Basketball Blog

Figure It Out and Find A Way

Recently my past and my present crossed paths when my son saw highlights and postgame of Marquette (my alma mater) beating Villanova.

He knows the value I put on “team” and the emphasis I put on supporting a teammate or coach. He knows my strong ties to Marquette (my framed jersey is one of the things he frequently almost breaks as he is messing around with his friends in the basement.)

I have also been talking about attending the 100-year basketball reunion next month at Marquette. My kids know I am proud to have played with great teammates who have turned into better people.

Then he saw the Marquette coach talking about how they needed to “find a way” to win and ultimately “found a way” to beat the #1 team in the country.

Nowadays, my son hears my weekly radio spot which is titled “Find A Way with Coach Brian Barone”. So, as any 7-year-old would, he concluded his dad helped Coach Wojciechowski find a way to win the game…

Seizing on the opportunity, I explained to him that indeed I had laid the “foundation” at Marquette years ago for this year’s team to succeed against Villanova. My wife rolled her eyes, quickly explained that dad was crazy, and said I did help lay a foundation at Marquette, but it was because of the bricks I shot when I played.

Hard to argue.

As much I would have liked to have had my son think I was important in the overall 100-year history of Marquette Basketball I figured lying was not a good example and I fessed up. I am not ignorant enough to put myself in the same category as Bo Ellis, Butch Lee, and Doc Rivers, to name a few. (Now, Dwyane Wade is different. Our team knows I basically helped mold him into the player he is now, when we were teammates his freshman year!) Ok…that may be stretching the truth as well (or a complete lie). We did have a VERY good second team in practice that year though.

Legendary NFL coach, Bill Parcels wrote a book entitled Finding A Way To Win. It is not a new concept.

As a coach I am always trying to “Find A Way” to get things done. It could be winning games, signing a recruit, or making time for the family. Coaches are in the business of always trying to “Find A Way” to accomplish things. And successful coaches are the ones who don’t give up.

One of the great things that competing in sports can teach, no matter the age, is that things do not always run according to a black and white game plan. You can go into a game with well devised scouting and within 5 minutes need to scrap your plan it for one reason or another. In that moment, a team must figure out how to still get the job done. The variables that the game throws at you, whether they be an opponent having a career night, a ref calling fouls that are only seen through his eyes, or an injury, will come – and they don’t care that they weren’t in the game plan.

And this lesson applies to life as well. It could be big things – like a job lost or a serious illness – or it could be small things, but the successful person “finds a way.” The lesson surely relates to this Stay At Home Coach. My team does a great job of making me find a way each day. In my post, “The First Five”. I talk about preparing for the day. Those preparations give me a fighting chance to “win” each day, but they do not guarantee success.

My team needs to be in school at 8am each day. That does not change just because my daughter decides she wants a “high ponytail” 4 minutes before the “team bus” has to leave.

When my 3-year-old demanded this I had to make something happen. I did not really have the time (or energy) to put my foot down and say “no.” As any good coach, I know you have to pick your battles. This was not the time. I tried saying there is no such thing as a “high ponytail” (which was an honest belief), but she was adamant there was.

I decided to rely on my coaching skills.

I asked myself, “how do we learn as coaches and players?”


I ran and grabbed my iPad and typed, “High Ponytail” into YouTube. Sure enough, there was a 3-minute “how-to” video. Within 5 minutes we were in the car and made it to school on time. She walked happily into her classroom with the worst high ponytail in the history of hair, BUT she was happy and I had won.

As coaches and parents we need to lead by example – especially when it comes to finding a way. I played and worked for Coach Tom Crean at Marquette and worked for him at Indiana. I would say one of the most important values he instilled in me was the importance of finding a way to get things done.

That is a tremendous asset as a coach, parent, or boss. If you can get your team to get things done, figure things out, and to not stop at the first roadblock they face, then you are doing your job.

There are going to be times when a high ponytail is thrown your way. Are you going to be late to school or are you going to get a spray bottle, comb from the bottom to the top, and grab a rubber band to get the job done?!

I know what I’m going to do.

Find A Way.