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torocan
12-09-2014, 10:13 AM
I didn't see this posted anywhere and thought folks would find it interesting.

Ettore Messina, Euro coaching legend and 4 time Euroleague champion with close to a dozen regional championships under his belt joined the San Antonio Spurs this year as an assistant. 20 games into the season, he has a few observations.

From Ettore Messina's blog.


What the Spurs are all about

After we finished last season with CSKA by winning the VTB League, I went home for a couple of weeks. Then I moved over to San Antonio to sign my contract and – more importantly – find a house and a school for Filippo.

Sure, there’s a lot to talk about but two things really stood out for me from the start. The first happened on August, 18th. In the morning I took my son to school, dropped him off there and went to the office to watch some film. Can you guess who was at the gym when I arrived? Right, Tim Duncan. On his own, working to get himself into shape.

Just imagine: August, 18th. That was like “pre- preseason”, about a month and a half before actual preseason started. And a superstar, a legend was already there doing conditioning and working on fundamentals. This one example gives you the best possible idea on what the Spurs are all about and what their philosophy is.

Then on September, 1st it was time to start what they call “open gym”. Basically, that meant the assistant coaches were to come to the gym early in the morning every day to help the players get into shape. That’s 100% voluntary for the players. But with the exception of guys who spent the summer with their National Teams, everybody was there. Guys like Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili were rehabbing from injuries. Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and all the young players were working on their skills. Again, this is the philosophy of the club that the players share.

One of the biggest things in coach Popovich’s philosophy is the “we can’t skip any steps” principle

The Spurs do things together. There’s a lot of respect for everybody, and everybody is expected to give his or her opinion and help the group. It’s a unique philosophy of working together and facing adversity together as well. Coach Popovich has this rare ability to combine his demanding nature with the most sincere care for everyone within the organization. Players, management, coaches, doctors, physiotherapists – he cares about all of them. And that makes everyone proud to be a part of the organization. This is family first, basketball club second.

Also, one of the biggest things in coach Popovich’s philosophy is the “we can’t skip any steps” principle. It means there’s time and place for every process. You always start from the basics here and then go on to the most intricate things. At the beginning of the training camp we went over the fundamentals of offense and defense. Passing, catching, pivoting, sliding, moving without the ball – it was as if we were a junior team. That’s one of the major messages coach Popovich sends out to his players: techniques are much more important than tactics. You have to master the fundamentals and then you need the desire to compete every day, meaning that every day you have to come in ready to play.

It’s still quite early in the season, we’ve played around 20 games. And even on game days at our morning shootarounds we always go over defensive drills just to remind the players how important footwork and positioning are. There’s a lot of attention to small things, everybody’s really focused.

Coach Pop always speaks of the Spurs as a “program”

Coach Popovich always says he’s lucky that the Big 3 “has allowed him to coach the team”. What he means is that the three stars are ready to accept criticism, ready to be challenged, ready to lead the team during games and in practice.

Being around coach Pop is a constant learning experience. Here you learn to handle different situations. You see how he relates to players right after he criticizes or praises them, how he addresses the team during games, how and when he uses timeouts, which plays he calls, how he talks to the players at half-time, how he tries to squeeze the max out of his team during the last two minutes of every quarter – the list goes on and on.

What’s interesting is that he always pushes his coaching staff to argue with him. Sometimes he reminds me one of those Greek philosophers, the sophists, who tried to find the truth through arguments. He really encourages discussion and variety of opinions, seeing them as a means to improve as a unit.

Coach Pop always speaks of the Spurs as a “program”. Which was weird at first, because in the US the term is usually reserved for college teams. But what he implies is that there’s a strong togetherness of ownership, management and coaching staff here. And great communication as well.

http://pda.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/messina/710302.html

PurpleLynch
12-09-2014, 10:42 AM
Wonderful article. Spurs organization(coaching+scouting+general "philosophy") is,imo no doubt,the best in the Nba.
They just have this spartan,but peaceful philosophy based on hard working and general humbleness that can really allow to shine even the player who is a nobody in the league or in the draft(Ginobili is the best example).
Plus,the "sophist" method(or Socratic method,I think it's more appropriate in this context),is something of really huge for the chemistry of the team(coaching staff included).
Ettore is my favourite coach from Europe and I'm glad he can now work with Popovich:the bball's knowledge they are probably sharing must be something of unreal.

ink
12-09-2014, 12:36 PM
Both are the gold standard for coaching. In any sport. But Popovich is really amazing. He's right when he says he's lucky the "big 3" have allowed him to coach them. How many elite players are egoless enough to commit completely to a "program"? The results speak for themselves. Far from being boring, this is the best basketball of our generation. Without even having to say so, his "program" trumps "star" ball in every way.

kdspurman
12-09-2014, 03:28 PM
Both are the gold standard for coaching. In any sport. But Popovich is really amazing. He's right when he says he's lucky the "big 3" have allowed him to coach them. How many elite players are egoless enough to commit completely to a "program"? The results speak for themselves. Far from being boring, this is the best basketball of our generation. Without even having to say so, his "program" trumps "star" ball in every way.

I agree... It's really been a pleasure to watch.

kdspurman
12-09-2014, 03:29 PM
Wonderful article. Spurs organization(coaching+scouting+general "philosophy") is,imo no doubt,the best in the Nba.
They just have this spartan,but peaceful philosophy based on hard working and general humbleness that can really allow to shine even the player who is a nobody in the league or in the draft(Ginobili is the best example).
Plus,the "sophist" method(or Socratic method,I think it's more appropriate in this context),is something of really huge for the chemistry of the team(coaching staff included).
Ettore is my favourite coach from Europe and I'm glad he can now work with Popovich:the bball's knowledge they are probably sharing must be something of unreal.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Messina is post-Pop. he seems like a really smart dude.

ewing
12-09-2014, 05:43 PM
nothing surprising. the Spurs are pure class and Pop is the best in the biz. What i do find interesting is a big time Eruo coach taking this opportunity to learn the the league and NBA game. One thing I wonder about David Blatt is, how well can this guy know the NBA right now? I am sure Pop could give you a full scouting report on any rotation player in the league off the top of his head, same for officials, player combination etc . Blatt's lack of NBA experience puts him at a disadvantage.

andy2518
12-09-2014, 06:24 PM
Great article. Seems the Spurs are the gold standard these days.

PurpleLynch
12-09-2014, 06:52 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing how Messina is post-Pop. he seems like a really smart dude.

He should do well. It's obviously hard to inherit Pop's legacy,but he's a great coach and a great person. Plus,he coaches bball as Pop does,they also run a lot of similar plays. Definitely a great pick for the Spurs.

albertajaysfan
12-09-2014, 08:01 PM
nothing surprising. the Spurs are pure class and Pop is the best in the biz. What i do find interesting is a big time Eruo coach taking this opportunity to learn the the league and NBA game. One thing I wonder about David Blatt is, how well can this guy know the NBA right now? I am sure Pop could give you a full scouting report on any rotation player in the league off the top of his head, same for officials, player combination etc . Blatt's lack of NBA experience puts him at a disadvantage.

I think it was a wise choice by Messina to go learn from Pop before trying his hand at being a Head Coach in the NBA. Even if he moves on to another organization the wealth of knowledge he will gain from the Spurs 'program' is immeasurable. Plus he might be the heir apparent if Pops is looking at moving on soon.