Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The following comes from Coach Mike Dunlap --

All quality drills include:

1. Time
2. Score
3. Competition
4. Rotation
5. Element of Confusion
6. Winner/Loser (Validation = Made Free Throw)
7. Rebounding (Always)

Whatever you do with player development make it:

1. Repetitive
2. Target Specific
3. Competitive
4. Terminal
5. Reward Effort/Praise Result
6. Drill must be linked to whole
7. Build in element of fun which comes from achievement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Courtesy of the NBA, Lebron James was mic'd up for game two of their playoff series vs. the Hawks.  This is a great video to show your team -- great teams talk -- great players talk.  I remember Coach Don Meyer saying don't talk your game -- yell your game...Lebron does just that.


There's an excellent article on Bleacher Report written by Jason Cole in which he interviews new Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn.  Cole asked Quinn, who has worked for both Nick Saban and Pete Carroll about their differences and Quinn responded with the one thing they both had in common:
Bleacher Report: You worked for Nick Saban and you worked for Pete Carroll. I can't imagine two guys being much more different than those two.

Dan Quinn: That's true...HOWEVER, I've told this story a few times before. Personality-wise, they are so different. But there is a common thread. I think they both totally know how they want to do it, how they want to run their program. They are both so committed to their beliefs in how they wanted to do things that they were actually very similar. As head coaches, they both coach a lot, like literally get in there and work with the players. That said to me that if I ever had this opportunity, I didn't want to be someone who didn't coach.

That left a real impression on me. I remember that, and I remember that they had a deep belief in the philosophy they had in place. Though one was engaging from a personality standpoint and wanted the players in with him and the other was more polarizing and on the players...that way was different. But having an organized vision of how they wanted their programs run was really similar. The programs weren't run in the same fashion, but the attention to detail was.
B/R: Was there ever a time the program got off track for either of them and they had to do something to get it back on track?

Quinn: I think, in a good way, when things got off track they were both totally true to their principles.


This past week has been a tremendous period of reflection for me.  In the past 7 days there have been the birthdays of Sue Gunter and Skip Bertman, the one-year anniversary of Coach Don Meyer passing and on Tuesday we laid my father to rest. Also during that time we lost a great man in Tom Moran.

There is a quote from Jim Rohn that says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

While last week was a difficult one for me emotionally, I also realized what a blessed person I am to have these individuals in my life.  Each one has played an amazing role in my development as a coach and as a person.

Tom Moran was the first non-staff person that Coach Dale Brown introduced me to when I interviewed at LSU.  He was an extraordinarily successful restaraunteer who was a dear friend of Coach Brown's and a huge supporter of our basketball program.  Many knew Tom for his restaurants.  He owned the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Baton Rouge (along with others around the nation), Ruffino's, Ninfa's and of course T.J. Ribs.  They were all extremely successful -- because of Tom.  I used to tell him he'd make a great coach in the way he ran his businesses.  He was driven to be the best in whatever he approached.

Three years into my tenure I got married.  It was during the time when I was labeled as a "restricted earnings" assistant coach.  A position the NCAA created in order for it to be able to cap that position's pay at $16,000.  That small sum had to include everything -- such as summer camp.  In no way was I allowed to make more that $16,000 per year.

Soon after, Coach Brown called me in his office and said, "First, I want you to know I want you to stay on my staff but you're married and have family obligations and you need to at least consider options.  I was talking to Tom last night and he wants to meet with you and Sherie tonight."

My wife and I met Tom at Ruth's Chris and of course, spent the first 30 minutes talking about LSU basketball.  Then Tom told me he'd like to hire me.  He would send to restaurant school in Houston (on him).  Following the two month completion he would make me an assistant manager at Black-eyed Pea for six months at around $35,000 and then I would be made manager at Ninfa's with a salary around $75,000.  He told me the hours would be long -- well into the night.  He told I would be working holidays.  He told me there would be an occasional knucklehead employee that I would have to deal with.  Then he laughed and said, "It's a lot like your current job -- except the pays a lot better."

I told Tom I was really appreciative and then asked him if I could have a couple of days to think about it.  I loved coaching -- but I knew what Coach Brown was talking about: I had to think about my wife now and just not myself.

I didn't sleep much that night and got a phone call early the next morning from Tom asking if we could get together again.  I met him at TJ Ribs for lunch.

"Bobby, I want you to know right off the bat that I want you to come to work for me," Tom started.  "But can I give you some advice?"

"Of course," I responded.

"Don't.  I gave this some thought last night.  You are very passionate about coaching and teaching. I know you are going to take a hit in the pocketbook for who knows how long but when you are passionate about something you need to follow that and see where it leads.  I truly believe that's what you need to do."

And with that I thanked Tom and continued my coaching career. 

Tom continued to be a supporter of mine.  Each year I'd give Tom my men's basketball parking pass and continued to do so even after I switched to the women's side, working for Coach Gunter.  My first year on Coach Gunter's staff we upset #1 ranked Tennessee -- the first time we'd every defeated a #1 ranked team -- and there was Tom and Coach Brown on the front row, giving me a hug when we left the floor.

Of course what Tom did for me had a great impact on my life.  But I was only one of thousands that he touched in an amazing way.  After Tom's own battle with cancer, he became a major supporter and contributor to the Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. Tom also was a founding director of the Dale Brown Foundation, which gave educational opportunities for students around the country; and he served on the boards of the Pennington Family Foundation, Girls & Boys Town and Baton Rouge River Center. Moran has helped the Boy Scouts of America-Istrouma Area Council, Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, St. Jude Research Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

So as difficult as last week was, I know today I am thankful for all those who have crossed my path, especially Tom "T.J." Moran.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Over the next few weeks, will share some posts on what you can do during the off-season to improve your team.  I'm a big believer that championships are won in the off-season, as must would agree.  But many think this is only conducive to players.  In fact, what coaches do in the off-season is often more important in the improvement or decline of their program.

Thanks to Brooklyn Kohlheim's email newsletter (sign up for it here), we were able to read how important the off-season is even to NBA coaches with an inside look at Brad Stevens and last year's off-season did to support a 15 win improvement and how he is approaching this year's off-season.  The article was written by Adam Himmelsbach for the Boston Globe and you can read it in it's entirety here (Great Read).  But here are some of my take aways:

During an interview with the Globe last week, Stevens detailed how last summer laid the groundwork for the Celtics’ 15-win improvement and playoff appearance this season. Unsurprisingly, it was a thorough plan rooted in research. And as the Celtics enter another critical summer, clues could be gleaned from how Stevens handled the prior one.

“I just kind of think of things I’d like to know, and I embark on a project,” Stevens said. “Sometimes they end up being worthless, and sometimes they help you. But it’s important to analyze, work, and scrutinize. Be critical of yourself, and start there.”

Stevens keeps a pen and notepad next to his bed so he can scribble a new play or idea when it pops up. Most often, though, the concepts come during the long flights that can be both a blessing and a curse during a grueling NBA season.

When looking back at 2013-14, Stevens knew the Celtics had faltered late in close games. In the final five minutes of contests in which the score differential was 5 points or less, the Celtics had a net rating — offensive rating subtracted by defensive rating — of -25.4, 29th in the league. Furthermore, in those situations they were averaging 16.1 turnovers per 100 possessions, the 28th-worst mark in the NBA.

The Celtics had not executed down the stretch and Stevens wanted to know why. So he began analyzing every possession in the last five minutes of every Celtics game that year.

There are generally about 200 total possessions in an NBA game, and the rate typically increases in the last five minutes because of fouls, so Stevens probably analyzed well over 1,500 plays.

“I broke down every possession in the smallest of details,” he said. “It was the most arduous — well, maybe not arduous, because it’s not real work compared to what some people do for a living — but it was the most boring yet helpful thing I probably did last year. It helped me figure out a lot.

“When you’re not in the season, you detach emotionally and you can see what guys are and aren’t doing, what guys struggle with, what you could have done to help them be successful and how you can be better moving forward.”

At the start of this past season, Stevens presented his findings to his players. His message was simple: You’re closer than you might think.

“He put it to us in a way that gave us confidence, that if we do these few plays a little bit better, it could result in making the playoffs,” guard Evan Turner said. “It gave us an idea of how slim the difference is between having a successful season and not, and we realized they were fixable mistakes.”

This season, the Celtics improved their net rating in late-game clutch situations from -25.4 to -7.5, and they lowered their turnover ratio from 16.1 to 12.6.

