Island of Khawi – Sports Illustrated Article

Here is a fantastic article regarding Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs ( The Island of Kawhi – Sports Illustrated- Lee Jenkins ).

Consider it an appetizer for one of the biggest NBA regular season games EVER tonight, as the Warriors face the Spurs in San Antonio.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Lovie’s New Gig and the Rest of the Story

In the coaching world when one person gets a chance, another coach is getting their pink slip.

So was the case at the University of Illinois, who announced that Lovie Smith would be the next Head Football Coach for the Illini (see Shannon Ryan’s article in the Chicago Tribune).

Smith, a well respected NFL Head Coach and great person, himself was done dirty by the brass in Tampa Bay. After just his second year, Smith was surprisingly fired despite his team showing progress with a rookie QB at the helm.

With this in mind, I am ecstatic for Coach Smith to get this opportunity to run his own program again.

Nevertheless, every hire means a fire (or non-renewal). In this case, Bill Cubit was on the chopping block. Several programs within the athletic department were said to be in turmoil, including the football program before Cubit was the interim and then eventual head coach.

What stood out to me was a few things:

  1. A new athletic director and former Illini Tight End, Josh Whitman was hired in mid-February (was D3 AD at Washington University in St. Louis in his prior position).
  2. According to Ryan’s article: “Whitman worked at lightning speed to bring Smith to Champaign. Through a common friend and colleague, former Illini coach and Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, Whitman connected with Smith shortly after Whitman was named AD in mid-February. The two met at Smith’s home in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, and each was impressed with the other. On his first official day on the job Saturday, Whitman fired coach Bill Cubit, who had been promoted from interim status at the end of last season with a two-year contract. Smith flew to Champaign on Sunday.”
  3. According to an AP article (see article): “I just came in and (Whitman) said, ‘I’m letting you go,'” Cubit told The Associated Press of the meeting on Saturday…The Illini finished 5-7, 2-6 in the Big Ten last season under Cubit, whose son Ryan was also fired as offensive coordinator. The elder Cubit said he wasn’t given a detailed reason for the firing. ‘Everybody told me I had (at least) this year,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of shock going on. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a funny place.'”
  4. Also, current student-athletes in the football program learned of Cubit’s dismissal through social media.
  5. Whitman had obviously been negotiating talks with Smith while Cubit still had the position and before Whitman’s first official day.

It seems as though, despite a glamour hire by Whitman, Cubit was not the problem and he was not even given the courtesy by Whitman to talk to him, evaluate him and get to know what his culture and philosophy were about.

This hire pulls at me in both directions because Lovie was dismissal by Tampa Bay was just as shameful as Cubit’s by Illinois.

The bottom line is: Great for Lovie. Thoughts go out to Cubit and the former Illini Football staff. Shame on Whitman.

I do understand (see Brian Hamilton’s of Sports Illustrated’s take), but do not agree with Cubit’s abrupt firing, but no matter what Whitman’s decision, it was handled entirely unprofessionally.

Not to mention, why were the student-athletes not afforded the respect to be told before the media was notified? It has to be about the student-athletes. Period.

It begs the question that I always ask myself…”who is evaluating the evaluators?”

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo




3pt Rate in College Basketball & Navy Shooting

3pt RateThis article by Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn discusses the 3pt rate in college basketball and specifically if previously No. 1 Oklahoma can win a National Championship by being reliant on the 3pt shot (Arc Madness Sports Illustrated article)

Winn’s article also mentioned how Michigan’s Head Coach John Beilein thought outside of the box and brought in a D-III transfer to fill 3pt shooter void on his roster and how he qualifies his players to shoot the 3pt shot. According to Beilein, ” ‘We needed somebody who was a proven shooter.’ Beilein requires his players to meet a minimum standard to get green-lit for games: making 60 threes in a five-minute, one-ball, one-rebounder drill that’s an adaptation of a workout Bryce Drew did as a Valparaiso guard.” This type of testing is a great standard to set for any program (adjusted to your level of coaching of course) because it gives players a concrete goal and leaves room for no wavering on the rewards: THE GREEN LIGHT!

On an aside, Billy Lange, who was mentioned in the article, I had the chance to work camp for when he was the head coach at Navy. Even then (2008), Coach Lange promoted shooting rate and working on efficiency from the behind the 3pt arc. He did this by tirelessly working on shooting repeatedly in practice with a great warmup drill and another spot shooting drill called “21”.

I have adopted his theory with my teams as we do “Navy Shooting” daily and incorporate it into my individual workouts as well. Nothing is more valuable than having multiple shooters to stretch the floor and take advantage of the 3pt shot.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

The Case for…Chip Kelly – Melissa Jacobs

This recent Sports Illustrated article by Melissa Jacobs, makes a case for Chip Kelly being the right hire for the San Francisco 49ers. I think it is at least a logical argument for hiring a coach who seemed to not have the necessary personality to connect with his players during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Although having the necessary tactical skills are very important, nothing is as important as treating players with respect and getting to know them on a personal level, in my opinion. X’s and O’s can be learned, personality and caring can not.

Although the 49ers do need a whole system transformation in order to get the necessary production out of Colin Kaepernick, it will be interesting to see if Kelly can make the changes necessary or if the 49ers should have went with an “Unusual Hire” (see “Taking a (Calculated) Risk in Hiring”) to fill its head coaching vacancy

The Case for…Chip Kelly- Sports Illustrated – Jan. 25, 2016 – Melissa Jacobs

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In Retrospect: Chip Kelly

With Chip Kelly’s firing just hours ago, it reminded me of an article that was written about him earlier this year:

Chip Kelly’s fearless coaching mind driving Eagles’ roster overhaul –  5/25/15 – Greg Bedard

Then you have tonight’s article on his firing:

Chip Kelly’s sudden firing suggests some difficult truths – 12/29/15

So which is true? Is he a genius ahead of his time or someone who’s vision how football is to be played at the NFL level is not sustainable?

Either way, he did it his way and was supported by the front office during his brief tenure. As a head coach, that is all you can ask for. Although, I’m sure he wishes he had another year.

Don’t we all.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo