Category Archives: Discussion

Will the Refs Determine Who Gets to the NBA Finals?

I certainly don’t want to take away from what they have accomplished this year but is there anybody in America, outside of their home cities of course, who are hoping to see a Houston Rockets & Atlanta Hawks match-up in the NBA Finals?

I’m willing to bet most fans want to see LeBron & Steph square off against each other and so does the NBA!

The best player in the game versus the best shooter in the game would surely draw HUGE television ratings as well as sell a boatload of NBA authorized replica game jerseys.

Of course for that to ever happen the Warriors need to beat the Rockets and the Cavs need to beat the Hawks in the finals of their respective conferences.

Even though many people think that’s going to happen anyway, what if it doesn’t? Or what if it starts to look like it’s not going to happen?

Would NBA game referees ever take the matter into their own hands?

Is James Harden going to shoot as many free throws as he normally did during the regular season?

We all want to think that would never happen; that the NBA or its referees really don’t care who plays well enough to win or who doesn’t.

Is that wishful thinking? Are we being naïve?

Before you answer those questions watch the following interview with former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and hear how he and some of his colleagues intentionally influenced certain games.

Could something like this ever happen again?

Curry or Westbrook? Shooter or Scorer?

Shooter or ScorerCharles Barkley has stirred up some controversy lately by going on the record and saying he doesn’t believe a team that relies primarily on jump shots can consistently shoot well enough to win an NBA championship.

While we will all know soon enough if he is right or not, this does seem to be a good time to wonder which is “better” a shooter or a scorer?

Shooters shoot plain and simple. Think Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, Kyle Korver, and JJ Reddick – all great shooters who can stretch defenses and light up the scoreboard with minimal possessions and touches.

Now think of Russell Westbrook and James Harden who are not necessarily great shooters but who are definitely great scorers. They score their points 7 different ways:

  1. Transition layups
  2. Attacking the rim in the half court
  3. Midrange/pull up jump shots
  4. 3 point shots
  5. Post ups
  6. Offensive rebounds and put backs
  7. Free throws

Which type of player is “better”?

A lot depends on your personal preference as well as the overall makeup of the team involved.

Personally, I like scorers because if their jump shot isn’t going in that day then they can still score in other ways but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would turn down the chance the coach or even watch a player like Steph Curry!

My Coach Sucks

Here is a great video that demonstrates how hard it can be for coaches having to deal with all the outside influences their players have around them.

Players: Please watch this and internalize how important it is for you to be accountable for your own actions. The more you push blame aside in your life the less likely you are to be successful in whatever path of life you choose!

Don’t Look Now but the NCAA’s Elite are Playing “Junior College” Basketball

JUCOIs it just me or has anyone else noticed that NCAA college basketball has become junior college basketball? Well whether you’ve noticed or not, it has – at least in the elite programs! I’m definitely not saying that it’s a bad thing but I am saying that it’s a fact.

Now before you get your spandex bunched up in a wad here is my reasoning. I have been involved in junior college basketball in some capacity for nearly my entire life. My father was a junior college coach and I became his team’s official scorekeeper when I was 8 years old and didn’t miss a game until I made the high school varsity team.

I eventually played for my dad’s junior college team before moving on and transferring and then became a junior college coach myself soon after I graduated. I am as familiar with junior college basketball as anyone I know.

For years junior college coaches, players, and programs have often been treated like unwanted step children – mainly because they did things a little differently so they could adapt to their situation.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have heard things like: “Junior colleges almost never have the traditional two guards, two forwards, and a center. They just have a bunch of players the exact same size.” “Junior college coaches just try to fill their roster with good athletes and then teach them whatever skills they can.” “Offenses are way too simple in junior college; coaches don’t really coach, they just roll out the balls.” And on and on and on. . . . . . .

The truth of the matter is that some of those statements (and others like them) are true which is why junior college coaches are some of the best in the country! Faced with the challenge of replacing up to half their roster and often their entire starting five each and every year, junior college coaches have had to learn to make adjustments that their four year university counterparts never had to make. Until now.

In each of the last several years approximately 425 underclassmen have transferred from NCAA Division 1 schools for a variety of reasons and over 40 other underclassmen have opted to leave school early each year in order to enter the NBA draft. Add these numbers to those players lost to graduation and to those players who quit playing altogether because of injury, eligibility problems, or personal issues and what do you have? You have practically a brand new team every year. In other words, you have Junior College basketball in a university setting!

Not too long ago Division 1 rosters would be dominated by experienced players who had already developed chemistry with their teammates and coaches and so the few incoming freshmen were simply integrated into the program. When they entered college as freshmen, the new players thoroughly learned the offensive and defensive “systems” that were already firmly established, paid their dues, and got themselves ready to eventually make huge contributions. By the time they graduated from the same program four years later these players had often mastered several offenses (North Carolina’s Dean Smith, one of the most respected college coaches of all time, ran 5 complete yet different offenses nearly every season.) and increased their basketball IQ in the process.

That rarely happens anymore. As an example just look at this year’s University of Kentucky roster which lists 9 freshmen, 2 sophomores and a junior who started his career at a junior college. That’s 12 players with less than two years of experience in the program!

Now instead of learning multiple offenses, nearly every team runs a very simple pick and roll or dribble drive offense with a roster full of great athletes who have no real “position.” (It’s interesting to note that Kentucky’s now famous dribble drive offense was taught to Coach John Calipari by a junior college coach.)

