New Hybrid Flex DVD with Don Kelbick is now available!

By Joe Haefner

New Hybrid Flex DVD with Don Kelbick is now available! Introductory discount ends on Friday, May 11th.

Don Kelbick Trains NBA Champion JJ Barea

By Joe Haefner

During the offseason, Don Kelbick was fortunate enough to train 2011 NBA Champion JJ Barea. JJ played a crucial role with the Dallas Mavericks as they won the 2011 NBA Championship. This year JJ is playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Here is a little flip phone video clip from their workout.

Who Are You Coaching For?

By Don Kelbick

Coaching is teaching. New ideas, new thoughts, trying to find ways to improve your players is all a part of coaching.

Coaching is also about control. Many coaches have become so involved with “my way or the highway,” that they miss the overall objective.

The objective is to maximize the players’ ability, not to get them to do what you want. All players are different. The way they learn and perform is unique. Trying to fit a player into a preconceived notion of the way he plays will almost always produce the opposite of the intended effect.

There was a story in the Miami Herald newspaper, recently, that caught my eye. The story was about a freshman player at the University of Miami named Shane Larkin. The reason that it sparked my interest was not because of who he is or how good a player he is (which is pretty good), but rather why he turned to basketball.

When he was younger, Larkin was a pretty good multi sport athlete. In fact, according to the story, baseball was his favorite sport. At least it was, until he ran into a coach who, after watching him bang out hit after hit, said to him that his hitting technique was based on luck and his good fortune would not last. If he wanted to be a good hitter, he had to change the way he hits the ball. The story said, after that discussion, he quit baseball.

On its surface, you might say that Larkin lacked the ability to accept criticism, learn new ideas or adapt to situations. But, in learning about his decision, you have to look beneath the surface.

For those of you who are not familiar with American baseball or are too young to remember some names, Shane Larkin is the son of baseball royalty. His father Barry Larkin is one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game. For 19 years, Barry Larkin was the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. In those 19 years, Barry was an All-Star 12 times and won the Most Valuable Player award once. His fielding prowess was second to none and his hitting production compares favorably to the game’s all time greats. In 2012, he was the only player elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Growing up in that household would produce enough knowledge for any aspiring baseball player. But Shane went further than that. He lists his hitting instructors, in addition to his father, Tony Perez and Pete Rose. I would think that they would know a little bit about hitting. Perez is a Hall-Of-Famer who is one of the all time leaders in runs-batted-in and a number of other power hitting categories. Pete Rose is hitting. He simply has more hits than any other baseball player in history.

These are the players that taught Shane Larkin how to hit. I would think that the coach that recommended that Larkin change his hitting theories could probably learn from him.

My question is this; what was this coach trying to accomplish? Was he really trying to teach Larkin to be a better hitter? Or was the coach trying to get him to hit his way, whether it was good for him or not?

That really is something to think about. Coaching should be about teaching, adjusting and maximizing players. Unfortunately, for many coaches, it is about control. I read it in comments and hear it in conversations every day. I also see it in practice and it can be destructive. Too many times I see coaches try to work with absolutes, pass this way, shoot this way, etc. They lose sight of the fact that all players are different and they are unique.

I have learned that there is no “right” way to do things on the basketball court. What is right for Billy might not be right for Bobby. There is, however, effective. Method 1 might be effective for Billy and method 2 might be effective for Bobby. As a coach, we should be open to evaluating which method is best for which player. Allow them to explore what works for them.

More importantly, as a coach, evaluate yourself as to what you are teaching and why. Be honest, are you teaching to improve your players or are you teaching to soothe your own ego? Are the issues really that of deficiency in your player or your own control issues?

As coaches, these are things that we have to decide every day. Keep perspective, teach your players, allow them to learn.

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How to Become a Better Shooter – Instantly

By Don Kelbick

I was watching television the other day and two media types were debating how good a shooter a particular player is. They were debating range, statistics and were comparing him to other players. Some interesting points came out. So interesting that I think all players should understand them.

What Is a Good Shooter?

Before you become a good shooter, you have to determine what a good shooter is. Is it someone who has perfect form? J. J. Redick of the Orlando Magic is a textbook shooter. He had a great career in college but can’t get off the bench in the NBA. Apparently, his textbook form did not make him a good enough shooter to get him on the court.

