Friday, September 13, 2013

TRANSITIONING TO TITANLAND!

Well it has definitely been a magical summer!  Since accepting the head coaching position at Cal State University Fullerton it has been non stop movement as I have transitioned to TITANLAND.  There have been so many things I have already learned and experienced, and I will attempt to share as many as I can with you over the next few weeks.  I will be as transparent as I can be in the hope that it will give you a great insight into a head coaches world, and the things to think about as you prepare your team for the season, or as you prepare to become a head coach someday!

The first and most important thing I realized was to identify and solicit a group of your closest and most trusted friends and colleagues to surround yourself and be a sounding board as you begin to make initial decisions about your new program.  It is such a storm of information, people congratulating you and wanting things from you that you can't effectively manage it all by yourself.  I relied so heavily on people I have known and trusted in this business for years and it absolutely made a difference in me transitioning to being a head coach.

The next thing you can do once you have your inner circle - is start to assemble your staff.  From the moment I signed my contract I was on the phone talking with people, getting advice and gauging interest from potential coaches.  I absolutely had a clear picture of the types of people I wanted, but wasn't sure how it would all shake out.  The most important traits to me were incredible energy and enthusiasm with a strong work ethic.  It will be up to me to teach and give them all the experience they need, but if they don't posses those 3 traits we would never be successful here in TITANLAND.  It was also important to have some sort of relationship already established if possible.  I felt it would be so beneficial in speeding up the process of building this program if I already knew the people I was working with everyday.  While I wasn't able to hire people I had directly worked with, I was able to do the next best thing.  Fortunately I have established great relationships with some amazing people I trust and respect in this business and they recommended people to me that they had worked with.  That was critical for me and a huge factor in my decision making process.  When it was all said and done, I was able to assemble a staff exactly as I envisioned and it has been so enjoyable seeing them attack their jobs with amazing energy and enthusiasm each and every day!  The process of changing a culture can be long and tedious at times - but when you can ensure that it will be infused with enthusiasm daily - it makes for an enjoyable and rewarding journey.  Thank you to Tammi Reiss, Taja Edwards, Steven Fennelly, and Becky Burke for agreeing to join me for this journey.  And Thank you to Beth Burns, Adrian Wiggins, Bill Fennelly, and Jeff Walz for recommending them and even more for preparing them! It has made my Transition to TITANLAND a smooth and enjoyable experience!

ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SEE YOU AT THE MONTANA COACHES ASSOCIATION CLINIC!!!

It is a dream come true!  I am so excited to be able to announce that I have been asked to speak at the 46th Annual Montana Coaches Association Clinic in Great Falls Montana.  Click here for the brochure.  This is a clinic that I grew up attending and I learned so much from so many amazing coaches.  I am so honored to be heading to my hometown to share things that I learned over the last 15 years as a college basketball coach.  I am looking forward to seeing so many exceptional coaches - and I am really looking forward to seeing Great Falls, and being back in my hometown for the first time in more than 7 years!

I also want to let everyone know I have agreed to speak again after the MCA clinic to basketball coaches at the University of Great Falls.  My friend Bill Himmelberg who is the Head Women's Basketball Coach at UGF has agreed to open up the gym on Friday afternoon after the MCA clinic concludes and I will get more in depth on everything associated with coaching and teaching the game of basketball. Here is the information.  Looking forward to seeing you in Great Falls!

Click here for the details on the After Clinic!  See you there!!

ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BACK IN THE SADDLE - NEW INFORMATION COMING SOON!!!

What an amazing last couple of months as I have been settling into my new position as the Head Coach for Cal State Fullerton Women's Basketball.  There has certainly been many new and exciting challenges that has demanded my attention.  My goal has been to be back in the saddle and updating this blog regularly starting June 1.  I hope everyone is enjoying their spring and looking forward to a great summer.  TUSKS UP!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

GRIND TIME

Tis the season!!!  Conference play is winding down across the country and teams are; gearing up for post-season runs, hoping for post-season magic, or starting to lay the foundation for next season.  Whichever you are doing it is so incredibly important to understand there is value to everything you do for the rest of the season regardless of your record or your conference standing.

It is so easy at this time of year to become complacent.  It's been a long season and repetition sometimes can lead to boredom or complacency.  Combine that with the snow melting and the sun shining and there are more distractions than usual to keep players minds out of the gym.  As coaches it is up to us to find new ways to keep your team excited and anxious to come to practice, to watch film, and to study scouting reports.  Too often the players hit the wall right now and put it on coast mode because "we've already played this team so we know what they do" or they get so excited for conference and post-season tournaments that they over look these last few weeks.  It is ABSOLUTELY your job to keep them as excited about these next few weeks as the post season for one simple reason.  Winning these "GRIND TIME" games gives you a better shot at winning in the post season.  How many times have we seen that conference leading team get upset in the last few games of the season?  It happens all the time!  And when it happens, it usually has an effect on post-season seeding for the conference tournament, potentially costing that team a first round bye!  It is also very important to know the NCAA Tournament Committee looks at a teams last 10 games.  They want to see how you are playing down the stretch.  Are you handling your business and getting better, or are you in "coast mode".  Will that "coast mode" make you a #8 or #9 seed instead of a #6 or #7?  Remember as a #8 or a #9 seed, if you win your first round game, your reward is a #1 seed!!!!  Surely you and your players would rather be a #6 or #7 and avoid the #1 seeds for as long as possible!

It doesn't take much to re-energize your program at this time of year.  A surprise day off, a movie night on the road, a day of fun at practice instead of the usual.  Use your imagination and be creative.  One of my favorite traditions is a "Whiffle Ball" game instead of practice.  There is nothing more fun than to watch All-American basketball players swing a little plastic bat.  And yes - I swing for the fences!

Whatever you do always remember the big picture - I know we get so focused on looking only to the next day and the next game.  But when you keep your team excited and focused during this "GRIND TIME" you will have a much better chance of success in March and April!

ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

SHARED OWNERSHIP

Well - I am sorry it has taken so long for me to jump back on the keyboard and pound out some thoughts.  I do think however the wait is well worth it as I believe this topic is absolutely a cornerstone to a successful program.  A recent tweet of mine set this whole thought process in motion.  The tweet mentioned one of my favorite quotes which is, "This program is bigger than any one of us, but this program is each of us."  This quote of course alludes to the concept of SHARED OWNERSHIP.

With age comes maturity, with maturity comes patience, with patience comes understanding.  With understanding comes the simple idea that you can't do things all by yourself!!! And even in those rare instances that you can - you can always achieve greater results when you trust another person to help you.

When you surround yourself with great energetic people who are excited to achieve success, and you give them responsibilities that are unique and specific to them, you must trust them to get the job done!  And when you follow this recipe, you will be amazed with the results.  The greatest benefit from this idea is more often than not, the people you have entrusted with tasks will work harder and longer to make you proud of them.  The worst thing a person can feel is disappointment when someone gives them an assignment and they let that person down.  So often a person will work harder and longer to ensure that they get it right so you will be appreciative of their efforts.  I have been on both sides of this equation and absolutely have seen the benefits.

Whether it is a coach, trainer, support staff, player, manager, etc....... When you step back and allow them the freedom to complete their job without hovering more often than not you won't be disappointed.  They will deliver and achieve results above and beyond what you could have hoped for - which only makes you look smarter, your job easier and your program, "BIGGER THAN ANY ONE OF YOU, BUT EACH OF YOU!"

ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

MENTAL TELEPATHY

I love practice - I absolutely love practice.  I love helping our players learn and understand how to most effectively use their unique gifts and talents.  Practice is the ultimate classroom for players and there is so many ways to deliver your message in this environment.  Sometimes a direct message from you to the players is enough to get the job done and sometimes we as coaches let the players figure things out on their own.  I love when players have that "Ah Haaah" moment on their own and all you have to do is point out the lesson already learned.  A great example of this happened yesterday in practice.  The following is a transcript of exactly what happened:

We are doing a 5 x 0 drill.  One of our post players is running hard down the middle of the floor "main street" and seals the coach holding a pad to receive a "paint / post catch." While that is going on our other "BIG" is settling into the top of the key area, "trail spot."  The post player gets the ball locates middle as she is taught while the trail big stays at the top of the key.  The post player then begins to go to a drop step to the middle as the trail big begins to dive to the opposite block.  The post player then stops.  The trail big then stops.  The post player goes to some uncertain weak unaggressive shot while the trail big stands in the paint.  I blow the whistle.

