Qualities of Successful Basketball Coaches

OSU_Sports_Nut

All-American
Gold Member
Aug 5, 2001
2,827
1,285
113
46
Tulsa
Here is an excerpt from a write-up I did back in February of 2016 regarding the differences between a good, a great, and an exceptional coach. This post has (in detail) exactly what to look for in a successful head basketball coach.

A GOOD coach at any level knows the X's and O's of the game, can teach fundamentals to the players, can setup and create organized and purposeful practices to make each player better, sets high standards for the team and holds all players accountable, is firm and consistent with team discipline, set roles for each player and gets them to accept and flourish in their role on the team.

A GREAT coach can do all the things mentioned above, plus be a great recruiter and motivator (i.e a good communicator). In addition, a great coach knows exactly what he wants to mention to his team during a timeout (whether he called a timeout or not). The coaches who do not have a clue what to say to their team during a timeout will typically waste their time yelling at the refs or find other ways to waste time, instead of using every precious second to work on explaining any in-game strategy during a timeout. Coaches always have the option to yell at the refs during the rest of the game, so it doesn't make any sense to yell at the refs during a timeout when they have the opportunity to talk with their players. And finally, the best indicator of a great coach is watching their team in the final minutes of a close game. A great coach will have his team well versed on what to do if they are down by 2 or more, know what to do if they are up or down with fouls to give, know when to strategically call timeouts, know who and when to substitute players on offense and defense, know when and who to foul if needed (by leaving the worst free throw shooter open to catch the inbounds pass, then fouling them as soon as they touch the ball or even better doing this without any time running off the clock and without getting a technical foul). Calvin Sampson (like him or not as a person) was great at doing this and was one of the hardest coaches to win against in the final minutes of a game. He is a great coach and was selected to help coach multiple USA basketball teams, was selected as the "Coach of the Year" at least 2x in college, coached in the NBA, and is now the head coach at Houston (he will turn that program into a winner). His negatives had nothing to do with coaching, but everything to do with recruiting violations.

EXCEPTIONAL coaches are rare. These coaches are rare because they can do all of the GOOD and GREAT things mentioned above, but also invest time teaching boys how to become men. This is done by taking time to teach players lessons (even at the expense of winning) on being respectful, hardworking, and men of good character (morals & ethics). This is what made Coach Sutton special.

I believe Underwood had many of the qualities listed above. However, one glaring problem was how he handled his team in the final minutes of close games. I never posted about it after the KU game (I wanted to support him 100%), but he made some very poor decisions in the final minutes of that game that cost us the chance to win. There were other games during the season where this happened too.
 

OSU_Sports_Nut

All-American
Gold Member
Aug 5, 2001
2,827
1,285
113
46
Tulsa
I love Boynton the person and I hope he is very successful here, but great coaches learn from past experiences and make adjustments. I've said this many times, Boynton needs to put more shooting restrictions on players and do a MUCH better job of defining roles on the team. Boynton also needs to stop trying to imitate the Golden State Warriors and Villanova.

The Golden State Warriors have a bunch of Hall of Fame players who are considered some of the best shooters who have EVER played the game. On the other hand, Villanova does great job of ball movement and waiting for open 3 point shots and can get lucky when the team is playing hot. In addition, Jay Wright limits those players taking the 3 point shots to those who have proven they can actually hit those shots consistently at a high percentage and does a great job of adjusting in the game. I remember one of the games last year (2018) in the NCAA tournament where the other teams was highly contesting the outside shot so they drove to the hoop almost every play (which was a drastic change from the previous game). This got them into the lane where they made easy shots and free throws when they were fouled. That was the year they won the NCAA tournament in 2018.

Ultimately, Boynton needs to preach ball movement and to pass the ball inside to force the defense to double the post. Then once we start scoring and the defense starts doubling the post, we can kick it out for an easy uncontested three point shot or shot fake and drive to the hoop. In addition, cross screens and back screens can be used to open up guys in the paint for easy layups. Also, big guys don't always have to be in the post, we can look at mismatches game by game to find out who would be best to work in the post. Otherwise, this and our lack of defensive consistently will continue to make us a very up-and-down team (i.e. a Jekyll and Hyde team).
 
