Friday, October 30, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part III (and the last segment) of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

“We can accept our circumstances as they are, or we can do all we can to change them and turn them into something positive. That’s one of the things I’ve admired about our team — they’ve accepted every challenge.”


“To me, we all owe it to each other and the organization to give everything we have every single day. Just concentrate on what’s in front of us. Practice well today, get ready for our opponent tomorrow, concentrate on improvement, and get better. You never know what happens.”


On Taj Gibson:
“You can’t say enough about Taj. He is tough as nails. Whatever you ask him to do he does. You can start him, bring him off the bench; he guards everybody, he rebounds, gives you great effort, pure heart, plays for the team, plays to win, disciplined, practices every day, practices hard. He is a great practice player. He has a great motor. When you put him in the game, he doesn’t need 5-10 minutes to warm up. He’s ready to go.”


On Marco Belinelli
“He plays for the team. The team is first all the time with him. I was not surprised that San Antonio picked him up because I know how much Pop values those things.”


“We’ve got a core of guys that understand it (on defense) and are really good at it. Our guys put forth the effort. That is what it is all about. As a team they are committed to that. We know if we defend and rebound and keep our turnovers down we will be in a position to win. Right now, when you are shorthanded, that is what you have to do. It is also what you have to do in every game, when you are completely healthy.”


“We’ve got to get the fight. That’s the first part of it — the determination, the fight and the will. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We have to turn it around tomorrow. We have to get ready to play and we have to come out with an edge.”


“On nights you are not shooting well, there are many other things you can do to help yourselves win.”


“It’s hard to execute when you don’t practice. We need time in the gym.”


‘‘We’re improving, but we still have a long way to go. You’re trying to build concentration over a long period of time, and you’ve got to grind. This season is about grinding and working. You’ve got to put the work in. You can’t skip steps, you can’t take shortcuts. You’ve got to put a lot of work into it.’’


‘‘I measure everything on whether it’s being done at a championship level. Whether it’s your preparation, how you practice, how you conduct yourself in the weight room, how you conduct yourself in a film session, how you conduct yourself on the bus. There’s a lot that goes into winning, so you’ve got to be willing to pay the price.’’


On Kyle Korver:
“Every year he gets better and better. It’s a tribute to the way he works at it, studies, and prepares, his offseason conditioning work he puts in. It’s incredible. It’s not an accident what he’s doing. Everyone knows it’s coming. He knows how to get open. He plays for a team whose shooting complements its stars. And he’s a star in his own way. He has always embraced his role. He has always played for the team. The numbers say that (he’s among the elite all time shooters).”


On Jimmy Butler:
“I get a kick in the off-season, everyone’s had a great summer, everyone looks good, but Jimmy actually puts the work in. He doesn’t have to say anything. You look at him and his actions tell you what he’s doing. There are no shortcuts with him. He puts the work in and gives you a solid day’s work. You can’t say enough about it him. He takes big shots, plays defense, and gets to the line. He makes plays, plays unselfishly, plays hard and doesn’t take any possessions off.  My thing to him is why put a lid on it? Where can it go? I don’t know. All I know is [his ceiling] keeps going up. That is how I want him to approach it. He brings great concentration and great effort every day. You bring those things and couple that with his talent, great things are going to happen and he’s showing that. The best leadership you can have is by doing all the right things. You can’t put any more in than he’s putting into it now.”


On Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich:
“Two great pros. Tough minded, give you everything they have. Both of those guys are great pros. When you have young guys like we do, that’s the best kind of leadership you can have. They come in every day, they practice hard, they execute. Do all the right things.”


On Anthony Davis From USA Basketball:
“He was all business. That’s what stood out the most. He’d get there early, work on his game, practice hard, and get in the weight room. You can tell he’s hungry.”


“If they say we’re playing at midnight on the roof, you should be saying let’s get the ladders.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I took the time to watch University of Minnesota Jerry Kill's press conference where he announced he had to step down the the Gopher's head football coach due to health reasons.  It was obviously that he is very passionate about coaching and therefore leaving his profession that he clearly loves was extremely disappointing to him -- and to all of us that love our jobs and viewed the press conference.

