Category Archives: In the Press

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?

Dean Smith – Loyalty Above Everything Else

Loyalty By now most basketball fans have heard that legendary UNC coach Dean Smith passed away
last night at the age of 83.

Throughout the day today former North Carolina players have been interviewed on television to share some of their experiences with Coach Smith.

Every single one of them mentioned their off court relationship with their coach and how loyal they were to each other.

Several years ago former UNC player David Chadwick interviewed Coach Smith and asked him why it seemed that he valued loyalty over success.

I loved to win and hated to lose. Yet for years I struggled with something internally. We would play poorly and win and I’d feel great. We’d play well and lose and I’d feel terrible. That didn’t make sense to me.

If two of your children were playing tennis against each other, would you really care who won? Is winning all that important in the scheme of things? No. That’s why I have ultimately placed compassion above competition. I want to win but caring for people is much more important to me. I finally concluded that success is not defined by winning or losing but in doing the best you can, where you are, with what you have.

Coach Smith was a teacher, an innovator, a winner, and a champion. But he will long be remembered as much for his loyalty and compassion and friendship as anything else. That would be a great goal for the rest of us too!

Are You Making Things Harder for Your Coach?

USA CoachIn a recent article in the Hartford Courant, UCONN’s Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma says coaching is harder now than ever before.

Why would he say that?

“Most of it is the players who are coming out of high school now, they’re not as well prepared to play college basketball.

What you’re dealing with is a certain level of expectation that they have vs. the reality of what they can and cannot do.

Kids get in there and the minute they struggle, which they are supposed to do, they want to find somebody who is at fault for it.

Coaches are dealing with the expectations these kids have but it takes a while to reach those expectations. Unfortunately, we live in a society now where everything has to happen quickly or it’s somebody’s fault.”

As a player are you realistic about what you can and cannot do? Do you expect to be great without taking the time to put in the necessary work? How do you (or your parents) react when your development doesn’t happen overnight? Is your approach and mindset making things easier or harder on your coach?

Coaching Advice from Robin Williams

Coaching Advice RWThe late, great comedian and actor Robin Williams who died tragically and unexpectedly on August 11, 2014 was no stranger to sports.

He used soccer as a teaching tool in Dead Poet’s Society, played football in The Best of Times, boxed in Popeye, and was even a Denver Broncos cheerleader in an episode of Mork & Mindy.

Even though they were not written specifically for or spoken directly to coaches, several of William’s most memorable movie lines contained great nuggets of coaching advice. Here are some of them:

1.  Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys! (Dead Poet’s Society)

As coaches we are always looking forward to the next game, the upcoming class, and the next season. In the regular season we worry about the playoffs. During the playoffs we worry about spring workouts and summer league.

In the summer we worry about the first day of practice. The cycle goes on and on. What we usually don’t do is enjoy each and every day for what it is – a chance to still be competitive while teaching and influencing young people! The worst day of coaching is still far better than most everything else we all do! We should act like it!

2.  You’re not perfect and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other. (Good Will Hunting)

You’re players aren’t perfect but let’s face it, neither are you. They need to get better at what they do and so do you. The question (and challenge) is can you take all of your collective strengths and weaknesses and combine them and nurture them so well that you become a great team?

3.  You treat a disease, you win you lose. You treat a person you’ll win no matter what the outcome. (Patch Adams)

No matter what level or gender we are coaching, we are ultimately working with people who happen to play basketball. We are not working with basketball players who happen to be people. Coach them up? Of course! Critique their performance? Absolutely! Just always be respectful of who they are, regardless of what they do and always let them keep their dignity.

4.  I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must look at things in a different way. (Dead Poet’s Society)

This advice probably applies to older, more experienced coaches than it does to younger ones. “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” is not a good answer anymore. The game has changed over the years and so have the players.

The most successful coaches in the game are constantly looking for better way to do things while maintaining their own personalities and philosophies. For example, Coach K, John Calipari, and Geno Auriemma are all examples of coaches who are running different offenses now than they were 10 years ago with great success.

5.  Never fight with an ugly person. They’ve got nothing to lose. (Mrs. Doubtfire)

Even though it might be tempting at times, arguing with a parent never turns out well or accomplishes anything. Don’t do it!

6.  I yam what I yam! (Popeye)

You are not Coach K. You are not John Calipari. You are not Geno Auriemma. You are not Phil Jackson, Bobby Knight, or John Wooden. However, they are not you either! Each of the coaches listed above has a distinct personality and coaching style that works for them. Instead of being a cheap imitation of someone else, concentrate on becoming the best you possible both on and off the court.

7.  I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself. (Dead Poet’s Society)

Too many coaches attempt to control every movement during every possession and while that might produce good short term results it often limits the growth and development of their players.

I’ve always thought that coaching is a lot like raising kids: the ultimate goal is to get them to the point where they don’t need you anymore. That can’t happen if you constantly control their every movement and never let them make a decision on their own.

Rest in peace Robin Williams – and thanks for giving a lot to think about in my quest to become a better coach!

Play for 22 – Lauren Hill

Play for 22If you haven’t been following the story of Lauren Hill you need to Google her name right now and start reading! But make sure you grab a box of Kleenex first!

Hill is a college freshman at Mt. Saint Joseph University in Ohio and has an inoperable form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma and doctor’s don’t expect her to live past Christmas.

In fact, she may not make it even two more weeks. However, Lauren’s had a burning desire to play college basketball for as long as she can remember and was afraid that just wasn’t going to happen.

To help grant her dying wish, the coaches at Mt. Saint Joseph and Hiram College both agreed to move their game up two weeks to give Lauren a better chance of playing and the NCAA gave it’s permission as well.

