Fix Your Eyes Like Kyle Korver

www.oregonlive.com

www.oregonlive.com

As Kyle Korver competes in his 14th season, his Atlanta Hawks are having a breakthrough season and Korver has cemented his reputation as one of the top shooters in NBA history.  Last year we focused on Korver’s improved defense, but as I take a closer look at one of the quality men of faith playing hoops, it’s time to focus some attention on Korver’s prolific shooting.  I discovered some wonderful articles and videos to share, but one small aspect of Korver’s shot provides a tremendous message for developing shooters and provides a familiar and simple Biblical concept we all can appreciate.

 

BASKETBALL – Find the rim!

Taking a look at Kyle Korver‘s profile and career on NBA.com, Korver has used a laser beam focus to develop what he told CBS Sports are his “God-given gifts, as far as muscle memory, hand-eye coordination and things like that.”  Most of that has happened in relative obscurity, even as the preacher’s kid from Omaha posted the longest streak of games with a made 3-point shot at 127.  His true depth of character has also gone unnoticed, but read through interviews that he did with FCA’s Sharing the Victory Magazine and Conscious Magazine, as well as his own words in an article Korver wrote about reaching 90 games in that streak on his website Seer Outfitters and you find that Kyle is a spiritually deep man who has had tremendous impact through the platform he has been given (see The Kyle Korver Foundation).

But, let’s get back back to the shooting.  Beyond footwork and shot mechanics, one of the most overlooked aspects of shooting a basketball is vision.  I tend to look at footwork as a shooter prepares to shoot and then to how well the shooter has squared up to the basket to checking the shooting motion of the release, but one of the things Korver does as well as anyone is to get his eyes focused on the rim.  That has to happen quickly, especially when you’re dealing with defenders and rotating defenses.  Korver finds the rim and locks on quickly and one way he works on that skill is with the Nutmeg Drill:

LIFE – Focus time!

bleacherreport.com

bleacherreport.com

What are you focused on in your life?  Does the busyness of life distract you from your true purpose?  You can do all you want to prepare and find the correct methods for whatever it is you are trying to achieve, but if you don’t set your eyes on the target, you’ll never get there.  That’s why I love the image of a great shooter like Korver using the Nutmeg Drill to focus his sights on the rim.  It reminds me that I need to do that each and every day.  It may be a brief five minutes or a scheduled break on a specific day where I set aside an appointment for “focus time,” but those moments of finding my target, just like Korver’s drill, get me pointed in the right direction. As I deal with being busy and being over-scheduled, I’m more concerned about being productive.  Too many of us confuse busyness with productivity, but focusing on specific targets can help each of us find more purpose in our lives.

FAITH – Focus on God

The parallels to life may seem simple and obvious, but I urge you to consider the importance of focus.  Just as a shooter needs to find and focus quickly on the basket, Jesus teaches us to monitor our focus:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

And if that simple suggestion doesn’t get through, maybe like me, you need to be reminded of Jesus’s story of the sower and soil.  If you’re distracted and can’t get your focus on God, you can’t hear him.  We’re like the soil that grows weeds:

“The seed that fell among the thorny weeds is like those who hear God’s teaching, but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing and producing good fruit.” (Luke 8:14)

We can’t hear God and His plan for our lives when our minds are crowded with plans, activities, and worries.  We can’t hear him when we’re focused on the Internet, our phones, and the television.  We can’t bear fruit when the weeds choke our focus.  That’s why we need spiritual drills like Korver’s Nutmeg drill.  Practice finding God first.  When you’re setting your schedule, find God.  When you’re making plans and setting goals, find God.  When you’re struggling in relationships with friends or family, find God.  The quicker you do it, the more productive you’ll be!

It’s Tournament Time!

USP NCAA BASKETBALL: DIVISION III NATIONAL CHAMPIO S BKC USA VAI have trouble with February. It seems to drag and all of sudden, boom! It’s tournament time. On the Division III level our conference tournament quarterfinals begin this weekend. and the teams who didn’t qualify are already finished with their seasons. For those of us fortunate to qualify, though, tournament time is what we’ve been pointing toward. So, what began as a long, slow-moving, and bitterly cold month, February now culminates with the excitement of moving toward a conference championship and an appearance in the elusive NCAA tournament.  And whether or not you follow church calendars and church traditions, this is also an important month in the life of a Christian.  Each year, the excitement of March Madness reflects the excitement, – yes I said the excitement – of Lent!

BASKETBALL – Sacrifice

On Wednesday, our team played its last regular season home game and, like most basketball teams, we honored our seniors.  We have an interesting trio of seniors who have led our squad far beyond preseason expectations.

ScholzMark Scholz has persevered through four years, which began with limited time on our reserve squad, to become a fiery and emotional jolt on a team that occasionally needs a lift. He never backs down and at times, displays the ability to explode to the basket harder than anyone I’ve coached.  Brett CUW SeniorsBoettcher and Dustin Thumann came to our team as juniors; Brett after finally deciding to return to the game after sitting out for two years following a good high school career and Dustin after transferring to our school.  Both are top-notch student-athletes who have impacted and led our team by handling the demands of basketball while maintaining excellence in the classroom.  Dustin’s path was outlined by Josh Smith in The D-III Version of Leaving School Early an article on d3hoops.com.  Coaching guys like this have made my venture into coaching men at the D-III level an amazing experience!

It was a tribute to those seniors how we handled the game on Wednesday. With our conference seed already established, our team took on a tough defensive-minded opponent still playing for a higher seed.  Whether it was a tribute to these guys or not, our team battled through a rough offensive night to win on a buzzer-beating shot by our point guard, Eric Kittel:

That’s a great momentum lift as we head into the tournament, but as we honored our seniors, I was struck by how hard these guys have worked and how many sacrifices they have made throughout their careers and more importantly, throughout this season.  All of that sacrifice now leads us to the celebration of post-season play, which for a group that has shown resiliency all year, could lead to a long run.

LIFE – What did you give up?

Lent

openbible.info

Wednesday was also Ash Wednesday.  I realize for many today, Ash Wednesday is a holiday tradition on par with New Year’s resolutions, St. Paddy’s Day green beer, and Valentine’s Day cards, where we have allowed the purpose and traditions to be twisted by commercialism, and as a friend recently said, provide just another reason to drink.   But what stands out for many is the tradition to give something up for Lent, even if they have no intention to remind themselves of the true meaning and purpose.  I was asked by a young person the other day, “If I give up beer for Lent, but I work at a brew house where I typically need to taste beers so I can make suggestions to customers, do you think it’s OK if I do that?”  My response made her pause and think, which is what I was after:  “It depends on why you’re giving it up.  Are you trying to change a habit?  Are you trying to prove to yourself you can do it? Are you doing it to live healthier?  Or, are you giving it up because you want to be reminded of your relationship with God and you want to draw strength from gaining a simple taste of sacrifice?”  For some reason, this year I’ve heard more vows of giving up things like drinking, social media, video games, and ice cream, but feel like almost all of them were half-hearted vows that won’t survive the weekend. Why?  We’re conditioned in this world to go through the motions and it’s often not what we actually do, but what we say we’re going to do that counts in our culture.  Sacrifice, whether it’s a sincere intent during Lent or just a long over-due change in life-style is never easy, but in most cases, is truly worth it.

FAITH – Living Lent

As a coach, I enjoy the trials and sacrifices of the regular season as we prepare for what we hope will be a chance at postseason play.  As a Christian, I truly enjoy Lent as well.  I need reminders that the misery of this life will end with the joys of Easter.    And preparing for Easter, as we do in Lent, is filled with constant reminders to turn back to God and to remember all that He has done.  It’s not meant to be a burden or some motivational tool to stop eating junk  It was that way throughout the Old Testament as well.:

 “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.  Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given.”                             (1 Chronicles 16:11)

Lent offers us a terrific opportunity to prepare for the joy that will come at the end of this life, and most of us, need reminders!  The hunger pangs we feel when fasting or eliminating food are hard to ignore.  And we take a break from activities that distract us from God such as Facebook, or Netflix, or a book series, or even home projects and hobbies, we’re reminded that we too often allow those to distract us from spending time with God.  Lent is like the regular season.  It prepares us for the joy of the postseason in the life to come!

 

 

Second Guessing Sudden Death

Brett Boetcher-CUWOur team recently had another one of those nail-biter games.  After a really poor performance at the free throw line, we fought and clawed our way back to have a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds. It’s amazing how many quick decisions must be made in the last moments. After losing the game and watching the film, I thought about the decisions we made and what we could have done differently, but I was also struck by the suddenness of the ending.  Basketball provides opportunity to adjust and make changes for the next time, but that isn’t always true in life, is it? Continue reading