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

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!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Henryville Elementary Basketball Development Guide

This is what I give our elementary coaches each time we hire a new one, or two. I just want them to have a guide of what I expect.

Offense:
1. off the catch=triple threat
2. off the dribble=chin it
3. be able to dribble with both hands
4. be able to pass with both hands, and know the different types of passes.
5. be able to shoot with correct shooting form
6. off the dribble and making moves they need to be balanced
7. know how to pivot, with elbows out and ball chinned
8. how to catch a basketball off the ground
9. towards end of 5th grade and into 6th grade….shot fakes, and pass fakes.
10. all ball handling drills that high school works on.
11. be able to shoot a layup with either hand and correct footwork.

Defense:
1. man to man defense principles are imperative
2. proper stance-butt down, hands wide and one hand up, one down
3. feet at least shoulder width apart
4. butt to the basket at all times on defense
5. correct form on defensive slides….don’t cross feet.
6. understand help side defense
7. zones and other defenses are last thing taught
8. when rebounding…chin the basketball
9. when picking up a loose ball…chin the basketball
10. dive on the floor

Other ideas:
-individuals show improvement as well as the team from the beginning to end of season
-Come to elementary intramurals
-Come to jr. high and high school practices, you are welcome any time.
-Come to jr./sr. high games so you can see what you are the beginning of.
-Be able to show improvement with your team.
-Ask questions of any of us.
-Practice 3-5 times per week
-Play 10-15 games per season
-play as many kids as possible during the game
-Get them to play hard
-Get them to love the game through your love for the game.
-fast break…players know where to run on floor down the court
-press breaker
-Don’t coach for the money, you’re not fooling anyone and you aren’t getting enough to do so.