Coaches checklist for 2017-18 season

As the 2017-18 basketball season approaches, I want to share some quick insights from my past experiences into some important things to think about for the upcoming season. While there are a lot of different things to focus on from an xs and os standpoint, there are many other factors that play a huge role when working towards building a championship team. Below are some questions you should be asking yourself on a daily basis.

- Personnel (does your team's personnel fit the style of play you anticipated playing this season?)

- Roles (are your players and staff clearly aware of what their roles are expected to be this season?)

- Goals (everyone wants to win a championship, what realistic goals does your staff and team have?)

- Preparation (How prepared are you, your staff and team for this upcoming season?)

- Chemistry (How well does you and your staff click? Is everyone on the same page towards achieving team goals? If the chemistry is not good, it affects the players.)

Recap of MCA Clinic 2017

The 1st Annual Milwaukee Coaches Association was a huge success. There were unofficially, 65 registered coaches in attendance to witness a great event. Words cannot describe how happy I was with the support from all of the coaches that showed up to network and learn.

The guest speakers did an amazing job with their sessions. They all showed great energy, poise and passion for their topics. The group of demonstrators also did a great job. Each player was very engaging, attentive and took positive coaching from the guest speakers.

The coaches in attendance were equally impressive as each was willing to learn and accept new ideas on how to become a better coach. There were multiple questions asked by the coaches to our guest speakers which showed me that everyone was hungry to learn and become better at their craft.

I have already received very positive feedback from just about everyone saying they had a great experience at the MCA Clinic 2017. Overall, I am very happy with the way things turned out and I along with everyone else in attendance, can't wait for MCA Clinic 2018. 

Thank you to our sponsors (Thrive 3, Chipotle, Gruber Law Offices and Contigo), the guest speakers (Craig Robinson, Kyle Rechlicz, Jimmie Foster, Ali Fitzgerald, Carmen Gust, Luke Meier, Latrell Fleming and Sharif Chambliss) and the coaches that attended. Without you all, none of this would have been possible. See you all at the MCA Clinic next year.

 

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Interview with Carmen Gust (Creighton School of Pharmacy)

For the last installment of our MCA Clinic guest speaker interviews, we have Carmen Gust. I have been the luckiest man in the world to have spent the last 13 years getting to know Carmen as we are happily married. We have been dating since our time as college students and I have had a first hand look at how smart, driven and motivated Carmen is. While working as a pharmacy technician and student over the course of the last 15 years, she has gain very valuable knowledge of health and nutrition and how it ties to our everyday lifestyle. Below is my interview with her about her passion for health and nutrition. Enjoy.

Me: Carmen, give us a little of your background.

Carmen: I am originally from Marshfield, Wisconsin, which is located near the center of the state. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin—Madison in Communicative Disorders. There I met my husband, Freddie Owens, and followed him around the country for a few years while he followed his passion of coaching.

After six moves in eight years (yes you heard that right) we settled in Massachusetts where we currently reside. I began pharmacy school in August of 2015 and have just finished up my second year at Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professionals.

Me: Why did you decide to go into pharmacy and what triggered your passion for the topic?

Carmen: I definitely took the road less traveled to get to where I am now, but it all seemed to work out for the best. I have worked in a pharmacy since my undergraduate time at Wisconsin-Madison in 2003 and I continued to pursue jobs in that field. I knew that I wanted to further my education, but I was finding it difficult to integrate four years of schooling into this crazy world of coaching and multiple moves across the country.

I was fortunate to have discovered an amazing program through Creighton University that enables students to participate in pharmacy school from wherever they may be in the country/world. I watch all of the classes virtually from my home and complete the same classes that the local campus students attend. Once I heard about this program, I knew my dream of attending pharmacy school could be a reality. This program has been remarkable and has enabled me to further my pursuit of becoming a pharmacist.

My passion for pharmacy really began when I was working at a community health center and non-profit hospital when I lived in Montana. I saw that medications are vital to so many people and with that came copious amounts of people that were unable to afford their medications. I worked with patients to obtain their medications free or at a low cost from the pharmaceutical companies. I learned that every person had a story.

