Friday, November 30, 2012


“I was a leader on some teams, I wasn’t on other teams.
I didn’t need anybody to tell me to do things right.
At some point, you have to do it yourself.”

-Doc Rivers

Thursday, November 29, 2012


The following are excerpts of an interview by ESPN's Michael Wibon with LeBron James:

WILBON: I know that getting better is something you started talking about at the end of last year, not resting on it and specifically getting better. But how, given what you did last year, how the hell can you improve?

JAMES: Well, you just try to get better in every aspect of the game, you try to improve from the year before. I'm still trying to improve my post game and playing in the interior. I'm still trying to improve my ballhandling. I'm still going to continue to improve as a leader. In all those aspects, if I can continue to do that it will help our team in the long run.

WILBON: I want to go back to something you talked about, your post game. Because for a while that was a criticism: "We know LeBron has the body, the skills, the game to have a great low-post game, but he doesn't do it." But last year you dominated opponents and dominated entire series by playing in the post. What led to you adopting that?

JAMES: I think a few things led to it. What we needed as a team -- we had so many guys who could play on the perimeter. I knew that I can handle the ball, I knew D-Wade would handle the ball, Rio [Mario Chalmers] would handle the ball. But we weren't scoring a lot of points in the paint unless we were driving into the paint. I felt like to help our team, it would be a big thing if I started to attack the paint more without dribbling the ball -- catching the ball in the low post, creating double-teams for my teammates and creating matchup problems. And I wanted to make another transformation in my game.

WILBON: I don't know how much time you could have had to work on anything [LeBron laughs] this past summer. Coach Spoelstra was telling me nine days is all you took off. I mean, how much is too much? Can you OD on basketball? Can there be a burnout factor?

JAMES: It's like with every job, no matter how much you love it, it gets to a point where you'll just be like [puts head back and sighs], I just need a break. And there are days where I'll be like, LeBron you need to chill a little bit or get your work in early so you'll be able to relax at night ... I try to perfect my game so much that I kind of bump heads with myself. I want to continue to get better, and I always feel like if I take a day off here, then somebody else on the other side of town or another city is trying to be better than me.

WILBON: So what could you do this summer, an offseason as short as it was due to the Olympics?

JAMES: Well, I didn't have the extensive offseason like I did last summer to get into the gym and actually work on things, so I went to the film room. I watched a lot of regular-season games. I watched a lot of playoff games -- from not only this year but last year, my first year in Miami. And I also watched a lot of players from the past, champions and other greats that made marks in this game.

WILBON: Will what happened in the past year set or change your expectations about what you think ought to happen this season and beyond?

JAMES: Well, our expectations and my expectation are always the same: We want to get better each and every day as a team -- and that's either on the floor or during film session or whatever the case may be -- and put ourselves in a position where we contend for a title. I think we have the right coaching staff, we have the right organization, we have the right players that, if we do our job, if guys come in and understand what it really means to be a champion, which I know we do, then we're gonna give ourselves a good shot.


We developed this passout many years ago but it still holds true today...players need to know what is acceptable and what is not...they need to know the expectations of their coaches.


"A coach is someone who tells you what
you don't want to hear, who has you see
what you don't want to see, so you can
be who you have always known you can be."

-Tom Landry


The following is an excerpt from an article in the Harvard Business Review in the winter of 2000. It was written by Bill Parcells and titled, "The Tough Work of Turning Around a Team."

Success Breeds Success   Here's my philosophy to win games, you need to believe as a team that you have the ability to win games.  That is, confidence is born only of demonstrated ability.  This may sound like a catch-22, but it's important to remember that even small successes can be extremely powerful in helping people believe in themselves.   In training camp, therefore, we don't focus on the ultimate goal -- getting to the Super Bowl.  We establish a clear set of goals that re within immediate reach: we're going to be a smart team; we're going to be a well-conditioned team; we're going to be a team that plays hard; we're going to be a team that wants to win collectively; we're going to be a team that doesn't criticize one another.   When we start acting in ways that fulfill these goals, I make sure everybody knows it.  I accentuate the positive at every possible opportunity, and at the same time I emphasize the next goal that we need to fulfill.  If we have a particularly good practice, then I call the team together and say, "We got something done today; we executed real well.  I'm very pleased with your work.  But here's what I want to do tomorrow: I want to see flawless special teams work.  If you accomplish that, then we'll be ready for the game on Sunday.    When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I have blogged before about the impact Coach Dale Brown has had on my life.  One such impact was his introducing me to the ways of Zig Ziglar who passed away earlier today.  I have been an avid reader of Zig since my days on Coach Brown's staff.  Here are some of my more favorite Zig Ziglar quotes:

“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can only do a little.”

