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Extra: Ta del av Brad Deans tankar

25 JAN 2011 19:00
Den gångna helgen var det coach- och klubbdirektörsmöte i Svenska Basketligan. Mötet var förlagt till Solna och på plats fanns bland andra herrlandslagets förbundskapten Brad Dean. Han höll en presentation om sin basketfilosofi, målsättningar och framtiden för svensk seniorbasket på herrsidan.
  • Skapad: 25 JAN 2011 19:00

-Det var ett väldigt populärt föredrag som Brad Dean höll. Så bra att vi vill dela med oss av det. Därför har Brad sammanfattat sina tankar i en text, berättar landslagschef Jonte Karlsson.


Här är Brad Deans text i sin helhet:


Development of a Basketball Philosophy

I was fortunate enough to start coaching at an elite level at a very young age. Hard to believe it now but in 1979, at the age of 26, I was the head coach of Södertälje Basketball Club (SBBK). When I started coaching my focus was on the tactical side. The chess game was my priority. It remained that way throughout those 13 seasons. I believed the biggest contribution I could make to the team was with the Xs and Os. Two of my last three seasons in SBBK we won the gold. This was a confirmation to me that I had the correct philosophy and those results, along with relative success in the European Cups led way to some interest outside of Sweden. I accepted an offer from SunAir Oostende as head coach in 1989.

These years transformed me as a coach. SunAir was run by one of Belgium´s richest men. A hard driving self made millionaire. He was a no nonsense boss. Included in my contract was that I was required to meet with the owner every Monday and report.  It was not an easy start. We lost three of our first five games. When I went to the meeting and tried to explain why we were losing (players were not in shape, not enough big men, no true point guard etc.) the owner stopped me and said, "Mr. Dean, I can replace the players or the coach. Which do you think is easier to do?" He was not interested in why we were losing; he wanted to know how I was going to get them to win. From that day on my philosophy took a 180 degree turn. I thought back to my coaching in Sweden and the success I had and realized that the championships we won I had players that were individually highly motivated  (Peter Andersson, Jonte Karlsson, Bill Magarity, Marc Glass, Bo Alvin Dukes, Per Stümer, and Magnus Tegel to name a few).  Yes, I had to prepare them tactically and physically but never had to worry about their motivation. I believe I did a solid job of having the right combination of players on the court and systems that fit their strengths but the drive to win was already within both the players and the group and would have been there whoever coached them. In other words, I didn´t blow it, but I was far from seeing the complete picture. In Oostende my eyes were opened. Although the owner did not know much about basketball he knew about business and how to motivate people. We ended the regular season 21-5, going 20-2 after that meeting and I took a big step toward being a more complete coach.

A coach has to motivate his players by setting high but achievable goals and not accepting excuses on the journey to those goals. For me this became far more important than offenses or defenses. No matter how clever your systems are, they are not worth much if the players are not motivated to execute them.

From Oostende I moved to Ulm, Germany - low budget team on a five game losing streak. I took my experience from Oostende and brought that to Germany but I had more to learn. The General Manager (GM) of the club had a car dealership. He was brought in to run the club because no one else wanted anything to do with a losing team with a low budget. I stayed there six seasons. Together with the GM we built up Ulm and made the play offs my final five seasons, winning the German Cup in 1996. The GM was with me all six seasons and remains a close friend to this day. What we did was build up the team and the club while slowly growing the budget. We always stayed within our financial limitations. I learned how much it cost to run a team and I believe it is a duty for a coach to keep his team within the budget set by the club. That is why I say there only two legitimate excuses for not being on the top in sports, budget and injuries. A club has the right to demand a team´s results are equal to the investment of the club in comparison to the competition. Injuries are the great unknown. Key players out due to illness or injury are going to impact the effectiveness of the team. Dealing with a handicapped team is a challenge. If I have a squad hit by multiple injuries that instead of a 50-50 chance of winning now only had a 10% chance, my focus has to be on how we find that one out of ten, the other nine possibilities are not interesting. Ulm gave me a chance to continue my coaching development, build up a team, install a winning attitude and stay within the financial parameters set by the club.
Luleå and Plannja was my next stop. This was a team that was built up by Charles Barton.  They had success but flamed out during the play offs failing to make the finals.  I did not know much about Plannja in 1996 after being away from Sweden for seven seasons but I knew a lot of people in Swedish basketball and most reported to me that Plannja had the talent and organization to be champions. That was all I needed to hear. From day one I told the team that if we did not win the Gold our season would be a failure and we were not going to look for any excuses along the way. In Luleå it is always easy to find reasons to rationalize losing. Cold winters, darkness, travel and not enough experience. Our oldest player in 1996 was Eric Elliot at 26.  I felt there had to be a stop put to this thought process so I eliminated the possibility from the beginning. When you have no soft place to land after underachieving you are less prone to do it a 2nd time  The players were ready for the challenge. They had a driving hunger and desire.  I believe Swedish basketball players have the capacity. Point them in the right direction, give them an ambitious but achievable goal and follow it with a hard shove and they will be more than willing to run that race. I was able to combine what I learned in Belgium and Germany and incorporate it in Sweden. It worked. Many believe that you have to handle Swedes with kid gloves. I believe this is a mistake. Many have ambitions to play in Europe, the United States and even the NBA. Indeed some have reached these goals.  To reach high expectations you must be able to deal with pressure and high demands.