A lot of people like to say that people are “milking the system,” but I challenge those with this mindset to work in a free clinic and get to know the patients. Most have just fallen on hard times and are trying desperately to get out of them. Most are not able to dig themselves out without medications that are vital to their everyday living. For me, this is where pharmacy shifted from being just a job and morphed into my passion and my why.

Me: Why are health and nutrition often overlooked by people?

In my opinion, health and nutrition are overlooked because we live in a society that is so focused on being skinny and overall health is often ignored. People tend to think they are doing all the right things by following the latest diet trends, but those diets may not actually be healthy and nutritional. Just because the pounds are shedding, does not mean that you are healthier.

For example, when I was in college I went on a low-carb diet. I would eat bacon and eggs every morning with a slab of turkey and mayo for lunch. I remember my roommate saying, “That can’t be healthy,” with a look of disgust. My reply was, “Well, I’m losing weight!” The diet had potential to be healthier, but I was eliminating entire food groups by not incorporating enough fruits and vegetables.

I also think that every single person is different and each persons' body was meant to be at a certain weight. Losing weight is easy for some people and really difficult for others. I would love if society could move towards focusing on making healthy choices, rather than the number that's on the scale. I believe this could lead to less cases of hypertension and type II diabetes and better overall health and longevity.

Me: What advice would you give coaches and athletes in regards to starting or maintaining a healthier lifestyle? (Food choices, exercise, etc)

Carmen: One piece of advice I would give to busy coaches would be to stop eating out. Avoid convenient drive thru foods and hot dogs at the concession stands. Most of these foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, fat and hold little nutritional value.

When you are out recruiting, make one of your first stops a visit to the local grocery store and pick up some healthy options like fruit, veggies, or low-sugar protein bars. Salads are also a great option to pack for lunch. Eat the snacks you bought instead of candy or nachos from the concession stands. Coaches spend a lot of time sitting while watching or coaching games. Unhealthy eating compounded with inactivity is a recipe for disaster.

Me: Carmen, thank you for your time as always. I will try to keep this professional, but I love you and I am very proud of you. We look forward to seeing you at the MCA Clinic.

 

Interview with Sharif Chambliss (Wright St)

Sharif and I have been friends since 2003 but our relationship goes back to the late 90s as competitors on the hardwood. Throughout our high school years as student-athletes, we competed against each other and that continued on into our time as collegiate athletes. Out of high school, Sharif attending Penn State where he had a very successful three year career.

Heading into his senior year, he transferred back home to Wisconsin, and we became teammates. That is where our friendship developed. Over the years I have found that Sharif has a pure passion for the game of basketball and helping student-athletes get better everyday. The interview below shows you some of that passion. Enjoy.

Me: Sharif, give us a quick rundown of your playing and coaching background.

Sharif: First, I would like to thank Freddie Owens for this opportunity and for creating a platform to bring together the coaches and community of Southeastern Wisconsin.

I am originally from Racine, Wisconsin. I attended Racine Park High School my first two years, transferring to St. Catherine’s to finish out my high school career under Hall of Fame Coach Bob Letsch. I went on to play three years of collegiate basketball at Penn State University where I was a part of the 2001 Sweet 16 team. After much deliberation, at the end of my Junior year, I made the difficult decision to leave Penn State University and return home to finish out my collegiate basketball career with the Wisconsin Badgers under Head Coach Bo Ryan.

At Wisconsin, I was part of a team that went to the NCAA tournament two years in a row, including a run to the Elite 8 in 2005. After college, I played one season for the Lusitania Basketball Club, the top league in Portugal, which subsequently brought me back to the States to begin my coaching career.

My coaching roles over the years have included Graduate Manager/Player Development Coach under Head Coach Rob Jeter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (two seasons), Assistant Coach under Head Coach Gary Edwards at DII Francis Marion University (one season), Assistant Coach under Head Coach Jeff Gard at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (one season), Video Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin under Head Coach Bo Ryan (two seasons), Assistant Coach under Head Coach Rob Jeter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (four seasons), and where I reside currently as Assistant Coach under Head Coach Scott Nagy for Wright State University (going into second season).

 Me: Why did you decide to get into coaching?

Sharif: Due to NCAA regulations, I sat out my first season at the University of Wisconsin after transferring from Penn State University. During my sit-out year, I took what some would consider a set-back as an opportunity to learn. Bo Ryan, Rob Jeter, Saul Phillips and Greg Gard in one way or another took me under their wing and allowed for me to begin understanding how a successful basketball program is run.

It was the guidance from them that sparked my interest in one day becoming a college basketball coach. I gained an immense amount of appreciation for the work and dedication it takes to coach a group of young student athletes. I knew that my work ethic and knowledge of the game would one day make a difference in the lives of future athletes as a coach.

 Me: As a coach, what wisdom do you try to pass on to the players from your past experiences?

Sharif: As players, they need to be told that they control their own destiny. Whether through their perspective, attitude, work ethic or confidence, the ball needs to be put into their court and they need to be held accountable for their actions. Consider it like a job, we come to work and leave everything else at the doorstep. Same applies to their contributions as a member of their team. A positive mindset and approaching their role with confidence will help them prevail in the long run.   

 Me: What advice would you give to all coaches as it relates to building trust with their athletes?

Sharif: Be as personable, relatable and honest as possible. The athletes and parents of these athletes we all work with on a daily basis desire to feel accepted, and need to know we as coaches and mentors can be trusted. Finding something they can relate to outside of basketball begins to build a layer of trust.

It creates conversation that builds a relationship, not just fills a role. When we are personable and honest with them, their willingness to listen and work with us comes with much more ease. We are role models to these athletes, and despite our own personal qualms, they look to us for guidance and reassurance. Providing them with positive, relatable experiences in turn builds a trusting relationship.

 Me: From a recruiting standpoint, what do you look for in a player?

Sharif: There are two key components that are crucial to my recruiting philosophy – success off the court in the classroom and skill level. I want to recruit an athlete who is not only successful on the basketball court, but also has the ability succeed as a student in the classroom. Reality is, while many of these athletes will be lucky enough to have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, their future beyond college basketball lies in the hands of the education they receive. I want to make sure that they have the potential to create an opportunity for themselves outside of basketball.

Secondly, I concentrate highly on skill level. Those athletes that have put the time and work in to develop their skill level typically stand out as players and leaders. They can always refine their skill level, but it is the ones that are truly dedicated to perfecting their purpose in the game that I tend to recruit.

Me: Sharif, thank you for taking the time to talk with us about your thoughts. We look forward to hearing more at the MCA Coaching Clinic.

Sharif: Thanks for having me.

Interview with Jimmie Foster (Bradley U)

Next up, we have Jimmie Foster of Bradley University. I have known Jimmie for close to twenty years during our time as players and coaches, and I must say that he has a strong passion coaching and helping our youth obtain opportunities. Below is our recent interview. 

Me: Jimme, give us some background of your coaching career.

Jimmie: I have been coaching for twelve years. I started coaching high school right here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then moved onto to Junior College and Division I ranks soon after. I have been fortunate to work with great coaches and staffs in my twelve years of coaching. Coaches like Arron Womackat Juneau High School, Jim Gosz at Rufus King High, Doug Wagemester at Kirkwood Community College, Brian Jones at University of North Dakota and Brian Wardle at UW-Green Bay and Bradley University have had a huge influence on me as a coach and person.

In my tenure I've been a part of coaching ten All League Junior College players, three First Team All Americans, nine All Horizon League Players, two Player of the Year players in the Horizon League and one NBA draftee.

Me: So tell us why you decided to get into the coaching profession?

Jimmie: I love the game and basketball and it was and is close to me personally. I made the decision to pursue coaching while working in the Milwaukee Public School system and my goal was to help kids obtain collegiate basketball scholarships. What I found was most student-athletes being sent home from colleges within four months to a year of being on campus.

