What Is Your Team’s Undergirding Made Of?

Dick Bennett has left a legacy in basketball that far surpasses his successes on the court. He’s known for recruiting players who were willing to place teamwork and discipline ahead of personal statistics. And, while few NBA players emerged from his programs, many of his players have gone on to success in other careers, including coaching.

Bennett had enormous success at each level of high school and collegiate coaching in Wisconsin. After replacing Stan Van Gundy at the University of Wisconsin, Bennett coached the men’s basketball team to three NCAA tournament appearances including the Final Four (1999–2000).

Bennett On Team Selection

Here some of Coach Bennett’s thoughts on team selection…

“I have always chosen people with sufficient skill and talent, but also (those who) demonstrate tremendous character … A lot of my players don’t (have) the greatest backgrounds and yet they have been given or developed character. (We are) going to struggle initially, we always have, but they are not going to give up. It’s almost sequential in the way things develop.

Once you succeed with this formula, getting good solid people who rank well across the board, others in the field think you are now going to get the great athletes. But the formula doesn’t change; we still do not recruit off that top 100 list across the country. We continue to get the same kind of kids that put us here in the first place; it’s character that makes the difference.

I tend to look for the more unspectacular skills. The willingness to do the little things; to be a smart player, to have a degree of mental toughness. I especially look for an unselfish character; unselfishness is what any team must have as its undergirding. I choose people who demonstrate tremendous – work habits, attitudes, intelligence – for the game. I look for people who don’t want the splashy approach, are not going to quit or take the easy way out.”

These coaching thoughts from Dick Bennett come from my archive. I’m starting to dig through the clutter of clinic notes that I’ve had buried in boxes and either use it, share it, or toss it. Good ideas were never meant to be boxed up. It’s almost criminal. More to come… stay tuned.