Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Selected Notes from Monte Mathis (Dallas Mavericks) 2011 Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

I was so honored when Monte agreed to come speak at The Workshop last year. Here he was coming off a World Championship season and he was the most humble man, eager to share his knowledge. Monte gave us a behinds the scenes look at what goes into an NBA championship team and how to bring that to our own teams. Enjoy a taste of what Monte presented last year!

DNA of a Champion -
The 2011 Dallas Mavericks

Ownership By Players - First team meeting of the year, 15 words describing various attributes and standards on the white board. Players choose 4. The most votes they will live by. (What they chose: Believe, Committed, Tough Minded, Unselfish) They picked them; they own it. Holds players accountable.

Trust - Trust your teammates. Trust in the coaches. Trust in the system.

Great Relationships - Took time to get to know each other. What makes Jason Kidd tick? What works for Jason didn't work for Dirk. What makes Dirk go?

"Play With An Edge" - Both ends of the court. Have something to prove. Can't be soft. That edge has got to cut.

Motivated Leaders - Our best players were our greatest leaders (Dirk, JKidd, JET). The saying is true. Our best players worked harder than anyone on the court, in the weight room, in the training room [to rehab]. They led by example.

Respect For The Game - Respect for each other. Respect what every single person in the organization does for the team. From receptionist to video to owner to player etc... Built on great relationships.

Great Mix of Players/Coaches - Team chemistry. Young guys and veterans. Shooters and drivers. Toughness and finesse.

Offense and Defense Matched Personnel - Everyone knew, understood, and accepted their role. Built on the chemistry from great relationships and respect.

Positive Attitude - Optimistic even when down. We were resilient and, back to the 4 words, tough minded.

"No Shortcuts" - On of off the court. All it took was a look at times. Constantly reminded guys in practice. There is no other way. Told the guys "Know when to party". There's a time and a place for that. Know when that time isn't and don't.

There Will Be Problems, Issues, and Conflict - Never smooth sailing. Losing. Overcoming obstacles. It all goes back to being positive and having that resiliency.

Accountability - "Let's be real." Honesty. Ego has got to get out of the way. That's being an adult. No B.S. That's reality. In film session with sensitive player that needed some love, "Give me 10% hate (not really hate, but criticism) and I'll give you 90% love. Deal?" Stems from the great relationship built.

ROLES - Understanding and acceptance. Everyone knew everyone else's role. Dirk knew what his role was but also knew what all of his teammates' roles were too.

Unified Coaching Staff - Agree to disagree. May not like it, but at the end of the day that's what Coach Carlisle wants. You can have disagreements, but always behind closed doors. Players see it all. They know when the staff isn't together and will feed off that. Loyalty to each other.

Talented and Confident Players - Let's face facts. You've got to have players; guys that can actually play. The X's and O's are great, but you need the Jimmy's and Joe's too.

Prepared - Opponents scouts. Do a self scout. How are you going to guard you? Do your homework. Practice planning. What would you do against your team?

Everyone Stay Ready - Crucial to keep bench players engaged. Keep pushing the guys in front of them. Never know when the injury bug will hit.

Practice - Get them to compete. Whatever you need to do to keep practice competitive. For example: Series of 5 3's from 5 spots. If a player hit 20 of 25 they got to sprint to a cowbell in the arena and ring it. Guys were going nuts to get to ring that bell. Even in 5 on 0, have coaches rate the execution on scale of 1-10 after 3 trips. Lowest score runs. Be organized! Time management.

"KILL" - Keep it likable and learnable. Work. Go hard. But make it fun. Make guys WANT to come to practice.

Keep Coaching, Teaching, Demanding - Even when you're winning. Coach harder, demand more even when you're winning. Don't listen to the back-patters. You're not as good as you think. AND you're not as bad as you think.

Goal Driven - Vision (The Ring)

UNSELFISH!!! - With a team full of NBA All-Stars, the ball still touched everyone's hands. We had each others back.

