EVERY DAY EFFORT

The fantastic writer, J.R. Moehringer once said, “Life is all a matter of choosing which voices to tune in and which to tune out.” He hit the nail on the head.

If you’re a basketball fan you have an opportunity to listen to many basketball analysts. TNT, ESPN and NBA TV are the three main networks.  There’s pre-game shows, half-time shows and of course, post-game shows.  My favorite is TNT.  I love Shaq, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.  These guys are awesome – love listening to them break it down.

Yesterday afternoon Smith, the former Archbishop Molloy Stanner said “the Clippers are championship or bust.” Then he added that they cant win the championship without Blake Griffin who is out of action the rest of the playoffs.

Kenny the Jet also mentioned how Rajon Rondo, another guy who has been hurt for the Bulls is always looking for teammates on the break and that those teammates running the floor know he is looking for them. My thing is point guards should ALWAYS look for their teammates.

On ESPN, Jalen Rose and Chauncey Billups mentioned, “playing the right way.’

Whatever happened to sideline reporter Cheryl Miller?

By the way, “The Jet” was talking about the Toronto Raptors defense and he mentioned, “drive-by’s.” Yo Jet, with you being from Queens, you better not use that term again, instead use Bill Raftery’s favorite, “blow-by’s.”

I miss reading Peter Vecsey; but he is on Twitter. He tweets good stuff.  By far Vecsey was the best basketball writer of all-time. Bob Ryan is a close second. We read PV’s column religiously.

I happen to notice a few NBA basketball players have been wearing headphones while they are out on the court shooting before the actual lay-up line. What’s up with that?

Rule change: When a basketball player dives on the floor for a 50-50 ball they should be able to get up on their feet and dribble.

Rule change II: (High school and college) When there is a jump-ball called during the game, let’s jump it up. Toss the ball up and battle for it.

“Shaqtin a Fool” is a great segment on TNT.

Dwight Howard, before yesterday’s game came in scoring 6 points per game for the first two games. Shaq said, “that’s embarrassing.”

Best starting back-court in the playoffs? Warriors, Wizards or Blazers?

The game has gone global; many international players doing well in the playoffs. I love the way these guys play.

Speaking of international players, I love Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA, “The Greek Freak.” When he is on the move with the ball, he reminds me a little of Julius Erving and Connie Hawkins.

Marc Gasol shooting 3’s, atta boy!

Speaking of 3’s, the Hawks and Wizards are not shooting the ball well.  Atlanta is 20-70 from distance (.286) and the Wizards are 22-79 (.278). Compare that to the Cavaliers and Pacers, Cleveland is 45-103 from way downtown (.437) and Indiana is 35-85 (.412).

During travel team basketball this weekend there’s many highlights of slam dunks making their way to the internet. Can we get a clip of one kid cutting back-door for a layup? I’ll even take a few passes around the horn by one team.

The Toronto Raptors dish out 16.5 assists per game against the Bucks. They also turn the ball over 16.1 per game. Not a good ratio but the good thing is, series is tied at two.

San Antonio Spurs average just 15.5 assists per game. They turn it over 11.0 per game. Not good.

Best at sharing the ball in the playoffs? Celtics are a +15 (29 assists to 14 turnovers) Warriors +14 (27 assists to 13 turnovers) Cavaliers +10 (22 assists to 12 turnovers).

Hit the open man…

Did you see John Wall’s behind-the-back move and the dunk for the finish? You-tube it. And when someone gets dunked on, you can’t say, “he put him on a poster.” Have to say, “he you-tubed him.”

Doris Burke on Michael Conley, “he plays the right way.”  I love Conley’s game. Thanks Doris for mentioning PTRW.

In 26 playoff games so far the team who has made the most 3’s has won 13 games. So, is the made three point shot that important? It is to some teams.

LeBron James leads all players in assists per game for the playoffs. The King dishes out 10.7 per followed by Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook with 10.3. John Wall checks in next with 10.0 a game.

The “ref you suck” chant has to go. Classless. It’s weak too. These guys are doing the best they can, it’s not easy.

Manu Ginobili is struggling from distance; 0-15 in the playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard was amazing last night, at both ends of the floor.

Sideline reporter to Marc Gasol after his winning basket in OT. “Walk me through the last play.”

The Golden State Warriors won last night, 119-113 taking a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. Get well Steve Kerr…

I wish Bill Walton was working the NBA playoffs.

Thanks for reading and always play the right way.

Hoops135@hotmail.com

TELEP BANGS A THREE FROM DEEP

Dave Telep of ESPN recently spoke his mind on today’s youth basketball players. I have read this piece three times now since it was published. Dave hit the nail on the head. He ran the floor, came off screens and went pick-n-roll!

Telep is a good guy, salt-of-the-earth type. I once did some freelance work for him back in the day.  The guy even let me sleep on his couch in Indy while we were at Speice Fieldhouse.

Dave’s a family man and knows this recruiting/evaluation thing as good as anyone who rates players.

Telep says:

The effort on the court was bad enough. Seven minutes in, the scrimmage disintegrated into a cherry-picking contest of uncontested dunks and missed layups. Having been in all-star settings before, expectations are low. But this was unreal. The best way to sum it up would be to say if college coaches had been allowed in the building, scholarships would have been pulled. Yes, it was that bad. 

HUGE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE!

What are these clowns doing?

Why waste the opportunity?

Young ballplayers have to be smarter than that.

More from Telep:

I asked the staffers at Elite 24 who’d been part of the game for the past seven years and they said last year’s crop was the most entitled bunch of players they’ve seen. Then a few months ago, I ran into a guy who worked the NBA draft combine and he said this year’s crop of NBA rookies that came through the combine was the most entitled group he’d seen. Getting a clearer picture now?

Hopefully the young guys are reading this and wake up!

Matter of fact, all players and coaches should read this article. Do the basketball Gods a favor and pass this article along to someone who you may think can use it.

One last thing from Telep’s extraordinary, and much-needed piece:

But the behavior off the court may have been even worse. One player said of the buffet at the Ritz Carlton, “They should have just gotten us pizza.” Another player asked Jalen Rose about the, well, women in the NBA. And we’re only scratching the surface here. 

That reminds me of a story from back in the day when I was coaching an AAU team. We were on the road and at the end of the first night, our best player’s dad comes up to the guy who ran our organization in the hotel lobby. We were gathering as a team heading to Burger King for dinner.

Gimme a hundred dollars so I can take my son to a steakhouse; we don’t eat no Burger King.”

Thanks Dave Telep for putting this together. Now the question is, how do we change this thinking/behavior?

Hoops135@hotmail.com

Twitter: @CoachFinamore

THE STUDENT MANAGER

Often times I am asked how to get into college basketball coaching.

To me,  there are a few ways like I have written about in the past on this blog. (And from this article written back in 2007 by Andy Katz of ESPN.com, playing the game at the college doesn’t matter)

One way to get in the coaching profession, in which I haven’t touched on is the student-manager angle.

I worked at Michigan State University for two years in the student-assistant capacity.  I have also travelled the country the past nine years observing schools practice and the one thing I always take notice of is the managers at practice. Many former managers at the collegiate level have gone on to become coaches. Lawrence Frank, former NBA and college coach was once a manager at Indiana University. Speaking of which, Coach Knight has put out a few others too; Two of Coach Knight’s former managers are head coaches as well: Matt Bowen (Bemidji State) and Joe Pasternack (New Orleans). Not to mention a good friend Dave Owens who is now a high school head coach. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention a guy I met this past year, Chuck Swenson, who also was a manager at Indiana before heading into coaching.

A student manager is very important.  To me, if you don’t have solid ones in the program, it can mean trouble. (At times, I don’t think managers; a-understand how important they are and b-how grateful they should be to be able to help contribute to a program’s success.) While at Michigan State I was able to work with a good guy, Keith Stephens.  Here’s what he had to say about his time at MSU.

“Coach Izzo treated me the same as he did any of the players there during my time. He coached me to be better and more importantly stood with me when I made mistakes. His Loyalty to every member of the Spartan family is what make my memories of being on staff great.”

Here are some areas in which I feel are important for a student-manager:

Assist in Practice: One of the toughest areas for a manager. First of all you need to know, during practice, NEVER SIT DOWN!  You need to be hands on; ready to do whatever needs to be done. Pass to players during drills, rebound, put out cones for drills, get water and wipe up sweat.  You need to hustle, be vocal and never complain. You also may have to help the trainer in some capacity. Keeping stats, the scoreboard are also two areas you need to be ready for. Pre-season conditioning you will be required to be on the track with the team. Water, cups, towels will be needed. Be prepared.

Film Exchange: This is an area that takes a lot of planning.  You need to make sure you are getting film out to the opponent when requested.  Then you have the conference agreement where your future opponent gets ‘x’ amount of films.  As an assistant coach at Saint Peter’s during the 2005 season I was in charge of film exchange and let me tell you, it gets crazy if you don’t stay ahead.

Film: Videotaping practice and games.  Very important.  Need to get it right. Coaching staff relies on film.  If you forget to record, you can be in big trouble. And never, ever comment on the action (unless you have the camera on mute). Coaches hear your voice in film session. You will also be needed to break down film (differs from school to school)

Mailouts: A lot of coaches like to sign the mail-out for recruits but at times you’ll be finding ways to come up with creative and motivating ones.  I was able to put together a few mail-out at MSU and I had a lot of fun with it.

Tech-Savy: (I hate this term but as of late, I have heard it often) Hopefully you have some sort of computer skills because everything is going in that direction. (Actually, it already is…)

Summer Camp: You will probably will be asked to help with camp.  You’ll help organize it, run it and of course coach at it.  Great way to learn what makes a camp successful. Doug Herner at Michigan State taught me a lot on the ins and outs of camp.

Open Gym: Some schools have the managers run open gyms. So you need to be available for that too.

To conclude, demonstrate an enthusiastic commitment to the program. Promote positive energy throughout.  Look for something so do; ask a coach if they need anything.  Ask a coach if they need a ride to the airport or if they need to be picked up.  Ask a player if they want to get some shots up, let them know you are available to rebound for them.

Don’t take your position as student-manager for granted; you can make some great contacts.  If you really want to enter the coaching ranks, it’s a great way to get in like my main man from Twitter @Matt Grahn who is currently an assistant coach at Concordia University in Texas. Grahn was at Washington State with Kelvin Sampson in 1992-93 and with Kevin Eastman from 94-99.

Always keep in mind; the current coaching staff you work with will see you every day and someday one of those guys may get a head job and he’ll have to put a staff together.  So you never know…

Good luck.

 

-Coach Finamore

Hoops135@hotmail.com

You can follow me on Twitter: @CoachFinamore

TOUGHNESS

Last season ESPN’s Jay Bilas wrote a great piece on ‘toughness’. I thought it was a great read; one of the greatest pieces of advice on the game ever! Everyone raved about it; coaches all across America printed it and posted it in their locker rooms. They also passed it around as a hand-out.

Bilas did a great job breaking it down on what it took to get things done on the court, especially on a toughness level.

The game of basketball, especially at the highest level, is not for the weak.  The higher in level you go, the tougher you need to be. (When I say tough, I don’t mean fist-fighting)

Here’s my take on toughness. The next few days I will break down different aspects of the game and where toughness factors in.

Practice:

We all know about Allen Iverson’s ‘practice’ rant, one of the most played video clips of all-time; regardless of what A.I. said, practice is the backbone to a player’s success.  It’s where you get your extra shooting in, you work on conditioning, and most of all, you get to spend time with your teammates running the offense and working together on the defensive end.  It’s where you learn defensive principles, concepts and where you see who can help you on game day.

I once read a great quote about Michael Jordan being the greatest practice player in the history of basketball. I also found this from Adrian W. of Yahoo Sports on Jerry Krause.

“Michael absolutely killed Scottie in practice every day for his first two years. Mike just tore Pip up. He made Pip learn how to compete and forced him into playing hard. Had there not been someone to challenge Scottie like that, I’m not sure what would’ve happened to him.”

What if Jordan had not went after Scottie Pippen hard in practice every day? Would Scottie have been as great as he turned out?

You need to compete every day in practice; regardless if your best friend or roommate is guarding you in a scrimmage game or even if you are competing against them in a drill.

Here’s a piece on Jordan from ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson.

“We’d run a three-man shooting drill in practice,” longtime assistant Johnny Bach recalled. “And Michael always made sure he had the threesome he wanted. Not Trent Tucker, not Johnny Paxson, not Craig Hodges [among the best 3-point shooters in the league].

“He’d say, ‘I’m calling my pigeons up to shoot.’ They were shooting for some remuneration. He’d force himself to shoot under pressure. He needed a challenge to beat [Scottie] Pippen. He knew Horace [Grant] had a nice shot. He’d also throw some wicked passes to [his shooters]. You’re supposed to honor the code to throw a good pass to the shooter, but he had a way of throwing screwballs and sinkers. Not that he would have tolerated that. That was imperial Michael at his best.”

“Run it back, run it back,” is what Michael yelled when his team lost. It is what he said whenever he had lost.

Run it back, run it back is something that needs to be said over and over in practice if you expect to improve. Is it any wonder the greatest player in the history of basketball was arguably the greatest practice player of all-time?

Here are a couple of practice tips that all players can use:

Come prepared to practice hard every day. (Focus)

Arrive early

Stretch out

Take meaningful shots to warm up

Run the floor hard

Defend

Rebound

Communicate

Pay attention to the coaching staff

Challenge your teammates

Stay after practice and work on your offensive moves.

Get in extra shooting

 

-Coach Finamore

Hoops135@hotmail.com