Reaching Up Like Stephen Curry

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It took me a little while, but I’m warming up to this year’s NBA Playoffs, mostly because I enjoy watching Stephen Curry.  Last night against the Pelicans he certainly did not disappoint in a 40-point performance!  As a coach, I love his mechanics and his work ethic.  As a fan, I love his knack for big plays and his intriguing underdog story.  And as a Christian, I love what he represents and I love the jolt of inspiration I experience every time he points his finger to the sky. These days those types of gestures are reviled by many, overlooked by most of us, and typically accepted as commonplace in the “me-society” we live in. But for me, as Curry reaches up, I’m reminded in my life that God is not far away and all I have to do is acknowledge it. Continue reading

From the Book Pile: The Life (Be Like Mike or Be Like You?)

Most people my age have grown up with Michael Jordan and for much of my adult life the jingle for Gatorade to “Be Like Mike” has been trapped in the recesses of my brain:

While he’s not locked in my consciousness like the stars of my childhood such as Oscar, Pistol Pete, and Havlichek, Jordan’s career was contemporary to my career in basketball.  But as his superstar career ended in a disturbing Hall of Fame induction speech, his gambling pursuits and marriage problems became more public, and his competitive drive pushed the extremes for most of us mere mortals, I rarely think about the most talented player to ever play the game. I’ve come to realize too, that I don’t need or want to be like Mike.  I want to be like me. Continue reading

2015 March Madness: The Father Effect of Bo and Coach K

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

As the dust settles on Duke’s championship win over Wisconsin, it’s clear that both Mike Krzyzewski and Bo Ryan are the consummate father figures of their respective programs. While around me the State of Wisconsin is still dissecting the loss and clamoring about officiating, let’s take a closer look at how some of the decisions of these leaders impacted not only the game, but also how they’ll be remembered (that is, as we discussed last week in Will You Remember? – if you remember!).

BASKETBALL – Adjustments

Coach K and Bo Ryan are two of the greatest coaches we have in the college game and I respect them both immensely.  The championship battle provided some contrast in how each approaches the game and, to a greater extent, the impact that each has had on the lives of their players. We could discuss recruiting one-and-done players versus developing players who stay in school or we can talk about offensive efficiency or how to work officials; but today, I want to consider defensive adjustments.  I think it was a major key to the game and one of the differences between the two.

Defense, especially Duke’s ability to pressure the ball, was a major factor in the game and in an interview on the Dan Patrick Radio Show, Krzyzewski talked about how he changed things up, like a sparring boxer, to keep the Badgers off guard.  He went zone a few times, he switched screens, and late in the game he sent some periodic double teams to counter UW’s low post game – just enough to keep them off guard.

As Coach K got some criticism attempting to throw him in the one-and-done boat with John Calipari, he proved this year that he could get young, inexperienced players to adjust throughout a season.  Earlier in the year, Duke struggled on defense, but as the season and the tournament went on his ability to adjust earned him the victory (see Devils in the Details and How Duke Fixed Its Defense . . . from NBCSports.com for some terrific insights!).

acc.blogs.starnewsonline.com

acc.blogs.starnewsonline.com

Ryan has been extremely successful doing things his steady, consistent way and when it comes to defense, especially in defending ball screens, he rarely changes.  Even though Tyus Jones torched UW in December shooting pull-up jumpers off ballscreens, Bo kept his posts in the paint to defend against the roll, like he always does, as explained last year by UMHoops.com in their Film Study of Wisconsin’s Ball Screen Defense. Old school guys love that Bo sticks to his guns, but by sticking to his guns, his team lost.  As Duke erased the second-half deficit, Jones repeatedly made jump shots while Frank Kaminsky played flat.  Calling a timeout and instructing his players to switch or trap or ice the ballscreen, even just a couple of times, could have disrupted Duke’s flow. Coaches these days must have different ways to defend such screens. (See 5 Ways to Defend Ball Screens).  That’s a technical adjustment.

 (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Off the court, the media has stirred up controversy and criticism for both of these guys, yet both do things the right way and care about their players. It’s settling a bit and we’re able to see the good, but I struggled with one more adjustment that Bo did not make, this time after the game.  In my view, Ryan did his players a disservice in his first comments after the game by placing blame on officiating, rather than the factors that he and his players controlled.  While he has since gone on to extol the accomplishments and virtues of his team, he leaves with them a subtle whine which will forever influence their perspective. For as much as I admire his approach and his development of players, I find Bo’s comments. justified or not, to be regrettable.

LIFE – Paternal Adjustments

Wild at HeartIn the same way that coaches leave impressions, marks, and even wounds on their players through their actions, their words, and their philosophies, so do fathers on their children.  As fathers, all men are imperfect and each of us in our own experiences have wounds left by our fathers.  John Eldredge in his book Wild at Heart calls it the Father Wound and explains how many of us will deal with it throughout our lives.  When my dad left our family in turmoil it obviously impacted my life and has created many obstacles I’ve dealt with throughout my life, but it doesn’t take that type of crisis to leave marks.  It can be an unrealistic expectation, a sarcastic comment, or a poor model of priorities. Fathers will leave marks – good and bad.  And despite the wounds we experience, we, in turn, will affect our own children.  Ryan’s comments reminded me of the awesome responsibility that I have as a father – a responsibility that requires me to make adjustments.  If I focus on my own wounds too much, it will affect the impact I have on my children.

FAITH – Fathers

Recently, I had a bad week with my kids.  I was short-tempered as I was dealing with my own frustrations and I projected my problems on to them.  I tend to do that when I see them making some of the same make mistakes I made over the years; but then again, I’m the one leaving the example.  The Bible warns us about that:

“. . .but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  (Numbers 14:18)

As father, I have a responsibility to recognize that my decisions and my reactions to life events will have an effect on my kids, and through them, their kids.  I frequently need to assess and adjust.  However, before we all jump in and throw blame at our parents, God also reminds us that despite those sins and those errors that we bear the brunt of, each of us is still accountable for our own life:

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”  (Deuteronomy 24:16)

That’s why I pray each day, that God will help me adjust as a father!