Let it give us perspective.  Had a bad practice yesterday?  Have a player with an attitude problem yesterday?  Have a conflict with an administrator yesterday?  The media get after you a little bit yesterday?  A recruit turn you down yesterday?

The key word is "yesterday."  Because if you woke up "today" and you still get to coach -- if you still get to that thing you love so much, then we are truly blessed.

Here are a few take aways from Coach Kill's press conference.

"Last night when I walked off the practice field, I felt like a part of me died.  I love this game.  I love what it's done for my family.  I thank God for giving me the opportunity to coach this game...

"I don't want to cheat the game...

"This is the toughest thing I've ever done in my life...

"I went as hard as I could."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part II of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

“We’re excited. Whenever they tell us to play, we’ve got to be ready. There are no off nights in the NBA. That’s the one thing. Even being here, when you see all the great talent that we have in our league, if you take someone lightly, you’re making a big mistake and we can’t just talk about it. We’ve got to put the work into it because there’s a lot of work and commitment that goes into winning. To say that we’re going to win because we feel we’re talented—doesn’t work that way. There’s a lot of talent in this league. It’s the teams that are willing to make that commitment and endure throughout during the course of the season, to work hard all summer, to work hard in training camp, to work hard throughout the season, to commit to playing for each other, those are the teams that build winning habits and that’s what we have to do. We have to build winning habits throughout the course of the year.”


On His memory From the 2013-14 Season/Team:
“How they wouldn’t quit. When I look at the team, we took a couple of big hits the last couple of years, actually the last three years. They fought like crazy that year. These guys, they fought like crazy to make sure we had a good season. When a team commits to playing as a team, playing together and playing for one another, they give you everything they have, there’s nothing more you can ask for. I think other people would have just laid down and we didn’t do that.’’


“Five-man offense, five-man defense, and everyone is connected. If one guy is not doing their job, it’s going to make everyone look bad. We have to be tied together.”


“We’re not changing. We’re trying to win games. We’re not changing our approach. Every game, analyze what we’re doing well, what we’re doing not as well as we would like, make our corrections, move on to the next one, know the opponent well, keep moving forward. That’s all we can do.”


“Rah-rah is good, but it’s more the effort plays that matter. I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness. Our guys have the will to continue to fight.”


“I don’t see any negative from practicing hard. I don’t see any negative from playing hard. You’re building habits every time you step out there. I think you’ve got to develop a physical toughness and a mental toughness along the way. Because down the road when you do get there, there’s going to be a lot of fire that you’ve got to go through. And you’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.”


“There’s not a lot of difference between the elite teams. It’s will, determination. That’s not something you develop once you get there. You’d better develop it all along the way.”


On What a Team Can Take From a Loss:
”Study, learn, correct and grow.”


“To me, it’s preparation. You’re guarding a great shooter and you’re going under on a screen — it doesn’t make any sense to me. Or you’re just whacking at a guy after he’s already buried you in the paint. To me, that makes no sense. That makes no sense. You got to play this game with energy and toughness, and intelligence. And you got to get yourself ready, and you’re on the road. You have to have a mentality. This is business. This ain’t hanging out having a good time. If you’re serious about winning you prepare yourself the right way.”


On Joakim Noah:
“There are not many players like him. His all-around defense, every aspect, the rebounding effort, to seeing things early (and) how they’re developing. It’s just great effort. But the most important thing is his ability to make two, three or four efforts on the same play. Oftentimes I don’t know how he gets to the ball. It’s just great effort. I think when you see those types of things, that helps unite and inspire your team.”


“I’m going with the guys who I think give us the best chance to win, I don’t care who they are. So when we hit that six-minute mark it’s based on what we’re doing and what we need, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”


“We have good guys. Sometimes when things aren’t going your way there’s a tendency when you’re trying to get out of a hole to try to do more yourself. And that’s what you have to (fight). You have to do more together. Not more yourself. So while the intentions are good, sometimes they’re misguided. So if we try to go too much one on one we’re not going to have success like that … we can’t be fragmented. We have to be together. Through the good, the bad, and just keep fighting. We have to fight the good fight every night. We can’t sideways and that’s a big part of this league.”

Monday, October 26, 2015


Another assist to my guy Steve Finamore -- passionate about learning and sharing.  By the way, Steve is a great follow on Twitter. To follow is Part I of some thoughts and quotes via Tom Thibodeau that Steve has collected:

Taj Gibson on Coach Thibodeau:
“If you want to be coached & pushed, he’s the coach for you. If you don’t want to get better, this isn’t the team for you.”


“You want to be a championship team, there’s a price to pay. And that’s what you have to do. There are no shortcuts. You can’t shortcut your way to success. I’m going to give everything I have each and every day, and I have no regrets.”


‘‘On the first day of camp, if you went to all 30 teams, everyone would say, ‘Yeah, we want to win a championship.’ Very few teams are willing to make that commitment over a long period of time in putting the necessary work into it each and every day. It’s easy to say it; it’s harder to do it.


“We’re asking everyone to sacrifice and put the team first, so we have quality depth. Some night’s guys will play a little more than others, but they’re all sharing and they’re all going to have to sacrifice, and that’s what’s important for our team. As you wind down, it’s situational. A lot of it is what’s going on in the game: Do you have a lead? Are you trying to protect the lead? Do you need more scoring? Hopefully you have that answer on the bench. The big thing is everyone is sacrificing for the team. You have to put the team first. Whatever gives us our best chance of winning, that’s what we’re going to do.”

“You have a pretty good idea of who you’re going to finish with. But that can change if guys are performing well. The big thing is it’s not an individual thing. It’s how the group is performing. We look at everything.”


“Trust is work. That’s how you build trust. You got to know what you’re doing. You have to be tied together. You have to work at it. Where you get trust is from the work. The magic is in the work. It’s working together. It’s timing. It’s being tied together. One guy being off is going to hurt. You need everyone working together. And it doesn’t end. You’re not going to have it figured out in three days. You’re trying to do something great. Nothing great was ever achieved without great work and great ethic. It’s really that simple.’’


"People always talk about going on offensive runs. But you can go on defensive runs too."


“I’m watching San Antonio, and they’re going after it. Parker, Duncan, they’re playing huge minutes right off the start. I think it’s a strong message what they’re saying right now. They’re preparing themselves to defend their championship. And so in order to get that way from them, you’re going to have to wrestle it away from them. They’re not just going to give it away. Your mind-set has to be right.’’


“Your mindset has to be right. They say Duncan never leaves the gym. When you look at great players, when you read about guys who have achieved something great, it’s usually them getting past adversity, them making great effort – their readiness to accept a challenge. I think you need a great commitment from your team if you want to do something special. That commitment has to start at the beginning, and it has to remain throughout.”


“Whatever it is that you’re facing, you’ve got to be ready to accept that challenge and be ready to play.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Back in 2011, we ran a series of 6 blog posts on the defensive philosophy of Coach Brad Stevens.  The notes came from a clinic that Coach Steven had spoke at and here, in one post, you can access all of the series:

Defensive DNA



Where are they on the floor?



Monday, October 19, 2015


Another big thanks to Coach Steve Finamore for passing along this great list of quotes, thoughts and concepts from Gregg Popovich.  Steve's a true student of the game and, as all the great ones do, loves sharing with other to help grow our game.

On what it means to play the right way:

1. “It mostly means that everybody is going to play unselfishly, respect each other’s achievements, play hard enough every night to give yourself a chance to win, to fulfill your role.”


2. “I don’t want to go to practice with a bunch of problem players.  Life is short, I can’t imagine traveling around for 100 games with guys who are jerks. We do a lot of investigating and research before we draft a guy.  These are adults; you’re not going to change anybody. You’re not going to take a jerk and turn him into someone who embraces the community.  That’s a waste of time.”


3. “Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that. So I think as time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be.”


4. "We have a practice, we've done it every year I've been there, we take the coaches on a retreat in September and we watch film for four days. And we begin with whatever team we ended with the year before, whether the first round or the finals or you won or you lost or whatever, and we go through that tape. So we took seven hours and went through Game 6, we took six hours and went through Game 7."

Following a loss:

5. "If you lose, you were less aggressive, and you didn't have the effort; that's all baloney. That's psycho-babble. You don't think Patty Mills and those guys played hard? You don't think Timmy tried to play hard? That's silly. They played better than we did. It's got nothing to do with effort."

Following a win:

6. "I know we didn't look pretty. I'm more interested in results than how we look. So I thought they performed well. [The Spurs] did a great job of finding the open man; hitting somebody with a little bit better shot. We only know how to play one way, and that's what we do. We didn't do anything different. We just ran what we always run, whether (Duncan) is there or not. If Tony was out or Manu was out, we run our same stuff."


7. “Each game is different, different people will play based on what's going on in the game on that particular night

8. "Coaches are sick puppies. There are always things you can improve and do better. You look at the film, try to keep your standard and get ready for playoffs.”


9. We're always trying to move the ball from good to great (shots). Penetrate for a teammate, not necessarily for yourself.”


On how the Spurs with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Many Ginobili have sustained greatness over the years:

10.I think that it’s a real simple answer. Nobody really likes it. They want me to say something different. It’s a total function of who those three guys are. What if they were jerks? What if they were selfish? What if one of them was, you know, unintelligent? If, if, if. But the way it works out, all three of them are highly intelligent. They all have great character. They appreciate their teammates’ success. They feel responsible to each other. They feel responsible to Patty Mills or to Danny Green. That’s who they are and how they’re built. I think when you have three guys like that; you’re able to build something over time. So I think it’s just a matter of being really, really fortunate to have three people who understand that and who commit to a system and a philosophy for that length of time. I don’t know what else to tell you. It’s on them.”

11. “First thing we do is watch film, win or lose. I get on their asses. That’s better than crying & saying, ‘Oh jeez, poor me.’” We sent some messages to some people who weren’t playing very good ‘D’ and, in the second half, we got that straightened out.”


On Winning 50 games for the 16th straight season:

12. "I don't really care. You all have to have things to write about, I guess. It's better than losing 50, I guess. We're thinking about other things and we've just had a great group of guys for a long time. That's reason we've been able to win. Records and that sort of thing, streaks aren't really on anybody's mind."

13. "Wins are wins, but all of us want to be the last team standing.  That's all that's really important to about six, or seven, or eight teams."
14. "It's one of the most enjoyable parts of the business.  You take somebody like Danny Green, who we've worked with for a long time.  When you see somebody develop and come into his own, you feel like you did something worthwhile.  It's one of the sources of satisfaction in the business, if you can see a young player grow and become confident."
15. Relationships with people are what it’s all about. You have to make players realize you care about them. And they have to care about each other and be interested in each other. Then they start to feel a responsibility toward each other. Then they want to do it for each other. We win or lose as a group.”

After the Spurs won the NBA championship in 2014:

16. “If people are pleased with the way we played, I think that's great. And if people think it's good enough to learn from it and use it as an example, that's great. We just did the best we could to be who we are.”


On Character: (17-23 were taken from the book “Forces of Character.” By Chad Hennings)

17. “Being able to enjoy someone else’s success is a huge thing. If I’m interviewing a young guy and he’s saying things like, “I should have been picked All-American but they picked Johnny instead of me,” or they say stuff like, “My coach should have played me more; he didn’t really help me,” I’m not taking that kid because he will be a problem one way or another. I know he will be a problem. At some point he’ll start to think he’s not playing enough minutes, or his parents are going to wonder why he’s not playing, or his agent’s going to call too much. I don’t need that stuff. I’ve got more important things to do. I’ll find somebody else, even if they have less ability, as long as they don’t have that character trait.”


18.Work ethic is obvious to all of us. We do that through our scouting. For potential draft picks, we go to high school practices and to college practices to see how a player reacts to coaches and teammates. The phrase that we use is seeing whether people have “gotten over themselves.”

When there’s a guy who talks about himself all day long, you start to get the sense that he doesn’t listen real well. If you’re interviewing him and before you ever get anything out of your mouth he’s speaking, you know he hasn’t really evaluated what you’ve said. For those people, we think, Has this person gotten over himself? If he has then he’s going to accept parameters. He’s going to accept the role; he’s going to accept one night when he doesn’t play much. I think it tells me a lot.”

19. “We also look at how someone reacts to their childhood. Some of these kids, as you know, had it pretty tough coming up. Once in a while somebody has had it easy, but for the most part a lot of guys have had some pretty hard knocks already. I like to hear situations where they had to raise a brother or sister, or where they had a one-parent family or a grandma or grandpa raised them and they still ended up doing pretty well academically in high school.

I like to see if they participated in some function in the community, or if they’ve overcome something or had a tough injury and came back. That sort of thing tells me what kind of character they have. I think all those things together tell me about their inner fiber. When I think about character I want to know about the fiber of an individual. I want to know what, exactly, they’re made of; what’s attached to their bones and their hearts and their brains. It’s all those things that form their character to me.”


20. “The other thing I’ll do in practice on a regular basis when we run drills is I’ll purposely get on the big boys the most. Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili will catch more hell from me than anybody else out there. You know the obvious effect of that. If you do that and they respond in the right way, everyone else follows suit. The worst thing you can do is let it go when someone has been egregious in some sort of way. The young kids see that and you lose respect and the fiber of your team gets frayed a bit. I think it has to be that way. They have to be willing to set that example and take that hit so everybody else will fall in line. It’s a big thing for us and that’s how we do it.


21. “I go to bed every night and I don’t worry about anybody on my team. I don’t come to work in the morning and say, “Ah, jeez, I’m going to have to clean this mess up.” It doesn’t happen. Everybody else spends half their time cleaning up everything or trying to convince themselves that this guy and that guy get along and blah blah blah. When people ask me how I do it, I just think it’s total logic. You don’t have to be smart. I realize it’s not easy but a lot of guys don’t get it. When they have problems I say, “You did it to yourself.” There are no problems if a team does the work ahead of time and uses character as a “true” component of selection.”


22. “We spend a good deal of time discussing politics, race, food and wine, international events, and other things just to impart the notion that a life of satisfaction cannot be based on sports alone. We work with our players on things as small as how they talk to the media. Things as easy as saying, “I’m doing well” instead of “I’m doing good” when someone greets them. It seems like a little thing but it’s important. My daughter still gets on me about that all the time when I say, “Oh, I’m good,” and she says, “No, dad, you’re well.” It sounds better, like you really went to school and paid attention.

I think working on some guys’ speech and how they react to the media really helps them have a more productive life. We do things on our team board like vocabulary and state capitals to see who gets them quickest before we start practice, just to get the guys thinking. Through those kinds of exercises you may find out that somebody’s not included over and over.

When you finally figure out why – maybe a kid can’t read very well – you get him in the room and you get him lessons. You have a little bit of a tough day because he’s embarrassed as hell, but then the kid starts to learn how to read and feels pretty great about himself.”


23. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and one of my biggest joys is when somebody comes back to town with their kids, or one of my players becomes one of my coaches, and you have that relationship that you’ve had for the last ten years, fifteen years. It might be only three years in some guys’ cases, but the lessons they learned from you paid off – even if you traded them or you cut them. Years later they come back and say that you were right, that now they know what you were telling them.

I think all of that relationship building helps them want to play for you, for the program, for their teammates. Beyond that, from a totally selfish point of view, I think I get most of my satisfaction from that. Sure, winning the championship is great, but it fades quickly. It’s always there and nobody can take it away. The satisfaction I get from Tony Parker bringing his child into the office, or some other player who came through the program and now I hired him as a coach and he’s back. That’s satisfying.

