Bob Krizancic

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Bob Krizancic is the Boys’ Basketball Head Coach at Mentor High School in the state of Ohio.  Bob has served as head coach at Mentor and Girard High School for a total of thirty-nine years to date. He is one of four high school coaches in the state of Ohio to win state titles at different schools and received five Hall of Fame Awards as well. He currently has 679 career wins and ranks 6th in Ohio high school history. In the past three seasons Bob has led the Cardinals to a record of 68-10. 

Bob is also the author of the new book, Mental Toughness: The Game Changer – How to Create Elite Athletes, Teams, and Athletic Programs.

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Get ready to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Bob Krizancic, Boys’ Basketball Head Coach at Mentor High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

What We Discuss with Bob Krizancic

  • His book “Mental Toughness. The Game Changer, How to Create Elite Athletes, Teams, and Athletic Programs.”
  • “When you stop dreaming, you stop growing.”
  • “Basketball was fair game at the gym, in the car, outside the house, but in the house, we weren’t going to talk about basketball.” when it came to coaching his own sons.
  • The moment he realized basketball could pay for his college education
  • The experience as a player that made him realize his teams were going to run and press when he started coaching
  • “Have your identity, your philosophy, your culture, and don’t change it, but tweak it, take little pieces of other successful coaches and implement it in your program.”
  • “Don’t worry about what a young coach knows… hire on loyalty, energy, and passion.”
  • “As a first year coach you better have the most energy in the gym.”
  • “Eliminate people that aren’t in the same mentality and don’t want to do what you want to do.”
  • “Be elite, athletically, academically, ethically, morally.”
  • “When you’re playing our style, you really have to coach more in practice and you let them go in the game because you’re not calling set plays, and you really have to trust your players.”
  • “If your son or daughter is pretty good, always have them play up.”
  • Working with his youth coaches to develop continuity throughout his program
  • “Try to get on an AAU team that has a similar philosophy to us.”
  • “In our system, we believe that every single person on the court, no matter who you are, has to be a great ball handler.”
  • Developing high IQ players
  • “If you start for Mentor, you have a great chance of playing at the next level.”
  • “Effort makes up for a lot of mistakes.”
  • “I give my staff great freedom, but they better do the job.”
  • “Be specific and clear and transparent.”
  • Tips for improving a team’s shooting
  • Build relationships between players in the summer months

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here this morning without my co-host Jason Sunkle, but I am pleased to be joined by the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Mentor High School here in Cleveland, Ohio, Bob Krizancic. Bob is also the author of a brand new book, entitled “Mental Toughness. The Game Changer, How to Create Elite Athletes, Teams, and Athletic Programs.”

So let’s start there, Bob, just give us the quick synopsis of what the book’s all about, why you decided to write it, and then we’ll dive more into your career. And what you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball.

[00:00:34] Bob Krizancic: The book is definitely not a basketball playbook. When we send it to publishers, that’s why I think they picked it up so quick.

It’s more about life. The mentality that goes into. a job, especially coaching or an athlete. But in 2009 I met one of my players’ moms. Her two sons graduated in 2007 and 2009 Kathy Lombardo. We were sitting at a graduation party and she said, coach, would you like to write a book? And it peaked my interest.

So for the next 10 years, I would see Kathy periodically, especially in summers at graduation parties and events in Mentor. And every year she said, coach, you ready to write a book? And in 2019, I kind of paused. And I said Kathy let’s do it. So we got together in August, in nine months, we put together a book.

I do remember hearing a story. Dr. Seuss sent 29 of his manuscripts to publishers and on the 30th one, he finally got it published. So I wasn’t expecting people to jump on it, but to our surprise in five days, Newman Springs, it’s a pretty solid publisher. They have their major outlet.

And then Amazon Barnes and Nobles and Apple iTunes. And they said, we’ll take it. So we signed the contract and then for the next, almost two years, we went through revisions and edits. But I think we got it right. And I’m glad we got the COVID season in and this past season in, because it will, I think it added to the book, but the book’s about, or I believe a blueprint for parents, athletes, coaches.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with businesses about team bonding the mentality of a unit. So I think it’s a wide range. I’ve had some people in their eighties that have read the book that had some illnesses that said that they read the book and that they’re ready to attack the illnesses and to keep living.

And that is part of the book. Never stop dreaming. You know, you could dream at 85. You know, one of my favorite things is when you stop dreaming, you stop growing. And I really believe that. So the book is, I didn’t want anybody to read it, cover to cover, and they could, but for, let’s say a coach or an athlete to go to a certain section that could help them on it.

Dealing with parents, dealing with your youth programs dealing with social media how to get your kids started. When my two sons came up, I called Dru Joyce and said, you’ve coached your two sons Dru and Cam give me some advice, tell me what you did right. And what you would do different.

And Dru was great. And you know, it’s not easy to coach your kids, especially in high school and even possibly college like Jim Boheim but there’s a section of you know, coaching your son and my two sons put little pieces in there that I thought were unbelievable. so I hope that gave you a little synopsis and then hit me with questions.

[00:03:45] Mike Klinzing: Let’s start out with that coaching your son piece, because that’s something that I think there are a lot of coaches out there that even if they don’t do it at the high school or the college level, there are so many people that are coaching their kids. At the lower levels, whether that just be their first experience in a rec program, or eventually again, a travel basketball or AAU.

And I know I’ve been in that position and as you go through and you’re trying to navigate that and figure it out and what’s it look like? So what’s some of the advice that drew Joyce gave to you, or then what’s some advice that after you went through it that you give to somebody out there who’s coaching their own kid?

[00:04:17] Bob Krizancic:

First of all, I had the opportunity to be on the Josh & Maria Cribbs show on Wednesday. And Marie asked me about that exact question because she said our kid’s in seventh grade and they’re coming up and she said, how was it? So I I’ll go. At the end first and I said it was 98%. Absolutely. Great.

And there were 2% of the things that were kind of frustrating, which you can imagine, but what we had is parameters rules. And we said that basketball was fair game at the gym, in the car, outside the house, but in the house, we weren’t going to talk about basketball. And that was one thing that Dru and a couple other head coaches had told me.

And I think that really, really worked well. So that was like a safe Haven. It was family time and relax go do your video, go do your homework, whatever, but we had those rules and, and those were pretty strict. The one major advantage. That I saw that I didn’t know was that when my sons were in first grade, second, third, they, I would throw ’em in the van with the players and the bus, and they would bring their friends and Cole’s best friend was Jar Crow and those two were great teammates.

Jar was a great player in college. We went to state with them. Connor grew up with Brandon, Fritz, Mitch, Trubisky, same thing. We throw ’em in a car. We’d go to Buffalo with my family to see them. They’d be in on the bus in fifth grade, sixth grade. They go to the summer camps. We had a rule that on our varsity, well, the, my young kid, my sons were growing up and they’re like in third, fourth, fifth grade that whoever played the worst, we would vote at the end of the day, like at a shootout at Ohio state.

And the three young ones had to stay in their room. So it was almost hilarious that they didn’t want to get voted worse. Because they’d have to have the three young ones stay with them, but it was a really, really good experience. I think transparency is huge and I told my son, I said Cole, he was the oldest.

I said, when you we play away, be ready. And when freshman year he would get to the foul line and they’d be chanting daddy’s boy. And just some of the chance. And he actually got to enjoy it by his junior and senior year. But his freshman year, I thought he was going to cry a few times when he went to the foul line.

But again, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You get to spend the time in the gym at games. The toughest loss of my life was the Cincinnati Mueller game in the state semis in overtime with Cole. And then the best I’ve won a couple state championships, but in 2013 with my son Connor on the court and Cole right behind the bench in the stands with Justin Fritz and a couple people that was probably the best victory of my life.

[00:07:08] Mike Klinzing: Was it easy or hard to navigate that rule of only talking basketball outside of the house? Did you quickly adjust to that once you set it up as the parameters, or was it still a case where there were times where you’re in the house? You’re like, I really, I really want to talk some basketball with these guys.

[00:07:24] Bob Krizancic: Oh, it was much tougher on me. I would be talking to assistant or whatever. And then I would want to go up in their bedroom and say, Hey, we gotta do this, this, this, and this. It was really, really tough. One of the they were both named captains on the basketball team, but my youngest son played football and him and Mitch were great friends and they still are today.

In fact, Connor just moved from LA to Florida within a half hour of Mitch, because Mitch lives in Boca. But Connor was quarterback the year when Mitch left for North Carolina and I could hear him Like up by three, four in the morning, and this was in the summer and I said, Connor, what’s wrong with you?

You’re not sleeping. I hear you up. And he said, dad, when I was a wide out and I was on a football team and I was captain as a junior, he said, I didn’t have responsibility like Mitch did. And he said, now I feel responsible for 110 guys since I’m the quarterback and I’m captain. And I was so impressed that he felt responsible and just wanted to help and motivate every single person on his team.

And that was, we tried not even football. We did not talk a lot of football in the house when he played. And they went to the state semis and they lost to Moeller in the championship his senior year. But again, we had those rules and my sons loved it because they couldn’t wait to get in the house sometimes and out of the car, but it was tough on me, but I got used to it.

[00:08:59] Mike Klinzing: All right, let’s go back in time to when you were a kid. Tell me a little bit about how you got into the game of basketball when you were younger. And then as you worked through sort of your time as a player, when did coaching get on your radar? So just talk about some of your early experiences with basketball and then how coaching became such an important part of your life.

[00:09:19] Bob Krizancic: I knew that early, I loved basketball. I’d be one of those that would shoot till 11, 12 at night, shovel the driveway. Couldn’t wait to get on the court, my father was a recreation director part-time so he would be responsible for the gyms and the fields in Gerard. So that was an advantage for me.

And he was a minor league baseball player. So I grew up in an athletic background he loved sports. So that was a huge advantage. But in high school I played baseball and basketball and I kind of knew that basketball was the ticket because it was easier to get a scholarship. And I probably wasn’t going to, I was going to commute to a school versus if I got a scholarship.

So I put a ton of time into basketball.  I played baseball in the summers and I wI played a baseball game in a different. And I went to Gerard high school and after the game, my head basketball coach was standing there waiting for me. And I was 15 a sophomore going into my junior year and he had a basketball.

He said, can I give you a ride home? And I said, sure, I was going to go with one of my buddies. So coach Bower took me to the gym. He held up the basketball and in those days the basketball probably cost about 30, 32 bucks. He said, this could make your life and pay for your college education. And that was just one of those ahha moments in your life that it just really hit me. So from there, I did spend a lot of time in basketball. I got a full ride at YSU. We were going, they were D two going D one. So that was exciting. We started to play West Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio state. And I said, Akron we’re went into the OVC, which was a great conference.

And my sophomore year in between Christmas and new year’s, the university of San Francisco was playing like three, four Eastern teams. So we played them and I started and they scored, I probably got the basketball with about 19 minutes and 50 seconds. And this one guard probably 5’8” 5’9” was in my face and they rotated two guards that were the quickest toughest people.

And it was the most miserable. Basketball game I’ve ever played in my life. And afterwards, I said, if I ever have an opportunity to coach that I would want to make life as miserable for the opponent as those two made me. And it’s in the book and I believe it’s a huge reason why we press, we run.

I believe that you’ve gotta put the pressure on 24-7 or 32 straight minutes in a high school basketball game. And that’s been a big part of my philosophy early. I would got the job when I was 25 years old at probably was too young, but I would go to the Nike clinics and I’d Valvano George Raveling and all the great coaches and I took little bits and pieces of presses and breaks.

And again, that’s in the book about having your identity, your philosophy, your culture, and don’t change it, but tweak it, take little pieces of other successful coaches and implement it in your program. And, and I think that’s the key of being a really, really good coach. You’re going to steal pieces from everybody, but how you fit it into what you believe in is the key to success.

[00:13:08] Mike Klinzing: When you go and you start looking at the opportunity that you had, you mentioned as a young coach at age 25 to become a head coach. And you think back to that time, what’s something that you were really good at confident with when it came to coaching because obviously there’s a lot to learn when you get a job at 25 and especially coming off a successful playing career.

