Monday, May 22, 2017

Coaching Profile: Tubby Smith

First, you might ask why discuss Tubby Smith? Tubby Smith has enjoyed unusual success as a basketball nomad...only the second coach to take five different teams to NCAA berths. His Kentucky Wildcats won the 1998 NCAA title and his teams have won over 500 games

One of seventeen children, raised in poverty in rural southern Maryland, he got his nickname from bathing in a utility tub. Smith earned All-State distinction in 1969, and graduated from High Point College with a teaching degree. 

Coaching philosophy: Although he served as a Rick Pitino assistant, Coach Smith had his own approach. He doesn't feign a down-home style, "It takes patience not to give upon players, to wait for them to grow," Smith says. "It's like a crop. You weed it properly, and hoe it, and nurture and cultivate it."

His teams played a variety of defenses, but prioritizes half-court sagging man-to-man defense. "No layups, no easy second shots, contest all shots, make the offense make plays off the move."

'We're trying to deny every penetrating pass."

Clinic notes:

Hoopsplaybook shares his defensive rules:

Ten rules of the "5" defense: 
1. constant ball pressure 
2. contest every shot 
3. retreat to the ball line 
4. do not allow penetrating passes or dribble penetration 
5. allow non-penetrating passes 
6. always see the ball and your man 
7. stay up the court, playing as close to the ball as possible 
8. attempt to intercept all lob and bounce passes 
9. jump to the ball on every pass 
10. communicate and talk at all times

"Mismatches don't beat you; open shots do." 

Here are additional Tubby Smith Clinic Notes (with excerpts)
1) Believe in yourself
2) Have a philosophy
3) Do the right thing

Full clinic notes TABC 


Basic Flex Offense

And you want some passion about Tubby Smith? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celtics Win with Screen-the-Screener Action

Game Changing: Using Football Lessons Across Sports

In 2011, former NFL quarterback and current analyst Ron Jaworski wrote The Games That Changed the Game. He examines transformative offensive and defensive innovation in pro football. Why should we care? Our thinking, literally our brain structure and chemistry, changes according to inputs like diet, exercise, sleep, and stimulation. Learning changes our thinking by changing our brains. 

In the final chapter, "Jaws" analyzes the Patriots' 2002 Super Bowl game plan against the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf". He breaks down key moments and how innovation and departure from conventional wisdom brought victory. 

He begins with a digression to the 1976 season, where lowly Detroit assistant Bill Belichick helps inspire a game plan to defeat the 1976 Patriots, a team that defeated both Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" and the eventual Super Bowl titlest Raiders. The Lions used a two-tight end, two wide offense that stymied the Patriots 30-10, the week after the Pats beat the Raiders 48-16. 

Jaworski indulges readers in an understanding of the chimeric Belichick, who stresses forward thinking, not dwelling on last week's results. His primary intent is to neutralize what you do well, seemingly impossible while outmanned and outgunned against future Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. 

For example, on Ty Law's interception (above), Richard Seymour (93) lines up over center and rushes to attack the right tackle (in twist action), resulting in confusion and pressure from outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. 

Belichick commits to hitting Faulk on every play, pressing the wide receivers while playing extra DBs, and severely limiting blitzing, the opposite of what Belichick orchestrated in a 24-17 regular season loss to the Rams. 

The overarching themes of the "Bull's-Eye Game Plan" were change and creativity. Belichick feels unfettered by convention. Rams' coach Mike Martz wanted to win "his way", with an explosive passing attack, reminiscent of the Falcons' 2017 offense, whose pass-happiness eventually led to unhappiness. 

None of this entitles us to believe we belong in Belichick's class. But it suggests that when facing unfavorable size and skill matchups, that we embrace curiosity and creativity. Developing solutions requires openness and willingness to change. 

Basketball matchups seldom allow as much tactical change. Nobody in the NBA can handle LeBron one-on-one. 

The Celtics tried to give Jae Crowder (x3) 'extreme help' choosing their poison...a hail of three-pointers from Cavalier perimeter shooters like Kevin Love (5) or Kyrie Irving (1). 

The Celtics chose this strategy because James torched them in Game 1 getting to the rim relentlessly regardless of his defender. 

(48 + (0.5 x 19))/85 = 57.5/85 yields a blistering 67.6 effective field goal percentage for Cleveland in Game 2. 

The more we learn, the better our chance to compete, providing that we can execute competently. 

Fast Five Plus: Core Principles for Players or Coaches

Successful coaches add value to their situation and team. General Ray Odierno's statement that leadership reflects character, commitment, and competence resonates. Success demands great character and process. 

A couple of diagrams apply. 

The first is from Brett Ledbetter, who wrote What Drives Winning. With young players in development, I emphasize the process needed for success, not outcomes. Who we are defines us, not our record, although we want to become our "better version." 

The second is from Stephen M.R. Covey and The Speed of Trust. Here's an excellent book summary. What people see is 'above ground'. What we are forms the base. Some powerful and influential people lack integrity and positive intent, like dictators, career criminals, and some professionals. Warren Buffett said, "Success demands intelligence, energy, and integrity. But the first two without the latter are dangerous." 

Young people need positive role models. When they see selfishness, disrespect, and unfairness, they either quit or are influenced by that dark side. 

We create the "workplace culture' consistent with our attitude, beliefs, and values.

1. Punctuality. I believe in "Dean Smith Time". Show up ready to go before 'official' practice time. A former player who got accepted to the US Naval Academy immediately comes to mind. Young players depend on others for transportation, so there's no consequence. 