For my money, a good shooter is one who puts the ball in the basket. Is Shaquille O’Neal a good shooter? Based upon his shooting percentage, I would say that he is. How about LeBron James? He is a great scorer but only shoots 30% from beyond the 3-point line. However, his overall shooting percentage is 50%. I would say that Lebron is a good shooter.

I think that studying these 3 players will give you a key as to how to be a better shooter.

The Key

How can Shaq be a good shooter? He can’t make a basket beyond 10 feet. You are right. However, have you seen him take a shot from beyond 10 feet? I know I never have. Why should he when he can be more effective and make a big percentage of his shots inside 10 feet?

If LeBron shoots 50% from the floor while only shooting 30% from beyond the 3, what must his shooting percentage be from inside the 3?

The reason why both of these players can be called good shooters is because a majority of the shots they take are shots they can make. That is the key to being a good shooter.

I think a good shooter is one who puts the ball in the basket. I don’t care where it is shot from. If the shot doesn’t go in, it doesn’t count.

J. J. Redick is a pure shooter with great form who takes a majority of his shots from long range. If it doesn’t go in, it doesn’t count. The result is that Redick is a career 41% shooter.

Become a Better Shooter Today

All things being equal, meaning that you understand that you have to work on your shot every day. To truly become a good shooter you have to get in hundreds, possibly thousands, of repetitions to ingrain your fundamentals. You know that the more you practice, the more consistent you will be. But none of that matters unless you take shots that you can make.

Making a couple of long ones might make you feel good, they may make the fans ooh and aah, but you have to decide if you can make enough shots to be good at it? If not, take fewer. Take more shots that you can make.

If you want to be a better shooter over time, develop a workout program that will give you enough repetitions and enough work to make you consistent. Surely, that should be a part of every player’s routine. If you want to become a better shooter today, take only shots you can make.

To view coaching products from Don Kelbick, including The Attack & Counter Skill Development System – DVDs & eBook, go to Don Kelbick Products.

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Do You Think Too Much When You Play?

By Don Kelbick

I am a huge proponent of leaving your brain at the door when you step on the court. I believe that over-thinking produces the most deadly of all game killers, “Analysis Paralysis.”

Just by looking at the words (a good English project for players) “analysis paralysis” means what it says, you are unable to take action because you are examining your action so closely that it forces you to freeze.

I also believe that coaches, in our desire to create the best players that we can, foster analysis paralysis by our teaching coaching methods. Insisting on attention to the minutest detail, focusing on the tiniest minutiae when performing skills, such as shooting, while well-intentioned often produces a result that is opposite of what we intend.

When shooting, concentrating on elbows, launch angles, aim, etc. places emphasis on the wrong priorities. Shooting is a skill of kinesthetic sense and feel. Anything that gets in the way of that feel, diminishes results (have you ever tried to aim a shot with a 6′ 10″ athletic monster with the wing span of a 747 running at you?). When a player misses a shot and goes back to the minutiae for correction, odds are his shot will get worse, not better.

I find analogies in the strangest places but I am easily able to relate them to my teaching. When I find something that I think will support my coaching philosophy, I integrate it into my teaching. My latest discovery comes from watching football player Plaxico Burress.

If you have never seen the TV show “Sport Science,” you owe it to yourself to search it out and watch a few episodes. “Sport Science” looks for scientific reasons behind many sports phenomena, it even creates some itself. Some examples of the show include a scientific study of who is more accurate at 25 yards, Drew Brees of the New Oleans Saints in the NFL or an Olympic Gold Medalist in Archery (it was Brees), who has faster hands NBA guard Jared Bayless or a rock and roll drummer (Bayless) or what is the most effective distraction on the foul line (it was not physical distraction of people acting crazy behind the basket or the sound of 20,000 people booing). It is truly fascinating stuff and it might blow away some of your theories behind your playing or teaching.

In the episode featuring Plaxico Burress, I don’t know if it was BP (before prison) or AP (after prison), they were studying the effect of pass patterns and timing on completion rate. They asked Burress to run multiple pass pattern; buttonhooks, in patterns, out patterns, slants; and simulated when the ball would arrive. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff, but they scientifically measure things like deviation, probability, etc.

