Sunday, December 13, 2020


Going into our game with Texas a week ago, I wasn't pleased with our defense.  We were missing the buy-in and the commitment needed to sustain a good defensive effort that makes up a good defensive team.  After a few days (and nights) of thought, I came to the conclusion that I'd fallen short in teaching the "why" -- concentrating only on the how and what of defensive play.  So a few days before heading to Austin we sat the team down and addressed them on "Why Defense Is Important."  Here are some notes from that talk:


Most will tell me what is important about defense

But why is defense important


DEFENSE REVEALS WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON (not a basketball player)

It speaks to your character

Who you are at your core



 We can see your strengths

Not physically...not your foot quickness...not your speed...not your length

We can see your weaknesses

Not how slow you are...not how small you are



Grit & Determination - “I’m going to own this possession.”

Mental Toughness - they have an ability succeed through failure

Lasor focus...they were where their feet are

“Clear the mechanism” — “What train?”

Physical Toughness -  they don’t rest or take plays off

Warrior Mentality - Inflict their will on their opponent

Heart of a Competitor

Finding a Way to Win - Stu Aberdeen: Surgeon, Lawyer

Weaknesses that are on display of a poor defensive player

Mentally Soft - can’t handle momentary failure and set back

            Not an NBA player - Living in the Past

Egg and a Tennis Ball

Unable or unwilling to concentrate

Lack of Physical Toughness - not tough enough to play minor pains

Fear - or work, or competition, of failure

Laziness - doesn’t like the work involved

Lack of Empathy - just doesn’t care


We also get a lot into you own SELF-DISCIPLINE

What you do when no one’s watching (helpside for example)

What you do when no one cares (fans, media, late game, etc.)

Preparation (scouting report, video)

Not talking about the minimum

Kobe (...everyone want’s to be the beast)

Understands Practice in regard to preparation & habits


We can see your INTERNAL VALUE SYSTEM...what’s truly important to you

Players that Defend care about WINNING

Players that Defend care about COMPETING

Players that Defend care about TRADITION - those before them

Players that Defend care about their TEAMMATES


No glory in defense — no headlines or awards


Defense is not just about what kind of basketball player you are but what kind of person you currently are and want to be.

Many will tell you defense starts with heart — it doesn’t.  It starts with your brain.  It’s your brain that makes all the decisions.  It’s your brain that transmit signals to your legs, your arms, your lungs and yes, your heart.  Bottom line?  Being a good defensive player is a choice — being a tough person is a choice — being a disciplined person is a choice. Being a successful person is a choice.

It’s never a matter of heart — it’s a matter or you want to? you want to bad enough?  It’s a’s a choice.


Who you are is who you are!  It’s not a part-time job...if you defend well part of the time you’re not a good defender...if you prepare part of the time, you’re not preparing at all.







Monday, October 5, 2020


This is Part III of a series of clinic notes.  During the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to attend 37 zoom clinics.  It has been an outstanding opportunity of growth for me -- learning and listening to coaches I great respect and many I had not gotten the opportunity to hear and what I'm d
oing over the next few days is to share a few quick hitters.

Buzz Williams: "Our team of coaches is the example of being a great teammate for our teams."

Chris Beard: Adapt to technology — big in sending clips to players on their phone.

 Mike Neighbors' recommendations:

            Podcasts: Michael Lewis — “Against the Rules”

            Book: “Thinking In Bets” — Annie Duke

            Website: “”

Eric Musselman: Worked for Chuck Daly who referred to everything as a meeting. 

     A timeout was a meeting 

     Pre game was a meeting 

     Halftime was a meeting 

     Post game was a meeting 

     You have to be prepared for meetings

Frank Martin: Our cornerstones:

     1. Honesty

     2. Trust

     3. Loyalty

     4. Love

Need love to withstand the storms.

Kevin Eastman: Control what you can control

     System you employ

     Players you choose

     Example you set

     Preparation you put in

Mike Lombardi: Must have a leader regardless of skill set

     Management of attention

     Command of process

     Command of self

     Management of trust

Tim Kight on discipline:

Discipline means "learning" not punishment" -- it's a learned skill 

Disciplined is not something done to you but chosen by you to do.

