Wins take a back seat to development. My goals are alway to develop elite teams that I can travel with in the off season. If I have enough talent, we’ll seek about the best competition and give the kids some exposure. But, and a huge but, elite level players are not created by travel teams. My first goal is to create elite players, not teams. Therefore I focus on developing talent over recruiting talent, and playing the game the right way from a developmental standpoint. This philosophy is often in direct competition with winning and winning by the largest margins possible to avoid tie breakers. I’ll never sacrifice a learning opportunity for a win. If we’re up big, I’m not thinking win by 40, I’m trying to figure how I can get players opportunities in areas of fear or weakness, and how we can work on the team’s offensive and defensive weak points as well.
We focus on fundamental adevelopment. Shooting mechanics, stance, vision, balance and footwork are all very important to us as a program. Most coaches at this level don’t have this sort of attention for detail; in fact most local high school coaches don’t either. All of my players know what they’re working on in and outside of practice and why. They get extra basketball homework (when asked for) and individual attention or time in practice to work on these things.
Offense - My teams don’t play zone defense! In my book, Zones slow down defensive development, though they'll get some extra wins at this level. I butt heads with some of the other ‘top’ programs about this, but to each their own. This means our zone offense won’t be as polished as it could be either, but zone offense is relatively easy and development is always at the forefront of our focus, not wins.
Zone Defense - My teams don’t play zone defense! In my book, Zones slow down defensive development, though they'll get some extra wins at this level. I butt heads with some of the other ‘top’ programs about this, but to each their own. This means our zone offense won’t be as polished as it could be either, but zone offense is relatively easy and development is always at the forefront of our focus, not wins.
Being Great Teammates - I stress being amazing teammates to each other. Great people make great basketball players and players have to be willing to grow in terms of how they talk/communicate/interact with their teammates and coaches.
Leadership - It’s not in every kid’s personality to be a leader but I try to get every player out of their comfort zone and get them leading their team in their areas of strength throughout the season. Every player has to be able to speak up and lead as well as recognize when it's needed. And every player, even the strongest leaders, need to be able to follow when it’s time to do so.
Playing Time: Playing time is not equal at this level, it is earned. With that said, I strive to get everyone minutes throughout the season. Tougher games may result in less minutes for the least experienced players while easier games will be skewed the other way and starters will take more of a supporting role. This is what I try to do.
Less experienced players - We don’t hide or neglect the weaker players. They have to keep up and develop at the same rate as well. We don't lower our expectations for the - that won’t happen here.
Post Players - Big Men will develop a complete skill with me. They’ll have the opportunity to play the perimeter and learn a guard skill set in addition to playing inside. I’ll never stunt a players development by forcing them to play only in the post.
Practice Players: If there are players who are not quite ready but want to be a part of the team and outwork the players ahead of them, I’ll generally keep 1-3 practice spots. These players are really helpful when people are sick and we need numbers, and almost every season they develop enough to find themselves with opportunities for game minutes. Not always the case and very much depends on how hard the individual works to catch up, but it’s always possible. These positions are extremely valuable for less experience players and generally very helpful to the team as well.
We expect and encourage great effort, enthusiasm, and energy at all times in practice. This is something my coaches are not responsible for in practice; players ALWAYS own these three things! When a player has the ability to light their own flame, that flame can alway be re-lit, and it’s much less likely to burn out. Not the case for the player who waits for the coach to light the fire.