Friday, August 31, 2012


Here's a couple of great thoughts I got from Lawrence Frank at Coaching U Live this summer in Washington D.C.  Granted I had over 20 pages of notes from his two sessions but here are just a few that I'll share.  I don't mean to be redundant, but if you can at all possibly swing it, find your way to Coaching U Live next summer!

As a process oriented coach, I loved this thought:

"Don't let the wins and losses get in your eyes."

"We will be at our best when times are at their worst because of our habits, attitude and chemistry."

In regard to your philosophy and system of play:

"It not enough to verbalize.  Put it in writing -- be transparent."

"Everyone has problems.  Who's causing them and how do you handle it."

"What are your regard to your culture."

In regard to roles:

"If you can add value, they will listen."

"It is not enough for a player know his role...he must buy in."

Coach Franks also said this about roles:
     1. Entire team must know every one's roles
     2. 5 things -- 1st is always defense
     3. Laminated in their lockers

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I was going through some old practice stuff this morning and came across and thought basketball coaches out there might enjoy it or get some benefit from it as we head into the fall.  The idea of the Master Practice Plan came to me from my college days taking a basketball coaching class at Marshall University from the late Stu Aberdeen.  Coach Aberdeen shared The Herd's Master Practice Plan with us and it left a mark with me as something I would want to do when I started coaching.  The one attached here actually comes from my LSU days.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

Each year, our staff takes some time to look at our team and what we feel we need to do to be successful. Our program has a system of play and we rarely deviate from that system. However, we do add wrinkles each year based upon the make-up of our team and the schedule we play.

One of the best organizational tools we have developed is the Master Practice Plan. We print it on card stock, front and back.

On the front side is our master list of everything we want to put in with our team. It is very detailed in all facets of the game. Under offense, we include our man-to-man offense, our zone attack, transition, and press offense. On the defensive side, we have transition defense, man-to-man defense, zone defense and our pressing system. A third category covers all of our special situations.

On the back sheet is a calendar that generally takes us through the first seven weeks of our season. It lists when and where we practice, and most importantly, the objective for the day in terms of installing our system. Everything listed on the front page is now placed strategically on the calendar to insure that we get in everything in a timely fashion. This is not to say that we never veer from this calendar but it certainly is a great tool for keeping us organized.


I've lived by the proposition that solving problems is what leaders do.  The day you are not solving problems you are no longer leading. If your desk is clean and no one is bringing you a problem, you should be very worried.  It means that people don't think you can solve them or don't want to hear about them.  Or, far worse, it means they don't think you care.

So go walk around and look for a problem' you will find some.  Don't stop there.  Try to instill a problem-solving attitude in your subordinates and staff.

Problems have to be solved, not managed.  You can't get away with burying them, minimizing them, reorganizing around them, softening them, or assigning blame somewhere outside your responsibility.  You have to make real and effective change.

From "It Worked For Me" by Colin Powell

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Big thanks to Joey Burton for sharing this article on Nick Saban and the science of recruiting as he has set it up at Alabama.  The article comes from the Wall Street Journal and was written by Rachel Bachman and Ben Cohen:

The stunning volume of victories and championships and NFL draft picks has Alabama redefining college-football success as we know it. How, exactly, does the Tide do it?

Recruiting is paramount. Saban sets aside time every day for assistant coaches to make phone calls, write letters and discuss the country's best blue-chippers. His system focuses on collecting reliable, exhaustive information on players—not always easy to find when NCAA rules forbid coaches from measuring players' vertical leaps or timing them in the 40-yard dash.
To make up for those restrictions, Alabama's coaching staff is as strict as any in the country about gathering information, recruiting experts say. Crimson Tide coaches consult track times and encourage prospects to add the sport in the football off-season. Coaches invite prospects to attend Alabama's summer camp, since they tend to offer scholarships to high-schoolers they have seen in person and not just on highlights.

And before Alabama recruits a player in earnest, coaches produce a comprehensive report on everything from whether he fits their preferred physical prototypes—a cornerback should be about 6 feet and 185-190 pounds—to his ankle, knee and hip movement. If a lineman's heels are raised when he is crouched in a stance, he is probably too inflexible for Alabama.

Finally, coaches talk to family, friends and others to go "seven-deep into a guy's life" to gauge his mental strength, said former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who is now the head coach at Colorado State.

