Don’t Take Anything For Grant(land)ed

If you have not seen the 10 minute video clip on Grantland regarding Steve Nash’s hopeful return to the L.A. Lakers, please do so now. It is a captivating, must watch (The Finish Line: Episode 1).

Nash’s struggle reminds all athletes not to take things for granted and that every moment we have on our chosen athletic field is precious. Nothing lasts forever…not even for a 2x NBA MVP.

Notes from Eldon Price’s “A Friendly Basketball Dictator”


Here is a special treat for you today.

I recently spoke to Coach Eldon Price, author of his new book “A Friendly Basketball Dictator: Non-Traditional Ideas, Opinions and Insights from 47 Years of Coaching”” and he encouraged me to share these notes with all of you. Coach Price’s book was just released in mid-January 2014 so this is hot off the press!

These notes are just some of the coaching nuggets I found interesting throughout Coach Price’s book. However, to get the full effect, I do encourage you to buy it for your own coaching library. I have included the ISBN for your convenience in the notes.

Please enjoy these notes and share with your coaching colleagues.

As always I appreciate your interest and any thoughts/feedback you give I will make sure Coach Price gets them. I know he will enjoy hearing from coaches from around the globe about his almost half a century in the game.

— A Friendly Basketball Dictator Notes by Eldon Price

Coaching Advice from Shark Tank

If you have ever seen the ABC hit TV show “Shark Tank” you know the premise is that entrepreneurs pitch their business/product/service to the “Sharks” in order to secure an investment for their company.

This got me thinking that the “Sharks” would be great coaches based upon their business advice and leadership expertise.

Here are some of the Shark’s quotes and my interpretations of them. You may need to replace some words like “greed” or “money” for words like “losing”, “the game”, “wins”, etc. but you get the point.

(1). “Don’t let the dark clouds of greed confuse you” — Kevin O’Leary

— To me this quote refers to staying the course even when times are tough. Certain games or possibly even entire seasons may be lost due to unforeseen factors. Head coaches must believe in their vision and philosophy even during difficult stretches.

(2). “Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.” – Barbara Corcoran

— Prepare, seek advice, work hard, but go with your gut. Trust yourself.

(3). “If you’re emotional and you’re great at something, the money will follow.” – Robert Herjavec

— Anyone who watches the show knows of Mr. Herjavec’s humble beginnings. His story is one of rags to riches. To me this quote means that if you have the love and motivation for something and continue to improve, it will pay dividends in the long run. Focus on the present and the future will be bright.

 (4). “Never insult money.” — Kevin O’Leary

— Kevin O’Leary is notorious for being concerned with just one thing…the bottom line. Although coaches need to be aware of their win-loss record, I believe that the real “money” is overall player development (i.e, athletic ability and personal growth). Coaches need to stick to their value system and believe that they are making a positive impact at all times.

(5). “Don’t cry about money (the game), it never cries for you.” — Kevin O’Leary

— Don’t feel bad for yourself. Someone somewhere has it worse. Make your own luck!

(6). “Don’t ever be enamored by what something sells for. It’s more important what you get to keep in your pocket.” – Robert Herjavec

— Short term gains do not out weight long term benefits. Do not sell your program or self out for a few wins right now when there is much more to gain down the road.

(7). “Life is hard, money (the game) doesn’t care, your tears don’t add value” — Kevin O’Leary

— No whining. No complaining.

(8). “Convince me why this isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever seen.” – Robert Herjavec

— This one was a little challenging…What came to mind was when you are coaching your team be ready to answer tough questions and be ready to defend your philosophy and program. Have a reason(s) for what you are doing.

(9). “Do you want to be rich or not? Let’s get focused on that, buddy” – Kevin O’Leary

— Focus on the process of winning. Make the necessary sacrifices and pay attention to the details. Coaching is a 24/7 enterprise.

(10). “What I loved most about this girl…she reminded me of myself…there’s no way that girl’s not gonna make it.” – Barbara Corcoran

— This one is pretty self-explanatory. Leaders can see other who have those types of qualities. When you are on a job interview make sure those who are the decision makers can see how you relate to them.

