A Short Thank You Note to Coach Bobbie Kelsey

Coach Kelsey,

Thank you for having the courage to call your players out and women’s basketball in general. This needed to be said and I hope you have received positive feedback from others involved in women’s basketball for your sentiment.

Simply stated and passionate.

All the best,

~Bert DeSalvo

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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Taking a (Calculated) Risk in Hiring

“The Unusual Hire” is a recent piece by Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers, concerning the Cleveland Browns hiring of Paul DePodesta, of the New York Mets, as the Chief Strategy Officer (see article: The Unusual Hire – Sports Illustrated – 1-18-16 – L. Jon Wertheim )

The premise is that franchises usually don’t think outside the box when hiring coaches and upper management.

Why? Wertheim and Sommers believe that “conformity feels safer. Stick within the parameters of generally expected behavior, and the consequences of falling short are mitigated.”

Basically, if owner’s/administrators hire the safe person, they don’t risk as much professionally and personally. The “CYB” (Cover Your Butt) leadership style, allows so-called leaders to say “they looked good on paper,” “they were an alumni, I figured they could get everyone on board,” and “they came highly recommended from a good friend.” They essentially have built in excuses and can retain their job in the process.

These are all convenient (and maybe lazy) but surely safe reasons for hiring a candidate. None of these practices however, ensure future success or mean the candidate selected was actually the best fit or most qualified.

I know as a young head coach, I regularly scratched my head when recycled coaches had the benefit of earning their 3rd or 4th jobs with only marginal records and I could barely eek out an interview despite my resume. It can be a very disheartening and frustrating experience for coaches and drives many of them away from pursuing their career goals.

Maybe hires like DePodesta, if successful, will spark some renewed creativity in the interview/hiring process, where hires are based solely on merit and leadership skills.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 107 – DeSalvo Article

I recently published an article for Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 107 regarding AAU/High School student-athletes transferring to other programs.

I would like to thank all of those who were kind enough to give their feedback on this topic for this publication.

I appreciate Mark Katarski (Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Seton Hill University), Dave Saur (Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach, UMass-Lowell) and Jeff Osterman (Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of South Florida) for their expertise and perspective on this subject matter. Their opinions and experiences give the article a tremendous amount of credibility.

I would also like to give a special thanks to Joe Ticotsky, Director of the CT Starters AAU program. I respect Coach Ticotsky’s opinion immensely and it is one that parents and players should also strongly consider.

Lastly, another special thanks to Ulysses Garcia and Heather Glezen, Co-Directors of the CT Attack AAU program who I had some great conversations with about this topic and helped inspire me to write this piece.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

‘Flipping the Script’: Musts for Prospective Student-Athletes

After long and productive July viewing periods, come Autumn, college coaches are now beginning to make home visits to top prospects and also have student-athletes on their campus for official and unofficial visits. Be reminded, to staffs with limited resources (time and financial), these visits are not offered in haste. Numerous evaluations, video tape, phone calls and other research are assessed and staff meetings sometimes result in heated debates regarding certain prospects. No matter what the final decision, coaching staffs put incredible efforts in ranking their top recruits so they can make and/or offer visits which ultimately result in scholarship offers.

Nevertheless, when student-athletes do get offered a home visit or on-campus visit, the usual process involves the coaches explaining why the school is a good fit for the prospect, how the prospect fits into their system, and how they will make an immediate impact with them.

What always surprised me as a college coach (I have coached at the DI, DII and DIII levels for the last decade plus) was that student-athletes did not come more prepared with questions and also failed to put the coaching staff on the “hot seat”.

In order to really get information, student-athletes must “flip the script” on coaches (in a nice way!) in order to evaluate the coaching staff just has hard as they have evaluated the prospect.

In order to make the best informed decision for themselves, prospective student-athletes should consider the following:

  • Find out what the core values of the program are – What are the defined expectations? Can you live up to the core value? What does the program stand for?
  • Watch live practice(s) — Are they efficient? Is individual improvement and fundamentals stressed? How do teammates relate to the coaching staff and each other? What do coaches emphasize?
  • Watch practice film(s) — This ensures that the practice you saw live was the “real” thing!
  • Watch game(s) — How does the team warm-up? Home vs. road games? Is the team prepared in EOG/ATO situations?
  • Watch game film with the coaching staff – What are the expectations of the players in regards to scouts? What is the focus film sessions? Are the scouts personnel based or system based?
  • Ask the head coach to draw their favorite sets/calls – Can they do this on the fly? Do they look to take advantage of mismatches? How can you thrive in these offenses/defenses?
  • Ask the head coach  (and assistants) about their future – What is their five year plan? Do they plan to take another job or retire? Are they in trouble of not being asked back/fired? (you probably won’t ask this but you should be thinking about it!)
  • Listen, listen, listen – Are the coaches telling you what you want to hear or are they being brutally honest?

Prospects must be reminded that coaches hope to make visits special and want everything to go as planned. Although this should be appreciated, finding out these answers to the previous questions (the real truth) is imperative.

In addition, prospective student-athletes must ask the tough questions of themselves: “What do I want my college experience to be like?” In addition to being self aware and knowing what they want in an institution and a coaching staff, prospects must ask those coaches recruiting them tough questions such as, “How will you make me a better player?”, and not be in awe of facilities, team gear and lofty or unrealistic promises. Prospects need to know how they will be challenged and the responsibility they will have to assume as a member of the program.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo