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29 years coaching experience/ 7 years as a varsity boys' basketball coach, now assisting

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Am Selfish

Coach Don Meyer has said that the best way to say thank you to a mentor is to serve others. I couldn't agree with that more. I have tried for many years to push the "me" out of what I do. For so long, I did stuff because it either made me feel good or it made me look good. It still happens, but I have tried to make it less and less about me.

I think growing in my faith has helped, as well as my wife and children. I want to help others be successful.
But, every once in awhile the selfish part of me rears its ugly head. Probably more than it should....definitely more than it should.

Since I have become the head coach at HHS, I have spent hundreds if not thousands of my own money on improving our program and helping our players. I have spent much time counseling players on personal issues, often things I probably don't need to know. From issues with girlfriends to home lives, I have heard much.

The 16 hours I worked one day during Thanksgiving Break and the three days I worked many hours can never replace the time of being with my family. Running intramurals on a Saturday morning, practicing for 2 hours Saturday afternoon, driving an hour away to get a game tape, then heading to scout a game....all by myself and not seeing my family can never be replaced.

The stress and pressure of trying to be fair to every kid when it comes to playing time, discipline, getting them involved, counseling, and about every other way and trying to win games is something that can not always be enjoyable. Especially when I get home and have to kiss my own children good night when they are asleep.

I am not writing this to whine, or complain. I am writing this for perspective...for me. I know I fail, probably daily on trying to do what is right for every single kid in the program. Doing that is all I can do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In the Grand Scheme of Things

I try to be a self aware person. Always thinking and thinking about my thinking, yea, it is more complicated to explain than it actually is; I am a simple kinda guy. But one of the things I have found as I have gotten older is what does anything mean in the grand scheme of things.

Basketball...I/we put so much time into it that it is bound to hurt when the success, as defined by the world, doesn't come or come quickly. You are bound to grow frustrated, angry, and have feelings of doubt.

I told my wife last night that I feel the last two years, I have taken too long to find my balance on the season. Last year, we had a returning group of guys and I may have been too laid back. I enjoyed everything about the young season except for a couple of losses, that to be honest, were going to happen unless we played much better, earlier than I thought we could.

And this year, we had few guys back (only one starter), and I may have been too hard on them. Practice was not fun, and the games have not always been fun. In our 2 wins, we played just bad enough to keep games close and in our 3 losses, well, they haven't been close.

So what does it all mean in the grand scheme of things. Probably that I am not a very good coach and that I am struggling to find what this years team will be. I am probably worrying too much about how it will make me look which is entirely an incorrect feeling.

I can say this if the guys will work hard like they have in 10 of our 20 practices and 2 of our 5 games, then I will enjoy the year...win or lose. If they don't compete and strive to improve, I am afraid that I will lose my perspective on the importance of what I do.

All too often, however, something happens to smack your face and get your attention. Whether it be an illness, or a death. Recently, a former HHS student was found dead. This mother of two, both sons below the age of 2, will no longer be around to be a mom to her sons. Those sons will grow up never really knowing their mother.

Kinda makes you feel stupid for getting so upset about turnovers or shooting percentage. But that's what they pay me for, right? I think so to an extent, but to the extent that I am aggravated with my own children and not sleeping or eating...well, it is quite ridiculous.

Thank goodness for blogging. I feel that I am able to get some of these thoughts out of my head and onto this blog. I probably take myself too serious, but I am constantly striving to be a better person, coach, husband, and father. I need to set a better example consistently, I have to do it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Behind, Always Behind


I often wonder if I am the only coach who feels that they don't have enough hours in the day to do everything we need to do. Teaching a full day and trying to do everything we do with the baksetball program seems to make me feel as if I always have too much to do.

My laptop where I convert the games from our digital camcorder to discs is not functioning correctly. So, I ended up about 5 games behind before I was able to rectify the situation. But that has put me in a catch up situation ever since.

From watching tapes, to statting them, to entering stats in the computer to watching other teams games, taking care of orders, getting money in from the players for various things and keeping everything clean and running smoothly, I feel....behind...all the time.

It will help when we get some time off for a couple of days, but we have played four games in week 1 of our season. We play on the road this Saturday and next Tuesday, then the following Friday. That is 7 games in the first week and a half. Then a week off game wise until a game then Christmas Break.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pre game Practice


I have been coaching basketball for a long time, this is the 19th year overall, 6th as varsity coach. Every single year, I never know what we have going into the season. Sometimes you have a better understanding than in other years, but more often than not, you don't know until you play a game. Many times you don't even know until around January.

The pre game practices stand alone more often than not. The first two days are great because the guys are motivated and fired up for practice to begin. After that I have to motivate them to get better every day. Also, you never know what the guys are going through emotionally and are bringing that into practice.

The season begins and it seems you are never quite ready for the first game and as you build up about half way through, you usually take some days off over the holidays. When you come back, you have the second half blues. If you are doing well, they are lazy because they have forgotten what it took to get there, and if they are losing they often don't want to be there.

But those pre games practices are confusing. One day, you can think you will be really, really good, then the next day you wonder if you will win at all. I have learned to not over think it (as much as that is possible) and realize that I won't know anything until January...and then maybe later than that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Basketball and Golf


As I have grown older I don't put as much pressure on myself to win, well, ok, I do want to win and I do put lots of pressure on myself to put my team in a position to win. But, winning doesn't identify me anymore. It used to be that if I didn't win, not only was I a loser, but I was somehow less of a person because of it. Not true now, I guess it comes with maturity, having children, and growing in my faith.

But, coaching basketball is very much like playing golf to me. In golf, I can play a bad shot, hole or round, but when you hit that next great shot (for me), play that next great hole, or a pretty good round, you are ready to go pro in golf. And then, just like that you want to quit.

Coaching basketball can be like that for me. We have a great practice, and I am motivated, positive and ready to go. Have a bad practice or two in a row and I often wonder why I can't get through to the guys and if I should contemplate doing something else.

It is in those moments of question and doubt where we are defined. Courage and motivation are not the absence of question and doubt, but acting in the face of those moments. And not acting to go through the motions, but to choose to be strong, courageous, and motivated when doubt is screaming in your ears.

Mental toughness is everything.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scheduling

When trying to schedule basketball games, it is not as easy as it may seem. We want to play a tough schedule to make us better, but I also think we want to be competitive and win some games. I think that playing a tough schedule and not winning doesn't prepare you for post season success. If a team does nothing but lose, even if it is against great teams, doesn't build a winning mentality.

I had a coach once tell me that with a 20 game schedule, you want 5 you will have a hard time winning, 5 you will have a hard time losing and 10 that can go either way. That sounds good in theory, but so many teams are up and down that the number changes. There are some teams on our schedule that we beat often, but are better recently making it a game that could go either way, and vice versa.

Since I took over, we have removed some games that were regular wins, and replaced them with games that are in that middle ten. I am hoping that we continue to play a tougher schedule, but one that allows us to be successful. We are a 1A/2A school and have added 3A North Harrison, and a tournament with a very good 1A Edinburgh and Crothersville who is much better in recent years. Some of the teams we play were new schools and have now had time to become highly competitive.

Scheduling at a smaller school is harder because our own talent level could fluctuate from year to year. Again, I want us to be competitive against a relatively strong schedule. Last year, our schedule was ranked in the upper 5% of 1A teams, and we take pride in playing that schedule and staying competitive.

HENRYVILLE HORNETS
DATE OPPONENT
Nov. 23 at Silver Creek {3A} 7:30 pm
Nov. 27 Springs Valley Tournament
Nov. 30 Christian Academy {1A} 7:30 pm
Dec. 4 at North Harrison {3A} 7:30 pm
Dec. 7 at Charlestown {3A} 7:30 pm
Dec. 10 Austin {2A} 7:30 pm
Dec. 17 Lanesville {1A}‡ 7:30 pm
Dec. 29 Henryville Tournament
Jan. 8 at Trinity Lutheran {1A} 7:30 pm
Jan. 11 at Rock Creek Academy {1A} 7:30 pm
Jan. 14 New Washington {1A}‡ 7:30 pm
Jan. 21 Providence {2A} 7:30 pm
Jan. 22 at Borden {1A}‡ 7:30 pm
Jan. 28 at South Central (Elizabeth) {1A}‡ 7:30 pm
Feb. 4 Crothersville {1A}‡ 7:30 pm
Feb. 10 at Eastern (Pekin) {2A} 7:30 pm
Feb. 18 West Washington {2A} 7:30 pm
Feb. 25 Clarksville {2A}

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If I Heard Everything....

How bad would it be in this world if we knew everything that was said about us? Worse yet, thought about us? I would be willing to bet that many of us have at least had negative thoughts about loved ones, but those thoughts were never spoken or acted upon.

You learn as a coach to take things with a grain of salt, as I have stated before or get out. A lifetime of working on a reputation can be taken away in a few seconds. It has happened to me, but I have also been guilty of the same thing.

Thoughts you have, emotions you feel can lead to things being said that aren't meant or worse...not true. Words that can never be taken away. No matter the apology, it doesn't make the aggravation go away. It is something that has happened to me all too often and you would think I would know better than to be part of the problem.

The biggest difference between words and the written word is that written words can live forever. I am a supporter of social networking sites and I think they can bring many positive things about, but I also believe that it can bring very bad things about. There have been many times I have almost written something, but thought about the ramifications of those words....we need to do the same thing with the spoken word.

We all fall short in trying to improve, but what are you doing when that happens? Are you denying that you have a problem? Are you working to improve? And once you have a perception about you, it is even easier to fall in the eyes of some.

I am glad I haven't heard everything that has been said about me because the things I have heard are often hard to deal with. I am not glad, however, that I have on ocassion been part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seniors...

Should seniors at a school be recognized in their last athletic event? First, let me say that I 100% support "Senior Night" for athletics and any other event that is held at a high school or college. I want to focus mainly on high school because that is where I teach and coach. At my school, it is a tradition that goes back so far I couldn't tell you when it started. However, it used to be that all athletes, cheerleaders, and band members were recognized one night, at the end of the boys' basketball season.

Acknowledging seniors in the last home game of the year is an honor especially for those student/athletes that participated for four years or longer. And for their parent or guardian to walk out with them is a nice gesture for all the time and effort that parents put into their children. I fully support "Senior Night".

What bothers me is that at some schools there are senior nights for every sport. Why does that bother me? Really, the only reason is that those athletes get recognized twice a year at our school. Once at the end of their athletic event (not all sports do it here), but also in the last home boys' basketball game. I do not mind sharing the spotlight with everyone, I think the boys' last home game is a great time to do it, but I do feel that some student/athletes are able double dip on recognition and others are recognized only once as I think it should be.

Boys' basketball players, cheerleaders, and band members are often recognized at the boys' last home game. As I have said, it is a wonderful honor, but they share the night with many other sports who have their own senior nights. Is it fair that those three groups have time taken from them by other student/athletes that have already been recognized?

I don't want to take anything away from the people who work and make the other "Senior Nights" a huge success for those teams, but if I were to have cake and a party after our senior night and only invited boys' basketball players, cheerleaders and band members, I would be highly critisized. Even though I would be doing nothing different than the other sports who have their own specific senior nights.

Ultimately, I don't mind what other sports do to end their season. As I stated, not ever sport does it. Is the answer to have your own or to show up at the last boy's game? I don't know. I do think it is nice what the people who put the work in do for these athletes on their senior nights.

Closing, I want to thank all of the parents of the seniors as well as other parents for getting their kids where they need and want to be. Thank you for supporting them throughout their careers and thank you for supporting us at the school. Without you, much of what we do would not be possible.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's the Right Thing to Do

Basketball isn't for everyone. I understand that. I understand that the time and commitment has increased, the attention span of the average person has decreased, and that the no guarantees of playing time does not hold the allure that a job or other interests hold today. I get that every year the players who put the time and effort into basketball grow more special, and yet compared to 20 years ago would be considered the norm. I get all of those things.

What I don't get is when players do not speak to me or one of the other coaches face to face to let us know what is going on. I feel that we do a good job in our communication, I am sure we could do better. I know that not everyone will be able to fulfill the obligations of basketball. But speak to your coach, any of them. Talk to them. Maybe something can be worked out, maybe it cannot be worked out. But do not keep them wondering what happened, what was the cause of your disappearance.

It may be hard, it may end up negative, but do it. Speak face to face with anyone is relying on you, depending on you, or wanting you to participate and inform them of your decision. I would be willing to bet that in a high percentage of the time, the coach may not be happy with your decision, but will absolutely respect that you spoke with them.


Why? Because I believe it's the right thing to do...it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The State of American Education

My preacher and I have had a running discussion the last few weeks about the state of the American education system. It is quite depressing when you see the numbers of where the USA is ranked in comparison to the rest of the world when it comes to science and math scores. It can be embarassing when you hear American students interviewed and asked simple geography and history questions and they cannot answer them and if they do it is so ridiculous that you cannot laugh. But is the entire system in trouble? Is it flawed?

First we must understand the US education system. We are one of the only if not the only country in the world that allows every single person access to a public education. We cannot discriminate based on anything. So, we have students in public classrooms who have physical disabilities along with those who do not. We have students in public classrooms with IQ's of 150 sitting along side students with IQ's of 70, and we allow students with psychological disabilities to be allowed in the public classroom.

I am not saying whether it is good or bad, I am just explaining what we have. I guess I could be making excuses, but there is no way that our education system can be ranked high if we allow for these types of situations to occur. What it does is allow for everyone access to an education. Will it make for high rankings; probably not. But it is a less discriminatory society and a noble exercise.

Other issues with public education would be the fear of lawsuits. Not just in education, but in every aspect of our country does the idea of being sued manipulate the system. As a teacher, if I have too high expecations and the students fail it is probably because I am not teaching to each student's education plan and therefore, I could be sued. If I water down the information then I am neglecting my job and can be sued for neglect of education. If I fail a student and they cannot be passed on, I have to show through extensive paperwork that I did my job (which isn't a problem for me) or be sued. Yet, if I just pass them on and they haven't done the work or learned the info to warrant passing, then I am guilty of social promotion.

It seems that teachers more and more are blamed for the downfall of the American education system and I think in some situations that is true. However, I believe that there needs to be a new mindset especially when comparing us to the rest of the world. If we continue to allow for all Americans to have access to a public education, then we had better be ready to have our understanding of where we rank world wide to be different. We will not be at the top of the list, but we may be making for a better overall country; or not.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Give it Your All?

Some of the worst times I have experienced in my life (I have been really blessed) have come in the disappointment of athletic endeavors. Losing a game, a tournament, the last game of my career at HHS have brought some of the most emotional, draining experiences of my life.

Why? Why has it happened that way? Why would you allow that? Why?

What other way is there? If I have done something I want to do, I have rarely done it lukewarm. The time and effort invested in that experience has allowed it to hurt when you do not get the desired result. But, I ask again, is there any other way?

I would rather risk the hurt for the joy of success. If I were going to play, I would dive on the floor for a loose ball or I would rather sit. Coaching I would rather scout, practice, put in time on the gym floor and the thousand other things I do or quit.

I would rather play/coach with everything I have and risk the hurt of failure than to go through the motions and never feel anything.

I once had a coach tell me that as you coach, the losing gets worse and the wins don't mean as much and I believed that and felt that way until about 3 years ago. It began with the birth of my daughter and then my son, but my perspective changed. As I have grown in my faith, my perspective has changed. It doesn't for everyone, but it did for me. Losing isn't the worst thing in the world, taking your sick child to the hospital is. And winning is always fun, maybe not as fulfilling as it sometimes can be, but it is fun.

But I will still coach with everything I have and risk the hurt of failure than to go through the motions and never feel anything.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some Things New Coaches Should Know

I recently read an article about 50 things a coach wished an older coach had told him before they took the job. It was rather intense, but it made me think. When I became the head coach at my school, there were things I already knew and some I learned on the job. Following are 15 things I think new coaches should know entering the job of head basketball coach.

1. Character matters - If they want to fire you, make them fire you over wins and losses and not because of something you have done in the community. This is a tough one because it means you are under the microscrope, more so by yourself.

2. People will talk and critisize - Learn to deal with it or get out. Do not lose years off your life or be stressed out, realize it is going to happen.

3. Every year there is something to deal with - If you believe that a certain year will be problem free, prepare to be wrong. There is always something that happens.

4. Help others - You will be amazed how much others will help you if you are willing to help them.

5. Winning is often not in your hands - You can prepare, work, and take care of every detail, but at some point it is high school kids playing the game and you aren't. This is a really hard one to come to grips with.

6. Pick your battles - Most of them are not worth fighting, most of them you will lose, but when you do fight, fight with everything you have.

7. Build loyalty - Do not bad mouth other coaches and help out as many people you can at your school. The more loyalty you build, the more likely someone will at least remain silent when you are being bashed, at best they will defend you.

8. Many people at games are there to watch an individual and not the team - Therefore when you win, you will still have upset people because of not enough shots, not enough playing time.

9. Make the big time where you are - Don't work less because you aren't at a generally accepted big time place...make it big time there!

10. Success is in the eye of the beholder - What you view as a success isn't always seen by everyone else as a success.

11. Don't bad mouth a previous coach - It makes you look bad and most people will you believe you are jealous.

12. When forming a team, having players quit is much better than having to cut them - It puts the power of the decision in their hands.

13. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals - Enough said.

14. Love it or get out - You will deal with enough negatives that if you don't love it you will get out. Always, always have a positive attitude!

15. Pray - It gets me through some of the worst times not just in coaching.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trust and Basketball

I recently read some quotes on trust and it got me to thinking about what trust means to a basketball team.
First, the players need to trust me. They need to understand that I am going to work to the best of my abilities to gain the knowledge to help them be successful. In today's world it must be visible. They must see that I am going to clinics, working on practice, scouting games, and having good game plans. They may not realize it, but they trust that the coaches know what they are doing and trying to help them be successful.

Players will hear negative comments about the coaching staff around friends, girlfriends, family members and it makes it that much more important that they can trust you. You must make that trust be something that transcends the court. Can your players trust you to have their backs at school, academically, issues that happen in the community and if need be economically. "Having their back" doesn't necessarily mean you are getting them out of trouble or complaining to teachers about players grades. What it does mean is allowing for time to work on school work and possibly discipline for off the court issues. That trust is between you and the player involved, but the rest of the team as well. Are you consistent? Are you letting some things slide?

A coach must be able to trust the players also. My rules are set up to ensure trust, but hopefully to teach my players the self-discipline to be trustworthy. I have had people ask me why is having a haircut or some of my other rules important. I have answered that I need to know that when I say "shave" they will do it, or better yet I don't have to tell them at all. Because I believe there is a direct correlation in a player who will "shave" when I say so and who will also run the play I tell them with ten seconds to go in a game. I/We need to have that trust in each other.

In a high school situation, trust is important and the players are going to test and sometimes lose your trust. They should never (as well as their parents) have to worry about trusting you as a coach. We all are going to make mistakes, but there needs to be some trust that the players and their parents know you are going to set a good example, and will be around to coach the team an entire season. Breaking laws or being unethical is something that shouldn't enter into the equation at all, but seems to do so more and more each year.

Trust is important in a team. Any team. It doesn't matter if it is a basketball team, a teaching staff or your family. Trust is a building block of success.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cell Phones and the Internet

Cars, the radio, television, rock and roll, rap music....um, that is about all of the things that I can think of in my knowledge database that have been called fads. They were things that would not last and if they did it would be the downfall of western civilization.

Now, it is cell phones and the Internet. Teachers are frustrated with the fact that students use cell phones at school. There are many negative issues that can come about because of this, but it is a problem that will not go away, it will only get worse. So, what do we do? I am sure there is some device we could put on top of the school to stop cell phone usage (by both students and teachers) or should it be something that we come to accept from Generation Y? I feel that my Gen Xers have become the Baby Boomers complaining of rock and roll, just now it is cell phones, ipods, and ipads.

Also, it isn't so much the Internet that is bugging teachers and administrators, but social networking sites. How much cyberslacking do people do on these sites while at work? Is it a problem? Should they be able to post what they want? Most people are called on the carpet for verbal negativity, why written? Should you be allowed on these sites at schools/work? Why not ban these sites if they are an issue? Are facebook, twitter, linkedin and other sites as much a problem as other sites with message boards for sports? What about fantasy baseball, fantasy football and other sites?

In my opinion, facebook has become the new email. I have used it to converse during the school day with former students who have social issues, college issues and also with current students who are home sick and have a question about class. I have a Henryville Basketball site on facebook and a site on twitter and I have used them to market our program and school...is that wrong? I have used those sites to push/market our school and have done so internationally was that wrong? Is it wrong to update/check these sites during the day? As long as I am covering the standards, teaching the curriculum and engaging my students is it wrong?

Complaining about school, administrators, the town or any kind of negative aspect I can understand. It is unprofessional to go on these sites and bash your place of employment. Especially if you want to be considered a professional. Your friends list can be changed, but ultimately it is a private blog that you have allowed others to access. But, in today's world if you used the Internet for private thoughts/actions...there is no privacy. Then it becomes how you want to be perceived publicly or how your employers wants his employees to be perceived publicly.

Having the Internet at school opens inherent issues that can be negative. But the bad reputation of some of this stuff hurts it, I don't know if singling out certain sites is the way to go about things...I am not sure I know the answer to any of this, but one thing I am certain of...it's not going away anytime soon and will not be seen as a fad anymore than cars or television are today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

IHSAA By-Laws

I was looking throught the book the other day of all the rules that are included in our state's by-laws for high school athletics. It is a rather lengthy book with many rules. So many rules that I would bet that many coaches/athletic directors have broken multiple rules during their times of leadership. You cannot have contact with student athletes on Sunday, you cannot drive student athletes to open gyms during the summer, and numerous others.

However, I believe that many of the rules violations have been done more out of ignorance than just to break them. I know that my first year, we played a few kids without physicals on file in the office and were put on probation after self-reporting, but that was out of ignorance. They had played fall athletics and figured if they were eligible there, they must have been for us, that hasn't happened again since that first year.

But, some people do break the rules...on purpose. Schools openly recruit players for their programs. Sometimes it is as blatant as a coach speaking with the player and/or the parents and sometimes it is subtle has having your current players speak with the player/or parents about attending their school. There is a clear rule that players from other schools may not attend open gyms of your school while school is in session, but it happens often. Is that ignorance? Is it that they don't care? Are they trying to get better players?

If I were going to recruit players, they would be foreign players. Guys that I could bring here to better their lives and to better our program and school. They would be players who might help us, but would better our school from a cultural standpoint. It would give them the opportunity to play college basketball here, an opportunity they would not have living abroad. But, if they end up here, it would be because of their own accord and through an approved exchange program.

It is a competitive game we play and you must have good players to compete at a higher level. Will I ever recruit? I guess the definition of "recruiting" should be defined. We openly recruit our players from birth to graduation at HHS in many different ways. I am constantly trying to get those players to stay here, but once they leave, if they come back, it will be under their own accord.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rick Pitino's 8 Traits that Corrupt Team Chemistry

According to Rick Pitino there are eight traits that corrupt team chemistry. Team chemistry is a touchy thing that can be manipulated easily due to many different types of internal or external feelings. Below are Coach Pitino's eight.

1. Jealousy...we must get across that for any of us to succeed, we must all succeed. We must instill the idea that it is enjoyable to watch others succeed. Seeing someone else's name in the paper consistently or their picture, it important to get across to the other players they are vital as well. It really helps when your best players give credit consistently to their teammates.

2. Cynicism...usually occurs when things are going badly. They feel they are not part of the solution, they will question the plan, doubt the leader and believe that the end result won't be positive so why bother? It can creep into a team also by outside influences such as parents, fans, message boards.

3. Inflated ego...it occurs when an individual believes that the group cannot function without them, they must remember that their value only matters within the framework of the group.

4. Inflexible personality...this occurs with the person who is not willing to listen and is a know it all. They believe they know more than the coaches and usually comes from some outside influence.

5. Discipline deficiency...lack of discipline leads to bad habits which destroys individual improvement and team progression.

6. Lack of Passion...people lacking passion are not looking to always improve....we don't deal with I don't know people.

7. Excuse making...when something goes wrong it is never their fault. It is the teacher's fault for their grades, it is the referee's fault for the bad call, it is their teammate's fault for not getting them the ball.

8. Front Running...it's easy to be positive and upbeat when everything is going well, but how do you respond in times of despair? They cannot generate passion in times of adversity which brings the team down.

So many of the above things are related and can grow. Unfortunately, even under the best circumstances outside influences can affect your players. As a coach, we must work consistently on these eight items and make sure team chemistry is affected minimally.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fish!

If you want to read an easy, quick book to help put your "misery" into perspective and help you realize how lucky you are to do what you, I highly recommend the book Fish! by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen. 107 pages and you can get it for a penny on Amazon.com.
It is a fictional book about a company that has a group that is described as a toxic dump. Throughout the book, the company observes guys at a fish market who do hard, boring work with passion and it transforms their own workplace.

According to the book, we can do 4 things to improve the quality of our lives: 1. choose your attitude; you can choose to be happy, mad, a victim, anything, you have a choice and if you don't believe you do, then you don't. 2. Play; take your job/life seriously, but have fun which will create more energy. 3. Make their day; include those around you and do something for them that you could never be repaid for, make somebody feel special today, heck...make many people feel special today. 4. Be Present; listen and focus on anyone who is taking time to speak with you, don't multi task when dealing with human beings.

Great quote from the book: "customers (people) feel how they feel. No matter what excuses we offer or what kind of spin we put on it, it doesn't change how our internal customers feel. That's the reality as they see it. The question is, what are we going to do about it?" Make their day!

Also "my daughter wanted to go to the park, but I was living a busy life. I said she should wait until later, after I had a chance to catch up. But there always seemed to be some urgent and pressing work to do and the days passed. Days led to weeks and weeks to months." With a choking voice, he said that four years passed and he never did go to the park. His daughter is now fifteen and no longer interested in the park, nor, for that matter, in him. Be present!

Get it, read it, enjoy it, make changes!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The bus leaves at..........

"Be on time". "If you are not 15 minutes early you are late."

Those were the words that I grew up with at home, not verbally, but in our actions at going anywhere. Then in high school they were the exact words my high school coach used. I don't know if that being beaten into me from such a young age or not, but I think being on time, actually being early, is one of the most important things you can do as a player/coach/person.

Telling someone that you will be somewhere at a certain time is giving your word. If you are late, then in some way you are being less than truthful about how important you think their time is. Being told to be somewhere at a certain time is an act of responsibility to your employer, to the team, to anything you are going to.

It may be very easy for me as I have rarely had a problem with time and for something it just seems to be an issue... Often it is because that person is doing too many things or has lost track of time, but those are excuses often not reasons. I do realize that there are sometimes things we cannot control which causes us to be late, but I would bet that a large amount of those things we cannot control could have been contained by our actions.

Being on time is important. If that is something that you or those in power can know they rely upon with you, it is a great building block for success. Be on time!!! Better yet....be early!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Buttons...

University of Tennessee women's coach made a comment in her book Reach for the Summit "it doesn't take much to push my buttons because they stay about half way pushed in all the time". When I read that line in that book, I had one of those "somebody understands me" moments.

It is amazing to myself how agitated I seem to stay most of the time. I try to reinforce and force myself to be positive, but it seems too often I get worked up about, well, nothing. I get upset with myself then that I didn't stay calm, I look back on the situation and wonder why in the heck did I get so upset about something that I obviously couldn't control. Whether it be a situation or a person...it really is ridiculous.

I truly believe that you should make due with what you have...make the best out of your current situation. You cannot control what happened, but you can control how you react to it, but I often wonder when is it enough? Where is the line of making due and fighting for what you believe in? And what happens when you stand up and fight for what you believe in are smirked at and you lose? I can tell you what happens with me....my brain gets fuzzy, I forget to be a calm, educated person, and I lose control. So not only do I lose the fight, but I lose the war.

My buttons stay halfway pushed in all the time and I have worked hard to improve my positivity and emotions, but sometimes............sometimes........I lose.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Increasing Interest in the Boys' Basketball Program

I think you can never rest in trying to build interest and loyalty in your program. Some of the things we have done to try and build interest:
1. Started a basketball website...leaguelineup.com/henryvillebasketball

2. Started a twitter site with my thoughts ....twitter.com/CoachHunterHHS and Henryville Basketball on facebook (over 1100 followers and blog).

3. Moved our camps from 2nd grade down to kindergarten age players.

4. At camps, we give away something every day and often lots of stuff.

5. We played younger kids at halftime of varsity games.

6. We send out Christmas and Birthday cards to players in the program; from current players to any one who has participated in camps recently.

7. We have a team camp out.

8. The players are invited to my house to eat at least once a year.

9. Take the players to different universities in the summer to see what colleges are like.

10. Open the gym at 7 AM since I have taken over.

11. Have workouts and open gyms in pre season.

12. Give the players ample time to unwind from basketball.

13. Give travel suits to the varsity team every season, those that were used during the season.

14. Have given basketballs to campers and high school players.

15. Taken players to practices and scrimmages at colleges.

16. During summer have traveled to other basketball sites in Indiana (Hall of Fame, etc.).

17. Helped any player who wanted to play past h.s. if told by them (many players have been given the opportunity to play, but have chosen not to due to financial reasons, travel, etc.).

18. Had a newsletter we sent out to keep anyone who chose informed.

19. Kept the camp cost affordable for most and cheaper than many other camps.

20. Had a highly competitive program...in last 5 years winning 2 conference championships and participating in 2 sectional finals.

21. Texting players with positive notes.

22. Giving players the benefit of the doubt academically, socially, and discipline wise to a point.

23. Have attended AAU games as far as Indianapolis and Cincinnati and all star games in Louisville and north of Indy. For anyone who will tell me when they play.

24. Showed appreciation to students who have increased support in recent years.

25. Donated time by reading to the elementary students.

26. Volunteered to be on the Advisory Board of Team Southern Indiana AAU program.

27. Became an Associate Director of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

28. Traveled to Serbia and Macedonia with hopes of taking players in the future.

29. Schedule, work, and referee elementary basketball games.

30. Try to keep the facility in a first class manner by keeping it clean during the season.


Most of what has been listed above has either been started in the last 5 years or built upon by the previous boys' basketball coaches. We often hear criticisms and would love to know what else we can do to increase interest in the boys' basketball program.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Parent Commandments from HickoryHusker.com

1. Always remember that children tend to exaggerate both when praised or critisized. Temper your reactions when your children come home of tales of woe or heroics.

2. Try to be as completely honest as possible about your child's ability level, his competitive attitude, his sportsmanship, and athletic ability.

3. Be helpful, but don't coach on the way to the gym or on the way home....or ever at breakfast.

4. Teach him to enjoy the "thrill of competition". Never say "winning doesn't matter", because it does.

5. And hear this parents; trying to relive your athletic career through your child increases pressure. Don't pressure him because of your pride.

6. Don't compete with the coach. In many cases the coach becomes a hero to his players, someone who can do no wrong.

7. Which is why it is important to get to know the coach so you can know if his philosophy, attitude, ethics, and knowledge is something you want to expose your child to.

8. Do not compare your child's ability, attitude, or work ethic to other players especially where he can hear.

9. Make sure your child knows that win or lose, scared, or heroic that you love him, appreciate his efforts and are not disappointed in him.

10. Make a point of understanding courage and the fact that it is relative. Some of climb mountains, but fear a fight. Some of us fight, but fear a bee sting. Children must know that courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in the face of fear.

