Every Good Player Needs A Good Coach

steve kerr

Every good player needs a good coach. And every great player needs a great coach. And such is the story of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won Game Six of the Western Conference Semi-Finals — IN HOUSTON, mind you — on the strength of their best, leading role players, namely Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. But/and they needed help, and they got big help from their supporting cast:  Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston, plus the rest of the bench.

And therein lies the lesson: In Game 6 against Houston, Steve Kerr employed his bench superbly. Maybe he should have used them more earlier in the playoffs, but as they say, “better late than never.”

Steve Kerr is a great coach.  And he has to be to coach the band of brothers that he has on his roster. Greatness needs greatness to succeed.  And we’re seeing the secret of Golden State’s success in the chemistry between the players and the coach.

Here’s a case in point: Steph Curry received his second foul early in the first quarter of Game Six, and Kerr immediately took Steph out of the game, much to his chagrin. When Curry got back to the huddle, Kerr was blunt with the two-time MVP.

“He keeps it real with us,” Curry said of Kerr after the game. “There was a moment tonight where I had my second foul when I fouled James on the three, and I saw on the board that he had put Quinn in. Obviously, I had a reaction to that. I walk into the huddle and he keeps it real.” 

“He’s like, ‘How can I trust you to not get your third when you know how big this game is right now and you put yourself in a situation — a predicament to get your second foul? So, I got to make a decision.’ Put Quinn in. Quinn was ready. Obviously, I didn’t like it, but we have a strong relationship where he knows I’m not going to lose confidence in that moment, and whenever I get back on the floor, hopefully good things will happen.” https://sports.yahoo.com/steve-kerr-had-blunt-message-223457898.html 

Steve Kerr knows which buttons to push and he knows when to yell and when to whisper. He knows his players. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and their bents and their dents, and he knows how to get the best out of them.  Sounds a lot like Psalm 139, right?

Psalm 139 speaks of how well God knows us. He knows our ins and our outs and our ups and our downs. And He wants to see to it that we are victorious in every situation. That’s why we must believe and rely on our Heavenly Head Coach. He knows us, and He wants to see us be the best we can be.

Here’s how Mike Cruz from ClutchPoints reported on the Warriors Game Six win:

“Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala were the stars of the Golden State Warriors’ series-clinching victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night. But as much as they led the defending champs to their Game 6 win sans leading scorer Kevin Durant, the Warriors banked on their motto, “Strength in Numbers,” to propel them back to the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he was proud of how each of the Warriors’ supporting cast made their mark in their Game 6 win and wondered why he didn’t deploy them earlier in their 2019 postseason, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

‘Houston puts the fear of God in you,” Kerr, halfway through a postgame Corona, told The Athletic. “So we played it very close to the vest the first five games, just allowing our best defenders to be out there the whole time, thinking we got to do this. Then look, we’re forced to play the bench and they’re fantastic. And I’m like: ‘Well, what the  . . . ? What was I thinking? I should’ve played them earlier.’ But I’m just proud of them.’

The Warriors’ bench has been its thinnest since the Steve Kerr era began in 2015. Kerr has played his stars nearly 40 minutes per game over this playoff run so far. But with Kevin Durant slated to miss the rest of the series against Houston, he had no choice but to dig deep into his rotation, going 11 deep in Game 6.

Needless to say, Golden State’s unsung heroes delivered in every way possible. Kevon Looney continued his impressive play with his hustle, rebounding, and improved ability to finish around the rim. Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, likewise, turned back the clock and gave them an offensive spark off the bench.

Andrew Bogut started in place of Durant and was part of their solid start to Game 6. Jordan Bell gave them a spark with his defense and athleticism, while backup guard Quinn Cook gave quality minutes with Curry struggling and saddled with foul trouble in the first half.

The Warriors could possibly get injured stars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins back at some point during the Western Conference Finals. Kerr could definitely try to use his bench more moving forward to give his stars fresher legs as they get deeper into another championship run.”

