30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

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


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'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!!!!