HickoryHusker.com is the best website on Indiana high school basketball. It is a paid site, so the conversation is a much more respectful conversation on the message board. Leigh Evans, who runs it, is a first class individual and Indiana basketball is better because of his efforts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coaching and Family

One of the great things about coaching at the high school level is that my players and other students adopt my children as little brothers and sisters. My two kids love these people as much as anybody in our family because of the attention they give them. It is wonderful to see these young men and women be so good to my children (which I use on them often "do you realize if you get in trouble how much Maddie or Brandon will be upset?").

But....each year the players/students they become so close with graduate and move on. My daughter knows that when they graduate, she won't get to see them as often and it upsets her. It is part of life and growing up and she is learning great lessons from this heart ache, but it still is hard to watch as she loses people she considers "best friends".

Whether it be my son walking through Meijer's yelling "Weeks, Weeks" looking for a former player who works there or my daughter crying because one of her favorite people won't be around as often next year, it is quite sad. But, she does see them come back to games or graduation and she understands that they have moved on, have grown up, and that it will happen to her some day.

We helped to console her that we will take her to watch this young woman, Amanda Embry, play a softball game or two next year, but it won't be the same. But the way kids bounce back, there will be others that she will be connected to this year adding to the long list of people she considers family and crying over losing at the end of this year.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Uh...Coach...Can I talk to you for a second...thought you should know.....

When does the appearance of something "fishy" actually make you decide to change your opinion about something or someone?

One of the things we tell our guys constantly is that even though they may not be guilty of anything, if they hang around with known guilty parties they can expect to be linked to them. How do I know they are guilty? Many of these people are not afraid to be vocal enough so that I hear about it in class or hallways. It isn't fair to our guys, but it is the way it is. So, do we tell them to not hang with their friends? Of course not. But I do tell them to understand that there will continue to be rumors swirling about them and be prepared to be confronted by me every time I hear something negative.

I have even told players that seem to constantly be in the "rumor mill" that I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, but if something does occur that resembles what I am hearing they can forget about winning my trust again. I have asked and they have either lied and/or not removed themselves from a situation that could end their playing careers and taken advantage of the coaching staff's trust.

But is it about them embarrassing the basketball program or me? No, it really isn't. It is about trying to keep them from developing a bad habit that could lead to severe unhappiness. At best, they will drink socially or become a functional alcoholic. This could take money from their families or cause them to have a criminal record with a DUI or PI. At worst, they are a complete burden to their family and could potentially kill someone.

That is what I am trying to do....keep them from ruining their lives. Sure, I don't like for my program to be perceived negatively, but it's not about me, but about them . I am not naieve enough to think that nothing ever goes on, but I can tell you that when I do find out about it, and I don't run from the rumors, that the rules will be followed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Colleges...Open Practices, Open Workouts, Free Games

Being a high school coach has many downfalls, but some of the greatest perks are the college practices/workouts/and games we get to watch for free. With those and the coaching clinics we are offered at these higher level universities are some nice perks. There are so many opportunities that I could never take advantage of all of them. Mostly because of my own schedule, but I will try to hit up a Xavier workout, Butler practice, IU practice, and somewhere different every year.

I just recently read on twitter that Ohio U. assistant Aaron Fuss posted they will open practice to high school coaches for their practices August 16-28. They will head to the Bahamas to play pre-season and they get to practice a few times before they leave. This is an opportune time for high school coaches because it is right before we get in full swing and have some free time. So, if I can work something out, I will be heading to Athens, Ohio to watch a practice or two.

What is even better is that you can possibly take along other coaches and discuss shared experiences on the drive there, experience the practice, and discuss shared experiences and implementation on the drive home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ABC's of Basketball














A lways be a threat on offense (whether the play or offense is for you or not).

B ump cutters on defense.

C haracter matters in all things.

D efense wins championships.

E very defensive rebound is ours!

F undamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.

G et offensive rebounds.

H ave elbows out off the dribble and off rebounds (chin it).

I ntensity (compete, compete, compete)

J ust do it (get off your rear and get better)!

K eep working while minimizing mistakes.

L isten (a rare skill today).

M ental toughness is everything.

O ne goal (play as a team).

P ressure the offense, but don't get beaten.

Q uick, but don't hurry.

R eady for rebounds, loose balls, and bad passes (never caught off guard).

S tay positive.

T eam work.

U nselfish at all times.

giVe back

W in in many different ways, both on court and off.

eX citement (bring it every day).

Y ear round committment.

Z ip and rip off the catch

Friday, July 16, 2010

Committment to Basketball

In the United States of America our children have more access to better facilities than most countries in the world. Shiny, new, heated gymnasiums that they have access to just about any time they would like. In the foreign countries I recently visited, the children don't have that access, but seem more commited on a larger scale.

Why is that? Why is it that we have to lure varsity basketball players into the gym every fall, spring, and summer with trips to colleges and fun stuff? Why is that we rarely see the jr. high basketball players during the summer months? Don't get me wrong, there are some highly dedicated guys, but others have a "take it or leave it" attitude. We have a running joke that if the kids had to give up basketball or their cell phone, well, we could write the season off.

What has happened? Every single generation looks at the present generation and wonders why they aren't as dedicated or committed as they were, I know, because I remember hearing it. But what is going on?

It is a common theme with just about every coach that I talk to that they can't get kids out, they can't keep kids interested, they can't get them to compete. Is it the 'they have everything and basketball is a small part of their lives' thing? Even the poorest in this country have a car, cell phones, computers, video games, etc, etc.

What about parental support? We have had highly supportive parents in our program but what about those who don't put a high priority on committment until game night? I would bet that many times kids are lazy (I was) and need a boost out the door to improve themselves for the sake of the team. Thank goodness my mom did that for me every once in awhile.

If we want to compete at a higher level, you cannot blame the coaching staff from November to February for being at fault, even though that is what happens. We will take our fair share of the responsibility, but it's kind of like blaming teachers for bad grades when we have them an hour a half every other day....the other 22 hours are spent out of our influence.

This isn't just a community thing where I live, it is an issue everywhere. It seems to have gotten worse since the summer's opened up and there has to be more of a committment than before for our school to continue to compete. I don't know, but it is a problem and I would like for advice and insight on what to do to improve it.

Contrary to what some believe, I don't ask much of our players especially during the off season. I allow them to play any school sport they want and miss conditioning, but fully expect them to come to conditioning once that season is over. I trust school athletics because I see what they are doing conditioning wise and my boss, the Athletic Director, wouldn't allow me to have these guys double dip with sports. As for little league sports, or other non school related issues, we have to draw the line somewhere.

If I don't hold some accountability, then what we really are running is an intramural league. If every other school in the state were going to do that, we could afford to. But Borden, New Washington and every other school around does not do that. And I don't believe that the 1200 community members that hold me accountable every Friday night would want that either.

I am continually striving to improve our program, but I see a scary future. A future where high school sports don't exist anymore; a scary future where clubs rule the U.S. and not sports teams; a scary future where private and charter schools are recruiting the best players away from public schools; a scary future with less and less committment not just to basketball, but to really anything.

Finally, I want to thank the numerous athletes, students, parents, fans, administration, and teachers who do have great committment to our basketball program. Whether it is working, allowing your son to work with us, coming to the games, supporting us, giving us what we need or the positive words....that committed effort is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Coach=parent

My good friend Tane Spasev talked about what a coach is and he came up with the simple statement that is the title of this article. I try to make our team as much of a family as possible. Probably some of the parents and fans might disagree with that assessment, but I do the best I can...which is all I can do.

I am so thankful for all of the help of people who have helped me along the way. From my close family who are pictured here, to teachers and coaches through the years, to now friends in both coaching and not.


I would never intentionally hurt these people for selfish reasons as they have done much, and given much to me. Sure, I have probably hurt some of them along the way, but it was never done for selfish reasons. In fact, I have often been supportive of ideas I didn't like because of who was supporting it.

Don't get me wrong, I won't go along with just anything, but over time my mentors/friends know where I stand, and if I am surprised by something they do, then shame on me. I would feel that a couple of years is plenty of time to know where they/I stand and what we need to do.