Here is the payoff. After having Burress run patterns and measure them for accuracy, consistency, speed, etc., they had him run the same patterns blindfolded. BLINDFOLDED! These were the results, when blindfolded, there was LESS variation in his pass patterns then when he could see. In addition, the variation between the patterns with and without the blindfold was less than 1″ vertically and less than 2.5″ laterally. That means he was able to virtually duplicate his patterns whether he could see or not.

Both Burress and the Sports Science people attribute this to the huge amount of repetition he has had in running these patterns.

I believe that repetition is the key to becoming proficient with any skill. When it becomes an unconscious action, it gets better. If you do the same thing over and over and over, accept the little variations as being human as opposed to being failures, eventually you will get good at what you do. That is not to say that there aren’t more efficient ways than others, but the search for efficiency should not overcome the search for effectiveness.

Don’t think about what you do, just do it over and over again until it becomes an unconscious action, like walking. You don’t think about putting one foot in front of the other when you walk, yet you still get to where you are going. Don’t think when you play. You might be surprised at the result.

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Maccabi USA Pan American Games

By Don Kelbick


Coaching jobs are hard to come by, at any level, anywhere. I feel so fortunate and honored to be selected to the staff of the Maccabi USA Open Pan American team, along with Stu Wittner, former Head Coach at Pace University and Steve Rosner, who made his name as the agent for some of the biggest names in sports. We will be competing in the Maccabi Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil from Dec. 24 to Jan 2. This is my second experience coaching internationally having coached the Miami Tropics in the first FIBA Americas League in 2006-2007.

This experience will be drastically different, though. This is a national team. We will be representing the United States.

For those that are not familiar, the Maccabi is a charitable organization and has a presence world wide. They sponsor sport competitions very similar to the Olympics. Every 4 years (the next one is in 2013) they sponsor the world wide Maccabiah Games in Israel. In the years in between, there are regional competitions, leading up to those games. This year we are competing in the Pan American Games, which includes North, South and Central America. Already completed is the Pan European Games. There are similar competitions on the other continents as qualifying for the world wide games. There are several levels ranging from kids to over 35. My efforts are with the Open team, which has no age limits and is the centerpiece of the games.

This is a unique challenge. Because of the dates of the Games, late December – early January, we are not able to use professional players since most of them are playing in their seasons. Even those pros who are between jobs are not candidates because of the possibility that they could sign contracts with pro teams between now and the competition and won’t be available to us. The challenge is to find players that are good enough to compete for the Gold, yet will be available for the Games.

The challenge in not just to find the players, but to mold them into a cohesive unit, offensively and defensively, and be competitive enough to challenge for a Gold Medal. We will have 3 mini-camps and a 4 day training camp before we leave for Brazil.

July Mini-Camp

This is our first mini-camp. We have brought in 25 players with the object of picking 12 for the team and probably 3 alternates. Most of these players have been out of school for a couple of years. Some passed up the prospect of professional play to start their careers. Some have gone on to professional or graduate school.

It is quite an array of players, ranging from Div. I players from schools like Cal, Nevada, Syracuse and Binghamton to players from the Div III NCAA Champion Washington University. Just as impressive is the success that they are attaining off the court at such young ages. There are business consultants, law school students, marketing directors and even a post player that works for the U. S. Department of Justice.

The camp consists of opportunities for us to get to know one another, some skill development, and quite a bit of scrimmaging to evaluate the players. They are 2 long days. On Saturday, we are in the gym at 8:30 AM. We work until 12:30 and then a break for lunch. We have drilled and played, got up a lot of shots and seen a little competition. Back on the court at 2, the afternoon is reserved mostly for play. We go multiple 10 minute scrimmages. At the end, we start to impart some offensive philosophy under the guise of 3-man shooting drills. We are out of the gym at 6.

Starting at 9 AM, Sunday is more of the same, except we warm up with different 3-man shooting drills. We are trying to get a feel for what players are comfortable with. Then, we run a few 20 minute scrimmages using the movements we installed during the shooting drills. We break for lunch at noon. At 1:30 we are back on the floor for a full 40 minute game. We finish at about 4 pm, tired but also satisfied.

The thing that struck me the most was how appreciative the players were for this opportunity to compete at a high level again. Most of these guys were prepared to move on in their lives and did not anticipate that an opportunity like this would come along. It is a refreshing change from the pampered, demanding and entitled players I usually work with.

Over the next couple of weeks, the staff will talk to try to determine the most likely players for the team and to prepare for the next mini-camp in September.

Once the team is chosen, I think the playing system will be the personification of simplicity. I am a very simple coach anyway. I believe in teaching concepts and allowing the players to figure it out.

I rode with a workout with one of the coaches of one of the younger teams. He was telling me all the things that he was prepared to install, zone offenses, man offenses, man defenses, zone defenses, pressures, etc. I asked him how long he had to practice with his kids. He told me probably a week to 10 days. I can’t believe he expects to do all that in a short period of time. I know I can’t, but we will see how it works.

September Mini-Camp

These were 2 grueling days. It is hard to believe it has been 2 months since we saw them in the last mini-camp.

We had cut down the team from the previous 25 down to 15, of which 14 were present. One player has signed a professional contract with the provision he be granted leave to participate in the Games. We had 2 new players to look at. One was a member of 2 national championship teams who could not make it to the first camp, due to his responsibilities in the White House (yes, THAT White House). The other just finished his college career and was unavailable in the first camp due to his recovery from knee surgery.

If the first camp was for evaluation and getting to know one another, than this camp was for real basketball issues. We had to provide a framework for offense and defense that was simple enough to implement in a weekend and be able to be retained, but have to be effective enough to allow us to challenge for the Gold Medal in Brazil.

Because of my coaching style, I did not believe that was a tough task. My coaching is conceptual and I allow the players to interpret the game for themselves and because I am working with 2 of the most generous people I have ever been involved with, they indulged me. In coaching discussions with the other coaches, we agreed that trying to implement a system that revolved around a series of cuts with precise timing was not going to be an option. First, I think that is always going to be too complex. In our situation of extremely limited practice time and long periods where we won’t practice would make that not only too difficult to play with, but would be counter-productive.

To that end, offensively we are really simple (is there any other way?). We have 2 basic frameworks, pass and screen away and a UCLA entry. We have 3 basic rules: create space, recognize your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses, share the ball. That is all we do.

Defensively, we similarly put in a few simple rules: everybody ball side, shrink the court by not allowing ball reversal, if the ball goes in the lane do what is necessary to get it out. We have 3 defenses: straight man-to-man, switch like players, switch everything. There are some things inside of that such as how we play screens, etc. but those are things we can even adjust in a game.

These were long days. We practiced from 9 to noon and then again from 1:00 to 4:00. In practice, we did a little breakdown, but it was mostly whole work. We didn’t have time for much of anything else. That suited me just fine. I started out my career as a big-time breakdown coach but I now find that working 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 to be much more effective. The morning was reserved for our plan. A lot of 5-on-5 and what I term “time and score” scrimmages. In the afternoon we played an 8 period game against a local player agency team of aspiring pro players.

The scrimmage was played in multiple 12 minute periods. Offensively, I though we played surprisingly well. The players followed the 3 simple rules and looked like they had played together for years. However, because in reality they had not nor had they had competitive play for a while, shots did not fall. In addition, we had not addressed defense, and it showed. As the periods went on, shots started to fall and we actually played pretty well, considering the competition and the situation.

Sunday morning, we addressed the defense. Simple rules, no layups; shrink the court; get the ball out of the post. Not real difficult or confusing. We also tried to address some offensive deficiencies from the day before. I am not sure that was wise.

In the afternoon, we took on the Beltway Bombers. They are a team in the Premier Basketball League (PBL), a minor league located primarily in the northeastern U. S. In addition, they are trying to position themselves to where, if the NBA decides to expand the NBADL, they would be considered as a franchise. While they didn’t bring everyone on their roster, they still had very good, athletic professional players.

