The Basketball Podcast: EP275 with Tom Hankins on Passion for Coaching

RELEASE DATE : 05/07/2023

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Fort Wayne G-League head coach Tom Hankins joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on passion for coaching, development and challenges.

In 2019 Hankins was hired by the Indiana Pacers to serve as the assistant player development coach followed by the next year becoming the G -League head coach.

Hankins brings vast coaching experience to Fort Wayne. He got started as a graduate assistant at Northwest Missouri State. He was an assistant coach at East Central High School in Tulsa, OK, for five years before going to Oral Roberts University as an assistant coach for 15 years.

From 2012-2015 he was the associate head coach at Southern Illinois University and from 2015-2019 he was the head coach at the University of Central Oklahoma. Teams he was associated with had six 20-win seasons, three NCAA tournament appearances and two NIT appearances.

Tom Hankins G-League

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Tom Hankins Quotes:

“When you’re trying to win games, no matter what level, it’s the team that’s together the most that is most likely going to win . . we’re constantly talking about playing together, about playing for each other.”

“A lot of them [players in the G League] were great scorers in college, really good scorers in high school . . their role in the NBA is going to be stay in front of your guy and make open shots and be a great defender, and the best defender and rebounder or creator you can be. Getting them to learn that it is a constant battle. It takes time to develop that change of mindset.”

“We also have an analytics department with the Pacers . . and so, we would call on a daily basis and say, ‘Here’s what we have tonight. So and so needs to play this many minutes. So and so is hurt. Here are our rotations. What do you think?’ And they would put together a substitution rotation for us . . And they would say, ‘When you’re going to have this lineup in the game, you’re not going to be great in transition . . or this lineup here is not going to be a great rebounding lineup, but it would give us parameters for when to maximize our lineups.”

“This will be my third year with Rick Carlisle as the head coach. He allows me to be at training camp . . help them out in practice. I’m at every practice that I can be, and I’m in the locker room for home games . . Being here multiple years helps me learn how they run things and be able to teach . . the terminology . . their adjustments, the verbiage they use before games and at halftime, how they teach . . We try to duplicate it with the Mad Ants. We want to make the transition from the G League to the NBA for players as seamless as possible.”

“Every player needs something different [for their development] . . What does he lack that he really needs? What are his strengths and weaknesses? A lot of times you don’t know that until you play a bunch of games; other guys, you know right from the beginning . . the one universal thing that they all need to work on is to be better defenders.”

“At this level you can’t take away everything. So, here’s what we’re going to try and take away. here’s where we’re going to send them. And when we send them this way, this is where everyone needs to be . . so, close outs . . you don’t chop your feet, you just get out there as fast as you can and you stay in front or send them and try to be as directional as you can.”

“Number one thing is spacing use of the corners in college basketball . . I would definitely use the corners a lot more, put my shooters in the corners, and I would play a lot more pick and roll, and I would defend a little bit differently. I would have multiple pick and roll coverages like we do at this level.”

“College teams, a lot of them are used to running their sets . . they know where they’re going and you start switching, and now it becomes a read-oriented game . . Coach Carlisle and his staff, they’re extremely creative and they teach and work on reads daily.”

“The other thing that’s a big difference between college and professional is these guys [in the NBA] don’t need a ton of reps . . The pace of your practice is a lot faster. The information that you’re giving, the amount of things that you can get to in one practice or in two or three days is amazing. They take it straight to the floor.

“We’ve had the discussion that it doesn’t really matter how we do it. That’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that we’re all doing it the same way and we’re all doing it with great effort . . Once that’s said, then most of the time we’re all on the same page and we get it fixed.”

“That’s the beauty of this level. It just takes simple actions to put your three best players on the floor in action. When you can, and they know how to play, they can figure it out. And then once the defense defends it this way, they know, ‘Alright, they’re defending it this way. So, now we need to counter it this way.’”

Tom Hankins Breakdown:

1:00 – Coaching from College to Pro
4:00 – Development Session
7:00 – Winning vs. Development
10:00 – Transient Nature of Players
12:30 – Player Development
15:00 – Closeout Concepts
17:30 – Switching
20:00 – Attacking Closeouts
23:00 – Individual Focus
25:38 – 26:34 – Hoopsalytics 3
26:35 – Managing Relationships
28:30 – Self Efficacy
36:00 – Dribble Hand Off
38:00 – Leave Feet to Pass
42:00 – High School Coaching
45:00 – Experiences Shape Us
47:00 – Conclusion

Tom Hankins Selected Links from the Podcast:

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