman. Speeches are better left to politicians and preachers. Save them for the student pep rallies and the fund-raising affairs. Sometimes the right words can trigger a player’s emotion lying just beneath the surface. But the coach should have planted that emotion in the bellies of everybody on the team a long time ago. A wise old preacher once said, “I’d rather live one good sermon than give a million bad ones.” There’s no better piece of advice for a football coach.

4. Motivation is a passion for the game, a passion for life, and a passion for bringing out the best in every person whose life you have the opportunity to touch. A man must commit himself to that degree of passion before he truly earns the title coach.

5. A coach cannot instill motivation into any of his players, his assistants, or any other member of the football organization unless he himself is motivated. A coach must live his passion. He must breathe it. Above all, he must conduct himself accordingly, not only on the football field but in every aspect of life. He must be the living image of what each of his players aspires to become. Only then will he have a chance of transferring that motivation to his men. Motivation is not restricted to the 11 autumn Saturdays when the team plays games. The team must practice it when preparing for each game throughout the season. Motivation must be paramount during the off-season conditioning when it’s easy to believe that the upcoming season is too far away to worry about. And, most important, motivation must become an integral part of all aspects of life away from the field, where character and morality are the true measures of a man.

6. The team will reflect what the coach is. The team will believe what the coach believes. How can the coach expect any member of his squad to live by the highest standards if he doesn’t apply the same yardstick of judgment to himself? He must radiate his qualities to each member of the organization—assistant coaches, players, trainers, equipment managers, secretaries, every member of the staff. No unit of the team can achieve success without the dedicated effort of the whole. Motivation doesn’t magically start in August when the first footballs are thrown out onto the field. Motivation is a 12-month, 52-week, 24-hour-a-day job. It all starts with the head coach.

7. If you slice open the belly of motivation, I guarantee you’ll find two basic elements—honestly and integrity. No coach, no football player, no person in any occupation will ever become truly successful without embracing each of those qualities with the fury that a football player applies when diving onto a fumbled ball.

8. The core of coaching is honesty. You can develop a trusting relationship only with people who believe in you, the program, the team, and themselves. A coach must lead his team with truth and honesty to confront the untruth, the half-truths, and all the baloney that others may throw at him.

9. The character of a leader, a team, and an entire program depends on honesty from all those involved. You cannot motivate without honesty. You cannot assemble a highly motivated team unless they know you speak the truth. Honesty is the core of coaching.

10. If you live the right way, you’ll play the right way. It begins with the head coach. By living the right way, a coach is free to demand the same of his team. Don’t ever ask anything of another that you are afraid to do yourself. How can a coach expect his players to develop an enthusiastic attitude if he doesn’t have one himself? How can he expect his players to be well disciplines if he himself is not? Players reflect the attitude and motivation of the coach. If you believe in what you’re doing and your heart is in your work, you will be able to motivate others to heights they never believed possible. The coach must establish high standards and expect nothing but the best.

11. A critical aspect of motivation is communication. Only through communication can a coach establish an honest and trusting relationship. Team meetings and pregame pep talks are overrated. I prefer one-on-one relationships. They provide the opportunity to establish trust on both sides.

12. Communication is more than merely exchanging words. Real communication is an art. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes the ability to listen. A coach must learn to accept each player for the individual that he is. A coach must understand that a young man may be reaching out for guidance that he may be unable to get from any other person in his world.

13. Throughout my career at the University of Michigan, no player needed an appointment to see me in my office. In or out of season, the door was always open to my players. Whether it was the starting quarterback or a fourth-string walk-on lineman, each young man was welcoming to visit me in my office any time, day or night. My secretary was careful never to disturb me for anything while I was in a meeting—unless one of my players had come to my office to talk. Then all the rules were off.

14. If a coach is serious about building character and instilling motivation in the young men under his charge, he must practice being a coach at all times and in every situation.

15. All athletes, down deep, want to be challenged. That’s why it is so critical for the coach to understand what method of motivation each individual responds to best. Then the coach must act with care and consistency to ensure that each player demands the best from himself so that motivation becomes self-starting.

16. Motivation takes on a different face in different situations. I have always maintained it is easier to motivate a team after a loss than when things are going well. When your team is on a winning streak and most of the breaks are falling your way, there is a tendency to believe that the good times will never end. If an injury or some other misfortune strikes, a team may not be mentally prepared to overcome adversity. When we were winning, I was a miserable, persnickety SOB while watching a game film. I spotted minuscule mistakes that normally took a microscope to detect. I always believed that sloppy habits, even in victory, set the table for a crushing defeat. I was far more concerned with instilling proper motivation after a victory than I was after a defeat in which our team expanded total effort. Even in victory, a motivated team never accepts lack of effort. Lack of talent is a separate matter. A coach must vociferously approach a lack of effort.

From the book titled "The Football Coaching Bible"

Friday, July 29, 2011


Understand the learning process. Here’s how the learning typically works:

STEP 1: Act.

STEP 2: Look for your mistakes and evaluate.