Note to Eagles Fans: “There’s Always Last Year”

Carson Wentz-philadelphia-eagles-loss to-dallas-cowboys
Carson Wentz dejected after loss to Dallas at home drops Eagles to 4-5

 

The phrase is actually meant to read like this: “there’s always NEXT year.”  That’s what sports fans say when their team is lousy and lazy and dismal and dreadful. When the season is lost, the hope is that the team will be better and the future brighter next year. And so we say “there’s always next year.” And for the Philadelphia Eagles, technically, that’s still true.

But we’re still in THIS year. And after taking a good hard look at this year, it’s hard not to be tempted to look at last year. This year, the most recent Sunday Night loss to Dallas at home, leaving the Birds with a record of 4-5, leaves every Eagle fan in a lurch. In our heart of hearts, we still have and hold onto last year’s Super Bowl victory. Someway, somehow that colossal win was supposed to convert into a repeat Super Bowl victory this year. But not so. 

LAST year, the Eagles had a great team. In fact, we weren’t just great, we were awesome.  Last year, the Eagles had great chemistry. The coaching staff, the offensive line, the running backs, and the defensive line, all were top notch.  Not so much this year. The Eagles lost their Offensive Coordinator and their Quarterbacks Coaches to other teams.  The running backs we had for all or most of last year are mostly gone: LeGarrette Blount was allowed to walk in free agency, and Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproules are injured. Corey Clement has not panned out like everyone hoped he would, and so that leaves the team with Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams.  Needless to say, the chemistry we have this year is not the  same as last year.

And so the bottom line is this: they call it the Super Bowl Slump.  Teams that win the Super Bowl hardly repeat as champions and win another the next year (it hasn’t happened since the Patriots did it in 2005), and a good number of Super Bowl Champions don’t even MAKE IT to the playoffs after the big win.

Generraly speakintg, we’re not supposed to look backwards; we’re supposed to look forward.  God put two eyes in the front of our heads for a reason.  Biblically speaking, the only time we are encouraged to look back is to be grateful for yesterday’s victory’s and yesteryear’s triumphs.  

And at this point in this season, that’s pretty much all we’ve got.

“The Eagles’ Super Bowl championship was viewed as the greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history. That team will be beloved forever, and the players and coaches spent all offseason hearing how they fulfilled every Philly fan’s lifelong dream.”

 https://sports.yahoo.com/super-bowl-hung-eagles-danger-missing-playoffs-loss-cowboys-042711745.html

Coach Jimmy V: Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds

UCT Cover

Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds: get your copy TODAY!

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Upsets%2C+Comebacks+and+Turnarounds

https://read.barnesandnoble.com/book/upsets-comebacks-and-turnarounds-2/cover#1

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo is worth a thousand pictures. The image is that powerful. 

Every time I look at the cover photo for Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds, a book about God and sports, I get goose bumps. It’s a photo that you almost want to jump into. It’s the party that we all want to crash. It’s the celebration that we all want to be a part of. It’s a picture of pure, unbridled and unapologetic joy. There’s nothing in the world like it. That’s why we need Heaven’s help to get it. It’s unspeakable joy.

Coach Jimmy Valvano experienced this kind of indescribable joy when his team pulled off the upset of the ages and won the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. The picture speaks volumes. After the big win, Coach Jimmy V is being carried off of the court by the fans. The FANS!  It’s not that this doesn’t happen often, it’s that it NEVER happens. Being carried off the court or the field by the players? Yes, that’s happened. But to be carried off by fans is unheard of. After this historic win, the excitement and ecstasy of victory was so moving that it moved the fans close to the winning coach to the point that they undertook this unprecedented uprising.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack defeated the heavily favored University of Houston Phi Slamma Jamma team in a NCAA Men’s Basketball Final that will never be forgotten.  Coach Jimmy V’s arms and hands are stretched wide, as the hands and arms of his fans are stretched high to lift him and laud him and raise him and rally around him for the great victory he’d won. And great victories deserve and even demand great celebrations. And that’s what we witness here in this iconic photo.

