There are several AMAZING coaches in this business.  Everyone with his/her unique flavor.  I have enjoyed talking to and learning from several different coaches in my short seven years of coaching.   In each meeting, I have humbly taken away bits and pieces of their knowledge and have built my own coaching “style”.

This may seem a bit crazy, but I have a checklist of people I would like to meet, talk to, and take away knowledge from in the coaching business.  One of those coaches I fortunately had the opportunity to meet at Felicia Hall Allen’s Assistant Coaches Symposium.   That coach…is none other than Al Brown!

For those that don’t know him…MEET HIM!  He is amazing!  He was extremely warm and welcoming and answered the 100’s of questions that I fired off at him.  🙂 It did not take me long to realize why Al Brown is a winner!

Al has won three NCAA Championships and has been apart of four NCAA runner-up teams.  He went to eight NCAA Final Four squads and 19 NCAA Tournaments.  His record in women’s basketball speaks for itself as his squads have won 80 percent of their games, advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 14 of the 16 years, and won three NCAA titles.  Brown has led three teams to the NCAA Championship game a total of seven times and won 80 percent of league contests.  AL BROWN IS A WINNER!

During the symposium Al spoke about “DEVELOPING GAME CHANGERS”.  Below are some of the notes from his presentation.  Remember, there are as many philosophies as there are coaches…this segment is about developing game changers as he sees it.

1)  Identify talent for your program

– What is the level of your conference?
-What kind of players are playing for the conference champion team?
– What type of player fits your coaching style and system?
-Where is your recruiting base- regional – national?

2) Help the players adapt to the college game

– Players must be helped to understand the difference between their previous basketball game experiences and the college game.
– Players must be properly indoctrinated in the program philosophy and the coach’s style of play.

3) Role Identification

– Players must understand their status on the team and the role they are expected to perform.
– Coaches must clearly define roles and show each player how fulfilling their role will help the team be successful.

4) Coaching “STAR” players being a challenge

– A coach must recognize that i is not easy for the star player.  There is a lot of pressure on this player to perform on a consistent basis.
– The star player must be challenged and pushed to the max just like every other player on the team.
– Coaches who haven’t been star players or who haven’t played with tar players sometimes find it difficult to understand this player’s mind-set.
-Teammates while they may recognize the star player’s talent sometimes are jealous of the recognition this player receives.
– You can’t win championships without star players.  Coach Auriemma of Connecticut has said the difference between Connecticut and the other teams is that Connecticut has Maya Moore.  This is a very true statement.

5) Developing players
A. It is very difficult for some players to understand their potential and sometimes even harder for them to achieve it.

B. Confidence is a huge part of developing a player’s innate ability.

C. Motivating players is a very important part of the coach’s responsibility.
– Providing written information – Quotes –  Stats
– Showing players on tape what they are doing good and where they can improve

D. Written Evaluations
–  Give each player a written evaluation of the season and what needs to be developed in the off- season
– Have the player provide a post – season evaluation
– Compare the two

E. Provide inspiration for players
– Have them talk to other successful players who may have faced similar circumstances that they are facing.
– Have them watch WNBA players

F. Develop individual skills
– Play a lot of one-on-one
– Work on the roper footwork – offensively and defensively
– Do a lot of ball handling drills
– There are a lot of teaching tapes available on skill development

G. Practice organization
– Allot time in each practice throughout the season for individual teaching by position.
– Use a lot of break – down drills to teach specific skills needed to become a complete player.

H. Test scores
– The most important test score a coach can have on a player is the player’s IQ.  Have you ever become frustrated trying to teach a player something that you  believe they should learn and you don’t seem to be making any progress?
– Use psychological testing as well to determine the proper teaching approach for each player
– Use testing to determine group dynamics and measure how the group may fit together.

6) Player’s Note Books
– Players keep notes on team meetings.
– Players keep scouting reports in this book
– Players provide play diagrams and other written information
– Players do a post-game evaluation of their opponent for future reference.
– Give the players certain written assignments that are graded and kept in the notebook
– Written basketball exams given players can be kept in the notebook


“In basketball – as in life – true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.  Of course, it’s no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you’re going to win or lose and focus your full attention on what’s happening right this moment…Basketball is an expression of life, a single, sometimes glittering thread, that reflects the whole.  Life like, basketball is messy and unpredictable.  It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it.  The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game – and life – will take care of itself.  ” -Phil Jackson “Sacred Hoops”

Good Morning All!  Sunday’s are by far my favorite day of the week!  I will limit the Sunday blogs to less talk and share with everyone videos/poems and pieces that I find motivational.

