Winning with Less
Coaching is full of valleys and mountain tops. You can’t reach a mountaintop without going through a valley. I have been through valleys that include miscarriages, loss of jobs, and losing my father to cancer. One thing I can state for certain, God has always been faithful and his favor is the one thing I seek daily.
Keeping Christ, family and basketball in the proper order of priority is mandatory for true success in coaching. Coaching is arguably the most impactful profession and winning with less is not only a key in basketball but life.
Before taking the job at OKWU, God had told my wife and me that he was going to “make something out of nothing”. Taking over a struggling program with minimal scholarships and around 350 students was what my wife called “less than nothing”. I had been blessed as an assistant at John Brown University to be a part of the 2005 NAIA Division I National Championship. I saw in person how God could use a faith filled chicken farmer’s son by the name of Brandon Cole to lead the 31st seeded Eagles on a miraculous run to the top of a mountain.
At OKWU, I found myself expanding on the formula we used in 2005 and leaning even heavier on Christ for the answers.
The formula combines faith, hard work, and character. The first and most important piece of the puzzle was applying faith through biblical principles. I researched and realized that John Wooden and Vince Lombardi are just a few of the most successful coaches of all-time that did this. Read their quotes for yourself.
I had worked hard as an assistant at JBU to help our team be better prepared in player development, scouting, and in all the areas listed in a coaching manual. These are all important, but I knew that I had to rely even more on God, because the only chance of a high level of success at OKWU was not my ability but instead God’s ability to do more with less.
At JBU we focused on Defensive FG%, 3pt-point shooting, and ball control. Our margin for error was slim, but when we added the faith of Brandon Cole to the equation no margin was too small. At OKWU we once again focused on Defensive FG%, 3pt-Shooting, and ball control, but we added one more key ingredient that had everything to do with hard work.
That focus is offensive rebounding. In 2009 we held our opponents under 40 percent field goal percentage, we once again were one of the top 3pt-shooting teams in the country, and we took care of the basketball, but the most impressive team stat was that we rebounded 48 percent of our misses. Offensive rebounding helps you win on poor shooting nights and when combined with good defense you always have a shot at winning. Fact is hard work wins a lot of games.
After going 120-20 at OKWU in four seasons, I studied our paths both at JBU and OKWU to success and put together the following equation. Our goal is to gain a point advantage in the following areas. OR points + Transition points + 3pt points, while at the same time holding your opponent under 40% FG%. For the past 10 years we have averaged per game 10 more points than our opponents in these areas.
If we are able to do that and hold our opponents under 40% then game over. Achieving three of the four categories has proven to win nearly 80% of our games over the past 10 years. Now back to the first and most important piece of the puzzle. The only way to win at a level no one can explain and at a level you can only dream or imagine is by placing Christ in the direct center of the equation. I have seen this happen time and time again.
Coaching at the small college level is more about impacting young men’s life than the money or the fame. In my personal opinion, the goal of reaching a platform to bring glory to God is the only championship worth striving for. I would love to share these biblical principles or answer any questions anyone may have about winning with less. Feel free to contact me by email. May God bless you and bring uncommon favor to you, your family and your career.