Tag: Basketball

Basketball to Faith with Chris Westlake

Unity, Servanthood, Humility, Thankfulness and Passion are the words that flowed out of Chris Westlake’s mouth when I got a chance to have lunch with him recently.  For those of you that don’t know Chris, he was was an explosive left handed basketball shooter and one of the best players to come out of the Rockford area (Winnebago High School), but his story is not about basketball.

Sitting there with him, I wanted the juice.  I wanted the stories about how Chris Westlake and UWGB beat Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray (Cal) in the NCAA tournament and then lost to Syracuse by 3 with Autry, Wallace, Moten.  I wanted to know what made him average 15ppg his senior year in college and shoot 50% from the 3 point line.  (Yes, 50%)  I wanted to know more about the schools like NIU that had no interest in him.  I wanted to know what makes the good players great.  I wanted to know how he did it.  I wanted to know what drove him.  I wanted to know what made him successful.  I wanted to pass it on!

Chris grew up in Indiana and basketball was in his blood, literally.  Chris’ father and grandfather were both high level basketball players and sports/basketball was all Chris knew.  Through those years Chris developed an understanding and a feel for the game.  While basketball is what most people remember him for, Chris also played football and soccer in high school along with junior college baseball.  Chris was an all-around great athlete.

To answer my own questions above, Chris was a “full-tilt” type of person.  When there was a goal out there, Chris was wired to go get it.  When Chris made the decision to play D1 basketball, the switch was flipped and there was no “off” button.  Chris was playing D1 basketball and you can thank the naysayers.  I didn’t have to have lunch with Chris to confirm my beliefs.  Back 25 years ago, Chris was on a different level of commitment and everybody knew it.  PASSION!

While I was expecting to hear more stories about what Chris did to become better, I heard stories about the coaches and mentors that opened doors for him along the way and gave him direction.  I heard stories about how Chris enjoyed his brief stint with coaching and how he truly enjoyed helping all the kids on the end of the bench.  I heard about how coach Joe Murphy went out an bought a rebounding machine and spent hours in the gym with him shooting shots.  I heard stories about Carl Armato and Dick Bennett and how they made Chris a better player.  I heard stories about academic tutors and mentors who discussed their faith with Chris.  I soon realized that his successes were less about him and more about others.  He went on to add that the most influential coach and instrumental coach who became part of his life was Woody Wilson.  Chris said, “I connected a lot of dots because with him”.  HUMILITY AND THANKFULNESS!

By the end of lunch, (several hours at that) it dawned on me that Chris loves basketball but today it is his Catholic Faith that guides him.  It was pretty great coming to the realization that through Chris’ basketball career he was building what today is his identity.  I look forward to incorporating Dick Bennett’s 5 pillars – Unity, Servanthood, Humility, Thankfulness and Passion into my future coaching and pass it down.  Thanks Chris for sharing, if you ever get back into coaching you can coach my kids anytime.  I look forward to passing on your message of hard work and faith.  Thanks, my friend!

I enjoyed it greatly!

Here is a good video of Dick Bennett (retired) talking about Faith, Servanthood and Basketball.  At the 18:00 minute mark, he discusses the characteristics of a very good team.  Take a few minutes and listen to Basketball and Faith.


Coach Warner


Coaches, this video is for you!

Coaches!!! It’s a matter of Perspective!

This is a must watch for you! While we may not relate to staying in 4-star hotels or getting to see free NBA games court-side, there are many things we can relate to.

Watch the YouTube video about Coach Pop on retirement! Enjoy if you have not seen it or share it if you have. It doesn’t get any “easier” than this!!!

Coach Pop on Retirement

Develop an Old Mans Game

Develop an Old Man’s Game!

Everyone wants to be like Villanova!!!

What everyone needs to understand is that Villanova plays one aspect of the old mans game better than anyone. In the video below it shows some really good aged concepts that every coach needs to incorporate into their practice plans/game plans. Everybody has met a player or two that has an old mans game but not too many teams have developed that team philosophy on the big stage like Villanova has.

As I re-watch the video, it only reminds me of how I won 3 on 3’s back in the day with two guys named Lonnie Calhoun and Jason Howard “Duck”.  (I’m not forgetting about you Brian Brush and Don Metz)  Watching us play basketball was only a beautiful thing to very few people watching us.  To the rest of the spectators, it was probably pretty painful.  The kicker behind it was those guys were knock down shooters.  We played the “old man’s game” to a tee.

Here is how we did it.

  1. We shared the basketball and knew when everyone was going to shoot it.
  2. We knew that we would never win an eye ball test and we knew that (I) Coach Warner couldn’t shoot.
  3. After sharing the ball, we put the ball on the deck with the understanding that we would get cut off sooner rather than later.
  4. Look for slow developing/slow moving back-cuts
  5. Pivot 3 times (maybe 4 times but you’re pushing a 5 second call!  Note:  most refs don’t call this because by human nature they only call 5 seconds when a player is forced to pick up their dribble or is in trouble)
  6. Give a final up and under.  (This one is about 60% effective – that # was made up, sort of)
  7. Kick it out to one of your shooters to break your opponent’s heart.

The game plan was pretty simple in our 3 on 3’s.  We relished the fact that our basketball IQ needed to be greater than their basketball IQ AND their athleticism.  I remember one time when we won a Quad Cities Gus Macker and Lonnie and Duck warmed up shooting 3’s with their left hand just so the other team didn’t think we could shoot!  Ha!  I still warmed up with my strong hand however.

I think growing up needing to think the game like an old man became my advantage and why I enjoy watching Villanova basketball so much. While the season has concluded there is still Villanova basketball all around you, you just need to look for it. Next time you walk into your local YMCA at 5 am in the morning, do yourself a favor, pass the first court over where all the young kids are playing and take a second to watch Villanova play, they are dressed up as a bunch of 50 year old men, driving to the hoop, picking up their dribble and pivoting as the day is long until they find 60 year old teammate slashing to the rim for a 2 handed runner on the baseline.

Lastly, I could not be more excited, I bought the domain name.  http://www.oldmansgame.com  Ha!!!!! It’s ON!!!!

Coach Jason Warner