Geno Auriemma On Practice

genoWhen you win as often as Geno Auriemma has in his first 29 seasons at UConn – and let’s face it, a winning percentage of 86.9 percent constitutes a trend – you would think game day might be the favorite time of his day.

That would be incorrect. Auriemma loves practice. He loves to plan them and run them. He loves his whistle. And he especially loves to extend practice when he doesn’t see what he expects.

“How come no one ever talks about what coaches go through; we are people. We have emotions,” Auriemma said.

And this year, his 30th at UConn, has not witnessed any diminishment in that enjoyment. But it has been different.

“Every day at practice [last season] was easy because the players on last year’s team never had a bad day,” Auriemma said. “But hey, as has been the case for 30 years, every year there’s a new team and something new to deal with.”

This season it’s a quiet quartet of freshmen. Kia Nurse, Courtney Ekmark, Sadie Edwards and Gabby Williams have been strictly in the observation stage, hardly a peep comes from any of them. But Auriemma says that’s expected. And he knows each has the capacity to provide.

But it’s not only the freshmen that sometime adapt slowly to the rigors of practice. And what fills Auriemma with the most frustration is when he senses one of his players doesn’t make the connection between preparation and performance.

“Anyone who accomplishes great things does it because they want to,” he says. “Anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t because they also want to.”

Think about that for a second …. Ok, let’s move on.

“There are kids who say, ‘Well, when you need me I will be there and if you don’t need me, I don’t need to be there [be ready].’ That’s selling yourself short a little,” Auriemma added. “You should strive to prove that you should start ahead of someone else or play more minutes than someone else. It’s about coming out every day and sustaining [performance].

“If you go to practice for a week and you have two really good ones and five mediocre ones you are probably a mediocre player. If have five really good days and two bad ones, you are probably a really good player.

“Kids need to understand that it’s here [practice] where you learn to be a good player. I don’t want to hear anymore of this crap about how some guys are game players, not good practice players.

“I’ve never met anyone that was a great game player who didn’t have tremendous work ethic and practice habits. The challenge for everyone, at least those who come here, is learning how to practice with such consistency that you know you are going to perform consistently when you go into a game.”

Hartford Courant: Geno Auriemma Practice Article

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Gregg Popovich: The Importance of Being Honest

PopGregg Popovich is entering his 18th year as the San Antonio Spurs head coach.

Popovich’s longevity has partially been due to luck. The Spurs have drafted three Hall of Famers in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, who have all been loyal to the Spurs.

But Popovich is also a brilliant tactician who has earned the trust and respect of players, which Michael Lee talks about in his piece on Pop for the Washington Post. Perhaps the most important part is how honest Popovich is with his players, he said:

“They are different. I just try to be as honest with them as I can. I just think blowing smoke at guys and trying to manipulate guys or trick guys into thinking this, that and the other, it doesn’t work. And it’s tiresome. You got to remember what you told somebody last week. And this week, I can’t do that because I did that, and now I got to do this. That doesn’t work. So if you’re just brutally honest with guys, when they do well, love them and touch them and praise them and if they do poorly, get on their [butt] and let them know it and let them know that you care. And if a player knows that you really care and believes that you can make it better, you got the guy for life.”

Tony Parker once recalled his early years with Popovich when Pop would make the rookie point guard cry. When the Spurs acquired Boris Diaw two seasons ago, Popovich told the press that Diaw had “never been in shape.” He once deactivated Tim Duncan for a game, citing the reasoning in the box score as “old.”

But as Pop says, being honest with players, riding them when they’re bad and praising them when they’re good, earns their trust and respect. Popovich tells Lee that Ginobili and Parker only re-signed their long-term contracts knowing Pop would still be the coach. His winning style of play and player management has helped made the Spurs the model franchise in, arguably, all professional sports.

For years, people have counted the Spurs out of championship contention because of their age, but each year they come back strong. With Popovich at the helm, it doesn’t look like that will change.

Business Insider: Gregg Popovich

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Jon Gordon: 5 Ways to Think Like a Champion

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five5 Ways to Think Like a Champion

I meet and learn from Champions every day. Not just in locker rooms but in classrooms, hospitals, homeless shelters, homes and office buildings. I’ve learned that to be a champion you must Think Like a Champion. Champions think differently than everyone else. They approach their life and work with a different mindset and belief system that separates them from the pack.

