Key Question in Evaluating Players

Is this player a good FIT in our program?

There are a lot of bells and whistles and other shiny objects to get distracted by when evaluating basketball players, especially during the summer–he’s got a great physique; he can really jump; he gets up the floor in hurry; he’s got great size; wow, look at his wingspan. There are also a lot of faults to be found–he’s not tall enough; not fast enough; not skilled enough; doesn’t shoot it very well; not strong enough. All of these things may or may not matter, and the factor that decides whether they matter is simple–What is your head coach’s style of coaching, style of play, philosophy of the game, and does this player fit your program’s current and future needs?

That’s it! Who cares if the player your watching has tremendous athleticism and every other coach is falling all over themselves about this kid, unless he is a fit for your program. Can the things he does well help him have success in your program? Doesn’t matter if he can jump over the moon, if that kind of athleticism isn’t at a premium in your coach’s style of play or if it doesn’t fit your current needs or if he doesn’t also have the other traits necessary for success in your head coach’s system.

By the same token, who cares if no other coaches seem to be interested in a particular player. So what if everyone thinks he’s undersized or his skills aren’t polished enough? It doesn’t matter whether or not he can do everything, it only matters if he can do the things necessary for success in your program right now. Does he fit your program’s needs? If you need a workhorse with size, the under-skilled post player who everyone else is cold on because he doesn’t have any post moves, may be a perfect fit for your program if he sprints the floor on every possession, defends his tail off, and rebounds like a man-possessed. On the other side, just because all the other coaches think he’s undersized, how much does that matter in your program and to your head coach? If it matters a lot, then you’re going to pass on the player just like the others. If it’s not a big deal, and the player has the other aspects that make him a perfect fit for your program, then maybe you should recruit this player regardless of what the others think.

There’s one more compelling reason to be conscious of FIT…Bad fits can get you fired! A great talent who is a poor fit (for your head coach’s personality or style of play, or who doesn’t fit in with the chemistry of the players you already have) can make you look like a heckuva recruiter initially, but may end up getting your or your head coach fired in the end. Especially if the kid is really good! People will wonder how it is that you guys can’t win when you have this tremendous talent on your team. They won’t understand, nor will they want to hear about what’s happening under the surface and behind the scenes. It’s your job as an evaluator to do your due diligence and prevent these situations from happening whenever possible. Are you going to make mistakes? Sure. But these mistakes will hopefully be minimized when the focus is on fit.

Some assistants have gotten into the habit of waiting to see who everyone else likes before they decide who they like. There’s some safety in this strategy, but you can’t be the best by going along with the pack. Find the diamond in the rough, the sleeper, the guy no one knows about or no one thinks is good enough, but who fits your system and your head coach’s style perfectly. When you can do this, you’ll have the ultimate advantage because you’ll be the only coach recruiting that kid at your level. There are many unnoticed jewels out there for the FIT-focused evaluator/recruiter; and your competition is happy to pass these kids over. You’re not likely to build an entire recruiting class on unknown, sleepers–you’ll inevitably be after some of the same guys all the other teams in your league are after (as long as those players fit your program)–but challenge yourself to find 1 or 2 unnoticed jewels every couple of years. If you can do this, you’re a true artist.

Here are some questions to help evaluate Fit and Value for your program:

  • Overall:
    • Is he a program changer?
    • Can he help us win in our league?
    • How does he match-up/compare with the other players (in our league and on our team) at his position?
    • Does he give us something we’re missing (don’t forget the intangibles here, especially toughness, “edge,” and leadership)
    • Can he impact winning in ways other than scoring?
    • How does he respond to coaching? (reference this with what you know about your head coach’s communication & coaching style)
    • How much does losing or getting scored on bother him?
    • How does he interact with his teammates? (reference this with what you know about your team’s chemistry & personalities)
    • (If you love his strengths for your program) Can we hide his deficiencies with our style and using the players we already have?
  • If motor is a defining factor in your program:
    • Does he take plays off? How often?
    • Is he in a stance and what is his urgency level on defense off the ball?
    • Does he rebound his position?
    • Does he rebound out of his area?
    • Does he run the floor even when he doesn’t get the ball
  • If defense is a defining characteristic of your program:
    • How quick is he? How long is he? How tough is he?
    • Does he talk?
    • What position(s) can he guard? Can he defend when a switch is necessary?
    • How much would you enjoy being defended by him?
    • How screenable is he?
    • Does he get to the right position to make a play? (Access both understanding of where to be and ability to get there physically)
    • Does he understand angles?
    • How does his energy on defense compare to his energy on offense?
  • If length and/or size is a premium in your program:
    • How long are his arms compared to his height
    • How often does he block/bother shots or deflect/steal passes?
    • Is he physical? Does he know how to use his size to his advantage?
    • How well does he move for his size?
    • Does he use his length to be in two places at once?
  • If versatility is critical in your program:
    • Can he be effective offensively at more than one position?
    • How well does he shoot? Handle? Pass?
    • Can he defend multiple positions?
    • Does he present potential mismatch problems for our opponents?
  • If skill at all 5 positions is a premium in your program:
    • How well does he shoot, handle, and pass the ball?
    • Can he perform skills at full speed? Under pressure? In a crowd?
    • If he’s undersized, does he have the skill to be a potential mismatch problem for our opponents
  • If IQ is a defining characteristic in your program:
    • Does he see and recognize open teammates?
    • Does he see the whole floor with and without the ball?
    • Does he execute his AAU/HS coach’s stuff?
    • How is his shot selection? Pass selection?
    • Does he know when and how to use his dribble?
    • How efficient is he?
    • Does he move without the ball?
    • Does he screen?
    • Does he understand angles on offense and defense?
    • Does he see a play ahead?

 

 


7 Social Media Tips for Student-Athletes

Social media can be a lot of fun. It can be a tremendous tool to help us stay informed and connected. But, it is also the quickest and easiest way for people who may never meet you in-person to find out who you are and what you’re about.

More and more, we seem to be living our lives online and making ourselves an open book for millions to read. Living successfully in a world with this much connectivity requires a high level of awareness, discipline, and discretion. If you want to be successful and avoid limiting your options and opportunities in the future, it is wise to present an image of yourself to the world that is positive. Business people and professional athletes call this personal branding. Think of yourself as a company and use social media to project a positive image to the world about who you are, what you represent, and what you have to offer.

For high school student-athletes, personal brand can determine recruitability and impact college admission in general. College admissions offices are using social media searches more and more to vet their prospective students and student-athletes. No college wants to be embarrassed by the words or actions of one of their students, particularly in an age when news travels around the world instantly. Likewise, college coaches monitor what prospects say and do on social media because it is a direct indicator of the prospect’s values, maturity level, and decision-making ability. Student-athletes who don’t value their own reputations certainly won’t think twice about doing or saying something that could embarrass the school or team.