Saban also embraces technology for his multipronged pitch. He started using videoconferencing as a recruiting tool several years ago—early enough in the software's life that some players spoke to him using equipment at their local libraries., Saban's website, plays a Crimson Tide-themed hip-hop song called "4th Quarter" from the Tuscaloosa group 63 Boyz that features the lyric, "Since we landed Saban in T-Town, it's hard to go unnoticed."

Even Saban's current players are foot soldiers in college football's recruiting war. Cooper Bateman, a top-ranked quarterback from Utah, took a tour of SEC schools in the spring before he committed to Alabama. What stood out to his family during his visit? All of Alabama's players made sure they took off their hats when meeting his mother.

"He's incredibly honest in the recruiting process," said former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, the starter on the 2009 national-title team who now plays for the New York Jets. "He tells kids, 'Hey, you're going to come in and redshirt. Look, you're going to do this. You're going to do that.' He tells them exactly what he thinks. I think a lot of people respect that because so much of the recruiting process is an unknown."

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I took a few minutes this morning to review 7 pages of notes that I took from Jon Gordon's message that he shared with us at Coaching U Live this summer.  I will share a few of the points that really grabbed me but I would also take this time to share with you three things that can help you as a coach:

1. Read Jon's books -- they have profound messages that will help you as a coach, a person as well as help your team.

2. Don't miss an opportunity to hear Jon speaks -- he speaks the way he writes: inspiring!

3. Make sure you attend Coaching U Live next year -- it is an amazing growing experience for you as a coach.

Some thoughts from Jon:

Always strive to be better.  And he shared the story of being at a seminar where Zig Ziglar was the headline speaker only to see him in the audience while others spoke.  Zig, at the age of 82 (at that time), and one of the true masters in his profession, was taking notes -- he was still looking to learn.

Past success does not determine future success.

My favorite from his talk: "Would you want to be coached by you?"

He quoted Kevin McHale: "Outwork your talents."

Culture drives behavior.
Behavior drives habits.
Habits drives strategy.

It's never to late to start creating a culture but it is always better to start in the beginning.

Being positive can be hard work.

My second favorite from his talk: "Every player brings a story with them.  It is our job to know that story."

You must win in the locker room before you can win on the court.

As I said, these are just a few of my 7 pages of notes...thanks Jon Gordon -- thanks Coach U Live!


The following comes from Chuck Daly's first team meeting with the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team."  But first, let's just review the Dream Team roster: Charles Barkely, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullen, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, and John Stockon!

Finally, Daly approached the most delicate subject, one even more frightening than terrosim since it was well within the realm of possibility.

"Look, there are twelve of you, and you're all All-Stars and future Hall of Famers," said Daly. "and there is no way I can get all of the minutes you're use to having on ----"

Magic and Jordan interrupted him.

"That isn't going to be a problem," said Jordan.

"We're here to win, and nobody is going to care about playing time, Chuck," Magic said.

Such problems, particularly the knotty one of minutes, are rarely solved that easily.  This one was.  Magic and Jordan said there would not be a problem, and that was that.

From "Dream Team" by Jack McCallum

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Tomorrow we leave with our Aggie basketball team for a 10 day trip to Italy.  We will play four games during the trip after having 10 days of practices here in College Station.  We will also have a great opportunity to build some team chemistry as well as visit some historical sights and sample a different culture.

I will try to blog a bit while gone but forgive me if the rate drops what we are used to at Hoopthoughts!

I will be tweeting during the trip -- @TAMCoachStarkey


No one should ever lose a job, miss a promotion, or destroy a marriage because of a poor attitude. Why? Because a person’s attitude is not set; it is a choice.

1. Take responsibility for your attitude

Singer Roberta Flack recalls, “My mother had only gone as far as the tenth grade, and my father had a third-grade education, but they both were very literate. They spoke well, and their values were high. They drummed into our heads that the situation you live in doesn’t have to live in you.” Our attitudes don’t come from our circumstances or personal history. Attitude does not come from outside ourselves. It comes from within.

The first rule of winning is don’t beat yourself. If your attitude isn’t as good as it could be, and you fail to take personal responsibility for it, then you are beating yourself. However, if you look in the mirror and can with honesty say, “The attitude I possess is my responsibility and no one else’s,” then you’re on your way.

