We need to develop players like in Europe

People often discuss player development and European basketball with me. Often, I am told, and I read, that we (coaches in the United States) need to develop players like in Europe. I don’t necessarily agree with the premise, but I often will engage in the discussions. When I do, it seems as though the coaches want a magic potion, because every change based on my experiences that I offer, they dismiss as unnecessary or impractical. Possible changes based on my experience: Read more

Should the U.S. develop players like Europe?

There is a popular undercurrent throughout basketball circles in the United States (R.C. Buford, Kobe Bryant, Stan van Gundy) that the U.S. need to develop players more like European countries or Canada. Typically, this rhetoric never is supported with actual plans or suggestions as to the differences between development in other countries and the U.S., and when I argue in favor of some of the primary differences between the systems in FIBA countries and the U.S. (24-second shot clocks, small basketballs for youths, lower basket height for youths, longer high school season, fewer games per week, etc), these same people argue against their feasibility. Rather than change the structure to match the European structure, it seems that there is some mythic drill or philosophy that coaches in the U.S. are missing. Read more

High School Playoffs, AAU Tryouts, and European Development

San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford said a big reason why 25 percent of the league is now composed of international players is because the U.S. developmental programs for youth players are “far behind” what’s going on overseas. Read more

AAU is the Scapegoat: Skill Development in the USA

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Kobe Bryant, European Basketball, and Skill Development

“We have to teach our kids to play the right way.” – Kobe Bryant

I imagine that nobody would disagree with Kobe Bryant’s sentiments captured above. However, in his diatribe against U.S. players, he is at least partially incorrect or short-sighted. 

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George Raveling jumps on the international bandwagon

Seemingly everywhere on the Internet is a USA Today article by Greg Boeck about International players taking over the NBA. Now, forget that I first sounded the alarm in 2002 and criticized Dick Vitale in 2003; my favorite part is this quote by George Raveling:

“NBA teams are realizing it’s less risky to draft internationals because they’re more coachable, more socialized, have no posses and have not been Americanized,” says former college coach George Raveling, Nike’s director of global basketball. Raveling’s prediction: International players will comprise 50% of the NBA by 2010.

What’s amazing is that Raveling stands aside Sonny Vaccaro as the people most in charge of destroying the fabric of American basketball. One could make an argument that the system which has developed through greedy businessmen building on Vaccaro’s success and exploiting the dreams of American teenagers is the major reason the European players have relevance in the NBA today. Basically, Raveling is criticizing himself, and he probably doesn’t even know it. Raveling is among the group that “Americanizes” American players through the AAU/exposure culture.

Further in the article, former Penn State guard Joe Crispin said:

“I’d love to tell every coach in America you need to learn how to coach like this,” he says. “It’s not the same mentality, but college and high school coaches have to learn how to develop guys. Frankly, they’re not.”

My recently published book, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development, makes this point over and over and illustrated a model of long term development not unlike the one used in European clubs. I, for one, would love to coach in this manner in the United States, however, I cannot get hired for a coaching job, which is why I run my own training business and write books to make a living.

So, while Crispin has not yet read my book (email me if interested, Joe), I’ll take his statement in this article as an endorsement of its ideas. And, I’ll laugh at the absurdity of Raveling criticizing the American basketball landscape he helped create (BTW, maybe Raveling can talk to Vitale about the “backlash” to International players Vitale predicted in 2003).

Coaching a pro women’s team: Dealing with losses

Published by Full Court online, March 2003.

After two lackluster performances, and a lack or practice time due to a big indoor soccer festival and the Damligan All-Star Game, we had 10 days to prepare for our very important match against the defending champions, Solna Vikings, and their new American player, Charmin Smith.
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    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
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