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Off Season Improvement

I have always been a huge believer in off season, individual improvement.  It is the single biggest way for a player to impact their role on the floor… become a better player, improve your skill set, put yourself and your team mates in a better position to win.  Simple equation… not so simple to execute.

Coaches all know that a large number of players have no idea how to workout in the off season and how to make their skill set better.  They think they do.  They think they are improving by going to the gym each day.  Unless there is a focused and well planned out regimen, they aren’t.  That is our job.  Teach them.  Get them to buy into the plan.  Convince them that the key is for them to work themselves tirelessly when no one is watching.  Be attentive to improving, be relentless in the approach.

We’ll address this much more during the coming weeks, with some workout ideas, examples and hopefully some other coaches sharing some ideas we can put on the site.  EMail those ideas and drills to:  ideas@allbasketballreview.com and I will get them on the site.

The below article gives some very “real” quotes and insight from the Tennessee coaching staff on Glory Johnson and her off season improvement approach.  Frankly, it hasn’t been good enough and she now knows it.

This article was shared by our friend Mark Thomas.  We know Maryland has always done  a tremendous job with the development of their players.  The reputation of all of the coaches is extensive in this area, especially assistant coach David Adkins. I have yet to pick David’s brain, but I hope to during the off season.

Thanks for sharing Mark…

On the road to Glory for Johnson

Junior’s mission: Elevate skill level in second half of career

Glory Johnson

Tennessee’s Glory Johnson saw her scoring and rebounding numbers last season mirror the numbers of her freshman season.

Glory Johnson wasn’t offering powdery beaches or shimmering waters.

The summer getaway the Tennessee women’s basketball player presented to her friends involved a gym and a chance to help her upgrade her game.

Selling a trip to the Yukon Territory might be easier. Or so Johnson feared. But her buddies are coming anyway, some from out of town to stay with her.

“I thought it was going to be a lot harder,” she said. “All you have to do is ask. And, for the most part, real, true friends, they’ll do whatever you ask them to do.”

And Johnson really, truly needs their help. The former Webb School star and high school All-American is entering the offseason before her junior year. The 6-foot-3 forward essentially has reached halftime of her collegiate career. And just like a coaching staff huddling outside a locker room between halves, she’s gathering a summer support crew to make some necessary adjustments.

Johnson began last season by scoring in double figures in 10 of the first 12 games. She looked like an All-American in scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds at Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 25. As late as Jan. 28 she was averaging nearly 13 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. Yet she finished with scoring and rebounding averages (10.1, 7.7) that virtually mirrored her freshman season (10.2, 7.1). And her accuracy sank to 45.8 percent. In the process, she lost her starting spot.

“One of the things Glory Johnson has to decide,” Lady Vols assistant coach Dean Lockwood said, “she’s got to decide how serious she’s going to be about really, really taking her skill set down the road farther.”

Johnson’s fellow juniors-to-be face the same decision. Their ranks will grow to seven next season with forward Vicki Baugh returning with two seasons of eligibility. She was redshirted last season while recovering from multiple knee surgeries.

The juniors’ progression from a rocky 22-11 first season was quantified by their part in 32 victories as well as SEC regular-season and tournament championships. A 77-62 upset loss to Baylor in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, though, affirmed that a steeper price must be paid.

Lockwood equated the investment to one of life’s essentials.

“Do you want to be in a Final Four and have a chance to play for a championship almost as bad as you want to take your next breath?” he asked. “That’s how serious it has to be.”

Lockwood believes that the growth of the women’s game has raised the offseason stakes. He conceived a vivid image of a player pulling out a hammer and chisel, as if she was sculpting her skills from marble. He said that a plan must be formulated and executed with “an unbelievable passionate purpose.”

“To do that, you can’t be casual,” he said. “You can’t say ho-hum. I’ll shoot 30 minutes a day and expect that to happen anymore.”

UT coach Pat Summitt described Johnson’s commitment to her skill work as “kind of hit and miss” and offered a blunt assessment in telling her this spring: “Your game has not really changed.”

Lockwood took note of the shooting Johnson did last summer. In recruiting her friends and utilizing her teammates, her intent this summer is to make the work more game-like.

“That was the one thing I wasn’t able to do last year was to get someone to come with me every time,” she said.

“It creates more of a game role more than anything. You can go all day shooting layups with no one on you but, at the same time, when someone’s actually working on blocking your shot and working on their defense as well as you working on your offense, I think that makes them better and you better, especially during the game.”

The postseason team workouts, which concluded last week, showcased drills that Johnson and her teammates can utilize during the summer. Summitt also broadened Johnson’s profile by previewing her as a defensive stopper for next season.

The role addresses one of Tennessee’s most glaring weaknesses. The responsibility also plays to Johnson’s greatest strengths – namely her quickness and athleticism – and could be her best niche. Lockwood recalled how former Lady Vol post Nicky Anosike gravitated to a comparable role.

“I don’t think that we have to sell (Johnson) on the job,” he said. “I think we have to teach her how to do the job.”

Johnson said that she and Summitt have discussed the role and what it would entail.

“Set the tone,” Johnson said. “When you stop a lead scorer from scoring that affects the whole game and that kind of motivates everyone else. Start us off right and pick up our team defensively.”

Sounds like a starter. At least it’s a chance for Johnson to feel better about herself and her contribution. Sounds like that would suffice.

“I like to know what I can do to help my team and if it’s being a defensive stopper then I don’t mind,” she said. “I like to play defense. I like when we’re successful so if it takes me stopping someone from scoring, whatever game it is, whoever it is – post or guard – I don’t mind doing that.”

The opportunity doesn’t preclude an upgrade in Johnson’s offensive skills. As Summitt said, “You shouldn’t limit yourself and just be a defensive stopper. If you can’t come down and make a shot for us, then you’re a one-dimensional player. We can’t have that.”

With the help of her friends, Johnson hopes to emerge from the gym this summer with a shot at being better prepared for the second half of her Tennessee career.

“I just want to play,” she said. “I want to be successful and help my team out however I can.”

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