Fall Season

Our season is just around the corner, but we want to take a minute to congratulate all Fall Activity Participants.  Benton Community is a great place to belong!  Good luck to Cross Country and Volleyball as they begin the postseason.  Best of luck to Football, Cheerleading, and Marching Band in your final performances of the season.

True Leadership

Lead from the front.  Don’t defer.  It’s your team-find your voice and lead!  Great article, access it all here: http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20130811/SPORTS/308110010/Follow-leader?nclick_check=1

Bresnahan said it wasn’t long before Disterhoft took the reins in practice, brought the players into a circle and told them their effort and their play was not up to snuff. It was exactly what Bresnahan was hoping for. Disterhoft ended up starting the whole year.

“I think the sign of a true leader is pushing your teammates to a higher level,” Bresnahan said. “I think that’s exactly what I respect in Ally. She (has expectations for) her teammates and brings them along to a higher level.”


From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/louisville-national-championship_n_3041706.html

Louisville Captures National Championship Thanks To Rick Pitino And Toughness

Posted: 04/09/2013 10:29 am EDT  |  Updated: 04/09/2013 11:08 am EDT

Transcending all of the hype, Louisville and Michigan on Monday night battled it out in one of the most thrilling national championship games in recent history. This was no ordinary day at the races; this was a battle of the finest of thoroughbreds. Michigan did not lose the game 82-76 so much as Louisville simply won it.

Throughout the Final Four, the main theme for Louisville had been quickness and relentless trapping. But to win 16 games in a row and take the championship requires toughness, and Louisville had it: mental toughness, to erase Michigan’s 12-point lead in the first half and overcome the absence of Kevin Ware; physical toughness, to out-rebound Michigan 15-8 on the offensive glass.

Michigan was the more talented team, at least by NBA standards. Michigan shot 52 percent from the field, the highest efficiency percentage for a losing team in the national championship since Georgetown in 1985. Yet when Spike Albrecht and the Wolverines blitzed early, Louisville stuck to its offensive game plan, just as it did when it was down 12 points to Wichita State. Luke Hancock hit a quartet of threes; but at the half, Pitino’s team was still down a point.

Yet, like they have all season long, the Cardinals found a way.

Consider that the Cardinals, college basketball’s best and most efficient defensive team, made 11 field goals in the paint during the second half. Chane Behanan outmuscled the more vaunted Mitch McGary and brutalized his way into 12 big-time rebounds. This, even as the explosive Russ Smith, the tournament’s leading scorer, endured a woeful 3-16 performance on the heels of a subpar semifinal game against the Shockers.

But the high-ball screen for Smith and Peyton Siva proved lethal, and Louisville’s defense disrupted the play of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who went 5-13 and never established an effective rhythm. While the referees, quite frankly, made some terrible calls, particularly the foul call on Burke late, Pitino’s ability to translate toughness to his team was utterly amazing.

Pitino now becomes the first coach ever to win national titles at two different schools, and his experience showed.

“I think when you work as hard as we work, it builds a foundation of love and discipline because you have to suffer together,” Pitino said after the game. “This team is one of the most together, toughest, hard-nosed teams I’ve seen. Being down never bothers us. They just come back.”

louisville national championship 

Louisville’s Chane Behanan (middle) embodied his team’s style with relentless effort and constant pursuit of the ball. (Getty Images)


Pitino, fittingly, was just inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His brilliance in preparing his team and making in-game adjustments is beyond words. Smith summed it up succinctly when he said, “I think [Pitino] just lets us be us.”

Meanwhile, Pitino’s counterpart, Michigan coach John Belein, who had also been superb in March, demonstrated what the lack of championship experience can mean. When consensus National Player of the Year Burke picked up his second foul with 12 minutes to go in the first half, Belein made the mistake of sitting him. It’s possible that if Burke had played the final two or three minutes, maybe the Caridnals don’t come from behind, and Michigan cuts down the nets instead.

Despite the early hole, Louisville always seemed assured of its ability to close the gap. They played with the confidence that their press would wear down the Wolverines (the youngest team in the field) after 40 minutes. And it did. Michigan, the most efficient offensive team in the country, committed 12 turnovers.

Pitino described to CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz why his team won the game: “Probably because I have the 13 toughest guys I’ve ever coached.”

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report.

Practice Habits

Saban still looking for mental toughness
By Duane Rankin For TNValleyNow.com
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press file
Nick Saban: Looking for more commitment.

TUSCALOOSA — Mental toughness.

The Alabama players haven’t shown it to coach Nick Saban’s likening in spring practice.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s incredibly big, but you always want to get better at the good things and the things you’re a little weak at,” Crimson Tide junior left guard Arie Kouandjio said. “He sees a deficiency there. We’ve got to get better at it.”

In leading Alabama to three national titles in the last four years, Saban has not demanded only excellence, he expects it from the Tide.

Even though this is spring practice, Saban is trying to establish a tone that will carry into preseason practice. Alabama opens the 2013 season Aug. 31 against Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

“He wants each and every player motivated and to have a positive attitude about the situation,” Alabama junior nose guard Brandon Ivory said.