STEP 3: Search for a way to do it better.

STEP 4: Go back to step 1.

From "Self-Improvement 101" by John Maxwell


The following are thoughts on coach/player relationships by Coach Roy Williams in his book, "Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court."

Coach Smith taught me that your players are always your top priority. If I have a player in my office and the phone rings, I will not answer the phone. I have a Plexiglas paperweight that reads, “Statistics are important, but relationships last a lifetime.”

When it comes to mentoring my players, I look at myself like a teammate. I am playing as hard as I can every day to get them to believe in what I believe in: that there’s a right way to conduct yourself, there’s a right way to answer people, there’s a right way to dress when you go into a restaurant or get on a plane, and there’s a right way to play basketball.

See the rocks in your path not as obstacles, but as opportunities to climb higher or If you want to leave footprints in the sands of time—you better wear work shoes. On the first day of preseason practice, the Thought for the Day is always the same: It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.

I try to never blow smoke with my players. I tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I tell them the truth.

The simplest way to get me mad is with selfishness, lack of concentration, or lack of hustle.


In the first part of our series we talked about why it is important to execute in your half-court offense.  If you missed that post, you can re-read it here:

Today we are going to talk about components of good half-court offense and hopefully give you some things to consider when your are putting together your offensive system of play.  The components, or characteristics of good half-court offense are certainly debatable based on your philosophy but ever successful half-court offense will have their own particular elements in which they will base their play around.

One of the first things a coach should consider is the "Big Three" questions to gage how you want to move forward.

1. How do you want to score?
Are you going to pound  the ball inside?  Are you going to beat teams off the dribble?  Are you going to be a catch-and-shoot team?  Will you try to incorporate parts of those factors into your philosophy?

2. Where do you want to score?
Are you scoring in the paint?  Are you going to score from behind the arc?  Are you going to try and create a balance?

3. When do you want to score?
Do you want to be an attacking team that shoots early in the clock to speed up the tempo?  Does the talent of your team merit that you slow the game down so you are shooting late in the clock?  If you play with out a clock these questions are still valid -- do you want a quick shot or do you want to be patient.

To add something into the equation for "how do you want to score," I have always believe in the importance of getting to the free throw line.  Again, this is my philosophy and that does not make it right or wrong.  If getting to the free throw line is part of what you want your offense to be, than that will guide you to answer a few other questions along the way.  Earlier this year I blogged about getting to the free throw line -- it's importance and considerations for getting there.  You can read that post at:

Primarily I believe there are four types of offense:

1. Motion Offense...non-patterned, based on reading the defense and giving the offense freedom to make decisions based on those reads.  Now motion can be ran a variety of ways.  Coach Bob Knight ran it with a lot of screening actions.  Coach Dean Smith utilized motion with very little screening but a lot of cutting.  Today, several teams run the Dribble-Drive Motion which incorporates a lot of penetrating dribble action.

2. Continuity Offense...patterned offenses that have continual movement.  Probably the best examples are the Flex Offense and various Shuffle Cuts

3. Patterned Offense...similarly to continuity but not as continual in the same movement.  Some of the more popular patterned offenses have been the UCLA High Post Offense or the Triple Post Offense.

4. Quick Hitters...these are sets designed to attack the defense as a specific point quickly and then flow into either motion or a continuity.  They generally don't last for more than one or two passes.

Many coaches will use combinations of these.  While at LSU we certainly we are motion team but we also utilized quick hitters.  North Carolina under Dean Smith ran motion (UNC referred to it as Passing Game) but they also used the Spear Shuffle.  Obviously there are a lot of ways to attack offensively in terms of which type of offensive philosophy you use.  But what are some of the components of good half-court player that should be factored in to success regardless of how you play?   Here is a list of a few that we came up with:

1. Spacing
Chuck Daly said it best, "Spacing of offense and offense is spacing."  Regardless of whether you run motion, continuity, patterns or quick hitters you should include elements of spacing.  Obviously in regard to quick hitters you may not have good spacing in the beginning but it should be part of the flow of your offense.  So much good stuff comes about because of spacing including the ability to feed the post, drive to the basket, and open up penetrating cuts.  It helps neutralize the help of the defense as well as spread the defense to put more pressure on them.

2. Initial Alignment
Regardless of what you are doing offensively, how you initially begin in your set should be of importance.  The placement of the players can first distort the defense as well as help you maximize your entry options.  Just because you run Triple Post doesn't mean if you have to start in the basic set that most teams do.  Take a look at your personal and take advantage of your own team with the alignment.

3. Entry Options
All offenses need the ability to have the ball entered.  Obviously on of the more common entry passes is the guard-to-wing.  Give thought to how you are going to enter the ball to get your offense started -- no matter why type of offense you run.  And of course, you should have Entry Option #1, Entry Option #2 and Entry Option #3.  Regardless of how important your initial entry option is, you must be prepared for it to not being open.  I once read where pilots have to file a flight plan and that than they are to create a back up plan.  Do the same with your entries.

