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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Indiana Basketball Coaches Association

Well, I am going to pull back the curtain on this one...probably violating some kind of unwritten rule, but's my blog! The IBCA has their annual clinic this weekend. It is a great time and the IBCA does a great job (two greats in one sentence; trying to soften up the blow of what follows). There are many great (again) speakers and we will have the opportunity to see many different things. This year I am personally excited to see, listen and maybe meet coach Don Meyer. If you don't know Coach Meyer or who he is check this video out:

But the unwritten rule that I am about to violate is to let many people know that I/we will learn and network as much at a local restaurant close to the clinic which is at Lawrence North H.S. in Indianapolis. At that restaurant which I do not visit but one time a year, not even the one close to home, I will catch up with many, many old acquaintances, network with friends, and meet new ones. I will be able to ask different questions of many coaches about their summer, their camps, other clinics they will attend, how they handle different situations and more than anything talk and relate to what we as coaches go through day to day.

Many people think that time is all about "partying" and I will be honest, some coaches don't use that time the same as many of us do, but it doesn't change the fact that much can be learned at that restaurant just as it can be learned at the actual clinic. So, I will head up, sign into the clinic, listen to some of the speakers and eat dinner at the local restaurant. Hopefully, I will learn a few things and connect with some old acquaintances and have a great time with friends.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Qualities to Lead and Live By

I believe there are many things you need to do be to successful and I believe there are cornerstones, but you can always add to a list, but these are 6 I believe that you need to be successful.

Work ethic. You must be willing to do the, yesterday, tomorrow, tonight or whenever that time calls. Then when you are there, do not go through the motions, work to be successful, do not work just to be there.

Reliability. If you say you will do something then do it. So that brings up two points. Do it, be there, never be late, never miss a day, but also be careful what you say because if you can't back it up, you lose credibility.

Competence. You have to know what you are doing. Anyone you are leading must believe that you know what you are doing and if you don't know what you are a great acting job. Most people will follow confidence whether it is real or fake. Knowing what you are doing though doesn't mean there aren't other ways at looking at something or doing something which brings me to my next two points.

Willingness to Change. A refusal to look at or do things differently is stubborness. Stubborness is needed at times, but can ultimately hurt you. Remember, it isn't about you being in charge and doing things your way or the highway, it is about the program, it is about the team, and yes, it is about the players at times. Now, I am not saying you have to give up your beliefs, but be willing to "see" and "listen", not just looking and hearing.

Humility It is not about you, it is not about how many games you win, it is not about how many championships you win, it is not about all. Now if these things don't happen you very well could be looking for another job, but I believe that if you do humble yourself and realize that it is about something bigger than you, you will have job longevity and you will be successful.

Mental toughness. To me, mental toughness is everything. To have hard, consistent, reliable work ethic, you must get up every day and fight the good fight. To be reliable you have to be mentally tough because you have to do it when you say you will even if you don't want to. Being competent, having an open mind and being humble are all things covered by mental toughness. We have to do the work...the learning work, have to understand that there are many "right" ways to do something and then being humble isn't exactly something that comes naturally to leaders especially coaches.

I think Character is hugely important also, but I believe that we are constantly building/teaching character into our players. As I have said before, these are 6 good cornerstones, but those cornerstones are an ever evolving entity for me. Probably because I have coached for 20 years, probably because I am ever evolving, and probably for the shear sense of survival as a high school basketball coach in Indiana.

Coaching in the 21st Century (Social Networking)

I have gone on and on about anonymous message boards here before and they are a problem, but I think a new problem we as coaches are dealing with is social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. On anonymous message boards, you don't know who is talking and who is not, but on facebook you can go straight to the source of some of this stuff. Unless that person has blocked off their "wall" you can read what they post, and it can usually lead you into knowing more than you do and sometimes more than you want to know.

We have a rule that we implemented this past season about not speaking negatively of the school, administration, their teammates, or the coaching staff on facebook or twitter. If they do they will be dealt with accordingly. It is the same with their language on these sites. To me, if they are on facebook using profanity, it is the exact same thing and probably worse than standing around at the local restaurant using the same language. Even though you are online, you are in public and must act accordingly to what is proper. Because you do represent more than yourself in public if you are playing basketball, and that representation carries over online.