A Little Bit Of Luck - The stars lined up. To win a championship there's got to be a little luck involved. The luck that happens during a great year, you earn it from your work during that year.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

Matt Grahn Basketball is excited to announce the 2012 Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop will be held on October 6th at the University of Dallas!

The speakers and I are all very excited about this event and wish to share with you. This is a fantastic time to learn and grow as a coach, right before college practices and about a month before high school practices, to have those valuable nuggets fresh in your mind as you start your season.

The lineup of speakers and their wealth of knowledge is once again, in a word, phenomenal! One of the best qualities about all of the speakers is their approachability. All of them are "hoops junkies" and are more than willing to share their thoughts with others. This will be a fun day of basketball and one that you don't want to miss!

Fran Fraschilla, ESPN Analyst - Fran has been the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's, and New Mexico. He brings 23 years of collegiate coaching experience as well as his analysis of international basketball to the workshop.

Bob Hill, NBA Veteran Coach - Bob was the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, and Indiana Pacers as well as head coach at Fordham University. He has coached internationally in Japan, Taiwan, and Ukraine among others.

Bob Starkey, Texas A&M Assistant Coach -  Bob is a 25-year collegiate coaching veteran. His experiences include assisting Dale Brown with the men's team and Van Chancellor with the women's team at LSU. He has mentored 6 WNBA first round picks and 3 NBA first round picks. The women's program at LSU advanced to 4 consecutive Final Fours during his time there.

Danny Henderson, Duncanville High School Head Coach - Danny won back-to-back Texas 5A State Titles in 2011 and 2012 at Flower Mound's Marcus High School. Under his tutelage, Marcus Smart blossomed into a McDonald's All-American.

Jarred Samples, University of Dallas Head Coach - Jarred currently ranks 3rd on the all-time wins list at UD. He ranks in the top 5 on the all-time assists leaders at UD. Jarred has spent time as an assistant coach at Southwestern University and the University of Chicago before taking the helm at his alma mater.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Notes from The Last Season by Phil Jackson

Due to the overwhelming positive response to my twitter firestorm of Phil Jackson quotes the other night, I figured I would compile a complete list of nuggets I gathered from this book. Enjoy!

- I want the kids to maintain the same confidence and rhythm, to be in what I like to call "ready-to-play." That is no guarantee that I'll use them, but if I do, I need to trust they'll do the job.

- Too often, if a player believes he has little chance of receiving any minutes, his concentration will lapse, and he will not be ready if an emergency - injuries, fouls, whatever - forces me to call his number.

- Rebounding, much like defense, requires tremendous will, especially at the offensive end.

- There are only so many corrective comments I'm allowed before I risk causing serious, perhaps irrevocable, damage to our relationship.

- So much of playing effective team defense is linked to what happens at the other end.

- If the offense is properly executed, our players will be in position for a balanced defensive retreat.

- More than anything else, playing inspired defense is a matter of will: What are you willing to do as a group to help each other out? What are you willing to do as an individual to put the clamps on the opponent you're guarding?

- According to the Positive Coaching Alliance, which trains coaches in youth sports, the ideal is a 5:1 ratio of praise to criticism.

- Choosing my words carefully, I try to make players understand that I'm criticizing their performance, not their personality.

- Players must be very delicate in how they interact with each other, especially in public. The wrong word my destroy another player's confidence, or worse yet, sow resentment that will not be easy to erase.

- I asked the coaching staff to offer a few observations, aware that the troops were probably sick of hearing only one voice, mine. Too many coaches have lost their players, and subsequently their jobs, by not recognizing when they need to step back.

- Tex [Winter]... has a saying that I've grown to love: "You are only a success at the moment that you do a successful act."

- You can't be a success the next moment because you have already moved on to do something else, even if it's accepting the award for the successful moment that just passed.

- I've always told my players the glorification comes from the journey, not the outcome.

- Winning covers up a multitude of sins, the saying goes, while losing makes mountains out of molehills.