Again, we played multiple 12 minute periods. In the first period they really blitzed us. Again we played no defense and the smoothness of the offense from the day before was missing. I suspect that we were over coaching on offense. At the end of the first period, we reminded both our staff and players that we would leave them alone on offense, but the difference in every game would be on defense. And what a difference. We stopped worrying about right and wrong on offense, followed the 3 simple rules on defense. Confidence rose and every period was a war. They won a few periods, we won a few. At the end of the day, we had a glimpse of how good we can be.

In the end, I am more convinced than ever that the simpler the better. It is better to under-coach than over-coach. If you have players and create a team atmosphere, they will figure it out.

I cannot believe what these players have accomplished in such a short period of time. I can’t believe it is going to be 2 months before we see them again. Our next mini-camp is Nov. 11. Then a month before we have a training camp and then go to Brazil.

It should be interesting.

November Mini-Camp

This was our last mini-camp before the Pan-American Games in Brazil.

We were lucky that Nov. 11 was a holiday and we were able to get most of the players in on Friday in enough time to practice. My trip was certainly eventful. I was at the airport at 7:30 am, to go from Miami to Atlanta and then to New Jersey. Once in Atlanta, we had a delay of 2 hours for a maintenance issue. They put us on the plane, closed the door, and then let us know we were going to sit there for an indeterminate period of time. It was an inconvenience but I was happy to have made the trip, no matter what the issues.

This is a really unique situation and I can’t believe it had been 2 months since we’ve been in a practice. We used Friday night to review and to add some zone offense structure. The players have done a great job of retaining what we have previously worked on and staying in shape. The simplicity of the system we are running and the unselfishness of the players made it easy to recapture what we had left behind and move ahead.

We made a decision to play games the rest of the weekend. We needed to find out the competitive nature of the players and how they react in actual competition. On Saturday, we played at Columbia University and took on their developmental team. The team is made up of varsity players that are not seeing much game time and underclassmen that they can project as a contributor in a Div. I game at some time in the future. On the whole, they were pretty good players. We started the game down 16-3. It was not unexpected. They are playing at home, practicing every day and had opened up their season the previous week. We have guys who flew in from all over the country, spend their lives going to law schools, financial firms and marketing companies. After refocusing, guys really started to play. We let the players put emphasis on offense, as coaches, we focused on defense. Once we started to play defense, the game came back to us. We went in the locker room down 4.

The second half was a knock down drag out affair. Mostly, the teams were 4-6 points apart. At one point, Columbia went up 13 but a quick spurt got it back down to 4. In a nutshell, the game was decided this way: score was 68-67 in favor of Columbia; Columbia ball; shot clock at 3; and a 3-point shot from the top that banked off the backboard and went in. After all the basketball plays we were able to overcome, we were not able to overcome a shot that has a limited chance to win a game of H-O-R-S-E. What can you do? We wanted a test to see how our guys would do. We got tested and they did pretty well.

After the game, we evaluated our performance and most of the discussion centered around getting off to a better start. In the tournament, if you start the first game down 16-3, the whole tournament could be over. We felt that the bad start was situational. Travel, lack of practice time, uncertainty all figured in to a lack of assertiveness on the court. The feeling was, because we played on Saturday, we should play better on Sunday.

On Sunday morning we played a team from the Atlantic Basketball League. It is a semi-pro team made up of players hoping to get noticed and go on to a pro basketball career. They weren’t especially big but they were very talented and very athletic. Any questions we had leaving Saturday’s game, were answered early on Sunday. We made shots, defended the basket and the ball, made game adjustments quickly. We played 5 periods, won 4 of them and lost the 5th by 1 point.

All in all, it was another productive weekend. We all felt we left in a pretty good place. I continue to admire the commitment, professionalism and character of the people in this program. So far it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my coaching life.

The next time we see each other will be a couple of days before we leave for Brazil. Then we have nothing else to do except represent the good old US of A.

December Mini-Camp

After 3 mini-camps in 5 months, training camp in finally here.  It is a short camp with 3 workouts, mostly to review and fine tune what we had previously done. We knew when we started, we would have limited time before we left. That fact was a major contributor in our decision to keep everything that we do simple and emphasize defense. In doing that, we felt that there would be a greater carry over from our other mini-camps into the tournament.

We met on Thursday night and used the opportunity to remind everyone why we were there. It really wasn’t necessary as the group we have is very focused and goal oriented. They were all anxious to get on the court and get going. In addition, we had 2 players get hurt at our previous mini-camp and we needed to test the state of their recovery.

Friday morning was spent sharpening what we had. Any scrimmaging that we did was done as a time and score scrimmage. We felt, more than plays or anything else, managing the game is more of a determinant in deciding games than any other factor. A “Time and Score” scrimmage helps teach game management.

Friday afternoon’s session was devoted to defensive adjustments and more “Time and Score” scrimmages. We left at the end of the day feeling pretty good about the things that we needed for the tournament. The players stayed in good condition, they retained all the things we had worked on and we felt we were in pretty good shape.

On Saturday morning, we had a walk-through practice. Dry runs, at high intensity, of everything that we had. And a mountain of shots. We didn’t want to leave the gym without feeling that we had taken enough shots.

After the workout, we left for the airport for our 10 hour trip to Sao Paulo Brazil.

The Maccabi Games

First of all don’t let anyone tell you that sitting on an airplane for 10 hours is not uncomfortable. On Saturday, we loaded the airplane in New York at about 7:30 PM EST. We arrived at our hotel  at about 11:30 AM, Sao Paulo time, which is 3 hours ahead of EST (8:30 AM EST).


We checked into our rooms, tried to grab a bite to eat before we had to go to organizational meeting and get a tour of the facilities.

We were smart enough to bring balls, because when we got to the basketball venue, there was no one there. So we stepped out on the court and had an hour shooting practice. After the workout, we boarded the bus to go back to the hotel for some much needed rest.


On this day, we had practice at 9:30 AM in New Jersey, took a 10 hour flight to Brazil, attended meeting and practiced before we finally hit were able to get some rest at 10:30 PM. That is a pretty full day — or two. Our first game was Monday at 10:30 AM.

Team USA vs Canada

Our first contest was against Canada. Canada was a tough, physical team. We were just as concerned about our guys being awake, no less in a mind to play. As expected, we came out really slow and sluggish. We missed our first 7 shots while Canada ran up and down the floor and burst quickly to a 9 point lead.


We made several subs early in the 1st half. We wanted as many players to feel the court early in the game as we could. We thought that each time a player touched the floor and came out of the game, the better mentally he would be when he returned into the game.


Our feeling was correct. Once we got guys back into the game, their play improved by the minute. We came back to tie at the half.

We took control of the game at the start of the second half. We started to make shots and get the ball inside. More importantly, we turned it up on defense.


We went up 10 and maintained the lead for most of the 2nd half. We had a short period when based on poor offensive decision making on our part that allowed the Canadians back in the game. But once we took a deep breath, we took control again and played well down the stretch.


Final score: TEAM USA 72, CANADA 62.

Tomorrow, we have Israel at 5 PM

Team USA vs Israel

We took control of the Israeli game right from the outset. We were bigger and stronger which allowed us to get into a transition game. Once in the transition game, our superior depth takes a major toll on the Israelis.


There were a couple of things that we felt we needed to improve on from our previous performance. We felt that it was a necessity to improve defending ball screens. We felt that we allowed ball handlers to access the screen too easily which not only allowed the ball handler too much freedom, but also allowed the screener to roll too easily to the basket. The second thing we had to defend better was penetration. A big part of international play is to penetrate the ball, wait for the defense to converge and then kick it out to a shooter. We had to do a better job of not allowing the ball to get into really dangerous places. Against Israel, we did both.


We got great performance from everyone. Our two leading scorers came off the bench. Two out of the three top rebounders came off the bench. This was a great team performance. We will need more if we hope to win the Gold Medal.


Final score: TEAM USA 82, ISRAEL 44

Next game is against the host team, Brazil.

Team USA vs Brazil

Two words can be used in describing our contest against Brazil: GREAT GAME


The Brazilians are big, strong and very well coached with two great shooters running the team. They have good depth and their players are well-skilled. The game started a little unevenly as both teams were missing shots, but the character of the game was revealed. It was going to be a very physical, guard controlled game. We had trouble early with the physical nature of the game as it forced us to miss a number of easy shots and layups due to contact or the expectation of contact. It was extremely frustrating as Brazil ran out to an 8 point lead. It would have been easy for us to fold our tents.


