The Basketball Podcast: EP20 Doug Novak

October 9, 2018

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Doug Novak of NCAA D3 Bethel University joins the podcast. Doug Novak is entering his seventh season as the head men’s basketball coach at Bethel University after spending the seven previous years as a top assistant at the NCAA Division I level.

At Bethel,  Doug Novak has a record of 93-45 in five seasons at Bethel—the highest winning percentage (.674) of any Bethel basketball coach. He has helped led the program to a share of the programs first-ever MIAC regular season championship, second-ever MIAC Playoff championship and second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. This success has included five consecutive MIAC Playoff appearances, advancing to the semifinals twice (2014, 2016) and the championship game three times (2015, 2017, 2018), while hosting the championship game in both 2017 & 2018.


“At the end of every year . . [I try to] make sure that our teaching is adding up to what’s actually happening [in the game].”

On sharing knowledge: “If we all play a little bit better basketball, it’s good for all of us.”

“We want to have enough space for [our players] to grow, as opposed to just being in a system.”

“I don’t want our players to be burdened by an offense . . it’s always your shot first . . I want a north/south and east/west component to the game.”

“It’s ‘me first,’ but then the next part of is it’s ‘for us.’ And that’s where the joy comes from . . my job is to work those things so that I can go get a layup and if I can’t then I’m giving it to someone else and I’m making him better.”

“The game just goes so fast; we’re not teaching synchronized swimming. If it was we could just do a bunch of 1-on-0 or 5-on-0 and make those guys look good.”

“If I can give them something to help the game slow down, so that they have more time and space to make the decision then I want to give them those things to help them become a better basketball player.”

“Decisive, fast and free. That’s how we want to play.”

“Systems drive me crazy. The players override everything. It’s our job to make sure we’ve got the best guys on the floor.”

“What helps with space is that my teammate throws me a strike, I don’t have to move . . that gives me more time and time is crucial for me to make the right decision.”

“As soon as somebody touches you, it’s everybody’s instinct for your eyes to go down. So, we’re constantly putting pressure on those guys to keep their eyes on the rim . . we have wide motion but we have narrow vision and we try to chunk information from that.”

“Sometimes we’ll say, ‘You act like you’re having a bad day; you’re not having a bad day. You will never hit that shot. It will always be a low percentage shot.’”

“We want to be able to create efficient habits that hold up under pressure. When you have bad habits you don’t have any freedom.”

“We don’t have a lot of individual meetings . . we want to be able to express ourselves in front of that team. And we want the team to be able to express themselves in front of their teammates.”

“I really want every player to think this way: How good can I get? . . and they know there’s 14 or 15 other guys in there that are going to help you . . “

“That fighting for something special on a basketball floor, a particular standard of play that you want . . that’s where you develop relationships . . when you’re in a project with somebody else.“

“The more experience I have . . I understand a little bit more about the time it takes to acquire a skill and the failure that’s necessary and the messiness that’s necessary before we arrive there.”

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1:00 – Introduction
1:40 – Point of Attack Video
4:30 – Bethel Basketball
5:30 – Coach Novak’s Website
8:30 – Evaluation Process
11:00 – Creating a Strong Foundation
12:00 – The Value of Summer Camps
12:40 – “Decisive, Fast and Free” 
14:00 – “Me First For Us” 
16:30 – Creating Advantage on “First Down”
18:00 – Selfish if they Don’t Shoot an Open Shot
18:30 – “Create Space in Order to Utilize our Skills”
20:00 – Evolving Style of Play
21:30 – Stab Dribble
22:30 – Communicative Knowledge and Revealed Knowledge
23:00 – Learning From Players and the “Quicking Concept”
24:50 – “Know Where Your Looking”
25:30 – How to Increase the Percentages of Made Layups and Reduce Misses
26:00 – Teaching Point of Emphasizing “At the Point of the Shot” For Coach Novak’s Players
27:00 – Creating Efficient and Good Habits
28:30 – Discussion about “Swing The Ball” and One-Hand Reach
29:20 – Dictating How to Finish
30:30 – Decision Before Skill
33:40 – “Maximizing Time is Anything in the Learning Process on our Mind”
35:15 – How to Improve?
39:00 – Developing a Culture by Speaking the Same Words
40:00 – Practice Develops Team Relationships
40:40 – “It’s the Partnership, Not an Ownership” 
41:30 – Team Practices
42:50 – Teaching his Players on How to Teach
44:00 – Challenges for Changing Norms
45:20 – Creating a Habit for Skills
46:10 – Teaching Leadership
49:00 – Language
50:00 – Small-Sided Games
55:10 – Conclusion


Doug Novak


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