(11). “How frustrating you are. You’ve got a real business, but you’re a pig.” –Kevin O’Leary

— This quote refers to doing things the right way and not being greedy, that is, do not allow the immediate success to have a negative impact on how you perceive yourself or how others perceive you. Keep things in perspective. Be humble.

(12). “Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers – I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.” – Kevin O’Leary

— Mr. O’Leary being Mr. O’Leary…Allocate your resources wisely. If you do, you will gain more support and have more resources to allocate in the future. Build an infrastructure in your program that will be able to grow and thrive. You never know who can help your program grow.

Recent Publications

Here are some recent articles and plays that I have published. I wanted to put them all together for your convenience. Enjoy!

Keep the feedback coming!

Pastner is Absolutely Right

Head Coach Josh Pastner of Memphis took a strong stance recently by suspending a player for using inappropriate language.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, “Pastner said he has disciplined the freshman before for his foul language and that he will not tolerate (Dominic) Woodson’s relapses with ‘his vocabulary’ when women and children are around.”

Coach Pastner added, ”When the behavior doesn’t change, I believe you now have to change the consequences and make them more severe,” Pastner said. ”So that’s where we’re at. The suspension’s indefinite, and we’ll go from there.”

Basically Pastner had a rule and that rule was violated. Simple.

I have been told by experienced coaches to have just a few rules so that you do not back yourself into a corner and force yourself to have to suspend your best player. Although most incidents regarding player conduct are not the same and each case, in my opinion, must be handled on an individual basis, it is refreshing to see a coach stick to his principles/program values.

I applaud Coach Pastner for taking a strong stance on what I could call a “program absolute”. If profanity is something that Pastner cannot tolerate then he is doing himself and his program a great service by not allowing Woodson’s actions to go unnoticed and unpunished. Pastern is making Woodson accountable for his actions which is a part of what coaching is all about.

Now I will say it is easier to make an example of a player who is averaging 2.6 points per game rather than you leading scorer, rebound or best defender. However, it does seem that Woodson was giving at least one chance to change his behavior prior to this suspension. Pastner now will have to treat other players similar if they use inappropriate language due to the precedent he has set with Woodson.

Coaches who communicate clearly regarding their on and off the court expectations and are consistent enforcing these expectations will gain a tremendous amount of respect by their coaching staff and players. In addition, players will not be surprised by the coaches response to matters that arise on a daily basis.

Although Pastner one of the youngest Division I Men’s Basketball Head Coaches at just 36 years old, he may be teaching some of his older colleagues to not waver from their “Absolutes”.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Collective Exchange Quote Sharing

I recently received, and then cooperated, in a collective exchange (i.e. chain letter) where coaches shared inspirational quotes, poems or messages to each other.

Here are some of the responses I received from coaches from around the country:

1. “Do right and fear nobody!”

2. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper. Let your enemies be your footsool”

3. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for he is right beside me” – Psalm 16

4. “Appreciation is the currency of success … No matter how tough things are, be appreciative … Many would love to be where you are”

5. “God is good all the time….All the time God is good…Enjoy the moments…they last forever in your mind and heart”

6. “Give me the strength to accept the Thing I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!”

7. “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

8. “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon

9. “Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can.” –Arthur Ashe

10. “The best way out is always through.” -Robert Frost

11. “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Regan

12. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), which I added “You do not lack…ever” from Jay Bilas’s book “Toughness”

13. “When nothing seems to help, I go to look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it – but all that had gone before it.” -Jacob Riis

14. “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.  (It’s all about attitude)”

15. “When we are doing what we love, we don’t care about time. For at least at that moment, time doesn’t exist and we are truly free” -Wieder Marcia

16. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

17. “Our Greatest Fear”- by Nelson Mandella

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission
to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

18. The Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can,  and the wisdom to know the difference.

Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#6)

Here we go! Enjoy this latest installment of “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations”. Keep the comments coming.


Team A is down one point after converting two free throw attempts. There is 1:47 remaining in the game.

Team B has 2 timeouts remaining, while Team A has 1 timeouts remaining.

The possession arrow is in favor of Team B.

Team A is the double bonus, while Team B is in the bonus.


Team B takes the ball out-of-bounds on their defensive baseline after Team A converts their second free throw. Team A applies some full court man-to-man pressure defense as Team B inbounds the ball and gets the ball across the time line.

