relationships

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Philosophies on Success or How to Get Rich Telling Others to Buy Your Book

I read a lot and many of the books I read are about how to be a successful person/coach/teacher, just fill in the blank. There are some things I have noticed.
First is often these books on success are written by successful people. Those people who have won awards or championships have written these books and people want to buy them. Who wouldn't? I mean they have won what I want so I will read their book and find out their "secret". What I find, and I mean just about every time, is that they claim that winning championships, awards or titles is not what it is all about! I believe them but how easy is it for someone who has won what the world thinks is important to claim that it isn't....important?

The reason anyone is listening to them and buying their book is because they have won what we want. They have made it to the top of the mountain we want to climb and then while standing up there are telling us the view isn't that good. That we need to do what we do for different reasons, again, I agree, but it is easy to make that assessment while standing on top of the mountain. I have found that while reading these books that people who have made it to the top and are claiming that is not what is life is about made their way to the top with a laser focus to get to the top.

Second, I have noticed that most of the things these people do to be successful are similar. They get up early, put more time in, have a positive outlook, self-motivation, etc. If these are the keys and if everyone is doing what the successful people told them to do to be successful why are we not all successful?

I will tell you why. Most people who read these books lack probably the most important thing that is needed to be a success. Self-motivation and mental toughness. To me, mental toughness is everything. Most people read these books and change for a short time but don't do what many of these books say must happen...the change must become permanent, a habit. So, we continue to buy these books on success making the successful more succesful all the while not following their advice.

However, I believe that success is not about standing on top of the mountain (easy for a guy who hasn't been there, huh?). It is about making a positive difference, and the relationships that you make along the way. It is about helping others and if championships and awards come with that, so be it.

Success is about making the big time where you are. It is about pulling people up and bettering themselves. It is about being a better person, father, husband, coach, teacher, son, uncle. It isn't about being "Father of the Year", the title. It is about being "Father of Madison and Brandon" and hopefully developing them into positive people who will pass it on.

It isn't about being "Coach of the Year", it is about being the best possible coach of the team you have right now. Making them better players and people who will make a difference in the world.

Finally, the most successful people you will find often aren't those who are standing on top of the mountain that everyone else is looking at. They are people who are standing on top of the mountain that is often not seen as a mountain to conquer. They are people who will live, fight, and die making a positive difference and many of us will never know their names and to them I want to say "thank you" for all you do without being recognized with worldly awards.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Houston...No Problem

The National Association of Basketball Coaches meets every single year concurrently with the Final Four in the same city and close to the action. Coaches, mostly college, converge on the site to meet, go to clinics, get free stuff, and mostly socialize and network.

Last year, I joined the NABC and attended the clinic in Indianapolis. This year, I decided to join again and head to Houston. All of this was decided months ago, tickets bought, hotel gotten. Then Butler won their region final and are headed down and now the University of Kentucky is also headed down that way.


I am looking forward to seeing many friends I don't see during the season, but there could possibly be a chance to see somebody from "back home".


I have read numerous recent posts that UK Coach Calipari outcoached UNC's Roy Williams. I just can't see it. What I saw in watching their game yesterday was a bunch of players for UK making plays and executing and UNC players not. Does that mean one guy got outcoached? Not sure...I would be willing to bet that Roy Williams was trying to get his team to do all of the things the armchair coaches thought he should be doing. Bottom line, credit should go to the UK players for getting it done.


How amazing is it what UCONN has done over the last 20 days? 9 wins in that short amount of time starting with its run through the Big East tourney. Can they do it for two more games? If so, it will be one of the greatest athletic team achievements in recent history.


VCU, Virginia Commonwealth, has gone from a new thing this year (1st 4) and ended up in the Final Four. Great story, great kids, young, good coach.


Is this John Calipari's first Final 4 or 3rd leading three different teams. I am sure he will get tired of answering that type of question all week.


Finally, Butler...first team from the state of Indiana to ever make back to back Final Fours? Really? That is hard to believe.


Good luck to all four teams. I am looking forward to the practices on Friday as I head out to Houston.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anonymous Letter: Part II

Well, after wondering all weekend about who might have sent me my admiring letter on my coaching ability or lacktherof, I received an interesting text message from a local coach. Apparently, he received the same exact letter; typed on the inside, handwritten address and attention written on the envelope. After talking about it and exchaning phone pictures of the outside of the envelope we were amazed. He said it best..."I feel like we're in the twilight zone".

But, it gets better. I then made a call to another local coach who told me that yet another coach in our conference received such a letter the same day as me. So, I called that coach and you got it, all three received the exact same letter. Same letter, same type envelope, and same words.

