This is always an exciting time of year for me as the NBA Playoffs begin to wrap up. The reason, the WNBA season is starting.
The overlap of the seasons was pretty sweet when I began my WNBA career with the Utah Starzz as I was in the Delta Center to witness the push off, fade away, last second, buzzer beater shot by Michael Jordan against Byron Russell. The crowd was devestated.
Two years later I felt like I was Russell during my second season with the Cleveland Rockers when I took a charge on Cynthia Cooper of the Houston Comets. I was stationary for so long that the cement trucks had come and gone and plastered my shoes to the ground. However, that wasn't how the officials saw that call either. I will admit she was VERY good.
This time of year always gets me pumped. I am just glad I don't have to sit in the ice baths getting through those two a days.
Whether you are a point guard, forward, center, 10 years old, 30 years old, this skill will improve your game at any position and every age.
Here are a few easy and FUN tips:
1) Everything you eat from now on must be with your weak hand. The skill is more important than the image. Tell that to your date before he takes you out to Chinese.
2) Go rock climbing. Strong forearms improve your ball handling, passing, and rebounding. Just please make sure to have someone hold the rope. When I was in college on a ropes course I jumped off a 30 foot pole when my teammate wasn't holding the rope. That's why I ended up 5'4 instead of 6'4.
3) Find a racquetball court, bring a basketball, and shut yourself in for an hour. Practice any and every ball handling and passing drill you've ever learned and OVER EXAGGERATE it. Bounce or throw that ball as hard as you can. If you make a mistake you have four walls to bring that ball right back. Tell your mom to bring the video camera and you might make $10,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos.
4) HAVE FUN. To take it to the next level you have to put in more time than others are willing, so you might as well enjoy it. Be creative, innovative, and challenge yourself in ways you haven't imagined before.
My five year old can climb our fridge in under 5 seconds. He is destined for greatness.
"Vacation" is defined by dictionary.com as a period of suspension of work, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel.
The definition didn't include, however, 10 hour drives both ways, two kids, three cousins, and preparation for a wedding and rehearsal dinner. Therefore, the rest has been suspended until the vacation is over!
Here are the highlights.
1) Recreation- Golfing with my dad and husband. Todd and I can hit hard but inaccurately. Dad, on the other hand, is calm and consistent. I describe that to my team as the spectacular move to only miss the layup (100 dollar move, 10 cent finish). I'd rather a good move and a great finish like my dad.
Horseback riding- We took my son Justin out to ride my mom's horse called Brody. He was quite the cowboy but I think may have had as much fun playing in the dirt. And yes, this dirt probably had horse poop in it.
Volleyball- To finish off the week I jumped in on the "Binford" vs "McDonald's" volleyball match. This has been an ongoing battle since the beginning of time. Unfortunately we didn't have Big Sky officials so we got homered on the score.
2) Eating- I think this should have been a category under vacation as that seems to be all I do with my extra time and I quite enjoy it! Starting off with my dad's home cooking, salmon, halibut, barbeque ribs, chicken, and yes I am still eating. Todd sees the similarities as my dad and I can multi task very well. You just won't be able to find the counter top after ward.
Eating at Todd's parents. Let's just move forward to the PIG at the rehearsal dinner. When I heard they would be roasting a pig I imagined it being cooked over a grill without a head. This, however, was not the case as the pig was already cooked for 17 hours, and came positioned like superman.
The pig also had a skirt and sunglasses to match. There were more pictures taken of the pig than there were of the bride and groom to be. I will also admit that my son and all of the other kids had to touch it just because they had to touch it. As we got ready to eat, Justin asked if he could get some "pig" rather than "pork."
3) Family and Friends- I can't write enough how fun it was to see my friends from Boise, and both of our families. To finish off an amazing week Mike (Todd's little brother) and his beautiful bride Marie (sister-in-law) had a great wedding day. Justin walked his cousin Kendall down the isle arm in arm like a perfect gentleman and Todd gave a roasting toast to his little brother.
The newlyweds flew off to Cancun and I thought it ironic that is where the "PIG" or should I say "Swine" flew in from as well.
Today I am going to skip ahead and talk about something I added to my game when I went from college to the pros.
What was interesting about playing my first professional season in Australia was their style of basketball. The athletes looked like track stars and they ALL loved the bank shot. As the "import" I also learned you are expected to score a certain amount of points every game.
One element that I noticed which I immediately drilled into my game was the bank shot. I am not just talking about the 5-10 foot pull up on a 2 on 1 fast break. Australian basketball players could bank from the center of the key and any angle in between out to nearly the 3 point line.