4. Counters
This is especially important if you are running patterned or continuity offenses.  As someone who enjoys the defensive side of the game, I take great pride in "disrupting" an opponent's offense.  Teams that run patterns and continuity all have a specific pass and particular receiver to keep the offense going.  From the defensive standpoint, we would work hard to take the particular pass or reciever away fromt he offense.  If the team has a counter for when that is denied, than they can continue to attack offensively.  It is always easy to spot a team that may not rely on counters.  You can see their need to hit the high post player at the top of the key to reverse the ball and when it is denied, she will step a step higher...and then a step higher -- working hard to get open just to keep the offensive alive.

5. Flow
If you are running a patterned or quick hitting offense, what are you going to "flow" into when it is over?  If you have a shot clock to work with, you must be very effective at flowing into something to be successful in your half-court offense.  Certainly some teams can and do pull the back out and yell "set it up" or call another play.  If I could again refer back to my defensive philosophy, the offense setting up means our defense gets to reset as well.  We tell our defense that anytime the offense pulls the ball back and yells "set-up" that we should take that as a sign that we have succeeded defensively.  If you are going to flow into motion or a continuity, make sure you work on it in practice.  And if you are going to pull it back out and call another play, you should work on that as well.

6. Paint Presence
This is certainly open to debate but I strongly believe that successful half-court teams are great at getting paint touches.  Now please understand that this doesn't necessarily have to be all low post feeds.  But good offense knows how to score inside -- even if they are primarily a 3-point shooting team.  Maybe you don't have a big team or an effective scorer at your post position.  Ever tried posting up a guard?  It is a very difficult thing for a defense to handle.  Paint touches can also come from dribble penetration or flashes into the post.  Very few things put more pressure on a defense than a team that can get the ball to the paint.  I listened to Mike Krzyzewski a few back at a clinic talk about how Duke has worked hard to incorporate a 3-point shooter attack -- and if you've watched them play you can certainly you can see the effect of the 3-point shot.  Last year Duke was 34th in the nation with over 20 3-pointers a game.  Yet they also managed to average 22 free throw attempts a game.  It because they like to utilize dribble penetration or post feeds to set up their 3's.  At LSU, we refered to these as "Paint Touch 3's" -- you get the 3 (usually a little more open do to defensive collapse to the paint) while also pressuring the defense with the paint touch.

7. Shot Selection
This is again open to interpretation and philosophy but what I do think is important that you have it definded for your players individually and for your team as a unit.  The whole goal of good offense is simply stated: get a good shot each time down the court.  It is up to you to define what constitutes a good shot for your team.  Do not leave it open to the imagination of your players. Be specific and make sure you are constantly reviewing with your team the type of shot you are expecting.

8. Valuing the Ball
All good offense is also about possession.  Good offensive teams take care of the ball.  A big part of this will be your ability to emphasize that to your team on a daily basis through practice, skill development and video.  But you can also aid it by the structure of your offense.  While at LSU, dribble usage was a big part of our offensive philsophy and here is how we viewed it:  Again, this does not have to be your set of principles, but make sure you team understands what you expect.  The same holds true in passing.  By having some design thoughts on when, where, how and who to pass it, you can help your offense to better maintain possession of the basketball.

9. Floor Balance
This is a simple concept that some coaches don't give a great deal of thought to -- but it can great effect your team.  There are two major thoughts in having good floor balance.  The first if making sure that you have good board coverage.  This obviously can be enhanced by having a set philosophy on shot selection -- it is easier to rebound when you have a good idea of who is going to shoot and when and where they will shoot it.  But having good floor balance can put your best offensive rebounders at the best spots on the floor to attack the glass.  The other component of floor balance is defensive.  Good floor balance certainly benefits your transition defense.

10. Ball Reversal
This is another one that could be question by a few coaches with various philosophies but I think a good half-court offense must be able to effectively reverse the basketball.  The better the defense, the more difficult it will be to score on a first-side entry pass.  Good defensive teams simply won't allow it.  So you have to work on options to reverse the basketball and how you will attack from that -- especially with the thought that some defenses will work hard to prevent the ball reversal action. 

In his book "Building A Championship Offense," Bob Ligouri studied offense in great detail and came to this conclusion: "The most effective 1 on 1 situations came as a result of an off-the-ball screen and cut. One on one moves were much more efficient after 3 to 4 passes and 1 to 2 court reversals."

I very much believe this to be true.  In fact, one of my offensive mantras is that "everything is more effective off ball reversal."  I think you could take any offensive action and then work it into ball reversal and it will be more difficult for the defense because they must handle that action after a closeout.  It will also often give better opportunities because of the ballside action being slow to get to help or not getting to help at all.

11. Patience
This could coincide with Ball Reversal and again philosophically some coaches might not agree with it making the list of elements necessary for a good half court offense.   But again, we need to look at our half-court offense being effective against the best that we will play against and good defensive teams will make sure you don't score early in a possession.  The art with being effective while being patient is maintaining aggressiveness.  Patient is not complacent.  Patient is now slow.  We talk to our teams along the lines of being "aggressively patient."