“I’m sure he sees some players hyped and other players not as hyped. I’m sure that’s why he’s doing that.”

Saban hasn’t minced words when talking about how his team has practiced, particularly since the players returned from spring break.

In the Tide’s first day back after the break, April 1, Saban expressed disappointment in team leaders, saying they need to demand a little bit more in terms of players doing the right thing.”

“We’ve got to have a little more commitment from the mental toughness standpoint to be able to persevere through things when they get difficult,” Saban added.

Ivory, who sees himself as a leader of the defensive line, remembers how Jesse Williams and Damion Square encouraged him and younger players in practice last season.

“Our practices are hard,” Ivory said. “… They used to motivate us last year, saying ‘Come on guys, we’ve got to step up.’ That’s the same thing I try to carry over this year.”

Saban has been calling for the same thing out of the veterans this spring.

“That’s all part of building the kind of competitive character that you need to have on a team. It’s a work in progress with every team,” Saban said. “We’re certainly working toward (it) right now.”

The theme of Saban’s criticism has not only focused on players being mentally stronger, but doing so through tough times in practice.

He reiterated that point after Saturday’s scrimmage.

“It all starts with guys being able to sustain the kind of mental intensity you need to have to be a good football player, especially when things get a little bit tough,” Saban said.

“It’s a little bit hot, you’re a little bit tired. We just don’t have the mental toughness that we need with enough guys to sustain things, pay attention to detail, do the little things right so we can execute better as a team.”

Tide junior receiver DeAndrew White offered his interpretation of Saban’s comments.

“We have to start strong and finish hard,” White said. “In Saturday’s scrimmage, the offense started kind of slow, and the defense started kind of fast. As the scrimmage went along, it kind of switched up.

“The defense started slowing down, and the offense started clicking. On both sides, you’ve got to start strong and finish fast. I believe that’s what he was talking about.”

What do College Scouts Evaluate?

Dave Telep s Top 10: Important elements of the evaluation – ESPN

Updated Feb 08, 2013

Telep’s Top 10: Evaluation factors

February, 6, 2013

Feb 6
By Dave Telep | ESPN.com
When I first began evaluating high school basketball recruits in 1997, you’d see a prospect a handful of times if you were lucky. There wasn’t the kind of access to players and coaches that today is almost instantaneous.

As time has passed, if you’re so inclined, the ability to be a basketball spy has gotten easier. Information on players exists everywhere. And if you have the proper network, obtaining information is one cell phone call away. Basically, we know more about these guys than they realize. I follow guys on Twitter, for example, to delve into their character and see what they’re made of beyond the court.

For myself and a lot of the talent evaluators on our staff, there’s the physical component to an evaluation that encompasses a player’s abilities — and that’s certainly important. But personally, what’s equally important is getting to the root of who players are as people. If the homework is done on a specific player, you then have to be confident in what you’ve learned. That’s where the separation in terms of rankings should be most noticeable. If we’re going to spend the time on the inner evaluation, we’re going to use what we’ve learned — both good and bad.

See, there’s more to the player evaluation than how fast they change ends, how well they handle the ball and how many shots they make. Peeling back the layers to create separation in evaluations — and in turn rankings — is what it’s all about. Getting to the core of who prospects are and who they can become is an integral part of our jobs.

So with a new update to the ESPN basketball prospect rankings on the horizon next week, it’s the perfect time to look into what goes into a player evaluation and how those rankings are determined.

Top 10 important elements of the evaluation

1. DNA: Who are they on the court? Slice them open, read their mind, whatever. At day’s end, as a player and person, what makes them tick? If there’s a genetic code for how our bodies and minds work, then there has to be one for who a prospect is as a basketball player. It’s our job to figure that out.

2. Competitiveness: This is non-negotiable. Less-talented players — on average — narrow the talent gap by taking the fight to the better player. In today’s age of mixtape All-Americans, I’ll take the guy who gets the most pleasure out of winning. Toughness is a talent. There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing two elite players matched up and one or both of the guys not respond to the challenge.

3. Drive & determination: When the practice is over and they’re cleaning out the gym, which players are squeezing in those precious extra few shots before someone kicks them out? Can they say no to peer pressure and act accordingly knowing their friends may not have the same options as them? Are they maximizing their time in the gym or just punching the clock? Actions speak louder than words.

4. Coachability: Roll their eyes, ignore their coach and stare down a ref or lock in and buy in – a prospect can only be in one of those two categories. If players don’t allow themselves to be coached, they can’t play in most college programs. If prospects come in thinking they’re bigger than the team, it’s going to be a short stay. Finally, are their parents allowing them to be coached or do they coddle and make excuses? If they think they’ll have direct access to the coach after every college game, they’re dreaming. If parents never allow their kids to be coached or play through adversity, it stands to reason that the players wind up never learning how to be coached or play through adversity.

5. Appreciation vs. entitlement: This one is straightforward. Is a player the guy who complains about the legroom on the charter plane or the guy who’s just happy to have a seat on the bus? I’m completely turned off by players who expect to be rewarded simply because somewhere along the way someone told them they could do no wrong. One time when I was running a camp, a kid called at 11:30 p.m. and actually asked me to make him a sandwich because he didn’t like the pizza and wings.

