I wrote this article for Coaching Women's Basketball for the November/December 2012 issue. However, the magazine only goes to the wbca membership. I thought you might like to read my thoughts on some future strategies for the good of the game. If I was Lobbyist for the day in women's basketball, these are the things I would impliment in my one day on the job!! I've already given my state of the union in a non election year so this time I went with Lobbyist!
What can I do to offer energy and/or empower the future of the game I love. I could write some thoughts, hope someone reads it, feels empowered and wants to join in discussion? Could it be that easy. . . maybe it was the foodchain discussion I had recently with my 10 year old that inspired me?
1. Take the Division I Sweet 16 to Vegas along with Division II and Division III Elite
Eight! Let’s make Vegas the new women’s basketball home. If the
Pac 12 moved their men’s tournament to Vegas, why not a permanent home for
women’s basketball in Vegas. Conference offices have autonomy from NCAA policies regarding betting
communities but the NCAA can’t endorse an event in a betting community?
2. Are we still showing the women student athletes the“don’t bet on it” video?
Why? Having a betting line on our games might promote interest? Every man I know looks at the “spread” in the sports section of the newspaper. Safe sex, responsible drinking and eating disorders appear to be relevant topics in women’s sports.
3. All Head Coaches have to take a sabbatical after (insert time period). Could this help prepare assistants for
head coaching jobs. Most Fortune 500 Companies make their top executives take a sabbatical, why not the CEOs of women’s basketball? 74 new head coaches in women’s basketball this year and were they ready?
4. Streamline decision-making process for the caretakers and stakeholders in the game to
empowered, not encumbered. If change is needed, do it. Other sports are starting to look in their rear view mirror at women’s basketball.
5. All Division I scholarship athletes are allowed to hold a job when not in season. You ARE allowed to
work. Haven’t heard any administrator say find a job. Instead, we would rather pay a stipend, pay for summer school and stay on campus and train. Are we developing life skills if we don’t teach what an I9, W2 or 1099 is?
Most people have to find a job if they don’t have any money.
6. Women's basketball sponsorship autonomy. The NCAA Corporate Partner Program is for men’s basketball. Most corporate partners don’t activate on the women’s side. Give the corporate partners a chance to activate, then try to package some inventory that might be appealing for others. I understand licensing, marketing, brand protection etc. . .can’t we try?
7. Freedom of movement and pace of play to create more scoring a must to advance the game. When the WNBA moved the shot clock to 24 seconds, scoring went up. We need offensive games to showcase skill.
We don’t need an experimental season, just try it to advance the game and not wait. A backcourt count is for offense, not defense.
8. Summer recruiting , AAU basketball and high school coaches have important places in
the lives of young players. At the end of July, players are tired and coaches are complaining.
Find a solution with calendar so high school experience and coach matters.
9. Eliminate NCAA advance site visits for first and second rounds and allow Top 16 seeds to host. NCAA can manage events along with on-site game management days in advance. There will not be a loss of neutrality. . . we will be playing on someone’s home court anyway! Tighten up the budget and spend more time on marketing and selling, not fulfillment.
10. NO scholarship reduction and no more conversation about it.
Stanford vs. Baylor November, 2012 in Hawaii
I watched the entire game on DVD because I wanted to know how
Stanford beat Baylor. I learned a lot about both teams. Stanford's
new look offense is going to be hard to defend because they can shoot it with
range, play unselfish basketball and can score from 5
Baylor was a different team without Odyssey Sims who played only
4 minutes. At the 15:40 mark in the first half, she got hurt, left the game not to return. Baylor was up 9-7 and Sims had hit a 3. She’s their best 3 point shooter and one of the best on ball defenders in basketball. In this game, Baylor didn't look like they improved shooting the ball. This is exactly the kind of loss that will
propel Mulkey to the think tank. Because it’s all fixable and in some ways, there is no worry about the “streak”. Mulkey already said what matters is the last 6 games.
Stanford had a plan and they executed.