2. Evaluate your present attitude

To improve your attitude, you need to assess where you’re starting from. This may take some time. Your goal isn’t to condemn yourself. It’s to see yourself clearly so that you can make positive changes to the way you think. Identify problem feelings about yourself. When do you feel most negative about yourself? Write down your answers. Identify problem feelings related to others. Attitude issues often relate to other people. What causes you the greatest problems when dealing with others? Once again, write down your answers. Identify problem thinking. We are the sum of our thoughts. What negative thoughts consistently control your mind? Write down your answers.

3. Develop the desire to change

The desire to change is the key to growth in all areas of life. Ironically, most people desire improvement, yet at the same time they resist change. The problem is that you cannot get one without having the other. Change is possible, but only if you want it badly enough. As Fred Smith observed, “You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.” Of course, change is never that easy. It takes lots of time, tremendous amounts of energy, perseverance, and—of course—desire. That’s not a decision you make once and forget about. You need to cultivate that desire every day.

4. Change your attitude by changing your thoughts

Norman Vincent Peale, author of Power of the Plus Factor, wrote that he once came across a tattoo studio in the twisted streets of Kowloon in Hong King. In the window were drawings of the hundreds of choices of tattoos available from the artist who worked there. One in particular really struck him. It said, “Born to lose.” Peale was appalled that anyone might actually ask to have that permanently written on his skin. He went inside and asked the Chinese artist, “Does anyone really have that terrible phrase ‘Born to lose’ tattooed on his body?” “Yes, sometimes,” the artist answered. “But, I just can’t believe anyone in his right mind would do that.” The artist tapped his forehead, and in broken English said, “Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.”

Major premise: We can control our thoughts.

Minor premise: Our feelings come from our thoughts.

Therefore: We can control our feelings by changing the way we think.

That’s why I believe the saying, “You are not what you think you are, but what you think… you are.”

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

Most of the great work in this world was done by men and women who didn’t believe that what they were doing was impossible. Talent is certainly beneficial, but only the right attitude can release it to reach its potential.

5. Develop good habits

Much of what we do every day comes from habitual behaviors. Over the course of time, we have developed a way of approaching life. We treat people a particular way. If we desire to get different results out of life, then it’s not enough to change only our thinking. We also need to change our habits. Why? Because if we don’t we will revert back to our old thinking. In fact, some people recommend changing behavior first. Psychiatrist William Glasser says, “If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior. In other words, begin to act the part, as well as you can, of the person you would rather be, the person you most want to become. Gradually, the old, fearful person will fade away.” Fortunately, habits are not instincts. They are actions or reactions that we have acquired over time. If you can pinpoint the original cause in your thinking that prompts a bad habit, you can change it.

6. Manage your attitude daily

One of the most significant discoveries of my life was realizing that we often place too much emphasis on making decisions and too little on managing the decisions we’ve already made. Today Matters. Maintaining the right attitude is easier than regaining the right attitude. A Chinese proverb I came across gives insight: “Assume a cheerfulness you do not feel, and shortly you feel the cheerfulness you assumed.” Elbert Hubbard says, “Be pleasant until 10 a.m. and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”

From "The Difference Makers" by John Maxwell

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Here are just a few gems from Kevin Eastman during his several lectures at Coaching U Live this summer in Washington DC.  I say just a few because Kevin averages around 700 per clinic!  Want all 700? Sign up for Coach U Live next summer -- guaranteed it will be worth it!

Be there before you get there (great thought in regard to a players mentality -- especially defensively)

The great ones (Players/Coaches) have Master Ability

Do you know what's going on in your locker room?

Knowledge is quickness

Can't win with "my turn shots" = shooting turnovers (Boston stats these)

"Do you want to be in the news or in the Finals?!"

Ever notice every player's Hall of Fame induction speech mentions a coach (or several) -- the impact of what we do.

Good players KNOW the plays...
Great players EXECUTE  the plays.

In regards to your administration "budget your bitches." -Murray Arnold

Demand in February what you did in October -- core covenants

Are you best players getting enough shots/touches (this one sounds simple but its not -- are you giving it constant thought)

See the action, don't force the action.

Assistant Coach are there to "assist" the head coach -- "weed the garden"

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Don't be sarcastic with your players because you will lose them in February.

Use the cadence of your voice as a tool.  Change your instruction.

Kids want consistency.  Eliminate gray areas.

Reinforce positive behavior.

You become a master coach when you get away from your practice plan.  Have 3 things in practice you warm up with that you want to accomplish.