So in front of over 10,000 people yesterday, Lauren Hill’s dream came true as she played in a college basketball game and even scored four points. Afterwards she made it a point to say that this wasn’t her last college game but merely her first.

Teams and players all over the country have started wearing shirts that say “Play for 22″ or have been signing #22 jerseys and sending them to Lauren. She has become an icon of strength, courage, and determination.

The next time you think you’ve had a rough week because you’re not playing well or because your coach gets after you a little bit or because you’re just not into playing that day – think of Lauren Hill – and how she would gladly trade places with you.

Maya Moore Form Shooting Drill

 Form ShootingLast Sunday Maya Moore was named tournament MVP for her role in leading the United States to the Gold Medal in the 2014 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey.

Her 16 points in the first half, including four three pointers, helped give the USA a 19 point lead at halftime and they never looked back while cruising to a 13 point win over Spain.

Below is the Maya Moore Form Shooting Drill that was taught in the Nike Skills Academy.

Do 50 reps of each shot.

1. Mirror shots – execute perfect form

2. Self shots – shoot the ball to yourself and freeze each finish
3. Knee shots – knees on the floor, keep your back straight and shoot to the rim

4. Chair shots – sit on the end of a chair, jump out of the chair right into your jump shot

5. Form shots – make 10 swishes while executing perfect game form from 5 different spots in the lane

Concentrate on each and every repetition and do not let your mind wander while shooting. Since there is no defense and you are shooting at your own pace there is no reason why every rep shouldn’t be perfect.

NFHS Rule Changes Send Mixed Message

NFHS Rule ChangesThe National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Basketball Rules Committee approved two rule changes last month that in my opinion send out a severely mixed message.

The first rule change now allows players lined up along the lane for a free throw to move on the release of the ball instead of waiting for it to hit the rim, What this does is give the offensive rebounders in the second spot on the lane a much better chance of securing the rebound by simply being quicker to the ball.

As a result, defensive rebounders will now need to be much more physical when boxing out on free throws.

The second major change now says that when defending a dribbler the following acts are an automatic foul: 1) placing two hands on the player, 2) placing an extended arm bar on the player, 3) placing and keeping a hand on the player and 4) contacting the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands.

As a result, defenders will now be forced to be much less physical when guarding a ball handler. (This same rule was instituted at the college level at the beginning of last season.)

To keep things consistent the NFHS rules committee should have kept the free throw rule the same and thereby eliminating the extra contact that it is surely going to be generated. Of course it won’t really matter if the high school officials take on the same philosophy as their college counterparts did last season – call every single defensive touch a foul early in the season and then completely ignore the rule as the season progresses.

If and when that happens the two new high school rule changes will actually be completely consistent with each and the game will be more physical than ever,

The Leadership Effect of KD’s MVP Speech

LeadershipKevin Durant’s recent MVP acceptance speech is being called one of the best speeches ever given by an athlete. It was touching, it was funny, and it gave us all some insight into KD’s off the court personality. However, what has been overlooked by many is the impact of that speech as a leadership tool.

Instead of just accepting the award, Durant took advantage of  the opportunity to build up each and every one of his teammates. Thank you; I appreciate you; you have my support; keep being you, and I love you were all repeated over and over again in many different ways. You, you, you was the speech’s central theme – not me. me, me.

If the Thunder had lost Game 2 of their playoff series against the Clippers they would have gone down 0-2 and would have had a nearly impossible time trying to recover and win the series. However, after KD publicly built up each one of his teammates while sharing his special night with them, was there ever a doubt about the kind of effort the Thunder were going to give once the game started?

Great leaders have the ability to live in the moment while at the same time understanding the big picture. While Kevin Durant has already been named as the NBA MVP, if the Thunder go on to win the series against the Clippers he could very well be the series MVP for his leadership ability off the court as well as his playing ability on the court.

Academic Final Four Has Some Surprises

Basketball ScholarshipJust found this post on the Yahoo Sports page and thought it was interesting enough to pass along.

I think there are two important points here:

1) You can be a good basketball player and play on a good team and still be a good student. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

2) Reputation is not extremely important when it comes to education. If you apply yourself academically you can get a great education nearly everywhere but if you don’t apply yourself you will get a less than stellar education even at a very prestigious university.

Here’s the post:

We’re about to find out just how well the 68 teams in the 2014 NCAA tournament perform on the court. Let’s just say it’s likely to be very different from how they’ve performed in the classroom.

Once again, Inside Higher Ed has offered up its own version of the NCAA tournament, playing out the matchups with a set of criteria designed to measure academic rather than athletic performance. The tournament uses the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate to determine a winner, meaning that this is an academic battle between teams, not universities as a whole. A tiebreaker is the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate, measuring how many players graduated within six years. The secondary tie-breaker, if necessary, is the Federal Graduation Rate.

So who’s your winner? None other than … Kansas!

Yep, the Kansas Jayhawks win this tournament, which featured a Final Four that also included Memphis, BYU and Texas. Expected academic powerhouse Harvard got knocked out early, as did other notables such as Duke and UVA. Strange, huh?

Pete Carroll on Competition

  • CompetitionCompetition to me is not about beating your opponent. It is about doing your best; it is about striving to reach your potential; and it is about being in relentless pursuit of a competitive edge in everything you do.
  • The traditional definition of competition requires having an opponent. The real opposition is the challenge to remain focused on maximizing your abilities in preparation for the game.
  • My competitive approach is that “it’s all about us.” If we’ve really done the preparation to elevate ourselves to our full potential, it shouldn’t matter whom we’re playing.
  • My opponents are the people who offer me the opportunity to succeed. The tougher my opponents, the more they present me with an opportunity to live up to my full potential and play my best.
  • If you want to “Win Forever, Always Compete.”

(Taken from Pete Carroll’s book “Win Forever.”)