Last edited:

OSU_Sports_Nut

All-American
Gold Member
Aug 5, 2001
2,827
1,285
113
46
Tulsa
The quote below came from a long interview with Jalen Rose (click link at the bottom to read the full article). This quote is in response to questions about analytics role in sports and how it is changing the game. I love analytics, but it should be used as one of the tools, but not as the only tool.

The 3 point shot is a great example. I agree a good shooter should take open 3 point shots (and not contested shots way behind the three-point line). I also don't like the idea of mediocre or poor shooters jacking up threes. A current flaw of analytics currently being used is they do not take into consideration what Jalen mentions below, which is measuring 2 point shots where player gets fouled and has a chance for a three point play because they drove to the rim and got fouled. In addition, the current analytics do not take into account the role foul trouble and game flow has on teams when other teams consistently drive to the rim and put the other team in foul trouble. Anyways, here's a short clip of what he said in the interview.

But here is what you are missing. What you are not taking into account is the flow of the game. What about taking a contested three versus pump-faking, going in and getting an uncontested two, or driving to the basket and getting fouled?

The reason to me why the Rockets can’t get over the top is that when you play against them in the playoffs, all you have to do is suffocate the three-point line and contest at the rim.


https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/jalen-rose-has-a-problem-with-basketball-analytics
 

OSU_Sports_Nut

All-American
Gold Member
Aug 5, 2001
2,827
1,285
113
46
Tulsa
Things Boynton is good at:
  1. is firm and consistent with team discipline
  2. is a great recruiter and motivator (i.e a good communicator)
  3. invests time teaching boys how to become men. This is done by taking time to teach players lessons (even at the expense of winning) on being respectful, hardworking, and men of good character (morals & ethics)
Things Boynton needs help with:
  1. being good at the X's and O's of the game
    • watching any team in the final minutes of a close game. A great coach will have his team well versed on what to do if they are down by 2 or more
    • know what to do if they are up or down with fouls to give
    • know when to strategically call timeouts
    • knows exactly what he wants to mention to his team during a timeout
    • know who and when to substitute players on offense and defense
    • know when and who to foul if needed (by leaving the worst free throw shooter open to catch the inbounds pass, then fouling them as soon as they touch the ball or even better doing this without any time running off the clock and without getting a technical foul)
    • be able to create plays to take advantage of mismatches during a game
  2. set high standards for the team and holds all players accountable
  3. set roles for each player and gets them to accept and flourish in their role on the team
Things I'm unsure about without being behind the scenes:
  1. can teach fundamentals to the players
  2. can setup and create organized and purposeful practices to make each player better. Practices should be focused on teaching fundamentals (not scrimmages), running offensive and defensive sets, putting in quick hitters, adding out of bounds plays, and ultimately using this time to teach players what they should be looking for during the play
There is a lot of experience on the bench for Boynton (with multiple former head coaches), but either he is not listening to his assistant coaches or there isn't a good x's and o's coach on staff (like an Eddie Sutton & Sean Sutton). Maybe there's an analyst on staff or somebody behind the scenes and either this person doesn't have the guts to speak up or Boynton is unwilling to listen. People with a lot of pride are unwilling to listen, but I've never really gotten this from my interactions with Boynton. If it is pride, there is one thing that is for certain... pride comes before the fall.
 

OSU_Sports_Nut

All-American
Gold Member
Aug 5, 2001
2,827
1,285
113
46
Tulsa
In a perfect world, a head coach would hire three assistant coaches with different talents and abilities. Additionally, a coach should know his own strengths and weaknesses and make sure he hired an excellent coach in the area of his biggest weakness.

Assistant Coach #1
  • A good X's and O's coach
Assistant Coach #2
  • A good recruiter
Assistant Coach #3
  • A good teacher of fundamentals and someone will will set up meaningful practices to make the team better
 
Last edited:

Latest posts