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

“You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”

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

“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”

“You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

“You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

“Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.”

“Failure is an event not a person”

“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

“Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.”

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

“Attitude, not Aptitude, determines Altitude.”

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission”

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”

Here are a few past blog post that mentioned Zig:

The difference between motivation and manipulation

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes

Some thoughts from Jon Gordon including a great story about continual learner Zig Ziglar

Monday, November 26, 2012


"We prepared the same way every week.  We had the same rhythm.  Even if we were a fifty-point favorite, it didn't make any difference; we still prepared the same, and as a result, we seldom got upset by somebody we should have beaten."

-Tom Osborne


The following is one of he many attachments that comes from Mike Neighbor's email newsletter.  I've blogged before about all that Mike sends out -- always quality information no matter what level you coach at -- or what sport you coach.  If you have already signed up to receive it (and you'd be in the minority) simply email at Mike at: and ask to be added.

The Disease of Me = The Defeat of US

6 Danger Signals of the Disease of ME
1. Chronic Feelings of under Appreciation– Focus on Oneself
2. Paranoia over being cheated out of one’s rightful share
3. Leadership vacuum resulting from formation of cliques and rivalries.
4. Feelings of Frustration even when the team performs successfully
5. Personal effort mustered solely to outshine one’s teammate
6. Resentment of the Competence of another-Refuse to admit her Contribution

“The most DIFFICULT thing for individuals to
do when they become part of a team is to sacrifice,
it is much EASIER to be selfish”


There are so many advantages of being able to work with, for and around quality people.  I've been blessed as a collegiate coach to be around some of the absolute best.  For someone that desires to be a continual learner, it is critically important.  Now I am at Texas A&M, working for a Hall of Fame coach in Gary Blair and immediately down the hall is a quality men's staff headed up by Billy Kennedy.  I have a great deal of respect for Coach Kennedy and their staff because they care about growing the game. 

Each Friday, Stephen Gentry, the Director of Basketball Operations emails a Play of the Week to a large data bases of coaches that have signed up.  It's quality information and I wanted to make the information available to all my blog readers.

Simply email and he will add you to his mailing list and then each Friday you can receive the Play of the Week.  A big thanks to Stephen and the Aggie staff for helping us grow the game!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The following comes from "The Carolina Way" written by Dean Smith.  This passage was written by former Carolina great Pete Chilcutt:

My Carolina basketball career was one of continuous learning, lasting throughout my five years there.  My learning curve certainly was a little steeper in my first year in the program, but the process never stopped.  From the day I arrived on campus from my Alabama home, I learned the qualities and fundamentals it takes to succeed in basketball.  As I look back on my UNC career, I realized that I grew up while in the program and learned any things that are helping me get through life without basketball.

While we did watch tapes of our games and practices at Carolina, I think we spend must less time on that activity than players at others schools.  Our film sessions were brief, direct, and to the point.  Coach Smith believe in short, effective viewing sessions which he thought were the best way for him to teach and for us to learn.  It took only one instance of his throwing a player out of a meeting for not correct identifying something on tape to get every one's rapt attention.

Included in the practice plans were the offensive and defensive emphases of the day.  As you know by now, players were required to recite those from memory if called upon by Coach Smith.  The entire team ran sprints if the recitation wasn't accurate.

You've also read about Coach's decision to give us a Thought for the Day to learn and recite.  It was a key learning tool for us that had nothing to do with basketball.  Some of those are still fresh in my mind. This was one method that Coach used to teach us, and it certainly help keep basketball in perspective.  As I look back now, I see that a secondary benefit was that it relieved the pressure on us that playing basketball at this level could bring.  As much as basketball was Coach Smith's passion, he was first and foremost a great teacher whose top priority was not to win but to mold his players into good citizens.  He wanted us prepared for the day we would wake up and basketball would no longer be a part of our lives.


