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Friday, January 24, 2020

Basketball: Preparing for Life, from Wooden to Goodwin

"Do your best to project in your mind a successful performance." - Usher 

See yourself unfolding a successful life. Coach Wooden said, "make every day your masterpiece." Share something great with everyone. 

Let ritual rule. Have pre-school, pre-practice, and pre-game habits. Simplify. Your rituals extend throughout your life... mindfulness and gratitude, reading and study, stretching and exercise. Prepare for success.

Cultivate the 'right amount' of activation, neither lethargy nor mania. High performance demands 'optimal' arousal. 

Replace time wasting with productivity. James Clear suggests making time wasting harder...put the television controller in a draw behind a book you're reading. Plan your craft and craft your plan. 

  Alan Stein, Jr.'s podcast with Clear is epic. 

Tend your garden. Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote about Lyndon Johnson's affection for senior senators, "he assisted them with committee preparation, provided concise summaries on issues, showed overt and lavish respect...their gratitude couldn't adequately express itself with anything less than total support." Johnson meticulously watered the flowers and reaped the reward by becoming the youngest Senate Majority Leader. 

Be intentional. If ambition drives us, plot a course to reach our destiny. If educating drives us, plan lessons so well that students arrive early for the best seats. 

Be here now. Focus here and now to forge the dream. Time will always be our precious commodity.  

Lagniappe: #Basketball IQ. This Youtube video asks viewers to choose among actions in almost real-time.

Lagniappe 2: Bucks stuff (old but still applicable)

Lagniappe 3: Lincoln Lessons from Doris Kearns Goodwin

- Acknowledge when failed policies demand a change in direction. (Gen. McClellan fails.)
- Gather firsthand information, ask questions. (Lincoln meets the troops.)
- Find time and space in which to think. (He finds retreat at the Soldier's Home.)
- Anticipate contending viewpoints. (His cabinet is the Team of Rivals.)
- Assume full responsibility for a pivotal decision. (Owns the Emancipation Proclamation.) 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Basketball: What Makes Good Teammates?

Samuel L. Jackson in his MasterClass

"I don't want to hire a room killer." - Judd Apatow (Writer, director)

Everyone wants good teammates. But are we willing to be one? What makes a good teammate? Actions define us. 

"Susie" struggled and left the court in tears. "I'm the reason we lost." She wasn't. Bella went to her with a big hug. "We win together and we lose together." That team won a lot; connection forged their success

Coach Roy Williams went to scout a player. The player fouled out...and sprinted to the water cooler to get water for his teammates. He didn't sulk; he used the brief intermission being positive. He got a scholarship to Carolina. 

Alan Williams (Teammates Matter) a walk-on at Wake, tried out again before his junior year after a coaching change. When he went to the tryout, his Deacons teammates were there cheering him on. A good teammate earns energy and support for having been a good teammate. 

Andrew Smith wasn't an impact freshman at Butler. But he became a player that mattered on a Final Four team. Coach Brad Stevens eulogized Smith, a cancer victim at twenty-five. “He never complained. He was always a great teammate. He tried to help everybody else live a little bit better. And he taught us all how to prepare for our time.”

Brad Stevens discussed former player Ronald Nored“He could not dribble, pass or shoot...think about that for a second. He played in two national championship games, he played about 25-30 minutes a game. He wasn’t a very good ball-handler. He couldn’t shoot, right? And he struggled to not turn the ball over.” Stevens said he approached Nored’s high school coach. The high school coach told him, “He’s the best leader and giver I’ve ever been around.

Being a good teammate doesn't stop at the edge of the field. Everson Walls and Ron Springs became the first professional sports teammates to share a kidney. Walls donated the organ to Springs. When I was a Navy doctor, former high school basketball teammate J. Michael Joly performed an ACL reconstruction on me.  