"Hold up," I say..... "Hold up." as I hold out my hands to signal for the ball to be passed to me.  I tuck it under my arm and begin walking back down the court.
"Let's go back..... we're alright," I say in my most calm and soothing voice.  "We have a great thing here." The players all give me a quizzical look.
"Our post player got a post catch there," I say pointing to the post area.  I turn to the post player, "Did you want to score that?"
"No," she said.  "I wanted to pass it to the trail diving."
I turned to the trail post player and asked, "Did you think your post player was going to score?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Okay - this is great!" I exclaim again being met with 16 quizzical looks.  "We now have another absolute to add to our list of things we know for certain........ Our post player and our trail person..... Those 2 players....." (I pause for dramatic effect)  "DO NOT HAVE MENTAL TELEPATHY!"
(chuckles from the team)
"They don't!" I say.  "And know we all now know that!" "So we are gonna have to TALK," I say once again very calmly, a Louisiana drawl making a slight appearance in my delivery.
"Me and the guy who drives the ice cream truck in my neighborhood, we may have mental telepathy because he always seems to show up when I am in need of a little treat!" I exclaim in a rising tone to laughter from the team, the quizzical looks now turning to looks of understanding with that "Ah Haah" moment firmly established on their faces.  
"But we now know you two players do not!" 
"Let's GO!" I yell as I throw the ball back up off the rim to start the drill, and the players emphatically and enthusiastically talk to each other while racing down the floor intent on using their new found knowledge for the rest of practice and hopefully the rest of the season.

The message behind this story..... I have yet to meet players who have mental telepathy.  Get your team to talk....... Get your employees to talk........ It absolutely takes guessing and misunderstanding out of the equation and gives your organization the best chance to always stay on the same page!

ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ONE CANNOT FLY INTO FLYING

Ok - school has started - the fanfare is over, and while much of the country spends time focusing on the  window dressing of their program, here is your chance to ensure your program of a couple extra wins this upcoming season by focusing on some small but critically important details with your on the court teachings.  These details are often overlooked or decided against in developing players for this simple reasoning.......
  • This is beginner level teaching and won't hold the players interest and attention.  
  • It is much more fun to dive right into the offense or defense and play games than instruct players on how to do specific little things. 
Learning to do specific little things correctly, leads to becoming a better individual player.  If you have 5 individuals on the court who have each become better individual players, your team dramatically becomes better.  This is one of my favorite quotes relating to this idea:
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844-1900)  

Thanks to Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming to America I learned about the wisdom of Nietzche! (Thanks to Eddie Murphy I learned a lot of other things in the '80's but that is a topic for another time!)  Keeping this philosophy in mind let's take Nietzsche's advice and teach our players to first learn to stand.  We will do that by taking a closer look at shooting the basketball - and exactly what makes a good shooter.

First of all - understand something - no shooters have the exact same form and shot technique.  There are countless ways to put the ball in the basket and no one particular way is better than another.  The KEY, especially when working with college and professional athletes is developing a simple and consistent shot that can easily be maintained and "tweaked" when necessary.  Rarely is there a situation when you completely need to rebuild a student-athletes shot.  Far too often that is the mistake coaches and players make.  Telling a player they need to "completely fix" something usually leads to frustration and confusion on their part.  Remember these players have been highly recruited and to tell them something needs to be "completely redone" would be hard for anyone to hear.  Instead, it is important for the coach to really spend time watching the player, studying their form and rhythm and really trying to identify ways to bring consistency to the shot.  Some things that are really important to focus on include:
  • Feet - The ball goes where the toes are pointed.  Watch the players feet and see which direction they face, and do they face the same way every time.
  • Feet - Where do they take off and where do they land?  
  • Hand Position - What part of their shooting hand is touching the ball? Is it on the fingertips? Is the Thumb nice and soft?
  • Off Hand Involved - Is the off hand manipulating the shot?
  • Balance - When the ball is released, what is the position of the body? Did they shoot "up and out of the phone booth?"
  • Finish - Are they "Enjoying their shot?" Is their "Hand in the Cookie Jar?"
The ability to instantly use video to help in  your teaching really can help drive home the point you are trying to make with your players.  To provide solid visual evidence to support your teaching can really help add credibility to your teaching.  Film the players shooting the basketball, then spend time analyzing it with them.  Perfect their shot on video - then compare it with game film of them shooting.  The closer they match, the more successful and consistent shooter the player will become.

I still use these simple guidelines every time I am on the court doing skill work whether I am working with an incoming freshman, or WNBA players.  Incorporate these simple ideals into your teaching early in the season to ensure by March your team will be dancing in postseason play and you will all be - "ENJOYING YOUR SHOT"