Eric Musselman

Eric Musselman

Mike Montgomery is in his first season as head coach at Cal but he "guided Stanford to 12 NCAA appearances including the 1998 Final Four."

To get his Cal players excited about the tourney, "after the team's regular season had concluded at Arizona State, Montgomery assembled his players. He showed them a video about the NCAA tournament, featuring big moments and big plays. Montgomery then spoke of his own March Madness experiences to a locker room in which 10 of the 15 players had never been on the court in an NCAA game."

"I told them," Montgomery said, "how they don't understand how hard it is to win in the tournament, how they don't have any idea yet how big a deal this is. It's something you'll look back on and you need to cherish it. I talked to them about the heartbreak that can happen when you give it everything and sell your souls out and still lose — but how it's all worth it."


"He got a little emotional about it,'' point guard Jerome Randle said. "He was talking about the memories you can have, about how once you get there, anything can happen. It's a serious deal for him."

Monday, 12 October 2015 22:33

Trying to make your opponent uncomfortable

Good story in the Minneapolis paper about 31-year-old veteran Brian Cardinal, who's proving in MIN that he can still contribute.

"After he watched for the season's opening month, he has become a valuable, contributing member of coach Kevin McHale's rotation, playing as many as 35 minutes Friday against New York when his team had about seven healthy bodies."


As evident from this quote, one of Cardinal's strengths is his attitude:

"It's tough to just sit over there and watch, but I knew at some point in time something was going to happen because that's just how this league is," Cardinal said. "It's crazy: Some days, you play. Some days, you don't. Sometimes, your number is called. Sometimes, it's not. You have to be ready at all times. I'm just lucky Mac has had some faith in me."


According to the Star-Tribute article, when they traded for him, "the Wolves... received a veteran who didn't complain when he didn't play and who has contributed with his defense, his ability to make the right play and even with his three-point shooting, whether he plays five minutes or 35. He has made seven three-pointers in the past three games."

"The last game, he had three steals, and he took three charges," [Coach] McHale said. "That's six possessions. That's huge."


Cardinal is one of those rare NBA role players who, as Dr. J said here, understands his role and is happy to be in the league. Cardinal is first to acknowledge that he's "heavy on will and seemingly light on skill."


"I'm not the greatest of athletes, the greatest of jumpers," he said. "The list of things I'm not very good at goes on and on. I try to make up for that with hard work and just knowing the game. I try to make people somewhat uncomfortable. Anytime you're in your comfort zone, you're at your best. So I try to make the other guy uncomfortable."
Monday, 12 October 2015 22:32

The function of basketball is penetration

As he's done from time to time this season, DAL coach Rick Carlisle "hatched a surprise" recently against the Lakers -- a zone defense that "caused confusion" and "bog[ged] down the Lakers offense."

"We hadn't seen a zone for a long time and it came out of nowhere," Vujacic said Monday. "For 60 games teams played man-to-man against us. No team played zone."


LA won the game, but the zone worked for time, as "the Lakers offense went stagnant."

"When the zone got sprung on [the second unit], they had that hesitation and ended up shooting nine 3-pointers that didn't go in," Coach Phil Jackson said. "That was a loss of focus because they lost the function of basketball, which is penetration."


To prepare for the next time they face a zone, "the Lakers spent the majority of Monday's two-hour practice working on the principles of their zone offense. The focus was on the best ways to attack a zone, which include moving the basketball to make the zone shift, making sharp cuts without the ball, and maintaining proper spacing."

Monday, 12 October 2015 22:30

It's called growing up

In HOU, Aaron Brooks is experiencing some growing pains now that he's moved into the starting PG position.

In his words, "it's a little bit of a burden."

While Brooks is settling into his role, he does not fit into the traditional point guard mold, someone who looks to set the table. Without Tracy McGrady in the lineup — especially at the end of games — Brooks is the primary creator. That means he’s going to be more offensive-minded, because that is what is required of him.

What leaps out are games such as Saturday’s, when Brooks played 31½ minutes, took 18 shots and did not deal a single assist.


According to teammate Shane Battier, for Brooks, "the next step for him is to find a way to use his speed to make his people better. It’s part of the maturation process, and you can’t rush it. It’s called growing up. It’s called living."

Continue to work through Joe Torre's book, "The Yankee Years." There's a good excerpt that ties into a post from yesterday from Jeffrey Gitomer's book about trust.

Torre took over a Yankee team that had "played under the tightly wound [Bucky] Showalter, who had played, coached, and managed so long in the Yankees organization, where Steinbrenner's divide-and-conquer style of leadership was designed to keep everyone uncomfortable, that trust did not come easily to him."

In 1996, when Torre was named manager of the team, "they had a tast of the playoffs," Torre said, "and I think they were grown up enough to know somebody has to make the decisions. Whether you like me or believe me, you have to understand that. They were at the point where they knew in order to win we have to work together. And somebody has to point us in that direction."

I pulled the following from page 10 of the book:

~~~~~~~~~~

Torre provided a complete contrast to Showalter's micromanagement style. He gave his coaches and players a wide berth. One word kept coming up over and over again in the application of his management philosophy: trust.

"What I try to do is treat everybody fairly," Torre said. "It doesn't mean I treat everybody the same. But everybody deserves a fair shake. That's the only right thing to do. I'd rather be wrong trusting somebody than never trusting them."

"I'm of the belief that the game belongs to the players, and you have to facilitate that the best you can. I want them to use their natural ability. If they're doing something wrong, you tell them, but I'd like it to be instructive, rather than robotic. The only thing I want them all to think about is what our goal is and what the at-bats are supposed to represent. And that simply is this: 'What can I do to help us win a game?'"

Players quickly bought into Torre's management-by-trust style, and they did so because its abiding principle was honesty.

"Honesty is important to me. Where does it come from? I don't know, but even when I think back it was always something that was ingrained in me. Even now I may have trouble when I have to tell someone the truth if it's not a pleasant thing, but I won't lie to them. I can't do that. The only way you can get commitment is through trust, and you've got to earn that trust."

Loved how Memphis coach John Calipari turned over practice to forward Robert Dozier the other day in a move designed to force the quiet senior to take more of a leadership role with the team.

As this article describes, "Calipari left the gym, leaving Dozier on his own to coach."

"He thinks I'm too quiet," Dozier says. "He wanted me to be vocal, get on guys and be more of a leader. I was mad at first, because I didn't want to do it. But I had fun with it. The guys enjoyed it. It wasn't a long practice." The usually subdued Dozier said he tried to get as animated as Calipari, a dynamic, demonstrative speechmaker never at a loss for words. "I had to tone it down," Dozier says, laughing. "There were a lot of people in there."


If you're wondering why, at a Memphis practice, "there were a lot of people in there," it's because Coach Cal opens nearly all of the Tigers' practices to the public.

Retired folks stop in with their grandchildren; a postman comes by after finishing his route. For many elite programs, open practices were long abandoned in an Internet age when word can spread fast to rivals about a team's offensive and defensive schemes or a frustrated coach can show up on YouTube for pitching a fit. Calipari shrugs off those possibilities but notes he keeps some practices closed during the NCAA tournament.


Says Coach Cal: "I don't have anything to hide. You've got people, their lives seem to be this basketball program. They come to practice four or five times a week. They're able to get on the phone and talk to friends about what we're working on."

After his team lost the national championship game last season, Coach Cal was criticized for not having his players properly prepared.

"Either you use an experience to help build you and make you better and stronger, or the experience breaks you," he says. "That experience ... it did nothing except good stuff for us. None of it was bad."
Saturday, 08 August 2015 01:58

Corporate Training

Classes on-site for an optimal learning experience

Sunday, 06 September 2015 13:11

Learning the intricacies of the midrange game

How does it feel to go from "one of the go-to players on the 2008 NCAA Tournament runner-up to being an end-of-the-roster rookie in the NBA"?

Nets rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts, who averages a little more than nine minutes a game for NJ and has logged 40 DNPs this season, has worked with Nets assistant Doug Overton on "learning the intricacies of the midrange NBA game."

It paid off earlier this week in a win over the Knicks when Douglas-Roberts had 14 points and three steals in 27 minutes.

"We played a different type of game (at Memphis)," Douglas-Roberts said. "It was more open offense, and there's a lot more sets in the NBA. So I just go over everything. I watch a lot of film. This is my job now. So I spend the majority of my time on basketball. You have to be mentally strong, but I'm not the first rookie to go through this. There've been plenty of rookies who had to pay their dues and later in their career, they became stars. So I just look at it like that. I'm always positive. I stay positive."

Great story in the ATL paper today that compares what Matt Ryan did with the Falcons with what Al Horford's doing with the Hawks.

On a team with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby, Horford has evolved into arguably the Hawks’ most indispensable player. Horford is different because he’s leading and he’s not the Hawks’ offensive centerpiece, like Chris Paul in New Orleans or LeBron James in Cleveland. He’s different because he’s 23 years old, and not nearly acting his age. He’s different because he’s a second-year pro and leading this team —- often by example, sometimes by his words, even in the face of a veteran teammate.


Veteran Joe Johnson contends that guys like Horford are rare: “Only a very small percentage of young guys can come into this league and lead. The ones who do usually are the focal point of their team. Al’s different.”

"If I see that somebody is not necessarily putting in the effort or is slacking off and it’s noticeable, I’m going to say something. I did it at Florida when I felt I had to. I did it in high school. Here, I’ve done it a couple of times. Usually I’m very mellow. But sometimes I think something needs to be said, even if I put it out there in front of the whole team, even to the point where the guys might be mad at me for a day or two. I think it’s for the best.”

The great Bob Cousy, in today's Boston Globe, talked about home court advantage, Kobe, LeBron, and Doc Rivers' relationship with his players.

On home-court advantage:

"It is neutralized in the playoffs, pretty much," Cousy said from Florida in a telephone interview. "In the playoffs, any player worth his salt comes to play wherever the game is. Of course, you would rather have home-court advantage, but it's easier to overcome in the playoffs than the regular season."


On LeBron and Kobe:

"LeBron is a great one, but the other guys have got to beat you," Cousy said. "They can put two, three, four guys on him and force the other guys to beat you; and when you aren't used to doing it, you can't imagine the pressure. A great player thrives under pressure, a mediocre one collapses. All year long, LeBron has been carrying you, now I'm supposed to hit wide-open shots. And it's the same with LA, to some degree. Kobe is great, but still, in my judgment, there is a lack of defense. Kobe is a good defender, but I don't see improvement on the defensive end. It's a tossup, those three teams."


On Coach Rivers:

"Doc maintains as good a relationship with the guys as any coach in the league," Cousy said. "There is a lot of nodding the head affirmatively, I love you, and yes all the time, but Doc's not that. He's a friend in need but not their buddy. It requires a certain amount of discipline and they know Doc will be there if they need him, and that creates a bond."
Page 51 of 52