Leaders can be great teammates, too. Franklin Roosevelt contracted "polio" (possibly Guillain-Barre Syndrome) in 1921 and struggled with paralysis throughout his life. He traveled to Warm Springs, Georgia in 1924 and later founded a rehabilitation center at Warm Springs. In addition to being a patient, as "Doc Roosevelt" he led patients in exercises and even played water polo with them. 

Good teammates show toughness and togetherness. In Toughness, Jay Bilas shares the importance of selfless actions for the good of the team - like communication, sprinting the floor, shot selection, and getting loose balls. 

Good teammates are like good spouses. Teammates don't fight with each other; teammates fight for each other

Good teammates connect, raise energy, play selflessly. They make everyone around them better. Being a good teammate shows humility. "It isn't about thinking less of yourself. It's about thinking about yourself less." Everyone can't be a great player; everyone can be a great teammate

Lagniappe: Teammates struggle together. "We all want the same thing, a great moment, a great scene, a great movie." - Ron Howard

Lagniappe 2: Isolation actions from Chris Oliver (@BBallImmersion)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Basketball: The Idea Factory, 3-on-3 Development

Pete Newell asserted, "teach players to see the game." At practice we have a developmental offense segment. It brings part of the playground experience to practice. 

We often play the game in 'parts' from one-on-one to three-on-three. Teach players to create against live defense. Sets draw lines on paper that allow players to author great manuscripts, works of art. 

Monday night we worked some simple actions. We had only 9 players, divided into three groups with the 'off' group shooting free throws and rotating in. 

Frame 1. Scissors/X action. By convention the passer cuts first. Set up hard cuts. The wing wants her defender caught in the traffic/trash. Young defenders have trouble with these actions. Quality shots follow. 

Frame 2. Post entry options. The wing sets up aggressive defenders for a back cut AND finishes the cut. The post has isolation or the guard can get a late handoff. Ideally, the post delivers the bounce pass 'down the lane line." 

Frame 3. Wing entry sets up the UCLA cut, the roll of the post low, wing isolation, and the wing ball screen. The guard cutter must leave the area to move her defender away. 

Yes, this is "elementary" stuff. "Falling in love with easy" creates big defensive headaches. 

Players learn to see a range of possibilities from a triangle (including the origins of the triangle offense)... and relate to the power of time and space...with on time and on target passing. 

But we're not here, yet. 

Lagniappe: Off-ball screen video from Igor Kokoskov.

Basketball: High School Game Lessons and a Shooting Drill

Broadcasting high school games reveals lessons for players and coaches. 

What balance of spontaneous versus scripted offense creates the best scoring chances? There's no universal answer and it depends on a team's skill, IQ, and ability to generate early offense. If you can't create shots, lean into scripted action. 

This variation of reverse action created a high quality chance for Melrose. 

Stoneham moved the ball well against the Melrose zone, scoring on high-low action

Defense. Does the opponent have a player or action to take away? Do you have a game plan against that? One player hit three open threes in the first half, keying a seven point halftime edge. 

Offense. To pass and stand guarantees a lack of points and a fresh defense. "Movement kills defense."  

Rebounding. Players got in trouble from poor pivoting after rebounds leading to held balls.  

Special situations. Avoid violations by initiating the play when the passer receives the ball from the official, not on slapping the ball. Practically every game both teams run America's Play.

Everyone has their own version to set up a corner 3 for the inbounder. 

Comeback game. Create the tempo necessary with personnel suited for a comeback game. Many coaches choose a specific comeback team.

Dos and Don'ts. Saving the ball under your own basket often creates an easy basket for your opponent. Don't. In a close game, every possession matters. We coached a girl years ago who always seemed to make the right play. She's a third year at Annapolis, still making great choices. 

Lagniappe: Fisher "two-ball shooting" (adjust distance for age)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Basketball: Leadership Pearls and Lagniappe from a Recent Game

Study leadership pearls. 

Armin van Buuren, MasterClass

"Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." - Confucius

Enjoy the process and the results follow. 

"The main thing is the main thing." - David Cottrell in Monday Morning Leadership 
    Get everyone on board with whatever is the Main Thing. 

"Be on time. Don't be an A*hole." - Helen Mirren, MasterClass 
    Be someone that people want to work with. 

"Pound the rock. You can't skip steps." - Gregg Popovich
    The UCONN women never cut corners on pre-practice laps. 
"The magic is in the work." - Brad Stevens 
    When we see "overnight success" we miss the years of work that went into it.

“As a player, you want to be good at those things happen a lot." - Pete Carril 

"Leave an impression." - Samuel L. Jackson
    You didn't get THIS job; remember that today's work gets you the next. If 
    you don't impact the game, why should the coach play you more? 

"People don't quit jobs; people quit people." - David Cottrell
    Champion a culture where people connect to do more. 

"Catch people doing something right." - Pat Riley
    Praise authentically. Be positive. 

"There is always a pecking order." - Eric Spoelstra
    Most of us are role players. Be a star in your role within your culture. 

"Know your NOs." - Kevin Eastman
    Understand boundaries and staying in your lane.

"Humility allows us to ask a simple question, "how can we do this better?" - James Kerr (Legacy) Balance scripted with spontaneous play. 

"Better People Make Better All Blacks. By developing the individual players and giving them the tools, skills, and character that they needed to contribute beyond the rugby field, they would...develop the tools, skills and character to contribute more effectively on it." - James Kerr (Legacy)

Lagniappe: Review film for strengths and weaknesses. Get separation and quality shots. 

Ball movement leads to chances to attack the basket. 

Look for a quality shot on every special situation. 

Develop footwork and use the dribble sparingly to get open mid-range shots. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Basketball Coaching: What Are Your Power Words?

Keywords: Power words, Kevin Eastman, Dick Bennett, Ben Franklin, Kevin Garnett

"The average players want to be left alone, the good players want to be coached, the great players want to be told the truth." - Doc Rivers

Too slow. Too short. Too young. Too inexperienced. Use language to empower your team.

Everyone can access impactful words. In Why the Best Are the Best, Kevin Eastman pares his list to twenty-five from nearly a hundred considered. Here's a screenshot of ten:

Each day we filter a firehouse of information into action. Distill this ocean into potable purpose. 

Dick Bennett and others share a fantastic five:

Servant leadership 

Passion drives us. Unity connects us. Servant leadership builds community. Humility frames our reality. Thankfulness brings joy. 

Ben Franklin kept a tablet of character virtues

1. Temperance
Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.

6. Industry

Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice

Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation

Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquility

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. Humility

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin thought humility a difficult target. "If I achieved humility, surely I would be proud of it." 
Find a list that works for you and yours: 
The words I want our team to embrace connect them as people and players. Together and sisters bracket improvement and accountability. Belief makes growth possible. 

Lagniappe: What is hard work? Kevin Eastman calls it "unrequired work." On Kevin Garnett, "If you want to kick Kevin Garnett out of a drill, you have to kick him out of the gym." 

Lagniappe 2: Chris Oliver @BBallImmersion on 1-3-1 zone attack

Lagniappe 3: reverse Mikan

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Basketball Coaching: Lessons from a Middle School Basketball Game

Learn from practice, a win, and every loss. Find progress and solutions, not just mistakes. Remember, mistakes occur at every level, including the NBA. In Why the Best Are the Best, Kevin Eastman discusses the Celtics allowing 32 points in one game against the Lakers through defensive mistakes. 

Vision: players begin to embrace "pass ahead" in transition (below). Because they are older (8th grader girls) and stronger, vision can translate belief. 

Defending the point guard: if we cannot contain the ball, it always ends badly. We're starting to show more will and skill. 

"Show your hands." Don't give officials a reason to call fouls. Riding the ballhandler with your chest deserves to be called.

Off ball defense. "Position in life is everything." The offense entered the ball to the wing out of twin low stacks.  

The wing looks to drive. The on-ball defender could be in a better stance; the point guard has not dropped to the level of the ball. Our center has the lane filled defensively. The near side block player will come off the opposite stack and curl (not open). 