Stevens’s offseason focus was not solely on his players. He also identified about 35 stars from around the league whose games he admired. Then he assigned groups of them to his staff — also taking five for himself — and asked his assistants to dig in.

“We studied them inside and out,” Stevens said. “What made them great? What were their flaws?”

Shrewsberry, for example, was tasked with analyzing guards Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Tony Parker, and Ty Lawson. He said the project helped identify traits that they could pass on, and it also gave the Celtics a head start on individual scouting heading into the regular season.

Monday, May 11, 2015


For the large majority of us, we are well into the beginning of the off-season.  A major part of the off-season for the best of coaches is a thorough review of their system of play.  As I view the NBA plays-offs, my question to us is this: WHAT'S YOUR PAINT GAME?

I'm a strong believer that championships are won in the paint.  This speaks to both offensive and defensive philosophies.

In 2011, the Miami Heat lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.  The Mavs dominated the paint and the Heat settled for jump shots far too many times.  In that off-season, LeBron James called up Hakeem Olaguwon and asked him if he would work with him that summer on his paint game.  You have to give great credit to LJ for first recognizing what he need to work on to improve his game and then for not hesitating to ask for help -- those are the two marks of a great player.

Too many coaches think that a "Paint Game" means isolating a  big post on the block and working the ball inside.  And if you have a big that certainly is a good thing to do.  But just because you don't have a big doesn't mean you don't have a paint game.  Here are some  ways to get the ball to the paint:

1. Low Post Play: develop your post players -- regardless of size -- to post, seal, move without the ball and to finish.

2. Transition Offense: beat the defense to the paint before they get there.

3. Dribble Penetration: being able to put the ball on the floor and drive it to the paint has become increasingly popular with so many teams utilizing the Dribble Drive Offense.

4. Flash Game: flash players into the paint for a touch...this can be post players or perimeter players.

5. Post Up Guards: you may not have a big but if your posts can step away and shoot you can post up your guards inside.

6. Offensive Rebounding: working and emphasizing offensive rebounding above and beyond what other teams might do is another way to create a paint game.

We are not suggesting that you abandon your offensive system but having a paint game allows you a chance to score and draw fouls on the opposition when the mid-range or 3-point shooting has gone cold.  Some people point to the fact that Duke and Mike Kryzewski has become great proponents of the 3-point shot.  Watch how many of them come off of a paint touch -- either dribble penetration or post feed to a fan pass.  The "Paint Touch 3" is a great way of setting up a good three point shooter while still pressuring the defense to play interior defense. 

Part of having a solid paint game on offense is understanding defenses and how they are played today.  We all know the Chuck Daly mantra of "Spacing if offense and offense is spacing."  Well, the same can be true of defense.  While offense is looking to spread the defense, defenses are now looking to shrink the floor -- getting and sitting in gaps.

Even the best low post players have a difficult time of getting a good look off of the same side entry pass in offensive play.  Two keys that will be beneficial include:

1. Reversing the basketball.  While at LSU, with Sylvia Fowles dominating the inside, we would tell her to start opposite the ball in our motion offense and reverse the ball to her side forcing the defense to go from help to ball and ball to help.

2. Occupy the helpside.  Movement away from where you want to enter the paint with the ball is critical.  Making defenders guard two things at once will help you to get the ball to the paint more efficiently.  Another one of our basic concepts is for players to "cut to create help."  If we are cutting hard and correctly, we have a chance to draw a helpside defender which creates more space for drives or post feeds.


Friday, May 8, 2015


Over the past year we have received a lot of requests for an email notification system for our blog posts.  We finally found some time (and some knowledge) to add a simple method in which you can type in your email address and then each time we add a new post you will receive an email on that post.  This will not include our Hoop Thoughts Flashback posts -- which can keep track of by following us on twitter.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Great thoughts on enthusiasm from John Maxwell via his book "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player."

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People can succeed at almost anything for which they have enthusiasm.”
-Charles Schwab
1. Take Responsibility for Their Own Enthusiasm. Successful people understand that attitude is a choice—and that includes enthusiasm. People who wait for external forces to help them spark their enthusiasm are at other people’s mercy all the time. They are likely to run hot or cold based on what’s going on around them at any given moment. However, positive people are positive because they choose to be. If you want to be positive, upbeat, and passionate, you need to take responsibility for being that way.