In 1998 we lost to the Dolphins in the finals, they were better than us and were deserving champions. I got the team together after that game and told them all that our season was a failure, not because Norrköping was not better during the finals, because they were, but because we could have played better and we did not. They agreed. The next season we played the play offs the same time we played the Final Four of NEBL in Lithuania. In the semi finals, Eric Elliot was toast. Worn down by the games in Vilnius he was our weakest player in the starting five against the Kings. The rest of the team carried him in the semis where we lost the two away games by 20 plus points and won the three home games by three or less.   Södertälje played better basketball at a higher level but our heart, mental strength and desire to reach our goal won out. 
I left Sweden and returned to Belgium for a season, coached again in Germany and ended up back where I am today in Aalst, Belgium. But by the time I left Plannja my philosophy was confirmed. It is what I believe. A coach's responsibilities are:

1) Mentally motivate and inspire his players.
2) Recruit players that have solid practice habits, compete and have talent.
3) Always put a competitive group on the court.
4) Be tactically prepared.
5) Stay within the confines of the clubs budget.
Style of Play 
This starts with this same philosophy as a foundation.  I believe you have to respect the opponent but respect yourself more. Do not let the other guy define you. There is a valid logic to preparing for the other team but when the balance becomes more about stopping them than focusing on your own strength it is a recipe for defeat. In Swedish basketball I have seen National Teams (NT) slow the tempo down, keep the game close and try to win at the end. This is mentally and tactically defensive. It sends a message to your players and your opponent that you are playing on your heels. I want my team on their toes attacking. At both ends of the court.  One of the raps against Swedish ball has been we are too soft. I encourage my players to make contact first. Do not wait for the other team to bump or push you. Show them that you are game for the fight. We are coming to win. Not because we are arrogant but because we are good enough to take the fight to the opponent.

For us to compete with bigger European teams we have to pressure the ball and be physical off the ball and most importantly, show we will not be intimidated. When the opposing player cuts through the key, there must be contact. They cannot be allowed to run their offenses with no obstruction. If they are worried about being bumped or hit they will adjust throwing off the timing of their offense. With this we have much done. We have disrupted their offense and gained their respect.

On offense, we must be quick, using our speed combined with ball movement and shooting accuracy. This will open the court so we can use our strengths. We have some low post threats but not many. It is something we must improve. For now we use our big men to shoot and to draw size away from the basket, creating opportunities for perimeter players - physical on defense, quick and accurate on offense.
First and foremost we are looking for men that want to represent Sweden. If I, or the Federation, have to expend too much energy to convince potential NT players it will catch up with us later. It is an honor and not a right to be part of this team. Players have to sacrifice a large part of their summer, miss valuable family time and deal with a very intense program and they should be appreciated for their contribution but representing your country at the NT level in your sport is, and should be, the ultimate goal for every player.

The NT men’s program is run efficiently. The hotel, food, practice arrangements and travel are all taken care of by the federation. We have a group of doctors and physical therapists that travel with the team. If last summer is any indication of what it is going to be like this summer, we all will be well taken care of.  For those people who expect 1st class tickets and rooms at the Hilton Hotel, first lets play like a top level European team before we ask for 5 star treatment.  The rewards outweigh the sacrifices. I am not Swedish but I take great pride in having the opportunity to represent Sweden. Asking my players to feel the same is not only fair but to be expected. 

This summer the returning NT players will be challenged by the talented group of youngsters we have in Sweden, the US and Europe. The decision of who will be invited to participate will be made by the coaching staff with advice from the federation, its youth national team leaders and added by input from the Swedish league coaches. We are going through a switch of generations. Let’s not get it wrong. From the start we must send the right message to this new group. We are not looking for complainers questioning everything and demanding more...we want doers finding solutions and asking what they can do to get better.
Players must have the physical and mental tools to take on a demanding schedule and high expectations. These are crucial factors to any success we are to have.

Point Guards
Mats Levin has retired. This puts Rudy Mbemba and Thomas Massamba as our returning point guards. There are former NT players and upcoming talent that will also compete at this position.
The Wings

This is a very competitive spot. Martin Pahlmblad, Anton Saks, Stefan Grundberg, and Micke Lindquist were on the team but they will be pushed this summer by a talented group of youngsters.

Big Men

We are thin here but the players we have hold a high international level. I thought Jonas Jerebko and Jocke Kjellbom played very well together. Jocke Kjellbom has continued to confirm himself as a legitimate European center with his contribution at Norrköping in the Euro challenge. We are not sure of Jonas for next summer due to injury.  Brice Massamba and Martin Ringström will be in the picture.
We lack big #3s. Jerebko played there some but due to our lack of size we had to move him primarily to the #4. Saks had an immediate impact. At two meters he has the athleticism to defend what is often the opposing team´s most dangerous player. Most European teams have scoring #3s with size. It is why Anton Saks was so important to us during last summer and why Stefan Grundberg made the team. Anton Saks also had the advantage of being able to contribute without having the ball. His rebounding and defense were keys to our success. Many players come to the NT tryout as scorers that need the ball. On their club teams they often were hidden on defense. Every player we get must have the ability and will to defend. If not, they will not make the team. Saks had the advantage of being a role player on a very good club team. He had a quick and short learning curve to make the adjustment to the NT. We still lack depth in this spot but Anton was a very welcome surprise.
So what kind of player are we looking for?  Above I listed some specific areas that we lack in depth but I believe the priority is finding players of talent that are willing to make the sacrifice and commitment to being better. The best example is Jonas Jerebko. This seems a simple and obvious choice, which it is. But it is not only Jonas´ step to the NBA that makes him so intriguing for me but his dedication to getting better and drive to win. At 22 there are many that could learn much from him, not because of what he has reached but instead how he got there.
The Swedish Liga 
I am not here to preach to Swedish teams how to play. Coaches have enough on their plate.  I have not seen a lot of Swedish Liga games. It is clear this season that Norrköping holds European class. Fighting in Europe and competing at the same time in the Swedish competition is demanding. Other teams in Sweden have shown they are willing to challenge the Norrköping Dolphins. This is positive. I do not know the budgets of all the teams but those with lower budgets should not be jealous of teams with more resources. Instead the coaches should take it as a challenge on the court and the clubs should use it as motivation to grow their bottom line.  

The biggest difference I noticed in the Swedish players that had played abroad compared to those in the Liga was the comfort with contact and physical play. Sweden has speed and quickness and talent but lacks the routine to use their physical strength and deal with constant contact.

Also there is an adjustment that had to be made offensively.  Most players playing in Sweden can more easily attack the rim. It is not as easy when there are a couple 7 footers standing in the way. The pull up jump shot is a valuable addition to any player’s arsenal that wishes to play at a higher level and a must for NT players.

I think there is nothing wrong with clubs demanding more of their coaches and coaches demanding more of their players. Taking into consideration budget and injuries, goals should be set and there should be consequences if those goals are not reached.

Norrköping has shown what is possible. They have accomplished more than any expected and the Swedish players have played a big role. This of course is what a NT coach wants to see. Let’s hope others follow their lead and dare to take on Europe when they have the opportunity.
The format for the NT has changed somewhat the last year. We will be playing to qualify for the next European Championship regardless of our results this summer but our goal remains to win our group. We have high aspirations. The incoming young players must understand from the beginning that we are here to compete and win and accept the pressure those goals bring. 
Brad Dean


Skribent: Magnus Stråhle

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