"Rhyme time." Baseline out of bounds play (above). We cover the blocks and middle as the low bigs backscreen. "Big girls away come back into play" and #24 steals the pass to the cutter. 

"Spacing is offense...and offense is spacing." Against the passive zone (above), both corners are filled and the point guard hits the corner, who converts the open jump shot. 

Get yours. There's a time to be greedy. Be a greedy rebounder. There's a time to tip the ball to a teammate for offensive rebounds. 

Get yours. There's a time to be greedy. Be a greedy rebounder. There's a time to tip the ball to a teammate for offensive rebounds. Anticipation and aggressiveness make offensive rebounders. #24 passes and anticipates (above). 

Scoring on specials. "Zipper" turned into a quick 2 with a great "hockey assist." 

I recently showed the "Zipper series" and the players improvised to score our opening hoop.

What matters is that our players learn how to play. Profit from success and mistakes. 

Lagniappe: Why the Best Are the Best podcast

Lagniappe 2: Hoopskills Blog post with some Eastman gems

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Basketball: Teach Our Teams the Art of Storytelling

"The director is the keeper of the story." - Ron Howard

Watch film. Adopt ideas. Great directors like Werner Herzog watch movies to understand the film (game) and the stories (tactics)

Werner Herzog in his MasterClass on Filmmaking

How do you analyze the flow of a picture (game) and the technical means (details)?

"How is the leading character introduced?" 
-Script an opening? (We're working on this.) 
-Make a statement during the tap play and first possession. 
-Demonstrate intensity and purpose from the outset. 
-Incorporate hard to defend actions
-Coach Auriemma says that when recruiting, the target should stand out immediately

When pros struggle to guard something, won't young players? 


Marlon Brando, as Zapata

Get the audience on your side. What kind of basketball do fans enjoy? Fans help energize the home team, frustrate opponents (e.g. false starts in the NFL), and might affect an occasional official. I'm not saying that if Stall Ball or Hack-a-Shaq are your best chances to win (not youth basketball) that fan appeasement comes first. 

Life imitates art. Watching poor-shooting high school teams emulate the pros while firing up airball threes isn't quality fan experience. Sometimes shot selection of teams makes me wonder if they're collective Dexters working to take out their coaches. 

Rise in the moment. Games turn in 'the moment' which can arise any time. Coach Bob Knight believes the first five minutes of the second half are pivotal. Strong teams learn to close out games using offensive and defensive delay plans and personnel. Are we practicing situational basketball enough? 

As coaches, teach players to tell the story. Coach Tom Izzo reminds us that a player-driven team will outperform a coach-driven team. He explains how players like Draymond Green and Denzel Valentine fit that mold. 

Lagniappe: from Atomic Habits

"Habit changes are easier in a positive environment." - James Clear (You can't do your best studying in a bowling alley.) 

Lagniappe 2: "How you do anything is how you do everything." - Alan Stein, Jr. (Brad Stevens notes that he's never had an exceptional defender who was a poor student.) 

Lagniappe 3: Have empathy for players getting fewer minutes (or none) and recognition. Help them feel valued. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Basketball: SLOB Zipper Series

Good teams find an edge in special situations. Run different actions from the same set or similar actions from different sets. 

We generate better chances from scripted  (specials and ATOs) than spontaneous actions. That tempts coaches to want more control, disenfranchising (young) players from learning how to play. Know how defeats know that. As Coach K says, "It's about making plays not running plays." 

Developing "time and space" concepts is pivotal to scoring on special situations. 

Lagniappe: Middle school coaches seldom get extra gym and individual instruction time but I had both last night. 

Here's what a highly-motivated 13 year-old got (what I remember) in an intense 45 minute workout with a heavy dose of Pete Newell actions. I envision her as a potential '3' for an Ivy someday (5'11" scorer with a handle). She reminds me of a young Mark Plansky who played at Penn on the National Champions that beat GTown. 