This week is Will Smith’s secret to success.

Be Blessed…Make a difference in someone’s life today! And if no one has told you today…I love you!!!


Many coaches across the nation use Fast Model and Fast Scout for their opponent scouting needs.  From personal experience, it is by far the best team scouting services I have ever used.  It is extremely user friendly and keeps our seasons scouts and diagrams in one location.  If you don’t have it, I suggest you get it.  It will make your life as a scouting coach more seamless.

Fast Model Technologies was founded in 2003 based on the vision of Ross Comerford. As a former basketball player he believed there was a real need for the application of modern technology to the practice of coaching/teaching basketball. The company has steadily expanded and Fast Model products are now in use by 26 NBA Teams and over 600 College Basketball programs, including most of the Top Division 1 Men’s and Women’s programs.  In 2010 alone, thousands of high school and youth programs joined the Fast Model family.

Comerford and staff are basketball junkies.  After every NBA/College Game you can bet they are talking about which plays were the most effective and why.  He even gives us college coaches tips on NBA plays by tweeting the “Fast Play of the Day”.  If you don’t follow @FastModel on Twitter, I suggest you do.  You never know when they will tweet a play that will win your team a game! 😉

Below is the last “Fast Play of the Day” from the Dallas Mavericks:

Is it tough to follow the diagram?  No worries – Comerford and staff uploaded the diagramed play to Youtube.  You can check out the “Fast Play  of the Day from the Mavericks” at

If you would like more information on Fast Model please visit the following website: tell Ross I sent you! 🙂

Two years ago I had the opportunity to go to Ganon Baker’s Coaches Certification class.  For those that do not know Ganon Baker , he is a lover of Christ and is a world traveling skills development coach. (Yes, I said “world”… 44 countries to be exact)

Baker has worked closely with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Deron Williams at each of their Skill Academies and has trained multiple NBA stars such as Chris Paul, Jerryd Bayless, Kevin Durant and Amare Stoudemire to name a few. Specializing in Individual and Team Training, Camps and Instructional DVDs, annually, Ganon Baker and the Pro Trainers of Ganon Baker Basketball, host camps and clinics throughout the world and have authored nearly 50 Instructional Basketball DVDs and counting.

The experience at the coaching certification class was one of the most moving experiences I have had in my life as a coach.  If you want to improve your “coaching game”  this class is for you.  One thing we talked about were general basketball concepts all players should know.  This was one of my favorite sections and I want to share what I learned with you! 🙂

1. What are 4 offensive options for the penetrator  coming off a side pick n roll?

  • Duck-in opposite post or short corner
  • The screener on the roll/pop/early slip
  • Weak-side spot up shooter
  • Reject/split/attack ball screen for shot
2.  When you are on the wing and feeding the post and your defender digs or turns their head to help, where should you cut and why?
  • Elbow to rim to opposite corner
  • Baseline- Opposite corner or wing
  • You should do this for good spacing and to create a long closeout by help defenders
3.  What do you do if your defender hugs or face guards you and you don’t cut?
  • Set or receive a screen or cut baseline to opposite corner
4. Where is the best position to post and why?
  • Midline at the rim – gives you a great angle to make any move to the basket
  • Block/1st hash mark- gives  you a good angle and space for a baseline cutter
5. Where are the 5 kill boxes?  (The highest percentage shots in basketball)
  • Low Post (Both sides)
  • Elbows
  • Midline
6.  When you are at the top of the key with the ball and the wing is denied, how do you get them the ball?
  • Draw defense, penetrate kick
  • Dribble at the wing for back door or hand off
  • Flash a player to high post for a back door cut for wing
  • Dribble them through off a screen
7. What are 3 ways a defender can guard you as a cutter off a down screen and what do you do?
  • If defender is  locking and trailing you curl or stop cut
  • If defender goes over the top of screen- fade or go back door
  • If defender is denying – pop off the screen (Must lean them into screen)
8.  When cutting from one post block to another, what are four ways to get open without a screen and why?
  • If the defender is above you then fake high- swim move- cut low
  • If the defender is blow you then fake low- swim move – cut high
  • If they face guard you – duck under deny arm and push up
  • If they face guard you – step into them and then spin off
9. When posting up, what are 3 ways the defender can guard you and how do you get open?
  • Defense plays behind – you get in a power stance and push them under the rim
  • Defense denies – you swim with your elbow and place it in their armpit – your foot should be in front of their top foot
  • Defense fronts you – signal for ball reversal, step in between their legs with your legs – wedge out with your butt and seal for next pass.
10.  When driving below the block where should the post step to?
  • Midline
  • Elbow
11.  What are 3 things the point guard should always have on their mind during the game on both ends of the floor?
  • The last two possessions
  • The Coach’s Playbook
  • What their team did the last possession on offense and defense
12. Which defenders should you read during one possession when you have the ball?
  • Your defender
  • Help side defender
  • The persons defender who you are passing the ball to
There were  SO many phenomenal teaching points during the 3 day certification. I promise to share them all later.  I will get into position specific things.  Specific post teaching points and drills as well as guards!
Until next time….
***If you want to learn more about Ganon Baker go to***

A couple of years ago when we first took over at UC Santa Barbara it was an unbelievable experience for many reasons.  One of those reasons was because of the championship culture that had already been built between the Ocean and the Thunderdome.  You see some of our staff had already been apart of  championship teams at one time or another, but never to the extent of UC Santa Barbara.

(Just to give you an idea of the championship tradition at UCSB…There is a news-article picture that hangs by entry of the Women’s Basketball Suite that reads “Back -to-Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Champions”)

I may be wrong in my count, but before our arrival (2008)  they had won the previous 12 out of 14  Big West Championships and had gone  on to post season play just about every year.  And although excited about the opportunity to carry on such a legacy it was instant pressure to fill the shoes of the legendary Coach French, Cori Close, Carter Shaw, Tasha McDowell, and Tony Newnan.

We were very fortunate to have a situation where we had the opportunity to coach seasoned veterans Jenna Green, Sha’Rae Gibbons (Mitchell), Lauren Pederesen, Kat Suderman, and Whitney Warren who all understood the value of games and practice (when they could practice/they were an old bunch) 🙂 .   But we were even luckier to have (then) freshman Emilie Johnson who grasped an understanding of what it took to become a champion very early in her career.

During that 2008-2009 season we went 15-1 in conference.  And although I won’t bore you with the details of every game, I will say the seniors taught invaluable lessons that year.  #1 Prepare for every practice and game the same.  Everyone is beatable on any given night.  (Hence the 15 and ONE)  #2 Championships begin in the “off” season and continue through every practice and every game.  #3 Just because you put on the jersey doesn’t mean you have automatically won the game.  WORKING HARD day in and day out will put you in the best position to win. #4 You are EXPECTED to carry on the legacy AND build upon it.

After that year, “it” was evident….

The very thing that carried the Gauchos to the top year after year….

 We as coaches were responsible for putting our players in the best possible situations to be successful, but they themselves had the baseline value figured out.

They had A Champion’s Approach.

They worked on their game every opportunity they got.  Between classes you could always find at least one Gaucho in the gym shooting on the gun or working out with a coach. Not just idle working out.  But working out with a purpose.  Keeping track of shooting percentages and trying to improve upon it every opportunity they got to be in the gym.  It is no wonder that after a rough start during this basketball season, our Gaucho family came out with the Co-Conference Championship.

They put in the same work when we were 0-4 as they did when we finished the season 19-12 and Conference Co-Champions. It was always interesting when our staff went on the road recruiting and would hear other coaches complain that they could not get their players to work extra in the gym. I would go out on a limb and say a number of those coaches were not coaching players with A Champion’s Approach.

Below is an article I read from Kevin Eastman talking about what A Champion’s Approach is to him.

A Champion’s Approach

by WENDY on DEC 22, 2009 (0) COMMENTS

As I analyze not only our team but many other winning teams in various sports, it becomes clear that winning teams approach their seasons with a greater dedication to perfection than average teams. Many teams are satisfied with playing well and getting good practices in. The best teams are different.

Whether it’s practices or games, I can tell you that the Boston Celtics are seeking perfection in execution. The goal of every practice is to pay attention to every detail, every teaching point, every possession in order to consistently strive for perfection in our execution.