Joy is great delight, and only comes from something exceptional and unusual. And the 1982 Wolfpack win was truly exceptional. It was a stroke of coaching genius on the part of Coach Jimmy V. The theological tie in is this: isn’t our spiritual victory over sin and Satan by the power of the Cross even more exceptional and extraordinary and moving and marvelous? I believe that Jimmy V’s sports victory is God’s way of giving us a glance and a glimpse of the glorious celebration we will have in Heaven with Him at the end of time.  It’s pure, unspeakable joy, and we don’t have to wait till the end of time to get it.

 We can have this joy in Jesus right now. 

UVA Coach Tony Bennet: “You Enjoy The Good Times, and You Got To Be Able To Take The Bad Times.”

Once again, sports personifies our favorite professor giving us a sound lecture on how to live life.

UVA Coach Tony Bennett was gracious in defeat. And in defeat he needed grace. Critics derided him for the loss, saying he didn’t do enough for his team or say enough to his team as they went down in defeat to a red hot UMBC team that could do no wrong.

For as humiliating as this must have been for Bennett, the coach handled himself with dignity in the moments after the loss.

The fact is that Bennett was right on the money on this point: “when you enjoy the good times you got to be able to take the bad times.” Amen brother. Here’s the rest of the Coach Bennett post debacle, I mean post game, interview:

“A week ago, we’re cutting down the nets and confetti is falling,” Bennett said. “And then we make history by being the first 1-seed to lose. I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that, and it stings. But, trying to tell the guys in there, this is life. It can’t define you. You enjoy the good times, and you got to be able to take the bad times.”

And this wasn’t the first time Virginia struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.

“When you step into the arena and you’re in the arena, the consequences can be historic losses, tough losses, great wins, and you have to deal with that,” Bennett said in the interview with CBS. “That’s the job.”

And in another interview, Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse came to Bennett’s defense and balanced out the situation with these sage words:

“They pay this guy about $10 million, which they’re to renege on, which is great for a university to do, you have a signed contract with a guy and then say, well, he yelled at his players. That’s — 350 coaches are going to get fired tomorrow for that.

Come on, the tournament is — I’ve lost in this tournament, everybody has. I’ve looked at the list of bad losses, and I couldn’t believe we weren’t even on it. But Mike Krzyzewski has lost, I’ve lost, Roy Williams has lost, Bill Self has lost. Dean Smith lost. There’s nobody that hasn’t lost.

I think you could easily make the case that Tony Bennett’s way overachieved in the regular season and they played like they probably are in the tournament. You could possibly make that case. This year’s a little aberration, obviously. That was a bad — but the other losses, you know, it’s a tough tournament.

And really good coaches, good teams get beat. Tom Izzo is one of the best tournament coaches ever, and I sat there two years ago and watched Middle Tennessee beat them. They played a perfect game. We beat Middle Tennessee the next game by 30, by 30. It’s just basketball.

We lost to Vermont and the next day Tom Izzo, next game Tom Izzo beat Vermont by 20. It’s just the game. It’s a crazy game and the tournament’s a crazy thing. We all know that. We all say that, but then we don’t follow through on that.”

Well said, Coach. Well said.

Patrick Ewing Returns Home, Because Home Is Where The Heart Is

Patrick Ewing

I’m happy for Patrick Ewing. I am. And I’m hopeful for Georgetown and the entire Hoya Nation. I really, really am. And I really hope this works. He’s going home, where he spent four wonderful, magical, fun-filled years playing for John Thompson, Jr. where together they built the Georgetown Men’s Basketball into a national powerhouse using the Big East Conference as a stage.

I’m happy for Patrick because, in this life, you have to pull for someone other than yourself. You have to be selfless and not selfish and cheer and scream and shout and hail for someone outside of your personal space to succeed. So. for the next year or so, I’m going to root and rally and whoop and holler for G’Town to win, except when they play Maryland, of course.

So here’s what the Gene Wang of the Washington Post had to say about Georgetown’s favorite son coming home:

“Ewing’s hire underscores Georgetown’s relationship with the Thompson. Ewing was Thompson Jr.’s first major recruit, and they won the 1984 national championship and made three Final Four appearances in four seasons.

Ewing and Thompson

‘My four years at Georgetown were the best of my life,’ Ewing said in a statement. ‘Georgetown is my home, and it is a great honor for me to return to my alma mater and serve as the next head coach.’

Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985 after being named consensus first-team all-American for three straight years, beginning when he was a sophomore. He is second at Georgetown in career points and first in career rebounds, blocks and games played. Ewing is one of four players in school history with 2,000 career points.

The New York Knicks selected Ewing with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft. He went on to win NBA rookie of the year and was an 11-time All-Star during a career spanning 17 seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ewing has no previous head coaching experience but did serve lengthy stints as an assistant with the Houston Rockets under former coach Jeff Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic under Coach Stan Van Gundy. Ewing joined Hornets Coach Steve Clifford’s staff in 2013.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2017/04/03/georgetown-university-hires-star-alumnus-patrick-ewing-to-replace-john-thompson-iii-as-mens-basketball-coach/?utm_term=.72224541506c#comments

Another Reason To Hate Duke: Grayson Allen is “Trippin’”

Jimmy V Classic

Coach “K” got it wrong. The Duke Coach got it all wrong. Coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended junior guard and former captain Grayson Allen “indefinitely” and the indefinitely lasted a whopping one game. Allen was suspended for just one game for tripping an opposing player, not once or twice, but for the third time. And now Grayson Allen is playing again. Unbelievable.

I say again, this marked the third time that Grayson Allen intentionally tripped an opposing player in the past year. Allen intentionally stuck out his leg and tripped an Elon player Wednesday night, December 22nd, an incident he later apologized for. Allen was defending Santa Ana late in the first half of the Blue Devils’ 72-61 victory. Santa Ana drove past him on the baseline, and Allen stuck his right leg out, sending Santa Ana to the floor. Allen was assessed a technical foul. He then became overly emotional on the bench after he found out about the technical.  Talk about a poor sport.

Grayson Allen has now thrice committed the same dirty play. Does that make him a dirty player? You tell me. Allen has now gone from a mild-mannered, Bible verse-tweeting potential All-American to the biggest villain in college basketball. The passionate, palpitant, hard-nosed Allen is arguably the Duke Blue Devils’ best player and is the heart and soul of his team. With him they have a shot at going deep into the NCAA Tournament. Without him, they’re toast. So is that the reason why Coach K and the Duke University brain trust are putting up with his behavior?

There have been many discussions regarding disparity in punishment as pertaining to race. Just think: what would have happened if Grayson Allen was another color, race or creed? He probably would have been kicked off of the team and possibly dispelled from his school. It is disappointing and disparaging to see a Duke player get treated differently than other players would certainly be treated. The  “conspiracy theorists” of the world all believe that there is a double standard, and Duke in general, and now Grayson Allen in particular, got off and got by after doing what is horrible at best and heinous at worst.

Allen has endured a significant amount of scrutiny and criticism, and has been caught up in a viral, social media firestorm; but he did this to himself, purposefully tripping three opponents in the last two seasons. First it was Louisville’s Ray Spalding on Feb. 8, 2016, then Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes on Feb. 25, 2016. The first incident was surprising; the second incomprehensible, a pattern of dirty behavior that no longer could be written off as a “Did he or didn’t he do it intentionally?” debate. No, he did it, with his right foot out, left heel up. It turned Grayson Allen into a trending topic on Twitter, an ignominious YouTube sensation and the topic of conversation around the country.

Then, this past December, Duke suspended Allen after the third incident. Here’s what Coach K had to say after the latest trip: “We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the incident involving Grayson Allen from last night’s game against Elon. As I stated last night, the incident was unacceptable and inexcusable. . . . As a program, we needed to take further steps regarding his actions that do not meet the standards of Duke Basketball. To that end, we have determined that Grayson will be suspended from competition for an indefinite amount of time.” And Coach K stripped Allen of his captainship.

Former Duke standout Jay Williams had this advice for Grayson Allen:  “Grayson Allen has a choice to make, the same one another former Duke guard had to make a long time ago. Will he learn from being forced to sit and watch? What happens next will define him.” And one ACC coach told ESPN’s Andy Katz that Allen needs help handling his actions. To say the least.

ACC commissioner John Swofford issued a statement supporting the move, calling sportsmanship “one of the core values of our league” and adding that the suspension “demonstrates adherence to this important principle.”

And here’s what Allen had to say for himself: “I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana ….. I’m sorry to the officials who had to call that. I’m sorry to my team. It was selfish and taking away from them. I’m not proud of that at all.”

Duke’s season depends on whether Grayson Allen can grow up. Yes, Duke made the right move suspending Grayson Allen, but it’s what happened during his short time away — and WHY he returned so soon — that will define a season for a team many thought would play for the title.

The question was asked, “how long should Grayson Allen sit?” The answer?  He sat one game. A whopping one game. Wow. He should have sat for much longer.  In hockey, if a player is tripped on a breakaway (with no opponents to pass other than the goaltender), a tripping call may result in a penalty shot for the tripped player. Nuff said.

Yes I believe in grace and mercy and redemption, but I also believe in judgement, and in this case, the punishment did not fit the crime.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand its dirty players. Right is right and wrong is wrong.  And Grayson Allen was wrong, three times over, and he got away with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Don’t Give The Game Away

jim-harbaugh-screaming

Did You See The Game? I did.

I watched the Michigan / Ohio State game yesterday. If you missed it, you missed a treat. It was a great win and a horrible loss both at the same time. Yes, it was a great win for Ohio State to come from behind and beat their archrivals 30 -27 in DOUBLE OT, at home, again. And it was a horrible, almost unspeakable loss.

One sportswriter put it this way:

“There is simply too much pain to process. Losing to Ohio State? Losing in double overtime? Losing with some controversy? Losing the Big Ten East Division? Losing a shot at the Playoff? It’s almost overwhelming. Michigan will bounce back under Jim Harbaugh — and very likely be right there for the 2017 national title — but this loss will sting all offseason. Then again, maybe there’s room for Michigan to make a national semifinal in 2016?”

Michigan had the game in the bag. I mean the game was won and the Michigan Quarterback Wilton Speight and the referees game it away. Yes it was a great game because it had everything: it had defense and turnovers and missed field goals and a pick-six and fourth and inches and a first down controversy in double overtime.

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s game, you missed one of the best regular season college games in college football history Michigan, the better team, had Ohio State on the ropes for most of the game, then choose to gift the game back to the Buckeyes down the stretch. Ohio State wouldn’t have even been in the game had it not been for the interceptions that the Michigan QB gave them. Wow.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has every right to be mad, but the first person he needs to be mad with is himself. He lost his cool and it cost his team five critical yards late in the game when the defense needed to keep the Buckeyes out of the end zone. They did not.

We lead by example. A long time ago someone said, monkey see, monkey do. And the team saw their coach lose his composure, and then they went on to lose the game in typical Michigan, meltdown fashion (the Wolverines have lost five straight to Ohio State at the Horseshoe).

“Outrageous,” Harbaugh said at one point, describing the officiating that he thought cost his Wolverines the game at Ohio State Saturday afternoon. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you handle a brutal loss when you speak to the public. What matters is what you show them. Harbaugh didn’t show much grace.

His senior defensive lineman, however, Chris Wormley, did. “There’s a few calls that I thought could go either way,” he said. “You’ve got to play through those types of calls, handle adversity.” Yes, you do.

And so the lesson is almost lyrical: you may lose and you may fail and you may suffer loss, but don’t give it away. Don’t lose your cool or lose your head or lose your composure. Your opponent may try to grab it or seize it or snatch it or even steal it, but DO NOT give it away.  And that’s just what the Michigan coach and the Michigan team did yesterday.