- I believe a team should be rewarded for hard work, a strict adherence to fundamentals.

- A player's responsibility is to execute the type of game he is best designed for, or as I call it, "licensed to play." We tell our players constantly, "don't get out of character."

- I can understand a player's desire to expand his role. But too often they see themselves only through their own narrow lens, imagining greatness that simply does not exist.

- Basketball, unlike football with it's prescribed routes, is an improvisational game, similar to jazz. If someone drops a note, someone else must step into the vacuum and drive the beat that sustains the team. One slight drop-off, one guy in the wrong spot at the wrong time, and the whole unit will fail.

- I've always believed a coach should be willing to admit fault. Players must feel they're being treated fairly.

- Achieving oneness does not guarantee success, but it greatly enhances a team's chances.

- I prefer to see [my team] develop a warrior mentality, in which they honor their opponent. Too many players today degrade their opponent. "He's garbage," they'll say. He is not garbage. Your opponent is who makes you a better warrior.

- (Re: underestimating a tough opponent that you have already played) I compare this case of temporary amnesia to a trip to the dentist. You know the drill is going to be unpleasant but you don't remember exactly how unpleasant until it's administered. Suddenly the memory of the past experiences rushes to the surface.

- The coaching staff may devise a dozen different tactics... but unless the guys believe we can prevail, those tactics won't mean a thing.

- Players often explain a loss by saying, "we didn't match their intensity." The phrase is overused but accurate. Less than talented teams with greater intensity defeat more talented teams all the time.

- Matching intensity does not mean initiating aggressive, frenetic action. That often causes players to go out of control, out of character.

- Matching intensity means competing with full alertness, with a commitment to sound principles and execution.

- Little things - good footwork, proper spacing, a hand in a shooter's face - make a big difference.

- For years I've spliced in clips from films or television shows to break up the monotony. Players will lose focus watching themselves race up and down the court for ten straight minutes. ... Of course I'm not just trying to lighten the mood. Each clip comes with a message that registers, I hope. ... The idea is to instruct without bruising egos.

- The dribble, in fact, has replaced the pass as the primary means to move the ball toward the basket, to generate shots. Sadly, the beautiful, rhythmic, around-the-horn ball movement practiced by championship teams in the 60's, 70's, and 80's is increasingly rare.

- For years it has been true that once the offense executes the fourth pass in any given possession, the defense will be on its heels, out of position.

- The first basket in overtime is always crucial, even more than the one that breaks a tie heading into the last five minutes of regulation, although the time remaining would be roughly the same.

- (Re: note to players about behavior toward officials) "Regardless of how bad they are, they are not picking on you or us... IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU."

It's been a loooong while!

It has been a while since I posted something on here. I think the little angel on the left is well worth taking some time off from writing posts. I can't believe that it has been 3 months since her birth! As you can tell from the picture, she is ready to get going on the court (and we are already working on her left hand). I sent this picture to Coach Eastman saying she was ready for her pro-time workout to which he responded he was already putting Ganon Baker on notice.

The little monkey (that's what I call her because she was so long and wiry at birth she looked like a spider monkey) will more than likely participate in athletics. Her dad is a college coach. Her mom is a former college player, former college coach, and current middle school coach. Her grandparents were coaches. I hope that she will explore other things as well, but she will grow up in the gym and more than likely participate in a sport of some kind.

The crazy thing is that right after her birth, I started working on my certification to present the Second-Goal Parent workshop for the Positive Coaching Alliance. We speak to coaches about being Double-Goal Coaches with the first goal striving to win on the scoreboard and the second goal to teach valuable life-lessons and build character. This particular workshop educates parents on how to support their child and emphasize the second goal of life-lessons and character development while shifting their focus off the first goal of the scoreboard. It is a powerful workshop! As I went through the process of getting certified, it was a fantastic way to prepare myself for the day when my little girl takes to the court, field, pool, track, or whatever. I certainly don't wish to be "that parent" in the stands.

So to those of you who check this site regularly, I am very sorry for not having posted in quite some time. Those of you with children, I think you can sympathize with the stress of a pregnant wife during the season, a first child born right in the middle of conference season, and trying to adjust to a new wonderful life with the most amazing thing to happen to you in your life. I am resolved to carve time into my schedule to update more often... not to mention, get back on my workouts too. Can't we add a few hours to the day?!

Keep checking back for future updates. As always, please feel free to leave comments and even contact me for future post topics. I am always looking for ways to learn, improve, and get better but I also want to make this useful and pertinent to those who read. Best "swishes" to all of you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Traits of a TEAM Player

Over the course of the past 4 weeks, I have been delivering the Positive Coaching Alliance message of becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor to Dallas ISD middle school athletes. We consider someone to be a Triple-Impact Competitor when they make themselves better, their teammates better, and the game as a whole better. Here are five traits that players can possess to make them better teammates, and int turn, make their teammates better.

1. Tenacity - A true team player has a "never-say-die" attitude. There is no quit in them; it just isn't an option in their mind. Nor should it ever be a fleeting thought in the mind of those around him. Team players continue to battle, giving every ounce of energy, until the final buzzer no matter what the scoreboard reads.

2. Selflessness - A true team player is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. This may be taking on a different role, such as coming off the bench instead of starting. It could be stepping up on defense instead of concentrating on scoring. No matter the situation, a team player is willing to do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team and set aside any personal agenda.

3. Tremendous Work Ethic - We have heard this called a "Blue Collar" player or a guy that "brings his lunch pail every day." A true team player simply puts his mind, heart, and soul completely into every possession once he crosses the lines. He never complains and just does his job. He also asks what else he can do to help the team in addition to his job.

4. Tank Filling - A true team player knows that his team is family. He understands that infighting and bickering is cancerous and will ultimately destroy the family. He works hard to maintain a 5:1 positive to criticism ratio. He is the first to run to a teammate that just dove for a loose ball or taken a charge. He shows his appreciation for great effort and lifts his teammates up when the chips are down.

5. Ownership - True team players are completely invested in the team. He understands that he is a small part of something greater than himself. He gives himself completely to making the team successful. He owns up to his mistakes using his mistake ritual. When problems arise, he works for a solution; not pile it on and continue to be part of the problem.

Shake It Off and Step Up

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for ...hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!

You have two choices in the face of adversity:
1. Shake it off and take a step up
2. Be a jackass crying and whining about it and get buried.

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Del Harris and Monte Mathis added to Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

The speaking lineup is now complete with a little NBA flavor! Legendary former NBA head coach, Del Harris, and current assistant with the NBA World Champion Dallas Mavericks, Monte Mathis, will be sharing their extensive basketball knowledge on October 1st.

Coach Harris has been the head coach with the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to those clubs, Coach Harris has been an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, and the Utah Stars (ABA). A seasoned veteran of the international game, Coach Harris has aided national teams from USA, China, Canada, and recently competed in FIBA Americas coaching the Dominican Republic team with John Calipari. He has been inducted into both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.

Coach Mathis just earned an NBA Championship ring this past season. He assisted Rick Carlisle in earning the Mavericks their first ever World Championship. Coach Mathis was a two-sport athlete at the University of Toledo, playing both basketball and baseball. Following his professional baseball career, Coach Mathis coached at the collegiate level. His assistant coaching stops include Xavier, Ohio State, South Alabama, McNeese State, and Toledo. Coach Mathis has been a member of the Dallas Mavericks staff for the past 5 years.

I am VERY excited to hear and learn from these two fantastic basketball minds!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

Matt Grahn Basketball is proud to announce the inaugural Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop at The University of Dallas Saturday and Sunday October 1st, 2011.

My hope is to get you excited about the upcoming season ahead and take advantage of the opportunity to hear from some successful coaches. I want to create an environment of true learning and give you tools that you can implement into your own programs. Please pass the word to make this a HUGE success for all parties and something we can make an annual event!!!