The more things you try to do in practice, the worse you get.  Exercise: Write out your practice plan three times.  Each time, don't add anything but remove something.

Look at your methodology of teaching and evaluate it.  Don't just worry about drills and plays.

Don't change your system when you lose...change your behaviors in practice.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


"Leaders aren't born; they are made.  And they are made just
like anything else, through hard work.  And that's the price
we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal."
-Vince Lombardi

There is perhaps no area of your life where self-discipline has a great impact on your future than in your work.

A group of senior executives was asked, "What are the most important qualities that a person would need to be promoted in your company?"  Of these executives, 85 percent agreed that the most important qualities are:

1. The ability to set priorities and work on high value tasks; and
2. The discipline to get the job done quickly and well.

There is nothing that will bring you more quickly to the attention of people who can help you than for you to develop a reputation for hard, disciplined work, every hour of every day.

From "No Excuses" by Brian Tracy

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The organization and development of a competent coaching staff is absolutely the most important part of your basketball program.  The core requirement for hiring the people who comprise the staff is that they must understand and accept the philosophy of the program as set forth by the head coach.  Some individuals in the profession will argue that players are the most important aspect of a program, and, indirectly, their conclusions would be correct.  competent coaches, however, are the facilitating agents whose efforts turn a player's performance potential to reality.  At a minimum, coaches are in essence teachers.  Not only do they teach players the fundamentals and basic techniques that are essential to sound play, they also teach team members how to be a viable part of a larger unity -- the team.  Furthermore, on the college level, the entire staff is responsible for the recruitment of those players -- the better the staff, the better recruiting.

From "Dale Brown's Basketball Organization Handbook" by Dale Brown


This is what I want from my players -- a belief in a higher authority and respect for that authority.  But the truth is that if they don't have it to a certain degree by the time they get to Duke, I'm not sure they'll ever have it.

That's why we try to recruit kids who already show that type of respect.

All the players on our team must have the discipline to believe and trust in what a coach says to them at a moment's notice -- and the coach has to believe and trust in what they say to me at a moment's notice.

From "Leading with the Heart" by Mike Krzyzewski


I encouraged all my subordinate commanders and staff to feel free to argue with me.  My guidance was simple: "Disagree with me, do it with feeling, try to convince me you are right and I am about to go down the wrong path.  You owe that to me; that's why you are here.  But don't be intimidated when I argue back.  A moment will come when I have heard enough and I make a decisions.  At the very instant, I expect all of you to execute my decision as it if were your idea.  Don't damn the decision with faint praise, don't mumble under breath -- we now all move out together to get the job done.  And don't argue with my anymore unless you have new information or I realize I goofed and come back to you.  Loyalty is disagreeing strongly, and loyalty is executing faithfully.  The decision is not about you or your ego; it is about gathering all the information, analyzing it, and trying to get the right answer.  I still love you, so get mad and get over it.

From "It Worked For Me" by Colin Powell

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I have blogged before about the story of "Who Packed Your Parachute" which also includes a great exercise for your team.  You can read the story here:

After working my way through the July recruiting period, I had a few instances of abdominal pain which at times got to be severe.  And then on the last day of the period, July 31 it got to the point where I could barely rise from hotel bed in Augusta, Georgia. I didn't even make it to the gym for the last day of games.  I climbed into my car (literally) and hit "hospital" on the GPS and drove to the closest one. 

My good fortune took me to University Hospital.  After a battery of tests it was discovered that I had a "diseased" gallbladder that was starting to deteriorate and effect some of my other organs.  This along with a hernia problem.  The doctor told me it was far too serious for me to fly back to College Station for surgery and that he needed to go in as soon as possible. 

And with that my stay in Augusta was extended.

Over the next five days, an outstanding surgeon and a litany of nurses "packed my parachute."  Three shifts of three nurses per session took care of me -- and then the weekend shifts came in.  Each nurse had their own personality but each one did their job remarkably well.  Some went above and beyond the call of duty.  Jennifer discovered my iPhone was losing power.  Because I did not pack for the hospital, all of my belongings were still in the hotel.  So she brought her personal phone charger from home for me to use.

None seemed to be basketball fans but it didn't effect the quality of my care.  So far away from home but given the very best of treatment.  Now, as I sit in my office in Texas A&M, I know how fortunate I was that my GPS navigated my to University Hospital.

Thanks to all there who "Packed My Parachute."