You must understand that a scholarship represents an investment…an investment in your talent and athleticism, but also in your character and image. Making a bad investment could cost a school and program time and money, and it could also cost a college coach his job. For this reason, college coaches who are interested in your athletic talents will do everything they can to find out about your character and image. This includes asking former and current coaches, teachers, classmates, and teammates about you. It also includes checking your image on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and YouTube. They’ll want to know what you post, what you repost/revine/retweet, what you favorite/like, who you follow/friend, and who follows/friends you.

Whether it seems fair to you or not, the image you project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and YouTube contributes to your personal brand. It’s how people come to know you and it’s what they use to make decisions and judgments about you. Remember, “www” stands for worldwide web and everything on the internet has the potential to reach the entire world in an instant.

So, how can you make sure you maintain a positive personal brand online? Consider these 7 tips:

Tip #1 – Mom knows best: Only post thoughts and pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with your mother. If you wouldn’t want her to see it then the internet is not the place to share it – don’t post it.

  • Do not post anything that will damage the reputation or image of you, your family, your school or your team. This includes discussions of illegal activities, hate speech, bullying, and drug or alcohol use. Foul language, slurs, and sexually explicit language should also be avoided. These things reflect negatively on you and those associated with you. Be equally cautious about what you choose to retweet, revine, like, and favorite.

Tip #2 – NOTHING is private: It is wise to assume that anything connected to the internet is NOT private and can potentially be seen by anyone. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are sent over data and internet. In theory, text messages are more private, but maybe not as private as you think. It has become very easy and fairly common for people to take a screen-shot of content from text messages and post them to the internet.

  • The topics and language that maybe commonplace and acceptable between you and your friends in private conversations may not be appropriate for interactions on social media. A college coach, college admissions officer, or future employer may not “get it” or like it. Toning it down will make you seem 10% less cool and 100% more intelligent.
  • Everything you comment on and post using social media is broadcast over the worldwide web and can be shared with millions of people, most of whom you don’t know. Once a post is made on a social network, it is considered public information. What you post can be used or misused by anyone for any purpose.
  • While certain memes may seem hilarious to you and your friends, posting them or tweeting them (as well as liking, retweeting, or favoriting them) might send the wrong impression of you to people trying to make judgments about your maturity and trustworthiness.

Tip #3 – PAUSE: This may be my most important tip – it is guaranteed to save you from yourself more than a few times IF you use it. On Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, once you type in your tweet, status update or comment, WAIT…Don’t hit the send/tweet button right away…let a minute or two go by and then re-read it and see if it still seems like a good idea.

  • When you post an update or comment spontaneously, you rarely take time to consider how it could be interpreted or misinterpreted by others. How will your words be taken if read out of context? Wait, re-read, and reconsider. You may find that you sometimes decide to rewrite, reword, or simply not post what seemed like a great idea a few minutes ago.

Tip #4 – Don’t Post Angry: Emotion can make fools of us all—so be a fool in private, not on the worldwide web. Tomorrow, you’ll be glad you decided not to post or comment. Issues involving intense emotions are better handled in private, face-to-face conversations anyway.

  • Don’t use social media to “vent” or talk about a break-up, bad grade, fight with a friend, or disagreement with your parents. You also shouldn’t criticize teammates or complain about coaches online. Many of the things we say and do when we are angry end up becoming our biggest regrets. This is doubly true when you’re angry words are in writing…and ten-times worse when those words are online for the world to see. Not only will this reflect poorly on your image, it can do irreparable harm to your relationships with others.

Tip #5 – Be Humble: Using social media to brag is a bad idea. It is far better to let others sing your praises for you. Remember, people tend to root against arrogant people and secretly wish for them to fail. Personal branding is about creating fans and allies.

  • Instead of posting about your own accomplishments, share positive comments, news, and announcements about the accomplishments of your teammates and the sports teams at your school. Using social media to show support for others makes you seem more humble and mature. It may also inspire them reciprocating the gesture which means you don’t always have to be the one to pat your own back.
  • Resist the urge to retweet every positive thing someone else says about you. It begins to appear as if you’re doing a commercial for yourself. Thank all those who have something positive to say about you, but don’t retweet them all. Limit yourself to only retweeting 25-30% of the very  best compliments you get online.

Tip #6 – Avoid Controversy: Anyone doing something positive and noteworthy is bound to attract some negative attention from opponents or people who are jealous. The best way to deal with people who post negative things is to ignore them. Commenting back can give their comment “legs,” making it more noticeable and impactful. Ignoring the comment shows the world how unimportant that person is to you.

  • Of course, you have the right to post anything you wish and comment how ever you like. But, not everything you could do is something you should do. With freedom comes responsibility—understanding this principle demonstrates maturity. In some cases, sharing your opinions about current topics and events can show people that you are more than just an athlete. But, be careful. Try to avoid commenting on controversial topics upon which people generally disagree strongly and have strong feelings. Regardless, of what you say in these situations, you are likely to make someone unhappy. Be sensitive to the views of others, especially when discussing topics like religion, politics, race, or sexual orientation.
  • Don’t talk trash with fans or members of opposing teams on social media. People who talk trash online never come out looking good and they usually serve to motivate their opponent even more. Remember, when others post negatively, it impacts their image…it can only start to harm your image IF you reply.
  • Engage your fans, but only in a positive way. A simple “thank you” in response to a compliment let’s you seem gracious, while staying humble. It is important to remember that fans (or anyone else) can say whatever they want to you on social media, but you should only reply to the positive comments. Ignoring negative comments can be frustrating, but nothing is gained by replying. Remember, you may have a lot more to lose than some other people.

Tip #7 – Pictures say 1000 words: The pictures you post, like, favorite, comment on, or get tagged in can say as much about you (or more) as the words you use online.

  • Be aware of the photos you post of yourself and the photos you get tagged in. Consider what you are doing, where you are, who you’re with, and what is going on around you. Your surroundings in a photo can send the wrong message and people who don’t know you will draw their own conclusions.
  • Understand who else is in the picture and what they are doing. For example, even if the party you’re at is relatively innocent and you are behaving responsibly, when the other people in the picture are holding “red cups,” people will draw their own conclusions about the activities you take part in and the people you associate with. Remember, if you are an aspiring college athlete you will have to make more social sacrifices and be more careful than some of your friends with less ambitious dreams.
  • When you post, repost, like, or favorite pictures or videos that are sexually explicit or promote drinking and drug use, it will reflect negatively on you even if you don’t participate in these activities. Remember, the only information upon which others have to make a judgment about you may be the pictures or videos you post…so who are they supposed to think you are?
  • Try not to always look so angry, “tough,” or “cool” in every picture. From time to time, post a picture in which you actually smile or look happy. Who knows people might get the idea that you’re a nice person if they see a smile on your face once in a while.