Our games are the same way. We don’t want to be driven one way or the other based on the score. Many teams will relax when they get a comfortable lead, which can be very dangerous against the better teams on the schedule. Or teams may stop playing team basketball when they are down by a lot. We are always trying to be perfection conscience rather than score conscience when we hit the game floor!

The challenge of all successful teams is to seek perfection in their execution. This becomes the driving force to ensure that you have the best possible practices and pay the ultimate attention to details in the games.

–cited from– 

I have had several encounters with John Margaritis over the three years I have coached at UC Santa Barbara.  He was always a man of many words! 🙂  But more then that, he was always humble, kind, and respectful.   Win or lose he ALWAYS had something positive to say to our staff.

(It reminded me of a quote Pat Summit said at a Final Four Convention.  “Handle your failures the same way you handle your success.”  (or vice versa) John Margaritis is the epitome of that…but I digress…)

This weekend at the Assistant Coaches Symposium in Chicago, Illinois I got to watch John Margaritis present on a panel titled “How to best support your head coach”  which turned into “How to become the best coach you can become while supporting your head coach.”

I am sure most of the 200 assistant coaches that were in attendance would agree that of the loads of valuable information we received during this panel…one line that stuck with us all…  “Loyalty above all except honor”.

Now, there are times in this profession where we hear the word “loyalty” but do we understand the core value of the word?  Margaritis/Grentz spoke about the “everyday instances” that we get to have in order to establish our loyalty.  Examples of this are:

1. When an athlete is talking to you without the head coach around, what are you saying?
2. When an administrator comes up  to you and says, “Man, your head coach should have called a timeout toward the end of the game.”  What do you say?

The things we do/say in those very moments will help us to gauge our loyalty.

At what point does being loyal get thrown out of the window?

According to Magaritis, when honor is in question.  When we (coaches) are retired or done with the profession, we don’t want to look in the mirror and not know the person that looks back at us.  We want to become someone who we will want our children and players to become.   Margaritis said  “The right choice is not always the most popular choice.”

(Again reminding me of a John Wooden Quote that reads: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”)

He followed up by telling us a number of stories where he was without a job because he chose the honorable path.  When asked if he could go back and face those same situations again, would he have chosen a different path… he said not for one minute.


After the panel discussion, I had the chance to sit down with Margaritis and talk about his life and coaching path. He talked about the highs and lows he endured during his career…but said the most valuable piece of advice a coach passed down him was...”KEEP GOING BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE THE STORY IS GOING TO END”.… and so he did…He was a “well” of information, and I kept filling up my cup.  Maragritis talked about the hard decisions and choices he still has to make at this point in his career.  He said through it all, he will ALWAYS remain a loyal person except before honor.  I felt his sincerity through our conversation.

Whether he knows it or not, Margaritis will be someone I reach out to during my tenure as a basketball coach.  I encourage all coaches to sit down and speak with him.  His coaching story is inspiring…but the character of John Margaritis is infectious and will undoubtably touch lives of many!

Below are notes taken during the “How to become a better coach, while supporting your head coach” panel.

  • Knowledge of the subject – Be a student of the game.  Learn as much as you can.  Keep learning all the time…Learn about things that you may never use.
  • Become a great teacher – Affect behavior. At the end it’s not what you know that matters but what your students know and can execute that will make a difference
  • Stay on task – Don’t confuse the issue.  There are as many philosophies as there are coaches.  Understand what the head coach wants and use your  knowledge to improve individual and team play.
  • Make coaching your #1 priority – Minor input will not yield major outcome.
  • Loyalty above all except honor – Always act as if your head coach is there to listen to what you hear and say.
  • Learn to evaluate talent – Know what you are looking for.
  • Be attune with today’s technology – Stay current.
  • Get involved with money – Budget
  • Get involved with the “student” in student-athlete – Know what it takes for your players to get a degree.
  • Be a head coach – Leadership

This morning I received a message from an up and coming assistant coach at the University of North Florida.  (Keunte Miles)  She wanted to know what books were good for summer reading.  There were several that I have enjoyed reading over the summer.  Books like:

The Secret – By Rhonda Byrne
Sacred Hoops- Phil Jackson
Quiet Strength – Tony Dungy
Two Shadows- Charlie Winger
90 Minutes in Heaven- Don Piper
Never eat lunch alone- Keith Ferrazzi

The list can literally stretch for miles! Those who know me know I love to read!   One of my favorites is an old time book by Dale Carnegie. It is called, “How to win friends and influence people”.  It was given to my by my father before I headed off to college in 2000.  Now listen, when he handed it to me  I looked at him strange because I never had a problem making friends.  But I didn’t question him, I just packed up my book and didn’t touch it again until 2004 when I got my first coaching job at Cal Poly Pomona.  (Sorry dad) 🙂

After reading the book, I realized it wasn’t about the friends that I made naturally.  It was about making and preserving relationships that might not come as naturally.  For lack of a better term, it forced me to reach and think outside my comfort zone. In addition, the book gave me insight  on how to influence the student-athletes I had been given the responsibility to “Coach”.  Long story short, I found this book to be extremely helpful.  Below are some fundamental topics from the book…hopefully it will inspire someone to pick up for their summer reading collection. 🙂

(You can find the extended version of these notes at

Part 1 – Fundamental Techniques In Handling People

1 – “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”
2 – The Big Secret of Dealing with People
3 – “He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot, Walks a Lonely Way”

Part 2 – Six Ways To Make People Like You

1 – Do This and You’ll Be Welcome Anywhere
2 – A Simple Way to Make a Good Impression
3 – If You Don’t Do This, You Are Headed for Trouble
4 – An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
5 – How to Interest People
6 – How To Make People Like You Instantly

Part 3 – Twelve Ways To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking

1 – You Can’t Win an Argument
2 – A Sure Way of Making Enemies—and How to Avoid It
3 – If You’re Wrong, Admit It
4 – The High Road to a Man’s Reason
5 – The Secret of Socrates
6 – The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
7 – How to Get Co-operation
8 – A Formula That Will Work Wonders for You
9 – What Everybody Wants
10 – An Appeal That Everybody Likes
11 – The Movies Do It. Radio Does It. Why Don’t You Do It?
12 – When Nothing Else Works, Try This

Part 4 – Nine Ways To Change People Without Giving Offence Or Arousing Resentment

1 – If You Must Find Fault, This Is the Way to Begin
2 – How to Criticize—and Not Be Hated for It
3 – Talk About Your Own Mistakes First
4 – No One Likes to Take Orders
5 – Let the Other Man Save His Face
6 – How to Spur Men on to Success
7 – Give the Dog a Good Name
8 – Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct
9 – Making People Glad to Do What You Want

Part 5 – Letters That Produced Miraculous Results

Part 6 – Seven Rules For Making Your Home Life Happier

1 – How to Dig Your Marital Grave in the Quickest Possible Way
2 – Love and Let Live
3 – Do This and You’ll Be Looking Up the Time-Tables to Reno
4 – A Quick Way to Make Everybody Happy
5 – They Mean So Much to a Woman
6 – If you Want to be Happy, Don’t Neglect This One
7 – Don’t Be a “Marriage Illiterate”

Things This Book Will Help You Achieve
(According to

1. Get out of a mental rut, think new thoughts, acquire new visions, discover new ambitions.
2. Make friends quickly and easily.
3. Increase your popularity.
4. Win people to your way of thinking.
5. Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
6. Handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
7. Become a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
8. Arouse enthusiasm among your associates.

If you have any book suggestions please feel free to send them to me!

Until Next Time…

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend an Assistant Coaches Symposium in Chicago Illinois.  The symposium was put on by Felicia Allen Hall and Associates.  (  It was an incredible experience!

The symposium was filled with none stop learning and basketball junkies.  There were incredible speakers like; John Margaritis, Bob Starkey, Carolyn Peck, Kelly Bond, Al Brown, Greg Brown, and Theresa Grentz to name a few.  They spoke about everything from;  “Making it Happen- How to Best Support Your Head Coach” to “Developing Game Changers”.  In each one of the round tables, there was an invaluable lesson to be learned.  (I will post notes about each topic later)

Out of the 200 coaches in attendance, there were only 5 representing the west coast.  It is my hope to inspire more to attend next year!  Believe me, it is an investment well worth it.  Anyone who knows me, knows I swear by Oprah’s teachings.  One thing she said was;

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

-Oprah Winfrey

Image  —  Posted: May 3, 2011 in Misc