Watching the giving and loyalty of people in the Balkans has changed how I think....a little. From supporting my assistants to caring for those who really want to be with us, hopefully I have done a good job with that. I am always trying to get better as a coach, but also as a person.
It's something we should all do....reflect, change, reflect, change, reflect.


To the Balkans and Back

How do you wrap up a two week, life changing trip in a short blog? I have literally spent all day online, on the phone, and talking to the family trying to catch up with everything.

The trip I took was life changing. You can not go to these great places and hear some stories of poverty and hopelessness some of the people have over there and not realize how lucky we are to live in the United States. Most of the people there are very happy living there and are wonderful, wonderful people living with less than the poorest in this country and often happier than even the richest person in this country. That is one of the biggest compliments I can pay them with....I was overwhelmingly impressed with the character of most that I met.


It is amazing how giving the people of that area are to each other and guests. Few people in this country would be willing to sit and buy drinks for everyone at any point...maybe it's the cost, but I feel it is something that we have lost along the way here. I met wonderful people over there and became attached to them in a short amount of time.


What has probably hit me more than anything is the adjustment of being home. No t.v., newspapers, very little contact with family or Internet, no American pizza, anything I need on demand, my own car....all things I went without for two weeks and now, here it is again. I can't imagine what people in the military go through when gone for long periods of time in war zones and then come back here.


I can, in no way, exlain in written words what I experienced the last two weeks. From not seeing my children to everything that happened over there...the written word can't do it. If you see me, feel free to ask....and be ready for an earful.


I will sum it up as I have to everyone about the trip. The worst part was not being able to see my family, the best part was everything else. Facebook is wonderful, and I will stay in touch with many of these new friends, but it's not the same. Hopefully, one day we will meet again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Winding and grinding....down

Haven't had too much access to the Internet the last few days and it has been kinda nice to not be in touch with the outer world, but I won't lie...can't wait to get home and see my family and be connected to the outside world again.

One session ended here in Ohrid and another started. Really good players showed up in this group. Untapped talent that many colleges could take advantage of with players.

I have been invited to work camps next year in Iceland, Ireland, a couple in Serbia and invited back here to Macedonia. It will be hard to pass up, but I don't think I can ever be away from my family again for this long. A big thank you to my wife Kristi for allowing this....

Gave another clinic in a classroom setting and will do one final one on the court in the morning. Then quick shower, hit the road to Skopje and take in the capital for a few hours. Flying from there to Belgrade where I will leave at 6:45 AM and head to Frankfurt, Germany then to Newark, NJ. There I check in then fly to Cleveland then to Louisville, KY.

Will recap my thoughts when I get back. So many things to write about and so many thoughts. I can say this with no regrets....I am a different person and hopefully better person after this experience.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nenad Dimitrijevic

I watched a game last night that was worth the price of admission to the Balkans. The Junior Under 14 team looked like a team straight out of Indiana. Unselfish, passing, cutting, rebounding and fundamental...they played a team from Serbia. The game was tight, the crowd was into it and if you didn't know I was 15,000 miles from home, I would have sworn I was "Back home again in Indiana".

But the thing that stood out to me was the poise and intelligence a 12 year old had under a very physical and pressure filled game. Playing against kids 2 years older, Nenad Demitrijevic won the MVP of the game. Numerous times he was able to handle pressure situations and hit big shots and make great passes. In fact, he almost single handedly put the dagger in the visiting team.

I just may have witnessed a star in the making. I believe that there are already NBA teams who have taken notice. I believe that with improvement he is a name that Americans will know along with Vlade Divac, Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and others. Who knows, one day when he is in the NBA, I can say I watched him as a kid. A kid who won an MVP in a tough game one moment and later was running around playing with his friends....friends he was leading.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Life changing trip

Today I ran a typical practice for HHS and it seemed to go well. Coaches here are wanting to learn as am I. The kids treat me like a rock star! "Are you from America?" "Can I get a picture with you?" Great, great kids....great, great country.

They took me into Ohrid today to Plaoshnik. It is the church where the Chryllic alphabet and Slavic language began. Also, the Apostle Paul visited. It was overwhelming historically, archaelogically, and spirtually. This trip to the Balkans has been a life changing event. There was the me before and the me after.

The young talent level here is very good and unknown. Many players here will be known worldwide in a few years as I believe that Macedonia will be a country to deal with internationally.

These are a great, proud people who both love Americans, but are bitter about American policies. They are proud of their heritage and history.

I am extremely torn as I feel as if this is a second home, but I am ready to return to my "home"....Kristi, Madison, and Brandon.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Junior Camp; Defense clinic

Today, I spoke about defense for an hour to about 35 coaches at a clinic that is coinciding with the camp. I was not able to get on the court, and trying to show drills and get into it was hard without doing so. Tomorrow, I am going to run a practice for the clinic and show what is a typical one for us.

The people here are the same as Serbia, in Macedonia, they are respectful, helpful, and considerate. Today we were drinking a coke (others were drinking coffee...everyone seems to do that here) and a player asked if it were okay to go to the beach on the Lake with his parents. That was a sign of respect.

Any college coach reading this...there is some serious young talent in Macedonia...I will post on twitter some names that you need to put on your recruiting lists. In 3-7 years, I truly believe that Macedonia will be a force for European basketball.

Every day over here is a learning experience and I treasure each day, each moment, each new friend, but I am ready to be with the greatest 3 people in my life. I can promise I will not leave their sides the rest of the summer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Make a wrong turn and end up in another country (Kosovo)

Woke up, watched a small presentation, but then got into the car to head to Struga, Macedonia and the Junior camp. A parent of a player at Zlatibor graciously gave us a ride to Skopje, Macedonia. Along the way, we missed a turn and ended up in Kosovo. I will let you google Kosovo to get an idea of what it is like. Definitely an experience I will never forget...someone needs to do something to help those people out. The capital, Pristina, was an experience in itself. No stop lights and many people trying to go somewhere at the same time.

Seven hours later from Zlatibor, we arrived in Struga. My initial reaction is this is a first class organization and well organized. Tomorrow I will get to see first hand. At 12:30, I will present my philosophy on defense to the coaches in attendance.

I won't allow myself to be depressed about not being with the family, but it is definitely close....all the time. Talked to Brandon and Kristi tonight on Skype....not sure if it makes it better or worse.
It is late, and I am tired. I think it is time to go to my wonderful room to sleep.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Serbia is my second home: Zlatibor, day 5

Today the 80 year old "Professor" of basketball asked me a question. He works with the youngest kids at the camp. His question..."what do you think of how I am doing with the kids?" He asked my opinion of his coaching ability! I was speechless. Professor Illiech is one of the oldest, most respected coaches in Serbia and the Balkans. After I told him that I was the one learning from him while he worked, he told me that he respected the fact the US is the best basketball country in the world. I can't understand what he says, as everything is translated, but with what he has said to me and what everyone says about him....he is a great, great man!

The Montenegro women's team came today. There are girls as well as boys at this camp, and the girls were highly excited. There was a girl on the team from the United States, Anna DeForge. She played at the University of Nebraska and is currently in the WNBA. We both were excited to talk to someone from "home".

I have been invited by the women's coach of Partizan, Marina Maljkovic, to go and watch the national women's team of Serbia play Montenegro tonight. The gym is a five minute walk from the camp.

Tomorrow morning, I head with my friend Tane Spasev to Skopje, Macedonia, then to Struga on Lake Ohrid to work the Junior basketball camp.

I had heard that Serbia was known as the "Indiana" of Europe, I believe it. The people I have met here and the area has made me fall in love with Serbia. I now consider it my second home. Next week in Macedonia will probably solidify that the Balkans are my second home.

The worst part of the trip is not being able to see my family....it's horrible....the best part of the trip is everything else.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Zlatibor....Day 4

This morning I showed in about 45 minutes what we do in practice for the first hour or so. The whole camp was there watching and all of the coaches. When I finished, I thought it went well. Immediately, the respect I was getting from all the coaches increased. They were being respectful before, but then it seemed to prove I knew what I was doing. It was great!

