Month: September 2013

Thoughts on Mourinho and Alienation

I just turned on the Chelsea -Fulham match and the first bit of commentary had to do with the exlcusions of Juan Mata and David Luiz from Chelsea’s 18 man team.  The talent of both players is considerable, but I would concede that neither may fit into the tactical set up of Jose Mourinho.  This irreconcilable difference need not be the distraction that it is, and speaks to an erosion of the skill amd judgment of my favorite manager.

Despite continued success at Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and now Chelsea again, there has developed a consistent theme of alienating players.  Arjen Robben, Mario Balotelli, Iker Casillas, Kaka and now Matta and Luiz have all fallen out of favor which alone is not a sin, but have remained with the team creating an unnecessary and soul-sucking subplot to collective objectives. 
Every coach seeks certain qualities in players that resonate deeply with his view of the game, and every team in the process of becoming such must find a core identity that will not always suit the talents of every player on the roster.  This is a natural and necessary process that must be combined with actually removing the ill-fitting players from the newfound equation.

Whether by ego or back room political constraints,  Mourinho has been unable to find his way on this point, and it has proven near fatal for a coach that relies so heavily on adherence to tactical nuance and cult of personality espirit de corps. 

Mourinho should reflect on his days at Porto and his psuedo-autobiography from that time that spoke of a team so united that it voluntarily took meals together, and in turn provided the triumph that made Mourinho “Special.”

The Simplicity of Success

“He attacked It like he was meant to be the starter from day one.  Every drill we did, he tried to win it.  QB drill, throwing contest, anytime he got a rep, he was trying to make the most of it.  It wasn’t your typical true freshman coming in, a walk-on just happy to be here.  I mean, he was on a mission from day one.”  -Kliff Kingsberry on walk-on freshman starter Baker Mayfield

Mayfield is not a typical walk-on in the sense that he did not come to an open try-out on horse back  and astound Kingsberry like a football version of Roy Hobbs.  He played for Lake Travis High School, a prestigious program that has produced five consecutive Division l quarterbacks.  He led Lake Travis to a state title and put up impressive numbers.  By any standard, Mayfield was a preferred walk-on and Texas Tech fortunate to have him.  That said, he should not have had a realistic expectation of being the game one starter in Lubbock, but he was.

The “how?” is explained in Kingsberry’s quote.  Mayfield prepared himself mentally to be the starter, and brought that mindset to the field every day and every play.  The result was a consistent delivery of high level performance that distinguished himself from the rest of the quarterbacks on the depth chart and won the trust of his coaches.  It is a testament to the power of mindset and self-determination.  A model for all aspiring athletes.

Takeaways From the FABC Coaches Clinic

The first basketball clinic I ever attended was Coach K’s clinic at Cameron Indoor in 2004. There were several hundred coaches in attendance, and each were given a practice plan that Coach K went through in great detail. It struck me that a significant number of the attendees would open their practice with this same plan, and expect similar results. The thought itself reduced me to inappropriate laughter as it seemed the point of the clinic, any clinic for that matter is not to replicate each speaker, but to extract ideas that expand or challenge your own beliefs on the game, and integrate them into your coaching philosophy. In that tradition, I offer the nuggets of today’s FABC Coaches Clinic at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida.

– Don’t have anyone on your team that is afraid to compete. The speaker told the story of a player who quit the team just before the season began because he felt he wasn’t good enough to contribute. The team won a Juco National Title without him.

-The 2-3 Zone
1) Keep the ball out of the middle.
2) Active wing players arrive on any wing catch below free throw line, and pass player back to guard on recovery.
3) Hands up, feet moving.
4) Sprint, don’t slide.
5) Constant pressure on the ball is disruptive.
6) Post does not vacate the middle until the ball gets there, and then the wings tuck to protect basket.
7) If wings are moved out of position guards must find shooters.
8) Stay Home! Preserve the integrity and structure of the zone. Let it do it’s job.
9) Do not fear three point shots
10) Rebound as a five man unit. No leak outs.
11) Don’t allow yourself to be screened in the zone. Mobility.

-Attacking the Zone
1) Get the ball in the middle.
2) Attack gaps with cuts, positioning and penetration.
3) Use screens to disrupt the rotations of the defense.
4) Create numerical advantage in certain parts of the floor.

-Character is a talent as valuable as physical talent.

-Offense is built on pressuring the rim, but there are multiple ways to pressure the rim: Post ups, cutting and penetration.

-Pressuring the rim leads to fouls which impact the game.

-Combat physical stature with movement to create opportunities to score.

-Offensive movement is both the ball and the players. Player movement unsettles established help positions and rotations.

-Preface ball screens by actions that make defenders move and they will not be as sharp in defending your ball screen game.

-Diamond Shell Drill creates more game situations.

-Aggressive overload help allows you to help penetration without abandoning post players which eliminates dump downs and put backs.

-You are a teacher first. Teach the game, then hold players accountable for what they have been taught. Don’t just whine about things your players have not been taught to do.

Coaching Great Players

A great read on an important topic.

Coach Tim McDonald

So it has been a long time since my last post.  I have enjoyed another great summer filled with camps, AAU tournaments, team camps, and some rest and relaxation on the beach.  Now that summer is coming to an end, I will begin to post on a more regular basis.  Below is an article written by Mike Procopio that discusses coaching great players.  Enjoy!

Great players in our sport don’t come a long very often. I’m not talking about a player that can be an all star level player, but a player that changes the game and is a franchise player that transcends greatness. We look at them and have different takes on how if given the opportunity would coach and handle them.

Many coaches will never have the opportunity to coach a great player in our careers. Some that are given the opportunity sometimes take on the responsibility and…

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Let Football Determine Johnny’s Fate

Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Football has, after an eventful offseason resumed playing football tossing three touchdowns in the second half against Rice.  Following his final touchdown, Johnny Football was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting an opponent throwing the espn talking heads into a moralistic tizzy.  It is a self-righteous exercise in stupidity.

Johnny has succeeded at college football, and will spend this season in purgatory leaving the only meaningful question of his athletic career unanswered.  The question of course is whether Johnny Football can lead an NFL team.  If he can, the last eight months won’t matter beyond adding color to his narrative, and if he can’t it won’t matter either as he will be just another guy trying to find his way in life without football.

The question will be answered one way or the other, not by studio experts, but on the field by the game itself and in the spotlight of sport’s most demanding position.