If you think about it, the bank shot is the highest percentage shot because the ball typically falls at a higher angle increasing the size of the cylinder. Why wouldn't someone want to perfect this shot. You can not only use it in transition, any jump shot, put back, lob, but getting fouled in the process still allows the ball to have a chance.
So go out and start a game of PIG with all angles using the bank. You won't regret it, will increase your percentages, and take your game to the next level.
I just hope for the rest of you, that a unitard is not the team uniform.
You have probably heard that 80% of coaching is recruiting the best athletes into your program. I am not just talking about skill, but work ethic, coachability, etc. It all will affect performance, team cohesion, and overall success of the program.
Well, as an assistant coach at Boise State back in the day under the leadership of Head Coach Trish Stevens I learned how to recruit the best. This is how....
Trish Stevens was on a home visit with a local student athlete out of Greenleaf, Idaho. The next day Trish comes by my office and tells me that she has the perfect man for me. Following my bosses instruction I tell her "alright." Ten months later I marry Todd Binford, older brother of Boise State Bronco Jenny Binford.
Yesterday my mom and I were pulling into her driveway. As the garage door was opening and I saw a pair of calves in the garage, I said, "I think that is Jenny." Sure enough Jenny was at the house visiting. My mom asked how I could tell it was Jenny by only seeing her legs.
Road trips probably account for 50% or more of the college memories and experience. Whether it's playing hacky sack in the airport during a 3 hour delay or playing cards in the back of the bus on the way to Missoula, road trips have been some of my favorite experiences as a player and as a coach.
With that being said, traveling with a 5 year old and 9 month old has made preparation a little more challenging. This weekend my family is headed out on a trip to Idaho for my brother-in-law's upcoming wedding. Rather than fly we decided to drive in order to save money. You would think the smallest of the group, my 9 month old, would require the least but if you are a parent, you know, it seems to be the opposite. By the time my husband had packed the baby bath, stroller, pack and play, and week long supply of diapers, we had a small corner to fit the rest of the family gear!
So... we were on our way. It started off a little scary when my son Justin asked within the first 30 minutes "How much further?!?" we had to go. But soon the trip fell in sink when Brooklyn nodded off and Justin plugged in "Bolt" on the dvd player.
I still don't know how my parents handled these trips when I was a child driving from Colorado to California for spring break. My older brother would constantly torment me in the back and draw imaginary lines for my sister and I to stay clear from. Of course that was only until he would put a finger over to just egg me on. I still don't know why I was such a smart alec to my dad. He would say, "Stop spitting spit wads!" and I would reply, "They're dry wads daaaad!"
After our second stop for potty breaks, diaper changing, and stretching, Todd and I decided to switch and I got behind the wheel. As I entered the freeway, my son says "Thank you mommy. Now we will get there quicker."
I am beginning a segment called "Take It to the Next Level." Today is an introduction to the weekly blog that I will stay committed to every Friday. I will cover what it takes to get to the varsity team, Division I, and even the professional level.
To start, you must begin with this:
FIND WHAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE & GIFTED AT AND SWING AWAY
1) If you "enjoy" it but don't "love" it, you won't fight for it when it gets hard.
2) If you don't take risks, and instead hope for the "walk", you will miss the perfect pitch.
3) Everyone has a gift. Choose to match your passion with this and the sky is the limit.
The Special Olympics Montana State Games has taken over Bozeman with more energy than a Cat-Griz football game!
Wednesday night was the kick off as I helped join volunteers in our community feed over 1500 athletes in under 2 hours before the opening ceremonies. What I admire most about these athletes are the attitudes and optimism.
Here are a few examples:
Spaghetti Dinner - "Please tell the cook this is the best spaghetti I have ever had." There wasn't one complaint with 1500 plates! All I saw were smiles, athletes thanking everyone, and people enjoying an evening with family, friends, and coaches.
Power Lifting - My staff helped our strength coaches with the power lifting on Thursday. This included the bench, squat, and dead lift. Here were some routines: Patrick - INTENSE, he hit his lift and then yelled "WOOOOO!!!!" to the crowd with clenching and pumping his fists. Glenn - HAM, Sumo-stomp approach before signaling the crowd to cheer him on. Aaron - GRIZ all the way, with his maroon uniform. I have to admit he was the first Griz to ever win me over while high-fiving us. Vivian - FOCUSED, she would throw her dead lift down and then step right over it and walk off. Heather - TOUGH, she would point to her coach, stare down the weights and then smash it.
Sportsmanship - They compete AND cheer on their competitors. I have never seen so many hugs and support in one room. Jacob would hug competitors before he would lift. Then he would hug athletes after they lifted. Ryan had arms as cut as SylvesterStalone and would high five every judge near him. They were so supportive of each other that our judges, particularly Andrea, began clapping after they completed their lift. How often do you see a judge cheering?