So now we are all wondering what is going on in such a bizarre fashion. Why would the three of us get the exact same letter? If it is someone going after our job they have lost all credibility by sending the exact same letter to all three of us. I can tell you that the two coaches that received their letters are very good coaches and have done great jobs in their respective positions.

Then we ran a theory that maybe it is a disgruntled school. But we couldn't come up with a connection that the three of us had in that endeavor (who knows, maybe more coaches got the exact same letter).

So one of the coaches and I have come up with a theory that it could possibly be someone who wants a coaching job and by writing that letter it would send one of us over the edge allowing them to apply for it. That probably makes more sense than anything other than someone is just trying to "have some fun" with us. But still, what is the connection to all three schools?

Connection? They are relatively close, so someone would want to not drive too far. There are probably zero coaching teaching positions open, so they would have to be a lay coach. And since all three were postmarked from Kokomo, IN, they would have to have some type connection there.

I am writing this only to put into words what is actually happening. If you coach long enough you will see many, many, many, many different type of things occur, but this is to say the least...different.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Class Act? Time to End the Insanity All Right

Recently this article was included on the front page of the local news, here is the link to it http://newsandtribune.com/local/x977546566/MORRIS-A-class-act?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook . While reading the article I couldn't believe that someone still doesn't understand the idea behind class sports, I mean, I understand why someone by be against it, but, well...I thought about writing a letter to the editor, but I chose to put my rebuttal here.

By CHRIS MORRIS Chris.Morris@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — I hope the state Democrats hiding in Illinois are coming up with a plan to reorganize the Indiana High School Athletic Association basketball tournament. I hope they are doing something productive other than playing video games or throwing darts at photos of Gov. Mitch Daniels.

All kidding aside, if there was ever a chance to gain momentum for the one class tournament format to return to the Hoosier state, it’s now. Gas prices are soaring, attendance at tournament games continues to dwindle and 80 percent of the school corporations in the state are going bankrupt. It would be cheaper for athletic departments to return to local sectionals instead of making teams travel for an hour or more three and four times a week. But the biggest reason to return to the old format is that class basketball does not work (False, just not the way you want it to work). Our once great basketball tournament has been watered down to the point where even the heartiest of fans lose interest. (That is truly unfortunate because the people you will be talking most about the 4A crowd, the tournament is not watered down now as it was in 1 class and the smaller classes are supporting the tournament as they always have.) We have given the class tournament more than a decade to prove otherwise, plenty of time to realize it’s never going to be a hit with the paying public.

Why, might you ask?

Let’s look at what this tournament has forced New Albany High School players, coaches and fans to do in less than two weeks. Last week, New Albany had to make three trips to Seymour including on back-to-back nights. Three trips ... the good news is the Bulldogs won the sectional. (During the one class era smaller schools traveled three nights a week to play and watch driving almost 45 minutes in some places, but they went and the bad news...they often didn't win the sectional.)

Saturday morning, New Albany will once again travel to Seymour for regional play. Four times to Seymour in less than two weeks.

Now granted, Seymour is only an hour from New Albany, so it’s not that big of a deal, right? (No, not a big deal, most schools would love to travel an hour to experience success. We would go anywhere, anytime to advance.)

Well, for a lot of people it is a big deal. New Albany played a 6 p.m. sectional game on Tuesday and Friday nights. How many people can, or want, to leave work at 5 p.m., fight Interstate 65 traffic to try and get to the game for the tipoff? (It is once a year or 3 times a year depending...if they are not willing to do what it takes, are they "true fans"? During the one class era big schools got to host sectional, so I know 14 years of travel is unfortunate to the previous 80+ years of walking to the gym.)

New Albany has great fans and many folks made the decision to drive to Seymour for the games. But it is so unfair to not only the players, but to the fans. Sectionals were designed to bring neighboring communities together which adds to rivalries (Really? I wonder what Henryville, Silver Creek and Charlestown had in common with Southwestern Hanover and Madison when in the Madison sectional. Sectionals were designed for the bigger schools to have easier opportunities to advance). Why should New Albany and Jeffersonville travel an hour to play one another in a tournament opener? They shouldn’t. The game should be played at Jeff or New Albany ... depending on which school is the host site. (That was a great sectional wasn't it? NA and Jeff in the same sectional, but the last 10-15 years they BOTH hosted a sectional, well actually NA and FC would alternate going to Jeff, but I think NA and Jeff eventually ended up in opposite sectionals all the time...so much for one of the greatest community rivalry.)

In many cases, the class system has taken sectionals out of neighboring schools, so obviously, attendance has taken a hit.