Stanford never filled the low block and ran to the 3 pt line in transition filling 5
spots with Chiney Ogwumike in the middle at high post area. Excellent
spacing. Brittany Griner (BG) was guarding Chiney so she was constantly in the high post area, defending elbow to elbow.
Stanford hit shots and limited BG touches in 1st half with a front defender, a back
defender and gap help from the perimeter to discourage passing the ball to BG.
It worked because Baylor didn't hit any perimeter shots, lost their patience in
getting it inside, lost their confidence and their leader Sims. BG made a
2 dribble, spin move from top for her 1st basket and she had to work for that.
Stanford ran Princeton cutting/motion game and ball screening action mostly late in the shot clock. They didn’t run the Triangle unless BG was out of the game.
They played thru Chiney at the high post and it was effective.
They are running "UCONN's motion game".
That’s right, UCONN. Notre Dame runs the same offense and it works. Why don’t more teach and run this passing/motion game?
In this game, Baylor didn't look like they improved their perimeter shooting. They
can go 4 or 5 consecutive possessions and not get BG a touch. At the 10 minute
mark in the 1st half, Stanford up 9 and BG has 2 points
BG doesn't hedge, switch or trap on-ball screens. She gaps and clogs and takes up space
to discourage turning the corner. Stanford played with an attacking, high IQ game plan and took advantage many times off the dribble. Each dribble penetration was followed by a fill behind the dribbler. It was a consistent game plan with discipline.
Baylor had 11 pts with 8:13 left to play in the 1st and haven't gotten ball inside to
BG, terrible perimeter shooting at this point and really miss the skills and the
intangibles of Sims. Freshman Niya Johnson is playing in the biggest game of her short career and you can tell. She was unsure.
This will be turning point for her career.
Stanford was called for back to back illegal screens. That's how much their offense changed
away from the triangle offense that Stanford perfected with Jan Appel and
Candice Wiggins, former Stanford players.
If BG catches and reverses ball from high post, her tendency is to cut to opposite
block. That’s not synergy sports assessment, that’s mine. BG catches at
high post and cuts opposite. Baylor lacked their typical discipline on both
ends; didn't get ball to BG and fouled several times late in shot clock.
Stanford lost their double digit lead in the 1st because Baylor pressed,
played thru BG, got to FT line, changed tempo with D and cut the lead to 1 pt
with 2 minutes left in the 1st half. Stanford turned it over and got called for 2 illegal screening calls
during Baylor’s run. In the last 2 minutes of the 1st half, BG finally scores on the low block thru the
double team. She had 4 first half points. Stanford committed to a
game plan for BG on both ends of the floor. Their offensive attack kept her in the
high post area on the defensive end and they sandwiched her on the offensive end
to make someone else for Baylor beat them. What a terrific game plan by Stanford.
Their first half makes me think about the top coaches in our game. They
have a plan and a disciplined commitment by their teams to run the plan. This requires the ability to teach, demand, discipline and emphasize. Tara changed her offensive system to accommodate her personnel. I assume teaching the “Princeton-like/UCONN-like” offensive is not easy.
If it was, why aren’t more teams running it?
Even Notre Dame went to it after they struggled to beat UCONN for many
years and their recruiting led to more athletic, skilled players with a
basketball IQ. With Stanford, we’re talking “Nerd Nation” here! They
can think thru anything. By the way they looked, they weren’t thinking, they were playing.
And, they were playing in a non-robotic fashion.
To play this style takes time, rhythm, repetition and unselfish
players. By this measure, Stanford is loaded. They can score, they are big on the perimeter and they are hungry.
2 pt game at half
Stanford can shoot the ball! Stanford filled behind every dribble penetration.
Stanford made BG chase Chiney off screening action. BG came out of the top of the key area
which allowed driving lanes. Stanford point guard, Toni Kokenis got to the line off dribble
Second half adjustments: Baylor on ball pressure full court, BG gets touches on low
block and is patient with the “sandwich-defense” that Stanford is playing.