I strongly believe this happened because there was a lack ofaccountability. Student-athletes were simply not holding themselves accountable for their actions on or off the court. The most common excuse I heard was that the coach and player didn't see eye to eye. In my role, I knew that I could assist in bridging that divide between player and coach.

I got into the collegiate ranks of coaching when my junior college coach, Doug Wagemester from Kirkwood Community College, gave me the opportunity to join his staff. I jumped on it!

Me: What are some of the most important things you have learned a long the way during your coaching career?

Jimmie: There are three things that I have learned during my time as a coach that have grown to be very important to me and they are loyalty, integrity and trust. These are essential to coaching and life as well. 

Me: How important do you think relationships are as it relates to our profession and why?

Jimmie: Relationship building is by far the most important attribute coaches must establish. We must be able to communicate with parents, teachers and other coaches. Being able to communicate builds trust and strengthens relationships. In this profession, relationships can bring a multitude of opportunities.

Me: What advice would you give a coach who wants to pursue a career in collegiate coaching?

Jimmie: There are two things I would say to a coach wanting to pursue a career in collegiate coaching. First, to understand that we are coaching basketball first but we must be servants our young men and women to help prepare them for life. Second, do not join the profession with the soul focus on chasing the money. You must focus on doing great at the job you have and trust in you and your craft as a coach.

Me: I couldn't agree more. Thanks for your insight and time Jimmie and we look forward to hearing you speak at the MCA Clinic on June 3rd.

Jimmie: Thanks for having me and I am looking forward to it as well.

Interview with Latrell Fleming (IUPUI Women's Basketball)

Latrell and the IUPUI women's basketball team is coming off one of the best season's in school history. This past season the Lady Jags finished with a 24-9 record, a runner up finish in the Summit League Tournament and an appearance in the WNIT.  Below is our recent interview. Enjoy.

Me: Latrell, for those of us who don't know you as well, please give us a short summary on your background.

Latrell: I grew up playing basketball in Milwaukee, WI as early as I can remember. I attended Whitefish Bay Dominican High School as a freshman and sophomore. While at Dominican, I was a part of a state championship team as a freshman and runner up team as a sophomore year. After two years at Dominican, I attended Milwaukee John Marshall High School. While at John Marshall, I was fortunate to receive a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin. However, during my freshman year at UW, I was diagnosed with a heart condition that prevented me from playing basketball at the collegiate level. 

After my diagnosis, my coaching career began soon after. I was given the opportunity to be a student assistant for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team for the duration of my time in college. Upon graduation, I was able to work my way up the coaching ranks from coaching girls AAU to division one women’s basketball.

Me: What made you decide to pursue a career in coaching women’s basketball?

Latrell: It all started when I graduated college. I was offered an opportunity to coach a girls AAU team and that particular AAU team had a lot of success. Due to the success of the team and program, I was given the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level.  

Me: What has been some of your biggest challenges as a coach?

Latrell:  I would look at it more as adjustments than challenges because of my experience on the men's side. For me, there was a brief learning curve in understanding the women's side because with certain things, you had to approach it differently than if you were coaching on the men's side.

Me: What advice would you have for women’s coaches who want to make the jump from high school to college coaching?

Latrell: I would say keep building your network of college coaches. Don’t just limit yourself to head coaches. Remember that some assistants will some day run their own program as well.  Lastly, attend different college practices, camps and clinics. Attending these events show coaches that you are persistent and eager to keep advancing at your craft.

Me: What is your fondest memory up to this point in your coaching career?

Latrell:  I think this past season was great for me. Our team posted a school record 24 wins and beat some impressive teams along the way. We advanced to the Summit League Championship game and came up short in overtime. It was a very memorable season.

Me: Latrell, thank you for sharing your story with us. We are very excited to see you at the MCA Clinic this summer.

Latrell: Thank you.

 

 

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Interview with Kyle Rechlicz

Coach Rechlicz is coming off one of the most successful seasons in UW-Milwaukee women's basketball history. Her team finished with a 22-12 overall record and made it to the final four of the WBI tournament. MCA recently caught up with Kyle for a quick interview to get to know more about her and her team.