Star drill: break up full rounds with "rest" free throws (5)

Wing: Catch and shoot (always both sides)
Wing: Catch, rip through into one dribble jumpers
Wing: Catch, basket attack into step back and fake step back into continuation
Wing: Catch and reverse turn (simulated overplay), deep step, basket attack
Wing: Front-turn basket attack directly or with rip through

Top: Catch and shoot
Top: Penetrate into floaters
Top: Iverson 'wide' crossover into attack

Post: Baby hooks and counter (McHale Move)
Post: Front turn (jumper off the board) and counter 
Post: Dream Shake basic (Olajuwon signature moves) 

*Trivia: Where was Tara VanDerveer born? Melrose, MA where I coach. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Podcast News: Choosing Great Ideas, Enhancing flavors, Making Leaders

So many great podcasts; so little time to listen. Summaries are a model for our lives - identify an important list, distill it to a critically smaller list, then set top priorities. In cooking, chefs find multiple ways to enhance flavor - vacuum sealing for sous vide, reducing stock, resting meat after cooking, brining chicken and then allowing water to evaporate. 

Chris Oliver's Basketball Podcast series shares highlights from numerous outstanding coaches. Here are a few that resonated:

“If you can really drive it, you’ve got to learn how to be able to hit that open three.” - Vance Wallberg

“If you can really shoot it and you can’t drive it . . there’s two options you have: one, obviously is you want to learn how to drive . . but I think good shooters have to learn how to cut.” - Vance Wallberg

“It’s amazing . . how role players can be just so important to our team . . somebody who doesn’t need the basketball in their hands . . that can be incredibly important.” - David Arsenault, Jr. 

“It didn’t matter how tired he was, how hard he went, how much he slept, he made 60 shots every day to end practice . . over a 10-year career that’s a huge difference.“ - Ryan Pannone (there is no substitute for shooting

“During the offseason we don’t do traditional conditioning . . we play a lot more 5-on-5 but the way we play is exhausting . . it’s full court, face guard, man-to-man, trap, chase." - Jim Crutchfield

“I try to spend a lot more time thinking about what people are good at rather than what their weaknesses are..." - Will Weaver (everyone needs value added and to be valued)

"You can’t have fear and you can’t have insecurity . . there can’t be fear of a missed shot in a workout." - Cody Toppert

“If I was going back to high school or college, I would definitely build everything around player development . . On the offensive side, as opposed to spending a whole block of time teaching sets . . I’d keep it simple and focus on gaining an advantage, making the right reads when you have an advantage, and finishing the play.” - Scott Morrison

“When I was starting my career, I went and watched a lot of different coaches . . I did that for 15-20 years . . and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.” - Vance Wallberg (learning is our lifelong obligation)

“When [players] feel like you’re teaching them . . they’re going to rebound a little harder, they’re going to defend a little more . . all the selfless stuff, they’re going to be more willing to do." - Chris Oliver

“Put a role into a positive framework . Tell a kid, ‘Here’s what we need you to do to have a positive impact on us winning." - Randy Brown

Lagniappe: Leaders make leaders, model leadership. Help players develop qualities of service. 
  1.'s not thinking less of yourself but less about yourself.
  2. Empathy...put yourself in another's shoes emotionally
  3. Self-awareness
  4. Ambition not just personally but for the well-being of the group
  5. the group recover from setbacks 
How do we choose leaders, understanding people and character? 

Lagniappe 2: A myriad of actions. 

I love the action at 1:28

The screenshot foreshadows the action. 

Lagniappe 3: Arc 1-on-1, a drill that reveals a lot. 

One of the big evolutions in women's basketball is player development to separate and finish at much higher levels. 

- Run the drill at both ends (players take turns attacking)
- The defensive player holds the ball loosely, offense "snatch and go"
- 2 dribble maximum
- Offense must read the defender and attack
- Can fake, jab/rocker, rip, etc. 
- "Low man wins/shoulders game"

Our young players often struggle to separate and finish. 
Teach evenly matched and mismatched pairs.