As a coach, I always appreciate fans and acquaintances who ask after a game “How’d you play?”, rather than a simple “Did you win?” When they do, they show me a deeper understanding about coaching. They realize that it goes much deeper than winning and losing. Each game we play allows us to evaluate where we are in the process of building our team and reaching its potential for that season.
Last weekend, our Falcons opened the season with a two game tournament on back to back days. In the first game we lost to a talented and experienced team, but certainly had our chances to win the game. Our staff had to turn around quickly and assess how we could bounce back the next day. With a few adjustments, we played more like the team we envision we can be and not only came away with the win, but played much better. All it took was a little self-examination and then adjusting our ways!
BASKETBALL -The Post Game
Our staff looked at several aspects of our first game that needed to be addressed, but since I focus on the offense, here’s what I saw. In our Dribble Drive offense, we want to space the floor, get all of our players involved, and put constant pressure on the defense with drives and ballscreen situations. When we do, we see higher shooting percentages, high assists and a high assist to made field goal ratio, and should see multiple players scoring in double figures. In our first game, we shot 40% -including 33% on three-pointers, had only eight assists, and an assist ratio of .32. As we watched the film, though, it seemed like we had great spacing and movement, except for a couple of problem stretches in the second half where we had several possessions with only one pass, one guy driving or shooting, and everyone else standing or watching. It’s not the way we play and it cost us.
The next morning we showed that to the team, had them walk through basket cuts and weakside movement, and re-emphasized our commitment to sharing the ball and creating for each other. As a result, game two was a different story, regardless of who we were playing. By considering our previous performance and making the adjustments, we shot 59% and 48% from 3, had six guys score in double figures, and posted 21 assists for an assist ratio of .62. The result was 24 more points than the first game and our first win of the season.
Analyzing your team’s performance often gets lost in the scramble to scout and decipher your next opponent. There’s a fine line between preparing for what an opponent does and preparing your team for what it needs to do. Taking the time to analyze your own team is never a bad idea – in fact, it’s probably more important. I spent much of my time as a Division I assistant preparing scouting reports and game plans and built a solid reputation in that role, but after spending a day with an NBA staff I embraced the idea of self-scouting and using post-game reports with our team. Our staff at Marquette changed our routine after games to always include an immediate film review and to complete a report to use with our team the very next day – feel free to print and modify our Sample Post Game Report (MUvsUC2006) from one of our games in 2006. There’s a lot of team-specific language in there, but I hope you can see what a good investment of time it can be. I realize that not all coaches have full-time staff and video techs to help make the process easier, but a regular routine of examining the ways of your team, especially in the core values of your philosophy, can really pay off!
LIFE – One Nation Under God
You don’t have to be a political hound to realize that our country could benefit from a few post-game reports! I never intended to make political statements in my articles, but this connection is too good to pass up. The infighting and partisan approach in all levels of our government are in our face every day. The amount of money spent in politicizing every single decision should make you pay attention. All of the power grabbing, spinning of decisions, and paybacks were never intended to have the place they have in our government, but over the years, we the people have ignored the process. We cover it up. We rationalize it. And, we ignore it. That’s not how our nation under God was designed and because most of us don’t pay attention, we the people have allowed our government to run amuck!
FAITH – Examination
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah has become one of my favorite voices in the Bible. For his entire life, he was a lone voice in a nation that had repeatedly turned its back on God. As God’s chosen people, all they had to do was follow His guidelines and they would be blessed as a nation. Like many of us, Jeremiah saw it all coming and battled depression and loneliness as he tried to bring attention to the problems. Have you ever felt like that? You know your friend or relative is headed in a bad direction or you know your church or your employer is cutting corners or confusing priorities and you feel there’s nothing you can do. That’s why, like Jeremiah, we can call out:
“Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
God urges us to examine our ways and to take inventory of how we’re doing. He wants us to bring every aspect of our lives, including our thoughts, our relationships, and our failures out in the open. When we do that, we realize that the only place we can turn is to Him. So, do a self-scout. Examine your ways!