Passion and Intensity

by Kelvin Sampson (Houston Rockets)
Passion and Intensity

With the start of another basketball season, coaches all across the country are working tirelessly to prepare their respective teams for a successful campaign.

Every coach has a slightly different approach, in regards to scheme and philosophy, but all of us want to instill two things in our players -- passion and intensity.

Whether its the NBA or college, working hard will produce results, but often people put to much focus into looking for the results and lose sight of what it takes to get there. Just work hard and the rest will take care of itself.

It can be difficult to just depend on making shots in order to be successful. All too often, players will develop a mindset that making shots will overcome shortcomings. On occasion, making baskets can bail you out, but over the long haul it's the hard work that will translate into winning consistently.

When we play well it's a credit to the dedication and commitment of our players, which begins in practice. Good results on game day begin on the practice court.

When I was a college coach our practice sessions were always more strenuous and more intense than the 40 minutes on game day. We would practice with passion and intensity and we carry that over to game night. It's a little different in the NBA, but the passion an intenstiy should remain a constant.

Coaches always talk about playing hard with every possession, but actually achieving that is not so easy. As coaches we can preach and teach, but it's ultimately up to the players to really dedicate themselves to the task at hand.

A lot of players believe that they are working hard, but they really don't have an understanding of hard work really is.

Sometimes players think that they can afford to miss an assignment once in a while because they played with a passion on the previous ten possessions. But in a game that is often decided by one or two possessions, even one sub par effort on the defensive end of the floor can decide the outcome.

Everyone wants its team to play hard, but I demand it.

In past columns I have touched on the fact that so much of the long-term success begins with identifying the right players in the recruiting process. And it's not just about talent.

I have always looked for talented players with character, passion, commitment and a dedication and willingness to work hard and get better.

A roster full of players with those qualities is the foundation for success.

And through attrition they continue to get a better understanding of the system and approach that will make us successful as a team.

Most kids grasp the concept that just making shots only guarantees that our number on the scoreboard will look a little better.

It's important that players understand that there are two sides to every coin and two sides to every scoreboard. And that means that we have to play every single possession with passion and intensity.

Made baskets don't always show up, but passion and intensity can show up every day if you commit yourself.