Kim Mulkey made adjustments on both ends and Niya Johnson did better job of
attacking in 2nd half. She grew up from 1st half to the 2nd.
Did Baylor lack defensive discipline? Were they lazy on help because they are used to having BG protect the rim? Was it the fear of the Stanford 3 point shooting that had the Baylor defense “hugging” their defenders on the weak side? Kokenis kept dribble alive, made good choices and drove hard with right hand to bucket several times to score.
Baylor didn't back off their pressure and Stanford sliced them up, 70% cutting game,
ball screens late in shot clock. It was very challenging to help with all those 3 point shooters on floor.
When BG wasn't in the game, Chiney went to the block to post.
It was the only time they occupied the low block on offense.
Stanford showed the poise of a program that has been to the last 5 final fours. They changed the tempo of their offense with passing/motion game and it was very much like the change of pace I see with UCONN teams.
Kokenis played well late in 2nd and hit some key shots. Denying Kokenis the ball did
cause shot clock violations. Tara VanDerveer played Amber Orrange with Kokenis late in the game when the momentum was shifting and it got Stanford back in rhythm with their offense.
Inside final minute, Baylor doesn’t execute and Stanford does.
There is a late baseline out of bounds (blob) and Stanford scores on weak
side up screen for a lay-up! It was a major defensive breakdown in communication. Baylor misses a wide open layup, Kim Mulkey tosses her sweater into the scorer's table upset with the easy
Chiney scores on a drive to basket and uses the rim to keep BG from blocking it. Destiny Williams hits the three to pull Baylor within 1 with 9.7 left. Stanford inbounds, Kokenis fouled, Stanford time
out, makes 1 of 2 for 2 point lead. 4.2 left, Baylor calls time out. Direct inbound pass to BG and she
misses the jumper. Stanford celebrates.
I leave this game with the following thoughts:
1. It’s wide open for the NCAA Tournament? Still 3 teams that can win it in Baylor, UCONN, Stanford.
The FF in New Orleans will be great!
2. What am I going to do with my AP vote? I decided to go with UCONN at #1. They easily handled Texas A&M and I had Stanford at #6 before this victory so I wasn’t going to jump UCONN.
Baylor was without Sims and that was a factor.
3. Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer is a tremendous teacher, like we didn’t already know
that! Maybe we all need a retreat in August to refresh the body and the mind. She and her staff did some serious teaching, tweeking, thinking. She wants to win the NCAA title badly. Love the empowered way her team played with this new offense.
4. What “buy-in” by Stanford to change to a new system.
5. Baylor is fine and maybe it’s a blessing to lose early on a neutral court with
officials even I never heard of. . . who were those 3 in stripes?
6. BG is still the best game changer. What a compliment to UCONN and Baylor that
Stanford changed what they do to win. No ego, no “my way attitude” just find a way to win.
Why doesn’t our government work like that? Tara for President!
7. Mulkey has her team in an excellent position to improve. Little Mulkey might need more playing time. She can shoot it!!
8. Why didn’t Mulkey get a technical foul for throwing her sweater/jacket into the
scorer’s table? Isn’t this the era of sportsmanship? I'll tell you why, she ain’t gonna get one at that point in the game. So, nothing has changed.
9. I believe it’s important to referee Griner before you get on a big game. What do they do in the NBA? Do you think someone who has never refereed Kobe/ LeBron etc is gonna be on a big game if
they didn’t ref them in a different situation? No way!
10. It’s just November and I want to be consistent with this blog. Anyone want to ghost-write for me?
Here are some of my thoughts on the 2012 playoffs.
ATL vs. IND
Make her play post defense to potentially get her in foul trouble and this will keep her from
getting in the open court and running the floor hard in transition.
2. Contain dribble penetration:
No ATL lay ups or FT. Make them earn their point scoring over your defense. Lin Dunn’s team rotate defensively very well and invert on BLOBS and SLOBS (baseline out of bounds and sideline out of bounds). Communication and solid defensive fundamentals important.