I don't think a coach has to demand that his offense is always patient but she/he needs to coach them so that they understand what patience means to her/his philosophy and be able to execute that when necessary.

Roy Williams thinks patience in offense is important because the longer you aggressively run your offense the more likely the defense will have a breakdown.  In fact, good offensive patience could be defined as running your offense aggressively until you can take advantage of a defense breakdown.

Do you have a way to communicate patience?  At LSU, we would hold up five fingers to indicate that we must have at least five passes before shooting a jump shot.  We would also hold up a fist to indicate that the ball must touch the paint once before a jump shot.  To maintain aggressiveness, we would always let our team that they could take a lay-up at any time.  Regardless of what we called, if we have a drive to the rim or a cutter to the rim, the restriction is off.

Part III: Teaching Good Half-Court Offense

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


One of the speakers at Coaching U Live this year was Jay Bilas.  It turns out that Kevin Eastman had spoke to him about speaking some time ago and asked him to keep a journal of things he learned through the course of the season.  Besides playing and working for Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, he gets the opportunity to speak with some of the nation's best coaches while also observing their practice sessions.  Here are a few of the notes I took from Bilas who did an incredible job.

“Players like coaches who sweat with them.”
-Tim Grgurich

Key phrases for Bob McKillop (Davidson): Trust…Character…Commitment

When watching Rick Pitino’s practices, one of the constants is Pitino yelling out: “Play the ball, see your man.” Pitino also constantly spoke offensively of wanting “no challenge shots that aren’t rushed.”

McKillop compares his defense to the Secret Service with the basket being the President. “Take a bullet to protect the President.” Davidson gives out an “In The Line of Fire Award” for defense.

McKillop also spoke of “patient flow.” He felt that Americans were wasting the dribble too much while Europeans were better at utilizing the dribble to set up the pass.

Bob Knight: “Basketball is a game of deception and misdirection.” Knight speaks of deception with the feet – eyes – pace.

Tom Izzo rebounding philosophy: “Hit…Find…Fetch.”

Izzo wants “range 2 handed rebounds.” He constantly speaks of “relentless pursuit of the ball.”

Izzo also speaks of rebounding by saying “get shoulders even and then it’s a fist fight as to who wants it more.”

Brad Stevens: “The ability to listen is the key to talking.”

One of the things that Bilas looks for as key to successful basketball is what a team does during dead balls:
1. Which teams comes together
2. Which team talks the most
3. During FT, what does the point guard do

Bilas once observed a practice where Phil Jackson demanded that his players were not allowed to talk it all. He quickly got his point across to his players as they figured out the role of talking and good basketball.

Bilas believes that tension is the enemy of performance. He also spoke of the importance of concentration and that his training as a lawyer had taught him that concentration is a skill and a skill that can be taught.

He also shared a story that he got from his father. “You can’t get to the top of a ladder with only one step but you can get to the bottom with just one.”

One of the most important things that Coach K teaches is “next play.” No matter what happened in the previous possession, the best move mentally, physically and emotionally to the next possession.

When Brad Stevens took his team to Rome, they visited the Roman Coliseum. Both he and his team were impressed that it was “built for eternity.” They used the coliseum as motivation. T-shirt: “Brick by Brick – Everyday”

Bilas said the big key to Butler’s success is they truly believe in a "we first attitude.”

Barry Alvarez: “You must teach winning 365 days a year.”

Spoke about Coach K constantly preaching that their next game was the most important one (something that Sue Gunter constantly harped on to her LSU teams). Bilas learned to make what you do at that moment the most important thing.

Coach K on goals: NCAA Tournament, Final Four, Conference Championships aren’t goals – they are destinations. Primary goal for Duke is to get better and closer everyday as a team.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


One of the benefits of Coaching U Live was meeting a lot of people I've come to know via the internet but not yet in person.  One of those is Justin Burleson who puts on one of the best fall clinics in the nation.  We had a chance to sit and chat and I now know why he always puts on a great clinic -- he is very passionate about it.  And this year's clinic may be his best yet!

The annual Kingwood Park Basketball Clinic will be held on September 10, 2011 at the Kingwood Park Competition Gym.  It will be complete with players for demonstration.

How about this group of clinic speakers?!

Danny Henderson, FM Marcus
Ganon Baker of Ganon Baker Basketball
Kevin Eastman of the Boston Celtics
Don Meyer, the winningest coach in men's college basketball

The clinic is only $50 if you pre-register or $75 at the door.

You can pre-register at:

For more information, contact Coach Burleston at 713-305-7964 or via email at


The following comes from an article written by Anthony Tjan for the Harvard Business Review:

Here's a practical tool for the skeptic or cynic in all of us: the 24x3 rule. The next time you hear an idea for the first time, or meet someone new, try to wait 24 seconds before saying or thinking something negative. This reinforces a foundational skill of good optimists and good leadership. That basic skill is listening. As you gain the ability to listen and pause for a brief 24 seconds before letting the critic in you bubble to the verbal surface, move to the next level and try to do it for 24 minutes. At 24 minutes, you are able to give more considered thought to the idea and think more carefully of the many reasons why it might actually work, why it might be better than what is out there, and why it might just topple conventional wisdom.

