Princeton Principles

Watch the man in front of you, he tells you what to do!

Kyle Korver Checklist to shooting greatness

We’ve all heard the term “practice makes perfect” and unless you’re Allen Iverson (who expressed his disdain for “practice” in his now infamous rant of years ago it’s true to a certain extent.

What’s truer still is that “perfect practice makes perfect”…that’s exemplified in this USA Today article on just how the NBA’s best three point shooter approaches his craft.

We taught many of the specifics Korver lists as his key’s to success (#2,#4, #9, #13, #14, #18, #19, #20) in our winter SCORE Clinics but he obviously takes it to a new, more defined  level

In either case it’s a great read and a great lesson of “perfect practice makes perfect” to players young and old

Recapping a Silver Medal, a Gold Medal and all the Gold that YaChad brings

My apologies for the tardiness of this recap post……I left my Houston hotel at 4 am on Friday the 10th and have not stopped moving since.
All is well that ends well but the trip to Philadelphia alone had its share of logistic challenges starting at the Houston airport where I came to be informed that my CA drivers license had expired.
This fortunately did not trap me in Houston but did trap me in a car rental agency in the bowels of Philly for 5 hours

Thursday, the 9th of August was one of the most amazing, emotional roller coaster days I can recall, which, from a score perspective is “old news” …….

We won our morning game against a very good, very well coached team from Phoenix providing us the opportunity to play for Gold against the perennial favorite LA Westside team.

We wound up losing that game several times over on one level, but, the guys refused to lose which made the scoreboard outcome incredibly emotional….a game and an experience I dare say we will all remember for many a year to come.

Our first loss in that game came when Parker went down to a knee injury after less than 3 minutes had been played, never to return!

Parker had been our “rock” around the rim, scoring, rebounding, defending etc. He had an amazing tournament and it was heartbreaking to watch his emotions when he realized that his final JCC Maccabi Games as a player were over…..his teammates battled on!

We were down early and getting blown out seemed possible; we were playing a very good team!

That said and as stated above though the guys refused to lose. We were tired, we were suffering the by-products of fatigue including a brief, a very, very brief moment of giving in to the excuses presented by the circumstances we faced BUT on we battled. (Earlier in the day we all shook hands and agreed that regardless of what happened in Game 1 and or Game 2 that day we would play 64 minutes of basketball that day…regardless of what came our way and honor their commitment they did!!!)

We tied it at half on a great in-bound play and finish by Sammy, we took the lead midway through the 3rd quarter on some great plays by all concerned, but, once again we were playing a terrific team who got hot from the 3 point line and we fell the slightest bit behind; we fought back, had to foul, hit some shots but ultimately we “seemed” out of time…….

Down 7 points with 5 seconds to go Noah shot a 3, got fouled, an ensuing technical foul was called on the other team and just like that Noah had 5 free throws with 3.9 seconds to play AND we would get the ball back!


On very tired legs, Noah and the sheer will that defines him made 4 of the 5 shots.
We called our last time out and I quickly drew up something that I later described as “not particularly good”, but, Rylan, through his own significant will got a decent look at a shot that got a good piece of the rim….short by and inch, obviously not in, and, we had earned a bittersweet Silver Medal.

Last year in Springfield I told our team I’d rather win Bronze than Silver and this experience gave credence to that statement.

Our post game was filled with tears, emotional exchanges, hugging, handshakes and the true test of YaChad ……your sons, our team passed with flying colors!

Our huddle after the medal ceremony was one of the greatest places I’ve ever been in all of my days…..your sons shared so much of themselves with one and other in ways that will serve each of us in ways we’ve seen already and in more ways than we’ll all ever know.

Thank you Team JCC East Bay for contributing all that you have to our community and my life!
(in no particular order)



Playing for a medal with guys who already won….

We have had a few games against teams that we outplayed due to size in some instances but also due to effort and overall focus and yachadness (look it up in the Hebrew/Coach Barry dictionary)

Our game this afternoon was against the best team we’ve played thus far and your sons, our team played well, making some great adjustments defensively and led on the offensive side of the flow by four-year Maccabi veteran Noah Orlik

As cliche as this may sound you’d know it was accurate if you were here….and my team knows it to be true; we’re competing for a medal tomorrow but they have already won my heart

I have pushed them, I have prodded them, I have challenged them, I have praised them, I have hugged them and they have allowed me in to their respective lives knowing that a greater good was around the corner ….if not right in front of their respective noses.

