Friday, August 19, 2016

They Are Who We Think They Are

The video to the right is the classic Dennis Green "They are who we thought they were" rant about the Chicago Bears. Although it's often used tongue in cheek, I think there is some truth to the concept for basketball coaches. Often coaches, including myself, try to make players into something they are not - and all they end up doing is wasting time and energy. I think the ability to see a player for who they are is a skill that the truly great coaches have in common. And it's a skill that I'm trying to refine now that I've had the realization.

To illustrate the point let me tell you a few stories. First, when I was in Iowa we had a 6-4 kid who was by far our tallest player. I spent a lot of time trying to turn him into a banger in the post. Truthfully that wasn't who he was. He had a decent jump shot but didn't have that personality to bang under the boards. I kept trying to jam that square peg into a round hole to the frustration of both of us.

When I was an assistant at LaCrosse Central my first years coaching we had a kid who was 6-7 as a freshmen and 6-11 as a senior. I spent three summers working hard with the kid - who frankly wasn't that interested in basketball. In doing that I didn't spend as much time with a kid who was a smaller post but loved the game, worked hard, and ended up being a heck of a high school player because of that.

So what's my point? Well, I think that part of the magic of coaching is to evaluate your players as they currently are - what ARE they good at? How can that be utilized? Too many times coaches, again - myself included, look at what they have to do to fit our system instead of how can we adapt our system to utilize their strengths? Now for me that doesn't mean that you completely overhaul your offense or defense yearly, but instead look at how your players can use their strengths within your system.

As an example, I am a motion coach at heart. We started teaching 4 out this summer because it's my favorite alignment. But after watching our players run it, it was apparent that our "big" didn't fit. Yes, he was 6-5 and strong, but he could shoot, dribble, and we were not utilizing him correctly as a back side post. We also didn't have a second player who was truly a post. So we changed and adopted more of a 5 out where he could go inside if he wanted to but our base would be 5 out.

So in closing I've got to a do a better job of understanding who our players are and how we can utilize their unique talents. Hopefully this realization helps our team this winter.