If you chose not to have a disciplined life, you will live by default.

Observations by Mike Lombardi:

1. Peyton Manning had an elite level of preparation — great note taker...would come to QB meeting on Tuesday and have 16-30 pages of notes from the game film he took himself before meeting with staff.

 2. Watched Tom Brady in Patriots meeting room — 2nd row...complete eye practice by himself working on nothing but footwork.

 3. Wade/LeBron working out together — level of work….level of detail in stretching.

Tom Cream: "Somebody’s greatness may be somebody else’s good."


Friday, September 25, 2020


This is Part II of a series of clinic notes.  During the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to attend 37 zoom clinics.  It has been an outstanding opportunity of growth for me -- learning and listening to coaches I greatly respect and many I had not gotten the opportunity to hear before.  Obviously 37 zoom clinics have created a mountain of notes and what I'm doing over the next few days is to share a few quick hitters.

Mike Lombardi on Bill Belichick and the message to his staff:  “this who we are — go find players that fit.”

Tom Cream on recruiting: "If a kid isn’t winning in the summer circuit you need to take a deeper look." 

Todd Henry: Be wise in assimilating information to everyone

     ◄Send necessary emails to necessary people

     ◄Have necessary meeting with necessary people

     ◄Give necessary information with necessary people

Todd Gongwer: With all the adversity, two things remain unchanged:

     ◄The amount of time we have each day

     ◄The ability to make choices

 Tim Kight: “Every team faces some kind of adversity.  Mediocre teams are destroyed by it.  Good teams survive it.  Great teams get better because of it.”

Stan Van Gundy: “It’s the worst feeling when opponent gets an easy bucked because we didn’t prepare.”

 Shaka Smart’s Non-Negotiable’s



     ◄1 second rule — time to bounce up after hitting the floor

Rod Olson on the Navy SEALS: Raised team standard means individual standards are raised.

Antonio Lang: Pat Riley would tape shoot around and walk thru.

Mike Wells: “A pro can be ready to play 30 minutes when they haven’t played in two weeks.”

Roland Nored: “Break bread with players.”

Mike Neighbors: Feedback must be immediate on shots early in practice and season.

Buzz Williams: Determine what space to fight for

     ◄How do I utilize my time?

     ◄Goal - efficiency


Monday, September 21, 2020


During the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to attend 37 zoom clinics.  It has been an outstanding opportunity of growth for me -- learning and listening to coaches I greatly respect and many I had not gotten the opportunity to hear before.  Obviously 37 zoom clinics have created a mountain of notes and what I'm going to do over the next few days is to share a few quick hitters.

Alan Stein: "You truly know the culture of a program when the head coach is not around."

Buzz Williams: "The three questions I constantly ask of myself...
     What do I know?
     What do I not know?
     What do I need to know?"

Carm Maciariello: "You have to be able to have honest conversations with players. Helps to unify the locker room."

Chris Beard: "We don't want a program of entitlement.  Street dog mentality — hunt our own meals."

What Damon West learned from Mr. Rogers: “We can’t reach everyone but we can all reach someone.”

Dave Anderson: "Biggest concern about a crisis is not wasting it…don’t go through all this just to get back where we were…not 'what it did to us' but 'what it did for us.'”

Trevor Woodruff: “Win the Wait.”

Joshua Medcalf: "The most important thing to understand about success -- knowing there is no finish line."

Frank Martin: "If you don’t properly take care of issues off the court it will cost you your job."

Johnny Jones: “I’ve had more success giving a kid a pat on the back then pointing a finger in the face.”

Kevin Eastman: "Hard to become good at something if you have to keep starting over."

Really solid advice from Lin Dun on inbounds players: "Have plays that work against both man and zone."

Lue Yaklichh: "Good things to tell your team:

            I screwed up
            I believe in you
            I haven’t taught you well enough
            I don’t know yet."