The woman's coach from Partizan in Belgrade has spoken to me often about philosophy and the game....we agree on a lot. She has won 3 championships and his highly respected. After my presentation, she had very nice things to say....huge compliment.

The Serbian women's national team's coaching staff and spoke to the children today and posed for pictures.

Serbia is a great country from what I have seen. I leave Saturday morning to head to Skopje, Macedonia before going to Struga and Lake Ohrid for another camp. If I had my family here, it would not be hard to stay for a long period of time. Only impediment is not knowing the language. It would be nice to be in on some of the great stories and jokes being told around me.

I told my wife, I may come home with a small Balkan accent because I am trying to fit in by saying their words and saying their English words the same way. Posting pictures has been hard because I didn't bring my laptop, so I will do it as soon as possible.

Love it here, love the Balkans, but missing the USA and Indiana!!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Zlatibor....Day 3

Speaking with pro coaches from Belgium, Libya and Partizan out of Belgrade has been amazing. They think similarly as me in many things, but I have learned also. They have been highly respectful of me and everyone has treated me with great respect and friendliness.

Today, the kids are starting to get used to me and they listen. I am starting to get comfortable also with them. Tomorrow, I am going to speak to the coaches and camp and take 45 minutes to run what a practice for us would be like.

Zlatibor, the town, is a five minute walk away and I have gone there often. Many shops and restaurants. The food at the camp is....um....ok, but in town I have been able to eat many foods we have in the US. And they have Coca-Cola everywhere....I should survive.

After my clinic tomorrow, we watch the Serbian Women's national team practice....everyday day, hour, minute, and second is a new learning experience.

Today...it hit me really hard. I am missing Kristi, Brandon, and Maddie.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

35th Internacionalni Kasarkaski Kamp: Professor Aleksandar Nikolic

Day 2: This morning, I woke up after having slept very well. On the flight over, I probably slept 2 hours in 30 plus hours. I just couldn't get comfortable enough to rest. When I arrived, I was so excited to be here, and to be meeting with people I had only met online, that I couldn't sleep then either. But last night, I got 7 good hours. As I write this, it is 2:25 PM, but back home it is 8:25 AM.

Last night, I spoke to Brandon and Kristi via Skype....it was very nice to see and speak to them.

This morning, I helped Coach Borce Illievski as he put his team through some drills. I helped, pointed out some things and participated. Got some new drills for the future.

I was asked by the people in charge to run a practice in a couple of days. Probably 1 hour to show them an example of what I do back home.

The language barrier isn't as bad as you would think. Many of them know English very well, but they do sit around telling stories, laughing and talking....can't help to think that I am missing some things....wish I had studied up a little bit more than I did.

Will continue to write when possible.

Monday, June 28, 2010

First flight....Zlatibor, Serbia!

I took off on my first flight today...smooth sailing from Louisville to Newark, then to Frankfurt and finally to Belgrade. After landing in Belgrade, I had a 3 hour car ride to Zlatibor where the camp will take place.

So far, like a little kid in a candy store. As a history and geography teacher this has been great in such a short time!

Big differences in American and Serbian culture. The biggest thing that stands out is the public smoking. It is like the 1970's here. Smoking in restaurants, in hotels, around everyone....no problem.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"You May Give Out; But NEVER Give Up!"

I recently came across the quote that is the title of this article and found it interesting. How true is that statement? There are many times that we feel that we cannot go on, we have just about been run over too many times. But what other choice is there? Giving up? Ha, I don't think I would give anyone the satisfaction of giving up or being depressed.

I am not saying that I wouldn't one day decide to retire or resign from basketball, but it would be to take care of my own family and not the children of other families, but now....I am not giving up. I know I write mostly about basketball stuff here, but hopefully some of the stuff that I do write about can be applied to real life, so can that quote.

I am a perspective person, and I really believe that it can be worse...almost in any given situation. I cannot think of anything that would depress me to the point of giving up unless it were something that happened to both children. If I had terminal cancer, I have had 40 great years, met a beautiful woman who became the mother to two wonderful children. How could you not feel lucky? If something were to happen to those around me, somebody really important to me....would they want me to give up? Would they want me to mope around feeling like a victim? I don't think so. I don't want my wife or kids to ever use my early death (if it were to happen) as an excuse for their shortcomings or their unhappiness.

I believe that we choose to be happy and positive, I think too often we search for happiness and positivity from outside of ourselves and you will not find it. If you are looking for something or someone to make your life complete or to make you happy, I am afraid that you will not ever find those elusive sentiments. You must be happy with yourself and by yourself before you can be happy with someone else. You must be happy with yourself and by yourself if you think any kind of possessions will suddenly make you happy.

So if happiness and positivity are choices than unhappiness and negativity must also be choices. Why would we ever choose those two things? Often because of selfishness or that we have just been buried in the negativity of the world to stop trying to choose to be happy. It can happen to anyone, it has happened often to me, but I choose to never give up. To continue to plow away at basketball and life is the only option that I can see. When we lose a tough game, often people will say "keep working"....again, what other choice is there?

So, at times you may give out. We all do. You decide to take sometime away from others...an hour, a day, a week, a month, but at some point you must get off your butt and continue....never give up! Don't be a victim and make something out of what you have right now, right here!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Stall Ball"

Playing over here at Olney J.C. something has kinda gotten under my skin. It has before, but now I write about this stuff to make me feel a little bit....better.

We have in two games here, been highly patient trying to score. In one game, we played a superior team physically and went to a spread offense trying to slow the game down which along with our 2-3 zone did just that. We were able to spread them out and get back doors and open shots. The final score was 21-19...that same team, in it's next game, scored 19 points in the first ten minutes of the game.

The following game, we decided we didn't want to compete until we were down 32-17. At that point, in the second half, we decided to play and went on to tie the score at 36-36. We had not substituted at all in the second half and our guys were tired. At the 4:30 mark, I decided to hold the ball out top against this teams packed 2-3 zone. We waited, and waited, and waited for them to come out and they didn't. While this is happening, fans are yelling at me, our team and saying "this is summer ball, come on...play!"

Two things get under my skin about this: 1. that is how we will play at times and with young, inexperienced guards we need to practice in the summer when real games aren't on the line, and 2. how come the defense doesn't get any blame for this? If they had come out at any point until the 1 minute mark, we would have attacked and played. Instead they stay in their packed zone, and we are at fault? Why don't fans yell, "come on coach, go get them!"? "make them play!"?

I can promise this that until we get athletes who can just dominate games, we will continue to be patient at times, heck, even then we will do it because I believe it is intelligent basketball. Here is a little sidenote for my 5 years as head coach at HHS....the fewer shots we take in a quarter/game, the more points we score. So when we shoot more, we score less? Yes it is true.

It's been fun over here and oh...in that game we held it for 4 1/2 minutes and everybody was getting mad....we won in sudden death when freshman to be Andrew Jones hit a floater over a 6'6" kid.

That made it a little easier to face the hostile crowd afterwards....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Doing it the Right Way

First, let me preface this with the idea that I believe there are many "ways" to play basketball the "right" way. I believe that there are many different styles of playing the game of basketball. You can press and run, you can be patient, you can mix the styles, you can play different defenses and offenses...there is no "right" way to how you play the game.

What I am talking about is the right way to do the peripheral things.

Why do we have rules? Is it about your own selfish wants to be successful in a worldly way? Do the ends justify the means?

You often see people being successful not just in basketball, but in other aspects of life who you know are at times immoral or unethical; and if you are not being successful, you, at the least, ponder being unethical yourself. How do you continue to do things "the right way" while those who are not ethical are knowingly breaking or bending the rules? Especially if you are expected to compete with those people? If you break the rules, or bend them doesn't it even the playing field?

The answer, for me, is that I will do what I think is right...I will continue to do what I think is ethical because that is what you are supposed to do, how I have been raised, and because my faith won't allow it any other way. If anything happens at any school (like a player moving in) the perception is that something wrong has occurred. Trust me, it happens a lot throughout the state of Indiana where something wrong did occur, and I think that is where that perception comes from.

