Blending realistic expectations with an uncommon sense of purpose and work ethic, taking care of your own business on the basketball court

I had the pleasure of taking Ryan and myself to my old high school to watch the Buckeye Lady Bucks (can there be Lady Bucks?) under the leadership of my old basketball coach Randy Haury.  I have done this the last three years whenever I have been in Litchfield visiting my parents during basketball season.  He has always been very gracious about letting me have some input into practice, which I appreciate tremendously.  I hope my input provides some value, and more importantly gives the players another voice to hear reinforce sound concepts.

I got a kick out of watching Ryan on the sidelines during the practice.  He was very animated and verbally into the action.  I did not understand everything he was saying, but I loved seeing the enthusiasm.  I enjoyed getting him into the athletic environment so he gets acclimated to what happens.

Coach Haury has a young team with low numbers of upperclass students and little varsity game experience.  An outstanding win/loss record may be difficult to achieve, but he is looking forward to the journey and the learning that will take place.  He believes if they can be successful fundamentally, they will have a chance to be very competitive.

During practice, I did some coaching on fundamental skills.  However, I thought the area for greatest improvement was in team communication.  The first thing I noticed during drill work was there was very little communication amongst teammates.  This team has NO chance to be competitive without positive basketball communication between teammates.  Communication is just as critical a skill as offense and defense, and in fact is the only constant on both ends of the floor.  The communication needs to be supportive and affirming, as well as tactical.

I think the team’s most talented player, Sara, has a chance to be an outstanding leader and solid player.  We had the discussion about being responsible for Sara being the team’s most competitive and hardest worker so she would have leadership credibility with her teammates.  She has a tough choice to make, be a nice teammate or a leader who may ruffle some feathers.  I hope she makes the leadership choice, I saw some good examples in practice that I really liked.

The communication aspect is really important for this team, because they need a sense of purpose and develop an exceptional practice work ethic so they are getting better everyday.  Improvement for game performance will not happen without this occurring.  This is a collective responsibility that needs to be embraced by those players committed to excellence.

I went to practice on a Saturday morning.  I am curious to see how many players picked up basketball AT ALL before practice on Monday afternoon.  How many players thought about the game?  The answer may provide some indication on the level of commitment the team currently has.

When a lack of win/loss success or lack of playing time, there becomes an immediate reaction that it must be the coach’s fault.  There is a serious lack of personal accountability within the players and parents when these issues arise.  I hope players can consult this list and see if they are doing these things before they begin to blame others.

What every basketball player can and cannot do

  • Did you make 100 game speed shots/day?
  • Are you in better cardio shape than anyone else?
  • Are you playing good defense, including help defense and boxing out?
  • Are you communicating on the floor?
  • Are you turning the ball over?
  • Are you pushing your teammates by going hard in every drill and scrimmage?
  • Are you pushing yourself hard, or pacing yourself during practice and games?
  • Are you making things easy or difficult for your opponent?
  • Are you trying to make things better yourself, or are you blaming others?

Being part of a team can be a great thing, or it can be a terrible thing.  My encouragement is to look inward to be personal accountable FIRST, walk the walk, and then you have the credibility to talk the talk.  Come from a position of strength and commitment.

I would love to hear your comments.


Compliments, Constructive Criticism, and Silence

I recently read the GREAT autobiography on Pat Summitt called Sum It Up.  I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership or coaching position, as well as a parent.  This book details her amazing journey growing up as a farm kid in rural Tennessee to starting her college playing and coaching career as Title IX was coming to the forefront.  She succeeded by any measure and overcame tremendous personal setbacks to reach the pinnacle of her profession.  In recent years, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had to relinquish her coaching position at the height of her powers.

I knew she was a demanding coach, but this book really inspired me to work harder and demand more of myself and people I work with.  Her ability to get her players to become physically and mentally tough, be fundamentally outstanding, overcome odds, and use their gifts to blend into outstanding teams is at a rare level.