The following comes from "Finding the Winning Edge" by Bill Walsh.  It is one of the absolute best coaching resources in my library.

"One of the main attributes a leader must have is the ability to
discriminate from what is often contradictory information. 
In this matter, it takes a thorough understanding of the situation
and of the sources of information to act effectively."
-Carl von Clausewitz

Decision making involves more risk and responsibility than any other managerial activity.  The work of problem analysis and evaluation can be delegated to others in the organization, but the responsibility for decision making is ultimately assigned to one individual.  Choosing among various alternatives often demands courage and moral judgement, as well as intelligence. 

Effective decision making is vital to the growth of any organization.

Toward that end, there is a series of questions that you should address when making a decision, including:

What difference does it make what course of action you decide to adopt?

Do you have sufficient information to fully analyze the issue/matter under consideration?
  If you are lacking essential information, do you know how to get it?   How critical to implementing your decision is its acceptance by those who will be affected by it?   To what degree does the commitment of others to your decision depend on their active participation in the decision-making process?   Is everyone affected by your decision in general agreement with its basic objective(s) (i.e. no one has a "secret" agenda concerning your decision)?   To what degree will those who will be affected by your decision disagree over possible alternative solutions?   Do the individuals involved in your decision have the capability to implement the decision as planned?

Friday, November 23, 2012


If you have the most beautiful blueprints in the world for the most spectacular home, what value would they have if there was no action plan to build it?  Not much.  That's why William Danforth, the founder of Nestle Purina, said, "No plan is worth the paper it is printed on unless it starts you doing something."

From "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth" by John Maxwell


The following is an excerpt from an article in the Harvard Business Review in the winter of 2000. It was written by Bill Parcells and titled, "The Tough Work of Turning Around a Team."

The Power of Confrontation   If you want to get the most out of people, you have to apply pressure -- that's the only thing that any of us really responds to.  As a coach, I've always tried to turn up the heat under my people, to constantly push them to perform at a high level.   Creating pressure in an organization requires confrontation, and it can get very intense, very emotional.  I've seen coaches avoid confrontations with their players because they don't like conflict, and I assume the same thing is true of leaders of business teams. But 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.  It's not until you look people right in the eye that you get to the source 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 context.  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 my best interest that you succeed." 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


My dear friend and Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown shared with me some notes he took in regard to Geno Auriemma after working UConn's camp in 2006.  Here are few of the thoughts he came away with:

Geno does all the team stuff in practice.

He only stops practice.

Assistants do skill work.

Geno sees big picture, doesn’t worry about details.

He’s the only voice.
Geno is more concerned with opponent’s philosophy of how they’ll score and who will do most of the scoring. Not too many details.

Can’t be afraid to take chances. What’s the worst thing that can happen.

He’s always meeting and talking with the team. Kids are always in the office. Sports psych.

They work hard with perimeters attacking and pulling back for separation for 2’s and 3’s.

They find out why a player hasn’t been in the office, if they’re not there every day or 2.

Get your best player the ball where they can score...Find their comfort zone, where they can score from. Then, help them get to that spot to score.


I was watching our Texas A&M men's team on television the other night play against St. Louis.  Seeing Jim Crews on the sideline brought back many memories.  Jim Boone and I spent a day with him during his tenure at Evansville where she shared his offensive philosophy with us.  Crews had cut his teeth as an assistant at Indiana under Bob Knight and was running some great motion with the Purple Aces.  But it also reminded that he was filling in for Rick Majerus.  Last night I poured through some of my Majerus file and came across this articel.  It was written for Sports Illustrated by S.L. Price.  To follow are just a few snippets of an extremely lengthy but very well written article.  You can read the entire article at:

Something about the game: Was it the rat-a-tat of a ball dribbled on a wooden floor? The stink of sweat and morning breath mixed with drafty gym air? The thousands of shuffling feet on game night, the voices rising as tip-off nears? Yes, all that. But even more, it was the thought of those young faces looking at him, waiting. It was practice that brought Rick Majerus back. Because there he had the answers. Because there -- in his watchmaker-precise breakdowns of what the fan later mistook for improvisation and flow -- was where he lived. He learned this while bombing around the country the last three years, another ex-coach TV analyst with his face pressed against the glass, around basketball but not truly in it. Practice was pure. Practice wasn't subject to opponents' whims or the pressure of parents frowning from the stands. Practice was his alone.