Since most offenses today are far from complex, coaches can spend less time teaching offensive intricacies and more time on skill development and because many players won’t be in the program long enough to gradually improve their talents their basketball IQ, athleticism becomes a bigger premium than ever before.

Sound familiar? Well it does to most junior college coaches.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just the way that it is – and it’s going to stay this way as long as transfer rates remain sky high and the “one and done” rule stay intact.


Social Media “Don’ts”

Social Media and AthletesSeveral times a year I’m still amazed at some of the things that college and high school athletes share on their social media accounts despite the troubles that others have experienced by posting without thinking.

Here are some guidelines that the University of Michigan give its student athletes to prevent potential problems.

While a couple of these guidelines are geared more to college athletes the majority of them apply to athletes of all ages.

Don’t accept friends or follow requests if you are not sure who they are coming from.

Don’t put anything on social media tat you would not want your family, your future employers, those reading the front page of the newspaper, or the whole world to see.

Don’t post offensive comments, personal attacks, or racial comments.

Don’t post when you’re emotional, like right after a game. You are most likely to say something you will regret later.

Don’t post anything about a recruit, even if it is someone you know, as this will result in an NCAA rules violation.

Don’t post or tweet anything during class.

Don’t publicize information about your team, the athletic department, or the university that is not considered public knowledge.

Every college coach I know can tell you about at least one player that they either refused to recruit or quit recruiting because of something they read on a social media account. Don’t add your own name to that list of players!


Classic Parenting Mistakes

Parent MistakesHere is a list of some of the most common mistakes parents make while trying to support their kids involved with youth basketball.

    1. Yelling from the stands/sidelines and creating confusion by contradicting the instructions of
      the coaches.
    2. Making the car ride home after the game with your youngster miserable.
    3. Creating a “blame others” (coach, teammates, referees, etc. ) mentality in their child.
    4. Setting a poor example for youngsters by constantly criticizing decisions by game officials.
    5. Treating the players and parents on the other team as the enemy.
    6. Caring about winning more than their own kids.
    7. Focusing on the “mistakes” as opposed to the good things their child did in a game or practice.
    8. Not agreeing on joint expectations with their child’s coach before the season starts.
    9. Confronting the child’s coach immediately after a game or practice.
    10. Forgetting that sideline comments should be supportive and positive and not critical.

(The above list came from Michael Langlois, the founder of Prospect Communications)

Parents – playing competitive basketball on any level is hard. It’s fun, but it’s hard. Please make every effort not to take the fun out of the game while making things even harder for your son or daughter. Not only will they be appreciative but they’ll someday thank you for it as well!

Who Should be on the Team?

basketball tryouts listIt’s that time of year when basketball tryouts are being held all over the country and coaches are trying to decide who should make the team and who should be left off the list.

Here are some very useful suggestions for players and coaches alike:

  • Players that care more about statistics and personal awards than they do about the team shouldn’t be on the team.
  • Players that complain about playing time but refuse to put in extra work to earn more minutes shouldn’t be on the team.
  • Players that care about individual rankings more than they care about improvement shouldn’t be on the team.
  • Players that don’t cheer for their teammates and don’t celebrate their teammates successes shouldn’t be on the team.
  • Players that care more about the box score than they care about the final score shouldn’t be on the team.
  • Players that stare at the clock during practice anxiously waiting for it to end shouldn’t be on the team.

(The above list came from several tweets on the Pure Sweat twitter feed)

The Rise and Fall of the Miami Heat

Rise and FallAbout 20 years ago Pat Riley wrote a book called “The Winner Within,” which was a business leadership book that used basketball teams, players, and situations as teaching tools.

In the book he describes the natural cycles that most teams often experience. These include The Innocent Climb where everyone starts to put the team first and move towards their goals.

The next stage is The Disease of Me when some players start acting selfishly and believing they are more important than the rest of the team. The Core Covenant  is another term for the culture that is established among team members – sometimes the culture is productive and sometimes it’s negative.

In the 2014 NBA Finals all we heard about was what a great culture the Spurs have established. The fourth stage of the cycle is called Thunderbolts. Thunderbolts are those inevitable bouts of adversity that hit all players and all teams from time to time. How these thunderbolts are handled is usually the difference between success and failure.

The next to the last stage is The Choke which in this case is synonymous with underachieving and possibly failure.

The final stage in the cycle is The Breakthrough when teams and organizations realize that changes must take place. This could include personnel changes, leadership changes, or strategic changes.

If you ask me, these cycles that Pat Riley wrote about two decades ago describes perfectly the Miami Heat’s “Big 3″ era of the last four years. Did Reilly see it coming? Would things have been different if the Heat had beat the Spurs? I’m guessing only Pat Riley and LeBron James know for sure.

Now This is Owning the Paint!

Own the PaintGeorge Mikan  has long been credited as being basketball’s first great big man.

Once when playing for the Lakers, Mikan was wide open in the low post and was adamantly calling for the ball.

Instead of passing it to Mikan one of the Laker guards drove the lane and scored himself.

While they were running back on defense Mikan told his teammate to stay away from the basket since that was his area and he owned it.

The guard didn’t listen and drove the lane again but this time George Mikan, his very own teammate, violently blocked his shot out of bounds!

I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing that Shaq might have been tempted to do the same thing back in the day when he played with Kobe!