Friday, May 31, 2013


The first full spring training I was lucky enough to have Chuck Tanner, who'd just managed the Pittsburgh Pirates to victory in the 1979 World Series, mentoring me. Chuck laid out a three-pronged approach for me.

The first aspect was physical: make sure that everything about your players -- their legs, their core, their arms, their hands -- is in shape.  All the baseball activities -- taking ground balls and fly balls, batting practice, were a part of that conditioning. We sometimes had the guys take upward of two hundred swings a day, toughening their hands and their muscles.

The second of Chuck's keystones was the fundamentals.  All those "routine" plays, all those pieces that get executed hundreds of times over the course of a season -- they all needed to be practiced mercilessly.  The way you make those fundamentals sound is to do the right thing over and over to the point where it becomes automatic and you can make the plays by pushing that figurative button that allows you to execute them. As a result of that kind of preparation, you won't get bogged down by those routine plays.

The third and final preparation that Chuck convinced me was a crucial part of spring training was also the most important: you want to walk out of spring training mentally strong.  Part of this mental strength comes from players having a good baseball IQ.  If a player doesn't understand the rationale for, say, moving a runner over or guarding the line, he's not going to be as big of an asset to the club as someone who understands all parts of the game.  The litmus test is if you can look at the scoreboard and have it tell you what you should be thinking.

The second part of the mental side, the more critical aspect, is getting players to understand that "mental toughness" is something they can acquire.  If they decide to make something important, then they can make it happen.  It's all about making a choice -- you can be tough, you can play through a minor injury, you can get through a slump.  It's all about control and knowing that you possess it, but it's your choice whether or not you activate it

From "One Last Strike" by Tony La Russa


“The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with ‘who,’ rather than ‘what,’ you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction. Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

From "Good To Great" by Jim Collins



The following comes from Pat William's book "How To Be Like Mike."

“One day during the 1997-98 season, Phil Jackson called off a practice.  Michael said to Scottie Pippen, ‘We’re not playing well enough not to practice.  So they went to Phil and requested a practice.  Turned out they practiced for three hours.  Later, MJ said, ‘The best players have to be the caretakers.’”


Sunday, May 26, 2013


Winning is never really about a single game, or product, or performance.  Winners know how to succeed over the long haul.  In fact, they know that winning is defined by repeat performances and increasing achievements.  Winners never give up, never accept defeat, and work as long and as hard as it takes to get the job done right.  Winners commonly say, "Don't tell me why I can't do it.  Tell me how I can get it done.

From the book "Win" by Dr. Frank Luntz


Friday, May 24, 2013


Once, at the end of a hellacious, close, hard-fought game against archrival North Carolina, Coach K knelt down in our tense, pressure-packed huddle.  I think we all expected a fiery statement from him, loud and with veins popping out of his neck, on the raw intensity and toughness we needed to finish this game and win it.

Instead, Coach K surprised us.  He looked right at us, smiled and said, "Isn't this fun?"

His message was clear, and it had a relaxing effect in such a frenzied, tense and pressure-filled environment: This is important and we have a job to do, so play your ass off and play to win.  He was reminding us to embrace and enjoy the richness of the experience and to savor the journey, in both peaks and valleys.  This is a game that is supposed to be fun.  So let's make it fun.

Having fun is doing hard things well.

When I look back, none of my fondest memories are of easy games.  They are of the tough games, the games and practices when we had to lay it on the line, and things were the toughest.

From "Toughness" by Jay Bilas

Thursday, May 23, 2013


A big thanks to Jon Gordon for tweeting this article in the Washington Post.  I am who I am and I am where I am because of my parents and because of teachers -- period!  I love teachers -- especially those that care about their students -- and there as so many more than people can imagine.  It's why I loved this article by Jena McGregor.  I have always believed that the greatest leaders we know about have come about because of some of the worst conditions and unimaginable adversity.  And teachers are faced with so much these days.  Ms. McGregor does a nice job of summing it up:

Some are calling them heroes. The teachers in Moore, Okla. insist they were just doing their jobs.

But one thing is for certain: the teachers who risked their own lives to protect the children in their care as a devastating tornado ripped the roofs off of their schools were being leaders. In tale after heart-wrenching tale, they exhibited courage in the most terrifying of circumstances, calmed the fears of those around them, and put the needs of the people in their charge before their own. I can’t think of a better way to describe a leader.