But, we didn’t. Our answer came on the defensive end. Our good defense provided us with a spark that gave us easy baskets. We turned a 24 – 16 deficit into a 31-27 lead at the half.

We came out well in the second half. We spurted to an 8 point lead. Then their physical play started to take its toll. Our shots started to fall short, we could not get any inside points and started to turn the ball over. Next thing we knew we were down 6 and heading into the 4th quarter. Once again, defense was the answer. Forcing turnovers and getting break out layups, we came back to go up 2. They answered by making 3s from long range. We were down 2 with 2:20 to go when we hit a 3 to take the lead by 1. They answer with a 3 to go up 2 with under a minute to go.

As the clock ran down, we get fouled on penetration, two shots. Calmly making the 2 foul shots, we dug in on defense. Forcing a turnover, we bring the ball up the court and in a scramble after a shot, the ball goes out of bounds under the basket.


1.6 seconds to go. Our ball, under the basket. Score tied, 69-69. Click here to see what happened.

Next game vs. Mexico


There really is not much to report here. We played an undermanned team from Mexico, whose 2 best players were hurt and, through a scheduling quirk, was playing their 2nd game of the day.

We were superior in all aspects of the game and had much more size and strength than the Mexicans and we played like it. In the first 5 minutes of the game, we jumped to a 22 point lead and coasted. We got excellent performances out of everyone as the lead swelled to 35 points where it remained for most of the game.

We now get a couple of days off before moving on as the top seed in the medal round.

Team USA vs Israel


The semi-final game vs Israel was a tough, tense fast paced, physical game. We had beaten them in round-robin play pretty badly. But, they were coming off a 27 hour trip to Brazil and were very fatigued. We expected and got a very different game this time.

The Israelis came out shooting. From long range. Penetrate and kick, which is typically European, is a big part of their game. We were pretty well prepared for it, however they kept moving further and further back for their shots and they fell like rain drops. They took a 6 point lead in the first quarter, but we hung in there. We stiffened on defense which produced some easy breakout points and we went to the quarter with a 1 point lead. However, as an omen of things to come, we had given up almost as many points in the first quarter as we had in the first game.

The game became a game of runs. In the second quarter, we ran out to a 9 point lead, they would run back and knock it back to 1. We would extend back to 8, then commit some foolish turnovers and they would come back to tie. We made a couple of baskets at the end of the half, including a full court pass for a layup to take a 6 point lead at the half.

Again at the start of the 3rd quarter, we extended the lead and again they came back to within 1. Their shooting was phenomenal. We did not take good care of the ball. As a combination of the two, we just couldn’t take them out.

As we went into the 4th quarter, nothing would change. We would extend, they would come back. We never let them take the lead but we were never able to take them out, either. With the game at 3 points and about 3 minutes left in the game, we made a critical change. We decided to keep the ball away from their point guard. We waited until then so they would not be able to an adjustment. Their scoring stopped. We made a couple of baskets and 4 foul shots coming down the stretch and finally came away with a 10 point win.

Final Score Team USA 96, Israel 86

The big game is tomorrow when we take on Canada for the Gold Medal.

Team USA vs Canada

Gold Medal Game

To win the Gold Medal we were going to have to go through Canada. The Canadians are a team that rose from the dead. We played them in a tough, physical game in the opener of the tournament where they had the lead for much of the game before we extended to a win in the 4th quarter. They lost their next game to Israel. Then, they blew through the rest of their schedule, including beating Brazil, who we thought was the best team in the tournament, twice. They won a tough fought game against Brazil in the semi-finals.

We prepared to play a physical game against a team that was well coach and executed their offense flawlessly. During this entire process, we felt that it was going to be defense that was going to make the difference in the tournament and we knew we were going to need it now.

The game started with a little give and take. We hit a two, they hit a three, we made some foul shots, they made a couple of shots. With the score 9-6, our way, we hit a three and then the defense dug in. We had 8 straight possessions where we either forced a turnover or a miss that we converted to points on the other end. We strung 4 straight shot together, made foul shots, dominated the offensive glass. The next time I looked at the score we were up 19. The lead blew up to 25 and we went into halftime up 19.