Currently scheduled to present:

Del Harris, Former NBA Head Coach - 13 years NBA head coach. Veteran of international competition with USA, China, Canada, and Dominican Republic. Member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.

Monte Mathis, Assistant Coach with the Dallas Mavericks - 2011 World Champions. Former collegiate assistant coach at Xavier, Ohio State, South Alabama, McNeese State and Toledo.

Scott Cross
, Head Coach at UT-Arlington - 2008 Southland Conference Champions

Jim Boone, Head Coach at West Virginia WesleyanCollege - More than 400 career victories and 2 Final Fours in 24 years

Jarred Samples, Head Coach at University of Dallas - Ranks 3rd in all time wins at University of Dallas

Terry Waldrop, Head Coach at Texas Wesleyan University - 2006 NAIA National Champions and 4-time Red River Conference Champions

Matt Grahn, Assistant Coach at University of Dallas - 16 years college coaching experience. 2 years at the high school level.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts From Jay Bilas

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jay Bilas at Coaching U Live in Orlando. One of my jobs working Coaching U was to pick up the speakers for the event from the airport. I am so thankful for my half-hour trips in the rental car with Jay. He is a wonderfully witty and intelligent man. It was a great opportunity for me to learn from a brilliant mind. Say what you will, as Jay is a polarizing personality - you either love him or hate him - just read his tweets, I was duly impressed with his knowledge and passion for the game of basketball.

The first story he shared with me on the way from the airport to the University of Central Florida campus was about the man that was sitting next to him on the plane (he also shared this with those that attended Coaching U, so I apologize to those that have heard this already). The man was a NASA employee traveling to Orlando to watch the last Space Shuttle landing. In the conversation, the man stated that he was in charge of thousands of NASA employees, all with various and different duties, to get a rocket launched into space. With the interest in space exploration waning, the man stated it has been difficult to fight a downward spiral in morale. Thus creating a need from the employees to feel needed, wanted, and that their job was important.

To combat this, the man instituted an approach of total concentration on the overall mission. The Space Shuttle wouldn't have the ability to get off the ground without the millions of tiny parts. Each part plays an important role in the success of the entire project. The phrase that was instituted into the NASA culture was, "Be responsible to the element; accountable to the mission." A very powerful approach!

We as coaches have players with various and a wide array of skills and abilities. We talk about "role players" (a term I don't like as EVERY player is a role player, they just play different roles) and how we can incorporate them into the team fold and get them to "buy in". I think we can also all reflect on times when we have had to fight our teams' low morale at times. This was a fantastic lesson in teamwork and a frame of mind that we need to pass on to our players. EVERY piece is important to the overall success of the team.

Jay also shared with me a story he didn't incorporate into his presentation. He is a big fan of Inside the Actors Studio. Jay was watching an episode where the guest star was asked by a student at the Actors Studio school, "If I want to be an actor, should I live in New York or LA?" The guest then asked in return, "Let me ask you this: Do you want to be an actor or a famous actor?" Jay said the guest went on to explain that you can act anywhere; there are opportunities in just about any community. It doesn't matter the venue, you still have to be well versed and study your craft.

I think the lesson is obvious and has a direct correlation to our profession. Do you want to coach? Are you in the profession to help people? To make them better? OR are you in it for fame, fortune and glory? If you truly want to coach, there are a lot of opportunities that aren't seen on ESPN. Don't tell me that Don Meyer isn't a great coach just because his teams weren't on CBS every Saturday.

This is not to say that all the coaches we regularly see on TV or in the news are in it for the wrong reasons: themselves. There were plenty of NBA coaches scribbling notes at Coaching U just as fast and furious as the high school coaches in attendance. The point is that if we put the goal of fame before the goal of making others better, there is something fundamentally wrong and we really haven't done our job. Conversely, if we put the betterment of ourselves, our players, and the game as a whole first, we have ultimately met what I believe is our job description. And who knows? The opportunity may present itself to play our games on TV... if that's what you're in to.