So what do I do? Unfortunately, I will check out a few sites from time to time, but even more unfortunate is that many people are more than willing to let me know what is being said or how it is being said online. Then I check it out, and the first time I talk to them "council" them so to speak and that has so far ended it. I think most kids who play for us respect that the players and coaches are working hard and when they realize that it is making others look bad they are quick to stop doing so.

But, like technology in schools, these things aren't going anywhere soon, so we have to either learn to deal with it or ignore it completely. I may come to the point where I will ignore it, but I am not there yet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Can You Give this Gatorade to....."

This is going to be one of those "things are worse today than they were when I was a kid", "why I remember when I was a kid" type of article. With that said, when did we worry so much about how much our kids were hydrated? And I guess I do/would to, but when was water not good enough?

I can remember it starting when I was in high school. Parents would bring some of my teammates Gatorades during baseball games. I always, even then as a player, thought it was sorta weird that parents would bring Gatorades to my teammates when we had a water cooler in the dugout. Maybe it was because my parents couldn't afford two Gatorades during a game and they thought water was just fine that formed this opinion that I had and still have.

I remember thinking it odd that parents would do that, but it made more sense than for some of my teammates accepting them. If my parents had approached the dugout, I would have let them know they were not supposed to be in that area. I would have done it as nicely as possible, but that was sacred ground.

Then as a baseball coach, parents would actually come up to me and ask for me to give Gatorades to their kids. I got the same feeling I did when I was a kid when my Grandpa would ask me to go get his cigarettes. It was a feeling like I was partaking in something negative. With Grandpa it was his smoking cigarettes, with the players it was making them...."weaker"? Again, there was water in a cooler in the dugout, it wasn't like there was nothing for them to drink. If that had been true, then I could understand being the go between.

So now, this "giving Gatorades to our kids during baseball games" has turned into giving them Gatorades while sitting on the bench of a basketball game. All the while there are water bottles for them to drink...water.

So what is the big deal you ask? Probably nothing. Probably me overreacting. Probably me jealous because I couldn't afford them when I was young (maybe we could, maybe my parents just chose different priorities). Probably that has carried over into my adult life kinda like I cannot stand for lights to be on in the house (my parents set the electric bill at a certain price when I was a kid and anything under that price my sister and I got to split, imagine the mental illness that installed in me).

Or maybe, it is symbolic of the overall change of our society. Giving Gatorades to our kids is NOT a signal of the end of Western Civilization nor a sign of the Apocalypse, but is it symbolic? I can remember playing for hours, and I mean hours and not drinking water, and when we did get a cold drink of water (remember drinking it down taking it in like air and it tasted so good), it was water...out of the tap with ice. Water...good for you, all the time. Heck, Gatorade is so good, I will sometimes drink it with a meal not as a quencher of thirst.

So maybe I am overreacting and maybe if you see me this summer and my daughter is thirsty at a baseball game (haven't seen a water cooler yet), I will be getting her a Gatorade...probably over by us so she can come over and I can give her a hug during the game. Yea, you are right...kinda hypocritical and quite possibly a sign of the fall of Western Civ....but hey...she's my kid!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This blog

I started this blog for selfish reasons. I started this blog because there are certain things that you deal with as a coach that frustrates me highly, I mean a lot. Some of it deals with me personally and some of it deals with some of my coaching compadres.

I have posted this blog on my twitter and facebook accounts, so I know it has something to do with it, but something that never fails to take me by surprise is when someone tells me that they read what I write. Usually they have some kind words and I don't know how to take it, I just say thank you and try to move on or ask some awkward question like "you read that garbage?".

Another thing that is mind blowing to me is how something like this can spread almost like a virus. I have a globe that rotates and you can find some stats about what countries have visited this site...why in the heck would anybody from anywhere want to read what I write?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Former Players

While driving to work this morning, I got to thinking about some of my former players. Some of them I talk to on a semi regular basis and some I rarely see or speak to. To be honest, the ones I do speak to usually approach me or I happen to see out at some event. Part of that is that I am still doing what I did when they played and part of it is they are living their lives, not doing what they did when they played.