I think we all have an ego of, Hey, I know a lot about the game of basketball and suddenly you step into that coaching role and you’re like, Hmm. Maybe I don’t know. Quite as much as I thought I did. But what was something that you took to right away that just felt natural felt right for you as a coach?

[00:13:48] Bob Krizancic: I was worried about hiring a staff and the superintendent was young and it was carte blanche.

I had the freedom to hire who I wanted and he just said, make sure you hire the right people. And I would tell any coach. Don’t worry about what a young coach knows higher on loyalty, energy, and passion. And if you have a young coach and we’ve done that in the last couple years at men, I wanted some young blood, some energy in the gym, and I love my staff.

But I believe that if they want to be in the gym and they have that passion and  energy they’re going to learn. And your system has to be synonymous all the way through even the feeder program. You know, our seventh and eighth grade, our ninth grade, our JV, and I’ve had the luxury and, you know the ability to go down and speak to our third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade programs at both Gerard and at Mentor, I actually set up my senior year of college.

I set up the first feeder program in the city of Gerard for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. And five years later when I got the job. Those young men were seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th grade. And it was unbelievable. The timing, I believe timing is everything and God works in strange ways, but that was a huge part of the success at Gerard the, the feeder program that started when I was my senior year at YSU and I established the rules and all the ramifications of practices and schedules and how you play the game all man to man.

Everybody, every offense has to be where five people touch the ball and five people move. And I got that from other really good head coaches. But it just, as a first year coach go in with you better have the most energy. When you walk in the gym things better change and they better change as far as effort, energy mentality.

And, and those are just simple things and, and they’re easier said than done, but if you could do those, I believe you’re off to a great start.

[00:16:05] Mike Klinzing: Do you think that you kind of came to that? I don’t want to say naturally as if you didn’t work at it, but do you think that that’s something that you brought to the table sort of intuitively with your background going through and thinking about your experiences with your dad and then obviously you as a player getting to be a college player and just the experience that you had there, do you think you came into it with sort of maybe intuitively knowing that, Hey, these are the things that I’ve gotta do.

[00:16:27] Bob Krizancic: I thought I did. And I knew what I wanted to do, but the first year, and this is another thing, I got some unbelievable advice from a coach from Pennsylvania that had won seven state titles, coach McCloskey. And I said, coach, can you gimme just one little nugget, one piece? And he said, eliminate idiots.

And, and I kind of knew what he meant and, and, or eliminate people that aren’t in the same mentality and, and don’t want to do what you want to do. So my very first year I cut 10 out of 12 seniors, and I threw a junior off that was all league because he just didn’t want to bust his butt. And the town had a paper, and they just ripped me.

My very second date,  I got hired on a Tuesday by the board of education. And it was a nice little celebration in the next two nights. I met a couple, my buddies that wanted to start a booster club. I thought that was a huge part. You need a great booster club. And by day four of when I was hired, the word was coach K is drinking his dinners.

So,  I learned so fast I wanted to start a booster club. I wanted to have the people on the court and I did what kind of people told me to do, but I don’t want to say I backfired, but I learned really, really quick stick to your guns and be very careful what you do on the outside.

First year, we win one game. I had a two year contract. Thank God. The second year we were one and five and I’m doubting myself. Think about I’m 2 and 25. In my career. And I’m just saying, ah, man, and we went on a seven game winning streak, beat two top 10 teams in a state. And that really had never happened at Gerard and then we were off.

The one thing that, I will give myself some kudos. I, I stuck to my guns and I didn’t change what we believed in. And we just dug in and worked. I mean, we actually went to probably two days on Saturdays and Sundays and the town bought in the parents, bought in the players, bought in, I had two booster clubs and in year 13 at Gerard, we won the state.

We had beat a couple number one teams in the state. We had gone to regionals a number of times. So we were almost known as one of the better D two teams in the state of Ohio in the year. We won it in 2000 or 1993. 221 was a cutoff for division two. If you had 220 boys and you were division three, 221, You were division two, that year we had 221. So we actually won the state. You couldn’t get somebody, you couldn’t get anybody to move. Well, we didn’t know it. It was afterwards. I would’ve  we would’ve done something, but I was stunned because I thought we were going to, we had a good chance of being D three and St. Joe’s had won the state in D one in 91 in D two and 92 and like had five D one players that were just London Fletcher that went on to play NFL 15 years host of our goal to UNLV. They had just won a national championship. Ricardo Crumble going to DePaul university, quasi, his Kwsas,  his son who played Army had a great career there.

I mean just absolutely loaded players. Melvin Levitt went to Cincinnati and was drafted number two in the NBA. We beat them in regional finals. So answer your question again. If you’re a coach This is a great story. And if I’m going off the thing you tell. but a couple years ago,  I met Josh Gordon in Florida and he was just left the Browns and in new England had picked him up and a phenomenal young man, truthfully, I was really impressed. So we were talking, he called me coach and which I said, Josh, call me Bob. You know, you’re an NFL player. He said, no, he said, coach.

So we’re, we’re just talking about philosophies a whole bit. And he said quick into the conversation. He said, I got signed by new England. And he said, when I walked into their compound, he said within five minutes, I knew exactly who they were, what their culture was and what their identity was.

So I was so impressed with that. And I went back to men are, and I met with our, our staff and our team. And I said, if somebody comes to our practice, somebody comes to our game. Even in warmups within a few minutes, I want them to know who we are. You know, what the identity of Mentor basketball is we press, we run we try to, when we have a player in our program, the first thing we talk about is being elite, athletically, academically, ethically, morally.

So when you graduate as a basketball player and you leave our program you’re ready to attack the world. But a great probably 30 minute talk with Josh Gordon.

[00:21:32] Mike Klinzing: That’s really cool that you get an opportunity to have that discussion. And sometimes it’s amazing that I’m sure you didn’t go into that conversation thinking that you were going to pull out that particular piece of wisdom and then go back and try to evaluate your own program under that standard.

So to be able to, to get that from a conversation, I think that’s one of the things that we’ve been able to enjoy as part of the podcast is you’re having these conversations with coaches and there’s so many different things that a coach will say, or that will bring, or that they do in their program.