There were rules for those sessions, of course. Players on a Majerus team are warned: You must want it as much as he does. Lock your eyes on the man when he speaks; glance away and he'll blow you to bits. If Coach calls your name? Run -- never walk -- and stand in front of him, eyes wide, like a puppy panting for a treat. And for God's sake, don't take anything he says personally. Put a filter on your brain, let the knowledge from one of the great coaching minds of his time drip through and throw away all that profane sediment, all those gibes about your character or family, all the humiliation that comes from seeing your most embarrassing weakness paraded before teammates and then stomped.

Majerus admits he can go too far. He regretted making Van Horn cry, so he took him out for bagels the day after and explained, "You're living my dream. I'm hard on you because you're special, because I never was any good myself." Van Horn later made Majerus his daughter's godfather.

The six-inch display? Majerus says he's not the same coach he was a decade ago. "I'm probably a little embarrassed about some things I've said or done in practice," he says. But he's not going to apologize for calling things as he sees them. "You know what my doctor told me?" he says. "'You'll lose weight when you get tired of seeing your fat ass in the mirror.' I don't think he's being mean. He's telling it like it is.

"I got on Bryce [Husak] really hard the other day: 'If you're just another big guy who doesn't want to play, but you feel obligated because of your size and because we gave you the scholarship? Let me give you a hug, you got the scholarship; let's part ways. Because why should Luke Meyer and Kevin Lisch and Liddell have this passion and we're a team and you don't have it?' There's a lot of guys I'd want to go camping with; there's not a lot of guys I want to win with. Is that fair? Yeah. I don't take it personally. I love my doctor."

Something about pain: Rick Majerus prizes his. Because pain teaches you. Because pain is the price of chasing one's passion, and if you don't do that, you're not alive. Because, ideally, losses like tonight's 22-point thrashing at Boston College show how limited your immediate future is, and that kind of clarity can only help. Majerus inherited this Saint Louis team. Few doubt he can put the program in the national picture, but he figures on a three-year struggle, and who knows how long his body will hold up? He's got a team, but for now it feels nothing like Utah.

That sparked a tangent about parents today, and how they "want to take all the pain, all the heartache and all the sadness out of their kids' lives.  All the things that make you a better person, a better coach, a better teacher -- all the things that are so much the fabric of life.  I'm so much better for every loss I've had."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The following comes from my book, "The Art of Being An Assistant Coach" and speaks to the privilege I had of spending an afternoon with Coach John Wooden:

It was one of the most educational times in my coaching life as well as one of the most thrilling. The date was October 15, 1993, and I was in a rental car heading down the Los Angeles freeway system to spend an afternoon with Coach John Wooden.

To some degree it was somewhat of a pilgrimage; having the opportunity to fly cross country to speak with no just an outstanding basketball coach, but very much a wise man in a great number of areas, especially life. The trip is annual in some form for the LSU basketball staff. Annually Coach Dale Brown makes the trip and from time to time he takes a member of his staff.

During the early days of October, Coach Brown had me over to his house one evening to watch a video tape he had on Coach Wooden speaking at a clinic and talking about his basic coaching philosophy. When I casually mentioned what a thrill it would be to meet Coach Wooden and actually sit down and talk some basketball, Coach Brown got up, went to his office, wrote down Coach Wooden’s phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to me.

“We don’t start practice this year until November 1,” explained Coach Brown. “Why don’t you call John up and make a date before the season.”

I was almost in disbelief. Why would Coach Wooden agree to spend an afternoon with me? After my phone call, I soon found out that Coach Wooden was a gracious as he was wise, and I was soon bound for California.

I spend almost two entire days studying for my trip. I glanced through Coach Wooden’s book Practical Modern Basketball. I sat down and wrote out all the questions in advance that I thought would be the best to get his answers. I then loaded up a tape recorder and some cassettes and I was ready to go. During the session I asked him his opinion on several things from the following areas: philosophy, strategy then and now, practice organization, conditioning, offensive philosophies and fundamentals, the UCLA pressing system, academic philosophy, discipline, avoiding complacency, leadership and captains, scouting, tournament preparation, and how to keep the saw sharpened.

