“When I’m looking at a player, I look for guys who love to play. I look at guys who have a feel for the game, a sense of the game. That’s very hard to find. Things like making the simple pass or letting the game come to him. I look for guys who can fit in with other guys. If you get too many guys who are score-oriented, then it’s hard to blend as a team.”
Archive for Rick Majerus
Rick Majerus passed away over the weekend; he was 64.
Majerus is what some call a “lifer” in coaching.
The guy was all about hoops.
All week-long I will throw up some excerpts from ‘My Life on a Napkin’ by Rick Majerus.
I challenge them. I’ll say, “You tell me the day I’m not the most organized, enthusiastic, energetic guy on the floor. If I’m not that guy, then that will be the day we end practice early and the next day I’ll quit.” If you can ever say, ‘Coach wasn’t organized today…He wasn’t into it today, ‘ then I have a problem. But I challenge anybody to find a Utah player who could ever say that.”
I heard the sad news tonight; Rick Majerus has passed away. He was 64.
I read another disturbing story about a coach/teacher that has been arrested for inappropriate behavior with an underage female. I don’t have to post any links for your to click, just google the subject. What is wrong with these morons? Why does a grown man find the need to form a relationship with a minor? They have a good job, a family and kids at home. Do these schmucks realize they are throwing their lives away?
My friend Clarence Gaines penned a blog entry recently on this awful behavior, it’s worth the time.
NBC 17 on a former Duke basketball player who has passed away at the age of 71.
Jonathan Tjarks of Real GM on ‘The Last Shot’ by Darcy Frey…it’s been 18 years; what’s changed in grassroots basketball?
Andy Katz of ESPN on Rick Majerus.
Over the last couple of years, I have been working on a basketball improvement book.
During my research I often ask myself, ‘Why do some players improve and others either stay the same or believe it or not, get worse’?
Is it lack of work ethic? Too much hype as a young player? Uncoachable? Attitude problem? Character flaws? Lack of desire? Burnout? The courage to succeed? Refusal to grasp the concept of improving?
A lack of self-understanding of what it takes?
Crime? Drugs? Alcohol?
Whatever problem you can come up with, it’s worth talking about. But for some reason most basketball people fail to bring it up. It’s almost like they turn their backs on it, sweep it under the carpet or wait until it’s too late.
Leigh Kleine runs the famous 5-Star basketball camp and he recently told me, “In order to achieve at the highest level, along the way one must face physical and mental adversity that forces the person out of the comfort zone and to develop other skills. If a player never has to do this, then they will be ill prepared for when they are truly tested.”
I’m currently reading two basketball books; “Pick-Up Artists” and “Heaven is a Playground”. Pick-Up Artists, written by Lars Anderson and Chad Millman covers different scenarios pertaining to “street” basketball. The book begins with the story of Speedy Williams, a guard out of New York City. In high school Williams didn’t take the game too seriously; he seemed to have a lot of promise but refused to buy into what it takes to become successful on the court. Not playing a single minute for his high school team, Speedy was able to play at a small college in Brooklyn but never finished his four years. Williams found himself playing street ball then finally getting a chance in the CBA where he did well.
“I didn’t have the discipline to play ball,” Speedy said on page 7 about his high school days.
“I was going to have to bust my butt to make it after my sophomore season,” Speedy said of his college situation at Medgar Evers where he scored 22 points a game his first two seasons. “So I was outta there.” (p10-11)
The past couple of weeks while watching the Eastern conference semi-finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson of the Pacers became more popular for what he did off the court than what he accomplished on the court. The Coney Island native sits at the end of the bench and early in the series when Lebron James failed to make a free-throw late in the game, Stephenson grabbed his own throat, giving the “choke” sign. Stephenson is in his 2nd full season with the Pacers after playing one season at the University of Cincinnati and at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.
I don’t expect every basketball player to improve so much that they become an NBA all-star; that’s impossible. My biggest concern is how a player like Stephenson can have so much success through high school and college but find himself at the end of the Indiana Pacers bench?
Stephenson has been on the national hoops scene since the 9th grade.
Was he hyped up at an early age? Did recruiting services overrate him? Did journalists see a story and decide to crown him the next best thing?
I see it here in Michigan too; a player dominates in middle school and the media (and even fans) say he is the next “Magic Johnson.”
A friend through the basketball loop, Butch Hawking from Newport, California has this to say, “They have the talent and the potential – the people they surround themselves with and how serious are they about being great generally comes into question.”
With the power of the internet, including message boards and chat rooms, word of a phenom spreads quickly. They discuss how talented a young man is and that we should keep an eye on him in the future.
I got news for you; we will never see another Magic Johnson in our lifetime!
Speaking of Magic, the former Lansing Everett and Michigan State University star has one of the best nicknames ever. And the thing with nicknames is some are justified, some are not. Some live up to the name, and some do not. Magic was sensational as an amateur and went on to win 5 NBA rings, including leading the Lakers his rookie season to the title. Not to mention he won a State title in high school and a National Championship in college.
I have never been a fan of nicknames.
Someone sent me this article from the New Republic on Stephenson, it was written during his senior year in high school. Seems like he had a few nicknames.
Lance Stephenson, an 18-year-old high school senior who lives in Coney Island, that he has already been graced with several quality nicknames, ranging from the punning (“Sir Lance-A-Lot”) to the messianic (“The One”). But the nickname for Stephenson that is most inspired, and the one that seemingly everyone agrees fits him best–including Stephenson himself, who has it tattooed on his right bicep–is “Born Ready.”
Born ready for what?
How do you expect a teenager to live up to those expectations?
His every move both on and off the court is under a microscope.
He’s signing autographs at the age of 15.
At 16 he’s being told by everyone around him that he’s the best!
Here’s my guy Art Bernstein, “In many cases the phenom is physically gifted, Lance (Stephenson) was a grown man since he was 14. It’s a lot different playing defense or taking it to the rack on a player from FDR high school or even someone at St. John’s University as opposed to doing the same thing vs a Pro Athlete. The minute the player faces adversity which he never has he loses his confidence and his “swag”.
The people who hang around these young players should also be looked at carefully; sometimes they can be a little too involved. Here’s a quote I came across a few years ago from college basketball coach Rick Majerus talking about young, rising stars in youth basketball: “Everyone wants to be the person who thinks they’re responsible for discovering the next great player.”
Stephenson is young, he has a lot of time ahead of him to improve and turn himself into an all-star. I just wish adults would stop labeling young kids as “can’t miss” athletes.
Clarence Gaines Jr. wrote a blog entry about Fox Sports writer Jason Whitlock.
I’ll be honest, Whitlock is an interesting dude.
I don’t wake up in the morning and read his column. Usually it’s Twitter, Facebook and my blog. But if someone happens to link his material up and I come across it on Twitter or Facebook, I’ll click it and read it.
I do recall him being a guest on ESPN’s Sports Reporters back in the day. I thought he was pretty good. Whitlock has a strong opinion, that’s for sure. Here’s Gaines Jr. with his thoughts on Whitlock and some recent material; mainly about Jeremy Lin.
Jason, your ignorance is astounding. You know nothing, I repeat nothing about the game of basketball. Your use of the word ‘RAW TALENT’ shows your prejudice towards Lin, Amar’e, & Carmelo. ‘RAW TALENT’ – Black athletes get subtly dissed liked this all the time; that their success is predicated on ‘RAW TALENT,’ and not the countless hours in the gym they spend honing their craft. Michael Jordan was great because he had RAW TALENT, a great work ethic, and a brilliant basketball mind.
Susan Lulgjuraj of the Press of Atlantic City on Rick Majerus.
“I never sat down and talked to a team in my life about winning the conference, championship or a game,” Majerus, 64, said on a conference call Monday. “I just talk to them about that day’s practice and the next game. I think that’s a good way to lead your life and as a coach. Everyone has all these expectations. The most important way to deal with those expectations is to live in the moment.”
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on basketball players that are missed by talent evaluators.
Rajon Rondo told to go to his room for 2 games. Rondo threw the ball at a ref Sunday night at the Palace after he was upset. Rondo went crashing to the floor and thought there should have been a whistle. The biggest problem I had with the whole thing was my 12 year old-daughter, and many other young basketball players were watching. Boston has lost 4 straight, 6 out of 7.
Quote of the Day: “Put it this way: I don’t think we’re better than a lot of teams. But I’m not afraid of just about anybody. I’ve had good teams that have been afraid of some teams. We could finish fourth in this league and still be a pretty good team … but I would not be afraid to go against, home and away, just about anybody. There’s nobody where I’m sitting and saying, ‘I don’t want to play them.’ ” -Tom Izzo
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This morning over coffee and the New York Times, I was listening to WFAN 660 Sports Talk Radio out of New York City (thanks i-tunes). Robbie Weingard, a former basketball player at Hofstra University was the guest. Weingard is filming a documentary on youth sports. The film is called, ’3 Teams’. The film covers youth basketball. It touches on how kids play the game and how they are being taught to play.
Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune on ‘What’s Wrong with College Basketball’? Included is some insight from Rick Majerus.
“We’ve taken some good things from the NBA – shot clock, three-pointer, now the charge-block cup painted on the floor – but we’ve also taken things that make it not as pretty of a game. It’s more a one-on-one game, more a pick-and-roll game, and that’s the pro influence. There are also very few big men, and we have more of a premium on the three-ball than ever.
“Overall, the three has been good for our game, but that’s only when the right guys are taking those shots. You go into any gym now, and watch kids from 7 to 17, and they all gravitate to the three-point line. Even the kids that can’t shoot are out there throwing up threes.
“The middle (-range) game is gone. The players we get in college – it’s about the dunk, the three and, more subliminally, about me as an individual. No bad intentions, just kids that want to do it by themselves.”
Brandon Shields of the Jackson Sun on the Memphis Tigers victory over Xavier.
“I’m so proud of our players,” said Memphis coach Josh Pastner after the win. “We got down 11 with about six minutes to go. I think we were down 10 with four or five minutes to go.
“We just stayed the course. We didn’t get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. We stayed sound and solid. We just gutted that out. We just had to grind that out.”
Tim Booth, an AP writer by way of USA Today on former basketball player Bo Kimble, looking to get into coaching. He’s now teaching the system he played in at Loyola Marymount at the Community College level.
Detroit Free Press on the U of D Titans road win over Butler.
Seth Walder of the New York Daily News on a high school athletic director at Christ the King tossing a reporter from the gym.
I have numerous conversations about the so-called, ‘do you foul when you are up 3, on defense and less than 5 seconds to play‘? I hear people go different ways with this; some even have facts/stats/data to prove that you should foul. I have thought about fouling, and have asked my players – they want to defend. Yesterday UNI was in this situation against Creighton. UNI decided to defend, Creighton banged a 3 with 4.6 seconds left to tie the game. UNI took the ball coast to coast and banged a 3 of their own. One thing is certain, it’s easy to sit behind a computer or behind a microphone and give your opinion on this situation; it’s totally different if you are the coach in that situation.
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A few notes from his book, ‘My Life on a Napkin‘.
-We all lack something as coaches.
-One time he was working with Ricky Pierce, trying to get him to go left off the dribble. Don Nelson came up to him and said, “Look, you have to learn to look at a player and determine what he can do, rather than dwell so much on what he can’t do.”
-From Don Nelson to Majerus: “The 5 most important minutes of a game are the 5 minutes in the press conference after the game.”
-Once the season starts make a total commitment.
-The game, the responsibilities, and the pressure take their toll on you.
-He told parents he’ll care more about their son’s academics then they will.
-A coach needs to be committed to a kid’s education.
-The coach determines the program.
-When he recruits players: Looks for guys who love to play. Who have a feel for the game, a sense for the game. It’s very hard to find he says. Looks for guys whose teams win. He looks for improvement. Look at their worst games, se how they respond to adversity. Asks players what they shoot from the FT line; if they start the sentence with the word about, then they’re probably a poor shooter and second, they might not be committed to foul shooting and it’s importance.
-I watch how a kid responds to their parents. How a kid deals with his HS coach. I watch how they are during timeouts.
-The most pivotal spot in recruiting players is the point guard.
-I don’t know if I’m a good recruiter but I do know I’m a hard worker.
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachFinamore