“Listening to Rick Majerus”
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 9, 2007
Years ago, after leaving coaching at Harvard, I spent five days at the University of Utah as a guest of Majerus, watching the Utes practice, having lunches with him, even sitting in on staff meetings (except for those that involved recruiting). I learned as much in those several days as I had in all my basketball life. I’m constantly referencing him when I coach players and clinics. Now, I love listening to Rick Majerus commentate a basketball game. He did the Notre Dame at DePaul game last night and, though his style is somewhat halting, not much flow or rhythm and he doesn’t really hold a “conversation” with his partner, as is the way with many others (Raftery, Elmore), what he says is loaded with basketball wisdom and advice. It’s a clinic; it’s like he’s letting you inside the brain of a true basketball man. For instance, when defense didn’t get back he said, it’s fundamental that they first “point, talk and touch”. When a defender got beat on a backdoor cut because he turned his head away from the ball, Majerus reinforced my belief (that many coaches seem to have gotten away from): “keep vision on the ball when the cutter goes through”. He reacted to a hustle play by saying: ” give him the “atta boy award”! And, my favorite insightful, insider’s tip? After a player had dribbled and dribbled, looking for something that was not there, Majerus said, “The Celtics have a sign in their lockerroom that says ‘no dancing with the ball'”. I’m gonna use that one!
Majerus, of course, is also known for his quips, analogies, self-deprecation. Al McGuire, who famously said of the portly Majerus, “him losing twenty pounds would be like a deck chair blowing off the Queen Mary”, was, after all, his coach and mentor.