I consider myself a fan, but there is no way I could tell you the last four Class 1A, 2A, 3A or even 4A state champs. It’s crazy. Four state champions? Why stop there? Let’s go to eight or 10 classes so everyone gets to take home a medal. (Class basketball is not about giving out more trophies it is, to me, about giving every single team a belief that they can have some success every single year in the tournament. Not every decade or 20 years, but every year. This past year my team won 5 games and we believed that if we played well, we could make a run. It is really hard to explain to them that they can beat New Albany or Jeffersonville this year or any year. You might get that one time every 30 years when you have the best team you ever had and that big school is down and then it becomes now or never...that's terrible).

The class system works in football because it takes more kids to field a team. There is no way a school with 200 boys can compete in football against a school with 1,000. (Hold on, if it is good enough for football it is good enough for basketball. It is about the quality of your quantity. You only need 11 players for football...yes more is a convenience, but why can't Union Dugger not compete in the same class as Penn? That is ridiculous, we know they cannot in football, why is it that much different in basketball...the answer it isn't.)

However, basketball only takes 10 players, or fewer. This YMCA Youth League mentality the IHSAA has shoved down our throats, where everyone has to be a winner, has ruined a great thing. The only difference between the two is that the IHSAA does keep score.

I applaud all the teams who have advanced on to the regional round. (Even though you have questioned the legitimacy of their tournament?) It’s a great accomplishment to win a title and to move on down the tourney trail. But, it just doesn’t have the same feeling as it once did. Not to the kids or coaches involved, but to the thousands of fans of high school basketball. And there is no way someone could convince me otherwise. (Well at least you have an open mind about this discussion. It is that kind of thinking that creates division with no compromise or progress)

Now it’s true I am a product of a large school. (I would have never guessed that.) However, my senior year, all I could do was shake my head as Chuck Franz single-handily knocked my team out of the tournament with his 50-point effort. And Clarksville is a much smaller school than New Albany. Looking back, I wish there had been class ball in 1979 so Mr. Franz could have played in some 2A tourney somewhere other than Johnson Arena in Jeffersonville. (It took a 50 point effert by Chuck Franz for Clarksville to have one of its few victories over New Albany in the sectional....you are making the arguement for class basketball now.)

It’s amazing what a group of people can do to something that is not broken. Maybe those who successfully changed the Indiana tournament can do the same for the NCAA tourney. We need a big school and a small school tournament, (We do HAVE that. D1, D2 and D3 tournies. I mean it's 5 on 5, Bellarmine should definitely be in the same tournament as North Carolina or Duke?) that way we will crown two (actually 3 is what we crown) NCAA champs and there would be no more March Madness. It would become bland, boring like many regular season games, and fans would simply tune it out ... just like they have at the high school level. (That is too bad because they are missing some great atmospheres at the smaller school levels)

I hope New Albany and Rock Creek, the two local teams left in the tournament, win Saturday. Those kids don’t care about class basketball, only whether they beat the guy in the other jersey. We should all applaud their accomplishments. (Even in an illegitimate tournament?)

Class basketball, unfortunately, is here to stay folks. And while I would love to see it go back to the way it was, when local sectionals and regionals were packed and the excitement level was off the charts, it’s not going to happen. To those who make the decisions, a class tourney is more fair to the smaller schools. But, I would think playing in front of 5,000 fans, against a bigger school with a chance to really make a name for yourself, would be more memorable. (Yes, some schools wait for that opportunity every 10-50 years) It might create real Hoosier Hysteria. (That the big schools got for over 80 years every year and small schools came, played, were defeated, and still came back to support the tournament unlike today's 4A crowds)

Maybe next year, New Albany and Floyd Central will be paired in the first round of the South Bend Sectional at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Sound crazy? About as crazy as changing the single class basketball tournament, which was revered throughout the country, into four classes back in 1998. And look what that got us. (What it got us is a bunch of complaining from a majority of people that often do not follow the lower classes of basketball.)

To be fair, I think the class tournament is better, but could definitely be changed. I am a huge supporter of the Hickory Compromise. Let there be class tournaments until the Final 16 teams are left. Then take those 16 and play a Sweet 16 tournament. It allows for small schools to dream of perennial success and it allows for one state champion.

But the arguments of the writer of the article are the same ones that are paraded out every single year and often times more often because of a lack of success. I wonder what Mr. Morris do if New Albany actually didn't win more often than not?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Hits Keep on Coming

It only took 6 years as basketball coach, but I finally got my first anonymous letter asking specifically for my resignation. The letter had no return address, and was postmarked from Kokomo, IN which is a 2 hour and 30 minute drive from Henryville. Either this person went way out of their way or decided to drop it off while visiting someone.

This isn't a posting to espouse what I have done as coach, well, maybe a little, but I thought I would answer this letter.

"I am writing this letter because you have not been successful (63 wins in 6 years, by far this being the worst record this season) you haven't done what you promised when you were hired (all that I promised is that I would work hard and try to make us as competitive as possible) and the end result is that your teams (sic) performance has been a total embarrassment to our school. (Unlike anonymous letters that seem to speak for many people who I guess shall remain anonymous)

The letter goes on to say that I am consistently outcoached, failed miserably, I lose my team as the game progresses, player attitudes, enthusiasm, and effort has not been what it should be. (The last I vehemently will argue against...the player attitudes, enthusiasm and effort has been very good, you can argue the first part of the sentence, don't attack the players).

"Step down and allow someone else the opportunity to turn this program around....I really don't think you have a clue...."

"Resign now...you don't have the support of the fans nor your players" (I offered my resignation and was told it wasn't necessary. I have felt very much support from fans and when I told the players I offered my resignation, it was overwhelmingly no from them).

"I will be making my feelings know (sic) to the AD as I will relate to him the rumblings that I have heard more and more" (Everyone has the American right to do so, but if you think I will take the advice of an anonymous letter, you are mistaken. In fact, it has probably motivated me more to come back next year...thank you).

"Resign or I will pursue having your coaching contract not renewed by taking this to the school board". (Do so if you feel it necessary, then we will know who you are)

"Please quit blaming your inability to achieve any success (2 conference championships, two sectional runner ups, and a McKee Munk Invitational championship in 6 years and overall winning record until this season) on your players." (I think the players have to accept some responsibility, but I apologized to the team that I wasn't able to find some way for them to be successful this year through all of our adversity.)

I am not sure, but I think this person wants me to resign. The words resign, step down were used six different times. I often decide if I want to continue or not and may sometimes be leaning towards resigning. If I felt this was what the majority of people wanted, I would do so, but I find it hard to take seriously an anonymous letter mailed from Kokomo on the Henryville basketball program.

I have been told numerous times during the season by many different people that we are doing the right things and continue doing what we are doing. The players seem to support me and the coaching staff as most of the players come to my room every day during our study hall. They listen, they play hard, they have a lot of enthusiasm in practice, and they played their behinds off this year when we struggled vs. good teams and a lack of eligible players.

This type of thing would have really bothered me a few years ago, but now...it doesn't unless it would be someone close to me. It is a shame, and I will keep it to remind me of many things that will remain off this blog.

If this person wanted me to resign and thinking that this letter would get the job done, it has only made me want to dig my heels in more so to prove them wrong. It has motivated me, but not in the way that person believed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ramblings and Other Unintelligent Observations

Recently some of my quotes in the local newspapers caused a stir in the area. I have been texted, emailed, spoken to, patted on the back by many, many people, and I understand that a certain community is not real happy with me for the exact same comments.

First, my intention when being interviewed was putting out there how special I think it is to coach at a public school. We were defeated by a much better charter school, and I wanted to make it clear how much I appreciated Henryville. It had little to do with the school we played and more about the team I had. We struggled this year to be competitive for many different reasons and we did it all with kids who either live in our district or have gone here since jr. high.

Some of the comments were "I really enjoy coaching at Henryille because I have known some of these kids since the were born. We have watched them grow up in first grade, second grade and on. We get to watch them grow as people as well as basketball players" Those words were said because in a struggling season, there are more positives than many people know or understand, you bond with the players who you have known for a long time. Did it have something to do with competing against a charter school, probably, but it was about my team, my guys, and my community.

Later, I was asked how good that team was, how far could they go. My response: "I said it last week and I will say it again, they have assembled a very good team, I would love to have some of their players, but my guys live in Henryville". Let's break the quote down..."they have assembled a very good team" True statement. Many of their players did not go to that school in elementary and/or jr. high. They have had to put together a team with players who can flat out play for many different reasons. "I would love to have some of their players"...no doubt, very good players. "but my guys live in Henryville" for the most part they do. One or two shuttle between parents, but for the bulk of their times during the school year they are here. How is that a slam on anyone? I can see where you might get that idea, but again, it was about my team, my school, my players.

With all that being said, I understand why some from the school we competed against might be upset by the comments. When comparing the grass roots, hometown team vs. the charter school, there will be insinuations that will occur. Were my comments completely innocent? No. Were they said out of frustration? Maybe. Am I jealous of the unequal situation? Probably. Did I upset some by making public my statements on my team which allowed for obvious insinuations? Yes.