There are the stories of Rhonda Crosswhite and Jennifer Doan, who used their bodies as shields. There’s the unnamed teacher who was reportedly underneath a car, shielding three students beneath her. And then there’s Tammy Glasgow, who told her students she loved them and had them play their musical instruments throughout the storm as loud as they could, maybe in hopes they could drive away the fear of the storm.

We rightfully complain about how rarely our children see examples of good leadership. Our elected representatives are more interested in partisan bickering and political obfuscation than in fixing our problems. Our business leaders are rewarded with obscene compensation for poor performance and all too often put profits ahead of the greater good. And in too many cases, people in positions of power over children, from coaches to the clergy, fail the young minds they’ve been charged with leading.
They may not hold lofty titles, and they certainly don’t take home executive-sized pay, but these Oklahoma teachers—especially those in Moore and Sandy Hook and Taft—showed their students on Monday that real leaders are right there in their midst.

Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.


The following are a few notes I took from Steve Prohm, head coach at Murray State.  I took the notes at A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium -- one of the best things an assistant coach can become involved with if he or she wants to grow in our profession.

Surround yourself with good people.

Started as a manager at the University of Alabama.  As a manager he would constantly grab players and say "let's get some shots up."

Worked 12 of 13 years for Billy Kennedy.

Two things he learned from Mike Gottfried:
1. Make yourself invaluable to your head coach
2. When you think there's nothing to do -- find something

4 prongs to his recruiting methods:
1. Spirituality
2. Academically
3. Socially
4. Basketball

3 Characteristics of special teams
1. Character
2. Toughness
3. Great ability

Don't seek honor -- honor will find you

Work like it's your name in the headlines.

When he was an assistant at Centenary
     1. Sold ads for a team calendar to raise money
     2. Had no office, just a desk in the corner
     3. Leaks in the office area when it rained

Don't worry about your title, worry about results.

Max out your role

Bet on the jockey, not the horse.

Effective leadership flows from personal integrity.

He can't just want to be great from November to March

When he was a manager at Alabama, the staff was no cohesive.  The players would talk about it -- they noticed.  He learned as a manager that players pick up on everything -- good and bad.

Key to relationships -- invest daily


I received this article from one of my former players, Randy Livingston.  It is a concept that try to pound into the hearts and minds of our players -- to be the best you can be, you must constantly surround yourself with people that can and will lift you to another level.

This article was written by  for  This is just a small excerpt from the article.  The entire article is outstanding and will be processed into a passout for our team this summer.  Read the entire article here.

Enjoy this excerpt:

A mentor once told me that no matter how many close people you have in your network, if you want to be truly great, you must have three essential people in your life at all times
  1. A person who is older and more successful than you to learn from
  2. A person who is equal to you to exchange ideas with
  3. A person below you to coach and keep you energized
A great figure of history who embodied this principle was Aristotle. Aristotle was one of the greatest minds to ever grace this beautiful Earth, but this was only so because he was constantly challenging himself and working to refine his talents. He exchanged ideas with other Greek philosophers in the “Academy,” learned from his mentor Plato, and taught a young boy named Alexander…who would later become “Alexander the Great.”

Every great person was, is, or will be successful because of the company he or she keeps. They will make an impact because of a successful network of driven peers who provide both inspiration and healthy competition.

If you want to be remarkable, you must constantly challenge yourself and surround yourself with remarkable people. So think about what your goals are, and take a look around you. Do you need to write a “make or break” list?
Do you have the kind of people who are going to lead you to live the life of your dreams?
Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” – Jim Rohn

Strive to be better. Strive to be more. Strive to be amazing.


The following is written by Hall of Fame volleyball coach Marv Dunnphy for the book, "The Greatest Coach Ever."

One day I asked Coach Wooden about discipline.  I was curious as to how this legendary coach took care of problems both on and off the court.  What he said has stuck with me ever since: "I never wanted to bruise the dignity of the one who was being disciplined."  I wonder how many coaches, parents and teachers or leaders today can say that they live by that philosophy.

Coach Wooden emphasized that individuals never loose the desired to be treated as individuals.  He was great at understanding each player and using the proper mode of correction for each one based on his or her personality.  This idea is something that I have tried to implement in my coaching over time.