I also found out very quickly that LSU was not the only program that went out to gather information from this coaching legend. The day before I had arrived, he had spent the entire day with Jim Harrick’s staff on the UCLA campus. The day before that he had been with George Raveling at the University of Southern California.

Above all, I was highly interested in what he thought were important qualities for a top notch assistant coach. After all, he had accomplished things in college basketball as a coach that had never been done before and will never again be done. He also had some tremendous assistants pass through under him naming Denny Crum and Gary Cunningham as a near perfect staff. His players also went on to outstanding coaching careers including Crum, Cunningham, Jerry Norman, Larry Farmer, and Walt Hazzard.

It was fascinating that on the survey that I sent to Coach Wooden that he did not rank them in any order. He simply wrote, “They are all extremely important. But we should remember that it is more important to have character than to be a character.”

Very early in our conversation I asked, “What is it that you would look for in an assistant coach if you were building a staff today?” The following is his answer:

“Let me remind you that I’ve been out of coaching for 18 years but if I were building a staff today there would be a little difference in what I would look for if I was still coaching today.”

“I would really want to have assistants that knew me and my system of play. I would want assistants that got along well on and off the court. I’d like to have assistants that I know are pretty sharp. I can study this in two ways – their IQ’s and by studying them on the practice floor. Once I had been coaching, I wanted assistants who had played for me.”

“There are so many qualities that you say you’d like to have in an assistant. Certainly you’d have to have loyalty and hard workers. You don’t want “yes” men – they can’t be afraid to make suggestions.”

“Denny was never afraid to make suggestions and Gary was always a little hesitant but that was just the nature of their personalities. I would sometimes have to encourage Gary to make suggestions. Now the longer Gary was with me, the more comfortable he became, and the more easily he volunteered suggestions.”
“Denny is the only player I ever had during all my years of coaching that I made this statement ‘he’s born to coach’/ Now I made this statement while he was playing for me and not after all his years of success as a coach. Denny Crum was the most inquisitive player I ever coached. And he questioned you the right way. He wanted to know why we were doing what we were doing. “Why are we doing this, why are doing that?’ He sincerely wanted to know why. I said from the beginning that he was born to coach. I kept him on as a graduate assistant to get his secondary education degree so he could teach. But I knew as soon as I could, as soon as they’d permit me, I’m going to hire him to my staff.”

“For the longest time I had only one full-time assistant. I wasn’t until I was able to hire Denny that I had two. Gary, he had a doctorate and was upstanding within the faculty at UCLA. He handled our academics within our basketball team. Together we planned the academic schedule of your players. We didn’t allow our players to schedule their own classes. Gary was in charge of arranging all of our tutoring and he did an excellent job of getting them tutoring before they got in trouble. When we made trips, Gary was in charge of getting slips to the players so that they could give them to the professors. Gary is coordinating all of the academics. I could go to Gary and say ‘how is so-so doing in this class’ and he could tell me.”

“Denny was in charge of all recruiting. He was to obtain any and all information on any recruit that we were interested in. When a high school player became a senior, I had a form that we sent to five coaches that the young man had played against, requesting them to fill it out and return it to us. We also sent one to his own coach and from those six we would make a composite. Denny would get a copy of his transcript so we would know his grades. So I am depending completely on Denny for any information I want to know about a recruit.”

“Now this doesn’t mean they (the two assistants) don’t help each other. Denny would assist Gary with the academics and Gary would assist Denny with the recruiting.”

Coach Wooden was also a believer in the ultimate success not coming from someone’s coaching record. As he said in Practical Modern Basketball, “True success can be attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing that you did everything within the limits of your ability to become the very best that you are capable of becoming. Therefore, in the final analysis only the individual himself can correctly determine his success.”

Monday, November 19, 2012


After a difficult loss yesterday -- along with a difficult start to our season, our team will see this passout in the locker when they come to practice today.  Of course, it is equally important for us as coaches to also display the necessary energy and persistence needed during tough times during a long basketball season.  Energy and persistence must be visuals for all to see and feel.