Topping it off there has not been one adult, whether another Maccabi coach, a “host family” parent or parents here from our own delegation who hasn’t commented about the wonderful nature and warmth of these great kids, these wonderful guys!

Games come and go, some won, some lost….I ask kids to define themselves by their effort and make certain they embrace the spirit of YaChad so with that said they really have won beyond the scores.

Root for us today but give yourselves a “pat on the back” for parenting……none of us are perfect but I can assure you that from where I stand you’ve done well!

Happy and honored to be……

(Coach) Barry

JCC East Bay Maccabi basketball 2012 Day 1 recap

We won two games today

Quick recap
Defended well
Shared it well
Otherwise a. but out of sorts on offense
The guys are great and beginning to understand how important playing for one and other is to their success… which for me means being as good as they can be
We are struggling a bit in this regard but moving in the right direction
At the end of the day basketball is a team game and embracing that is not always easy
Today, Tuesday we play one game after a morning of community service with kids…..I LOVE THIS Maccabi tradition
Our kids are wonderful and drawing praise off of the court constantly from various folks….
You should all be proud of them for this, I really am proud to be their coach and thankful for the opportunity on all levels
Pictures forthcoming after today’s game and Say of Caring and sharing
P.S. Maccabi is in great shape here in the East Bay in the very capable hands of Sally and Michele!

CCJCC Maccabi – Happy to be here…sad to be leaving these guys

Today was a tough day that was made tougher by some tough opponents and the pressure that surrounds tournament play.

It’s “only” Maccabi, it’s not life and death but it’s why we came and each of us felt the responsibility and the pressure to succeed… least I did,  I’m sure the guys did as well!

We did not win a Gold Medal today but we DID SUCCEED!

In the morning against a team from Orange County who we beat previously by 19 we ground out a win. Our offense was stagnate for a while then came to life for enough time to let out defense sustain us.

It wasn’t pretty but once again the guys responded to what had to be done and we were in the “Medal Round”

In my opinion the Miami game was the worst game we played this week in terms of energy, awareness, focus and execution.

Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was expectation (we had beaten them previously by a significant margin) but at the end of the day it was Miami.

They were quicker to the ball then we were, they shot it better than we did and they made free throws when they had to……we did not, missing multiple shots, some of which were from point blank range and we missed 10 free throws.

That said and to the credit of these guys we didn’t quit; down 9 with 2:30 to go we mounted a furious comeback and had a chance to tie with 7 seconds to go…….Ry had a “3” rattle in then out and with it staying out were our chances of winning a “Gold”.

The boys were completely despondent, tears flowing as we went off to a classroom at the facility to discuss what had just happened and (in my mind) more importantly now what lied ahead.

Within 2 hours we would be playing for a medal of another color, a Bronze which I very much wanted our kids to now have though was not sure they were ready to go get.

Details of what transpired in our meeting will remain up to them to share but again, to their credit they regained the necessary composure to bring a Bronze medal back to Contra Costa……

We rode Rylan and Zac’s hot hands for a while and whenever necessary Noah just put us on his back assisted on several occasions by Charlie; we also had a phenomenal team defensive effort when we needed to have one!

Though it could have been higher the week ended on a high note for this very special group of guys and a very gratified coach and Delegation Head

Thank you all for your support, thank you all for raising such wonderful, character laden young men…..there will be more to follow including a picture blog.

Megan was awesome in this, her first year as a Delegation Head and though we all need to thank her it’s already occurred by her complete joy getting to know and spend time with these fabulous boys!

We were graced today with the presence of a former CCJCC Maccabi alumni Jeremiah Kreisberg  (Sam’s older brother) now playing for Yale , as well as Joel and our remain faithful…….Alec Kobre (Rylan’s older brother), Kim Kobre, Uncle Barry, Josh Mandela and Sam’s aunt and Jeff Orlik who continues to amaze me with his ongoing commitment to add to the success of CCJCC Maccabi in any way possible.

Thanks to all of you so much!

YaChad from a sleepy coach in Springfield, Massachusetts

CCJCC Maccabi Day 2 recap- Happy to be here & W.I.N.

CCJCC Maccabi – Happy to be here ……Day 2

As most of you already know we had a successful day on the court and as importantly off of the court

Host families of our kids continue to rave about how great it is to have them in their respective homes and be amazed at the amounts of food they happily supply that gets consumed

The focus I asked of the kids was based on what I call

WI.N which stands for What’s Important Now

Rather than worry abut the IF game ……”If this happens then we can do this” we tried to focus on what was most important NOW, what was in our control

The next pass

The next catch

Your response to mistakes whether your own or your teammate


My thought was to not worry about what’s past or potentially ahead simply focus on NOW, this moment, this play

To the credit of our guys who I continue to grow fonder of each day they bought in

Despite the final scores yesterday both games had tight moments at times; both teams tried to come back and aroused a great deal of emotion while doing so

Our timeouts were very focused on NOW

“Don’t worry about their emotion. Don’t get caught in it, focus on our next play”!

To their credit…they listened, they were coachable!

Great kids!

We are off today, Wednesday and it’s a help

A few guys are a bit banged up but should be fine for tomorrow

I hope you all hear what I see….kids having a blast, learning about the true meaning of YaChad and W.I.N,

Coach Barry

*What’s important now! (in honor of my friend Mike Gragnani)

CCJCC Maccabi Basketball – “Happy to be here”!

Greetings CCJCC Maccabi athletes, families and supporters from soggy Springfield, Mass. It’s been raining here since the moment we landed safely yesterday at 9 AM am…it’s now 11:04 PM and there’s no talk of it letting up until later tomorrow if then.

That said basketball of course is an indoor sport so we are completely unaffected by the weather and truly having a great experience already.

We are blessed with a completely awesome group of kids, each of whose character was tested and validated “awesome” already. I’m proud to be their coach and all of you should be proud to be connected to these guys……I’m happy to be here!

I use that phrase because it’s the theme of a story I told our guys 45 minutes before we walked out on the court to play a very good team from Cherry Hill, N.J. that jumped all over us and then after we offered mild resistance re-jumped all over us beating us by 20+ points.

This team ran well, they shot it incredibly well (13 “3 pointers”) and basically were quicker to the ball on nearly every opportunity.

I’m not sure our guys had any idea what hit them even though I was well aware that something like this could happen in Game #1 on Day #1 at the Maccabi Games.

A quick story that I shared with our team this morning and one I repeat often to explain why I knew a game like our first one today could happen; it’s both true and relates to many things in life at least from my perspective……….

The very first year I was a Head Coach at the Maccabi Games was 2004 in Houston. I was coaching for Palo Alto JCC (Contra Costa had not yet developed a Maccabi presence). Our team that year was a good team with a great bunch of guys. We had practiced together but we had NEVER played a game together. Certainly my fault but just the same that was the situation.

In our very first game that year we ran into a “buzz-saw” team from Chicago who took advantage of our nerves and lack of game experience and got out to a big lead which they never did relinquish…no happy ending at least for this particular game.

We had on our team that year a young man who was then and still is a very competitive and precocious individual.

During the middle of this first game on this first day of the Games he started to yell at me from the floor, directing me as to what we needed to be doing etc. After a minute or so of absorbing this rant I suggested that he and the rest of our team “just play”……………my thinking being just to get our feet wet. Again this was Day #1 and the Games last for four days.

Please know I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a coach including a few in our first game today but this suggestion to “just play” was not one of them.

After my suggestion/admonition this young man waved his hand at me (essentially in disgust) from the floor, in the middle of the game and in front of all of his teammates.

I proceeded to call a time-out simply reminding our guys that this was

  • Our first game
  • That we needed to build momentum AND
  • Above all they needed to realize the privilege they had simply to be in Houston representing their delegation.

“Raise your hand if you’re happy to be here” I said to the guys during this particular timeout. Each one of them did except the one who thought….well to this day I’m not sure what he thought. He was our best player and seemed smart enough to know to raise his hand even if he was lying.

As soon as I noticed his lack of response….he wasn’t happy to be there I subbed him out.

We continued to play, without him out there, we continued to lose but most of us established that this was a special opportunity and that savoring each minute was a worthy goal.