You can’t just get your satisfaction out of teaching somebody how to shoot or how to box out on a rebound. That’s not very important in the big picture of things. If you can have both I think you’ve got some satisfaction. It’s one of the motivations. That’s the selfish one I guess, but it’s real.”


24. “No one is bigger than the team. If you can’t do things our way, you’re not getting time here and we don’t care who you are.”


Monday, October 5, 2015


One of the great things about social media is not only the information that becomes available but new relationships developed.  One of those for me is with Coach Steve Finamore (a great follow on twitter) who has an amazing passion for the game -- he, like all good coaches, is a continual learner.  Steve recently visited the Detroit Pistons for a practice session and Steve was great enough to share those notes and we want to pass them on as well.  This is part of II of Coach Finamore's notes:

Detroit Pistons
Practice #1
Tuesday September 29, 2015
10:00 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.

“Be active off the ball. You can’t relax.” –SVG

- SVG with lots of emphasizes on the importance of having hands up on defense.

- Lots of work on technique.

“You got to want to get a stop!” –SVG

- Ersan Ilyasova draws two charges in scrimmage.  Knocks down jump shots and plays hard.

- Assistant coach Brendan Malone stopped the action and shouted, “When you catch the ball, look at the rim.”

- SVG then said, “Catch the ball, look at the rim and look in the post.”

- Pistons coaching Andre Drummond up to run the floor hard and get to the rim.

Detroit Pistons Offensive Musts:

1-Take care of the ball

2-Push the pace

3-Attack from inside-out

4-Play unselfishly

5-Make quick decisions

6-Take good shots

- The “3” man takes it out on made free throws.

- Tons of teaching during scrimmage.

“Don’t be in such a hurry. Mistakes being made are because you go too fast.” -SVG

“Run hard, but don’t be in such a hurry.”


“Game tempo.” –SVG

- A joy to watch seven year vet Cartier Martin teaching and helping rookie Eric Griffin a few things on the defensive end of the floor.

- D-League coaches of the Grand Rapids Drive, Otis Smith and Dion Glover involved in practice learning Pistons philosophy.

Pistons Support Staff 

Doug Ash, Tom Barasi, Robert Werdan, Al Walker, Jeff Nix, Art Luptowski.

- Pistons shooting coach Dave Hopla on sidelines throughout practice taking notes in a composition notebook.  He stands by Andre Drummond during free throws.

- Interesting observation at end of practice.  Three teams during scrimmage. Blue team wins, two other teams had to run sprints for losing.  Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson, all on the winning team decide to run with the losers. (Extra work).

- SVG admitted to the team that they were putting a lot of stuff in:

“I know that was a lot…”



Because it's that time of the year, here are some great quotes on the value of practice:

"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching." -Mahatma Gandhi
“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win” - Ed Macauley

"It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts: it's what you put into the practice." -Eric Lindros

Practice is the best of all instructors.” -Publilius Syrus

“We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.” -Martha Graham

“Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.”-Vince Lombardi 

“Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong.” -Unknown

“Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” -Mary Tyler Moore

“We have all the light we need, we just need to put it in practice.” -Albert Pike

“I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.” -Michael Jordan

“Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.” -Beethoven

“I've always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.” -Will Smith

“My father taught me that the only way you can make good at anything is to practice, and then practice some more.” -Pete Rose

Practice is everything. This is often misquoted as practice makes perfect.” -Periander

“Everything is practice.” -Pele

“I'm a strong believer that you practice like you play, little things make big things happen.” -Tony Dorsett

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” -Anton Chekhov

“I am playing the violin, that's all I know, nothing else, no education, no nothing. You just practice every day.” -Itzhak Perlman

“Before we can talk about a championship, we have to practice like a championship team.” -Mike Singletary

Practice puts brains in your muscles.” -Sam Snead