I'm very excited to get to practice today.  It is on days like this that I am reminded of my time working with Dale Brown.  After a difficult loss, Coach Brown would come in the office like the Tasmanian devil.  He would go to each coaches office, hug us and tell us he loved us and then ask us, "Are you ready to climb back up this mountain with me?"

You've heard of energy vampires via Jon Gordon's book the "Energy Bus."  Energy vampires suck the enthusiasm out of you.  Coach Brown was like a gas pump putting high-octane fuel in your engine except he brought the gas to your car.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


The following is an excerpt from an article in the Harvard Business Review in the winter of 2000.  It was written by Bill Parcells and titled, "The Tough Work of Turning Around a Team."

The toughest challenge I’ve faced as a coach is taking a team that’s performing poorly and turning it around. I’ve done it three times now. In 1983, my first year as a head coach, I led the New York Giants through an abysmal season—we won only three games. In the next six seasons, we climbed to the top of the league, winning two Super Bowls. When I became coach of the New England Patriots in 1993, they were coming off two years in which they’d won a combined total of three games. In 1996, we were in the Super Bowl. In 1997, when I came to the New York Jets, the team had just suffered through a 1–15 season. Two years later, we made it to the conference championship.

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.

Those turnarounds taught me a fundamental lesson about leadership: You have to be honest with people—brutally honest. You have to tell them the truth about their performance, 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.

Taking Charge

To lead, you’ve got to be a leader. That may sound obvious, but it took me an entire year to learn—and it wasn’t a pleasant year. When I started as coach of the Giants, I lacked confidence. I was surrounded by star players with big names and big egos, and I was a little tentative in dealing with them. I didn’t confront them about how they needed to change to succeed. As a result, I didn’t get their respect and I wasn’t able to change their attitudes. So they just kept on with their habit of losing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


As basketball coaches, we are constantly preaching the word "stance" to our players.  We want them defensively in a good stance.  It gives them the best opportunity act and react to what goes vs. the opponents offense.  We want a good stance offensively -- the one that allows us to be in triple threat with the ball...that allows us to more quickly and effectively execute a cut or a gain an advantage while posting up inside.  There is a good rebounding stance -- the secures us the best chance for blocking out.

The word "stance" is important in all phases of basketball.  It's also something that struck me in John Maxwell's latest book "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth."  He took the word stance to another level when he referred to the execution of choosing a "Positive Life Stance."  This is an attitudinal stance -- what a great concept.  Here is what John had to say:

"Life stance" is a term used to describe people's overall frame of reference -- the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people hold about themselves, other people, and the world in general...The product of any person's life stance is their overall way of looking at things: whether they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic, cheerful or gloomy, trusting or suspicious, friendly or reserved, brake or timid, generous or stingy, giving or selfish.  If you can maintain a positive life stance, you put yourself in the best position to manage bad experiences and turn them into positive growth.

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. 
It's the way it is.  They way you cope
with it is what makes the difference."
-Virginia Satir

Here is what John says about his own personal stance:

I have come to adopt a positive life stance because I believe it gives me the best chance to succeed while putting me in the best position to help others succeed.  I came to develop this mind-set by the way of the following thinking:

--Life is filled with good and bad.
--Some of the good and bad I can't control -- that's life.
--Some of the good and bad will find me.
--If I have had a positive life stance the good and bad will become better.
--If I have a negative life stance the good and bad will become worse.
--Therefore I choose a positive life stance.

To a large degree in life, you what you expect -- not always, bust most of the time.

Everyone that reads my blog or follows my teams know what a great proponent I am of John Maxwell and his teachings.  And with that, I of course recommend "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth" -- I think it is one of his best.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


o Coach‟s ego: Is it about you or about the team?

o “Beginners are open and experts are closed. When you become an expert, stay open!”

o Character vs. Character (s)

o You have to protect your team culture.

o The little things matter. Example: Celtics won a game against Cleveland on jump ball.

o Important little things: Extra pass, closeouts

o Build your staff around the team that you want to have: Loyal, hard working, disciplined.

o Sets up staff like a football program: offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator.

o Do you trust the people on your staff?

o Give them room to do their strengths.

o Cannot ask players to fill roles unless you let your staff fulfill their roles.

o Players must buy into your system of play.

o Have a theme/purpose to the season.

o Doc took Big 3 on parade route they would ride for winning the championship. (same route Patriots and Red Socks used) Develop direction and image.

o Ask players “Do you want to win? “ Most say yes, but only if it‟s comfortable for them.

o Fight for your system/culture every day.

o Eliminate the S‟s in your program: Selfish, Stubborn, etc.

o Cannot let a talented player affect your thinking.

o Talking to players after the draft: “You only have a number for one day. After that, it is all up to you”

o If you steal something from someone, make it your own.


Commitment to excellence Prioritize your life & have a balance

Courage to do what’s right It’s not always easy

Compassion Truly care for who you work with and coach with

Monday, November 12, 2012


A popular activity for tourists in Switzerland is mountain climbing -- not the type of climbing that the world-class mountaineers do to scale the world's highest peaks.  Maybe it would be more accurate to call it high-altitude hiking.  Groups depart from a "base camp" early in the morning with the intention of making it to the top of the mountain by mid-afternoon.

I talked to a guide about his experiences with these groups and he described and interesting phenomenon.  He said that for most of those expeditions, the group stops at a halfway house where the climbers have lunch, catch their break, and prepare for the last leg of the rigorous climb.  In variable some members of the group opt for the warmth and comfort of the halfway house and decide not to climb to the top.  As the est of the group leaves, the ones who stay are happy and talkative.  It's a part. But when the shadows begin to lengthen, many make their way over to the window that looks up the mountain.  And the room gets quiet as they wait for the climbers to return.  Why is that?  They realize they've missed a special opportunity.  Most them will never be in that part of the world again.  They won't every have a chance to climb that mountain again.  They missed it.

That's what it's like when people don't make the most of their talent, when they don't believe in themselves and their potential, when they don't act on their belief and try to make the most of every opportunity.

From "Talent Is Never Enough" by John Maxwell


This is a video we showed our team this morning.  I have showed it to teams I've been associated for about five or six years now.  I think it is very important.  In fact, I think I have posted it on our blog before -- but just in case you missed it and think it would serve your team, here it is again.

WARNING: It is graphic in nature -- but I think, hope and pray, that be the reason it gets the message home.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



"The secret of your success is found in your daily routine."

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.  The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.  So any system you develop needs to promote consistency, and you must follow it consistently.

What does it take to develop consistency?  A system and the discipline to follow through. I came across the story of an older gentleman at the funeral of fiery NBA basketball coach Bill Musselman in 2000 who approached Bill's son Eric to tell him a story.  The gentleman said he was driving down a two-lane highway on the way to Orville, Ohio when he saw a boy about elven years old dribbling a basketball with his right hand along the side of the road.  The man said he pulled over and asked the boy, "Where are you going?"

Without stopping dribbling, the boy replied, "Orville."

"Do you know Orville is ten miles away?" he asked.


"What are you going to do when you get there?"

"Dribble back with my left hand."

The old man looked at Eric and said, "That boy was your father."

Now that's what I call creating a system and having the discipline to follow through on it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


1. Quick ball reversal

2. Inside-out

3. Screen the zone

4. Penetrate the zone

5. Skip pass

6. Two-on-one weakside rebounding

7. Overload the zone

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The following are some notes on practice from Coach Bob Hurley that were sent to me from Zak Boisvert:

-Maximize your facility:

-Whatever you have, maximize it. Take pride in it. Make it clean.

-Sweeps floor before every practice and at halftime of JV game. “This shouldn’t be the custodian’s job. The coach should take pride in doing this.”

-Practices after school during the week and in the mornings on the weekend (either 9:00 am-11:00 am or 8:00 am-10:00 am)


1. Team play

2. Keep individual skills up

3. Prepare for opponent

-Early season practices:

-Know exactly how many opportunities you have to work with your team before the first game. We have 16 practices and 3 scrimmages before our first official game.

-First day of practice: 4 hours with a 15 minute food break (bananas) at the 2 hour mark. This practice is followed by another 4 hour session the next morning (a Saturday) and a free clinic Sunday morning for area coaches.

