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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life Frustrations

The past few days have been very frustrating for me. In the big picture, the stuff is not that huge. The frustration comes from a plethora of areas in my life and it is the combination of it all that really gets into my head. I am a very laid back, even keeled person usually. At times though, it doesn’t matter what I do or tell myself I just get frustrated beyond belief. I have noticed that a lot of my friends are the same way or have gone through the same thing at some point, but why?

Most of my friends are young adults that come from middle-class families and are either in college or just out of college. So if an outside person were looking at a person like this they would probably think they have no real problems and should be pretty happy with life. Obviously, stereotypes are rarely if ever correct. Every situation is different in some way, but what are some of the similarities in why some of my friends go through times of depression.

My number one similarity in my theory to why my friends are depressed even though on the outside surface everything looks to be fine in their life is the middle-class up bringing. This does not make much sense at first glance. What is wrong with a middle-class up bringing? You do not have the life struggles of a poor family. You do not have the spoiling of an upper-class family. So why do the young adults from middle-class families hit a point where they are depressed and highly frustrated? Let’s look at a typical middle-call up bring first.

The typical middle-class family lives well, but not over the top. The family is concerned about looking good to the public. They try to make people believe they have a perfect family. This is where the trouble comes from in my theory. Parents will hide things about their life to make their children believe that everything is perfect. Of course, sometimes the parents have no choice, but to inform their children of these hard times. It is rare though or it is not until the children are young adults themselves. Growing up in a middle-class family you will never hear about financial troubles. Are all middle-class families that well off to never have financial hard times? I do not think that’s the case at all. Most middle-class families carry a huge sum of credit card debt. Why would these families have a lot of credit card debt? Are they not making enough money to live on? No, they spend money on things to make other people believe they have a great life. They buy cars they shouldn’t buy on their budget. They buy furniture and televisions on their credit cards to make others believe that they are really living life.

Okay, so most families have credit card debt…what is the big deal? It is not really that big of deal, but it is the fact that the families are covering up life struggles with it. Kids come from this way of life and think they should have no struggles. They get a distorted view on life. Then later in life they come to a realization point and that’s where most of the depression and frustration comes from. They expect things to work out when most of the times they do not. The patience and planning of life is very underrated. In school, you learn about planning out your life and career but rarely do they tell you of the struggles you will have to go through to meet those goals.

So, that can’t be the only reason why young adults are feeling depressed. This could turn into a thirty-page theory if I went through every possible reason. I believe some of the stress comes from parents that apply pressure, but don’t provide guidance or suggestions. They just tell you they want it fixed and expect it to be done in your life immediately. Debt is also very tough to handle mentally. It wears on you month after month and if more unexpected expenses come up; making rent can be a tough chore. Most people overlook how much stress debt adds to a person’s life. Most young adults have debt from college and other areas from their time in college.

Basically, I think today’s young adults are depressed or at least slightly depressed because they have come to a realization of how life really is. It is not the way they have seen it for most of their life and it is tough to understand how life can be that frustrating and tough. All you can really do is keep your mind open to the big picture of life and have patience. Knowing what struggles await you helps your mindset, but struggles have that name for a reason.

I hope this makes sense to you all. Let me know what you think. This is just my amateur psychologist try at a very troubling occurrence I have been noticing the past few years. Definitely let me know if you disagree with what I have said or if you think I have left out any major reasons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tournament Wrap-Up

This weekend my AAU team played in the Battle of the Borders tournament held at the Indy Southside Sports Academy. It was a very good tournament with a ton of talented teams. It was similar to the AAU teams you see at the big 17& under tournaments. There were teams from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and Missouri. There were multiple dunks in every game I watched this weekend. These are 13 and 14 year olds. It is pretty amazing to see the level of athleticism that these young kids play.

Our first game of pool play, we played a very weak team from Lawrence. I was proud of the way we played though. I was pleased not only because we won by 40 points, but for the way we didn’t get sloppy. We weren’t gambling on defense like you will see a lot of times in a blow out. We played a solid game and took care of a team that we should beat. Beating a team that you should beat isn’t as easy as it seems. Many teams will play down to the level of their opponent which is a bad habit usually because they take the team for granted and don’t stick to their fundamentals.

In the second game of pool play, we played a super athletic team from Chicago. It was a complete 180 from our first game. The opponent was long, quick, aggressive, and great leapers. We committed a lot of early turnovers. It was mostly because we were forcing long passes that won’t work against quick teams. We regained our composure and fought back from our early deficit. We ended up losing the game for a variety of reasons. The main thing was our lack of blocking out. They attack the offensive glass and got way too many second chance points. Another reason was that our help defense was content to reach instead of stepping over and stopping penetration. Basketball is a very simple game. If you do the fundamentals of the game, you will have a great chance to win the game no matter if the opponent has more talent than you.

The third game was a very awkward and interesting game. At first, we thought the other team might be forfeiting because at game time they were not at the court. Finally, they were located and were ready to play. We played a very sloppy and inpatient game on both ends of the court. We were fortunate enough to escape with an overtime victory. There isn’t much to say about this game. I can only believe that we were mentally fatigued and that is why we played so poorly.