2. You cannot win if you do not begin.

3. Spend Time with Other Enthusiastic People. Denis Waitley, says, “Enthusiasm is contagious. It’s difficult to remain neutral or indifferent in the presence of a positive thinker.”

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates remarked, "What I do best is share my enthusiasm."
Be willing to do more. One way to demonstrate enthusiasm with your teammates is to go the extra mile with others. This week when someone asks you to do something, do what’s required and then some. Then quietly observe its impact on the team’s atmosphere.

Elbert Hubbard said, “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.”


The following comes form "How to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture" by Jeff Janssen.  I'm not sure there is a more important word in leadership today than culture -- creating the identity and standards your want your program to live by.  Jeff's book is the best I've read on the subject and here is an abbreviated list of 4 steps in establishing a team's standards of behavior:
1, Include your leaders with a meeting before the standards meeting
Before your standards meeting with your entire team, I highly recommend you sit down with your key leaders to discuss their thoughts and insights on the process. You want to all be on the same page going into the meeting so that you understand each other.

2,  Involve Instead of Impose
As with your vision and core values, be sure to involve your team when establishing your standards of behavior. It will value their perspective and help garner their commitment. As leadership author Stephen Covey once said, “No involvement equals no commitment.”

Similarly, Coach K says, “In putting together your standards, remember that it is essential to involve your entire team. Standards are not rules issued by the boss; they are a collective identity.”

3, Create and clarify your standards in writing
It is important to put your Standards in writing to help clarify and codify them for the short and long term. Unwritten standards are easily forgotten and can become an easy excuse when someone breaks them because they can say they weren’t clear about them.

4. Sustaining Your Standards
While establishing your standards on the front end is a critical part of developing a Championship Culture, the key part is sustaining the standard throughout the course of the season. Many teams talk about the standard at the start of the season but don’t meticulously maintain them throughout the course of the season.

“It all starts with everyone buying into the same principles and values… If you don’t define the expectation for everybody in the organization and the standard, what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it, then how can you know whether someone is mediocre or a high achiever… We clearly define personally, academically, athletically what the expectation is for every player and they have to be accountable to it.” –Nick Saban


The following comes from "The Compound Effect" written by Darren Hardy and reminds me of the importance routines in sports.  Whether it's a free throw shooter, a batter stepping into the batter's box or kicker lining up for a field goal attempt, the best take what they do seriously enough to leave nothing chance:

Golfer Jack Nicklaus was famous for his pre-shot routine. He was religious about the “dance” he would do before every shot, a series of routine mental and physical steps that got him fully focused and ready for the shot. Jack would start out between the ball and the target. As he walked around and approached the ball, the first thing he would do is line up his clubface to his intermediate target. He wouldn’t put his feet into position until he felt he had his clubface properly squared up. Then he would take his stance. From there, he would waggle the club and look out to his target, then back to his intermediate target and back to the golf club, with a repeat of the view. Then, and only then, would he strike the ball.
During one of the important Majors, a psychologist times Nicklaus from the moment he pulled the club out of the bag until the moment he hit the ball, and guess what? In each shot, from the first tee to the eighteenth green, the timing of Jack’s routine supposedly never varied more than one second. That is amazing! The same psychologist measured Greg Norman during his unfortunate collapse at the 1996 Masters. Lo and behold, his pre-shot routine got faster and faster as the round progressed. Varying his routine stunted his rhythm and consistency; he was never able to catch momentum. The moment Norman changed his routine, his performance became unpredictable and his results erratic.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015


"I don’t have a “system” that we run year after year at Kentucky. I’m not that guy walking around the rail yard, inspecting the machinery retreating into the office to look at spread sheets. Yep, everything is in working order. We’re leaving and arriving at the right times. It all looks good. The system is just how I want it. I’m all about the passengers, the people inside. What’s it like for them? We’re not a team that always runs the motion offense or the high-low offense. We don’t full-court press on every possession, and we don’t play zone defense all of the time or none of the time. We do what fits the players we have. Sometimes, I think a system is an extension of a coach’s ego—you know, like, This is what we have to do, no matter whom we’ve got, because I invented it and I perfected it."

John Calipari from "Players First: Coaching From The Inside Out"