That’s maybe unique. And hopefully the people that are out there in the audience end up doing exactly what you did, which is they hear somebody talking, they say, wow, that’s something that I could take back immediately and implement into my program. And those are really the things that we’re trying to do every day when we do these episodes is just get information out there to coaches that they can use and, and really put to put to use in their program.

So when you think back to. That those first couple years at Gerard, was it easier or harder you think because of the fact. You went to school there. Do you think that made the job easier or harder on you looking back? Retrospectively?

[00:22:41] Bob Krizancic: I think at the beginning, it didn’t matter. And then as my fifth, sixth, seventh year, when some of the people I went to school with some of the people I know, and now their sons are playing in the program.

And I don’t want this to sound strange, but after 13 years and a lot of my classmates that still remained in Gerard and their sons now were starting to be sophomores juniors and coming up at the high school level. I think it was a good time to leave because that does present some problems.

So, but while I was there, there are advantages, you know people I could I started two booster programs. The people knew my background. There was transparency. They knew I had played high school basketball there, college basketball at YSU. So again, I would say like coaching your sons 90 to 95%.

Really, really good coaching in your hometown, but there were some of those drawbacks. I’m going to go back into the previous question real quick, because I think in life, when you talked about Josh Gordon, Jim Tressell was coach at YSU football, and I had got to met him. I met him through some mutual friends and after games, we would go to the NBR and talk and, and play bocce.

And he wrote an endorsement on the back of the book. Very, very thankful, just great person. But coach Tress, one of his football philosophies was he did not want to turn the ball over. He felt that he would win 95% of the football games if they had less turnovers the opponent. And that was something that stuck in my mind.

And I would go to basketball practices and just say, we cannot turn the ball over. We have to win the turnover battle. And in a lot of games, I’d put five to three ratio. You know, if they get 20. You know, we can at 12, 12 or less, and then some games would be five to two if I thought so, but we’d always, I’d always put that ratio and we have to win the turnover battle.

And I think when the smaller we got at Mentor, the more we ran, we would get 90 possessions, a game, which is huge for the high school team. And we average like five years in a row, less than 10 turnovers a game. And when you’re playing our style, you really have to coach more in practice and you let them go in the game because in running press, you’re not calling plays, you’re not calling set plays, and you really have to trust your players.

And that’s one thing that a lot of coaches that have tried our, our system they like the, the control. A little bit more and they’re used to it. So it didn’t mean to go back in a question. I think I answered the hometown question and let’s go to the next one.

[00:25:31] Mike Klinzing: So I want to build on the system that you run and that you play and men are, let’s start out by, before we talk about how you implement that as a coach at the high school level, let’s go back to your experience building a youth program, because I think one of the things, when I look around at what makes a high school coach successful, and anybody can have one season or two seasons where you get a good group of talent coming through in a particular class.

But when you talk about a program year in and year out, that you know that they’re going to be good because they’ve had players that come up through their youth program that have learned their style of play that have learned their terminology. Just tell us a little bit about how you have it set up today in terms of how do you go through and teach your coaches at the middle school level?

Your system, how do you go down to the youth level and make sure that when those kids are playing travel basketball, that they’re getting the things that they’re going to need to eventually become a part of your high school program. And then just talk about the visibility where those kids and those families get to know you.

So that there’s an aspirational aspect of them looking when they’re in fifth, sixth grade and saying, man, I can’t wait one day to be able to suit up and put on a mentoring uniform and run out and go through layup lines and, and be a part of the program. So just kind of run us through how you take your style of play and the things that you do on the varsity level and implement them at the lower levels.

[00:27:00] Bob Krizancic:  Well, next week, Monday through Friday, we will run a grades three to six, we’ll probably get 90 to 95 players. We’ll run two camps in the afternoon, grades one and two, probably get 50 in the one and two and 40 to 50 in the older group. And we could, we talk about our philosophy and the parents come in and it’s a great time to meet with the parents of the younger kids and talk our philosophy and what we believe in and the people that run the youth programs will come in and talk probably five minutes and give out forms for the programs.

And a lot of our middle school coaches will be coaching the camps so that they get a firsthand look at the kids coming in seventh, eighth, and ninth. So those are advantages right there. A lot of parents will call me and say, what would you recommend for my kid in first, second, third, fourth, he loves basketball.

My best advice. And again, it’s in the book is youth coming up, always play up. If your son or daughter is pretty good, always have ’em play up. When my sons were first grade, second grade, I had ’em play either one year or two year up against bigger, better, stronger players. That is the quickest way. You know, you could spend 50 bucks on an hour on people that skill work and all that.

And that’s not bad. I don’t want to degrade that, but the quickest way is playing against somebody that is bigger, better and stronger than you. When I set up the youth program at Gerard, it was again, all man to man. I sent down the drills the recreation department department paid me to come in a couple nights in September and October before our season started at YSU.

And just trying to give them a good idea of how to run the drills. Offensively the five man weave open post that five people are moving, cutting back door. You know, you’re learning the basic fundamentals of the game. Pre-game, you know how to get your, your players, your team loose and how to have them be fundamentally sound in passing the basketball, cutting getting the three point shot now.

And then in seventh and eighth grade. We talk to the coaches a lot. We’ll have some of our varsity players possibly go down and work with the seventh or eighth grade team. We, I tell all the players on the seventh and eighth grade, if you want to ride the bus to an away game, if you want to come in our locker room at a home game two to three at a time, get a good idea of what it’s like to be a Mentor basketball player.

So you try to and get, make as many situations relevant where they’re not abstract, or it’s not a crazy situation when they’re coming as a freshman or especially. As a sophomore, junior, we in the summer when you’re going from eighth to ninth grade, we have our freshman play in JV or, or low varsity leagues, our JVs play in low varsity leagues or, or if they’re really good playing against really good varsity competition.

So again, we’re always playing up in trying to play against better competition, our varsity team. When we go to a shoot-out. We’re not going to go unless we get great competition. We’re playing a league with pick central Akron St. V’s all the good schools in Cleveland. We try to travel, we’ve gone to Tom Izzo’s camp.