He also taught me that how you say no as a parent, teacher or coach is much more important that how you say yes.  It's easy to say yes, but the way you tell someone 'no' can set the tone for the rest of the relationship.  Coach Wooden never wavered when it was time to administer discipline, but he did it with respect.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


This is our 8th installment from Billy Packer's book "Why We Win" in which he ask coaches of all sports for insight on their philosophy.
Talk about your philosophy.
Bob Knight: I’m not sure that we’re all capable of developing a philosophy of life or a philosophy of leadership or coaching or anything else.  I think that whatever our game is, I think we have to understand how the game can best be played.  And to me, that goes one step further.  How it can best be played by whatever the rules of the game know, Pete Carril made a great statement.  He the older he got, the less tolerant he was.
Joe Gibbs: If you don’t have convictions you’re in trouble because, believe me, you’re going to be tested.  You’re going to be tested in the front office.  You’re going to be tested by loses.
Joe Paterno: We’ve tried to be selective in the people we recruit based on the fact that we’re looking for character, people who are going to be with us four, five years.  We’re looking for kids that we think have a chance to graduate, and will respond to what we feel Penn State expects of them, and vice versa.
Dean Smith: We have a philosophy of how to play.  Now, there’s different ways to go about it, but to play together, to play hard.  I mean you always insist on effort.  And then, to be a smart team.  To be prepared for situations.  With five minutes to go, be prepared for that.  What to do when you’re down and in the catch-up game, or when you’re ahead, what to do to keep the lead.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I'm sitting in the office this morning, trying to work but I have an ear (and occasional eye) on my television and CNN following the events in Oklahoma.  It reminded me of another time that I was glued to a television. 

It was November 7, 2007 and it was reported that the Bluffton College baseball team's bus had plunged of an interstate ramp in Atlanta, Georgia.  There were 7 that were killed and 29 injured.  One of the most educational experiences of my coaching life was working with Cal Bailey and the NAIA baseball team at West Virginia State College.  I learned so much and forever will have a spot in my heart for small college baseball.

I remember being glued to CNN as they covered the event.  I will forever remember them
interviewing one of the Bluffton players.  He was cut and scratched and smudged with dirt.  The reporter asked him what he remembered and he complied.  He then went on to describe going to the bus with some of his teammates and pulling out other teammates one by one.  Going back until help came.  The reporter asked him why he would, injured himself, and with the smell of gas all around keep going back and pulling out teammates and his answer was simple yet powerful:

"That's what teams do."

That line, that thought, the meaning, has never left me.

Other images that stay with me were that of the heroic teachers at Sandy Elementary that saved many lives of students, even at the cost of their own.  That resonates with me this morning again as we see and hear about so many brave teachers that saved the lives of many children, again, even at the costs of their own in some cases.

As a coach, I consider myself a teacher.  I have my own kids.  I have my own team.  Perhaps that why it is so difficult to watch and hear all that it is going on in Oklahoma this morning.

Most of you that follow me on twitter, Facebook or read this blog do so because you are part of a team.  You are either a coach or a player.

And just as the Bluffton baseball team taught us, it's time for us to go in and help in any way we can.  Because "that's what teams do."

I'm asking all that read my blog and follow me on twitter to be "part of a team" -- a powerful social media team that can make a strong and immediate impact.  The link below is from CNN that gives everyone a number of resources that we can support.

Last night I tweeted "Please text a donation to help those in Oklahoma and RT -- Text 'RED CROSS' to 90999 to send a $10 donation...we can make a difference!"  Certainly Red Cross is a major player but CNN has given us other options as well.

Please understand, I am not just asking us all to make a donation.  I'm asking you to reTweet on twitter and share on Facebook as well as post on Instagram asking your followers and friends to both donate and spread the word as well.

As someone who lived in Louisiana for 25 years and saw firsthand the devastation of what Hurricanes can do to families and communities, I can tell you that there is a LONG, HARD STRUGGLE ahead.  The news will cover for a week or so but the need for support and help will last for quite some time.

As coaches, as teachers, as parents, as Americans -- we need to step up and help in as many ways as we possibly can.  This could be an amazing effort via social media.  Let's all pull together and do what we can -- BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT TEAMS DO!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Winning seems so important, but it actually is irrelevant.  Having attempted to give our all is what matters -- and we are the only ones who really know the truth about our own capabilities and performance.  Did we do our best at this point in our life/ Did we leave all we had to give on the field, in the classroom, at the office or in the trenches?  If we did, then we are a success."

-John Wooden


When you're almost as good as you want to be, you need to prod yourself to do even more than you already have.  You need to become even more aggressive, more decisive, more ambitious.  Otherwise, you'll get too wrapped up worrying about continuity, chemistry, and patience.  None of those factors are more important than being the best.  So do what you must to be No. 1.

From "The Packer Way" by Ron Wolf

Friday, May 17, 2013


I can remember as a very young coach purchasing my first motivational cassette tape.  It was "If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me" by George Raveling.  It had a profound effect on me -- I was in control of my own destiny.  The following are some notes on Coach Raveling that I found rummaging through some of my stuff from Coach Eric Musselman:

* "The game of life is the biggest game you'll ever play. We need to be a dreamer, an earner, a worker, and to believe in ourselves."

* "We don't dream enough. A man's and a woman's dreams soon become their realities. Dream big. We cannot accomplish anything in our lives unless we imagine it first."

* "Be a learner. A person who does not read is no better than a person who cannot read. Education is a lifelong process." (Ed. Note. Those of us fortunate enough to know George Raveling know that it is not uncommon for him to read 100 books a year.)

* "The most important fundamental to living a successful life is to believe in oneself. You should be number one on your hit parade. You are at a minimum a 25% better person than you think you are."

* "Most people fail in life because they don't have a plan. Set a goal and write it down. Put it where you can see it every day. Work toward your goals every day."

Be sure to check out Coach Raveling's website -- it's OUTSTANDING!


AVERAGE is what the failures claim to be when their family and friends ask them why they are not more successful.

AVERAGE is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best.  Which of these are you?

AVERAGE means being run-of-the-mill, mediocre, insignificant, and also-ran, nonentity.

Being AVERAGE is the lazy person's cop-out; it's lacking the guts to take a stand in life; it's living by default.

Being AVERAGE is to take up space for no purpose; to take the trip through life, but never to pay the fare; to return no interest for God's investment in you.

Being AVERAGE is to pass one's live away with time, rather than to pass one's time away with life; it's to kill time, rather than to work it to death.

To be AVERAGE is to be forgotten once you pass from this life.  The successful are remembered for their contributions; the failures are remembered because they tried; but the AVERAGE, the silent majority is just forgotten.

To be AVERAGE is to commit the greatest crime one can against one's self, humanity, and one's God.  The saddest epitaph is this: "Here lies Mr. and Ms. Average -- here lies the remains of what might have been, except for their belief that they were only AVERAGE.

-Edmund Gaudet


The following comes from "The Difference You Make" by Pat Williams:

On one occasion, I sat with Alvin Dark and his wife, and I asked him to share with me the most important lesson he learned as a baseball manager.  I had my pen poised, and I took down his reply word for word.  He said, "Here is a prayer I've tried to live by as a manager:

'Lord, when I'm wrong, make me willing to change.  When I'm right, make me easy to live with.  Strengthen me so that the power of my example far exceeds the authority of my rank.'

Pat, I have always tried to remember that you manage by influence -- not by authority"

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The following was written by Sean Sweeney for  Below is an excerpt of his review of Phil Jackson's newly to be released book "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success."  Read Sweeney's complete write up here.  In the article Sweeney talks of the comparisons and contrasts between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant by the one person who can be do it -- Phil Jackson:

The Los Angeles Times received an advanced copy of the book, and while content centered on Andrew Bynum should be interesting, let’s face it, that’s not who we really want to read about. Here are some notable observations from Jackson regarding Bryant and Jordan:

“Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around.” 

“Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn’t developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates. But his inclination to keep to himself shifted as he grew older. Increasingly, Kobe put more energy into getting to know the other players, especially when the team was on the road.”

“No question, Michael was a tougher, more intimidating defender. He could break through virtually any screen and shut down almost any player with his intense, laser-focused style of defense,” said Jackson, who coached Jordan to six championships and Bryant to five. 

“Kobe has learned a lot from studying Michael’s tricks, and we often used him as our secret weapon on defense when we needed to turn the direction of a game. In general, Kobe tends to rely more heavily on his flexibility and craftiness, but he takes a lot of gambles on defense and sometimes pays the price.”