In coaching, there is an axiom that games are won and lost in 15 minutes, the last 5 minutes of the first half, the first 5 minutes of the second half and the last 5 minutes of the game. We controlled the last 5 of the first half. We wanted to make the last 5 minutes irrelevant. So, we were focused on the first 5 minutes of the second half to decide the game.

Canada made the first shot and then we went on our best run of the tournament. Forcing turnovers that ignited our running game, we took greater control of the game and saw the lead explode to a high of 33 points. Everyone in uniform contributed to building the lead.

The rest of the game was academic. The Canadians continued to play hard and the final score of 87-70 was not indicative of how much we really controlled the game.

In the end, Team USA had the Gold Medal hanging around our necks. There is no way that I can describe that can relay the feel of pride that we had, standing on the podium with U-S-A on our chest and listening to the National Anthem with Gold Medals hanging around our necks. It has been an experience like no other.

For more information on Don Kelbick, visit

Attack And Counter Basketball Camps In Chicago and Ironwood Are Great Success!

By Joe Haefner

In July and August, Don Kelbick visited Ironwood, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois to conduct his Attack and Coutner Skill Development camps. The players worked hard, the coaches worked hard, and everybody got a lot better. And the feedback has been great!

Jeff and I were fortunate enough to attend the Chicago camp and were very happy with everything. The facility was great. Don did a great job hosting the camp. And it was great to be able to meet so many people with familiar names via the website.

Due to the favorable response, we have decided to step things up and host more camps. Be on the look out for some of our upcoming camps in future newsletters that we are currently scheduling.

Here are a few of the testimonials we’ve received so far:

Once again, the camp you held in Ironwood was excellent! I am glad there are mentors like you out there to teach kids this game and try to break the bad habits they have acquired. Thank you for that. My son Griffin really enjoyed it and It was fun just watching the kids have a good time.
- Chris Pepin

The Breakthrough Basketball camp was one of the best sports experiences my son has had. The encouraging atmosphere set by Don in the beginning of the camp and the camaraderie among the athletes was great! The skills that the students learned are both practical and easy to recreate at home for further practice. Don is great with the kids; they immediately like and respect him! I would highly recommend this camp to any basketball player as way to improve and to learn some life lessons through sports. Our Athletic Director is interested in bringing Don to our school for some further instruction.
Thanks and blessings, Kristi Ugland

This was the most informative camp that I have ever seen! Don enjoyed teaching these kids and it showed. I learned just as much as the kids did and came away with a whole new practice routine. I wish my entire team could do the camp and my associate and I are going to try to schedule a camp in Marquette county Michigan at some point if at all possible. Don made everything seem so easy and taught the kids not to be afraid to fail. I don’t want to be long winded so I will wind this up. Excellent camp and I would send my son to this again and again if they were in the right areas. Please inform me about any more upcoming camps.
- Cory Hill

I loved everything about the camp.
- Dominica Grmick

Though I was only able to see the Saturday workout, I was impressed how Coach Kelbick kept the campers engaged with demonstration and explanations to why we practice these skills. I think so many times we as coaches have our players perform drills that are meant to improve skill, but if the player doesn’t understand the purpose they just go through the motions and don’t get a lot out of it (Kinda like Algebra…just kidding). Each player saw and understood why these drills were going to make them better and every camper showed tremendous effort to succeed.
- Jason Wild

Just wanted to thank you guys again for the great camp in Libertyville over the weekend with Mr. Kelbick. My son’s footwork became much more fluid by the end of camp that we are excited to see the benefits during the upcoming season. Excellent job with the website as well and continued success!
-Beto Elizondo

Camp was great Don did a great job with the kids. We had four kids there and the one on one drills that they picked up is priceless for a coach. We drill all the time but to here it from a guy like Don that works around the world teaching is awesome.
- Craig Hoffman

Just wanted to thank you guys for bringing in Coach Kelbick, and giving my son and myself an opportunity to become a better player and coach. The attention to foot work at the clinic has provided my son David the foundation to becoming a better all round player. The lessons learned were invaluable, A small price to pay to learn probably the most important thing in the game. Thanks again for setting this up, and thanks to Coah Kelbick for being so Passionate about the most important aspect of the game.
- Patrick Allen