Wednesday, December 24, 2014


This will be our last post until following Christmas -- and has become a tradition at Hoopthoughts. We come off of Christmas with three games in fives days so the next few days I will be breaking down tape and squeezing in some Christmas shopping. Below is a motivational passout that Coach Dale Brown would mail out each Christmas. It speaks to our ability to teach...not teaching subjects (or plays)...but teaching students (and players) -- and there is a big difference. Enjoy and may you all have a wonderful holiday season!
When Tony Campolo was in Chattanooga last week to speak at the annual “Gathering of Men” breakfast, the noted sociologist told a story that begs to be repeated, especially on this day:

It seems that there was a lady named Jean Thompson and when she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall, she told the children a lie.

Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn’t play well with other children, that his clothes were unkept and that he constantly needed a bath. Add to it the fact Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold ‘X’s and then marking the ‘F’ at the top of the paper biggest of all.
Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either.

Now at the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s records and--because of things--put Teddy’s off until last. But when she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.

His first-grade teacher had written, “Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does work neatly and has good manners … he is a joy to be around.”

His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student and is well-liked by his classmates--but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

The third-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy continues to work hard but his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. His is tardy and could become a problem.”

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast.

It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard on that last day before the vacation would begin.

Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in heavy, brown paper of scissored grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne.

But she stifled the laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and she dabbed some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

At the end of the day, as the other children joyously raced from the room, Teddy Stoddard stayed behind, just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”

As soon as Teddy left, Mrs. Thompson knelt at her desk and there, after the last day of school before Christmas, she cried for at least an hour.

And, on that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and spelling. Instead she began to teach children. And Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called Teddy.

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded and, on days that there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember the cologne.

By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and … well, he had also become the “pet” of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. And then he wrote that as he finished high school, third in his class, she was still his favorite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, that he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and graduated from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.

Then four more years passed and another letter came.

This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. That she was still his favorite teacher but now that his name was a little longer. And the letter was signed, “Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.”

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said that… well, that he’d met his girl and was to be married.

He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering … well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.

But I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like … well, just like she smelled many years before on the last day of school before the Christmas Holidays begin.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


"Leadership is not just one quality, but rather a blend of many qualities; and while no one individual possesses all of the needed talents that go into leadership, each man can develop a combination to make him a leader."

"Fundamentals win it. Football is two things; it’s blocking and tackling. I don’t care about formations or new defenses or tricks on defense. If you block and tackle better than the team you’re playing, you’ll win."

"Most important of all, to be successful in life demands that a man make a personal commitment to excellence and to victory, even though the ultimate victory can never be completely won. Yet that victory might be pursued and wooed with every fiber of your body, with every bit of our might and all our effort. And each week, there is a new encounter; each day, there is a new challenge."

Friday, December 12, 2014


"A lot of people would term it, it’s a young man’s game. I wouldn’t go that far. But I would say it’s an enthusiastic, committed man’s game. And you can be enthusiastic and committed and energetic no matter what your age is. I know I can do it because I do it every day."

- Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Read more here:


"Believe in yourself. It is also important that you sell your program to your players. They must believe in you in order for them to be able to make the sacrifices that will be required of them. Everyone in the organization (your staff, the players, the athletic trainers, the team managers, etc.) must believe that your plan for success will be effective if it is carried out as directed."

-Bill Walsh

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Bob Knight constantly spoke about a big part of winning was to know what lost games for you.  Michael Hyatt, in his most recent blog post wrote of lessons that can be learned by a poor example.  His post, titled "5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders (and How Not to Be One)" is a great look of some habits to be avoided to effectively lead. He came up with his list from reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Hyatt is also a must follow on twitter.

Here is a summation of his blog post but you could (and should) read it in its entirety here.

1. Hesitating to take definitive action. McClellan was constantly preparing. According to him, the Army was never quite ready. The troops just needed a little more training. In his procrastination, he refused to engage the enemy, even when he clearly had the advantage. He could just not bring himself to launch an attack. When Lincoln finally relieved him of his duties, he famously said, “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”

2. Complaining about a lack of resources. He constantly complained about the lack of available resources. He didn’t have enough men. His men weren’t paid enough. They didn’t have enough heavy artillery. And on and on he went. The truth is that, as a leader, you never have enough resources. You could always use more of one thing or another. But the successful leaders figure out how to get the job done with the resources they have.

