Through Brayden’s Eyes

by Jeremy Bauman / @JB_For_3_

“We’re bonded by this event,” said Boston Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman. “This is not a clinic.”

These words echo a sentiment that is much bigger than basketball.

With the likes of current and former head coaches, such as Florida’s Billy Donovan, Indiana’s Tom Crean, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, Stan Van Gundy, Fran Fraschilla and the aforementioned Eastman, some of the game’s sharpest minds and renowned clinicians were present last Friday at the Rutgers Athletic Center to teach the crowd of around 500 coaches as much as they could.

Regardless of program affiliation and coaching status, each speaker got up in front of the crowd and addressed a much greater cause.

In May 2011, Jim and Nathalie Carr lost their 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Brayden Carr.

You may not be totally familiar with Jim, who is currently an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island, but the turnout from the basketball community and the genuine words spoken by some of the premier coaches in the nation illustrate the impact that Jim and Nathalie are fighting to make as a result of their son’s tragic passing last spring.

“Out of horrific tragedy, in May 2011, the Carr family dedicated their lives to honoring their son’s indomitable spirit and infectious enthusiasm for life through positive endeavors,” states the website dedicated to Brayden. “By way of service projects and fundraising ventures, they hope to provide athletic, social, rehabilitative and academic opportunities to children with seizure conditions and their related physical needs, as well as provide humanitarian support/relief to their parents.”

Between shooting and conditioning drills from Donovan, detailed finishing drills from Crean, game strategy advice from Cronin, some of the best bullet points imaginable for young coaches from Eastman, sound defensive advice from Van Gundy and amazing offensive playbook building advice from Fran Fraschilla, there were subtle reminders that this wasn’t simply about basketball.

“I’ve admired them from afar and anybody who has had to endure what they’ve had to endure, they not only deserve our prayers and our thoughts—they deserve anything we can do for them,” Crean said. “I believe when they asked me to do this, I was the first one to say yes this year, and it didn’t take long at all. It really didn’t, and that was easy. I would do that for anyone, but the opportunity to come here and to do it in this area and looking at the attendance that they had last year, looking at the coaches that they had last year, just knowing that it’s going to be a high-level event, it was easy. And then the list of speakers came out and it was no question.”

As far as events go, this one ran as smoothly as it could have from start to finish. The crowd full of coaches, including the legendary St. Anthony’s (NJ) coach Bob Hurley, took notes from seemingly the whole time, as they attempted to soak up as much knowledge as possible from the talented speakers on hand.

Below are some of the notes I took last Friday. If you read them, you’re guaranteed to learn a few things about the game of basketball, as you’ll soak up information from some of the brightest basketball minds in the country.

Thank you, Jim and Nathalie Carr, for having SLAMonline at your event. We’re looking forward to attending again next year.

Billy Donovan

– Likes to double team and trap low post, so their post players don’t get to make post moves often.
– Individual workouts are like “time to be selfish”—work on your game and advance as a player.
– Chart everything in individual instruction, very competitive.
– Creates competition, awareness about what players need to work on.
– Competitive pressure, ball pressure when getting shots up. “Game type, game speed.”
– “So special about the NBA guys is that guys like Pierce, Wade… They can shot fake and then go right back up.”

Tom Crean

– Books: The Talent Code and 100 Things Everyone Needs to Know About People.
– Feet always staggered in basketball.
– Push ball out ahead into middle of the lane to create space. “Working on mindset of pushing the ball out, dropping shoulder, getting your eyes up on the rim. All about mindset.”
– Only way to develop feet and hands is to develop shoulders. How well do the shoulders drop when you’re driving through contact?
– Hesitation, inside-out, crossover… Moves IU works on that all their guys can do and get better at.
– Trying to see outside-in on drive situations. Heathcote: “See the man you can’t see.”
– Lost art: head fake.
– “Best thing we’ve done for Cody Zeller is make him do everything our guards do. He has NO idea how athletic he is. He’s already one of the best passers out of the post, but we want him to be doing the same thing on the perimeter.”

Kevin Eastman

– “With the pick-and-roll play, speed is last. Fast is not the best thing I can do. My body and eyes are most important.” — Nash
– “Players are taught by coaches. Players are made by themselves.”
– Time aones:
• Spare time
• Part-time
• Full-time
• All the time
– The best players at the NBA level never want to leave the floor
• “Kev, you gotta like, get out… Like, not be in the drill anymore,” Doc Rivers said to Kevin Garnett during the shell drill during a practice… So he starts doing the drill while he’s out of bounds—sliding, working on positioning, closing out, boxing out, running the floor.
– Chemistry
• Players liked and respected each other
• Players liked, respected and trusted the coaches
• Coaches liked, respected and trusted players
• Coaches liked, respected and trusted the fellow coaches
– Culture: Championship teams have a high level culture and you fight for it every single day. If breached, confront it—don’t just move on.

Stan Van Gundy

– Book: Mindset by Carroll Dweck
– Lamar Odom is as good as anyone he’s seen in 17 years as far as learning, being a teammate, etc.
– Need “basketball character”—do what is necessary to win games.
– Huge on getting back on defense… Concentrate on shot going up and getting your ass back—whole team.
– “Your big guy should never get a foul below the shoulders.”
– What can you teach?
• Don’t reach too far out of your knowledge base
– Jameer Nelson is NOT 6-feet tall. He’s much closer to 5-10.
– “This is the only coaching I get to do all year!”
– Green Bay, WI: “Don’t put that on your itinerary, unless you’re a Packers fan… It’s the worst place on earth.”

Fran Fraschilla

– Design your offense with the miss in mind—always have your power forward, center or both crashing the boards.
– Motion team can’t be a set team and a set team can’t be a motion time… Why? Not enough time to teach everything.
– Don’t run your best plays in November and December—save some of them for the middle and late portion of the season to throw other teams off.