6. Resume: The player who knows what it’s like to go through a state title run, that’s valuable. The kid whose team improved each year, that’s valuable. A player’s overall skills and the state of his game when he leaves high school is a big key in predicting which way he’s trending. There’s a win/loss number on a prospect’s high school resume, and it should matter to him. College is not an AAU tournament. There isn’t always a “next game.”

7. Me guy or team guy? Many of the high-profile recruits view their time in college as a pit stop. They’ve got so many people (excluding their coaches) in their ear that they never unpack their bags. But even if you’re only going to be there one season, why not win a few games? Guys who act bigger than their teammates have a hard time making it when their talent level can’t overcome their locker room superiority complex. This goes for all players, whether they’re a four-year guy or a seven-month loaner en route to the league.

8. Basketball IQ: Take a spin around college basketball. Are the best teams among the turnover leaders? Does Duke take more bad shots than the last-place team in the ACC? A player’s on-court smarts dictate what position he can play, for how long and during what stretches of the game he can remain on the floor.

9. Overall Intelligence: Forgetting the guys who are too smart for their own good and think too much and react too little, being an intelligent person is also a basketball skill. From picking up plays to reading situations and people, it’s part of a player’s profile and it’s in his DNA.

10. What others think: If I called a player’s guidance counselor, will they sing his praises or be happy he’s graduating? When a prospect attends a camp, are the staff members complaining about how poorly they were treated or raving about how gracious that player has been? Are teammates and coaches turned off by a player’s attitude? Is a prospect an energy giver or taker? Those are all important questions and answers. Ask anyone in Winston-Salem what they think of Chris Paul or ask the staffs at Oak Hill and Montrose Christian what they think of Kevin Durant. Those kids made great impressions on everyone and opened up windows into their lives for all to see. The people you come into contact with are always eager to tell your story. Prospects need to make sure it’s the narrative they want written.

Dave Telep


Mental Toughness

Some great thoughts here on the difference between average athletes and exceptional athletes.  I have added the most relevant thoughts for players below.  You can read the complete article at: http://www.coachingtoolbox.net/filingcabinet/mental-toughness-and-clutch-performance.html

These thoughts on clutch performance are from Spencer Wood Icebox Sports Performance Resources.

According to a study based on professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, and NHL, the following eight traits were found to constitute the ultimate athlete:

  1. Ability to work hard and sustain intensity.
  2. Competitiveness.
  3. Athletic ability.
  4. Sacrifice for the team.
  5. Coping with criticism, failure, and success.
  6. Clutch performance, poise, and focus.
  7. Ability to execute game strategy.
  8. Passion for the sport and commitment to excellence

Five of the above traits are mainly mental attributes.

  1. Great athletes aren’t great because they are perfect. They are great because they have the perfect reaction to their mistakes.
  2. Screaming after a miss is the ego saying I usually make that. However it reveals a level of frustration to our opponents.

If we took a mediocre NCAA basketball player, and one of the greatest players in NCAA history and a mediocre player, and compared their self speak, would there be much of a difference? Yes the difference would be immediately apparent.

The inner voice of the mediocre athlete is like this:

  1. “Oh no this is a big one,” “don’t screw up now,” “don’t you choke,” and “I can’t miss this one, my contract is on the line here.”

The elite athlete’s self speak is like:

  1. “Oh yeah, I’m at my best when it counts the most,” “I’m one of the best players in the league,” and “I am so consistent in the clutch.”

If you could take down everything Michael Jordan said to himself during a game it would be owe inspiring.

There is a process to marry the right words and the right images to enhance clutch performance.

1. Set the goals.
2. Keep the statement positive and realistic:

  1. “I never miss in the clutch” – negative and unrealistic.
  2. “I always make free-throws in the clutch” – positive but unrealistic.
  3. “I am so consistent in the clutch” – positive and realistic.

Law of Dominant Thought:

  1. Mind doesn’t always distinguish between do and don’t do.
  2. Important to keep this in mind when we’re coming up with these key sentences for our internal script.
  3. “I never a miss a free-throw in the clutch” vs. “I always make my clutch free-throws. The first is negative, the second is positive.
  4. It may seem complicated to come up with the right words and the right sentences, but once an athlete devises a script, and practices it, it will be with him forever.

Mental Toughness = The Four C’s:

  1. Composure.
  2. Concentration.
  3. Confidence.
  4. Commitment.
  1. Choking has nothing to do with the outcome.
  2. If you lose one or more of the 4 C’s of performance you have choked.
  3. It’s not possible to determine if someone has choked without knowing what went on in their mind. It could be a physical breakdown.

Clutch attitude – Fear of failure / choking vs. focus on important cues:

  1. Focusing on outcome brings you that much closer to losing,
  2. Focusing on the variables responsible for success (The 4 C’s) will bring you that much closer to winning.
  3. Focus should be on the present and not the future (ramifications of winning / losing).
  4. The question now is not whether I’m the G.O.A.T. or not if I miss this, the whole focus is on maintaining the 4 C’s which will in turn increase the probability of success.