3. Refusing to take responsibility. McClellan blamed everyone else for his mistakes and for his refusal to act. He even blamed the President. Every time he suffered a defeat or a setback, someone or something was to blame. He was a master finger-pointer. Great leaders don’t do this. They are accountable for the results and accept full responsibility for the outcomes.

4. Abusing the privileges of leadership. While his troops were struggling in almost unbearable conditions, McClellan lived in near-royal splendor. He spent almost every evening entertaining guests with elaborate dinners and parties. He insisted on the best clothes and accommodations. His lifestyle stood in distinct contrast to General Ulysses S. Grant, his eventual successor, who often traveled with only a toothbrush.

5. Engaging in acts of insubordination. McClellan openly and continually criticized the President, his boss. He was passive-aggressive. Even when Lincoln gave him a direct order, he found a way to avoid obeying it. In his arrogance, he always knew better than the President and had a ready excuse to rationalize his lack of follow-through.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


To demonstrate competence as you start in leadership, begin with the basics:

Work Hard: There is no substitute for a good work ethic.  People respect someone who works hard.

Think Ahead: Because your decisions affect your team, beginning with the end in mind and identifying priorities are doubly important.

Demonstrate Excellence: The better you are at your job, the higher your initial credibility.

Follow Through: Good leaders bring things to completion.

From "Good Leaders Ask Great Questions" by John C. Maxwell

Friday, December 5, 2014


The following is a brief excerpt from an article on Shaka Smart titled "The Tao of Shaka."  The article was written by Michael Litos for NBC Sports. You can read the entire article here -- it's well worth the read!

“He believes in people more than they believe in themselves,” says current assistant coach Mike Morrell. “He does that with players, GAs, managers, assistant coaches. He’s done it to me. He sees what we can be better than we can. He sees what’s in us.”

Smart doesn’t carry a commanding physical presence. He’s typically average in build and form. If he weren’t a popular basketball coach consistently in the media glare, he could be in line next to you picking up dry cleaning and you wouldn’t notice him.

He can go the route of the screaming coach, and he has, but Smart prefers pointed feedback, typically a positive spin on concepts like having a growth mindset. No matter the first half performance of his VCU team, he doesn’t peel paint in locker rooms. It’s the same thing, a consistent message of what needs to be done to create success.

No, Smart is not a commanding physical presence, but he commands the room through his relentlessly positive words and his caring actions. Spending time with his players is very important to Smart.

That’s perhaps the potion that allows him to connect with players as the leader of the VCU basketball program while helping, as he says, “move them forward” in their life.

That occurs outside the gym and basketball offices, where they see firsthand what types of advantages college basketball players have.

Each holiday season the players shop for Christmas gifts with underprivileged children in their community through a program with Target. It’s jarring for them to have a 10-year-old ask for a winter jacket as their gift. He gives them leadership opportunities as well. Junior Melvin Johnson spoke at a Richmond TEDx event. Smart has meditated with players to help them deal with the pressures of basketball and school life. He is not afraid of the concept of love in a decidedly manly atmosphere. The word love hangs on a plaque outside his office. In fact, he called or texted one of his players, who grew up without a father, to tell him he loved him.
Every day.

It was important to Smart that the player understood that he could have a strong, positive male role model in his life. It’s the real life part of his job that Smart very much enjoys and very much takes seriously, even amid being the overseer of college basketball’s havoc.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It isn’t exclusive to players. Smart cares about everyone and everything, and a part of that caring is holding people accountable and challenging them. Attention to detail matters. Wade was Smart’s first hire, and he remembers the very first scouting report he prepared. It was for Bethune-Cookman, a game where VCU wrote a check to get an easy victory at home to open the season.

“I thought I had everything for him,” recalls Wade. “He started peppering me with all sorts of questions I would’ve never anticipated. I thought I was thorough but I wasn’t close.”

Smart wanted video of the Bethune-Cookman freshmen, which meant Wade had to call high school coaches. Smart wanted every detail on the seventh or eighth man in the rotation.

“He stretches you,” says Wade. “He’s always asking questions and you better have the answers. I thought ‘that’s how we are going to do it.’ You think you’re prepared but not at that level. I learned that’s how you do it in the big time. And I appreciate that from him.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014


A special thanks to my friend Lason Perkins for passing this on to me.  It's a interview session with Pete Carroll that includes a Q&A at the end.  Coach Carroll goes into great detail of his Win Forever philosophy.  The entire segment is two-hours and it's well worth the watch -- in fact, I guarantee you won't be able to not watch it in it's entirety.