College Game Sorely Misses Player Development

  • I’ve been on a personal crusade about Kansas taking on a player development coach for quite some time.

    I know the NCAA heavily regulates the amount of time college coaches can coach their players. But it seems like college teams find ways to get things done, like strength and conditioning training.

    Here is a video of our old friend, Cliff Alexander, in a NBA Draft Workout session. Where was this Cliff Alexander at Kansas? I know videos are misleading, but it looks like Cliff was just days of development away from being more than only a dunk artist.

    Cliff Alexander 2015 NBA Draft Workout

  • @drgnslayr I thought about you last night while watching the Warriors playing the Rockets. One of the Warriors shot and missed. Steph Curry came from the left baseline, got his body on Dwight Howard’s legs, boxed him out beautifully, got the rebound and went up with a shot. Howard fouled him and he sank 2 free throws.

    It was one of the most talked about plays of the game and it shows that correct technique can overcome eight inch height and 90 pound weight advantages.

  • @sfbahawk

    Thanks… for getting it! Over 90% of the game is played below the rim. I know a big chunk of the money shots do happen above the rim… but why wouldn’t players who can’t dominate those final vertical inches focus on techniques for dominating the 90% of the game they can influence? X-axis basketball…

  • I have thought about this myself especially the last two years in just observing KU and other games. I felt the Wichita game was a good example of good basic below the rim technique because of experience. Even the elbow placed in the right place at the right time was affective. I also watched the Cliff workout and saw a different person. Where the hale did this kid come from?

    Some of these things have to be taught at the high school level but I notice when watching highlight reals there is really no defense. It looks like a lot of mediocre players running up and down the court with one kid dominating and getting fed the ball because he is obviously more physically gifted.

    I can say some of it is youth. Again I have coached woman’s industrial league basket ball and it took the team I coached the second year before the basics really caught on. I was raised up in a gym so it was second nature to me but it does take awhile to learn. Game experience helps because you get burnt and the coach pulls you out and helps you with a learning moment then the whole teams gets to revisit it in practice. I think we won one game the first year and the next year went almost undefeated because we new how to actually play the game.

    Watching the technical growth of a team is very fulfilling to me and is the very reason I like to watch Bill Self coach these kids up. Sometimes it takes a team longer and sometimes they don’t get it because they don’t have the right fundamental leadership in upperclassmen. But it is very rewarding to me when they create good visible plays and execute them beautifully.

    I’m not sure we hire technique coaches because I would assume the current coaches know what to coach but it takes the right mix of kids to practice and working together in a competitive atmosphere and then have the team spirit that is needed to jell. I think it is harder to do with kids today with the difference in work ethic and expectation leaders that can’t really put a lot of Bobby Knight like pressure on kids. It might damage there ego in some way. We have to put them on a stationary bike or run them up and down bleachers. They are not leaning technique during that type of development. So the lazy kids in practice are spending their time being disciplined while the other kids are learning technique. So maybe Cliff can look good shooting around for twenty minutes but he can’t play basketball.

  • I knew the first time I saw video of Cliff Alexander that he would play in the NBA. You cannot teach those physical gifts. You just can’t. You either have them or you do not. Cliff has them.

    Unfortunately, many of those skills would not have been unlocked at KU because the college practice schedule does not allow for that type of development. Cliff has developed like this in large part because he has been preparing for the NBA draft, working with position coaches, etc. That is why you see the rapid development. You combine the raw physical gifts of a young man like Cliff with some dedicated coaching and you get rapid growth. The crazy part of it is that Cliff’s footwork is still very raw! I’ve watched that video twice and I can still see points where he needs to improve his footwork to smooth some things out. He is still learning.

  • @justanotherfan he was also in a boot last summer.

  • In all serioiusness I think Bruce Weber can flat out coach. I don’t think he could recruit a HS allstar team. He’d make an excellent assistant coach. If you look at his track record with other people’s players he has great sucess, one final four even. He just can’t recruit and listening to him speak, I can understand why no 18 yo would want to play for his whiny self. But I do think he can coach, so hide him like the gimp in a box until the kids are signed then break out the gimp.

    (He can coach, but I’d never want him on a KU sideline)

  • @dylans So now I’m a little confused. If he can coach, why wouldn’t you want him on KU’s sidelines?

  • @justanotherfan

    “Unfortunately, many of those skills would not have been unlocked at KU because the college practice schedule does not allow for that type of development.”

    You are right. There just isn’t enough time for coaches to schedule team and player practices separately and meet the guidelines of the NCAA. But that doesn’t mean a developmental coach couldn’t quickly put together items for players to do on their own and go work on. Kansas has had several great players that would go work on their games every evening, apart from the scheduled training. I know it sounds like overload, and it is, but these kids have only this small period in their lives to really make their game happen and get noticed by NBA scouts. And it won’t get any easier if they don’t make the first round draft and get stuck in D-league without a life line. Might as well call it what it is… Dumb-league!

    Players can also seek out plenty of personal development in the off-season, away from their coaches, or be given things to work on and ways to self-monitor. I know Hudy’s system must work that way, because the guys are given goals to reach over the summer.

    Some areas, like shot form, are very sensitive and need a knowledgeable coach there all the time to keep them corrected. That’s a different thing and players who can swing it should seek out situations like John Lucas and others. TT did it and claims it really helped him his senior year.

    But so much of development is just guys working through drill reps over and over. Working with their weak hand, improving their handles, taking it to the hole on their weak side, shooting off the dribble, installing some shot fakes, learning spin and pivot moves, practicing FTs (muscle memory).

  • @drgnslayr

    I agree that players can work on their own. The key is that they practice things correctly. Going back to the Cliff video, as I mentioned, he still needs to clean up his footwork. Specifically, you can see that on his jumpshot, his right foot is still ending up just slightly behind his left foot, which is backwards (for a righty shooter, the right foot should be the lead foot). Let’s say that Cliff doesn’t realize this tiny flaw and spends all summer practicing that way. He would arrive back at practice with a mistake ingrained in his muscle memory. You can see it when he shoots his turn around at the 1:08 mark. He doesn’t bring that foot all the way through, which means he will leave that shot just a little bit short when he starts getting tired because he isn’t rotating all the way through. On the next shot (turnaround to the baseline) he overrotates and the left foot ends up out front again. That means he will push that shot long and off the back iron strong. Those are tiny little things that I would bet he isn’t even aware of physically. But a coach watching him work can go back over that with him and correct the form and footwork. But he needs a coach that knows the proper technique to work through that with him until he does it perfectly. At that point, he can work on his own because you can be sure that he won’t develop a bad habit. But not until he can do it perfectly so that he doesn’t develop bad habits.

  • @nuleafjhawk Mainly I find him to be whiny and annoying. He also repels recruits of any talent. oh and he had a BS funeral. Kinda understand what he was doing, but it shows his nature, that of a born loser. Good Xs and Os coach though.

  • @dylans lol - agree on “whiny and annoying”. And recruiting. I guess I just figured if someone was a really good coach, I’d like to have him on our sidelines. But there are plenty of non whiny & annoying ones to go around!

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