Coaches - These coaches know their athletes better than anyone. They would come to our table after the first lift to tell us how much weight he or she would lift next. I was thinking, are you sure they should do that much? The athlete would squat without strain and I realized they know their athletes better than I do. The coaches challenged their athletes like any other coach would.
Medal Presentation - This was the best part of the day. The athletes would walk up, receive a bronze, silver, or gold, but then strike their POSE. Not one athlete missed the opportunity to be in the spotlight. Whether they skipped, sprinted, or strutted to the podium, we all enjoyed every minute of it.
Our Bozeman Police Department helped present the medals, but one officer may not know that Aaron added rabbit ears behind his head for the picture. Let me also tell you to look out Buzz... He dead lifted over 400 pounds. WOW!
My nephew Tyler is now 15 years old and has Down Syndrome. I remember when he was born and my dad telling me why we call these children "special." He said they understand how to appreciate and live life to its fullest whereas the rest of us often make that a challenge.
We can certainly learn a lot from their spirit, optimism, and attitudes. What a "special" week for me. I got more out of it than what I was able to give! Great job to all of our athletes this week!
#1 answer to "what comes to mind when you think of Montana "HORSES"
Well, to fix the misconceptions, here's what I have come to find.
Things to do: concerts (Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, Elton John), Music on Main, Sweet Pea Festival,the GREAT OUTDOORS can cover more than I can write
Shopping: Old Navy, Gap, Buckle, and yes we do have a mall with much more
Eating: If you like a chain-Outback is my favorite If you like local-I would suggest Looie's Down Under for their sushi
Not only do we have HORSES but we also have DONKEY BASKETBALL Check out the picture of my husband representing the Central Valley Fire Department for a local fundraiser. There isn't a more caring community that gives back to what brings such a wonderful quality of life.
Yes, it's finals week, and at MSU it seems to be as stressful as the conference tournament. Our student athletes take great pride in the classroom as they consistently land in the Top 15 in the WBCA Team GPA polls.
So, what determines academic success anyway? Is it your overall GPA? I would say that is one measure of success but not necessarily the best indicator for the individual and or team. Here are two questions to consider.
1) If you compare school's overall GPA's across the board, it still doesn't compare the majors, resources, etc. For example, we have a student athletes in Nursing, Math, Business, Pre Physical Therapy, etc.
2) Do you compare individual success by their GPA and or classroom curve? What if one student is just naturally bright? What if another student works 10 times harder in the class to get the same grade? What if one student has 2 jobs to pay for their family while going to class?
Here's how we treat academic success, exactly like we do athletic success.
Our mission statement is to "Put yourself, your teammates, and MSU in every possible situation to be successful and persevere in those situations." That is my definition of success.
Let's break the mission statement down: Put yourself in a situation to be successful. Study, antonym-procrastinating. Focus when you study. Antonym-mixing in guitar hero, having phone handy for texting, having friends over. Take advantage of resources: tutors, classmates, professor. Antonym-figure out on your own.
Put your teammates and MSU in every possible situation to be successful. Jamie Thornton tutoring math to half the student athlete body. Antonym-not my problem, telling your teammate who is studying you need them on the drums.
Perseverance Maybe you bomb the first test. You find a better way to prepare, ask your professor what some learning options they might suggest. Get some help. Study more. Be proactive and not embarrassed. There are a variety of ways to learn. Antonym-I am not smart. I give up.
As long as you are giving your education your best effort, you will have a 4.0 on our team. Great job!
I was asked in a comment to fill you in on our graduating seniors. Anne Phippard, our "honors" student has been accepted to attend University of Washington in the fall to go to graduate school. She is a pre-physical therapy major, and the one I would want to be working with if I ever got injured. She has been an exceptional leader for this program and will make us all proud.
Mara Hoefer has gotten an offer to play professionally back home in Germany. She has recently been awarded another academic honor by the Dean of the Business department. If you ever run into a professor from the business department they will rave how wonderful she is. To see this kid go from limited skill to a professional contract is absouletly amazing. She didn't even know what the "Mikan Drill" was three years ago when we signed her.
Nubia Garcia is finishing up her photography degree this fall and already looking into professional contracts overseas. We have an agent ready for her to take her international and play for as long as she can. With her degree I have a feeling she will be working behind the camera and in front of it next year.
We are so proud of these senior's successes, but I have a feeling they will make us even more proud with their future success. The sky is the limit for these kids.
Oh, and I guess they aren't kids anymore, but I will will always call them that.