Her demanding style is referenced throughout the book, but a specific tactic that I want to implement soon hit me like a hammer.  She was referencing a time in her career when she felt her players were only hearing her criticisms, and not her compliments.  To get her players to hear both equally, she instructed everyone in the program, when receiving a compliment, to say “two points”.  This acknowledgement of receiving the compliment made the impact greater.  When receiving a criticism, the recipient was to say “rebound”.  This served to demonstrate the recipient heard the criticism, and was going to try to bounce back, i.e. rebound, to take action to correct the issue.

Regardless of where we are in life, I haven’t found a person yet who can honestly say they give and take constructive criticism as well as they would like. Some people only want to hear compliments.  Some people only want to hear how they can improve.  Some people  don’t want to be “bothered” with anything at all.

It is a special talent to be able to give valuable criticism, and perhaps even more so to be able to take criticism from others without getting defensive.  I personally struggle this one the most, especially with my wife.  I am working everyday to develop the toughness to improve in this area.

I would love to hear your comments in any of these topics today.  Take care.

Warmest Regards,


Book notes from Bob Knight’s recent book “The Power of Negative Thinking”

Over time, I have really enjoyed the teachings and storytelling of Basketball legend Bob Knight.  I know he is a controversial figure for some of his public incidents, but no one can question his ability to teach about coaching and the sport of basketball.    As a coach, I learn something new, or get something new to think about, every time I hear him speak or write. There is not a basketball coach around who isn’t using some element of the game that Knight made popular through his coaching clinics.

His recently released book, The Power of Negative Thinking:  An Unconventional Approach For Achieving Positive Results, is another example of his ability to provoke reaction and thought.

The book title is typical Knight sarcasm and humor, which he acknowledges as the anti-thesis of the popular Norman Vincent Peale book The Power Of Positive Thinking.

My interpretation is that Coach Knight has two main themes within the concept of negative thinking.  The first theme is thinking about what a leader can do to prevent losing or give his team and chance at victory.  The second theme is preparing your team to prevent these errors and for what the opposition might do tactically.  Coach Knight weaves in great examples from history and his personal coaching experience to emphasize his key points within his negative thinking framework.

I have compiled eight note sections below in what is known as a mind map format.  Clicking on the links below will take you to the mind map pictures for easy viewing and printing.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

If you are an avid reader of Coach Knight or enjoy reviewing my notes, this book will provide excellent examples of how to apply and see the results of his concepts.  If you would like to order the book, click here to purchase.

Please let me know what you think about my notes, Coach Knight, or basketball in general.


*Full disclosure:  buying the book from the Amazon link I have provided will entitle me to a sales commission*

What a fantastic visit!

We were pleasantly surprised Matheus’s father gave word he was going to be in the United States on business and wanted to pay his son a visit (see this post for background story on Matheus).  The plan was that Mr. Miraglia would go to the high school, watch his cross country practice, and then they would come to our house.  We would then go out for supper.

On Friday afternoon, Eduardo was able to visit the high school, talk to Coach Plank, and drive around Oxford and Miami University with Matheus.  Then they arrived at our house.  Mr. Miraglia brought wonderful presents for Sawyer, Ryan, and our family.  Once the babysitter arrived to put Sawyer to bed, the rest of us went to Kona for early dinner trying to beat the rush of Miami University Family Weekend visitors.

We had a very enjoyable dinner sharing our backgrounds and history.  It was great to hear how Matheus got involved with AFS.  This is truly a like father-like son duo.  They are both so polite, gracious, intelligent, with similar interests.

Afterwards, I gave Eduardo a tour of the Rec Center where Jen and I both work.  He was very impressed and could see why we liked our jobs so much.

The following day, we got to see Matheus run his cross-country meet.  His dad is so proud of his son, and you could see this in his eyes while he watched him run race.  He then got to say goodbye to all of us so he could catch his flight.  Of course, my boys always enjoy watching him run.


This was truly a memorable visit, and it was another reminder how lucky we are.