Me: So coach, why did you decide to get into the coaching profession?

Kyle: I decided to get into the coaching profession because I want to impact young people's lives. Being a college basketball coach goes far beyond teaching players on the court. More time is spent mentoring my young women on leadership and life situations than on basketball. Plus I'm a very competitive person, so being a coach helps fulfill my need for competition.

Me: What three things come to mind when discussing what your program is built around?

Kyle: The top three things that my program is built around are family, equilateral triangle of success, and heart. We don't use the word family lightly. We believe if you are going to talk family then you must act like a family. We have many meetings as a team on what this means. Truly treating your teammates as sisters vs friends can make a huge difference to success.

Our equilateral triangle of success means that we are not just going to treat our players as student-athletes but also as people. I strongly believe that our job as coaches is to challenge our student-athletes to be successful in all areas of their life.

In addition to family and the equilateral triangle of success, heart is something that we strongly believe in. As a team, we put our heart into everything that we do. We teach that in competition and life, we may not always come out on top but we are going to deserve to be successful because of what we put in. This applies on the court, in the classroom and in the community.

Me: As a head coach, what are some important traits you look for in an assistant coach?

Kyle: The most important traits I look for in an assistant coach are loyalty, highly self motivated, passionate, and hard-working. I usually can evaluate all of these traits as I get to know someone. I would never hire someone I have not had a prior connection with because I need to know that we click personality wise. That's why it is very important that up and coming coaches get out to events like the MCA Coaching Clinic and network. You never know what opportunities may come your way.

Me: Coach, congrats on a great season and thank you for your time and input. We are excited to learn more about you and your coaching methods at the MCA Clinic.

Kyle: It was a pleasure speaking with you and I look forward to helping the coaches in attendance in anyway that I can.

 

Interview with Ali Fitzgerald (NCAA Eligibility & Compliance)

Eligibility is a very important part of being a student-athlete. As coaches, we have to make sure that the best support system is in place to help our student-athletes succeed in the classroom. It is vital that the support team consist of the coach, parents & guidance counselors at the high school. Between these three people, it must be understood that everyone is educated on what it takes to become academically eligible to play collegiate sports. Ali Fitzgerald is a former assistant athletic director of NCAA compliance and eligibility at Manhattan College. Below is our recent interview.  Enjoy.

Me: What is your background in working with college athletics?

Ali: When I started the sports law program at Marquette University, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work in college athletics or professional athletics. Through my studies and internships, I found a home in NCAA Compliance. The most significant experience I had was a summer internship at the NCAA Office of Government Relations in DC. That office is basically the lobbying arm of the NCAA. I was able to attend hearings at the Capitol on athlete agent issues and drug testing in athletics. That whole experience made me understand and appreciate the over-arching issues that affect college athletics.  

Upon graduation in May 2008, I accepted a job at the University of Illinois-Springfield (UIS) to help lead their transition from an NAIA institution to NCAA Division II.  After two years at UIS (and a successful transition to the NCAA Division II), I accepted a job at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Barry University is another Division II institution. After four wonderful years there, I accepted a job at Division I Manhattan College in Bronx, NY.

Me: What were your specific roles at those colleges and universities?

Ali: At each institution, my job title was the same: Assistant Director of Athletics for Compliance and SAAC Advisor; however, my responsibilities grew with each position. My first position at UIS was unique since I was leading the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. UIS had an assigned mentor team through the NCAA, which was invaluable in learning how to do everything the right way from start to finish. I was also the advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which is a committee made up of at least two representatives from each team. SAAC would meet once a month (more if necessary) to discuss issues that affected them as students and to problem-solve ways to make their experience better.  

Although my job title was the same at Barry University, I also had a lot more game management and special event responsibilities. All four of the athletic directors split game management responsibilities, so that there was coverage at each home event.

Finally, at Manhattan College, I held the same responsibilities as the previous two institutions, just multiplied and magnified. The pressure and expectations that come with working at a mid-major institution are so much greater because you are held to the same standards as all other Division I institutions without the same amount of funding, resources, and staff. It was truly an all hands on deck environment.