What is my problem with charter or private schools? Really, the only thing that I have problems with are two fold. If those schools violate IHSAA rules, and really if a public school does it, I can't stand it. I can't stand trying to do things correctly and being defeated by a corrupt opponent. I am not pointing fingers at any school, but to be honest, it happens in private/charters and in public schools in which the rules are bent to benefit your team.

Second, the rules are inherently different for private schools. They have to recruit students to keep their doors open. And charter schools, well, people are drawn to them because of the inexpensive education that you can get there by just showing up. If a student chooses to go to a private school, usually for religious reasons, they are eligible immediately. If a student chooses a charter school for educational reasons, they are eligible almost immediately. If a student chooses to attend a public school from either of those or go to another public school, they must LIVE in the district of the school they want to attend and sit out athletically. I realize there are exceptions to this, but there are exceptions to every "rule".

I have no problem with a charter/private who has a majority of its players playing for them since elementary or junior high. Some private schools have had just that, in fact, one recently won a sectional with those "homegrown" kids in their private school.

You are going to say that with the new laws from Indianapolis it is not true, you can live anywhere and attend any school. In theory, yes, but I can tell you with test scores being a priority and cuts in spending, if a student cannot pass the GQE/ISTEP test, they will probably not be allowed into our school, no matter how good they are at a sport. At privates the same things occur and at charters there is a waiting list, they have to take in a student if there is room.

Onto the next item...criticism of coaches on anonymous message boards. These guys are busting their tails doing what they think is right and usually have won more varsity games and coached in more varsity games than those critisizing. I had a recent coach tell me that anonymous message boards are "for cowards and chicken shits". I am still waiting for the message boards where you can critisize other jobs usually of people who would go insane if they could read negative comments about themselves. But "it's all in fun"...yea lots of fun. You won't see me writing on a message board unless I have my name by it. Same thing with jerks yelling at coaches during games. I understand that it is "part of the job", but that doesn't mean that I won't address it if it goes on too long or crosses a line.

No offense, but...we have won two conference championships and been in two sectional championships with the offense we run. We have changed things here and there, but usually if the ball goes in the bucket, the offense looks better. Some have critisized some of the things we do on offense (some things I have gotten from coaches I have worked for that have won a combined 800 basketball games) but we really struggled scoring this year, period. Before some of the adversity set in, we were not lighting it up by no strech of the imagination, but we doing a pretty good job of scoring.

It doesn't matter what offense you run, but here is my basic ideas for offense: get the ball into your better players hands and let them shoot. Everyone else should put some pressure on their defensive player by not just standing around and watching the better players shoot.

Finally, I love this time of year because of the Indiana State Tournament and everyone moans about how things have changed so much. My biggest fear is not getting into gyms because even though it isn't 1950, 60, or 70 anymore, it is really hard to get a ticket for some of these games I want to attend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The End of Another Season

Oh what a season we had this year. Worst record in a decade at 5-16, suspensions, season ending injuries, and a coach who happened to get much dumber this year as opposed to the 12-11 sectional runner ups last year and the 15-8 S.A.C. champions from two years ago. But that is all part of it, I guess.

When a season ends, and you are speaking in the locker room. I never really know what to say. To the seniors, it is over and nothing you say can help that feeling. It hurts, but it really hits them the next day when the bell rings for last period and they can get in their cars and go home as opposed to practicing. Trust me, the season is long with open gyms in September, conditioning in October and practice in November.

It is easier to speak to the under classmen. They have more years to play and in the case this year, we actually had one step up and apologize to the team and vowed we wouldn't go through this again next year. I believe him, he motivated me.

But then as the tournament continues to be played and you have to sit and watch, I enjoy it, but I also am jealous wanting to be part of the atmosphere as a coach. Some of the players attend the sectional after a loss, others cannot get themselves to show up...I understand both.

Then in the case last night of a big upset, you get to see a team who has struggled all year celebrate as if they have actually won the entire tournament. You can see a coach, who you know deals with the same garbage, stress, time committments as you, walk from the gym to his locker room and swear you didn't see his feet touch the ground. I have had those feelings before and I can respect what he is going through. And you can feel for the losing coach in that situation. I have been there also and you realize how hard it will be to get up this morning.

We dealt with so much adversity this season and I blame myself. I don't know why, but I believe that each year that will be the year where we don't deal with negativity. And every year we do.

So now, I get to spend time with the kids and wife and start preparing for summer basketball...didn't I say it was the end of another season? Basketball never ends...