In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Boston University head coach Joe Jones joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss creating culture
through goals. In 2020, Boston University defeated Colgate in the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament. The victory earned Jones what would have been his first NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach, but the 2020 tournament was subsequently cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones was named a finalist for the 2019-20 Ben Jobe Award.
During his tenure, Jones has led BU to eight top-five finishes in the conference standings, highlighted by a Patriot League regular season title in 2014. The Terriers have finished second on three occasions, including most recently in 2020 en route to the tournament crown. They also finished second in both the 2017 PL and 2013 America East schedules. In his nine seasons with the Terriers, Jones has already surpassed names like Rick Pitino, Mike Jarvis and former NBA head coach John Kuester to No. 2 all-time at BU with 158 victories after helping guide the Terriers to back-to-back Patriot League semifinal appearances in 2017 and 2018.
Jones previously served as an assistant coach at Villanova for six seasons (1997-2003) – four years under Steve Lappas and two years under Jay Wright – and was named one of the nation’s top recruiters by Eastern Basketball magazine in 1999. During his tenure, the Wildcats advanced to postseason play in five of the six seasons and compiled a 105-83 record. He previously served as the head coach at Columbia University and has worked as an assistant coach at Hofstra University and Boston College too.
“One thing I struggled with was having a shared vision with my players . . trying to get some consistency with what we were trying to do and trying to keep them focused on those things.”
“We want to play hard. Every single workout. And so, now we defined it, we put it on paper, they had to speak it back to us and that became the goal of what we’re trying to do in our spring workouts.”
“It’s been more of a collaboration with my staff, my players . . I have a vision of what I’m trying to do but I think the input that I received from my players and staff have really enhanced that . .there’s been a greater buy-in because the guys feel like they’re part of the process.”
“We’re going to have some process goals . . these are the goals that you set to get to the outcome goal . . they wanted to lead the league in rebounding . . they wanted to win the regular season championship . . the process goals are more of the things that we had to do every day and that would lead to the outcome goals.”
“I think the challenge is to stay consistent with the message that you’re trying to send . .things come up as you go but trying to stay focused . . on the things you made a priority and not getting off track.”
“I would make them communicate to me what playing hard meant . . I made them give me examples after practice is over. “
“The way I spoke to them was more of an exchange . . instead of saying to them, ‘We’ve got to share the ball,’ I made them communicate to me why that would be important.”
“We broke that down . . what our process goals were, what our outcome goals were and how are we going to achieve them . . and then we talked about what our offensive goals were, what our defensive goals were . . and then we had a whole list of . . once the game started, what our game goals were.”
“We play 1-on-1 almost every day and I thought it really helped the competitiveness . . I thought it really helped . . when our bigs were guarding guards because we do a lot of switching on ball screens.”
“We call it the ‘Attitude Chart’ and it tracks individual defense. And so, we track the amount of times you get beat middle, we track your close outs . . all along in the Spring, Summer and Fall.”
“We meet [after a game] as a team and we go over our game goals . . our Attitude Chart . . and then we have individual meetings after every game.”
“I want to make sure we’re clear . . how this team can have success and that’s going to be a little different that some of the things that we did last year. But the playing hard part is not going to change.”
“Your upperclassmen have to teach and they have to model what you’re all about.”
“If I was talking to a young coach, . . you’re going to get better with experience . . but have kind of a broad idea of what you’re trying to do and stay true to that . . What I try to do is bring some goals in to keep the focus on the big picture rather than get inundated by the other things that can get you off track.”
“We give our players an evaluation after the year’s over and . . we want to know what are things that we could have done better as a staff? What are the things we did well? What are the things we could get better at?”
“We’re all learning, we’re all getting better . . we win, we win together; when we lose, we lose together . . there’s none of this blame stuff that’s going on. We’re all just trying to get better . . If the game plan wasn’t tight, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand . . there’s other times where I’ll tell them . . you guys have got to take the onus more on this one.”
“I’m a fiery guy, there’s times we get in a meeting and I’m going to get into a guy . . but more than that we’re trying to build an atmosphere of a growth mindset where guys feel like they’re free to express themselves and that, you might not have done it today, but this is what you’re capable of, so let’s go do it tomorrow.”
“I do a lot more listening than talking now . . a lot of times I like to see, “Alright, did you really give this some thought? . . Do you have a plan?’”
“If you can reshape and improve the way they view things . . that’s the essence of coaching. You want to equip them with the ability to handle the world and improve themselves and have an impact on others. If you can do that as a coach, I think that’s the greatest thing that we’re doing out here.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Goal Setting for his Program
4:00 – Playing Hard
6:30 – Adopting Goal Setting
8:30 – Challenges in Setting Goals
11:00 – Connecting Goals to the Team
13:00 – Goals Tied to Non-Negotiables
16:00 – Team Goals
19:30 – One-on-One Sessions
25:30 – Impact of Goals
28:00 – Game Goals
31:00 – Less Control
33:00 – Build within Philosophy
37:00 – Enforcement of Goal Process
39:00 – Involvement of the Staff
43:00 – Subjective Goals
45:30 – Cheating
50:00 – Answer to the Question
54:00 – Texting Relationships
56:00 – Best Offensive Rebounding Drills
58:40 – Recruiting Process
1:05:00 – Conclusion
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