The Duke Example: Give In Before You Give Up

coach-playerEvery player, on every team, reaches a point where he has to decide if he is willing to bend his will to buy into the team concept laid out before him by his coach and more importantly, to agree to the core values of the team.  Players must decide if they’re going to insist on doing things their own way or are they going to find a way to blend their approach to the core values of the team, even if their own goals and agenda may differ from their teammates.  We’re seeing that play out in the One-and-Done culture of college basketball (see 3PW from 11/18/14), but getting players to give in to the core principles of team must happen at every level.  In the same way, living successfully in this world and living a life of faith requires all of us to give in and be willing to grow regardless of the circumstances around us.

BASKETBALL – Duke Adapts

Kentucky has embraced the One-and-Dones full throttle, even though the goals of the individual may contrast with the goals of the program, while other programs have taken a more deliberate approach.  For example, Coach K at Duke, where he historically built his championship teams on a stable full of seasoned veterans but this season will likely have three freshmen who will be NBA draft picks after this year, is proving that he can adjust his culture to the needs of today’s player, as outlined by Nicole Auerbach from USA Today in Duke Adapts to One-and-Done Approach.  His words of wisdom about freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones were prophetic:

“This freshman class is just ahead maturity-wise,” Krzyzewski says. “With our team right now, it’s not sophomores, freshmen, juniors and seniors. They’re Duke basketball players. The freshmen are not freshmen. They’re Duke basketball players. There’s not that differentiation. That doesn’t happen all of the time. … They’re just really balanced guys. They’re real good students, good kids and really good basketball players. … They’re good guys, so the upperclassmen have accepted all of them.”

They, along with veterans Quinn Cooks, Mike Jones, and Rasheed Sulaimon, passed an important test in Madison on Wednesday as they knocked off the #2 ranked Wisconsin Badgers:

While it seems to most of us that the key for coaches of one-and-dones must be to get those temp players to “give in” to the team concept, I find it even more fascinating to learn how they handle the other players, the ones who aren’t one-and-done!  Read more about that in Bobby Colton’s Duke Chronicle Game Analysis.  Even though much of the focus will be on the Duke freshmen, the Duke veterans also have to give in to the Duke team concept.  It would be so easy for them to play the comparison game, or for many players at different levels, simply give up and play out their careers without really pushing themselves by committing to the team. Getting players to give in is essential for coaches (See Dave Stricklin’s Hoop Skills for some terrific ideas).

LIFE – Giving In

For many of us it seems so much easier to give up before giving in.  How many times do we become unsettled, impatient, or unproductive in our circumstances?  It happens far too often in our jobs and in our relationships and far too often the voices around us tell us to move on.  Even it we stick with it, too many of us never truly give in and do all we can to make the best of things.  I’m not saying we should settle and I’m not saying that there aren’t times to move on, but changes in attitude can often improve any situation.  After all, “the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s green where you water it!”

FAITH – Good Soil Gives In

sowerDid you know that God talks to us?  I mean really talks directly to us?  As our coaching staff has dealt with a rough start to our season, we’ve searched for answers, new messaging, changes in strategy, and adjustments to our line-up – it can be consuming and exhausting!  But today, God spoke to me.  As we question whether or not players have bought in and if they are willing to give up their own goals for the good of the team, I felt God telling me that my attitude is often the same. .  As I read Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotional  about the Parable of the Sower found in Luke 8 this morning, God it made that clear to me that I often fail to have the attitude that is represented by the good soil.   Warren writes that we normally see the different soils as different types of people, but they can also be seen as different types of attitudes, all of which we are all capable of embracing.  Sometimes we refuse to listen.  Sometimes we’re too busy and sometimes we’re too shallow.  And sometimes, we’re open:

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  (Luke 8:15)

Being open to God’s direction is the same as a player giving in to the direction of a team and his coaches.  The different types of soil found in the parable – hard, shallow, weedy, and good – are similar to player attitudes.  Good player attitudes exhibit a willingness to give in to the values of the program whole-heartedly, rather than pushing their own way or worse, giving up on a total commitment to the team.  I pray that each of us will give in to God’s will just as the Duke veterans have embraced Coach K’s culture, rather than push our own agenda.  God wants the seed of His truth to grow in each of us.  Don’t give up, give in!