I spent today at a coaches clinic at Kean University with Jess Radin, Beacon’s JV Girls coach. For those folks who have never been, a coaches clinic consists of a bunch of very successful coaches talking about pieces of their success to other coaches. This clinic was hosted by the Kean Women’s Basketball program, where my friend Corey is now the assistant coach, and it was a really well-run day.
There was a powerful group of talent there — Fran Fraschilla, Bob Hurley Sr., Bobby Gonzalez, Harry Perretta and others — and the lectures were all quite good. After eight hours, both Jess and I had our fill of chalk talk, and we missed Dereck Whittenburg’s talk on the full court press, but I think we both were at a point where we wouldn’t have heard a word of what he was saying.
More than the X’s and O’s of these events, there’s something powerful about sitting in a gym with a hundred other coaches listening, interacting, writing and just thinking about basketball. Both Jess and I walked out really excited for the start of our season, and we also did walk away with five or six things that we are looking to integrate into Beacon basketball — everything from seeing a motion offense broken down into a teaching method, to a few plays to use to free up Toya for open shots, to some cool defensive and fast break drills. But also, it was great to listen to coaches talk.
I love coach talk. I loved listening to the coach of Rider talk about how to talk to kids and parents to have a winning season. I loved listening to Fraschilla talk about the six things that make a successful coach. I love the cliches that really have a lot of truth to them. There’s a lack of cyncism that is necessary to the huddle, to practice, to the court that is just awesome. And some of these coaches, of course, are the most cynical, competative, least progressive people you’ll meet.
But in the moment when they talk about their O and D or their hopes for their team or what makes a successful coach, player, team, program… they believe in the most fervent, passionate way. In the end, who cares whether a 1-2-2 defense is better than man-to-man or if a spread motion offense is better "pure" basketball that a set-play O, except that to see the coaches talk about them as if this decision was the most critical one you can make… to see that level of belief… that’s just cool.
At the end, for everything that can be wrong with sports, it’s powerful to see people that care, especially because — with luck and hope — these coaches then take that care and invest it in the kids in their charge.
And that’s just cool.