Me: What made you decide to pursue a career in working with student-athletes?

Ali: During my undergrad at UW-Madison, I had a lot of academic interests, but I didn’t know how I could translate that into a career. While meeting with my advisor, he asked me about all of my interests and suggested that I go to law school and become a sports agent. As an 18 year old freshman, it seemed pretty logical to me. I continued my studies with the goal of going to law school. While researching law schools, I discovered the Sports Law program at Marquette University law school. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to pursue a career within athletics, but I knew that the Sports Law program would help me get there (and it did).

Given the fact that I worked at three smaller institutions, I was able to have a lot of contact with student-athletes. Because of my role as the SAAC advisor, I also gained a different perspective about issues that were important to them. The student-athletes became such a source of inspiration for me. They’re simply incredible. I wanted them to understand that they have a very important voice within the world of college athletics. I didn’t always agree with NCAA legislation and rules, but knowing that I could help make the student-athlete experience better on each campus allowed me to keep working hard. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I just thought, “if I don’t do this, then the students will suffer the most.”

Me: Why is it important that coaches and student-athletes are educated on NCAA compliance and eligibility?

Ali: NCAA compliance and eligibility is incredibly complicated. There are rules, exceptions to rules, appeals, waivers, and an ever-changing world of interpretations. For the majority of student-athletes, they will fit neatly into eligibility standards. However, it’s those student-athletes who have a unique educational background, or specific life circumstances, that require extra help to meet those eligibility standards.  It doesn’t mean that they are any less worthy of earning a scholarship or competing, but the difference is often in how well that specific institution’s Director of Compliance knows the rules – and knows how to help their students-athletes make the rules work for them.  

In my experience, compliance “departments” are incredibly under-staffed (I was always a staff of one), which makes it really hard to support students with higher needs. In these instances, we (Compliance professionals) depend on the help of our coaches to be our compliance assistants and help monitor academic eligibility. It truly does take a village.

Me: What advice would you have for coaches that are helping their student-athletes pursue opportunities at the collegiate level?

Ali: First, I would encourage all high school student-athletes to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center by the start of their junior year in high school. For domestic students, the NCAA will do a preliminary evaluation of the most up-to-date transcripts and test scores. A lot of prospective student-athletes are worried that they will receive a preliminary “nonqualifier” status because their transcripts are incomplete, which will in turn make them seem less attractive during the recruiting process.  

On the contrary, the NCAA can do a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the PSA is on track to be a qualifier. If there are red flags, then the hope is that they can be addressed before the PSA graduates. There are a lot of other little pieces of advice that I would offer, but I really think that this step is the most overlooked. When a coach is recruiting a student-athlete, the Athletic Directors will often ask, “Will he/she be a qualifier?” Knowing that the PSA is being proactive about their eligibility only helps during the recruiting process.

Me: Ali, thank you for your time.

Ali: I am very excited about participating in the MCA Coaching Clinic. There is much more to discuss along the lines of eligibility and compliance. I think that there will be some very important and useful information for all of the coaches in attendance. Looking forward to it and thank you for having me.

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Interview with Luke Meier

Luke Meier is a professional skill development trainer for Thrive 3 formerly known as Mike Lee Basketball. Throughout his career he has worked with countless youth, high school, collegiate and pro athletes. Luke has a passion for helping athletes enhance their overall knowledge of the game of basketball. Here is our recent interview.

Me: Luke, tell us a little about your background.

Luke: I grew up and played high school basketball in Middleton, Wisconsin and afterwards, went on to play college basketball at UW-Eau Claire. After exhausting my eligibility, I was a student assistant. 

During my time in Eau Claire, I started doing skills training with area players and began working with Mike Lee. After graduation in 2009, I moved to Milwaukee and started training players while also spending a couple years as a varsity assistant at a couple of schools. I’ve been training players full time since 2012 and have been blessed to work with thousands of players ranging from middle school, high school, college, overseas professionals and NBA players.

Me: Why did you decide to get into the business of skill development training?

Luke: I‘ve known I wanted to coach and be involved in basketball since I was in 7th grade. I always believed that if I would have been trained and taught the things that I teach players, I would have been much better as player. That belief still drives what I do today.

Me: In your time as a professional skills trainer, how have you seen individual development translate over to live game actions?

Luke: My goal is always to help players with things that translate directly to game situations. Together we study lots of film and then customize a individual specific training program for each player.

For example, when dealing with the average middle school player or high school player, I want to be able to give them the individual skills to excel in the specific system that they play in. As for college and professional players, we go a step beyond that and into the next level of understanding schemes, reads and being able to help them develop the skills and IQ to perform in specific game situations.

Me: Why is it important that athletes focus on individual skill development?

Luke: Individual development is very important because if a player can’t pass, dribble, pivot or shoot, it will be tough to be effective in any system. Players, no matter what level, have to have the individual skills to perform within each system.

Me: What advice would you give to coaches who want to focus on the individual development of their athletes?

Luke: Skill development is an investment.  It takes time.  You may take lumps early on but if you dedicate to consistent skill work, your players will be able to perform when it matters most. The legendary Coach Don Meyer said “In March, do you want better plays or better players?”

Me: Thank you for your time and insight on such an important topic today.

Luke: No problem, anytime.

Getting to Know Craig Robinson

Over the next 10 weeks leading up to the MCA Coaching Clinic, we will be doing Q&A segments to give you all more of a background on our guest speakers. These segments will serve as an inside look to our speakers and will hopefully touch on some important topics as to what their purpose is and why they chose their professions. Enjoy.

Getting to Know Craig Robinson

Me: Craig, what is your role within the Milwaukee Bucks organization?

Craig: "My department is tasked with overseeing our player's off the court development. This includes providing guidance, programs, personal support, etc that help their individual growth as well as allow them to better focus on their primary job... winning games."

"The other part of my job is to help foster a better relationship and understanding of roles between the business and basketball sides of our organization."

Me: What has been your biggest transition in going from being a head coach at the collegiate level and into the front office for the NBA?

Craig: "The biggest transition from being a college coach to doing my current job is that my role with the Bucks is significantly more corporate as opposed to running a program, which is significantly more entrepreneurial."

"There's still the relationships with players, staff and fans that you have in college, but the dynamics are different. Ownership and players are driving the organization. There is a fiscal responsibility that is more realistic than college (where the labor is considerably under compensated). Which brings me to number 3..."

Me: From your experiences in both worlds, how does business and athletics relate?

Craig: "The business of basketball is much more straightforward in the NBA. There is a true partnership between the league and its partners. It is well run and is proving to be one of the best leagues in the world. I love that the NBA provides its players the ability to earn a terrific living while also providing them avenues for personal growth and development that is useful after their playing careers are over."

Me: What advice would you give to coaches who are trying to figure out what path they want to take as it relates to business and athletics?

Craig: "My advice for coaches is to develop a comfort level with the business side of the game. The business of athletics is only going to become more prominent. Players are becoming more astute at younger ages and finding ways to engage them on this platform will help you be a better coach while simultaneously helping them prepare for post athletic life."

Me: Thank you Craig for your valuable insight and we all look forward to seeing you at the MCA Coaching Clinic.

Craig: Thanks and I look forward to it as well.

 

PICK & ROLL / POP DRILL

The pick and roll game has become a dominate force in the game of basketball today. Every level from youth, high school, AAU, college and NBA, use the pick and roll as part of their offense to create advantages against the defense. If you are a coach that is looking for new ideas on how to improve your team's pick and roll game, here is a simple drill that you can implement into your practice plan. Enjoy!!

 

Freddie Owens

My March Madness Experience

Today, the NCAA tournament kicks off with games from the "first four". For college basketball fans, this is the most exciting time of the year as everyone across the country fills out their tournament brackets and cheers for their favorite teams to win it all. I have been very fortunate in my time as a player and coach to partake in all the festivities surrounding March Madness.