And yes, you should also work towards the ability to wait 24 hours — one single day — before pondering or verbalizing the cons against something. Of course, most times this will not be possible. Our minds cannot compartmentalize so easily, nor shut off our past experiences. But the 24x3 rule is a type of reflective meditation for developing a more optimistic approach towards people and ideas. The simple guideline of 24x24x24 is just a good reminder that a prerequisite of optimism is to have a willing suspension of disbelief.

This is not saying in any way not to be a healthy critic — it is absolutely essential in business leadership to be a critic — but rather that inspirational leadership and effective mentorship require a bite-your-tongue, wait-to-be-a-critic mindset and attitude. Start with the pause button for 24 seconds and stretch it towards being able to ponder positively for 24 hours. Mastering the 24x3 rule will make you a more enjoyable and inspirational leader to be around. In increasing your generosity to receive optimism, you will be rewarded with new possibilities that others have prematurely dismissed.

Click here to read the entire article:


For teams to be consistently efficient offensively, they must be taught and coached to execute their half-court offense.  We could certainly debate the advantages and disadvantages of the various half-court offensive approaches from motion to continuity to quicker hitters and beyond but we will skip that instead just to stress the need to be good in the half-court.

We believe to be at your best in half-court offense that you must have a sound system that best fits your personnel.  You need to attack with your strengths and work to steer clear of your deficiencies.  We believe that you must break it down at times and teach the execution of the parts as well as practice it in a whole part method.

Another important aspect of good offensive play is your plan for "flowing" into you half-court stuff.  Do you have a method of flowing into half-court offense out of your fast break?  Out of your press offense?  Out of your special situations?  Do you practice flowing?  We are big believers in that all half-court offense in the whole method should be concluded with at least one conversion.  This allows the work you need to execute how you will flow as well as work on your transition defense.

And you must emphasize to your team the importance of half-court offensive execution.  Do you chart your half-court offense?  Or do you just chart your offense overall?  Of course you can look at the stat sheet after a game and see that you shot 46% from the floor, shot 18 free throws and turned it over 14 times.  But what was your stat line in just half-court offense?  If you eliminated transition, press offense and special situations then what did your team shoot from the floor?  How many free throws? How many turnovers?

Be careful not to fall into a lull by just reading overall stats.  You might play a team that is poor in transition so your stats get padded by your fast break but your half-court offense was not efficient.

Certainly there are coaches out there with the philosophy that "we are fast break team" and they well may be excellent in transition.  But here are some numbers to think about that come from a book by Bob Liguori titled "Building A Championship Offense."  I'll preface these numbers by letting you know the book is more than a decade old so the numbers he gives could be outdated -- but I'll follow that up with my thoughts afterwards.  In Bob's book he found the following:

Regardless of your desire to run, remember 3 keys:

1. Seventy-five percent of all field goals come in half-court situations

2. The better your opponent, the lesser number of transition opportunities.

3. Transition baskets decrease on the road.

I think those numbers hold close today.  I also strongly believe that those numbers hold true in post-season basketball.  Players may be a little more hesitent to run -- at least early in a play-off game -- not wanting to make mistakes.  As you advance in the playoffs, you will obviously play better teams and part of them being better will most always include good transition defense.  Even coaches tend to get a little more conservative in the post-season.

As you go through the season, and you are scouting or just watching a game on television, pay attention to some of these trends.  After reading Bob's book, I've found that in the majority of most "big games" (games played by two excellent teams), scoring is almost always down.  Of course part of this is because of good defensive play...but that again goes to the need to execute in the half-court against good defensive teams.

If you want to be consistently effective in offense...if you want to advance in post-season daily to become a good half-court offensive team.

Part II: What Are The Elements of Good Half-Court Offense


Monday, July 25, 2011


Those that know me best know that I'm deathly afraid of flying.  That's right -- I've chosen a profession that takes to me through the airways on a regular basis!  So last week I was reading a book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell and as my plane was taxing down the runway for takeoff I turned the page to a chapter titled "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes." 

Even I had to chuckle at the irony!

But it ended up being an amazing chapter that has thoughts and theories that translate to a team that may "crash" and some of the reasons.  Here is some of what I learned from that chapter. My thoughts are in blue:

In a typical crash, for example, the weather is poor -- not terrible, necessarily, but bad enough that the pilot feels a little bit more stressed than usual (a little adversity usually is behind a team that "crashes" and it usually isn't as bad as the team crashing thinks).

In an overwhelming number of crashes, the plane ie behind schedule, so the pilots are hurrying (Coach Wooden -- "be quick but don't hurry"). 

In 52 percent of crashes, the pilot at the time of the accident has been awake for twelve hours or more, meaning that he is tired and not thinking sharply (teams that over train or are not fresh are possible "crash" victims). 