3. Shot Selection for Indy:
Good offensive execution and shot selection will allow Indy to send 3.5 to boards on
offensive and allow 1.5 to get back. Poor offensive execution cannot lead to break out transition
opportunities for ATL. Poor shots can’t lead to ATL offense.
4. Force Angel McCoughtry into the defense, into screens and don’t let them clear it
out for her to go 1on1. She’s too talented as the leading scorer in the WNBA.
CONN vs. NY:
1.NO Catch Cappie: Limit Cappie Pondexter’s catches in or out of her scoring zone. 80% of the NY offense is in Cappie’s hands. She makes the offensive decisions and is dangerous.
Try to keep the ball out of her hands and over the course of a 40 minute game, NY doesn’t have enough to win.
2. CONN Balance: Their balance is on display when they dictate and play their
tempo. They are smart and conservative in transition. This is not a high risk, high reward team and that’s why they are good. They don’t foul and don’t turn it over maximizing what they can
control. You have to attack them.
3. ATTACK: NY has to win the FT stats making more than CONN. Spread CONN out and
drive the gaps. Make them guard laterally. Play off the bounce not the pass.
4. Healthy Jones to ponder: Do you think CONN misses her face up game more than her offensive rebounding ability? I say them miss her offensive rebounding more. Jones has missed 14 games. Jones’career 3pt makes has never been over single digits in any given season. Her offensive rebounding numbers the best of her career to this point in the season. She is averaging more offensive rebounds in this limited season than any other in her career.
5. Playoff Experience: I keep hearing CONN has players on their roster that have limited playoff experience. That may be true. What they have is strength up the middle with Tina Charles at center and a good point guard in Kara Lawson. Any good baseball team has to be good up the middle (battery). And, of the 24 wins by CONN to this point, 15 have been by single digits. They know how to win.
LA vs. San Antonio
1. Rebounding:LA record vs. San Antonio in regular season 1-3. LA won the overall rebounding battle. Rebounding is a staple of their defensive philosophy and will be important to their transition game which is when they are at their best. The one game they did beat San Antonio they scored
over 100 points. That’s extra possessions created by their defense. Toliver 10-14 FG didn’t hurt!
2.Transition Defense for LA: LA must keep Danielle Robinson on one side of the court in
transition. Do not let her slice it up and play downhill. LA doesn’t have the guard foot speed to keep up with her and San Antonio runs to spots on the floor in transition. DRob knows the 3 w’s of
a good point guard: who, when and where with the ball and personnel!
3. Close Outs on Defense: San Antonio has the best offensive spacing in the league. LA must close down angles, maybe flood strong side and rely on help and recover on the weak side of
their defense. Got to play good 1on1 defense without a lot of gimmick to win this series.
MINN vs. Seattle:
1. LJ: Lauren Jackson didn’t play in any of the previous matchups and that could be potentially good and bad. I think it’s good for Seattle because of her versatility and ability to play in
transition. How does Minnesota guard her and with who? If rested and healthy
Sue Bird, interesting 2 man game.
2. Minnesota Transition Defense: Make them play in transition and play their game. Too much balance and experience on Minn and they are going to play up tempo anyway. Make them
guard in transition so Sue Bird can find the mismatches and exploit them with early offense.
3. OFFENSE: I love an efficient, unselfish offensive team. Minnesota shoots
it well, no one beats them. Seattle has to counter with the same tools. This will be an interesting
Hi, my name is Frankie Antonelli. I am an 8thgrader at
Cario. Welcome to Cario Middle
School, my school AND your
school. I like many things at
school. I like P E and Math and
I got skills and play on many teams. I play basketball, soccer, baseball,
golf and I swim. If we play
kickball, you want ME on your team. I am good!!
I am more like you than different.
I also have lots of friends.
My friends are nice, fun and work together to make Cario strong. Cario is strong because everyone works
hard to make good grades. Everyone shows respect for all teachers and students. No one is allowed to say mean things to people.
Mr. Bragg is the school leader.
He wants all students to do their best. If you make a bad choice with your
words, you will get in trouble. It is important to make good choices.
Some people are mean to me and my
friends. They say mean things and
they do not know me. Do you think
that is right? NO, that is not the
right thing to do. Please be nice
and show respect to everyone. If
you make good choices, we will have a fun time at school.
With the announcement that Pat Summitt is stepping aside at Tennessee, media attention has been focused on her legacy as an icon in the game and in women’s sports. Coach Summitt had a profound effect on
many that have a role in the game. I’ve been broadcasting women’s basketball games on TV for 24 years and
had the pleasure of covering Pat Summitt most of those years. I would like to share some stories about Pat that are examples about her lighter side. It is fun to be an associate of Pat’s. I have many behind the scenes stories but these are a few of the highlights for me:
“The Practical Joker”
I enter Tennessee’s locker room before the game while the team is going thru pre-game warm ups to visit with Coach Summitt. I mention to Pat “it’s a good thing you don’t watch your team warm up before the
game because they don’t use a ball! They have bells and whistles, cones and defensive slides but no ball. I’ve seen no jump shots!” Summitt kicks me out of the locker room for my distraction. I return to my broadcast location. Minutes before tip, the UT strength coach approaches me with a quick cadence and a grim look. She says Coach Summitt fired her because of what I said about Tennessee’s warms up. I’m mortified to think Coach Summitt fired her based on what I said! Then she says she was just kidding. I look towards the UT Bench and Coach Summitt is laughing. She got me!
“The Shirt off Her Back”
Tennessee at Georgia halftime speech with camera access. I’m working with
Beth Mowins courtside. Pat has removed her suit jacket revealing her shirt. I tell Mowins Pat should give me that shirt since she never wears the same apparel twice. 2nd half resumes,
Tenn wins and we go into the UT locker room post game to visit.
I tell Pat I loved the shirt she was wearing and since she doesn’t wear the same thing twice she should give her shirt to me. She laughs and shrugs it off. We continue to chat with the staff as Pat slips off into the locker room.
She returns with her shirt in her hands and her suit jacket buttoned up to her chin and gives me her sweat wore shirt. Mowins adds she liked the watch Pat was wearing but she doesn’t get her watch!
“The Name Dropper”
February 5, 2009, Pat Summitt reaches 1000 wins over Georgia and I’m on the call.
I visit with Pat after the game but I have an 8am meeting in Indianapolis
the next morning. I’m planning to drive the 6 hour trip thru the night alone. I visit with Pat to congratulate her
after the milestone win departing Knoxville at 11pm. 2 AM south of Cincinnati on I75 with no other cars on the road, for some reason the Kentucky State Trooper pulls me over.
He approaches the car and asks me where I’m going and where I’ve been. I tell him of my destination
and asked him if he liked basketball and did he know who Pat Summitt is. Of course this state trooper knows who Pat Summitt and this is Kentucky so coincidentally, he likes basketball. I tell him I just worked the game where Pat Summitt reached 1000 wins, a milestone that may never be duplicated and what
a thrill it was to be a part of history. He smiles, asks me some questions about broadcasting and then lets me
go! Pat Summitt’s name got me out of a speeding ticket in Kentucky!
Pat is famous for that stare and I’ve received “the stare” but not on the basketball court. Let
the record show that Pat Summitt and Billie Moore never beat me and Mickie “Golf
Consigliore” DeMoss on the golf course. Our record is 8-0. Playing one afternoon around the Hall of
Fame festivities, Pat and I are on the same team for the final 6 holes. We arrive at the 18th hole and I have a
22 foot, slight downhill, left to right break. It is a difficult putt to win the
match. I’m studying the putt like a pro from every angle, listening to the heckling from the opposition.
Pat clears her throat, looks at me and says with the stare, “UH, YOU WILL
MAKE THIS PUTT.” Counting my blessings I didn’t let her down.
However, the pressure to perform was certainly unnerving from “the stare.”
Dean Smith is an iconic name like Pat. Both have been duplicated and studied as two of the best teachers in basketball. The day I met Coach Smith was ironically the same day Pat was going to win game #880 and pass this legend. I was working in Chapel Hill 1st and 2nd round for ESPN. I walked into his unassuming office
with the slanted roof and no window in the building that bears his name under the guise of not discussing the record. We visited about golf, the game in general, personalities on the women’s side that he was curious about and he autographed several pieces of memorabilia for my boys. When I got ready to leave, he wanted to discuss Pat and how proud he was she had accomplished so much and what she meant to young women.
It was a very poignant and respectful moment in our game for me.
The day after my Coach, Kay Yow lost her battle with cancer Pat called me because she knew how much I loved my coach. She asked me where I was and how I was getting to the funeral. I told her since the funeral was on a Friday and I would be in Nashville on that Thursday; I would find a flight and get to Raleigh Friday morning. She said no, I would drive from Nashville to Knoxville and ride with her on her private plane to make sure I could attend. It was coincidence that I was in Nashville and able to get to Knoxville, but she would have brought the plane to me if necessary.
Excerpts from my “State of the Union” on
women’s basketball delivered at the Naismith Tip Off luncheon in Atlanta October
25, 2011. I was riding in the back of a cab in Washington DC last February, the
same day President Obama was delivering his annual State of the Union. The taxi driver asked if I was in town
for the State of the Union. My
puzzled reply was what State of the Union? I had no clue!
It spawned my campaign for the good of our game!
I’m now “Madame Resident” because I live inside the game like you! Cast your vote for Madame Resident!
Our game has more million dollar coaches than ever.
Look at the bench in college basketball. More suits than uniforms. Unemployment rate on the national level
is at 9% and 46 million Americans are out of work.
Not in my basketball administration. Head Coaches make so much money; I’ve
made it a personal rule never to pick up the tab in their presence. Economy in
great shape thanks to the efforts of many to put more games on TV and put our
game in the main stream sports culture.
This is the year of the concussion, not the ACL. There’s good and bad in this. Coaches need to train the neck, not just train from the neck up! We’ll nationalize the concussion test so it will be clear who gets
Gov’t regulations: I promise to clean up officiating. We’re going to standardize the rules. A foul on
the east coast is a foul on the west coast. Traveling on the West Coast is traveling on the east coast.
Let’s Go Green! The NCAA rule book is bigger than the IRS tax code. We’ll create a better environment and
save a few Stanford tree mascots.
We will spend NO money on defense. My fellow Americans don’t care about Defense! We will put our money into the pick n roll, running the flex, executing horns, drilling every option in the
motion and dribble-drive game. We will protect the shooter and reward those teams that put 100 points on the
board. What were we put on this earth to do? SCORE!
Homeland Security Not on my watch will this happen again! A TSA screening breach of
3-1-1. 3 people, 1 security guard, 1 borderline legal fun time at a sporting
Relations/Diplomacy: There are times it will require covert operations but I have a proven track record of bringing people together, no matter their differences for the diplomacy of the game! Two colossal giants in
the world of basketball can and will persevere for what’s good and for what’s right.
Education. “No Fan left behind”. It’s you! The people matter! You pay to park, pay for a
ticket, buy concessions and attend the game we all love. The fan should be rewarded for their investment in the game. And you will be rewarded with the best product we can put on the floor if
you will continue to show up and
On December 21, the University of Connecticut basketball team will compete against the College of Charleston at 7pm at the TD Arena. UCONN arrives in Charleston coming off the Baylor game on Sunday night, December 18. The #2 ranked UCONN Huskies carries a gaudy pedigree and impressive numbers: participants in the last 4 Final Fours, 12 overall with 7 national championships. This basketball program creates a buzz and the Cougars will have to “pick their poison” in trying to stop a team that prides itself on discipline, sharing and winning.