Five minutes of play went by and ultimately our “star” came up to me and said “Coach, I’m ready to go in”. I replied, Adam “I’m not interested if you’re ready to go in I want to know when you’re “happy to be here”!

He walked away again! The first game on the first day of the Maccabi Games and we had someone who for some reason didn’t seem to appreciate the opportunity to be there.

About 3-4 more minutes passed and this young man with who I remain friends and a mentor to to this day came up to me FINALLY and said “Coach, I’m happy to be here”………..back in he went, we went on to win a number of games that year our last game in double overtime on Day #4 that year. Adam went on to play for me  two more times and as I said we remain close to this day.

Immediately following our first game today I reminded the guys that we talked about a game like that happening and that it was now officially over….the only thing that really mattered now was our next game which was starting in a mere 90 minutes and were they “happy to be here”

They were reminded of our theme “YaChad”, “together” and how often we discussed that in each practice……………it was a word then but now we would find out if we could “walk our talk” in the next game.

The structure of the overall event makes winning games the first two days a bit less important then playing well; I was not pressuring them so much to win as to compete and leave the last game where it belonged.

To the credit of these guys they did what they needed to do in Game #2, leaving Game #1 behind except to use for learning. Each of them proving they were in fact “happy to be here”!

I too am happy to be here and deeply appreciative for the privilege to work with this group. We may not win another game, we may win a Gold Medal but I know these guys will compete for themselves and for one and other.

This makes me proud as it should each of you, their support system, the ones who have helped instill their obviously high values.

As a parent of two young adults I know you may not always see them as I do now but I can assure you that each of these guys knows right from wrong and as simple as that may seem it’s a huge accomplishment!

I apologize in advance for the length of this first blog post from the Games but I want to do my best to share with each of you what it’s like to be here and that your sons, Megan and I are (again) happy to be here!

Tomorrow we play two very good team (Miami and Los Angeles, Milkan). While I obviously have no idea the outcome, your kids, our team will not lose from a lack of effort or character.

Special thanks to Carl Bass and his 80+ year old mom, The Kobre’s (Kim, Shaw & Alec (a former CCJCC player), their Uncle Barry, Josh Mandel and Sam’s aunt and last but certainly not least Jeff Orlik for all of your support here at the Games….it means a great deal to me having you folks here!


Coach Barry

P.S. Judith and Dave you both of course are missed

Building Team Play From Individual Skills

This is a challenge at any age, for any level, professionals included. When working with 9-10 year olds it’s a true challenge.

I’ve always said that there are two reasons people don’t do things; they either don’t want to or they don’t know how.

The former is problematic, the later a challenge but one that drives a coach.

These guys certainly want to! They are all great kids but they simply don’t yet know how. Their skills are not yet developed enough and from a sheer developmental perspective they are not yet ready…………..not selfish, just not yet ready.

Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) states that humans have three levels of being.

1.Dependent (people getting your food, clothing etc for you as when you’re an infant)

2. Independent (able to get for yourself)

3. Interdependent (which he describes as the highest form of being – the stage where you are comfortable with yourself such that your able to share with others).

This is what we strive for in coaching, this is what drives me personally on the court and off in my “day job”…………creating/facilitating functionality.

Covey says that you must go through the stages of dependence , independence  and finally interdependence

Our guys are in stage #2 by the nature of their age so not being innately collaborative is not a character flaw it’s just where they are in their maturity.

Every pass we make, every screen we set, every time we help our teammate defend his man is a step toward their growth and understanding of team and it’s rewarding to see when it occurs.

We work on it daily and demand it be a part of what they do but when it doesn’t happen we simply point it out and move on………….trying to develop their individual skills to the point where they are comfortable enough with themselves and their ability that they’ll share with others moving forward.

It’s a great, fun challenging process that keeps me younger than I am and the opportunity to accept the challenge is a gift!

A parents role…….

This will always be a hotly discussed and contentious topic…………

My (empirically based) views, opinions and actions are as follows:

When you put your child into an organized sports program you do so for the purpose of wanting them to improve both at that sport and on a social level.

When you put your child into an organized sports program where the game is a TEAM game the improvement in those areas becomes that much more critical…………….sport specific skill AND socially specific skill.

If you don’t believe in TEAM then don’t put your child into a TEAM setting. IT WILL NOT WORK, for him/her or you.

Your focus will always be on your child and not the good of the team. If your focus is only on your child then your actions and comments will ALWAYS reflect that focus. It’s not necessarily intentional, it’s not necessarily evil but it is absolutely true and as a result there will be disappointment, disconnection and a lack of fun as well as camaraderie between you and your child and his/her and their team.

Your children count on you for so much! You are their providers and they want to please you. (Even if it doesn’t always seem that way……………….I speak from the experience of having two young adult children that my wife and I have raised) Because they want to please you if you make comments that are incongruous with the comments or teaching of their coach they will be in conflict which is bad…………… me when I say there is more than enough conflict already in their young lives.

If you put your child into an organized sports program only do so if you trust the coaching; the manner, style, fashion and content that the coach is espousing. If you don’t PLEASE do both you and your child a favor, find another coach/program that you do believe best suits your child BUT THEN TRUST THAT APPROACH.

As stated above your child very much wants to please and if you want him to please and make your interplay with him/her pleasurable try this simple approach:                                  Ask them to teach you what they learned in practice that day, or what coach discussed in the huddle. Don’t suggest what should have been said or taught! You will put your child in conflict, you will make yourself miserable, you will probably make your spouse miserable ……the only thing then gained is MISERY.

One of my mentors in life is Stephen Covey who wrote a book that I have read and continue to use as a personal bible. If you haven’t had a chance to read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I’d encourage you to do so and if you have read it pull it out again and get it reread. There are pearls of wisdom contained in those pages that are lessons of a lifetime. Lessons that if we apply and if follow will help guide all of us to a better, more centered life……….with that centering being on what you value most.

In that book Dr. Covey espouses that the best way to learn something is to teach it……..If you want your child to learn what he’s being taught let him/her teach you!

Finally, if you read other entries on this blog you’ll read quite a bit about TEAM. That word, those four letters are the very reason I coach (and a huge part of my professional life). I love and live for functionality.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”  Helen Keller once said. Think about it for you, for your child and for your family. We preach TEAM in every huddle, at every practice and in every drill; PLEASE don’t undermine these teachings! Cheer for every child on your child’s team like they are your own and if they are your own be encouraging as much as possible. (Homework and chores first of course but otherwise keep them having fun and interested in coming to pracice, not dreading it because they cannot live up to your expectations). Parents, have you taken the time to introduce yourselves to one and other? Do you know the names of evey parent of every child on the team? If so I commend each of you; if not I’d ask why. Your child will ultimately model your behavior…………teach TEAM, practice TEAM if you want that from them!

Kids are kids and these are games which should be fun. I am strict with my principles and do everything possible to keep your child accountable to what is expected. Ask them what those expectations are and how they are doing to keep up.

If you don’t or can’t leave “setting the bar” up to the coach there is a disconnect which you should act on….with the coach not your child. They are out there fighting the war of their pride, their maturity and everything else they see on television etc.

I’ll end this with one of my favorite  Teddy Roosevelt quotes, think of it when you think of your child, it certainly applys………..

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Basketball is a Team Game

Basketball is a team game, it always was and it always will be, particularly at the highest levels and, as a result basketball (at it’s most effective) is a game of trust.

If I am going to pass you the ball:

  • I TRUST you’ll catch it
  • I TRUST you’ll pass it to somebody else or
  • I trust (minimally) that you’ll make a good decision that’s in the best interest of our team

If someone is open and didn’t get the ball the person who had the ball either didn’t see the open man or didn’t want to pass it to them. (Michael Jordan was on the receiving end of many passes)

An individual player might be responsible in some cases for winning a game but only TEAMS win championships………….we try to teach TEAM in everything we do.

This past week we began to work on the early stages of TEAM defense. This is a hard concept to teach (even to my high school teams at first) but, once again like everything else in basketball it’s a TEAM game and we will try to teach our players TEAM defense along with individual defense

If you have a chance, ask your son what “HELP’ defense is and if he could explain it to you.

One of my mentors (Stephen Covey) said that the best way to learn something is to teach it; if your son can begin to teach you any of what Coach Brian and I are trying to instill then we will know we are making an impact.

I know this concept of asking your son is a repetitive statement but please know also I’ll say it again and again……it’s the best barometer I know of.

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