By Kevin Callahan
Brett Brown pounded his dribble at center court. He moved around the floor with the energy and enthusiasm of a rock star on stage. He answered questions thoughtfully and insightfully like a university professor in a classroom.
The Sixers coach was in his classroom. Brown was teaching this night last October at the Sixers Training Complex. His students, though, weren’t the usual NBA players.
Brown took a night out of his preseason preparation as the coach of the 76ers to teach other coaches in his popular Coach the Coaches Clinic.
The free clinic was attended by over 200 coaches from all levels. The coaches were mostly from the South Jersey-Philadelphia area.
There were grade school coaches wrapped around the court listening to Brown’s every word, all the way up to college coaches. No one knew too much basketball not to listen to Brown’s words like gospel.
Brown is doing the third annual Coach the Coaches Clinic on Tuesday, September 12. The Clinic will be held once again at the Sixers Training Complex, which is located at 55 Harbour Boulevard in Camden. The two-hour clinic begins at 6:30 p.m. and don’t forget to bring your questions.
The Camden Partnership Schools – five Catholic grade schools in Camden – sent five coaches from their boys’ and girls’ basketball program to the clinic last year.
“I went last year and it is so wonderful that the 76ers have come to Camden,” said Judyann Gillespie-McCarthy, who started an intramural basketball program in Camden for grade school kids over a decade ago. “And to have the accessibility for grade school coaches to have a practice with a NBA coach is unheard of.
“It shows the commitment of the 76ers and Coach Brown to promote basketball on every level.”
Brown, a coach’s son, has developed the Coaches Circle, which is “a new basketball outreach initiative that aims to enhance the local basketball coaching community by bringing coaches together, providing resources and sharing ideas to become better coaches.”
Last year, Brown took questions from coaches and responded with answers that he would give his NBA contemporaries.
For example, he was asked about transition defense and he explained how he taught his players to fill lanes on the court as they retreated on defense so the entire width of the floor was protected, and a penetrating guard could be doubled-team or stopped before driving the lane.
He also gave an inbounds play to an inquiring coach who wanted to know his favorite “last second” play.
Coaches on the sidelines were taking notes, of course.
On Tuesday, Brown is expecting his best-attended Coaches Clinic. He encourages coaches to invite their staff as well as other coaches in their program, league and network.
“I thought it was great, all the information was very informative,” said Nancy Jerome, who has been coaching with the CPS since the program’s inception over five years ago.
“It was nice they gave us a playbook and gave us information how practice played out, and I think he really did show you a couple of drills and how to manage it. It was good information that was put out and anyone who used it, it would be very helpful for them.”
“The bottom line is that was our goal at CPS to bring in experienced coaches,” Jerome continued. “We brought to CPS a great program because we already started at the highest level we were going to get. We weren’t going to get NBA, but we got former college players.
“The end result is we have three players who could start at Paul VI, and one who could start at Camden Catholic.”
Brown certainly packs the experience to teach coaches at the highest level. He is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Sixers and he has served as an assistant to the San Antonio Spurs for 11 years as well as coaching internationally.
Admission is free, but all coaches must have RSVP’d individually by Sept. 8.
Complimentary parking will be available adjacent to the Sixers Training Complex at the corner of Banner Way and Legends Lane.
All coaches will need to check-in upon entry. The clinic is on the Sixers practice court, so coaches should wear sneakers or rubber sole shoes.
“I thought it was a great event, it was an unbelievable turnout,” said Connor Crawford, who coaches the 7th and 8th grade boys’ basketball team for CPS and who played football and basketball at Camden Catholic and football at Lehigh about last year. “The support and amount of people who wanted to see Coach Brown was remarkable.
“He answered all the questions. It was every educational and it was cool, too. You could see how he coaches and it was interactive too.”
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