17 August 2009
I’m currently running a featured story on Portland Trail Blazers shooting coach John Townsend over at HOOPSWORLD (“No Offseason For A Shooting Coach”) and how he spent his offseason.
Man, and I thought I was busy. Townsend's got me beat by far.
My intention was to make it a summer centric angle, detailing his workouts with Steve Blake, Jerryd Bayless, Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph over the course of the offseason. Trouble is, John and I talked for about an hour one morning last week – so you could imagine trying to keep this featured story to 1000 words.
It just wasn't happening.
So allow me to touch on some areas from Coach JT that deserve more attention in their own right:
On his appreciation for his job:
“It’s definitely interesting doing what I do. I understand my position on the totem pole and I am absolutely fine with it. I’m just happy to be on the totem pole. I appreciate the job and the situation. Coming from the minor leagues; red eye flights to get to Greenville, South Carolina to work. I was appreciative of that.”
On gaining experience in his role going into his third-year in Portland:
“Now I can factor in guys’ personalities – because this will be my third year with Greg (Oden), Brandon (Roy), LaMarcus (Aldridge) and Martell (Webster). So I’ll know better when to hit them up or when to pull back or do what I need to do.”
On critiquing shooting habits:
“If I told Brandon Roy every day what he needs to do, eventually he’s just going to give me the Heisman.”
On when to coach and when to watch and learn:
“There are guys that I might make a suggestion to or they might come up to me and ask what I see. That happens during the season when guys say, ‘what do you see with my shot?’ What’s going on? Then I tell them instantly. I’m charting it out. I can tell them by watching because I know their shot, because there are only fifteen guys. Of those, only ten are going to play. I can tell them, ‘this is what you are doing. Keep doing it. Or your hand is in the middle, or your left hand is coming early. Keep doing it. If I say it in a positive light, it changes how they think about things.”
On whom he decides to work with:
“There are certain guys I’ll try and hit every day, but it will be mostly the younger guys. I’ll get with other guys more often if they seek me out.”
On Jerryd Bayless:
“Last year, he’d get to practice and we’d should for about an hour and a half before. Literally he’d make well over 100 threes and grind it out. But it’s such a long season. I think he maybe got tired. Then we’d go every night too.”
“I would like to think I’m smart about having this job, because I’ve learned so much since I’ve gotten here. I’ve had guys like James Jones; great shooter. Steve Blake; great shooter. And I’ve learned how they work out and what they do, what they think about and what their purpose is. But Jerryd was working out and shooting at clips that James Jones did in the past; what Steve Blake has in the past. So it stands to reason that in game situations, he’s going to be similar.”
“He works out with Frank Johnson in Phoenix – and his workouts with him, I mean that’s an NBA head coach. The workouts he would do with him – that’s great.
On Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph:
“Realistically, you don’t know how much Dante and Jeff will play (during the season). It could be a lot. It could be minimal, but those two guys are guys I will spend a lot of time with. It was good to build a routine and establish a rapport. I say, ‘Look. Everyone is coming over at 8:30. We’re coming over 45 minutes before.’ Because that’s what it is going to be like during the season. Once guys like Brandon get there and on the court, you’re going to have to be done. It’s good to lay ground work for that.”
“I think both of those kids’ people are going to like, because they are personable and work hard. Of the first two-year players – rookies to be and sophomores - I’d say easily Dante was a top-five player; easily. Flynn looked great. Harden looked great. And then you had Dante. He shot really well. He knows how to play. He has a knack for getting his hand on the ball. He has a nose for the ball. He can hit open jump shots. The thing will be can he hit open jump shots and corner threes.
On how he rates his job performance:
“We finished fourth in the league in three-point shooting, but 18th in free-throw shooting. Field goal percentage is an arbitrary thing because of dunks or the shot clock. But you look at a guys open jump shot. For me – and I put together a book for management and Nate at the end of the year – I go through Brandon’s rookie year compared to second year compared to last year. And I go over three-throws and threes, made, attempts and percentages. Then they can compare. And I’ll evaluate myself on a month to month basis based on numbers. Well, this kid is shooting the ball well. Now what do I do? Do I leave him alone? That depends on the personality, because some guys don’t want to know. If I was to video Steve’s (Blake) shot – he doesn’t want to know. With that book – I’ll do a month to month break down of the team, individual break downs by player and then career break downs (complete with bar graphs).
On offseason workouts compared to the regular season:
“Offseason work outs will be very different than in-season workouts. When you are dealing with guys at this level, they are so ground in to a routine that they will dictate to you what they want to do in their workouts. If that is good, I’ll just let them do what they want to do. If it’s not good, then I will make suggestions.”
On working smarter not harder:
“I used to work with Tony Delk way back when. He had to make twenty-five shots from seven spots. So I said, ‘what’s the reason for this?’ And he said he wants to make twenty-five. So I said, ‘eventually what’s happening is your first fifteen are great. Your next five are okay, and then you struggle with the last five. So why don’t you just do ten and do a great ten, and if you feel good then go back around’. He said he never thought about it like that. A great ten is better than a mediocre twenty-five.”
On the mental versus physical aspect of shooting:
“It depends on the player and how they feed off of that. In the game, all you want to worry about is getting your shot off and getting it off so it feels good. There are reasons why it feels good. Your mechanics are going to make it feel good. You want that good feeling every time you shoot the ball. As a shooter, if the ball misses – and it felt good – it doesn’t hurt as much. If it feels terrible and it goes in, you are still going to second guess yourself.”
photo: oregonlive/bruce ely
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