Now, there is a huge difference in knowingly breaking/bending rules and doing it without knowledge of doing so, ignorance, I guess you could say. It is that moment when you realize what you have done that speaks volumes of your character.

It is frustrating to watch some be successful while being less than what they should be (but really, who am I to decide that), while others are not being as successful, those that are trying to be what they should be and follow the rules.

The great thing is that a huge majority of people that I am around from competing schools do toe the line. There are rare exceptions that most everyone knows about, and it seems odd that it goes unpunished, yet those of us who do follow the rules would be busted immediately for the same action. But, most of the people from other schools do what they are supposed to do, they do turn themselves in (which we have done) for unknowingly breaking rules, and they are good people.

We will continue to do things to the best of our ability to do it the "right way". We canot control perception, but we can control our actions. We can control the image of "if there's smoke, there's fire", and as long as I am in control, we won't tolerate that smoke.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Does it All Mean to You?

What do kids have today? Even the less fortunate? Cell phones, Internet, 300 channels on television, etc. I could go on and on about what kids today have individually. What else do they have? Cars, insurance for that car, vacations with family and others, etc. As a matter of fact, most kids today live the life that I wished I had when I was their age.
Here is what I had....a basketball, a basketball goal, a tennis ball, a wall to throw it against, an old wooden bat, and rocks that I hit out of my driveway. We had no cell phones, we had 1 channel on t.v., we didn't go on vacation but maybe once or twice growing up (couldn't afford it), I had a car, but my parents bought it and paid the car insurance (the cars barely ran, but they got me from my house 3 miles out to Henryville just fine).

I don't know if that has anything to do with the situations we find ourselves in coaching today or not...well, yea, I do believe that it does. Fun to me was playing basketball or baseball or any other sport I could get my hands on, but living 3 miles from Henryville might as well been 20 miles. The only way I could get in before my license was on a bicycle. So, it was pretty much me, by myself, shooting around.

I didn't have all of the "confusing" extras that kids today have, so I played. I also had parents that were supportive and got me where I needed to be. Those parents also didn't force me to work until I had graduated so that I could enjoy being a kid. We didn't seem to have much extra growing up, but I didn't know better. As I got older, I was sort of resentful that I didn't have the other stuff some of my friends had...now as I have grown older, I am thankful for what I had and what I didn't have. It forced me into being what I was growing to be.

The committment of kids to high school sports has waned. Not just at HHS, but at just about every school that is in our surrounding area. When I talk about the issues that we have, it is reinforced by coaches and Athletic Director's at other schools. We are looking again at probably only 20 boys 9-12 who want to play basketball, and many of the "minor" sports struggle to even field teams.

Where are we headed? Some argue that we will have a club type atmosphere sooner than later. That is the international model. I hate that for us, because every single foreign exchange student that comes to HHS loves the fact that the school and community get behind its athletics. Unfortunately, as charter schools and private schools recruit their players, public schools will be left behind, fewer students will want to play and I do believe we will change to club/AAU programs as the way for kids to play.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tips for Graduates as They Enter the Real World

One thing I do know when it comes to giving advice, and I mean I am absolutely sure about is that when giving advice to young people they will often nod, smile and listen. Inside their heads they are thinking (and some will flat out tell you) "you are wrong, I am different, that may have happened to you, but it won't me; sorry you are such a loser" and so on. How do I know this? Because it is what I did, and it is what so many young people have said to me when they come back to school. "If I had only listened".

Good advice comes from experience, experience comes from? Bad decisions. Most adults have at least lived long enough to make enough bad decisions to help out younger people, but most, if not all, people have to learn the hard way...through experience. I have thought about what I might say to graduates some time if asked to speak at a graduation and it is something that I have thought about a lot...what would I have wanted to know and what do I think they should know. Below is the list that I have messed with and probably leaving something good out.

1. Wear sunscreen...I know, I know you think that tan looks "pretty" right now, but you will learn to regret your decision on that tan. For many people the sun will give you what you don't want at some point in your life...skin cancer at the worst and pre mature aging at the least.

2. Floss...I am guilty of it, but if you want to keep your own teeth and NOT pay thousands to do so, floss your teeth. Take care of your teeth. Not only does it cost money, the assumption by some is that you are unattractive and uneducated without them.

3. Tattoos...stay away from them. If you want to get one, make that decision in your late 20's or early 30's. When you think about getting one, think of these words..."Grandma/Grandpa show me your tattoo." What is often "cool" today isn't so "cool" later in your life. There is a reason that a new type of business is springing up all over the place. Which type of business? Tattoo removal!

4. Wear your seatbelt...it may not save your life 100% of the time, but it may increase those chances if ever in a wreck.

5. Say "thank you" and "I'm sorry"...it is amazing how people will treat you differently if you treat them with manners. And when you do say those words, and you should say them A LOT, mean it!

6. Get into an exercise routine...you will not feel being out of shape, if you are in shape now, until you are in your 40's. You will think you are out of shape until then, but you won't be. Then, it will be hard to begin an exercise routine, so start early...when you don't need it.

7. Keep learning...you often learn the most when you realize that you know nothing.

8. What you put out in the world is usually what comes back..."what goes around, comes around". If you are a negative, angry person, you will get that back to you. If you are positive and happy (and happiness is often a choice), you will get that back in return.

9. Stay away from credit cards...they are evil, evil things. They charge an obscene interest rate and are set up that if you make the minimum payment on $1000, you will NEVER pay it off. If you do get a credit card, make sure to pay off the balance every single month.

10. Stay away from drugs (cigarettes) and alcohol...you don't see too many successful drug addicts or alcoholics. Every single addict or alcoholic started off doing their thing socially, "to have more fun". I often find it interesting that children of addicts and alcoholics become their parents. And they often hate their parents for being what they are...addicted. And cigarettes...you don't see too many healthy smokers in their 50's, 60's or older. There is a reason that most, if not all, smokers quit or try to quit. Learn from them.

11. If your boyfriend/girlfriend hits you...leave! "I love you, it won't happen again." Those words may be some of the biggest lies ever spoken. They will do it again, even though they believe they won't do it again. If your significant other comes from an abusive home, know the signs...statistics show that they will become abusers. If you are married, DEMAND counseling or leave. If you have children...leave! I don't care how much you love someone if they are abusing you, or worse...your children...your children will be learning all the wrong lessons.

12. Give your parents a break...if they are not abusing you (often you have a different definition than your parents on that) try to understand where they are coming from. They have something that you don't, experience. You have never been a parent/adult, they have been a child. They often make mistakes because they don't want you to make the same mistakes they made and they love you. You are the sweetest, greatest thing they have ever known (at least when you were born and before you started back talking). And trust me, you will not know true love until you have a child.

13. Don't pass your garbage on to your children...if you don't like your parents, if you don't like the things they do, if you feel that you have been wronged by them...2 things can happen. 1. you will eventually realize that they aren't as bad as you thought, or 2. you realize they are that bad and you are a product of that behavior. Realize that and don't have children or when you do...understand that YOUR actions (garbage) is being passed off to your kids. Break the chain!

14. Start a savings account...even if it is a small amount. Put aside a small amount of money each paycheck to have for a rainy day or month or....months.

15. Forgive yourself...we all have made decisions in the past and we all have made mistakes. Everybody...your parents, your ministers, your teachers, your grandparents, your police officers, your military people, every single person. Don't be so hard on yourself.

16. Don't have pre-marital sex...and if you do, use protection. Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and many other psychological issues can be avoided or at least minimized. Why do something at a young age you will be dealing with the rest of your life?

17. Go to church...If not there go somewhere at least weekly that will re-energize your moral compass. Mosque, temple, a book, a person...we all need to be re-energized and motivated daily.

I am sure I could come up with some more items for this list. How do I know about these things? Because of poor decisions I have made, or what I have seen others make and them dealing with the consequences of those actions. Oh...to be young and inexperienced. Would I do it over? Not if I didn't know then what I know now, but that's what growing up is about. Doing, failing, learning, being better, doing, failing, learning and so on.

To this year's graduates as I do for every year's graduates....I wish you well!