Call to action Charleston! In the spirit of the holiday season of giving and sharing, let me share some friendly advice with you. Experience basketball at the highest level in our city played by women who are highly skilled, competitive and fun to watch. The UCONN basketball experience is similar to the Boston Pops or the Rockettes coming to town. We’d be scouring for tickets to see one of those traditional holiday experiences and should feel the same vibe about a chance to witness the UCONN women play hoops.
As a basketball analyst who’s covered the college basketball landscape over two decades, I rarely encounter guarantees in sports and certainly not many worth wagering your mortgage. But I can say with unwavering certainty if you bring your son or daughter to witness the UCONN women play, you will be entertained. These women play with discipline, share the basketball and ooze passion about respecting the game by playing the right way as a team. Head Coach Geno Auriemma’s players love to showcase their skills at the highest level, knowing they are ambassadors with proving-power they can and will allow you to join in the fun.
“Tim Tebow Like”
The UCONN Women share a “Tebowism”. They believe when they put on the uniform, they will win. Tim Tebow is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos who has become polarized and scrutinized by experts and fans. What makes UCONN “Tebow-like?” They only accept winning. The Huskies have a culture of competitive greatness. They are inherently confident with a high self esteem about their identity as players and a program.
When you watch UCONN play, you see attention to detail, the extra pass and a forty minute focus. This is not a high flying circus act above the rim, but they control the ground better than most. Geno has more High School All Americans than starting positions. The last 5 years, he has signed the number one recruit in the nation so skill level and ability to make plays is instinctive. UCONN will play hard. It’s the only way they know, like Tebow.
Iconic Geno Auriemma, the Naismith Hall of Fame Coach is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. Geno is more teacher than drill sergeant; more philanthropic than tyrant to those who know him or have played for him. I’ve witnessed Geno in teaching moments that required patience to break down the game to its simplest form. At times the game is a science, at times it is an art and Coach Auriemma has created a style of play that exudes both. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people out there that wouldn’t mind seeing Geno “take 2 shots to get out of the bunker” because they are smitten with his level of success and bravado. The 27 year head coach of the Huskies and 2012 Olympic Coach breeds confidence, consistency and an evolving knowledge of the game.
Secret formula uncovered
One of my favorite scenes from the movie “Space Jam” involves Bugs Bunny offering his Looney Tune teammates a swig from his bottle of “secret stuff” before the game against the Monstars. Ironically, the secret is there is no secret. If there was a secret formula, what coach would say no to what Geno bottled? Yes, his sideline demeanor is demanding but I don’t know many coaches that wear a forty minute smile on their face and have his hall of fame resume. The secret is more rudimentary in our society than people admit. Hard work, discipline, choices and building self confidence and a belief in your teammates is no secret to success. Demand discipline from those that have a competitive heart and work ethic and you will see results. I contend teams that play for a higher purpose than individual agenda, see results. The UCONN women play for many reasons but all share the same appetite to win.
The Boston Pops don’t just show up and toot and strum, nor do the Rockettes show up and dance and kick. The UCONN women have refined their skill and will showcase countless hours of work with an entertaining style of play on the floor. Your reward will be to show up. The secret is there is no secret formula for hard work and commitment to a goal. Come out and support women’s basketball! If TD Arena can be as energizing as it was for the Tennessee win last week, this could be a fitting retirement present for Cougar Head Coach Nancy Wilson.
ESPN, CBS, Fox Basketball Analyst
Web site: www.debbieantonelli.com
My Penn State Experience
Today, November 10, 2011 my 9 year old son Patrick left the house for school like he always does, with his book bag over his shoulder and his lunch box in his hand. The weather is changing and he required a jacket. The weather will be in the mid 70s today but this morning was in the 50s. He grabbed the same hooded gray jacket that he has been wearing for the past 2 years, the jacket that reads Penn State across the front. You see, Penn State is an iconic, idolized brand in our house. My husband Frank grew up watching and cheering for Penn State and revering Joe Paterno. Those affections have been passed to my three boys.
We love Penn State Football and Joe Paterno. A football Saturday with Penn state on television means we watch it live and tape it so we can watch it again. My boys know the starting line ups, most of the history of the program and can recite some of the best linebackers in the history of Penn State football. All of my boys are capable of recanting these Penn State names and memories, including my 9 year old Patrick. But instead of letting him wear that jacket, today I said no. I couldn’t bear to watch my 9 year old son wear that jacket today; 2 nights removed from reading the grand jury report on Jerry Sandusky and what allegedly took place over the past 15 years with small boys; and the day that Joe Paterno has been fired. I couldn’t bear to watch him put that jacket on and wear it to school. When I read the grand jury report and read over and over about victim 8 who suffered the same horrific experience as victim 1, I was sickened and upset. I’m heartbroken and saddened beyond what these words can express for the victims that didn’t do anything wrong to deserve such treatment and for a crushed group of men in my house. I never claimed to be a great writer but I claim to want to make a difference especially in the lives of my children. I want to stand for something, chose my stance wisely and pray that my boys will always make good choices in their conduct and decision making. With unwavering self-doubt, I am someone who will not allow ANYONE to hurt another that is vulnerable, weak or incapable of helping themselves. What Jerry Sandusky did is irreversible and deplorable. I wondered half way thru the grand jury report if I should continue to read because it was so sickening, it was difficult. But I read on for the safety of my family and my children. If you haven’t read it, it’s disgusting and you must be sure you can stomach the results of the 23 page document.
Joe Paterno is continuing to teach maybe his greatest lesson in his saddest moment for himself and his university. Joe Paterno is a great man, who used football to create future leaders. He was first a teacher who espoused the ideals of integrity, character and service. He gave to Penn State of free will and sound mind and was as generous as any coach in American Sport. Penn State Football was supposed to be one of the good guys, a program beyond reproach, beyond question since there weren’t NCAA rules violations and the discipline that Joe installed in his program was of the highest regard for empowering his young men to learn to do things the right way, not take short cuts. If you got a parking ticket on Penn State’s campus, you paid the fine and the consequences. You went to class. You knew what was expected of you as a young man in that program. Those traits and characteristics are still a part of the fabric of who Joe Paterno is and what he represents. He made Penn State unique. Joe Paterno created a perceived stance that Penn State is one of the last, truly good representatives of college athletics for honesty, integrity and role models for us to look to for inspiration.
My challenge is to teach my boys to do many of the same things. Joe is a great man who made a moral mistake and a big one because it affected the lives of many innocent and vulnerable and empowered Jerry Sandusky to continue to hunt young boys and get away with unspeakable acts. I want my boys to make the right choices and stand for a cause that might be bigger than themselves but understand what is a role model and who the important people in their lives are that can make a difference for them and with them.
Today is Patrick’s teacher’s birthday. Amy Ryan is a terrific fourth grade teacher and true role model for my children. Patrick wanted to do something special for his teacher today so he asked if we could get up early and go to Starbucks to get Mrs. Ryan a cup of coffee because he knew she would appreciate his special thought. When we arrived in the classroom to deliver her cup of coffee, many of the children in the classroom had lined up to hand Mrs. Ryan a small birthday gift and/or share a birthday hug. She received each gesture and gift as if it was the most important thing she had ever received in her life. I watched the smile on Patrick’s face form from ear to ear. He was beaming. He gave his teacher a special gift and she gave one right back to him.
We should think about the people in our lives on a daily basis. The teachers in our children’s lives are real heroes. If you have a kid in school, you should know what I mean. We entrust our children to their care, support, safety and intellectual and emotional development. The minute they leave our arms in the morning, they are exposed to people we trust and have empowered to do the right things with our children and for our children. Good teachers and educational leaders are the real heroes and leaders in our lives and the lives of our children. We should tell our teachers and educators, the good ones, more often.
The lessons and conversations this situation exposed to our family has forced me to have tough, important and meaningful conversation with my boys. The conversation is about choices and doing the right thing. I believe there are people categorized in this world as those that will take a stand and those that will turn their head and look the other way. I hope my boys will take a stand and do the right things. That’s my prayer every night for my family.