As a player, you get to experience every moment of excitement leading up to the big game. I can tell you that there is nothing like it. From the time your team's name is called on Selection Sunday to the time you head back home from the tournament, everything is surreal. There is nothing like it in all of basketball.

During my Junior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, our team finished 24-8 overall and won the Big Ten regular season championship. That season, we made it to the "Sweet 16" round of the NCAA tournament. The road to get to the Sweet 16 was one of great emotional highs and lows for me personally. During our first round match-up vs Weber State, I went down towards the end of the game with a very bad ankle sprain. There was uncertainty of if I would be able to play in the next round game. That night I literally slept in our athletic trainer's room waking up every couple of hours to get ankle treatment so that I could possibly play.

After a few days of treatment I was able to play in our match-up vs Tulsa in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Our game vs Tulsa was hard fought throughout and with about 4 minutes left to play in the game, we found ourselves down 13. After a timeout, As we all sat down in the huddle, Coach Ryan made us all look him in the eye and said "this is one they will talk about for a long time." From that point on, we managed to go on a 16-2 run and get the game to within 2 points. We called a timeout and in the huddle Coach Ryan drew up a double high ball screen play for Devin Harris (13 year NBA vet) to create and make a play. 

During our time in the huddle, I had a feeling that I was going to somehow get the ball with the game on the line, so I just kept saying to myself, be ready to shoot. As we entered the ball to Devin, he calmly jogged the ball up the floor and waited for the double ball screen to take place. While the screens were being set, I started out in the right corner and when Devin dribbled off the screen, my job was to run the baseline to the opposite corner. As Devin dribbled off the screen, he drew a lot of attention and for good reason.

As he cleared the ball screen, Tulsa had done a great job at staying home on everyone while keeping Devin in front and not allowing dribble penetration, so Devin had to improvise. He saw an opening and drove the ball middle where at that point Tulsa collapsed 3 defenders, leaving me in the left corner wide open. Devin drove middle and calmly passed it to me in the corner. As the ball traveled to me, it felt like a life time before I actually caught the pass. Upon catching the pass and releasing the shot, I remember losing sight of the rim temporarily because a defender flew at me upon my release. 

As I regained sight of the rim, I made sure to hold my follow through on my shot and saw the ball go through the basket all net. The excitement that ran through my body at that moment was uncontrollable. I remember running back down the court in excitement and looking to the bench to see Coach Ryan, staff and my teammates jump all over each other in excitement. After a timeout by Tulsa, they in-bounded the ball and turned it over and we won the game 61-60 to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

Looking back on it all today makes me truly appreciate the opportunity to experience an event of that magnitude. All the blood, sweat and tears that goes into the process of becoming a collegiate athlete made it all worth it.

As a coach, I try to look back on my experiences as a student-athlete and share with the players that I coach. I try to tell them every little detail possible about what I got to experience during my time as a player. Although most of my stories these days have an element of exaggeration, it's all about getting them to understand that through proper preparation and belief ANYTHING is possible.

Freddie Owens

Welcome

I would like to welcome you to the Milwaukee Coaches Association website. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about all of us coming together for a great cause. For years I have been thinking of finding ways that I can give back to the city that made me who I am. This was a tough task because I have been coaching at the college level for the last decade and due to NCAA rules, we are not allowed to do anything directly with student-athletes.

Student-athletes are considered recruitable starting in the seventh grade and because of this, NCAA division one coaches are not allowed to have any direct contact with these student-athletes or their parents until they are heading into their junior year of high school.  This conflict caused me to run short on ideas of ways to give back to our youth in the city.  The idea of the Milwaukee Coaches Association was created to help aid in the quest of our city's youth, AAU, high school and collegiate coaches to become better mentors for their athletes.

Today, it is important that we have energetic, ambitious and experienced mentors. You often hear a lot of negatives about our city. Let's change those false perceptions of our city by working together to help build our youth into great leaders. My hope is that you pour great energy into this association and use it as a resource to better aid in your quest of developing fine young men and women. Let's make this the start of a great collaboration.

Sincerely,

Freddie Owens