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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Athlete's Pledge

Last month, while on vacation in Maui, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and observing Master Paul Main, owner and founder of Ohana Martial Arts in Kahului. Master Main is extremely decorated as a martial artist (I won't even begin to list the numerous belts he owns... would be a VERY long post) and he is also the #1 ranked 50-and-over International Martial Arts Council point fighting champion. To put it lightly and in lay terms, this guy is one badass!

What impressed me the most is Master Main's teaching and coaching abilities. He has been awarded the IMAC Coach of the Year in 2006 and Ohana Martial Arts was named School of the Year in 2006 as well. He has mentored over 80 World Champions in just 7 years of participating in IMAC competitions.

When I asked Master Main what his secret of success was, he replied, "Eliminate laziness, ignorance, and negativity." One of the tools used to accomplish this at Ohana Martial Arts is with the pledge the students say before every training session. It is a powerful tool to focus the students for the day's lessons but also provides a form of goal-oriented affirmation. It is brilliant!

Here is Master Main's pledge:
I will always develop myself in a positive manner,
and obey the tenants of Tae Kwon Do:
Self Control,
Indomitable Spirit.
We are a black belt school.
We are dedicated.
We are motivated.
We are on a quest to be our best!

When I heard this, it reminded me of The Prayer of the Sportsman, written by Berton Brayley and used by Knute Rockne:
Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life,
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare:
And if I should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

And Lord, may my shouts be ungrudging and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me take off my hat to the warriors who strode
To victory splendid and high;
Yes, teach me to stand by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

For those of you who are Nebraska Football fans, you'll recognize some of the prayer above! The modified version Nebraska uses today is:
Dear Lord, In the battles we go through in life,
We ask for a chance that's fair.
A chance to equal all our stripes.
A chance to do or dare.

If we should win,
Let it be by the code:
With faith and honor held high.

And if we should lose,
Let us stand by the road
and cheer as the winners go by.

Day by day!!
We get better and better!!
A team that can't be beat!!
Won't be beat!!!

These are ideas that you can incorporate into your own teams. This is a fantastic way to set a positive tone and mindset for your athletes while reaffirming goals. It brings focus and attention to the task at hand in a productive manner.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Managers - The lifeblood of the program

A few days ago, Jesse McLean at King's University in Edmonton asked me about job descriptions and/or guidelines for managers. Having started out in college basketball as a manager for Kelvin Sampson at Washington State, I was more than happy to assist!

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me just say that being a manager is a great start for young guys wanting to coach. It presents a tremendous learning opportunity to learn, grow, and observe. Lawrence Frank is probably the most high-profile former manager, having served in that capactity for Bob Knight at Indiana. My friend, Steve Finamore head coach at East Lansing High School, wrote a great piece about being a student manager and breaking into "the business".

That being said, on to the actual request from Coach McLean. Here is the job description for our managers that I created when I was at McNeese State:

Before your job is outlined, there are two things you must know about our program and your place in it. First, the job you have is vital to the success of our basketball program. Many of your duties will take place behind the scenes and many will go unnoticed, however, you must understand that they are necessary for the smooth operation of our activities. No detail is too small. It is critical that you understand your importance to the program and you take pride in your job; doing it to the best of your abilities. The second thing you must know is that everyone who is a part of the day to day running of our program is a member of our family. You will be given the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as the coaches and players, so behave accordingly.

Like any family, there will be fun times and not-so-fun times but at all times we must remember we are a family. Things that occur at practice or in the privacy of a meeting or the locker room remain within the family. In doing this, you as a student manager, will be treated like a member of the family. you will be included in every aspect of our program, both on and off the court as well as socially.

Your success as a student manager will depend on four keys:

1. ACADEMICS - First and foremost you are a STUDENT manager. Academics are your first responsibility. Basketball comes second. This means that we expect you to manage your time and schedule in such a way as to effectively complete both responsibilities on a daily basis.

2. EFFORT/HUSTLE - Your success in this role will be directly related to your effort. Be early to everything you are required to be at. Hustle and work hard to get jobs done as quickly as possible. Run, don't walk. This is especially critical during practices and games. Unfortunately, your tasks may only be noticed if they are not done at the proper time or if they are not done to the best of your ability.

3. PUBLIC RELATIONS - Every member of our program is expected to be aware of their image within the community. We want to project a positive, success-oriented, hard working image to anyone who visits or comes to a game. This includes your speech, dress, appearance, mannerisms and vocabulary. Put your best foot forward in relating to the public.

4. WORKING RELATIONSHIPS - Develop positive relationships with all coaches, players, trainers, equipment managers as well as SID's, other sport coaches, other team managers, opponent's staff, etc. Behave, dress, and speak in a professional manner at all times. Your relationship with these people are public relations within our own athletic department.

The following are some general guidelines to follow. Remember that you can never be over-prepared and nothing is worse than being under-prepared. Your duties include, but are not limited to:

1. Keep equipment clean and organized
2. Know practice and travel schedules
3. Keep locker room and meeting room clean
4. Maintain accurate inventory of equipment

1. Issue equipment - Practice gear, shoes, socks, etc.
2. Be at the facility one hour before practice
3. Prepare all practice areas:
a. Clock
b. Balls
c. Clean/sweep the floor
d. Check and replace nets if needed
e. Towels - Each manager, under each basket, and at scorers table
f. Trash cans at each end of the floor
g. Appropriate charts, forms, pens/pencils
h. Jump ropes
4. Coordinate all equipment for practice (ropes, cones, heavy balls, big ball, etc.)
5. Have practice plan and prepare ahead for the next segment
6. Keep appropriate stats
7. Assist with drills (passer, defender, etc.) when necessary
8. Maintain a safe environment
9. Be ready to change directions at a moments notice
***Once the players begin to take the court, remember this is not time for you to shoot around. Be available to rebound and assist with players.

1. Be readily available an hour and a half before game and throughout the game
2. Have locker room open immediately on arrival
3. Issue equipment - Uniforms, warm ups, etc.
4. Check with and assist in game management set up
5. Take assigned stats
6. Assist with bench management and time-outs during the game
a. Pick up warm ups
b. Water for players exiting the game and during time-outs
c. Towels for players exiting the game and during time-outs
7. Collect, count, and inventory equipment after game

1. Pack and bring all equipment
2. Bring back up equipment
3. Arrange laundry
4. Keep players on schedule and assist with hotel monitoring
5. Know the itinerary

1. Set up and operate
2. Test camera/recording device(s) early
3. Constantly check for malfunctions
4. Bring extra tapes, DVD's, cords, etc.

1. Check in with assistant coaches during the day
2. Maintain open communication with assistant coaches