I have always invited at the end of year speech in the locker room and even when I coached baseball, that any player that graduates is welcome anytime, any place in our program. If they want to just show up and watch practice, they can. If they want to just show up and come into our locker room before or after a game, they can. I don't get hung up too much anymore on that stuff and I feel that if a player was once a part of your program, they are always a part of your program.

Coaching basketball, I have found two types of former players. Some of it comes as a former player. I know that some of my old teammates are like this and I have experienced it from the other side also. There are those teammates of mine that are hugely supportive of our old coach, that he changed their lives, and they now understand why he was the way he was. There are those who are still bitter about not playing, about being yelled at, about not being used correctly. So I wonder how many of my former players are the same way.

We spend so much time together during their time here that I care so much about what they are doing after they leave. Some of they may resent me for whatever reason, but if they call, I will be there. If they send an invitation, I will be there. Of course, it would be contingent on if I could possibly get there, but I would never turn down helping a former player. To be honest, sometimes that help may not be what they want at the time, but I would help.

So you wonder, why doesn't such and such come around? Why doesn't such and such come to practice? Why do they feel like they are not a part of it even after they are gone? I think some of it has to do with our relationship, but I think also it has something to do with their comfort level. That it is not their team anymore, yet it is their program.

So for any former player, I told you this in the locker room your senior year and I am telling you now. You are welcome back any time as long as I am here coaching. Please contact me and tell me about your marriages and births and you starting to coach in little league. Contact me to tell me thanks and contact me to ask me why...I am secure enough in telling you why we did what we did and I am secure enough to admit my mistakes if I think I made them.

When the guys play their last game for me, I keep a picture of each senior class. It isn't them in their uniforms, it isn't them in the gym, it isn't them with a basketball, it is them together outside of the school in their graduation gowns and hats. To me that is what we are doing here. We are preparing them to move on, to live their lives; lives that I am interested in and what to know more about.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Summer 2011

We went fewer days last summer and we won fewer games last season. I am not sure there is a correlation there as Borden's girls played in zero games last season and won their sectional, but we feel that we need to do more this season. Because of snow dates, we will start practice before school is out on June 3 and will practice four times before we head to Orleans on June 7. That night we will play Orleans and West Washington. Then we take a day off and Coach Hill will take the varsity to Springs Valley for a tourney on June 10. I will be gone at that time, as I am heading to Iceland to work a camp for . The head coach there is Borce Ilievski a friend that I had met before last summer but got to know better while in Serbia. The teams will practice three times while I am gone and Coach Hill will take the JV to Salem for a tourney. I should be back on June 20 and for the next two weeks we will play at Purdue, Wabash, and Olney Central J.C. That will give us about 20+ games for June. The moratorium is July 4th week and when that time is over we will have about 6 open gyms until school starts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We Really Want to Win on Friday Night!!!

I was watching the NCAA tournament recently and former Wake Forest Head Coach Dino Gaudio was on and they were speaking about the Purdue men's job. For those of you that don't know, Coach Painter of Purdue sorta, kinda threatened to leave PU to go to the University of Missouri where he would receive more money. Now Coach Painter is well paid at Purdue and from what I understand this wasn't so much about money for him, but more money for his assistants.

But the comment that Coach Gaudio made I found interesting. "Everybody wants to win on Friday night, but do they want to win when it comes to helping in building better practice facilities, funding, donations, etc?". At first I thought of it only as a college comment, but it really isn't. It can be an example for high school sports also, obviously in different ways.

We all want to win on Friday night. But how many players have put the extra time in on their own? How many parents or community members of helped nudge them to work on their own? When gym time has been provided in the off season, how many players have taken advantage of it? How many parents/community members gotten the players to the gym when the doors were open or have they complained about all the extra time put in? How many kids have lifted weights on their own or taken advantage of gym time at school to do so?

How many players have put the time in during the summer when there has been practice or games? How often do the younger kids all the way down to the kindergarten age play basketball? How often do they practice?

This is not a condemnation or show of support for anyone or any community, but the statement has been made; "We really want to win on Friday night", but to win on Friday night takes much more than just showing up on Friday night to play. In some situations, it takes years of community and administration support. If those things don't occur (again not speaking of any specific situation, I feel supported by both here) how can we be held accountable for Friday night?

We may not be able to make chicken salad out of chicken...well, you know, but we can make it the best know...that there has ever been. But is that enough? Is it enough for the community, administration, and even the coach?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

As I Age (How Did I Get This Old?)

I went to one of those motivation seminars a few years back and I really enjoyed it. There were many speakers who gave great ideas about being motivated, every single day of their lives.

Rick Pitino spoke and I realize that he isn't always the best role model, but who is? We all fall short, don't we? Anyway, he said that as he grew older he realized how life works more and more. In our 20's it is all about working to attain any professional goal you desire, in your 30's it is about attaining that desire, in your 40's and 50's it is about helping others.

These kinds of comments hit home. Why? Because it is true.

In my 20's, once I realized what I wanted to do, I became motivated to get that one thing professionally I wanted. It took until my 30's to attain that goal. Then after growing in my faith and having children and a wonderful, faithful wife...I realized that it isn't about me. It isn't about what I want, it isn't about my happiness, but yet it is.

I love to go and socialize with many people usually basketball coaches. When I was younger I did so hoping that they could help me out in some way, what could they do for me. Now as I age, it is more what can I do for them. How can I help them? I have all that I need. I have all that the Lord sees fit for me to have. I have a beautiful, healthy family. I have a job that I think I am appreciated in not that it matters, but it does somewhat. I have many friends and acquantances that help through down times.

It isn't about me. In my 40's, it is about how can I set a positive example and help others become what they want to be. And I am smart enough to know that I fail at this often, but the goal is to strive to improve; two steps forward and one step back.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

UCONN Wins! Or Did They?

Last night was the NCAA national championship game and Connecticut defeated Butler 53-41. It was a game so ugly that only a mother could love it, or maybe basketball coaches. I agree, it was ugly, very ugly, but was played in a way that was conducive to Butler having a chance. Because of that it was interesting to watch. Why? Why was it so ugly?

First, I believe that both teams came out to play hard. No easy anything for either team on offense. It seemed that very few shots were wide open or uncontested. The rotations were quick, hands were up and within reach to block or contest each shot. Inside, everything was physical and even though it looked like both teams were getting wide open looks, they weren't. I will watch it again and see, but it was a highly contested defensive game and UCONN was able to get a few more easier shots in the second half. I guess it comes down to your perspective on what "wide open" means. To me, it is catching the ball, checking the wind, and shooting. Not catching and releasing quickly because the defense is giving you nothing. Inside, wide open is not a 6'8 to 6'10 guy running across the lane attempting to block your shot when you are 6'4.

Second, I believe that if the officials would have called the game somewhat tighter it would have allowed for some of those contested shots to be a little more open. More FT's and more scoring, but they were letting it go on both sides and UCONN handled it better.

Third, Butler's lack of confidence started to show in the second half. It looked as if no one on the team wanted to shoot and every shot seemed like the last thing the shooter wanted to do. The more you miss it can become like a virus and spread to everyone on the team.

Fourth, in the first half, I truly enjoyed watching both teams compete and play hard. It was a championship defensive effort and really was for both teams throughout the game. 53-41...amazing. When you think about the UK vs. UCONN game being 54-53 defense was at a high level for UCONN in those two games. Defense wins championships.

It was interesting to follow so many people's comments during the game on facebook and twitter. Most of the people I follow on facebook are fans of the game, there are some coaches but most watch from a different perspective. I didn't say all, but most. And unequivocally they thought it was a terrible game (I don't think so, but I do agree with the word ugly). On twitter I follow mostly college and high school basketball coaches. Men and women who spend much of their time on basketball working to improve themselves and their teams and they were unequivocally enjoying the game.

Does that mean that I am right or that basketball coaches are right? No, last night was a game, a game played by young men in an ugly manner and everyone's opinion will be different. It doesn't make you unintelligent or even uninformed, but I found it interesting the different take by many of my "friends" in their varied backgrounds.

Now comes the awful situation that the NCAA has been put in or allowed themselves to be put in. UCONN is on probation, their coach will be suspended for 3 games next season and they are still under investigation. How bad will it be if the trophy is taken from UCONN? Maybe then, though, many people will get their wish and it will be recorded that the game never occurred.