We ended up going 2-1 in our pool play and getting a three seed for the actual tournament. It is very rare to have a winning record in pool play and get such a bad seed. We were then forced to play a pool winner in the first round of the tournament, Indiana Elite. They are a very solid, good team. They all can shoot very well and don’t make many mistakes. Their best player will be playing at Bloomington South next year and they expect him to see a lot of varsity minutes as a freshman. We played them tough. I thought our defense was the best we had ever played. They just hit tough, contested shots. Sometimes they just hit shots and there is nothing you can do about it. We have a tendency to be stagnant on offense and going one on one too much, but after telling them not to ball screen in the second half we moved the ball a lot better. The offense actually looked good for once.

I came away from the tournament with many positives. We have things we can build off of. Hopefully, they see the success we had when they did the things I have been asking them to do. It seemed like they were trying to do what I asked, but they just have bad habits or lack of good habits. My job as a coach is to break bad habits and create good, fundamental habits. We will see how well I can do this for the rest of summer.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Practice, Plasma, and plenty of games ahead

Tuesday, I had my weekly AAU team practice. We added a new player to our roster. He is a big man and I expect him to help our team greatly. It might take him a few weeks to get used to our team, but after that I think he will really improve our team.

Over the weekend, I watched “The UCLA Dynasty” on HBO. I am a fan of most biography programming like Sports Century and Beyond the Glory along with non-sports related biographies. They are usually inspirational stories and sometimes you will get some life wisdom from either their success or mistakes. Back to “The UCLA Dynasty”, John Wooden is one of my favorite people. He is a great philosopher/teacher/coach/human being. If everyone lived life like him, this world would be an unbelievably great place. His book is a great read. I tried to implement a few things I learned from the HBO documentary in my practice Tuesday. The first thing I tried to implement was to make the practice faster paced. Our practices move slowly from drill to drill sometimes and it is a waste of time and the intensity always drops going from one drill to the next. Another thing that I made more of an effort at was correcting small details right when they happened. I am hesitant at times to jump in and stop action to make a correction on the spot when in actuality it needs to be done to stop habits.

Overall, the practice went well. I was happy with the overall intensity and effort. I am a big believer that high intensity and effort are a necessity in practice. You cannot improve as a player or a team if you are just going through the motions. Things must be done at or above game intensity/speed to help your game. Players always talk about how many hours they practice in the summer and how they outworked other players because of the pure hours they put in. They don’t take into account the fact that the other players are working harder for a shorter time period and are getting more improvement in that short time. This team has been known to lack intensity and desire as a lot of young, immature teams do. It is something that can improve greatly with the coach demanding more out of the players.

Wednesday I decided to head down to Bloomington to donate some plasma. I went to IU and hadn’t visited in a long time so I planned on doing some good by donating while getting a few bucks and getting to see some friends. The plasma donation didn’t go too great, but no real complications. They did end the process early just to make sure my whole arm didn’t bruise up too much. I’m not a great blood donator so it probably wasn’t the greatest idea for me to do it, but what can you do?

We have a big AAU tournament this weekend. It’s in Indianapolis and there are going to be a lot of out of state teams in it. We will play 3 games Saturday with a chance to play a fourth depending on how we do in pool play. The actual tournament part starts Saturday night and goes into Sunday. I just hope we continue to improve as a team and we compete at a high level. It really is about improving at this age. Teaching and learning are a priority while winning is just a plus. I will post some game summaries after the tournament is over.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Beginning

Welcome to my blog, “A Coach’s Journey to Division I Basketball!” I have decided to pursue a career in coaching basketball. I hope to end up being the head coach of a Division I basketball team before my career is over. It is my dream and my passion. I love the game of basketball and have enjoyed my time roaming the sidelines as much as anyone can. This goal is set very high, but certainly obtainable.

Here is a little background on me so you know where I am coming from. I played basketball from the time I could walk. In high school, I dedicated myself to the game and had a decent high school career. I ended up going to Tri-State University to play basketball. It’s a small college in Northeast Indiana and it was NAIA at the time I went there. I had a great time at TSU, but after my freshmen year I decided to transfer to Indiana University to be a full-time student.

After two years at IU, I was still undecided on what I wanted to do with my life. Every person knows that if you are not motivated results will be poor for obvious reasons. I had no motivation because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go. This is when I figured out I should probably take some time away from school and work until I found what I wanted to do.

During the time I was away from school, I decided to see if the high school I graduated from needed any help for the upcoming season. I was just thinking something like game scouting or something like that, but they ended up offering me a position to coach at the middle school. This is where my fire was lit to the coaching lifestyle.

I was very lucky to work with a great man and excellent coach, Andy Houpt. He had a great coaching resume and is one of the best teachers of the game I have been around. He really helped me and encouraged me in my coaching. Without Andy, I would have struggled greatly and probably wouldn’t have liked coaching very much at all. I look to him for advice on all sorts of things and I think every young coach needs a mentor like that.

Currently, I am coaching an AAU team that is based out of Carmel, Indiana. It’s a freshman to be team. The team has great individual talent, but they have never played with players that are as good as themselves. They have struggled with many team aspects of the game, but many have shined independently. AAU is a different beast than school basketball. Different complexities and different problems, but it is a good experience in quickly meshing talent. I’m hoping to get some time assisting the senior to be team this summer. The more experience the better.

That should give you a good idea of where I am starting my journey. I have some hurdles to get over since I didn’t play for a Division I college for four years. I, also, have some connections and advantages that the average beginning coach doesn’t have. I believe with 100% certainty I will succeed in the coaching business and will have the opportunity to be the head coach of a D-I basketball team. Let the wonderful journey begin!