1. Champions Expect to Win – When they walk on the court, on the field, into a meeting or in a classroom they expect to win. In fact they are surprised when they don’t win. They expect success and their positive beliefs often lead to positive actions and outcomes. They win in their mind first and then they win in the hearts and minds of their customers, students or fans.

2. Champions Celebrate the Small Wins – By celebrating the small wins champions gain the confidence to go after the big wins. Big wins and big success happen through the accumulation of many small victories. This doesn’t mean champions become complacent. Rather, with the right kind of celebration and reinforcement, champions work harder, practice more and believe they can do greater things.

3. Champions Don’t Make Excuses When They Don’t Win – They don’t focus on the faults of others. They focus on what they can do better. They see their mistakes and defeats as opportunities for growth. As a result they become stronger, wiser and better.

4. Champions Focus on What They Get To Do, Not What They Have To Do – They see their life and work as a gift not an obligation. They know that if they want to achieve a certain outcome they must commit to and appreciate the process. They may not love every minute of their journey but their attitude and will helps them develop their skill.

5. Champions Believe They Will Experience More Wins in the Future – Their faith is greater than their fear. Their positive energy is greater than the chorus of negativity. Their certainty is greater than all the doubt. Their passion and purpose are greater than their challenges. In spite of their situation champions believe their best days are ahead of them, not behind them.

If you don’t think you have what it takes to be a champion, think again. Champions aren’t born. They are shaped and molded. And as iron sharpens iron you can develop your mindset and the mindset of your team with the right thinking, beliefs and expectations that lead to powerful actions.

Jon Gordon’s Blog

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Jim Boeheim On Coaching & Life

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Pete Carroll Discusses Coaching & Life

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What Nick Saban learned from Bill Belichick

Nick-Saban-trophy1. Saban took a chunk of his coaching philosophy from Bill Belichick thanks to the four years he spent as the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 1991-94 before leaving to take the Michigan State job before the last of Belichick’s five years in Cleveland.

“Y’all ran us both out of Ohio,” Saban said with a laugh.
But Saban took a lot of Belichick with him.

“He defined everything in the organization. Everything,” Saban said. “The standard for personnel, what kind of players we wanted, what he expected from the coaches, what he expected from the players on our team. Everything was defined, clearly defined. We had one sign in the building – ‘Do Your Job.'”

2. Saban and Urban Meyer may be able to relate on this point. Alabama was the two-time defending national champion and 11-0 and No. 1 last season before finishing with two losses. Ohio State was 24-0 to start Meyer’s career in Columbus before ending last season with two losses.

“I hate to say this, but sometimes a group needs to lose, they need to lose,” Saban said. “They lose their respect for winning. And I love our team, I loved our team last year. It’s not like we had a bad team, but compared to the championship teams, there was a little bit of complacency in terms of buying in. This year’s team has a lot better chemistry. Whether we have the same talent or the talent at the right positions to be capable of that, I don’t know.

“But losing the games helped everybody gain a perspective for winning and not taking things for granted and the importance of paying attention to detail. And maybe that’s the only way you can learn.”

3. “Mediocre people don’t like high achievers. And high achievers have no tolerance for mediocre people. So if they’re going to co-exist in your organization, you’re going to fail. You’re never going to have any team chemistry because they won’t respect each other.”

4. “We don’t have a sign in our building – never have, never will – that says win championships. We don’t have anything in our building that says win the SEC, win the national championship – never have, never have.

“We have a sign that says, ‘Be a champion.’ Everybody talks about there’s no ‘i’ in team. But there is an ‘i’ in win. And that ‘i’ is for individual, because the individual makes your team what it is.”

5. “When you raise the trophy up, when you win a championship, as soon as you put it down, you become the target for everybody else that competes against you.”

What Nick Saban learned from Bill Belichick

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The Spurs Way – (Team Basketball)

“Selfless Basketball”

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NY Times: Spurs Take Another Step Toward Redemption

Gregg Popovich coaching“What matters in a game is execution and mental toughness,” San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich said. “You have to execute, and you have to play with passion. So it’s like the old Dean Smith, Larry Brown thing: Play harder and smarter than your opponent. It doesn’t happen all the time, but if you can do it, that’s the goal.”

NY Times: Spurs Take Another Step Toward Redemption

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Navy Seals – Naval Adm. William H. McRaven Commencement Speech

10 Lessons from a Navy Seal

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San Antonio Spurs – A Must Watch

This is how the game is supposed to be played.

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