We’ve gone to Huggins camp in West Virginia. And before we go, I say, Hey, get us the best games possible in June so that we’re ready to go in December and January.

[00:30:58] Mike Klinzing: What’s your philosophy on scheduling? So I know that coaches, depending upon where you’re at in your career and the type of talent that you have, I was always kind of with the mentality that prepare your team for the tournament and schedule tougher games.

And clearly, depending upon where you are, maybe if you’re a new coach and you just need to get some wins under your belt to be able to keep your job. You know, that can be, that can be something, but just when hearing you talk about trying to make sure that your players get the best opportunity to improve and get better, how does that translate into the way that you schedule during the regular season, preparing your team for state tournament play?

[00:31:39] Bob Krizancic: You made a great point. There are some coaches that need the W’s and that’s tough. I always believed in playing better competition. And I’d say probably 98, 97% of the teams are in the league. So you have no choice in those 10, 12, 14 league games, but you do in the independent games.

And that’s where I think that we really tried to play the best competition. A few years ago, Mike, you, I said, let’s be one of the best teams in the state. You know, let’s shoot for state title. Cause I thought I dreamed small and I’m still ticked at myself for not believing in the biggest thing that we could do.

So when we start competing and doing really well against the best teams in the state, I said, Hey, let’s try to be one of the best teams in the country and with all the prep schools and that it it’s hard to do, but our players started to believe that in 2003, we played Akron St. V’s. They were number one on the country.

They had LeBron James. In 2013, we played Huntington Prep with Andrew Wiggins and he was the number one player in the country. They were number four, because they lost a game without him, but we played them at Walsh University in the dunk for diabetes and we played ’em in the last game. It was packed. It was great atmosphere.

And we have the basketball with 4.4 seconds to go down one on an OB. So we had a chance to beat the number four team in a country. We look to go to a Christmas tournament that again has some of the best teams in a country we’ve been invited to the Arby’s classics. Seven times we in pre COVID year, we played back to back the number 21 and number 39 teams in the country this year.

We didn’t go there, but they had the number 4 and  number 9 teams in a country. So we looked to go to a Christmas Tournament. We’ve been at San Diego, Phoenix, Utah, West Virginia a number of times, Pennsylvania, Michigan. So we do look to play those Christmas tournaments and possible shootouts against a team that is going to be a state title contender and possibly one of the best in the country.

I think we’re about to schedule a game against St. Ignatius next year at rocket mortgage arena. And I think the back to back games is Sierra Canyon and St V’s and us and St. Ignatius. And I think if we could sign the contract, that will be a a great game  in those type of atmospheres.

Arby’s classic. You see it’s 7,000 a game. And in 2013 we played Huntington prep and we played in these. Championship of the Arby’s classic. They had this back to back 7,000 seat games. So when we go down to the shot and they have 12, 14,000, we played in, in front of the, that types of crowds before, and that types of competition.

So that’s, I really believe every time that we’ve come back from a Christmas tournament that was loaded or a great showcase I thought we were a better basketball team to me

[00:34:46] Mike Klinzing: That makes so much sense to put your kids in a position where they could play against better competition. And I think you talked about it a little bit earlier when you were discussing just how you improved as a player and, and getting an opportunity to, to work against better players, older players.

And the, the, the system that we have today in, in youth basketball, growing up is far different than the one that you and I grew up in. When you think about just playing pickup basketball or playing in the neighborhood and kids today, or playing AAU and doing all those things. But AAU has become a really, a big part of.

Players development. So as a high school coach, what’s your philosophy in terms of working with AAU, trying to help your players to maximize the opportunity that they get from summer basketball. How have you handled sort of that transition from what it was like back when you first started coaching, where that system pretty much didn’t exist to kind of what we have today.

How have you navigated that to make sure that your players are getting the best out of that system?

[00:35:51] Bob Krizancic: That’s a great, great question, especially in this day and age, because you need AAU for exposure. And we recognize that I hate to say it, but I look at AAU as a necessary evil We try to tell our players, especially from a young age, seventh, eighth, and ninth try to get on an AAU team that has a similar philosophy to us.

You know, that’s going to play man to man, that’s going to run and press. That’s going to let you handle the basketball. In our system, we believe that every single person on the court, no matter who you are, has to be a great ball handler. Micah Potter is with the Miami Heat and at 6’ 10”, Mike, we made Micah handle the basketball and shoot the three.

And that’s been a huge advantage at Ohio State, Wisconsin, Adam May was six, eight played at Holy Cross, great career handled the basketball. So every person in our system. You know, has to be able to, again, shoot the three, handle the basketball, be very versatile in, in AAU try to get on a team if at all possible where you’re going to be able to do those things that could, that’s going to make you a better basketball player for us.

You know, it’s not always happens. And you know, right now AAU is I hear players are playing on a different team from week to week and that, but the AAU coaches that have had our players have been very impressed with their basketball IQ, with their effort with their team play. So I’m very pleased with that.

And, and then we go on to college, we talk a lot of the college coaches have talked about our players high basketball IQ, great effort in practice and in the game. So those are great things that make me feel good about our staff and about what we do.

[00:37:41] Mike Klinzing: Talk a little bit about your role as a high school coach in helping your players to get to the next level, how you build relationships with college coaches, and then just what.

What are the steps that you take as a high school coach to ensure that your players are getting an opportunity to play at the next level, if that’s what they want to do.

[00:38:02] Bob Krizancic: We tell our players immediately that you cannot have weaknesses. You’ve gotta be able to shoot the three. You’ve gotta be able to handle the basketball. College coaches will immediately ask me if, if let’s say you’re a two on offense, you’re 6’1” 6’2”. Can they guard 6’4”, 6’5”, can they guard a quick 5’8,” 5’ 9” guard said you have to be versatile defensively. You know, we’ve had many years where we had almost six, two and under, and three guards around 5’11”

And if another team is like 6, 5, 6’5, 6’7” one of our guards is going to guard somebody that is a huge disadvantage. You know, you’ve gotta have a high basketball IQ. You we want to limit dribbles. We want to get the ball up the court as quick as possible. Our players have learned that Micah Potter and Adam May being able to run the floor, pressing, running has helped them at the college level.