And 44 percent of the time, the two pilots have never flown together before, so they're not comfortable with each other.  Then the errors start -- and it's not just one error.  The typical accident involves seven consecutive errors (how many times does a team fall apart -- not because of one turnover, but because of extended poor play and mental mistakes).

The kind of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication (I repeat "errors of teamwork and communication).  One pilot knows something important and somehow doesn't tell the other something pilot.  One pilot does something wrong, and the other pilot doesn't catch the error.

The whole flight-deck design is intended to be operated by two people, and that operation works best when you have one person checking the other, or both people willing to participate (know and executing your roles).



The toughest challenge I've face as a coach is taking a team that's performing poorly and turning it around.

You have to be honest with people -- brutally honest.  You have to tell them the truth about their performance and you have to tell it to them face-to-face, and you have to tell it to them over and over again.  Sometimes the truth will be painful and sometimes saying it will lead to an uncomfortable confrontation.  So be it.  The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they're doing wrong.  And if they don't want to listen, they don't belong on the team.

If you want to get the most our people, you have to apply pressure -- that's the only thing that any of us really respond to.

Creating pressure in an organization requires confrontation, and it can get very intense, very emotional.

I've actually come to relish confrontation, not because it makes me feel powerful but because it provides an opportunity to get things straight with people.  Its not until you look people right in the eye that you get to the sources of their behavior and motivation.  Without confrontation, you're not going to change the way they think and act.

Confrontation does not mean putting someone down.  When you criticize members of the team, you need to put it in a positive contest.  I've often said to a player, "I don't think you're performing up to your potential; you can do better."  But I also made it clear that my goals were his goals: "It's in your best interest that you succeed and it's in my best interest that you succeed.  We really want the same thing."  Once you set that context, though, you shouldn't be afraid to be blunt about people's failings.  You shouldn't be afraid to offend them.  You need to do what it takes to get a strong reaction because then you know you've reached them.

People can do more than they think they can.

Confrontation is healthy.

This came from a chapter written by Bill Parcells in the book "Building Better Teams" by The Harvard Business Review


Earlier today I sent out a tweet stating that all assistant coaches should read Brian Tracy's book, "Eat That Frog!"  Now that's not to say that head coaches couldn't benefit from this book as well but it is excellent for assistant coaches looking to improve in their profession and move up the ladder at the same time.

I had a lot of retweets but will there be a lot of people to go out and get the book and follow through?  In other words -- WILL THERE BE ACTION?

There world is full of people that have vision...people that map out plans and strategies -- but they fall short because they don't follow it up with ACTION!  The vision and the preparation are not enough without EXECUTION.

Here is what Brian Tracy has to say in his book:

"In study after study of men and women who get paid more and promoted faster, the quality of 'action orientation' stands out as the most observable and consistent behavior they demonstrate in everything they do.  Successful, effective people are those who launch direction into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those task are complete."

Tracy goes on to state that "failure to execute" is one of the biggest problems in organizations today.  Don't talk the talk -- walk the walk -- it's all about the ACTION!


In his most recent "Leadership Wired," John Maxwell wrote about "defining moments."  It's a great read and you can click her to view it:

I would also strongly suggest that you sign up for the Leadership Wired Email as well -- always great stuff. You can sign up for the email by clicking here:

Here are some quotes from Leadership Wired in regard to defining moments:

"There comes a special moment in everyone's life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission—a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment he finds greatness. It is his finest hour."
~ Winston Churchill

"The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests."
~ Gail Sheehy

"If I had not been in prison, I would not have been able to achieve the most difficult task in life, and that is changing myself."
~ Nelson Mandela

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, `I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 25, 2011) – Felicia Hall Allen & Associates announced today that the city of Dallas (Texas) has been selected as the site for the 2012 Assistant Basketball Coaches Symposium, A STEP UP (Athletic Symposium to Elevate & Uplift Professionals).

The Symposium, to be conducted April 27 – April 29, is expected to bring together hundreds of assistant basketball coaches, as well as current and former head coaches and athletic administrators from all divisions of basketball around the country.

“Dallas has a great reputation for its southern hospitality,” said Felicia Hall Allen, CEO of Felicia Hall Allen & Associates. In recent years the city of Dallas has played host to some of our biggest championship level collegiate and professional sporting events. With that in mind, we believe that Dallas will be a great fit for all coaches pursuing championship level success on the sidelines and wanting to take A STEP UP in their careers”.

“Each year the symposium committee chooses a new and exciting city to host the symposium in an effort to create an opportunity for coaches across the nation to gain professional development, elevate their performance and expand their knowledge of the game,” said Johnny Allen, the symposium’s director. The first symposium was held in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010. Last year the three-day event moved to Chicago, where over 200 coaches and directors of basketball operations convened in the windy-city for an uplifting, thought-provoking weekend.

Monica Paul, director of sports marketing of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said that the A STEP UP symposium is a natural fit for Dallas – one of America’s best sports cities. “In addition to the 2009 NBA All-Star weekend and Super Bowl XLV, the city also recently hosted a successful NCAA Division I Women’s Regional, and we’re preparing to bid on future Big 12 women’s basketball conference tournaments and a future NCAA women’s Final Four.

“Coaches who attend A STEP UP will also have a chance to enjoy Dallas’ rich sports history as well as some of the nation’s finest entertainment, arts, dining and shopping.”

Felicia, a former NIKE Manager for women’s basketball and Team Executive in the WNBA, created the A STEP UP in collaboration with her husband Johnny as a career building and professional development opportunity for women’s basketball coaches. Their mission was simple: to help assistant coaches gain knowledge, discover coaching insights and develop strategies, techniques and tactics to help them reach their full coaching potential.

For more information on A STEP UP, log on to

Friday, July 22, 2011


Listening to Doc Rivers at Coaching U Live, he spoke often and passionately about the ability to get your team to "buy in."  They need to buy in to the coach, each other, as well as the system of play.  He spoke about your thought process daily needed to be towards creating a culture in which trust was prevalent to allow for the "buy in."  Here is what Jim Collins in his book "Good to Great" has to say about it:

What do the right people want more than almost anything else? They want to be part of a winning team. They want to contribute to producing visible, tangible results. They want to feel the excitement of being involved in something that just flat-out works. When the right people see a simple plan born of confronting the brutal facts- a plan developed from understanding, not bravado- they are likely to say, “That’ll work. Count me in.” When they see the monolithic unity of the executive team behind the simple plan and the selfless, dedicated qualities of Level 5 leadership, they’ll drop their cynicism. When people begin to feel the magic of momentum- when they begin to see tangible results, when they can feel the flywheel beginning to build speed- that’s when the bulk of people line up to throw their shoulders against the wheel and push.


Psychologist Henry H. Goddard concluded a study on energy levels in children using an instrument he called the “ergograph.” His findings are fascinating. He discovered that when tired children were given a word of praise or commendation, the ergograph showed an immediate upward surge of energy to children. When the children were criticized or discouraged, the ergograph showed that their physical energy took a sudden nosedive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


My friend Ari Fisher, the men's assistant coach at Baton Rouge Community College is speaking at a clinic tonight and passed along the notes for which he will speak from -- good stuff!


DON’T COACH FROM A TEXTBOOK: Undermines credibility with your players. Make sure you can teach only using a practice plan. Teach with confidence.

DON’T KEEP COPIOUS RULES: Less is more. People recall information in groups of 2’s, 3’s or 4’s. Rules should be in exact language and only cover things that a coach absolutely cannot tolerate.

DON’T COACH ANGRY: Always coach rationally in lieu of emotionally. The athletes follow your lead.

DON’T LABEL ATHLETES: Behavior can be labeled, but personal dignity must be kept intact. Think about how you would want someone to address you when teaching you. Usually yelling gets tuned out.

DON’T ASSUME: Coach as if the players don’t know anything. Be precise in your teaching.


DO TAKE CARE OF SUPPORT STAFF: Managers, trainers, stat keepers, administrators, custodians, secretaries, or anyone else that might cause you a problem.

DO MAKE SURE YOU YOUR TEAM KEEPS SUPERIOR PHYSICAL CONDITION: Keeps the mind fresh for the whole game; and reduces the risk for injuries from fatigue.

DO COMMUNICATE: with parents, administrators, media, athletes, or anyone else you deem appropriate.

DO KEEP HIGH LEVEL OF ‘WITH-IT’NESS’: Know what is going on in your program at all times. Make sure you are never shocked by anything that happens. You don’t have to let the kids know you are aware of everything. Make sure your athletes do not think you are stalking them.


Earlier today I was talking with Coach Matt Grahn and we were talking about the blogs and websites out there today that bring us such a great wealth of knowledge.  One of my go-to sites is Hoop Tactics.  There is a lot of free stuff but also a pay portion of the site that is incredible.  Here is a post from Hoop Tactics on the important of goal setting and the necessary follow up action which includes a few great videos as well.

Player Development: Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting
“You can’t play next year’s games with this year’s press clippings.” During the off season players must improve to be successful. Spring is the time to improve individual offensive and defensive playing skills along with recovering, physically and mentally, after a long season.

While things are fresh in their minds, players with their coach’s input, should compile a list of the skills that they did well this past season, along with a list of skills that they must or could improve. They should use this information to set goals and objectives for their off season improvement. Emphasis should be on those skills and techniques that will make them a more solid, stronger, aggressive and intelligent player.

Dreams and Goals
Success is not by chance or luck. Successful people have learned the value of setting specific goals and focusing their efforts toward achieving them. “Goals are the bridges that allow you to cross from DREAMS to REALITY.” A player “without goals is like a ship without a rudder.” Goals are what give direction to physical and mental training and improvement. They are the basis of self-motivation and the foundation of all achievements. However, goals must be personal. Something that players, personally, want and have a strong desire to pursue and achieve. It is because of this intense, personal desire to reach goals that will push them through adversity to success.

“It is not about the shoes” – Click Here to Watch Video (1 min)

Caution: setting goals, like potential energy, is useless until action is taken to implement and achieve them.

High Ambitions, Not Expectations
High expectations can only lead to big disappointments. High ambitions never get disappointed and are a root of all success. Players must stay ambitious, making every day the best it can be. One day at a time. The best and most productive place to be is in the present. Too much time thinking about the past causes regret. Too much thinking about the future causes worry.

Accomplishing goals and making dreams come through is incredibly satisfying. However, it is the journey, not the destination, that is the most important and rewarding part of dreams. Players must never stop improving and making it a goal to get better each and every day in some small way. Daily improvements eventually add up to huge gains. They should always keep moving forward setting new goals and dreaming new dreams. Players may never reach their ultimate, long term dream. However, this is irrelevant. The important thing is that they will become like their dreams.

Player Development: Off-Season Training
Players must take their own initiative and responsibility when it comes to improving their basketball skills. To be successful, they do not need to depend on coaches, parents or personal trainers. In fact, individual improvement is an entirely individual effort. Much of this off season skill development is repetitive, monotonous and tedious – not all fun and games. However, remember: “If it’s going to be. . . It’s up to me.” – George Raveling.

“Just do it!” – Click Here to Watch Nike Video (1 min)

Caution: Off–Season full court games and scrimages only exhibit existing player skills. They do not improve them.

Be sure to check out:


There are of course many types of leaders.  Leaders are not always good people.  History is lined with people that lead others down a path of evil and destruction.  On a much smaller scale, if you coach long enough, you will probably be forced to face a student-athlete with leadership skills that attempts to take a team down the wrong path.  For example, a leader may be lazy and therefore lead her team in direction where they don't work as hard as they need to be successful.  Therefore the goal is not just leadership but "leadership excellence."  In the post below, leadership expert Brian Tracy looks into the traits of excellent leadership:

As a leader, your job is to be excellent at what you do, to be the best in your chosen field of endeavor. Your job is to have high standards in serving people. You not only exemplify excellence in your own behavior, but you also translate it to others so that they, too, become committed to this vision.

Leadership Excellence
The key to leadership is the commitment to doing work of the highest quality in the service of other people, both inside and outside the organization. Leadership today requires a focus on the people who must do the job, and an equal focus on the people who are expected to benefit from the job.

The single most respected quality of motivational leaders is integrity. Integrity is complete, unflinching honesty with regard to everything that you say and do. Integrity underlies all the other qualities. Integrity means that when someone asks you at the end of the day, "Did you do your very best?" you can look him in the eye and say, "Yes!" Integrity means that you, as a leader, admit your shortcomings. It means that you work to develop your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.

Courage, combined with Integrity, is the foundation of character. One form of courage is the ability to stick to your principles, to stand for what you believe in, and to refuse to budge unless you feel right about the alternative. Courage is also the ability to step out in faith, to launch into the unknown and then face the inevitable doubt and uncertainty that accompany every new venture.

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great, the king of the Macedonians, was one of the most superb leaders of all time. He became king at the age of 20, and in the next 11 years, he conquered much of the known world. When he was at the height of his power, he would still draw his sword at the beginning of battle and lead his men forward into the conflict. He insisted on leading by example. Alexander felt that he could not ask men to risk their lives unless he was willing to demonstrate by his actions that he had complete confidence in the outcome. The sight of Alexander charging forward excited and motivated his soldiers so much that no force on earth could stand before them.

Realism is a form of intellectual honesty. The realist insists upon seeing the world as it really is, not as he wishes it were. This objectivity, this refusal to engage in self-delusion, is a mark of the true leader.

Responsibility is perhaps the hardest of all leadership qualities to develop. The acceptance of responsibility means that, as President Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here." If you run into an obstacle or have a setback, and you make excuses rather than accept responsibility, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Be sure to check out:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


RuthAnn Lobo, who fought a public battle with breast cancer during her daughter Rebecca Lobo's time at UConn, died of the disease Tuesday, the university announced.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to Rebecca and her family.  Rebecca reached out to me during my wife's battle with breast cancer and her mom fought a brave and public fight against this horrible disease providing tremendous strength and inspiration for my wife and I and no double countless others.

Lobo, 67, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, Rebecca's junior year with the Huskies. She recently suffered a reoccurrence of the disease.

Together, RuthAnn and Rebecca wrote "The Home Team", a book chronicling Rebecca's basketball career and her mom's fight with breast cancer, which included a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Both women became outspoken advocates for other women battling breast cancer, and worked with the WNBA to create a forum for women to discuss the disease.

RuthAnn received many awards, including the Maria Miller Stewart Award for mentoring young girls and boys and advocating equality for girls in education, and the Susan G. Komen Award, Connecticut Chapter. The award has since been renamed the Komen RuthAnn Lobo Award in her honor. A long-time educator, she was also a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.