Monday, July 27, 2020


Having been blessed to have coached some of the best to play the game, I have been able to study their approach.  One of the most important attributes I've found is their ability to constantly look to improve -- even after big wins or great performances.  An example of that comes from "Thinking In Bets" by Annie Duke -- a fascinating take on the decisions we make.  Shoutout to Mike Neighbors for recommending this book.  The story as told by Duke is about Phil Ivey, one of the best poker players in the land:

"In 2004, my brother provided televised final-table commentary for a tournament in which Phil Ivey smoked a star-studded final table.  After his win, the two of them went to a restaurant for dinner, during which Ivey deconstructed every potential playing error he thought he might have made on his way to victory, asking my brother's opinion about each strategic decision.  A more run-of-the-mill player might have spent the time talking about how great they played, relishing the victory.  Not Ivey.  For him, the opportunity to learn from his mistakes was much more important than treating that dinner as a self-satisfying celebration.  He earned a half-million dollars and won a lengthy poker tournament over world-class competition, but all he wanted to do was discuss with a fellow pro where he might have made better decisions."

It is the champion's ability to take a quick but honest look in the rearview mirror to assess areas of improvement.  Bill Parcells once said he believed, "you learn far more from winning."  

The champion also takes responsibility for their improvement and growth when they practice self-accountability. As Navy SEAL Rorke Denver says, “Every SEAL must learn to run his own jump.  You pack your own chute.”

Friday, June 12, 2020


The following is the address given by Ciera Johnson at the Unity March for Black Lives Matter on the campus at Texas A&M, Thursday, June 11.  The event was sponsored by the A&M Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  Ciera is a senior captain for the Aggie women's basketball team:

Howdy! I want to start off by saying thank you all for coming out and thank you to the group of people that put this together. 

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to process everything that has been going on. One thing I can conclude is that the level of ignorance and disrespect towards my people throughout this country is ridiculous. 

I would like for everyone to close their eyes as I make these statements: 

Imagine a teacher giving you a nickname because they're too lazy to pronounce or learn your ethnic name. 

Imagine your hair being a factor in whether or not you get a job.

Imagine your skin being viewed as a weapon but every summer people can’t wait to tan and get darker. 

Imagine parts of culture being viewed as ghetto or hood, but the moment the Kardashians endorse it, it becomes hip.

Imagine going anywhere in the world and people already hate you because of the color of your skin.

Imagine everything you built being taken from you...Tulsa, Rosewood.

Imagine being admired on game day, but being feared the moment the game is over.

And lastly, Imagine a police officer has his knee on the neck of your father for over eight minutes and your father yelling “I can’t breath,” while being suffocated to death.

You may open your eyes.

The death of George Floyd didn’t ignite a new movement. It just brought light to a fight that has been going on for a very long time. People like Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Medgar Evers, James Baldwin, and others have been fighting for our humanity, justice, and equality. We must continue the fight that was started over hundreds of years ago. This is our chance to make a difference and stand for something bigger than ourselves and sport. We all have a voice and our voices must be heard. We are the future and what we do now will impact the lives of generations to come.

I want to end with these two quotes:

Former Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall said, “Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice. No one benefits from racism.” 

Civil Rights Activist, Angela Davis said, You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And do it all the time.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


A few weeks ago our program was blessed to have the Dallas Wings head coach Brian Agler stop by to watch us practice.  Afterwards Coach Gary Blair asked Brian if he'd mind saying a few words to our team.  What followed was an amazing message that he left with us -- here are few of the nuggets he gave us:

"If you want to play at the next level, it's important to refine your skill work and that comes from your work ethic."

"Are you ready for the next thing to happen."

"Eliminate Distraction."

"Never forget that rest is a part of preparation."

He referenced Angela Duckworth's book "Grit" by reminding us that the #1 indicator of success is having grit. He also told our players to pull up youtube of Duckworth's TedTalk on grit.

He finished by giving us what he considered the 4 traits of champions:

#1 Preparation - not just about practice but studying film, knowing your scouting report, rest, sleep, and nutrition.

#2 Integrity - do the right thing and make the right choices when no one is watching.

#3 Grit - be resilient...welcome tough times -- they make your stronger.

#4 Gratitude - never miss an opportunity to show appreciation.