So this was a great stat from 2008 to 2014. Every one of our players, except one. And that was Mike Johanna and he was a really good athlete, but he went straight to Pharmacy school and got his pharmaceutical degree. He was the only one in that seven year period that if you started for Mentor, you played at the next level.

Now that’s not all basketball players, that’s Trubisky and football. It’s my son, Connor going to Minnesota, McClure and Caleb Potter going to Louisville and West Virginia for basketball, but you were going to be an athlete. So we talk about, if you start for Mentor, you have a great chance of playing at the next level.

Take our 2019 starting lineup. You know, Mason Trubisky played at John Caroll basketball, Chad Rogers pitching for Penn state, Luke Flo YSU or Luke Chicon YSU, Luke Flo football, Kent state. And that’s been pretty strong throughout every one of our years. And every one of our groups of players, if you start at Mentor you’re going to have a great shot of playing at the next level.

And college coaches know that we don’t put a lot of D ‘1S in basketball, but you know, we’ll put a lot of D two, a lot of D three and, and they do a great job. You know, at that level,

[00:40:21] Mike Klinzing: how do you, you’ve mentioned a couple times. Basketball IQ. So when you think about that as a basketball coach, and you’re designing your practices, and obviously you also, your style of play where you’re not running a bunch of set plays, you’re pressing, you’re going up and down the floor.

You’re shooting a lot of threes. You have this free flowing style of play, which as you said, as a coach, your work’s done in practice. As opposed to having that control of walk it up, call a set you’re giving the players much more control. So in order to do that, you have to have players who have a high basketball IQ who understand what it is that you’re trying to get done with them out on the floor.

So when you think about that from a practice design, what are some things that you feel like you and your program do well, helping their player, helping your players to de to develop their IQ in a practice setting?

[00:41:14] Bob Krizancic: We learned a, a long time ago that in our style. I mean, we could use a ten second shot clock.

I really believe that that’s why we constantly put seven seconds on the clock. And as soon as if we’re pressing our managers are at the clock. And as soon as we get the basketball on the steal or rebound, we have seven seconds to get a good shot off, not a shot, a good shot, a high percentage.

So our players are constantly almost everything that we run offensively is by the shot clock. If we’re running an offense, we’ll put four seconds in a half court setting we have to attack really quick and you’ve gotta be able to create in a very short amount of time. And in that we learned that offensively, if we pick.

At about 25, 30 feet, especially with our big men. And this is what we really try to do. We try to get mismatches so quick and our players, you talk about basketball at Q as soon as we execute the pick and it’s not really a pick and roll, it’s a pick to set our point guard free. And we, again, when we talk about, we learned, we learned it is so hard.

If a big man is guarding one of our bigger guys, it is so tough to hedge and to stop our point guard in transition. So that is one of the, the keys to what we want to do and how we want to attack is get that pick and transition. And then we have a. Point guard such as Flori or Shaone that we’re both first team and second team, all states.

And we have some really good players that can do stuff with the basketball if, if they’re attacking in the open court and, and they’re not guarded by, they’re a good defensive guard I think we, that is one of the reasons. That were successful. We talk about basketball IQ. If, if you are a guard and you have the basketball and we have two guys that are open and one’s like a 40 to 45% really good three point shooter.

And one’s, let’s say a 30 to 35. You better know who you get the basketball to. It’s the higher percentage shooter. That’s that’s going to work for us. So again, when you’re going, blowing the ball up the floor and you have two people open, you better know who to pass to. It’s not a 50 50. It is like an 80, 85 90 percentage that you better know who to get the basketball to.

If we run a, let’s say a pick big in a guard and that big man’s open really quick, you better get him the basketball, not kick it back out because we’ve got a major mismatch quick. We talk about it in our press situation. If a really good shooter is down the floor. Well, you can’t cheat as much as you normally could.

Because we don’t want to let him have a great three point shot and we’ll adjust our presses. If shooters are down the floor or if we have, they have two great shooters and now they’re 90 feet, 80 feet from the bucket. We trap them and make them give the basketball up. We give up a lot of great shots sometimes in our press, but if it’s a shot that it’s somebody that’s shooting 25 to 30% from threes, or isn’t really great at finishing.

Okay. So those are little things that our players learn in practice. We don’t watch a lot of film, but we’ll watch a little film and just say, Hey, here’s who we do not want to get the ball to or get open. Here’s who we want to have the basketball, especially in trapping situation. So our players know in this day and age huddle they can make their own highlight films.

They could watch. If we play Madina, they’ll probably have five to seven. Medina films. And we’ll say, Hey, go to this one, watch this one. We played ’em last year, watch this one. When we played ’em earlier the year, and you better understand what they do offensively defensively. And when we go in a game, we better be so much smarter than the other team.

[00:45:12] Mike Klinzing: Talk about a change in technology from when you started coaching to what we can do. Now, when you think back to the era of VCRs and video tapes, and I just remember hitting that button or watching a coach hit the button when I was a player and have it spiral back a minute and a half past the play that the coach actually wanted to watch, or that you wanted to watch as a player.

And now you think about what we can do with huddle and just the ability that coaches and players have to be able to watch film. It’s just, that’s one of the, probably one of the most incredible changes I think from a coaching standpoint is just to be able to. All that access and not just to your own film, but you can, how easy it is to exchange and just do all of those things.

When you’re talking about trying to teach some of the concepts that you talked about, about finding open shooters and using that high screen and being able to set up and get your point guard going downhill. Are you teaching that out of five, on five settings in practice? Are you doing breakdown, small side of games type work?

Just how do you break that down as you’re trying to get your kids to understand those particular skills and what you’re looking for?

[00:46:14] Bob Krizancic: We believe in throwing ’em into the fire. Found the quickest way. If we have a really, we’ve had a couple really good freshmen and we’ll just throw ’em in our press and they’ll learn by making mistakes and you know, it’s okay to fail.

In the summer and before the season it’s during the season that you better understand and learn from your mistakes. And we will tell them, Hey, go back and watch films of this player, watch films of this team, the position the wing if you’re back on a press, if you’re on the ball and, and they did it probably better than anybody that we’ve had.

So just watch what they do. Effort takes care of makes up for a lot of mistakes. Also, one of the best things opposing coaches have said to myself and our staff is you play through mistakes better than anybody I’ve seen. And that’s huge you can’t mope for quarter of a second, a half a second.

So that’s a great teaching point when you talk about even basketball IQ mentality. But technology is amazing when we go into halftime we have a couple coaches that talk about. Threes their percentage on the other team who has them you know, the five guys that were on the floor that did the best the best unit against this team.

So technology is just absolutely amazing. I could go finish a game and, and we’ll be talking our team and I’ll go to our assistant tomorrow let’s look at our defensive OB’s because we gave up too many great looks. Let’s look at our OB’s because we didn’t score enough and you know, boom, we’ll get the 12 to 14 right in a row.

You know, I said, let’s look our press breakers against their 100 or their 25 and let’s see what we could have done better. And the breakdown’s amazing. At YSU I was an assistant coach at. The Youngstown Pride and we used their facilities. And after a football game, I was talking to their tech guy and this was back in the early nineties.

And he said, we get 14 tapes out for coach Tressell and they go to all the assistants right away. And that’s basically what we do right now. You know, we have a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator. I give them great freedom, but they better do the job. We better not turn the ball over.

We better get great high percentage shots and defensively. And I’m in on all that. But I believe in giving your assistants great responsibility we have a big man coach to just worked with our big guy specifically Luke Chicone and I make him come he’s back from college, said, Luke, you’re working with our guards all summer, just on your ball, handling drills and all that.

So we tried not to miss a beat and we get on a floor. We talked about not having any weaknesses as players and as, as a team, but technology really, really helps us out. And it’s amazing. I hate to see what it is in the future. I don’t know how it could get better.

[00:49:12] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It’s hard to imagine that the, the next iteration of what that’s going to look like, I can’t even imagine it when you guys are in practice with you and your staff, how do you balance letting the practice flow versus identifying things that you want your players to correct or fix or go through and say, Hey, here’s a read that I think you missed, or here’s a play where I think you should have done something differently.

I know that’s always something that coaches, I don’t want to say struggle with, but they try to find that balance. You can’t stop it on every little mistake and every little read that the player made incorrectly, but yet you still have to be coaching. So how do you think about that? How do you approach your, I guess instructional time during practice?

[00:49:58] Bob Krizancic: I very seldom like to stop play. We’ll pull a player out that is making the mistakes, or maybe doesn’t understand and tell him to watch and he’ll be right near myself or a coach. And then we’ll throw him back in and see if he gets it. And if he doesn’t pull him out, I’ll tell my assistants, don’t stop it, pull him out send somebody in.

But we have to be in such great shape. And I believe that when we go into a game, if we aren’t in much better shape, then we’re not going to get those two runs a half. Because teams are going to be able to. Have the same energy level that we do. So in practice, we really try to just push them.

And at the end, when they’re dead tired, put three, four minutes down 10 that you really have to get that second, third, fourth effort and mentality wise when they see that they could do it. It really helps when they step on the floor we’ll address issues and problems at the beginning of a practice do walk through that.

But once we start we just go full, go, I believe in eat that frog. Have you ever read that book, Mike? Yes. Yes. The small one. It’s big letters. It’s a small book. But it’s do the things that are most important and the toughest like early in the day. So we do defensively. We do that at the beginning of every practice, our presses defensively.

It’s almost like, I believe that’s the most strenuous. It’s the toughest. It’s the most important in our system because the presses and defense dictates our offense and how many points we do score. So we really work on that and go right into the meat of our program really, really early.

You know, I say, make sure that you warm up and when you tell me you’re ready to go, we’re ready to press run. And, and we’re going full, full go. So our players understand that we don’t practice. I’d say two hours. Right on the nose. If we say 2:45, you better be there. I learned in the book, I put this my very first year, I had a great player, just phenomenal captain.

And it was a Friday night, probably the third week in November. And it was Saturday. We didn’t have a scrimmage. I said we’re going to practice 10 to 12 tomorrow. You know, be here, ready to go. So he isn’t there. And in those days it’s no cell phones, whatever. So at 10 to, at 1150, he walks in the gym and I said, where were you?

You know, we’ve been practicing. He said, coach, you said 10 to 12. We were starting. So from that point on I, I know 10 O. Two 12 o’clock 10 30. It was a great learning experience for me to be so specific and clear and transparent. And it wasn’t his fault. I well wanted to kill him, but it was just a great learning experience in my first year.

[00:52:57] Mike Klinzing: That specific language is critical, right. And kids they, they, they can be very, they can be very literal. You learn that with players and you certainly learn that with your own kids, that they will, they will take you very literally. If given that opportunity, how do you incorporate shooting into your practices?

Do you guys do a lot of shooting within your practice setting, or is that something that you have an expectation or there’s been an expectation set that players are getting shots up during the season before or after practice? Just how do you approach. Clearly shooting is an important part of what you guys do.

So you got the pressing that you’re known for defensively, and then you’re getting a lot of shots up. You want everybody on your team to be able to shoot three? So how do you approach. Shooting as a coach during the season. Well, we

[00:53:47] Bob Krizancic: Well, we really try to work on fundamentally form in the summer and in the off season, very seldom do we ever try to change maybe tweak during the season, but we shoot at the end of practice, not for long period of time, but my, my belief is you’re much better off shooting when you’re dead tired because that’s, and, and sprinting I like the gun, but you get the perfect pass from the gun and you’re just standing there waiting for it.

So I think it’s good. And fundamentally. But I prefer when you’re tired we even have a bad passing drill where they’re moving, we’re throwing the ball right. Left, lower, higher, because that’s what the passes you’re going to get a lot of times during a game and in a season.

So we try to work really when you’re tired and we shot chart try to get the percentages. And so that we’re always looking to improve if you’re shooting a hundred shots after a practice And you’re at 55 in two weeks let’s get you up to 62 more weeks, 65% with nobody on you.

We do, we put up a drill, Nick Hawkin, the very first season of the three, Nick was leading three point shooter in the state and he would put a chair with a broom on the right wing, in the left wing. And he would just dribble two dribbles, right. And left, and try to shoot over the broom, which is like, Similar to a hand in the face.

And I love that we’ll still use that. We’ll use the big ball. I tell them that every high school and college team that used the big ball consistently improved their free throw and their three point shooting. We have about seven big balls. They don’t listen to me, but some of them if they’re shots really bad, I’ll see them get out of the big ball.

And I’ll say, you’re just trying to bust me, aren’t you? But we do shoot a lot, I would say on weekends and after practices, Luke shone was one of the best captains I’ve ever had. If we had a 2:45 to five practice I’d say if we didn’t play Luke and about 2, 3, 4 guys would come in with an assistant coach, 8:30 to 9:30, or 9 to 10 and just shoot.

Now there’s a lot of comradery and BS at that time, but they’re still getting off shots. And I even like the fact that they’re bonding and they’re building that relationships, that’s one of the things we talk like at the camp next. We’ll have 10, 11 stations and, and I’ll tell our players and our assistant coaches, every one of those kids better know everybody’s name in their station, because this is about making relationships and about making great relationships.

And  I love the fact in the summer. We’ll go away a couple, two night, three nights. And that’s when you really bond. When we won the state in 2013, couple newspapers did articles on our players and they asked the best part. Well, naturally it was a state tournament of, but winning the state title. But a couple said the three, four night camps when it’s 90, 95 degrees and you’re playing three to four games and you’re with your.

And I thought that was just unbelievable. And, and I really believe in that summer building relationships with your team players and even building the relationships with the parents you know, getting to know them because they’re there a lot of times at summer league games, they’re driving they, they put so much time and effort in, so I, I believe we do have a family at men.

It’s the parents, it’s the families, it’s the players, it’s the assistance. And that’s one thing I, I believed in right from the start. All right. Last question, two parter

[00:57:25] Mike Klinzing: When you think about what it is that you have ahead of you in the next year or two, what do you see as being the biggest challenge and then part two, what’s your biggest joy?

When you think about what you get to do every single day, what brings you the most joy in being the head boys basketball coach at Menor high school. So your biggest challenge and then your biggest joy?

[00:57:46] Bob Krizancic: Biggest challenge is let’s go back to this year. We were 9 – 6 and we were struggling. And then we went on 11 game winning streak, won the league, went to the districts.

I believe we had a 16 point lead on Ed’s. And I asked a couple of our players, when do we start believe believing in our team? And when do we really start believing in ourselves? And Sean Collins, our captain said the Solon game coach, which we had to win to win the lead title. And then we beat Brush and we win a couple really big games, but I knew we at one point and I thought he was right on.

But I wanted to hear his response. I knew that this past year, unless we believed in ourselves and believed in, in our teammates, we weren’t going to do well. So the answer to the question is once we believe. In ourselves. And we have some really good players and we have, will play one or two seniors. And we have the next couple years should be really good, but we have to get to the point where we play a lot of great teams in June and go through a couple months of just working really hard and then get on the floor from some November scrimmages.

And hopefully I’ll be able to tell that we believe in ourselves as a team and they believe in themselves as an individual. Second part. What gives me great joy is that I’m blessed. I have a great life and that I still dream big. I believe that we could win a state title. I wouldn’t be coaching if I didn’t I’ve had so many things with the book coming out doing some, a lot of media stuff that it was great last night to go to McKinley with my team.

We’ll go to Toledo St. John’s the weekend. But to get in in the gym is just, it’s special. It it’s special. I talked on a couple of the podcasts about going to war with your team. That’s why you go to practice. That’s why you do this stuff in the summer that I know that going into a gym and going into this weekend, when we step on a floor and we’re going to war against Medina or Solon when we play maybe Saint Ignatius at the rocket mortgage, that what we’ve done in the past and we’re ready for the future.

So I, I think that when I get up, I think we’re going to work hard enough and I love what the future holds.

[01:00:13] Mike Klinzing: All right before we get out. Great answer. Before we wrap up, give people, tell people again about the book where they can find it and then share how people can reach out to you. Whether you want to share emails, social media, your website, whatever that the best way for people to find out more about you and your program, and then tell ’em where they can find the book as well.

[01:00:33] Bob Krizancic: Okay. First I’m going to be transparent and make sure everybody understands. As far as technology in the United States, I’m at the bottom of the barrel. I have some, I have some great people, my son, my sister and Kathy Lombardo that take care of all that media stuff for me, which is phenomenal. The book is called Mental Toughness, The Game Changer.

It’s. Through Newman Springs and the biggest outlets are Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iTunes. A lot of smaller bookstores will carry it.  I’ve done some book signings. We have one in Mentor on June 16th. And I think Barnes and Nobles will do one. I have one in New York with coach Tressell ties, which would be really, really cool, but again, very blessed.

I would, the book would not have been written if it wasn’t for Kathy Lombardo, because she asked me 10 straight years. My son Connor is the website business. He designed the cover. His business is I think it’s good Wolf. Just phenomenal that what he’s done. My son Cole helps me out. He played with the ABA, the buckets.

It’s nice that he’s close and I have a place to go in Florida, my family in New York. So I didn’t mean to ramble. I think I got all that in. They could I have a website? I think you could Google Bob Krizancic my email is I’m on Instagram all the media outlets and I don’t even know my passwords.

Thank God my family. And Kathy does.

[01:02:02] Mike Klinzing: There’s a lot to navigate.

[01:02:03] Bob Krizancic: Yes, there is. And I gotta be truthful. I am so bad at that. I have to call them to find out what my password and username is. It is sad.

[01:02:15] Mike Klinzing: Well, you learn as you go along and you try to figure it out. And probably the best thing that any of us can do in areas where we are not experts is to delegate, right?

That’s what you do as a head basketball coach, you delegate and you give jobs to people who can do it better than what you can do. And so that’s really what it’s all about. Bob cannot thank you enough for taking the time outta your schedule this morning, to jump out with us, it’s been a pleasure, getting to know a little bit more about you, your program.

Learn about the book. Can’t wait to read it and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.