 

Check out these articles on Personal Branding:

Fast Company, “Harnessing Social Media For Your Personal Branding,” Karl Hawes (3/6/14)

Forbes, “The First Step To Building Your Personal Brand,” The Muse (2/14/12)

 

Check out these articles on Misuse of Social Media:

Pressbox, “Varsity Monitor Educating Colleges, Student-athletes About Using Social Media,” Carrie Wood (1/16/14)

The New York Times, “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets,” Natasha Singer (11/9/13)

Chron, “UH has dropped recruits for inappropriate remarks made on social media,” Joseph Duarte (8/3/13)

 


Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 5

Finding the Best Fit

When it comes time to choose a college, there are a lot of factors to consider. If playing basketball in college is important to you, the three primary questions are:

  1. Where can you play?
  2. Where can you get in academically?
  3. Where do you feel the most comfortable?

Of course, there are other things to consider:

  • How far away from home do you want to be?
  • Big school or small school?
  • Urban, suburban, or rural campus?
  • Private school or public school?
  • Do they have your major?
  • How diverse is the student body?
  • What is the quality of housing and on-campus eating?
  • How large are classes? What’s the typical faculty-student ratio?

These types of questions are important ones and students who are not interested in playing intercollegiate athletics should use every one of them (and more) to determine where they belong. But for an aspiring college athlete, these criteria become secondary. You must understand that the amount of choice you have in some of these areas will largely be determined by how talented you are in your sport and how good you are as a student.

The better player you are and the more coaches want you, the more you will be able to take these secondary criteria into consideration as you choose among the many schools vying for your services. By the same token, if you are a good student, the number of schools available to you (at whatever level you are desirable as a basketball player) will increase, again giving you more choice regarding the secondary criteria above. If you are a poor student, you may be stuck choosing between the few schools who are able to get you in.

Let’s discuss the primary questions:

 

Where can you play?

I have to address this one first because it has proven to be the least understood by players and their parents. Nearly every decent high school player in America today, at some point in their career, believes they are a potential D1 player, and for many this belief persists far longer than is realistic. For some, it is only after they find themselves without a D1 scholarship offer in May of their senior year that they are forced to realize that they might not be D1 material. And this is NOT an insult. In fact, it is a compliment to be considered good enough to play college basketball at ANY level.

High school players and their parents rarely get to see D2, D3, NAIA, or Juco games, because nearly every televised college game is a Division 1 contest. Many assume these levels are for the players who weren’t good enough in high school. But, the fact is that most D2, D3, NAIA, and Juco players were the best players on their high school teams, and probably even one of the best in their city, county, or conference. College players, at ALL levels, can play! And the truth is that most of the best players you play with and against in high school and AAU will probably play at the D2 or D3 level in college, if they end up playing college basketball at all.

Sometimes, talent-wise, there is not an awful lot of difference between a mid-low D1 player and the best players at the D2, or even D3, levels. Of course, the best players at the highest levels of Division 1 college basketball, it’s a little different – many of those guys are just a different breed; they exceed the limits of normal human talent, athleticism, and/or work ethic (and probably all 3). But, most of the players on 200+ of the D1 teams in America are not that different from the best D2 or D3 players as far as talent is concerned.

So what’s the difference?

In some cases, it’s height. Let’s say we find three of the most skilled high school centers in America. All three dominate the competition at the high school and AAU levels. One is 6’10, the other is 6’7, and the third is 6’5. Even if they’re all equal in talent, in fact even if the 6’10 player is a little less talented than the other two, the 6’10 is probably going to be a D1 player. The 6’7 player has a chance to play D1, but not probably not as a center, and there is almost no chance a 6’5 center will play D1 basketball. (To be clear, I am not saying that if you’re not at least 6’8, don’t play the post. If you’re a post player and you can dominate in the post, DO IT! You’re chances of playing college basketball are infinitely higher if you stick to the area(s) in which you can dominate, than if you try to be something that you’re not). Of course there are exceptions. I’m sure there have been 6’5-6’6 centers in D1 basketball before, but everyone can’t be the rare exception. It’s basic probability; you are almost certainly not the 1 in 10,000…there can only be 1 of those. But, none of this is bad news – the 6’7 and 6’5 centers can go on to have outstanding college careers at the D2, D3, or NAIA levels and may even have solid professional careers overseas.

In some cases, it may be athleticism that makes the difference. Imagine, we find three guards that are all incredibly skilled – can handle, shoot, and pass with the best. If one of these guards is 6’4 and super-athletic, another is 5’10 and an above-average athlete, and the third is 6’2 and an average athlete, it is likely the 6’4, super-athletic guard can play at the D1 level. For the other two, D1 is unlikely; not impossible, but unlikely.

Remember, all six of the players we just discussed are great players. They can all get it done; they’re some of the best at their positions at the high school and AAU levels; All-Conference, All-State, and all the rest. You can’t not be good and still play in college – at ANY level! There are so many factors, height and athleticism are just two, but the important thing to remember is, not everyone is a D1 player, but every college player can play. (And, there are Division-1 caliber players who choose to play D2, D3, and NAIA; trust me).

So, how do you know what level YOU can play at? It’s pretty simple. Regardless of what you think, what your parents think, what you’re uncle who played in college thinks, what your trainer thinks, or what your high school or AAU coaches think – you are who’s recruiting you. And “recruiting” doesn’t mean you’re getting mail from a school (almost every D2 player, and many D3 players, got mail from a D1 school(s) at some point in their high school careers…Read Part 1). If a coaching staff is seriously recruiting you, they will come see you play in person by your junior or senior year and they will call and text you. If they haven’t come to see you in person and they aren’t calling/texting, then they aren’t recruiting you.

So, if you’re a senior and the coaches who are calling, texting, and coming to see you are D3 coaches, then guess what…you’re a D3 player. It doesn’t matter that you got mail from a D1 school when you were a sophomore; you’re a D3 player. If it’s spring of your senior year and no D1 coaching staff has felt strongly enough about you to offer you a scholarship, then you’re not a D1 player. It doesn’t matter that D1 coaches have called or texted you in the past or that a D1 coach told your high school coach they were interested in you last Fall; you’re not a D1 player. (Again, are there rare exceptions where a kid gets his first D1 scholarship offer in April of his senior year? Yes. But, by definition, “rare exception” means it’s probably not going to happen). We all have dreams, and I encourage you to dream, but we also have to embrace reality. At some point, you have to start taking interest in the schools that are interested in you. Remember, it is a privilege to play college basketball at ANY level.

 

Where can you get in academically?

Once you’ve determined the level you can play at, your list of schools to consider has narrowed. It is now time to look at your academic situation. My advice: Go to the best academic school you can get into and do well at. Don’t go somewhere that’s so academically rigorous that you’re going to struggle just to survive (remember, basketball will take significant time also). But, you also don’t want to go to the easiest academic school on your list. Go to a college where you can get B’s or better if you put in the work.

If you’ve been a strong student throughout your high school career, you will probably be able to go to any of the schools showing interest in you as a player. If you haven’t always taken care of your school work, your options may be more limited. There will be schools that like you as a player, but can’t get you in academically. Hopefully, you’ve done well enough in school that you aren’t limiting your options.

 

Where do you feel the most comfortable?

Once you understand the level you can play at, and you’ve ruled out the schools that don’t fit you academically, you will have a list of schools to choose from. Now you have to decide what school you will call home for the next four years. There are a few considerations here:

  • What do you want out of this? Do you want to play right away as a freshman, or are you comfortable being on the bench for your first year or two with the hopes that you can earn time by your junior or senior year? If you want to play significant minutes early (even by your sophomore year), then you probably shouldn’t choose the highest level schools who are recruiting you. The highest level schools recruiting you represent your ceiling – if you go there you will likely have to sit early and hope that you develop enough to earn time later in your career. Just be aware, that if you choose this option, and you don’t develop the way you or the coaching staff had hoped, they will recruit another player to take your place. For most players it is wise to go where you will be celebrated; not where you will be tolerated. At some point in the recruiting process it will become clear to you which coaching staffs LOVE you – you’re their guy; they gotta have you. My advice: Choose one of these schools. They will be invested in you and your success on and off the court. You’ll get chances to play early and you’ll get the benefit of the doubt and patience when/if you struggle. You are likely to have a better career and a better overall experience at a school like this.
  • Who do you feel the most comfortable with? As much as school choice can seem like it’s about the location, campus, and level, it is wise to remember that the difference between when we are happy and when we are unhappy is the people who we are surrounded by on a daily basis. My advice: If you are going to be happy and successful, it will be important to be surrounded by people you trust, respect, and like. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose the school with the tough, no-nonsense head coach who yells (by the way, that’s every college head coach), but it does mean you shouldn’t choose the coach who you’re not sure has been honest with you during the recruiting process. No matter what you do, you will face struggles and difficulties when you go to college, and there will be days when you don’t really like your coach (just like high school). Truthfully, you will probably need someone to yell at you from time to time if you’re going to reach your potential. What you don’t want are people who you can’t trust and respect. Choose the school where you ultimately feel like the coaches & players have your back and are going to challenge you and help you become your best self. There will still be tough times, but you can get through them when you have good people around you.
  • How does it “feel?” When you talk to the coaches, visit the campus, and meet the current players, how do you feel? It’s not something you can define, and sometimes it doesn’t follow logic, but some places you will just get “that feeling” about and other places, you won’t. You can’t make your decision based solely on this feeling, but you can’t ignore it either. Sometimes, you just know.
  • Now it’s time to consider the secondary criteria mentioned in the beginning of this post, along with a few others:
    • Ask about the meal plan. The NCAA has helped the D1 athletes with this, but you will want to find out how many meals/week or dollars/semester you get and figure out if it will be enough for you to live on.
    • Ask about academic support. With the extra time you’ll be spending with basketball, you will need tutors and study halls if you are going to be successful academically. Make sure they have a solid system in place.
    • Ask about internship opportunities. No matter what degree you pursue, it will benefit you to get some experience in the field before you graduate. Find out about the availability and the quality of these opportunities.
    • If playing professionally is important to you, find out if the coaching staff has connections overseas and if they have any former players playing professionally.

 

Navigating the college recruitment and selection landscape is difficult and stressful. I hope that my posts have been helpful and that you find the place that is right for you. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Also read, Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


Advice for aspiring coaches from Harris Adler

I always appreciate reading stuff like this. Everyone’s journey is different, but many share common themes. As someone who is currently working towards fulfilling his own dreams, I find insight like this to be incredibly valuable.

“Life is short, make sacrifices to do what you love” by Harris Adler (via collegechalktalk.com)


Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 4

Separating Yourself at Camps and Tournaments

The more camps and tournaments I go to, the more I have come to believe that there are few things more mysterious to a high school or AAU player than how to play in front of college coaches.

Even if you are very talented, your best chance to stand out at camps and tournaments is to understand what college coaches are looking for and become adept in these areas. The easiest thing for a college coach to find is talent. Talented players are everywhere and every camp and tournament you go to will be loaded with players as talented as you or better. Chances are good that your talent alone won’t earn you a scholarship or a spot on a college roster.

Here is how to standout at camps and tournaments:

1. Do what you do best!

If there’s one thing that simultaneously perplexes and annoys all college coaches at camps and tournaments, it’s watching players who insist on doing things that they can’t do. If you’re not a 3-point shooter, don’t shoot 3’s. If you don’t handle the ball well, give it to someone who can. It is far better to let the college coaches go home wondering if you can, than to prove to them that you can’t. And even worse, when you consistently try the things you can’t do, you show coaches that you have a poor understanding of the game and an unrealistic evaluation of your own ability – both of these are red flags for coaches.

So ask yourself, “What 1 or 2 things can I do better than anybody else?” And then do those things as much as possible. Do them so much that you become nauseatingly boring and predictable….and then do them some more. Establish the fact that you are the best player in the gym at doing those 1 or 2 things, and then, every coach who is looking for a player who can do those things will leave with your name circled.

 

2. Play Hard!

In every game you play at a camp or tournament, there is likely to be a coach watching that will only ever see you play in THIS ONE GAME. Whatever kind of player you are in this game, will define how that coach feels about you. It is very difficult for high school players to understand how much harder college players play than high school players. The speed and intensity of a college practice, a college workout, a college game are on a whole other level from what the typical high school player has ever even seen. And if you can’t play hard for every possession of every game at a camp or tournament, when you’re being watched and so much is on the line, how can any college coach believe that you ever play hard? At the very least, coaches are going to have some concerns about your ability to make it in their program. And at worst, they’ll just cross your name off their list and move on. Don’t disrespect the game or college coaches’ time by playing any other way but HARD.

 

3. Mind your body language!

The best way to find out about the character of a person is to watch how he carries himself when things are not going well. Basketball is a game of mistakes. Mistakes will happen in every game you ever play. And if you can’t respond in a mature and constructive way to mistakes and adverse situations, you’re going to have a very hard time being successful at the next level.

So, stop dropping your head every time you miss a shot or turn the ball over. Stop fouling the guy who rebounded your missed lay-up. Stop giving “the face” to the teammate who dropped your pass or the ref who missed the call. Stop throwing your hands up in the air with disgust. Stop shaking your head in disbelief. Stop slouching and putting towels over your head when you’re on the bench. And stop ignoring your coach when he’s talking to you. These are all signs of an immature player who doesn’t love or understand the game. Coaches don’t enjoy coaching players like this and they are unlikely to recruit players they wouldn’t enjoy coaching.

There’s only one acceptable way to respond to any mistake – immediately elevate your energy and play harder to make the mistake not matter.

 

4. Talk!

If you’ve ever been to a college practice or played in a pick-up game against college players, you’ve probably noticed how much college players talk when they play. It’s one of the biggest and most noticeable differences between high school players and college players. College players talk on the court…A LOT! When you play at a camp or tournament, it would benefit you to look more like a college player. The easiest way to do this is to talk on the court. Talk so much that coaches trying to watch the game on the next court start looking over at your game. It really doesn’t take any special talent.

 

5. Be a Winner!

Having a great handle is terrific. Being able to consistently knock down jumpers is wonderful. Having the ability to dunk over defenders is very impressive. But, there’s one skill that stands alone…It can’t really be taught; can’t really be defined; can’t be capture in a formula or described by a statistic, but EVERY coach wants it. That is the ability to WIN! True winners make their teammates play 10% better and 10% harder. They demand the best of themselves on every possession. They’ll set the screen, grab the rebound, dive for the loose ball, or do whatever is required, but they won’t allow their team to not win. Coaches love players like this!

How hard do you compete on every possession? Do you view every play, every cut, every rebound, and every loose ball as a mini battle within the game? And how badly do want to win every one of those mini battles?

You want to separate yourself in a camp or tournament with hundreds of players who are just as good as you?

BE A WINNER!

 

Also read Clarifying the College Recruiting Process Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 3

Recruiting “Turn Offs”

While recruiting, college coaches are attempting to find players who are (at least):

  • Talented enough and athletic enough to help them win
  • Good enough students to get into school and stay eligible
  • Good enough attitudes that they won’t mind coaching you for the next four years
  • Good enough character that they don’t have to worry about you embarrassing the school or program

As they make these decisions, they will look at EVERYTHING – and it ALL matters!

If you are guilty of some of the things listed below, at best, you’ll only annoy some coaches; at worst, you’ll get crossed off their recruiting list. Becoming a college player is a competitive journey and it makes sense to avoid anything that can make you less appealing to college coaches.

 

Here are some things that will turnoff college coaches:

When you play:

  • Making wardrobe choices that say “Look at me!”
    • Arm sleeves
    • Shin pads
    • Neon shoes and socks
  • Walking, jogging, standing around, and not being in a stance on defense
  • Having bad body language in response to mistakes, coaching or referee’s calls
  • Playing as if it’s a tryout for Hoopmixtape
  • Celebrating every time you make a nice play
  • Being disrespectful to coaches, teammates, or referees

Your Public Image:

  • Using social media unintelligently
    • Posting/reposting sexually explicit, racist, or controversial content
    • Using curse words in posts, pictures, or videos
    • Posting/reposting pictures of yourself partying or behaving badly
    • Posting/reposting videos of sexually explicit, racist, or inappropriate content
  • Tweeting every time you workout
  • Using immature email addresses or social media handles – hoopstar28@yahoo.com; ladyzman@hotmail.com; @GettnBukkets; @Chozen1; @Wherestheparty

Highlight Videos:

*Most coaches will watch 2 minutes and then decide whether to keep watching or turn it off.

  • Bad music (remember who you’re making the video for)
  • Cursing or inappropriate content in highlight music
  • Special effects
  • Showing free throws or individual workouts
  • Interviews

During the recruiting process:

  • Being a “Big Timer”
    • Acting like you’re “too good” to talk to certain coaches
    • Having an unrealistic idea of how good you are and where you can play
  • Misleading:
    • Acting like you’re interested in a school when you’re not – “No, thanks” is the 2nd best answer you can give a coach; let them move on to the next recruit
    • Not being totally honest about your grades, SAT score, height, or stats
  • Communication fails:
    • Not responding to a coach’s texts/emails or not returning their phone calls
    • Giving one-word answers to questions on the phone or in-person
  • Lack of responsibility:
    • Setting up a campus visit and then not showing up
    • Not sending transcripts or game film when you said you would
    • Getting in trouble during a campus visit
  • Parent mistakes:
    • When your parents coach you from the bleachers
    • When your parents scream at coaches or referees
    • When your parents talk to the college coach more than you do
    • When your parents bad mouth your high school coach in front of a college coach

It is unlikely that doing just one or two of these will get you crossed off of a recruiting list completely, but it will weaken your appeal to college coaches and may get you moved down the list. Why would you ever do anything that could hurt your chances of being recruited?

*BEWARE: inappropriate use of social media is one thing that very well could cause a coach to stop recruiting you altogether.

Read Clarifying the College Recruiting Process Part 1 and Part 2


Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 2

The Timeline

In Part 1, I discussed how to determine the interest level that a college coaching staff has in you. In Part 2, I will run through what you should be doing during each year of high school to prepare to become a college basketball player. I will also tell you at what point you should expect different recruiting actions to occur, and how to keep a realistic perspective on where you can play. Keep in mind that everybody’s journey is different, but this should give you an idea of the typical timeline.

 

Freshman & Sophomore Years:

YOUR FOCUS:

Get Better

  • Academic:
    • Build a strong foundation for your GPA by doing as well as you can in school.
  • Basketball:
    • Develop your skills, skills, skills!
    • Playing AAU or travel basketball for enjoyment is fine, but be sure to maintain skill development as your top priority; there’s no need to focus on being seen in your freshman or sophomore year.

 

RECRUITING ACTIVITY:

*It is NOT typical to be recruited during your first two years of high school. Most future college athletes won’t receive any attention from colleges until their junior or senior year.

  • Phone:
    • You may call college coaches, but D1 and D2 coaches are not permitted to call you back.
    • D1 and D2 coaches are not permitted to call, text, or email you until June 15th after your sophomore year; at that point, they can call, text, or email you as often as they want.
    • D3 coaches can call, text, and email you as often as they want.
  • Mail:
    • D1 coaches cannot send you mail until June 15th following your sophomore year.
    • D2 and D3 coaches can send you mail anytime.
  • In-person:
    • D1 coaches cannot speak to you in-person, off their campus.
    • D2 coaches cannot speak to you in-person, off their campus until June 15th following your sophomore year; at that point they can speak to you in-person whenever they see you.
    • D3 coaches can speak to you in-person anytime in or after your sophomore year.

 

 

Junior Year:

YOUR FOCUS:

Get Better

  • Academic:
    • Continue to strengthen your GPA and do some SAT or ACT prep.
    • If you are ready, register to take the SAT or ACT at the end of your junior year (If you’re not ready, it is fine to wait until your senior year).
  • Basketball:
  • College Research:
    • As long as it does not interfere with school or training, the spring/summer of junior year is a good time to start visiting some college campuses to get an idea of what you like.

Be Seen

  • High School:
    • If you played varsity and you had a solid season, have your high school coach send a short highlight video to college coaches (parents can also do this, but it will be taken more seriously if it comes from your coach).
    • If a coach is intrigued by your highlight tape, he will want to see a full game. Be ready to send a copy of your best game to the coaches who ask for it (if there’s not one complete game that you love, it’s acceptable to send your two best halves from two different games). Work with your high school coach on this.
  • AAU:
    • If you haven’t played AAU in previous years, it is now time to find an AAU team to play for in the spring and summer. Playing on a team where you will get plenty of playing time is much more important than playing on the top team in the area or the team that gives away shoes. It’s not so important that the team play in a tournament every weekend, but there are certain times in April and July when you should be playing.
  • Camps:
    • If your talent/skill level warrants it, attend a camp or two. You can either go to elite exposure camps, academic-elite camps, or a prospect camp at a specific college. Whatever you choose, make sure it makes sense for you.

 

RECRUITING ACTIVITY:

*During or after junior year is when recruiting activity can start picking up for many players. Some players will start to receive mail during their junior year, but remember, mail doesn’t mean you’re being “recruited.” If you are a definite D1 prospect it is probable that you will be receiving phone calls from coaches by your junior year.                                         

  • Phone:
    • College coaches can call, text, or email you as often as they want.
  • Mail:
    • You may receive recruiting materials in the mail.
  • In-person
    • D1 coaches are only permitted to speak to in-person when they are at your high school.
    • D2 coaches can speak to you in-person anytime they see you.
    • D3 coaches can speak to you only at your school during the school year, but once your junior year is over, they may speak to you in-person anytime they see you.
  • Campus Visits:
    • You can visit college campuses at your own expense (unofficial visit) any time you wish.
    • D1 schools can offer you an official (expenses paid) visit after January 1st of your junior year.
    • D2 and D3 schools cannot offer official visits until you begin classes in your senior year.
  • Scholarship Offers:
    • D1 scholarships are all full-scholarships (one year, renewable) and most scholarships get offered during the summer following junior year or fall/winter of senior year. Some very promising prospects may receive scholarship offers earlier than this.
    • D2 scholarship offers might occur along the same time frame as D1 offers, but many D2 coaches will choose to wait until later in your senior year, especially if they believe you are “stuck” on D1.
    • D3 schools cannot offer athletic-based scholarships, but they will usually make it clear that they are interested during the course of your junior and senior years.

 

 

Senior Year:

YOUR FOCUS:

Get Better

  • Academics:
    • Stay focused on your school work; finish strong.
    • Take the SAT/ACT in the fall and again in the winter if necessary.
  • Basketball:
  • College Research:
    • As it starts to become evident what type of colleges are interested in you, take some unofficial visits to those colleges either before the school year starts or during school-breaks in the fall.

 

Be Seen

  • High School:
    • Sit down with your high school coach before the season and discuss what level he thinks you can play at. If you aren’t already receiving interest from coaches at that level, come up with a plan of attack. Either your coach (preferable) or you can call or email college coaches in your area that fit your level.
    • The coaches who respond will want to see game film so have it ready to send.

 

RECRUITING ACTIVITY:

*What level you can play at should start to become fairly obvious by the time you are a senior. Not every player (or parent) is always ready to accept this, but the general rule is – You are who’s recruiting you. If you are good enough to play at a particular level, and you’ve taken the steps above to be noticed, coaches from that level will be showing interest. If they’re not…you probably aren’t good enough. There are cases of players being “discovered” late, but these cases are rare. Certainly, by the end of your senior season, you should have a good idea of who wants you and at what level you can play.

  • Phone:
    • College coaches may call, text, or email you as often as they want.
  • Mail:
    • If you are truly a college prospect and you have taken the steps that are outlined above, you will probably have received recruiting materials in the mail by your senior year.
  • In-Person:
    • D1 coaches are permitted to speak to you in-person anytime starting on September 9th
    • D2 and D3 coaches can speak to you in-person whenever they see you.
  • College Visits:
    • You are permitted to take official (expenses paid) visits to college campuses in your senior year. If a D1 school has strong interest, they will probably ask you to take an official visit by the fall of your senior year. If they want you to wait, there are probably other recruits ahead of you.
    • You get a maximum of 5 official visits to D1 schools (only 1 to each college).
    • You get an unlimited number of official visits to D2 and D3 schools (only 1 to each college).
    • You may take as many unofficial visits as you like.
  • Scholarship Offers:
    • If you are a D1 prospect you will probably have received at least one scholarship offer by the time your senior season begins. If you haven’t received an offer by this time, it doesn’t absolutely mean you aren’t a D1 prospect, but it’s becoming less likely. It would be advisable to start paying attention to the D2, D3, and NAIA schools who are showing you interest if you haven’t been doing so already.
    • If D2 schools are interested, they will probably make some form of contact with you during your junior summer or fall/winter of your senior year. Many D2’s will wait to offer a scholarship, even if they’re interested, until they feel confident that you are receptive and willing to consider going to a D2 school. Often this means waiting until the spring of senior year.
    • If you are a priority for a D3 school, you will probably know it by your senior season. It is not uncommon, however, for solid D3 prospects to be discovered during their senior season. Remember, D3 coaches are adjusting their search as they find out which of their main targets get D1 or D2 offers. Because of this, there is always a chance to be seen late in the process.

 

 

*Throughout the process, treat all college coaches with respect. Don’t “big time” a coach because you think you can play above the level he coaches at. Coaches know coaches and they all talk. If you make a bad impression word can spread. And besides, how sure are you that your evaluation of where you can play is accurate? You may be begging that same coach for an opportunity later in your senior year.

**D1 scholarships are not the only way to go to school for free. Division 2 schools can offer full and partial scholarships, as can some NAIA schools and junior colleges. Division 3 schools cannot offer athletic-based scholarships, but many of them can put together very competitive financial aid packages including scholarships, grants and loans based on merit, diversity, and need-based characteristics.

 

For more information:

Recruiting Guidelines for Men’s D1 Basketball

Recruiting Guidelines for Men’s D2 Basketball

NCAA’s Guide for College-Bound Student Athletes

More very good info from recruitlook.com

 


Clarifying the College Recruiting Process: Part 1

Part 1: Gauging Interest

For high school basketball players and their parents, the recruiting process can be very confusing and stressful.  It can be very difficult to read the actions of a school or coaching staff and understand how interested they really are. I’ve witnessed players who have received form letters or questionnaires in the mail, then went and bragged to friends that that college is now recruiting them.When I was a young high school coach, I was also very confused by the nuances of the process and I found it difficult to advise my players about how much interest a school really had in them.

Below, I attempt to break down the recruiting actions coaching staff usually take into a scale of interest (1 is low interest; 5 is high interest). Obviously, every coaching staff recruits differently, so this information will not hold true in all cases. This is only meant to give you a general idea of interest level, based on what I’ve seen over the last 14 years. I hope you find it helpful.

 

Interest Level 1—They know you exist       You’re 1 in 1,000+

What does it mean?

Your name is in a computer data base or on a list; most likely, someone (perhaps your coach) gave them your name as a potential recruit; they may or may not have seen you play.

What actions accompany this level?

  • They might send you a very general letter and/or questionnaire
  • They might send you a brochure to their camp

Interest Level 2—You are on their radar        You’re 1 in 50+

What does it mean?

They may or may not have seen you play, but if they haven’t seen you play, they’ve at least heard about you from someone they trust; they aren’t sure if you’re a legitimate prospect yet, but they want to learn more and will stay in touch just in case.

What actions accompany this level?

  • They might send you a very general letter and/or questionnaire
  • They might invite you to their “elite” or prospect camp
  • They might send you a media guide in the mail
  • They might talk on the phone to your high school and/or AAU coach about you

 

Interest Level 3—They’re Interested in you        You’re 1 in 20-30 (1 in 6-8 at your position)

What does it mean?

They see you as a potential recruit; they aren’t 100% sure whether you can play at their level yet, or maybe they see 1 or 2 flaws in your game that they want your to improve, or they may have questions about whether you’ll be able to contribute right away; it is also possible they think you’re a good enough player, but they still have questions about your grades or character; in any case, they’re interested, but they’re not sold yet; they will keep an eye on you and give you some attention in case you develop.

What actions accompany this level?

  • They will talk on the phone or in person to your high school and/or AAU coach about you
  • An assistant coach will come to a workout, practice, or game
  • They will invite you to their “elite” or prospect camp
  • They might mail you press clippings, motivational quotes, pictures of their team
  • An assistant coach might mail you a handwritten note
  • An assistant coach might send you emails regularly
  • An assistant coach will likely call you on the phone at some point
  • An assistant coach might text you occasionally
  • An assistant coach might visit your school and talk to you
  • They might encourage you to take an unofficial visit to their campus


Interest Level 4—They’re Very Interested in you     You’re 1 in 5-10 (1 in 3-4 at your position)

What does it mean?

You are a legitimate recruit in their eyes; they believe you are capable of playing at their level; you may have 1 particular strength that they have a need for or they like your all-around game; they’d be very happy to get you, but they may also be recruiting 1 or 2 other guys who they like just as much or even a little more than you.

What actions accompany this level?

  • An assistant coach, or the head coach, will likely mail you a handwritten note
  • Either the head coach or an assistant will send you emails regularly
  • You will get regular phone calls from an assistant coach beginning on the first allowable day
  • An assistant coach will probably text you regularly
  • An assistant(s) will come to see you practice or play more than once
  • The head coach may come with his assistant to see you play
  • They will invite you to take an unofficial visit to their campus
  • They might invite you to take an official visit, but late (in winter or spring of senior year)
  • They might be willing to talk to you about who else they are recruiting and where you stand
  • They might make a visit to your home or meet with you & parents at your school
  • They might make a verbal scholarship offer, or a written offer late

 

Interest Level 5—They’re Committed to you    You’re likely their top recruit at your position

What does it mean?

You are a priority player for them; you are either their top recruit at your position or you’re tied for the top spot; they believe you can contribute as a freshman (if they need you to) and they are excited to have you.

What actions accompany this level?

  • An assistant coach will call you regularly and the head coach will call you at least occasionally
  • An assistant coach will probably text you often
  • They will invite you on an official visit to their campus early in your senior year
  • They will make a verbal (and written when the time comes) scholarship offer
  • They will be willing to talk to you about who else they are recruiting
  • The head coach will likely attend a game(s) and/or practice(s)
  • They may make a visit to your home or sit down and meet with you & parents at your school

 

It is important to understand that this is a generalized list. No two recruiting experiences are ever the same. And much of the above list depends on level.

It also needs to be said that just because this process is confusing and very inexact, does NOT mean that college coaches are intentionally making it so. While there are certainly some college coaches who can be unscrupulous and intentionally misleading, the vast majority of college coaches are willing to be as straightforward as they can be about the process. The truth is that it’s hard for coaches to speak with certainty during the process because they’re are so many moving parts and so much uncertainty inherent in the process. College coaches work hard and their job in recruiting is to do what they can within the rules to get the player(s) they believe will help their team win. While most college coaches do a good job of balancing this with the need to treat people fairly and deal in a straightforward manner, college basketball is a business and it isn’t always a clear cut business. It is wise to be as educated as possible about the process.

An overview of the NCAA’s recruiting regulations can be found here.


Red Auerbach Wisdom

The following excerpts are from a book entitled, “Red Auerbach: An Autobiography” by Red Auerbach and Joe Fitzgerald © 1977.

 Being a coach who wasn’t a great player

  • “I had to impress upon them that I knew what I was doing. I know what’s going through their minds. They’re telling themselves that they’re better ball players than I was, and as a result they probably know more about the game than I do.”
  • “I know you guys are better players than I was. If I was a better player than you, I’d be out there playing. But I’m not. So my job is coaching, and I work damned hard at it. I spend twenty hours a day at it. All I want you to worry about is staying in shape and playing the game. You’ve got enough to think about between trying to beat the man who’s guarding you and trying to remember the plays. Let me worry about everything else, because I can see the overall picture.”
  • “Look,” I said, “my job is to coach you guys, and I’ve made a study out of it. That’s my job—to know what’s going on out there. And I’ve had some experience at it. You can’t see everything while you’re out there, but I can. If you have suggestions, give them to me. If you spot little ways to take advantage of people out there, tell me and I’ll make sure we get the ball to you. Let’s use all the knowledge we’ve got on this team. But remember one thing: I make the moves. All you can make is suggestions.”

Choosing your players

  • “The selection of material is more important that the handling of it.”
  • “I’ve been to some schools where the athletes acted as if they were doing the school a favor by participating. You’re better off forgetting a guy like that and getting someone else who’s only 50% as good, but will bust his ass for you.”
  • “He has to be my type of kid: he can absorb coaching; he will listen to what you’re telling him, and then go out and do it. And he’s a good kid on and off the court…I want a kid who is great, but never stopped being nice. Most of all, I want a kid who’s willing to pay the price, who’s willing to work at winning, who wants to win so badly that he’ll give me everything he’s got.”

Team Chemistry 

  • “The thing I was most determined to avoid was cliques. There were going to be no goddamned cliques on the Celtics! That stuff can kill a ball club quicker than anything else I can think of.”
  • “The second most important thing to the team way of thinking was convincing guys that their contributions were appreciated—no matter what the fans and writers were saying. On most teams the ‘starting line-up’ is a big deal. If you don’t start, it implies you’re not as good or as valuable as the next guy. Our ‘starters,’ the ones that we made the big deal about, were the 5 guys that finished the game.”

Roles

  • “This is where my idea of the 6th-man came in. Psychologically, as soon as you pull one of your five starters out of the game, the other team is going to let down just a bit. That’s when I wanted a guy like Ramsey or Havlicek to get out there and run them into the ground. Every other team starts his best.  Suppose I don’t start my best. Suppose I start 80% of my best. Now, after 5 or 6 minutes go by, it’s time to substitute. Their 100% is getting tired, and so is my 80%. In goes their sub and in goes my 6th-man. What happens? They’ve decreased their proficiency while I’ve increased mine.”
  • “One guy might be a pretty good scorer, but there’s only one ball in the game. So if there are already 1 or 2 guys that can score it better than him, he has to commit himself to boxing out and setting picks and making plays. Who the hell ever writes stories about setting picks? It’s not a glory job, but it’s necessary.”
  • “I convinced each of them that his best contribution to winning came through his excellence in certain phases of the game. And if they didn’t go for it, I controlled their salaries and playing time. They knew their salaries and playing time were totally dependent on what I believed were his contribution towards winning.”

Conditioning

  • “Players can’t play themselves into shape. Only one person could really get them working hard enough so that it would do some good, and that was me.”
  • “To play the kind of ball I wanted, my teams had to be in condition. You’ve got to be in better shape than the next guy. If he gets tired, his game is hurt.”

Referees

  • “Some refs like to referee the score. Everybody subconsciously roots for the underdog. If my guys were leading by 25 points, I wanted that game officiated the same way as if the lead was one point. For one thing, I wanted my subs to play under proper game conditions too. Get a good lead and some refs will let everything go out there, hoping to make the game close again.”
  • “If a referee says to me, ‘I blew it,’ what could I do? I’d have no more argument. But they’d never admit they blew a call. But they are human, so how come they can never be wrong? Rather than admit their mistake they usually just get stubborn.”
  • “If the rule is no good, then get it changed. But when you’re out there on the floor, you’ve got to referee the rules we have. You are hired to enforce the rules, not to write them.”

Practice

  • “I had one very important rule regarding practices. When I came through the door and walked onto the court and blew my whistle, I didn’t want to hear another sound. I didn’t want to hear any balls bouncing, any shots being taken, not even any laughing or joking. I wanted immediate attention. I wanted them to stand there, shut up and listen to me. That wasn’t any big ego thing on my part. They knew I wouldn’t keep them any longer than I had to, so the idea was to get right down to business and then get the hell out of there.”

Communication

  • “Communication is everything in coaching. It’s not what you say that counts. It’s what they hear and absorb that really matters. It helps to know when to be sarcastic or humorous, mean or tough, calm and soft. You have to employ change of pace to keep them off guard. You don’t want them to know how you’re going to react.”
  • “Avoid over-coaching. Make sure you don’t fall in love with the sound of your own voice. Get your point across and then shut up. If you talk too much or for too long after a while the players get turned off. Now your motivation is actually working in reverse. They don’t hear a thing you’re saying.”

Pre-Game Talks

  • “If you guys are nervous,  how the hell do you think they feel, having to play us?”
  • “I just want to let you guys know one thing. No matter what happens tomorrow night, you’re still my guys and you always will be. One ball game isn’t going to change the way I feel about you. I think you’re the greatest guys in the world and you’re a great team and I’m going to continue believing that after tomorrow night regardless of the outcome.”
  • “Sometimes I’d talk 2 minutes; sometimes I’d talk 8, sometimes 10. I’d change the inflections as I went along. Sometimes I wouldn’t say anything at all and that would motivate them. You’ve got to be able to determine what the team needs at a particular moment. You can get your point across with humor, sarcasm, ridicule, appeals to their pride. One night you’ll yell, the next night you’ll talk softly. Sometimes you’ll get technical, other times you’ll be  very general.”

Time Outs

  • Comments from his players:
    • “Part of his great ability to handle his players was his skill in drawing upon their thoughts and idea. The men in the game have a better feel for the tempo than anyone else. Red was smart enough to recognize that. He never hesitated for a second when it came to asking us our opinion. But 90% of the time he knew what he wanted done out there. And 100% of the time, the final decision was his. There was never any question about that.”
    • “We all had great confidence in him. Red would sit down and figure out the odds on every possible situation. Nothing was overlooked. So when we got into a game and a time out was called, especially late in the 4th quarter of a tight ball game, he would know what we should do and we accepted his leadership without question.”
  • “1st Rule—my ball players did not sit down! I wanted to show contempt for the other team. THEY had to sit down; THEY were tired; THEY needed rest. But we were in superb physical condition. We weren’t tired. We didn’t need rest. We were ready to run right back out there and chase their asses up and down the court. It was like Muhammad Ali standing in his corner between rounds, just staring at his opponent in disgust because he was so weak he had to sit on a stool. I wanted the other team to look over and see how strong and fresh and confident we were. I wanted them to think about that the whole time out. I wanted it to bother them and distract them and embarrass them.”

Stories about “The Business”

I’m always interested to read about different coaches’ experiences in the coaching profession, particularly their story of how they climbed the ladder to get where they are now. I love to read how different coaches dealt with various obstacles on their climb. If you have any misconceptions that the business of college coaching is easy, I urge you to read these stories:

Buzz Williams’ start

  • “From the beginning of my first day of college until the last day of college, any college coach that I met, regardless of title and regardless of classification, from that point forward I wrote them a letter once a week.” -Buzz Williams
  • “I just knew that the only chance I had as a non-player, as no one that was connected to anybody associated with anybody in college athletics, was to wake up early, be very hard and diligent and effective and efficient in my work, to always tell the truth and to always try to treat people the right way.” -Buzz Williams

Mike Brown’s start

  • “I was the first one there, the last one to leave. I was a little crazy back then, I was staying the night at the arena. I had my own office off the weight room with a sleeping bag and pillows…I’d go to sleep on the training table or floor then get up and take a shower.” -Mike Brown

Mark Pancratz career as a Tennessee assistant

  • “Mark, are you sure you want to get into college coaching? This is not an easy business. You could have more stability and make a lot of money quicker if you did something else. Think about it another day and call me tomorrow and let me know what you decide.” -Bruce Pearl