2. Preparedness. We had evening practice. Prepared players completed other obligations (chores, schoolwork), and were physically (rested, stretched) and mentally (engaged) ready to go. Coaches are prepared via our practice schedule, reflecting process clarity and simplicity. 

3. Persistence. Coolidge summarized. 

As does Churchill's "Harrow Hall" address:

"Never give in; never give in, never, never, never. In nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in." Persistence can overcome and outlast adversity. 

4. Perspiration. "The magic is in the work." We choose whether to invest or to spend our time and our energy. "Don't cheat the drill" means don't cheat your teammates. 

5. Performance-focused. Ohio State football Coach Urban Meyer reminds, "A to B, 4 to 6." On a given play, a player goes from point A to point B, for 4 to 6 seconds." Then, they do it over. Aristotle said it differently, "Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." Compete to your fullest this possession...and again. 

6. Positivity. Positive people believe in themselves, live and play purposefully. We choose whether to be positive and spread positive thoughts and behaviors. Remind players "you can do this" and "I believe in you." 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fast Five: Man-to-Man Defense: Why or Why Not?

Heredity or environment? Task-oriented or relationship-oriented coach? Size or speed? 

"Do more of what is working and less of what is not." We work in a bottom-line, results-oriented world. Whatever it takes.

There's room for both man-to-man (in Pete Newell terms, individual assignment) and zone defense. Let's discuss advantages and limitations. 

I. Advantages:

1. We set the matchups we like. 
2. Responsibility is clear. Your primary responsibility is your assignment. (Corollary: if you do not know your assignment, then you can't be on the floor)
3. The defense directly accounts for everyone. 
4. The defense maintains flexibility. We can play tight with full denial, sag and protect the paint, help off weak players, et cetera.
5. We can 'sag' off weak offensive players, allowing additional help. 
6. In developmental (youth) settings, practice builds fundamentals. 

II. Disadvantages:

1. High fundamental skill is required at every matchup. 
2. Defense is vulnerable to screens and back cuts. 
3. The primary responsibility is each assignment instead of the ball. 
4. Defense may be susceptible to fouling. 
5. Transition offense is more difficult. 
6. Not designed to cope with 'star' player mismatch.
7. Has potential weakness against pick-and-roll. 

Comments and priorities:

III. Whether on or off the ball, every player must have proper stance and positioning.

IV. No easy shots is first priority. That means limiting penetration and challenging shots without fouling. 

V. Great 'man' defense pressures the ball but resembles zone away from the ball. Great zone defense still provides pressure on the ball and has some man features away from the ball (communication, especially coping with cutters). 

"The help cannot get beat." 

We need a 'system' of help, communication, and movement on the pass. 

Sophisticated defenses "tag" the cutter. "No free passes."

Players must understand the assignments. Does x2 slide down to 'bother' the cut? Does x4 "lock and trail" or go over? Is there an automatic situational switch- late in shot clock or the period? Players don't know without instruction, repetition, and feedback. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fast Five: Iconic Basketball Photographs

"A picture is worth a thousand words." 

James Naismith, founder of basketball...with his peach basket...Naismith was a physician, chaplain, coached at Kansas, and one of his players was the legendary Phog Allen. Naismith's coaching record at Kansas was under .500, so there's hope for all of us. 

How draining is an NCAA title run? This classic 1982 image shows Dean Smith after winning...

The greatest one-on-one matchup in NBA history, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. 
"The Logo."

1972 Olympics. USA Men's Basketball boycotts the medal ceremony after officiating malfeasance gives Russia the gold. 

Better Advice

“Once a president gets to the White House, the only audience that is left that really matters is history.” ― Doris Kearns Goodwin

Coaches dispense advice. Listening and experience inform good advice. If we don't listen, we can't know our players and their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and dreams. Sometimes coaches kill dreams. I knew someone in training to be a Navy pilot. He crashed during a carrier landing and was advised to quit...ten of the hundred pilots in his class died. 

Key advice rules: 

1. "Never give advice that you couldn't take." 
2. "Consider the source." - Jim Bouton, Ball Four
3. "There is nothing cheaper than free advice."  

What's the best advice you ever got? As a third year medical student at Boston City Hospital, I got great advice from intern Anne Knowlton, "If you don't speak up, then nobody knows what you know."

The best advice is timely, insightful, and given with good intent. We can share general or specific advice. General wisdom is widely distributed. 

Tailor your advice to the person, the time, and the situation. 

Dean Smith is known for supporting Michael Jordan's decision to leave Carolina early for the NBA. What was good for Jordan clearly wasn't best interest for Coach Smith or the Tarheels. 

In How to Win at the Game of Life, Christian Klemash explains how John Chaney emphasizes the difference between the MEANING of advice and the EFFECT. We can't know what advice Duke's Coach Krzyzewski gave to Grayson Allen last season. But Allen cleaned up his act after the advice...and one game suspension. 

Never underestimate the value of good advice. During World War II, President Roosevelt relied so heavily upon General George C. Marshall that he selected General Eisenhower to command US forces in Europe. Roosevelt wanted to keep Marshall in Washington for advice and logistical support. 

Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. He selected multiple political rivals for his Cabinet. He benefited from their political wisdom but also kept enemies close. Some have spoken (coarsely) that it is better to have enemies "inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in." 

The twenty-four hour rule often applies. When we want to respond harshly, it's usually better to cool off for twenty-four hours. Stay positive. Remember Jon Gordon's The Positive Dog. We control our happiness with our thoughts and actions. Shawn Achor reminds us to finish each day with gratitude. Read. Kevin Eastman's two hours of reading a day affords 180 hours a quarter of extra knowledge. 

Dispensing better advice begins with taking our own.