Our doubts are like traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt. -- William Shakespeare
Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. --Vince Lombardi
We are now 5 games through our season. We played twice last week (in my absence) and won the first game 98-47 and lost the second by 4 while missing 16 FTs. We played poorly again tonight, but we still won by 24 and pushed our record to 4-1 on the season. When I say we played poorly, I mean we missed a minimum of 20 lay-ups (I quit counting in the 1st half after 16), and we again fouled our way into allowing the other team to rest and put our best rebounder on the bench with 5 fouls for the full 4th quarter. Our opponent scored 14 of their 20 points in the first half at the FT line. We simply cannot help ourselves from reaching and fouling players as they drive to the basket. It is a problem, and one we will correct by the 1st of the year.
The title of today's blog comes from the many phone calls and emails I have been getting recently from high school coaches all over the country.
Most coaches call me, and they start with telling me that they have a lack of talent and are tired of getting beat, and they want a cure to their lack of talent. I'm very happy these coaches are calling and looking for help, but I am frustrated with the reason they feel they need something like the System. If the System was good enough for kids who don't have certain skills and experience, why is not good enough if you have kids that do. Nevertheless, I digress, that still does not explain today's blog post.
The biggest problem I see with HS coaches is that they do not want to commit. They like parts of the system. Some, it is the pace. Others, it is rotations. For a few coaches, it seems they just don't think they can teach the kids they have how to play the "right" way.
The "right" way is my term, not theirs, but I get the drift that they have commitment issues. They are in doubt of what the System is and what it can actually do for their program. Coach Lombardi hit it on the head with his quote about individual commitment to a group effort. NO basketball system/philosophy will work if the individuals do not all buy in.
The problem if that if a coach doesn't buy-in...panics when the going gets tough...pulls the press off and slows the pace when there are too many turnovers or lay-ups given up...the coach immediately rips the soul of his team from their bodies. When you quit on the system, the kids feel an overwhelming sense of failure. Not only has coach given up on them, but they are now wondering if they might just deserve the coach giving up on them. Does anyone want your kids to feel that way??? I didn't think so.
The System is like marriage. It is not all roses and rainbows all the time. [I feel like I have some licence to talk about this with my wife and I celebrating our 20th Anniversary this week, so bear with me]. There are tough times and great times, and then there's a lot of whatever is in between tough and great. Marriage works when you simply wear-down Father Time. That old son-of-a-gun will throw obstacle after obstacle at your marriage, and after a while, it is really easy to say, "it would be a lot easier to just deal with these obstacles on my own." For my divorced friends, that is often a regrettable decision.
They System isn't about good play or bad play. It's not about chaos and "run and chuck". The System is about making a commitment to your players and expecting them to make a commitment to each other that you will ride that system through the good and the bad and not give-up on it when it seems the bad is coming more often than the good.
Above, I told you that we played poorly tonight. What I didn't tell you was that the team we were playing against was stronger, more skilled, more athletic and had more talent, and they completely ran out of gas with about a minute to go in the 3rd Quarter. They could no longer keep up with our 12-man rotation with 5 fresh bodies coming at them every 45 seconds. The last 8 minutes, our press worked better. We got more steals and offensive rebounds that led to easy lay-up and wide-open 3s.
We didn't give up on each other tonight, and we certainly didn't give up on our commitment to the System.
If you are going to play in the System and be a part of the System, it requires every member of that family to fully commit to making it work...for better or worse. And, Coach, that means you too!
Keep the comments and questions coming my way. I hope these types of blogs help you through more than just your next game.
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and Healthy New Year!
Coach Matt Rogers
Phone: (312) 610-6045
Matt Rogers is a 21-year high school and college coach veteran. He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship. His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every collegiate level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level. Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 20 years and his two children.
To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.