-Post your practice plan:

-It doesn’t have to fancy or even typed out, but it has to be on paper.

-Players should have an idea of what practice will be about. They won’t study it, but give them an idea at least.

-Be careful not to overcoach on the day before a big game. Your players will catch on and they will know something up (2 bad things can happen: they’ll tense up or, later on, will relax during the next “day before” practice when you’re not as tense)

-Bad coaching: spending too much time on one thing

-Once saw P.J. Carlesimo, then at Seton Hall lose his team over 45 minutes of pick & roll defense. “The next drill was a shooting drill and you could just see that they didn’t want to be there.”

- “I love teaching, but how long can you maintain their attention?”

-Late in the year if you’re in a drill that’s scheduled for 4 minutes, but you’re sharp and after 2 minutes you realize your guys get it, call it after 2 and move on. “Don’t be a slave to your practice plan.”

-Your practice must fit how you play

-Stay short with drills (5-10 minutes) alternating easy and hard drills

-Philosophy > Plays.

- “Basketball is over-coached and under-taught.” –Pete Newell.

-Simplicity: “I just need to be smarter than the guys on my team”

-Coach Hurley holds players accountable for 2 things in practice

-Mood/enthusiasm: we have to practice hard every day

-Correct their mistakes.

-Make practice a learning situation for your assistants and players

-Position work daily: guards on one end with 2 coaches, posts on the other end with 2 coaches and Hurley walks in between (If a coach is on the road scouting, Hurley goes to an end to give each group 2 coaches). If you just have 1 assistant, put the assistant with the more veteran of the groups as you, the head coach, works the younger group.

-Practice needs to be competitive. You can’t ignore shell drills and walkthroughs, but just make sure you follow them up with something competitive and hellacious.

-Make practices harder than games. Hurley uses no more than one timeout in about half of his team’s games so most of them are over in under an hour. A St. Anthony practice runs for 2 hours on the dot; “By the second half of the season, when our game is done my players are looking around the gym for someone else to play.”


A big thanks to Jeff Janssen for tweeting this blog out a few days ago.  It is written by the University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon.  Anyone that knows Jeff knows his passion for teaching and building leaders and he recognized this blog and the culture that is being created at Michigan to do just that.  Here are some excerpts: 

Championship teams find a way to transform themselves into winners. No doubt, there needs to be talent, but there also needs to be a winning culture. Cultures are created outside individual abilities. In sports, the creation of a culture starts by the way the team prepares in practice. It is impacted by the way the team interacts with one another. It is solidified by the way the team conducts itself whether in competition or in the community, as well as the positive attitude every member of the team carries with him at all times -- during moments when things are going well and during those times when it would be easy to complain or blame.

This past week, our men's and women's basketball teams took the court for the first time this season in competition against another team. Some might say they were only exhibition games as both the men and women made their first wins look easy. However, they were more than just exhibition games; they were another step in building a championship culture.

The Michigan men's basketball team is going into the regular season highly rated. The upperclassmen are going to need to show the leadership exhibited by last year's co-captains, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. Coach John Beilein knows strong on- and off-court leadership is going to be key for this team's success. He and his staff are working hard to ensure that everyone is on board for what is required to achieve championship results in the upcoming season. This team has plenty of young talent, and it needs to mesh with the returnees to create a winning culture that will take them through a long, challenging Big Ten season.

Josh Bartelstein was the perfect choice as the only predetermined captain for the season to continue the chemistry of last year's Big Ten championship team. Not only did Bartelstein room with Novak during his sophomore and junior years, he also achieved one of the highest leadership scores possible in a 360-degree leadership survey our athletic department administered to our student-athletes in all of our varsity sports.

He has been described by his current roommate and teammate Jordan Morgan as a player who "embodies selflessness ... that always put the team first."

Selflessness, intensity and passion are common attributes of all championship teams. Leadership is needed at every turn to ensure these traits remain constant throughout a long season.

Exhibition games are more than just a practice game. They are an important step in the process of learning to work together, play together, and win together!

As Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit." Our opening "exhibition games" were the first of what will be an exciting season for both of our basketball programs -- and will hopefully start that "habit of winning" for our coaches, student-athletes and fans!

Read the entire blog: