About Coach Matt Monroe

Matt Monroe - Head Sophomore Basketball Coach - St. Patrick High School (Chicago)

Article: Autograph Your Life with Excellence

 The following is from Coach Larry Dean Jackson and Coach-Jackson.com:

Autograph Your Career and Your Life with Excellence by Denis Waitley

In 1644, a child was born. He lived to be 93 at a time in history when the average life span was but 35 to 40. He taught himself his trade and began his career. He often worked alone with primitive tools, but his focus every day was to put the best he had into his work. The man made violins. He labored over each and every process and step to ensure that he had “autographed” them with excellence and the best that was in him. He created his own personal standard of excellence for his craft, and he actually signed his name on each instrument that passed the test.

Today, some three hundred years later, the name of this craftsman who was committed to excellence is the benchmark for the best in musical instruments. His name? Antonio Stradivari! His Stradivarius violins sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars because they are the best.

When Stradivari labored, he did not know of the legacy he was creating. He was doing his best, day in and day out, to reach his standard of excellence. He didn’t spend the extra time and care to get the accolades of upper management or to be the top producer in the company. He did it because excellence was part of his focus, mission, and obsession.It is easy to do world-class work when a boss is looking or a supervisor is around. But the test is in what you do when no one is looking. High achievers have developed the ability to stay focused when no one else is around. Does your quality or performance fluctuate based on who is in the office or which customer you are serving? Excellence is not something that you can just turn on and off whenever you feel you need it. It is a habit rooted in your attitude about your life and career.

Are you just going through the motions day to day, or are you creating a masterpiece? Autographs are valuable because they are rare and are tied to excellent performance. In today’s world, superior effort and service are becoming endangered species. Is the autograph you place on your work and service each day a Stradivarius or a Michael Jordan? Or is it unknown, with little value? Autograph your career and your life with excellence.

Having a firm commitment to excellence, like Stradivari, has an amazing effect on your achievement motivation. When people who are simply going through the motions or who are just working for a paycheck hit a challenge or obstacle, they often run to their boss and get him or her to do it, or they procrastinate by getting a cup of coffee or shuffling the papers on their desk. On the other hand, when individuals who are committed to excellence hit a similar challenge, they immediately bounce back with energy, and they are actually exhilarated by the chance to stretch themselves to overcome the problem. A commitment to excellence will create focus, and focus will assist you in maintaining your positive motivation and in creating a balanced life.So, start today and autograph your work with excellence!

High School Home Visits

By Paul Harris, Head Basketball Coach, Highland Park High School and John Camardella, Head Boys Basketball Coach, Prospect High School

Former IBCA President Mike Kolze used to say that being a Head Basketball Coach is “like putting beads on a string with no knot at the bottom.” There is always something to do, especially in November.  One aspect of our job that many of us dread is the general parent meeting once our team has been selected.  Our Athletic Directors want us to have these meetings “to open the lines of communication” and “get everyone on the same page”.  Unfortunately, these general meetings often do the opposite.  It is hard to open communication when 99% of the general meeting is the coach doing the talking.  And because players and parents are coming into this experience from different perspectives, it’s unlikely a ½ hour meeting will help everyone get on the same page.  

As a result, we have implemented a system of communicating with players and parents that may seem dangerous, but has produced very positive results.  The idea is a Home Visit for every varsity player in the program.  We got the idea from current DePaul University Men’s Coach, Jerry Wainwright.  When Coach Wainwright was a high school coach at Highland Park in the late 1970s and early 1980s he used the Home Visit to get to know players and their families in a more thorough way and to get the community excited about basketball.  He would bring the player his uniform or a new set of practice gear as well as a gift for the parents, such as a button or bumper sticker.  There is no doubt that Home Visits helped establish a positive culture in the Highland Park community.  

Many coaches will say that they don’t have the time to visit each player’s home or they are fearful of opening themselves up to criticism from a disgruntled parent.  While those risks exist, we have found that the rewards far outweigh any risks.  The following list highlights some of the advantages we have discovered through this process.

  1. It allows you to tailor your presentation – a general meeting is just that, general.  It is impossible to individualize your speech to fit the needs of all your players and parents.  The Home Visit allows for discussion that is relevant to that particular family.  For example, a coach may want to communicate differently to a player who has the potential to play in college than to a player who may not see much varsity playing time.  The same is true if you are communicating with the family of a senior player versus the family of a freshman you have moved up to the varsity.
  2. Gives you a chance to talk about where the player fits in to your team – While this may be one of the tougher parts of the meeting, this is the part that may save you some headaches as the year goes on.  One thing we guard against in these conversations is overpromising.  Nothing gets coaches into trouble more with players, and with parents, than overpromising and then underdelivering.  Honesty is the biggest key when discussing a player’s role.  By discussing the possible roles a player will have the opportunity to compete for in front of their parents, we are doing more than getting everyone on the same page.  We’re trying to get everyone on the same sentence, reading at the same speed.
  3. It’s a chance to see the player’s family dynamic – We can learn so much about a player by going into his/her home.  This information often allows us to reach that player and in turn get the most out of him/her.  It is good to know if the player is the youngest of 7 children or an only child.  This information may help us to understand why the player is acting a certain way.  It’s also important to know if the player has both parents living at home or if there has been a divorce or death in the family.  The more information we have, the better able and prepared we are to have an impact, both on and off the court.
  4. It’s an opportunity to lay the ground rules for how communication should occur throughout the year – By having this meeting face to face, we establish a culture of direct and honest communication.  Too many times parents want to send a long-winded e-mail or an emotional voice message; this is our opportunity to let them know how we do business.  It is also a chance to discuss with parents the things we will and will not talk about.  For example, we often tell parents that we will talk to them about anything they want to talk about except playing time, team strategy, and other student-athletes.

Being a varsity basketball player is a big commitment.  We ask a lot of the players and parents in our programs, and The Home Visit gives us an opportunity to show parents that we value everyone who is making this commitment.  From our All Conference player, to our student manager, everyone is important.  We have found that the Home Visit leads to a mutual respect between coaches and parents.  By acknowledging to the parent that there may be times when we will agree to disagree, we help to diffuse potential issues.  This mutual respect can come in handy when you walk past a group of parents at a Saturday morning JV game after a tough conference loss.  It also should be a reminder to us as coaches that we are handling someone’s most prized possession.   By spending a little bit of time in each player’s home we show parents that we are taking that responsibility seriously.  For more information, feel free to contact us at pharris@dist113.org / john.camardella@d214.org .

12 Points of Coaching Importance

The following is from Steve Pappas, former Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Deerfield High School (IL):

1. There is no royal road to success as a coach. It is the properly directed efforts of the squad and yourself, plus the hard work that makes for success.

2. You must always have in mind what you are going to teach and must know how to get that knowledge across to others.

3. Stress fundamentals, passing, shooting, ball handling, defense, rebounding, dribbling. To neglect them is to build a basketball structure of quicksand.

4. Concentrate on details and demand perfection. Leave nothing to chance.

5. Learn to pick out the basic points in coaching and then emphasize them, but don’t talk too much.

6. Keep abreast of the game and remember there are no copyrights in basketball. When you see something good, use it.

7. Don’t dodge responsibility. Win or lose, the brunt lies with you.

8. Put your heart and soul in your coaching and be enthusiastic with your squad.

9. Be a gentleman yourself and an inspiration to your players both on and off the court.

10. Be impartial.

11. Use the offense that is best suited to your material.

12. Insist upon an absolute obedience to a reasonable common set of training rules.

Drills: Huskie Shooting

The following is from Jason Dycus, Head Girls’ Basketball Coach, Naperville North High School:

DYCUS Huskie Shooting

• Players get into partners.
• There are 5 spots (baseline, elbow, free-throw- elbow, baseline). Each partner must make 10 shots at each spot.
• They must start close in, back pedal out to three point arch, sprint in low and read to shoot. Must back pedal after every shot.
• The other partner rebounds.
• First team to complete all 5 spots does not get consequence (and could pick the consequence if we want).

Mustang Drill

The following is from Nick LoGalbo, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Lane Tech High School (Chicago):

LOGALBO Mustang Drill 001

• We begin 3 on 3 and run through an action.
• Here we are running a fade screen (or an up from the 2 man side).
• We will discuss how we defend and on the action we will go live.
• We can run several actions so we can learn how to defend.
• We can go stagger, cross screen down screen, pick and roll, etc.

LOGALBO Mustang Drill 002

• From that action, we get into conversion.
• On a make the ball must be inbounded, on a miss we are in Flash vs. Rambo.
• Two offensive players come in from baseline, two defensive players come in FT line extended.
• As they are converting, they must sprint and touch baseline.

Stop-Score-Stop Transition Drill

The following is from David Hess, Sophomore Boys’ Basketball Coach, Stevenson High School:

This is a drill that I’ve adapted from Greg Popovich. It’s an intensive, competitive drill that holds players accountable to game situations that occur in championship games (end of game down 1, stop a run, end a quarter, etc). It requires concentration, communication, and execution. Our players have brought great energy to it, fostering an environment of toughness and togetherness.

1. On a team of 15: I split the group into two teams
-White team: 1st team, 2nd team (10 players)
-Green team: 3rd team (5 players)

2. Scoring: White team has to earn 2 points before the Green team earns 5
* I did this for a sophomore team, but you can adjust accordingly for varsity

3. 1st team (White team) begins on defense and they have to get a stop, score, stop to earn a point. While the bottom team (Green team) gets a point for scoring a basket or getting a stop.

4. KEY TEACHING POINT (This is what makes it competitive for the top players)
If the starters complete the score, stop, score they get to stay on the court, if not the 2nd team comes on the court. They are on the same team for the drill so they are rooting for each other, but the starters understand they are fighting to keep their roles so they are motivated to not come off the court.

They know they have to do what you want in this drill, so it creates a focused intensity which is necessary to develop if you want to win big games.

5. There is built-in flexibility to work on what you want them to do on offense or defense based on your system (half court sets, motion, transition, press, zone after makes, etc) Obviously, you need to make this clear to the players before the drill starts.

I have experimented with creative scoring in drills for many years and I’ve found that you have to link the scoring to what you want to emphasize in the certain drill. However, you can’t make the scoring too complex or hard to remember that it makes the players think too much and/or hard to remember therefore killing the competitive spirit a coach wants in practice.

This drill has a great balance, the players grasp the scoring and play with intensity. To maintain this the coach must maintain the “flow” of the drill and understand the focus is on getting a stop, score, stop….meaning, let the drill police itself don’t stop it to “nit pick”. Look to emphasize certain major teaching points that are needed to be successful in the drill, which are transitions ( off to def & def to off) and the skills needed such as communication, hustle, & concentration.

Man Quick Hitter: Misdirection Set

The following is from Coach David Hess, Sophomore Boys’ Basketball Coach, Stevenson High School (Lincolnshire, IL):

This is a set that sets up for a 3pt look for the point guard or a drive for the 3 man. It’s from the 4 out high post alignment and it works well because of the unique misdirection that puts pressure on the defender of the point guard.

When run at the correct times and with other sets with similar alignment, I’ve found this set to be very effective.

Hess 001

• #1 passes to #4 and cuts to the block
• #4 passes to #3 and cuts to the corner

Hess 002

• #5 pops to the top of the key
• #3 passes to #5
• #2 sets a screen for #3
• #5 passes to #3

Hess 003

• #2 and #5 screen for #1
• #4 lifts off the baseline
• If #1 is open for a shot, #3 passes him the ball

Hess 004

• #3 could also drive baseline if it’s open
• #4 drifts to the baseline on the drive
• If there is baseline help, #3 can hit #4 in the corner for a shot

A Defensive Philosophy

Teaching our teams to be strong defensively is the foundation of our basketball program. Regardless of how our teams are playing offensively, we know that are defense will always be there for us. We must work on the fundamentals of our defensive system on a daily basis and emphasize behaviors that make us strong in that regard.

To ensure defensive success, we must:

  1. Communicate on every possession. 
  2. Be committed to getting back and not giving up easy baskets. Make them face our set defense. 
  3. Be able to pressure the ball.
  4. Be ready off the ball.
  5. Allow no middle seam penetration.
  6. Fight to keep the ball out of the post.
  7. Help early on all dribble penetration.
  8. Be in position early. Don’t react, anticipate on defense. 
  9. Challenge all shots with TWO hands. 
  10. Rebound the basketball.
  11. Know our assignments and coverages against opponent actions. 
  12. Dodge and defeat screens.
  13. Make toughness and hustle plays (ex. loose balls, taking charges).

We will work on individual and team defensive fundamentals on a daily basis at all levels in our program. We fully subscribe to the concept that offense may win games, but defense wins championships.