“Michael was more likely to break through his attackers with power and strength, while Kobe often tries to finesse his way through mass pileups,” Jackson wrote. “Michael was stronger, with bigger shoulders and a sturdier frame. He also had large hands that allowed him to control the ball better and make subtle fakes.

“Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game."

“One of the biggest differences between the two stars from my perspective was Michael’s superior skills as a leader,” Jackson said. “Though at times he could be hard on his teammates, Michael was masterful at controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence. Kobe had a long way to go before he could make that claim. He talked a good game, but he’d yet to experience the cold truth of leadership in his bones, as Michael had.”

At first, I wasn’t sold on this book. Over the years, I read every major basketball book I could get my hands on, including Jackson’s numerous “tell-alls” (“The Last Season” is definitely my favorite). After a while, you feel like you’re hearing the same stories over and over again. (Like the one from this latest book where Jackson recalls a meeting between Jordan and Bryant during the 1999-2000 season. The first words out of Kobe’s mouth were “You know I can kick your ass one on one.”) Yet after seeing what’s in store for us, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” seems like a must-read.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I got these spending a few days with Joe Ciampi who was one of the best defensive coaches I've played against during his tenure at Auburn.  These days Joe is an assistant for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA:

DELAY...the ball coming down the floor

DEFLECT...inside passes...all passes inside 3-point arc...fingertips on the ball.

DISRUPT...offensive flow thru traps...always trap out of a timeout.

DISGUISE...Auburn played 60% Match-Up 40% man during Ciampi’s career.



"Determine never to be idle.  No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.  It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing."

-Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The following is a great story by Lt. General Russel L. Honore from his book "Leadership In The New Normal."  It reminds me of Coach Don Meyer talking about the importance of not just "seeing the picture" but "painting the picture."

When in charge, take charge.  When you have the opportunity to make a difference, make a difference.  And every now and then, check to make sure you still have followers.

When I was a kid we lived near a plantation.  That plantation had a sugarcane field on one side of the road and row of small houses on the other, and every house had a dog.  Every now and then a rabbit would break out of the sugarcane field and get spotted by a dog.  The dog would take off after it, and as he went down the road, other dogs would join the chase.  Pretty soon that lead dog would have seven, eight, ten dogs running and barking behind him.  They'd keep running and barking until they passed every house.  All the kids in the yards would stand up and watch.

But after about a minute, all but one of the dogs would quit running, leaving only the lead dog chasing the rabbit.  You see, the rest of the dogs started running and barking because they saw the lead dog doing it, and if it seemed worth running behind him, they followed.  But the couldn't see the rabbit, so they stopped.  But the dog that could see the rabbit, he kept running.

You might see the rabbit, but if the people behind you don't, they won't be running for long.  They're going to fall off.  They're going to be nonbelievers.  They're going to become non-performers.

If you're the leader, you have to be sure everyone behind you sees the vision.  They have to see where you want to go.

That's why as a leader, your job is to make sure the purpose stays visible, attainable, and worth running toward.  If you don't, you followers will stop thinking there's a reason to run.

Monday, May 13, 2013


There's much to gather in this short interview with Ray Allen.  Of course you can see the determination to improve.  There is the well-thought process he goes to improve.  But I especially loved the humility he shows when talking about himself, his teammates and Reggie Miller.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


1. It is fist fight to get open, it is a foot fight to score

2. It is a leverage game to get position, it’s a shoulders game, low shoulder wins

3. Three C’s- Catch Chin and Check…check for (1) cutters (2) Traps (3) Digs

4. Perpendicular Post ups- create an angle with you baseline foot, at that point your shoulder should be square to the ball

5. The floor always shrinks at the next level- quickness and length

6. Your knees are involved in leverage

7. Your feet give you the advantage, the ball gives you separation

8. See 90% of the floor when you catch the ball

9. Give up position for possession

10. Butt into thigh…No deny

11. Play low to high

12. You must sprint to spacing

13. When you catch the ball pause for poise

14. Let the garbage clear before you go to work

15. Post depth…Depth makes the game easier

16. When posting don’t be concerned with the defenders feet, rather the deny arm

17. Dribble the ball to get in line with the target hand when feeding the post…”get the palm”

18. Offensive rebounding…know your teammates because it gives you a head start

19. Run rim to rim not free line to free throw line

20. Don’t waste a post-up when the ball can’t get to you, it’s better to be late than early

21. You can’t play straight up--- mid line- rent- homeless