Team B runs their high/lo offense with some ball screen action. As they try to enter the ball to the low post, Team A knocks the ball out-of-bounds on Team B’s offensive baseline with 1:19 left in the game and 8 seconds left on the shot clock.

Team B runs an baseline out-of-bounds play (BLOB) that results in a missed catch and shoot 3pt shot.

A player for Team A rebounds the miss takes one dribble and throws it ahead to a teammate who finishes a layup in transition, giving Team A a one point lead with 1:11 remaining in the game.

Team B inbounds the ball, advances the ball to half court and calls a timeout. There is now 1:04 remaining on the game clock and 30 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Team B now has one timeout left.

Team A defends Team B with man-to-man defense. Team B runs their offense but commits a shot clock violation, failing to get a field goal attempt up in time.

With :34 seconds remaining, Team A inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline. Team B immediately commits a foul sending Team A to the foul line with :33 seconds left.

Team A, who is in the double bonus converts both free throws, to give them a three point lead.

Team B once again crosses half court and with :29 seconds left calls its last timeout.

Team A defends Team B with man-to-man defense. Team B runs pick and roll action and overloads the weakside of the court with three offensive players. Team B’s point guard drives the lane and finds an open shooter in the weak side corner. The shooter misses a clean 3pt field goal attempt with :17.8 seconds remaining in the game. Team A rebounds the miss and is fouled by Team B with 14.6 seconds left in the game.

Team A once again makes both free throw attempts giving them a five point lead.

Team B inbounds the ball, quickly pushes it up the court and misses a tough 3pt field goal attempt. The air ball shot, goes out-of-bounds to Team A.

Team A inbounds the ball on their defensive baseline with 5.1 seconds remaining in the game. A player on Team A catches the ball with  and is fouled with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Team A misses the first attempt but makes the second attempt to give them a six point lead.

Team B inbounds the ball after the free throw makes and push the ball past the half court line. A player from Team A tips the ball away from a player from Team B, the ball goes to a player on Team A for a steal which seals the win for Team A.


There were a few adjustments that could have been made, although I thought the game was played out relatively well.

Team A did get a good look on the catch and shoot BLOB with 1:19 left and on the subsequent possession despite the shot clock violation they did run good offense and make the defense shift sides of the court multiple times. Of course not getting a shot up in that situation is a mistake and players need to be aware of the time remaining on the shot clock.

Obviously Team B’s possession in between resulted in a relatively easy transition layup. I believe in that situation coaches have to foul the player hard but legally and make them earn their points from the free throw line. Giving up layups with relative ease is a big no-no for me personally.

Also, I did not like either timeout that Team A used, especially the one at the :29 second mark. With Team B attempting two free throws, the coach had plenty of time to relay a quick hitter or set that they wanted to use for that situation. Team A was only down three points, so they did not need to get a 3pt shot, although they did get a great look so I am fine with the shot they got.

In addition, on Team A’s 3 point field goal attempt with :17.8 seconds left Team A overloaded the weakside of the floor to allow them to play two man game on the strong side. The point guard did a nice job attacking the middle of the floor to draw two plus defenders which made for an easy drive and kick 3pt shot. Team B CANNOT give help in that situation. They must allow the layup if needed and also not foul to give Team A an “and 1” opportunity to tie the game up. Fortunately for Team B, it was a critical mistake that they did not get beat on.

Something that I really liked was when Team A inbounded the ball with 5.1 seconds left from their defensive baseline was that when the player caught the ball, they did not dribble the ball frantically. Instead they protected the ball and allowed themselves to get fouled. In that situation they is no need to try and make a play. Team A did the right thing by making Team B give the foul so they could try to make it a three possession game. Unfortunately Team A missed the first free throw so it remained a two possession game, but nevertheless it was played the right way.

I also agree with Team B fouling immediately on both of their last two defensive possessions..

Lastly, Team A did the right thing playing Team B in man-to-man throughout the final minute plus of action, especially when protecting a three point lead.


Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback. I have done my best to explain the situation, but if there are any other factors that would impact your decision, I will be happy to retrieve or clarify the situation for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo