Identity, Choices and Perspective

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

“No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one may be true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne Regrettably, I played on a summer league team that was absolutely blown out in the playoffs; fortunately, I was able to reflect on the outcome and develop some good rules for handling this situation in the future. Establish and maintain a consistent identity: Once a coaching career is underway, every time one steps on the court they must determine beforehand whether they will play or coach that game. It is not possible to …

Three Lessons from Red Holzman

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Red Holzman coached the New York Knicks during the 1970s, an era when the team won two Association titles. Knicks players included Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, and Earl Monroe – among others – and they were one of the first squads to utilize pressure defence throughout the entire game. The team is also fascinating because a number of very intelligent players executed a motion offence selflessly and because of Willis Reed’s comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals. It seems like everyone on the team wrote books so naturally the coach has written four, of which I …

Three Lessons from Joe Lapchick

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Lapchick chronicles the life of Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick, who links the barnstorming Original Celtics to the explosion of college basketball in New York City and Madison Square Garden to the New York Knicks and the origins of the Association to the introduction of television to the sport. Despite the fact that Lapchick last coached St. John’s when the teams were known as the Redmen – as opposed to the Red Storm – the book remains relevant to today’s player and coach. Placing Value in People: Many commented that Joe Lapchick was not the most technically astute coach but …

Four Lessons from Lute Olson

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Reading Lute!, an autobiography by the longstanding coach of the Arizona Wildcats, provided interesting food for thought. First of all, the calm and composed appearance of Lute Olson belies an insatiable enthusiasm for basketball and unwavering loyalty towards those who play on the teams that he coaches. Olson’s fifty-year career links the game’s past to its present, from Pete Newell and John Wooden to Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, from the Pacific Coast to the Mid-West and back. The book is typical of most sports autobiographies and will not contend for the Pulitzer Prize. Yet the text remains capable of …

The Basketball Gods

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Tex Winter says that a team must pay tribute to the basketball gods in order to succeed, his metaphor to inspire players to practice solid fundamentals and teamwork. According to the 1958 National Coach of the Year, the team that executes at both ends of floor the best will be rewarded. Fortunately, I was coaching a team that was able to benefit from this today, directly and indirectly. Directly because poise and control resulted in quality scoring chances and defensive pressure produced turnovers and indirectly because fate assessed the opponent with a bizarre technical foul when a player removed their …

Overtime Reflection

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

When faced with a choice between a book about Crime and Punishment and another about screening and rolling, perhaps only the mentally ill would choose the book about ball. Coaches and players can get stuck in the details like they are the lightning sand. Although he could write an essay on the subject, Bill Bradley only needed a sense of where he was to succeed on the court. Recently I was coaching during crunch time of a game and I made things too difficult for the team. Basketball should be simple. In the final minute of overtime, I wanted to …

Three Lessons from Jack Donohue

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Recently, I read Dream Big Dreams: The Jack Donohue Story by Mike Hickey, a thoroughly entertaining biography that is required reading for Canadian Basketball coaches. Both Andy Higgins – who knew Coach Donohue personally – and I found the book to be very insightful and had difficulty putting it down. I’ve listed three lessons any coach can take from Jack Donohue’s life and coaching career. Helping Players: Jack Donohue helped the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team, the College of the Holy Cross, and Power Memorial players, among others, lessons about teamwork, responsibility, sacrifice, and enjoying life, that they remember to …

Leadership Failure

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

After losing to the Miami Heat 99-77, T.J. Ford commented that “Being out there with Chris, I don’t have to make plays all the time. And now I’m finding myself having to make a lot more plays and sometimes trying to make too many plays. And I think that’s what happened tonight with so many turnovers.” Disappointing comments from a disappointing player during a disappointing season. Not to mention irresponsible, idiotic, and irritating. A team’s point guard should want to make plays, not shy away from them. To demonstrate good leadership and improve performance under pressure, T. J. Ford – …

The Responsibility of the Coach

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Evidently, it is the players play hard, play smart, and play together; the coach merely plays the role of the enabler and the modeler. If contributions were not made on the court when they were needed, contributions off the court were irrelevant. Players wear headbands and win games, coaches can only ban the former and observe the latter. According to Bear Bryant, “After a victory the players deserve the credit; after a loss the coach deserves the blame.” Is Bryant’s dissection of the blame appropriate? If players merit praise for their physical and mental performance than they should receive criticism …

Endings and Beginnings

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Watching the bookends of two practices this week, I thought about work ethic and attention to detail. The middles may have been the most intense and focused practices one could imagine but since I didn’t see them I can’t write about them. I thought about how one starts and finishes something is a tremendous barometer of how they will complete the whole. Consistency shouldn’t take days off. Execution counts and there’s a reason that coaches harp on it. I don’t think it bodes well when bigs eschew running in their lanes, littles neglect to read their defenders, and many stand …

Why Do We Coach?

In Coaching by Brock Bourgase

Paul J. Meyer once said: “You never work for someone else. The truth is someone is paying you to work for yourself.” Someone recently suggested that coaching for the purposes of self-actualisation was possibly selfish. In the end, don’t all humans choose their actions in order to satisfy a need (physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation)? Even those employed in an altruistic occupation do so because helping others meets their belonging, esteem, or self-actualisation needs. The suggestion was made with a somewhat negative connotation. I couldn’t disagree more. People are free to act as they wish and no one can …

Harry Potter and Leadership

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

Harry Potter becomes a Quiddich coach in The Half-Blood Prince and does a decent job. I found his tryouts somewhat uninspiring; he should have brought a practice plan. Choosing his keeper based on five penalty shots – an extremely unreliable sample size – was asking for trouble, but it worked out in the end. Before the first match, I thought Harry was setting up Weasley to be Rafael Palmeiro. However, tricking his keeper into thinking he had taken performance enhancing drugs was quite the ruse. A lot of sport is mental as opposed to physical; sensing that Ron was prone …

Leadership and Star Wars

In Leadership by Brock Bourgase

After a second viewing of Revenge of the Sith, I wanted to comment about the leadership styles of the Jedi and the Sith. The Jedi alienate Anakin Skywalker when they cease to model the way and ask him to spy on the Supreme Chancellor. The Jedi Council distrusts Palpatine and his motives but their clandestine actions render Skywalker more susceptible to the overtures by Darth Sidious. Meanwhile, Palpatine senses Skywalker’s needs for self-actualisation, loving and belonging, and power and speaks to them. In Skywalker’s mind, the Chancellor has enabled him to reach his potential, in contrast to the rules and …