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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.