Basketball Coaching 101

June 30, 2015

Since my eight-first birthday is a fleeting memory, what has become apparent is that a good part of my life is now limited to writing and basketball. That being the case, what would be more natural than for me to write a book on basketball, something I’ve dreamed about doing for years. After all, I’ve written over one hundred technical books (all of which have one thing in common–they don’t sell) and also recently launched my monthly newsletter (www.theodorenewsletter.com) that probably has an audience that, at last count, is approaching a dozen readers. In addition, I have been involved with basketball for over seventy years, part of which time involved playing, coaching, officiating, recruiting, and announcing as well as covering Hofstra men’s basketball the last nine years. In effect, all the ingredients were in place for the writing of a book on basketball coaching.

Since I have never played, coached or officiated basketball at the college or pro level, critics may claim that I am not qualified to write a book on coaching. They may be right. But I did serve as the coach of a local bar team–Killeen’s Tavern (I was part owner)–during the mid-1950’s to the mid 1960’s. Several of my players later played in the NBA, and some of them went on to successful coaching careers at the collegiate and pro levels.

Regarding the book, I was able to contact university presidents, athletic directors, coaches, officials (referees), announcers, journalists, recruiters, players, and yes, even fans, in my quest to write an authoritative book on basketball. Each was asked to detail their thoughts on the qualities a coach should possess to develop a winning and successful program. Hopefully, this approach either reduced or eliminated, or both, some of the trepidations of others regarding the quality of the book.

This is clearly not a book of fiction prepared by an author with an agenda; it is primarily a product of the aforementioned experts, written by these insiders with something more than firsthand experience. Their contributions helped make my dream of writing an informative book on coaching basketball a reality. And the title? You got it – BASKETBALL COACHING 101.

And who were these experts referred to above? The reader is introduced to each of the experts in the book. I categorized the experts into ten sets – starting with presidents and ending with fans. A separate chapter in the book is devoted to each of the above categories. Contacts with these so-called experts, e.g., Louie Carnesecca, Rollie Massemino, Bob Hurley, Sr., Mickey Crowley, Wally Rooney, Ray Lumpp, Vince Boryla, Danny Doyle, Jack Powers, Jay Bilas, Bill Raferty, Howie Garfinkel, Bob McKillop, etc., to name a few, were conducted via e-mail or phone or a face-to-face meeting, or some combination of these three information technology communication processes.

This is a very unique book in many respects because I made a decision to include more than just basketball coaching in the book. The book has it all: coaching hints/strategies to employ to achieve a successful and winning program, history of the game, reliving the fabulous 1950’s and 60’s, the aforementioned Killeen’s Tavern’s basketball team, the dark corrupt side of the NCAA, the disgraceful Joe Paterno saga, the future of the game, etc. And, there are also dozens of stories never told before, many of which I believe are hilarious.

Back to basketball coaching. If there were to be a summary analysis of important qualities a coach should possess, it would be–based on the contributions of the aforementioned experts–the following:

1. ability to recruit and retain top players;
2. superior organizational skills;
3. ability to develop team chemistry;
4. hire super assistant coaches;
5. knowledge of game;
6. dedicated work ethic;
7. a great motivator and a great communicator;
8. love of the game;
9. social/people skills;
10. leadership qualities;
11. ability to work with school administrators and the media;
12. concern for the players’ education and future;
13. ability to accept losses;
14. being a role model; and,
15. character builder.

Ranking the above in terms of importance can vary with the coach, the academic integrity of the school, the level of (Division) play, etc. However, I would rank the first ten qualities as the most important, particularly the first four. Details provided by the experts on these qualities and how a coach can help achieve these qualities are discussed in the book.

Below is a sample quote from Chapter 23, Part II, titled “On Paying Student-Athletes:

“In any event, here is the “paying S-A” situation as it exists today. At the college level, the coaches get paid millions and the players get paid nothing. At the next level, the coaches get paid millions but the players get paid many more millions. Intelligent and objective readers/fans should attempt to explain this dichotomy. This author provides the answer with four letters: NCAA.”

Finally, a few of the early reviews are already in.

1. Jack Powers (Former Executive Director, NIT): “The basketball world can now formally welcome to their midst one of the game’s brilliant strategist. His name is Dr. Lou Theodore, and his new book – Basketball Coaching 101 – has established him as one of the premier authorities in the game.”
2. Danny Doyle (Belmont Abbey/Detroit Pistons): “The annoying little creep first asked me to write a Foreword. Now he wants a review. Here’s my review: Don’t buy the book – he’d just lose any royalty money betting on horses. Yet, it is special and unique from my perspective. This basketball book is written by a legitimate authority without pulling any punches. It is a book for the basketball know-it-alls who are interested in coaching and/or coaching strategies. The back end of the book was touching and brought back yesterday’s memories of our guys.”
3. Louie Carnesecca (Retired coach): “This is an excellent and informative book on coaching strategies, written for all basketball coaches and fans.”
4. Bob McKillop (Basketball coach): “The numerous contributions from authorities in the field (including the author) on coaching strategies make this an invaluable resource for coaches.”
5. Marty Bunce (Former Executive Director, Boy’s Club of New York): “It’s a great basketball coaching book. I lived the Killeen’s era. But the key feature of the book is the NCAA material and the future of the sport. Lou is right. The NCAA‘s reign will soon be over. Their only hope of surviving is to accept that their cheating, lying and exploitation will end. I suggest that the NCAA hire Louie, Neal Gillen, Jay Bilas, and Jon Wagner to develop a solution to the SA problem that will make everybody even richer using Louie’s Delphi Panel Approach.”
6. Wally Rooney (Former NBA basketball official): “Basketball has come a long way. But Lou has somehow managed to capture both the history and the present state of the game. Kudos, Lou. This is a gem. An absolute delight. Beautifully written. Easy to read. Full of basketball information. Entertaining. Unique (an inverted triangle and two defense?). Funny. A winner in every respect.”
7. Jackie Ferrara (NYC cab driver, sports buff): “This is the book for the individual who wants to become an intelligent basketball fan and get a glimpse of the dark side of the NCAA. It took guts to provide a no-holds-barred discussion of the shameful marriage of convenience of Dean Smith, Boeheim, Izzo, Donovan, Pitino, Calipari, Valvano, etc., with the corrupt NCAA.”
8. Dr. John J. McKenna: “(Pres., ETS International): “A very funny book. This is definitely the best basketball book I have ever read. There is a decent chance that it is the best basketball book ever written.”
9. Robert Sansavarino (Mathematical Advisor, Checks & Balances, Inc.): “The book is no bargain. The basketball coaching stuff is OK but it needs more on the gambling aspect of the game.”
10. Alex Zouncourides (Former minor league baseball umpire, teamster rep): “The technical stuff wowed me. Every coach should read this book – it is loaded with information. Plus, I couldn’t stop laughing in spots.”
11. Rita D’Aquino (Former CEP senior editor): “An extraordinary work written basketball works will be judged.”

The book recently came off the press and is available for your scrutiny and possible reading pleasure/enjoyment(?). It costs $17.95 and can be purchased online at Amazon.com or Createspace.com.

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)
AUGUST 1: On Environmental Matters
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXII
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update V
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes III
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2015-16 Season

Note: The East Williston Recreation Committee hosted a book signing for Basketball Coaching 101 in the Village Hall on Wednesday, June 17 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. The packed house was well attended by family, friends, basketball aficionados, well-wishers, and many of the contributors to the book. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to talk about basketball and get their books signed. They also had the opportunity to imbibe in the refreshments that were served through the generosity of the E.W. Recreation Committee. Our thanks go to Caroline Debenedittis for all her help.

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