High Ball Screen into Flare Screen

In Plays by Brock Bourgase

Down a point, the Celtics draw up a play involving their big three with multiple options (iso for Pierce, high post jumper for Garnett and three-point shot for Allen).  By keeping every player moving, Boston does not allow New York to pack the paint. Kevin Garnett frees Paul Pierce with a pindown.  Ray Allen inbounds to Pierce and sets a Guard-to-Guard screen for the ball.  Garnett then sets a flare screen to create an open shot for Allen.  Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis space the floor along the baseline.  Garnett whiffs on his screen on Toney Douglas but the defender …

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Alex Ferguson

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

This week, Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the most successful coaches in recent years, inhabiting the same rarefied air as other legends like Phil Jackson and Mike Krzyzewski , retired from his post at Manchester United. Ferguson had served as manager at Old Trafford for twenty-seven seasons and captured thirteen English league titles, two Champions League trophies and countless cups. Since 1986, other rivals have come and gone while United has remained at the top, providing an example that other coaches around the world can follow.

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End of Game Situations

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Coaches spend a great deal of time planning each possession in the last two minutes because these plays are closely scrutinized. Control that cannot be wielded throughout the game is certainly exerted as the clock winds down. “Clutch situations” define players and coaches and even though players perform at the levels consistent with their season-long statistics, they especially want to be known as someone who can succeed in these memorable moments. The free hand of basketball means that what a coach emphasizes when preparing for the last possession of a game will trickle down into the rest of the team’s …

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Homer vs. Flanders

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

When Springfield experiences an epidemic of childhood obesity (again), the town turns to Pop Warner football to encourage kids to exercise more. Like they previously did with minor hockey, the adults abuse their positions of responsibility and monopolize the activity. Homer and Flanders take turns coaching the team and offer two contrasting coaching philosophies. While the team wins the championship at the conclusion of the season, it can be attributed more to the talent of the players involved than their coaches. The team is initially coached by Ned Flanders – who is motivated by his community spirit and his desire …

Courage, Adversity and Things We Can Control

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

When faced with a situation that is less than ideal – a disruptive classroom, a challenging timetable, a coach with a different style, a team that is short on talent and ability or a slacker blogger who only posts once per month – student-athletes can choose to remedy the situation or wallow in the status quo until it worsens. The perceptive individual separates the domains that they can control from those that they cannot and focuses solely on the latter. The outcome may be out of their hands but they can always change the process. Don’t wait for a sudden …

Youth Basketball Comparison

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

It seems that clips of North American basketball players when they were young shows some sort of fast break that uses athleticism and ends in a dunk (Chris Webber from the Fab Five Documentary) but International players tend to make decisions and set up their teammates (Rudy Fernández from Raising an Olympian). Obviously, Webber experienced a higher scoring and more lucrative career than Fernández but from countries other than the U.S., we should be trying to produce players who had careers like  Fernández because it is a more likely outcome than a first overall N.B.A. pick so shouldn’t our process …

Leaving Nashville

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators suspended two of their late season acquisitions, Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov, for missing curfew during a playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes. The players, ostensibly added to the roster in order to strengthen the squad for the postseason, appear to have lost focus at a critical time as they were allegedly sighted at 4:00am in a Scottsdale bar the night/morning before a lopsided loss that placed the team at a 0-2 deficit in the series. When a group of people comes together to form a team, nothing is more disheartening than when a few …

Scoring and the Shot Clock

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

A recent study by University of Minnesota physics professor Brian Skinner suggesting the it is better for N.B.A. players to shoot early in the shot clock. Skinner mentions that shots taken within first eight seconds of the shot clock generate 1.05 points each shot whereas those taken in the final two seconds of the clock produce 0.85 points. The expected point value of each shot declines very slightly from the beginning of the possession until the final eight seconds when shots become progressively worse. 911 shots as the clock winds down provide the lowest expected value.

The Importance of Being Reasonable

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

During the first half of last night’s contest on Football Night in America, Mark Sanchez called an unnecessary timeout as his team approached the goal line within the two-minute warning. The Jets scored but left enough time for Tom Brady and the Patriots to answer back with seconds remaining in the half. Interviewed at half-time, Rex Ryan called Sanchez’s actions “the stupidest play in football history.” Obviously hyperbole, Ryan’s remarks suit his intense personality. It seems to suit the New York defense perfectly and feeds their aggressive personalities. With a young quarterback, such comments may have the opposite effect.

Broken (Bullpen) Telephone

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

During Game 5 of the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals were placed at a disadvantage when a miscommunication occurred between the dug out and the bullpen and incorrect pitchers were warmed up. Consequently, the Texas Rangers score two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, enabling them to win a pivotal game.

Outwork, Outthink

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Competition matches up teams against players who may be very skilled and those who need to work on their game. Every game is unique: a team which has a clear physical advantage in the first game of a tournament might only be evenly matched with their second round opponent. Certainly, practice and training can improve physical performance factors. Another way to generate an advantage on the court is to establish a mental edge. Teams that get into the heads of opposing players benefit from errors due to frustration, aggressiveness and resignation. Move Constantly: Fitness is a physical performance factor but …

Results Oriented Work Environment

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

Last week, during an friendly with the Lost Angeles Galaxy, Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli received in a ball in the clear and elected to spin around and attempt to kick it backwards towards the net. He missed badly, fans jeered and teammates threw their arms up in exasperation. Coach Roberto Mancini substituted the striker immediately, which led to a blow up on the touch line (using Italian words which should not be repeated) and a tantrum by the twenty-year old player. For Balotelli, it was another incident in a tumultuous career.

Brock and the Deathly Hallows (2/2)

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

On one hand, this final film is far better than the disappointing book upon which it is based and it redeems its predecessor. Nobody will claim that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II will evoke the same emotions as classic series like Star Wars but a late-night screening at the Varsity Cinemas ended amicably, without any audience member feeling compelled to vandalize the theatre in rage or inspired by fierce apathy to set the screen ablaze. The film does its job — no more, no less. The hero mythology resolves itself adequately. Harry must face his past, his …

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Star Trek Leadership, Part III: Starfleet Academy in the Delta Quadrant

In Star Trek Leadership, Television by Brock Bourgase

Star Trek remains extremely popular because of how the stories are analogous to many modern situations. It is a science fiction genre that does not overwhelm the viewer with technology; the characters – and humanity – remain the focal point. During a syndicated episode of Voyager entitled “Learning Curve”, Lieutenant Tuvok encountered Maquis crew members who were unwilling to follow Starfleet routines. The renegades were incorporated into Voyager’s crew after both were stranded in the Delta Quadrant although the partnership was not working entirely smoothly. Starfleet demanded strict adherence to procedures which was a stark contrast to the Maquis philosophy …

Bob Hurley

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

There are three high school coaches in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame: Morgan Wootten of DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Maryland), Bertha Teague of Byng High School (Ada, Oklahoma), and Bobby Hurley of St. Anthony’s High School (Jersey City, New Jersey). Hurley was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. In all, there are eighty-two coaches in the Hall (in addition to Pete Newell, Clair Bee, and Teague who are listed as contributors for unknown reasons). Hurley – who has been the subject of a book in 2008 (The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski) and a 2010 …

The Dangers of Coaching, Part II: Theocracies

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

As a basketball coach and a teacher, I endeavour to focus on the big picture. Did the team win? Did individual players improve? Did students achieve the overall expectations for the course? When all is said and done, did we meet our mastery and performance oriented goals? Throughout our studies, we create theories to make things easier. Why continually reinvent the wheel when there is a perfectly good drill to develop the skills required or a practical classroom routine to facilitate student learning? But we should be mindful not to become dogmatic. Suboptimal scenarios include Master Practice Plans which eliminate …