Website – https://www.strakejesuit.org/
Email – email@example.com
Twitter – @damorosasj
Dominic Amorosa is the head boys basketball coach at Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston, where he has been head coach since the 2012-13 season. Strake Jesuit has reached the playoffs in nine of Amorosa’s 10 seasons.
Prior to Strake Jesuit, Amorosa served as head coach at Kingwood Park High School in Houston, which was a new school to the Humble Independent School District when he accepted the role in 2007-08. Amorosa coached Kingwood Park for five seasons, helping lead the team to five playoff appearances and posting a 109-62 record overall throughout his tenure.
Amorosa was as an assistant coach from 2003-04 to 2006-07 at Kingwood High School in Kingwood, Texas. He helped the team reach the Class 5A State Tournament three times, including the 2005 state championship. He got his start coaching as an assistant coach at St. Pius High School in Houston (1999-2003).
Dom Amorosa served in his fifth USA Basketball coaching assignment as a coach for the 2022 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team April minicamp.
He previously was a court coach at the 2021 USA U16 Men’s National Team training camp and USA Men’s U16 National Team May minicamp, and the 2019 USA Men’s Junior National Team July minicamp.
Amorosa has been a board member for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and was president of the Houston Area Basketball Coaches Association.
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Have your notebook ready as you listen to this episode with Dominic Amorosa, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston, Texas.
What We Discuss with Dominic Amorosa
- Shooting in his family’s carriage house growing up as a kid in New Jersey
- Helping his Dad coach his sister’s softball team at age 15
- The Kingwood Basketball League in Houston
- Volunteering as an assistant at Kingwood High School after getting a teaching job there
- Starting a program from scratch at Kingwood Park High School
- How he got started working with USA Basketball
- “If you treat people right and you work hard, good things can happen.”
- “To see them grow up, not only basketball wise, but personally is super rewarding. And it’s the reason why I do what I do.”
- “I’ve been lucky to be around really good people who’ve taught me a lot and I’ve been humble enough to ask them when I don’t know.”
- The role of a court coach for USA Basketball
- “The way they seek feedback is a huge separator for the best players.”
- Let your guard down sometimes so kids can feel connected to you
- “Your high school experience moments, I’m going to be in them, whether you like it or not.”
- “When I took over at Kingwood Park, the kids didn’t know because what I was saying was what they were going to believe.”
- Why you should ask a lot of questions when you first take over a program
- Team First
- Remembering where you came from as you get to be a senior
- Making the next pass and celebrating a teammate’s success
- “Good teams help and great teams help the helper.”
- “At the end of the day, you gotta play really hard. You gotta share the basketball and you gotta shoot it.”
- Thoughts on practice design
- Picking something to emphasize in a particular practice
- “Data eliminates emotion.”
- Tips for using film for individual player development
- Encouraging players to celebrate their team accomplishments on social media, not just individual highlight clips
- The challenge of giving himself opportunities to succeed in all areas of is life and maintaining proper balance
- Watching his players grow and develop on and off the court
- “The joy is found when kids start to do it themselves and you’re running alongside of them instead of always pushing or pulling.”
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THANKS, DOMINIC AMOROSA
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TRANSCRIPT FOR DOMINIC AMOROSA – STRAKE JESUIT (TX) COLLEGE PREP BOYS’ BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 619
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle, who brought his fourth child home from the hospital tonight. So he is not joining us, but we are pleased to be joined by Dominic Amorosa, the head boys’ basketball coach at Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston, Texas. Dominic, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
[00:00:19] Dominic Amorosa: Thanks for having me, Mike, looking forward to it.
[00:00:21] Mike Klinzing: Excited to have you on looking forward to diving into all the things that you’ve been able to do in your coaching career. Let’s start by going back in time to when you were a kid. Tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of that.
[00:00:33] Dominic Amorosa: Well, I grew up in New Jersey and I actually grew up as more of a soccer player than a basketball player. Man youth sports has changed over the years. So I was a soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter baseball in the summer or in spring. And then over time gradually I probably, like I told people before I was a better high school soccer player than it was basketball player, but one of the things that I remember actually shared this story over the weekend with some other coaches was I grew up in a Somerville, New Jersey, small town, and the house I lived in had a carriage house in the back.
And it was probably like, I don’t know, a hundred yards from the back door of our house. And it had a huge high ceiling. And you know, in the winter you want to shoot baskets. So my dad put in a goal in that carriage house and I can remember it was only like one side. And it was centered, but that one side gave me some cover and I was able to shoot.
And it’s been a game that I’ve always believed you can get better at basketball by yourself, as long as you have a ball. So I was lucky enough to be under the cover and somewhat warm winter. And went to a Catholic grammar school, had a couple of dad coaches who increased my passion for the game.
And I just played when it was basketball season, I didn’t play any select or anything like that played high school basketball. And you know, like I said, played high school soccer, play some baseball in the spring time. And then my biggest thing with coaching was I started helping my dad.
14 year old, 15 year old, I was helping my dad coach, my sister, who played in the pony league baseball with the boys. And so that was my first introduction to coaching and it was more my dad was the manager. He took care of all the other stuff, and I just did the skill development, baseball, grounders, pitching, catching, so on and so forth.
And from there, it was you know, went to school at Notre Dame, no college athletics for me, played a lot of intramurals and just stayed connected to the game through play and huge sports fan, followed the sport, followed all sports, read everything I could. And over time I just I gravitated toward play, play, play.
And then when I wasn’t playing, I was figuring out how I could get better at the game if I were coaching it, whether it was soccer or basketball. But that’s sort of, kind of how I got my start. And then after I graduated from Notre Dame, I did a teaching program called the Alliance for Catholic education.
And I went down to Shreveport, Louisiana, and I was the only male in a K through eight school I’ve been there. So I taught fifth grade, which I believe, I think you told me you taught fifth grade as well.
[00:03:11] Mike Klinzing: 14 years of fifth grade.
[00:03:12] Dominic Amorosa: Yeah. So when you’re teaching fifth grade with boys, it, it gradually turned into recess is, is Mr. Amorosa is ready to play and I can remember you rip and pants and run around. And coming back to the afternoon classes, all sweaty, just playing with kids. Well, it turned into, Hey we really need a coach would you be willing to coach a team? And I coached the soccer team for my mentor teacher’s son.
And then I coached the junior high basketball team, and that was pretty much it. I, again, I wasn’t really thinking much of beyond just teaching and doing a little coaching on the side. I moved to Houston. After two years of the program, got my master’s in the Alliance for Catholic education, moved to Houston.
And I taught at another Catholic school, fifth grade. And a lot of people probably know who hell pastor is, but I lived, I grew up in the tent or I lived in the town where, how Pasadena had started what’s now known as the Houston hoops, but he had something called the Kingwood basketball league. And I was teaching at a school and I wanted, I was playing some basketball on Sunday mornings with some, just some guys in town.
And I remember asking one of them like if you, if you want to coach youth basketball, what do you do? And they’re like, oh, you gotta call Mr. Pastor. So I got involved in the Kingwood basketball league and I was the only guy in the league. Who didn’t have a son. So we have the draft, we’re doing the evaluations and we’re having the draft.
And there was a rule that if you had a son, you got to pick your son in the third round. And if you didn’t have a son, then your first round pick could be one of the better kids in the evaluation. So I remember going to Mr. Pastor and saying, look, I don’t have a son. So I probably need two first round picks to even this up.
And so he, we worked out some things and I had a decent team in some, some of those kids on my team went to my school. So it was sorta kind of like I was coaching them, but it was in in the league just the, the Kingwood basketball league. And from there, I was there one year started to get the itch.
I had coached the seventh grade girls, YMCAs basketball team that year as well. Cause there were some kids in my school that were interested in basketball. And then from there I went to St. Pius, the 10th high school. Got a teaching job there. And sister Donna is the principal at the time said, what else can you do?
I say, well, I’d like to coach. It’s why I want to come to high school. So I got on as a freshman basketball coach and a freshman baseball coach and did that for four years, teaching government econ along the way. And again, just started to like, you know what, I think I really want to dive into this coaching thing and just continue to read and worked for some, a baseball coach that was super intense, but taught me a lot about relationships taught me a lot about how hard you got to work to be good at something and a basketball coach.
After my second year there left and he left late, like sorta kind of to help me try to get the job. And as it turned out, I didn’t get the job. The head job. I was an assistant in the head job, went to the girl’s head coach, but I interviewed for the head job. And again, that was sort of the start of like, okay, here’s how the process works and didn’t get the job.
And the football coach at the time, athletic director asked me to stay on as the assistant to the girls coach who got the head job. So I worked for him for two years. And by the end of the second year, as much as I enjoyed working with coach Vincent who’s out in Las Vegas right now, I was like, you know what, I gotta try to be a head coach or I got to get out of this situation to keep trying to learn.
And so I went to Kingwood high school, public school in the north side of. And I ended up again, I got a teaching job. I think that’s really important part of this. Like I tell people all the time I coach I’m the head basketball coach at Strake Jesuit, but it’s not, it doesn’t pay, it. Doesn’t pay like my teaching salary pays.
So I teach and I got the job at Kingwood high school as a government teacher and Texas has an athletic period, which means we get to practice in the middle of the day. And at Kingwood high school at the time, it was fifth period Farsi, city athletics, and seventh period freshmen athletics. So when I got the job, miss almond was the principal and she, I was gonna teach five classes and I said, can I have fifth period off as a conference. And I don’t know if she connected the dots, but she said, yeah, we can work that out. Well, fifth period off meant that I could be in the varsity athletic period. And the head coach at Kingwood high school at the time was Royce Houston, who has who’s recently retired, but had been there a long time.
And I had known him back when I was living in Kingwood. He was one of those guys. I played basketball with, got involved in the church with, and then the next thing you know, I’m now on his staff as a volunteer. Well that first year we went 34 and four. We had an unbelievable freshman class of kids, Mike Singletary, who ended up playing at Texas Tech, still playing in Taiwan.
I believe a kid by the name of Kevin Harris, who was a freshman on that team who ended up playing at Pacific. And they were both freshmen when I got there. So I volunteered my first year teaching five classes using my conference period to be in athletics. My second year, I’m back to volunteering again in October.
The freshman basketball coach decided he was going to get out of basketball to, to golf. And I was just in the right place at the right time. So I slide into a paid stipended basketball coaching position, and it was just a lucky break right place, right time, right place. Right time. I had put in a lot of time, I, I wasn’t like I had a sign on my head that said volunteer, but I worked hard for coach Juiceman.
I was working camp. I was helping run our youth programs. I was trying to get our varsity players involved in some, some tutoring with elementary school kids. I was just doing my thing well, so then I get the paid position. Now I’m officially on the staff. My schedule is tweaked and I’m now able to go to the seventh period, freshmen athletics, which was at a different campus.
And this was a huge learning experience for me because coach Cheesman didn’t always go. So oftentimes I would go over to the freshman campus after our athletic period and I would run practice, or I would at least help run practice if our JV coach would go as well. And so that ability to like run practice for freshmen as the quote unquote varsity, one of the varsity coaches helped me understand how to run, practice, how to get kids engaged, how to keep them engaged while not having a head coach trying to correct everything.
So coach has me, gave me a ton of ownership and coach John Cassels, who was also on the staff. Previous head coach gave me a lot of ownership. So I was able to learn a ton our second year, my second year there, we won the state title. With that same group of freshmen that were now sophomores third year there, we won the state.
We got to the state final lost in overtime. Fourth year there, we got state final again and lost. So we went to three straight state finals, six, a basketball, and I was working for who was just sorta kind of a Texas high school, legendary coach. And he wasn’t legendary because yes, we had good players, but we play what some would call the right way. We share the ball, our leading scorer, averaged 14 points a game, we guarded you. He was huge on man to man defense. We ran motion offense with a couple of quick hitters. So it, it forced me to learn the game from the lens of like, you can make, you can get players to share the ball.
You just have to like simplify and you have to hold them accountable. And so my fourth year there a new school opened in the same school district. And I was able to transition from the varsity assistant at Kingwood to the brand new head coach at Kingwood park high school. And I got to start my own program and I was there for five years and you get to start your own program.
You get to design everything from t-shirts to paintings on the wall, to what you’re going to say. To every possible thing. We were the Kingwood park Panthers. We had freshmen and sophomores played varsity basketball that first year. And it just got thrown in. And everyone’s like, well, how’d you get the head job?
Well, the crazy part about that story is when I was at Kingwood, I tried. When I left St. Pius to go to Kingwood, I tried to get head jobs and I got turned down probably 10 or 11 times. And I got to Kingwood. I worked a couple of years there. I said, oh, I’m going to keep interviewing. I kept getting turned down for jobs.
And he, and one time I went to an interview, had a big packet. It was all ready to go and I didn’t get the job. So I went back to the athletic director at the time. His name was Joe Simpson, a legendary track coach. And I said, Zoe, can you do me a favor and find out like what the interview committee thought?
So he made a couple phone calls and as it turned out, they were like, man, coach and rose had really had a great presentation book, but he never got us into it. You know, like I had sorta kinda planned to talk about myself, like you do in a job interview, but I didn’t direct people to like what they needed to see and hear.
And it was again, another really enlightening event for me because it made me realize how important the interview process was. And so when I interviewed for the Kingwood Park job and got it, a lot of what had happened was I hadn’t been a head coach and I beat out people that were head coaches, but I felt like because Coach Cheesman had prepared me on the floor because the athletic director had helped me with the interview process, that I was able to have a clear idea and vision of what I wanted to accomplish.
And then being a new school, you get to do it. And there’s not a lot of questioning of you because the kids don’t know much better. And I was coming from a situation where I had been to three straight state finals and we had huge camps in the committee. And I had taken over a school that was in the community.
So it was like instant credibility that I’d worked for a legendary coach. I had run his youth camps for him and with him. And here I am to work in for a principal who was a former basketball coach who wanted us to win and gave us situations where I had taught my first two years of PE. So I was around the gym and we had some success my, by my fourth year, when the regional tournament, fifth year Reid back to back regional tournaments.
And then the sStrake Jesuit job opened up. I had applied for it in 2000 and. One of the 12 jobs I got rejected from opened up and just circled back and said I’ve been a head coach and I brought my resume and information down here and went through a pretty extensive interview process. And 10 years ago coming up in June I got the job and you know, as a Catholic school kid, university of Notre Dame graduate Alliance for Catholic education teacher and.
I’ve spent 26 years as a teacher, nine of them in public school. The rest in Catholic school is this place is you know, the mission of our place is to build men for others in a Catholic environment. It fits me personally. And the basketball is top-notch. I mean, it’s a six day program in the state of Texas.
It’s the largest classification. We got 1400 boys here play with five teams. And so that’s sort of, kind of where I got professionally. And it’s been a challenge to go. I replaced a coach that had a ton of success and we’ve had some success we haven’t won state titles or anything like that yet, but we’re this is it’s about the process and the journey and going from there.
And then the USA basketball thing. Again, I sorta kinda lucked into it. There’s a guy named Kyle Manari who’s who works a bunch of skills camps and has done some stuff for Chris Paul and worked with USA basketball as well. Well, we have a tremendous facility here in Houston and culminary one, somebody from USA Basketball, Rita, Grayson needed a place to have like a state of the game meeting.
And it was high school coaches, AAU coaches. And they came to our school like on a Wednesday night in March. And I don’t remember the details, but we sat and talked about how we can make it better. USA basketball is starting this open court program where they’re trying to get like some more free play going on.
I sorta kinda sat in the back. I was the host. Didn’t say much as I’m walking, Rita out of our school, I’ll walk her through the. And I make the comment. Hey, if you say basketball ever needs to use our facility for something, just let me know. Well, a couple of weeks later, BJ Johnson, who I think now works for the Charlotte Hornets, who was at the time like the assistant director of the USA basketball junior team calls me and they’re like, coach, we need a place to practice.
We’re taking our U19 team to Argentina. We need a place that can fly direct from Houston. The head coach of the team is Shaka Smart. Can we use your facility? I was like, sure. So we set up our facility. They come in and the team had Markel Fultz, Mo Bomba, Trae Young, Michael Porter. Kevin Huerter. It was Shaka smart, mark Turgeon, and Kevin Ali were the coaches.
And it was when USA basketball does things, they bring in those coaches and they, they bring in an unbelievable support staff of managers, filmers from all over the country. And so BJ was the point person on it. And Sean Ford, who came and did like a site visit. And so when they were there that week, they just whatever they needed, we helped him with I was just the key guy.
And then along the way, sorta kind of in a separate lane, I had gotten to know Coach Showalter through snow valley camp. And so I think you mentioned Greg White, the other day, I had followed Greg white on Twitter. Greg white talked about snow valley camp. I sent him a private message said, Hey, tell me about snow valley camp.
He said, he got to get in touch with coach showalter, went up and worked snow valley. USA basketball’s come to our school. USA basketball did a youth academy as part of their coach development. And the coach show Walter was in charge of again, they used our facility and then USA basketball had a gold camp in Richmond, Texas a few years ago.
not Richmond, Texas Richmond, Virginia pre pandemic. And I said, I asked coach show every time they, we would have a USA basketball thing here, I would just sorta kind of say if you ever need anything, just let me know. I’m willing to do whatever. Well, they had a event in Richmond, Virginia, over Memorial day weekend.
It was what they called their gold camp. And I went to it as a, as a court coat. And I met a couple of guys, Scott Fitch, who’s with the hoop summit team. He’s a head coach up in New York and Raz Vanderloo who was with me this past weekend in new Orleans and coach showalter. And at the time it was Samson coyote who had taken over for BJ Johnson.
And I just work. And later that summer, I get an email saying we’d like to invite you to Colorado Springs, to come out and be a core coach for, for our mini camp. And and that’s sorta kinda how I got started. And it’s one of those things where you go each time you go around the coaches and the players, there’s a, there’s a number one it’s USA basketball.
Like I dunno if there’s any better setting or any better situation to learn. Elite people, elite players, like I said, those managers and support staff who just pour into kids. And I’ve just been lucky to be a part of it. Over the pandemic, we had a bunch of zoom calls and sorta kind of broke down who we are and what we do at USA basketball.
And this past trip to the final four is my first time I’ve ever been in the final four. And we had a mini camp, four practices. And I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is like, if you treat people right and you work hard. And you just good things can happen. And you know, there’s a million coaches who probably could work for USA basketball and do what I do.
It helps to just work really hard. And if they ask you to do something, do it with, with high energy and try to create clarity for kids, the players who USA basketball brings in want to be coached. And if they don’t want to be coached, they sort of stand out as a sore thumb. And so I’ve been lucky to do a we’ve hosted them again this past year.
And the pandemic helped Texas handling of the pandemic was different than the rest of the country. So when you say basketball wanted to come down here to do it, they’re able to use our facility. You know, they had some strict COVID protocols, but you’re able to get around Houston and come in and out of Houston.
And that’s what worked for them. And again, I worked as a court coach for the training camp. They did a mini one, like in may, they did a longer one with coach white and coach Turner, coach Flann, back in August. And then they went down to Mexico and won the gold medal. So that’s sorta kind of where I’m at and now I’m a high, well over the weekend, I’m at the final four and working with some of the top players in the country. And tonight I just got off the floor working with fifth graders, trying to get them to pass and cut and peek at the rim. And you’re the game of basketball is you can make it as hard as you want. But like at the end of the day, we’re telling superstar 16 and 17 year olds, similar things they just do it faster and with more pace and all that kind of stuff.
But the game is a 10 foot goal with lines drawn. And we try to get these little kids to understand it’s okay to play with a smaller ball, you know? But spacing and the concepts run no matter how old they are. And so that’s something I really like as a, as a teacher and as a coach, it’s like, you can layer stuff the same way you layer fifth grade English or fifth grade social studies.
And then to see kids grow from like seventh graders. The high schoolers to I have some kids who were playing professionally overseas and a kid who’s in the G league, like to see them grow up, not only basketball wise, but personally is, is super rewarding. And it’s, it’s the reason why I do what I do.
So that’s sorta kinda my story. I I’ve always, I’ve never said no to opportunities. You know, I thought I heard Kevin Eastman say that one time, like you can’t say no to basketball opportunities. So I went out to USA, basketball training camp, one time on my own dime just to watch it. I had asked coach show if I could come.
And he said, yeah, I’ll get you a pass. And you just sorta kind of watched. And you know, then when they invited me back, he’s like, yeah, I can do it. They invited me to the final four. And my first phone call was to my mother-in-law to find out if she could watch my kids, because my son is a competitive gymnast and my wife was taking him out of town.
So once I got the clearance from my mother-in-law that she could handle my two little or ones that weekend, it was like, all right, coach show I’m in. And so I think that’s another important part of this journey for me is like having the support system I have with my wife and my in-laws live nearby actually live on the same property as us in town here.
And then, Yeah, my parents are in New Jersey and everybody’s been really supportive of my career. And I’m just in a good place. I teach four government classes and I do practice. And like I said, we got the athletic periods. So we have practice pretty much every day. Our summers. Or non-touch so it’s all like open gym, open up the gym, but you’re not formally coaching them in the summertime.
You get an hour of strength and conditioning stuff in the summer. So it’s finding that balance between like do they need to see me all the time or not? Cause I do see them for pretty much every school day. And so that’s, that’s my basketball journey. And like I said, I’ve been lucky to be around really good people.
Who’ve who’ve taught me a lot and I’ve been humble enough to ask them when I don’t know. And it’s cool now because I’ve been in this long enough and working in Houston for now 20 plus years is like, there’s some young coaches. So I really enjoy like trying to get them improve their spot or help them learn the game, whether they want to coach or train or do whatever, even officiate.
So it’s all about just trying to pay it forward.
[00:24:14] Mike Klinzing: That give back is key. Without question, I think once you get to a certain point that the ability to reach back and help somebody else, the same way that you were helped is really what it’s all about. When you think about it, you’re helping players. And you talked about working with different age levels, right?
You youth, your youth players, you’re working with guys who were at that elite level than the, for the, for the junior national team. So let’s, let’s start there with your most recent experience, then we’ll kind of jump backwards in your story, but tell us a little bit about exactly what it is that you do as a court coach when you’re there for that junior national team mini camp.
What’s a, what’s a day like what’s a practice. Like what is it that you’re actually doing out there on the.
[00:24:57] Dominic Amorosa: So the day starts with a meeting coach’s meeting, usually over breakfast. And you get an email the night before with here’s what we’re wearing and here’s the practice plan. And usually when you walk in that meeting in the morning, the practice plan is different than the one that was emailed because all of us who, who make practice plans, I think know that like once you get it on paper and you see it, you want to tweak something.
But so it’s, we spent a few minutes in the morning talking about what it looks like and what drills we’re doing and making sure everybody’s on the same page. And then from there it’s, we have a meeting with the players. It’s so far it’s in a hotel conference room or whatever ballroom and coach white has been the head coach of the junior national team.
Andhe will him and BJ sort of run that meeting. And so as a court coach, you’re just sort of there to support the head coach similar to like what an assistant coach would do in a high school setting. You know, so. And that’s one of the things I really enjoy about it. Cause like at the high school level here, like nothing starts unless I get the ball rolling.
So as a court coach, you’re just, you’re they tell you what you, what they need from you. And then you, you do it with your own style and with your own ability. So from that hotel meeting room, It’s to the gym it’s usually a boss, it is a bus. And so this past weekend it was a bus to the Pelicans facility and Friday was two practices.
And so you get to the gym, everybody’s fired up. And the way I do it is you’re just trying to connect with kids. Like you have this roster, you give, you got this picture list of them sort of, kind of their numbers, but you just players who are touting. We’ll go and you just know, like, they’ll assume they’ll get their shoes on.
They’ll get to a goal and they’ll just start shooting and there’s some time built in for that. So one of the things I like to do is just try to connect with a kid. Where are you from? You know, what do you like about your game? What do you think about this experience? First time here? And then from there, it’s there’s a, there’s a trainer who gets them stretched and you’re just trying to get touches on kids.
This is the same way I do it with my players. Like while they’re stretching, you’re trying to get touches. And you as a court coach, you’re just trying to keep try and make sure the energy is consistent. And from there, it’s it’s a practice plan. You know, it’s a group event where you got a goal and you know, you’re making sure kids are touching and talking.
And then it’s a, some station work this past weekend, it was position work. And then it was some offensive skill work. And then from there it’s cutthroat and then we play some five on five. And I have a team and you could get a couple of minutes to talk about what you’re going to do and you play a 10 minute game and it’s, it’s hard because there’s, you got eight guys on your team and it’s like, all right, guys, we’re going to sub it’s a 10 minute game, but we’re going to sub.
And most of those guys are not used to seven. So you gotta just sort of talk to them about all right. You know, when you sub you know, make sure your body language is good and make sure you’re a good teammate. And, and so that’s what you do. And then after practice you, they, we do communication circle with USA, basketball, where there’s a prompt and a question, and you’re just listening.
And after practice guys might shoot, or maybe you pull a kid aside who something happened in your game or something good or bad, and you talk to them and meet as coaches right before you leave and get on the bus. Back to the hotel, eat lunch, debrief. What do we like? What do we not like? Who played well, all right, next practices at this time, here’s what we’re doing.
And usually practice number two is more team and, and cause the kids were there to play and get evaluated. And so as coaches, it’s all about making sure you get to know who kids are and talk about this a lot. Like I want to make sure it’s not, he’s just not just a number, you know?
Like who is he? What, what makes him go? And so as the court coach you’re playing games and you’re trying to help them understand FIBA rules a little bit with that playing with a shot clock. And then again, the practice ends you debrief and then get up the next morning and it starts over.
So the, the biggest thing is a court coach is just sorta kinda keep the pulse of a small group and communicate both good and bad back to the staff about what you’re seeing and the cool part about it is just like the guys I worked for in high school Coach white and BJ and coach show, just give you such like there’s an ability that your opinion is valued.
I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned in the role. Like I’m just the high school coach from Houston. But like if I see something or if I pick up on something that everybody has a voice in the room, no matter what your title is And I think that’s an important part of what USA basketball, just like those support guys are taking film and taking stats and taping that everybody’s have got the same goal in mind.
Like we want to win gold medals and here’s how we’re going to do it. And the court coach has just a tiny piece of that with a pretty important job.
[00:30:06] Mike Klinzing: When you think about the players that you’ve had an opportunity to work with for USA basketball, obviously those are kids that have a tremendous amount of talent that sets them apart.
But beyond that, what do you notice about those kids from an intangible standpoint that maybe sets them apart from the average high school player? Again, setting aside the fact that they just have more natural ability and talent, but what are we looking at on the intangible side that sets those kids apart?
[00:30:37] Dominic Amorosa: That’s a great question. It’s really big on like who, who wants to be critiqued, like coach, what can I do better, coach? What do you see? Well, what can I do better? And these are kids you like literally meet the night before and you know, Hey, how’s it going? Where are you from? And then the next morning, because I have USA on my chest and they have USA on their chest, the different ones, quote, unquote, different are wanting more.
They’re wanting, Hey coach, can you rebound for me, coach, can you watch my shot? You know, coach you know, pressure me at the rim. You know, it was just stuff like that. That’s a big thing is the way they seek feedback is a huge separator. When it comes to intangibles. That’s number one, number two. How well do they connect with other really good players?
Because there’s some guys who. Connect. Well, when they’re having to go from being the guy to now being one of the guys, and so the way they connect in huddles, the way they connect in drill work, the way they connect, when they pass the ball and someone else scores, how excited are they? So there’s so many things like the 46 guys that were there this weekend, they’re all super talented.
Like if, if any of them came to my team, they’d be the best player. And probably around most high schools, they are the best player at their high schools, but can they. Except feedback. And can they connect with their teammates are the two, in my opinion, the two biggest intangibles I see with the ones that are like the most elite.
And I’ll be honest, like some kids surprise me because you hear about them, you see the list of the kids, you see where they’re at, what they come to the USA with, but then you realize like, man, that kid is heck of a kid and man, he wants to be coached. And you pick up on that pretty quick.
And that’s again a tribute to the staff on who they pick and how they get kids there. Because I think that’s a really big part of their evaluation of there’s a lot of talented kids around the country, but like other than age, what is what separates kids. And I think their ability to be coached, their ability to connect to other good players is a huge part of it.
[00:32:49] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. Coach Show. And we’ve had him on that’s. One of the things that he’s emphasized to us in those conversations is just how. That it’s not just about the players’ talent. Obviously the players’ talent has to be at a certain level in order to be considered. But once you get that talent piece taken care of, then coach show is always talking about, we want kids that want to fit in that want to be coached and get better.
And they’re looking for that great teammate. In addition to a kid, who’s a great talent. And it makes sense, right? Because if you’re bringing in a bunch of kids who are talented, but are me first guys, that’s probably not going to go well, when you start thinking about putting together a team, as we all know as coaches, if you have a team of 10 or 12, me first guys that doesn’t often work very well.
So in addition to that, when you think about the experience that you’ve had working with players, but also the opportunity, as you’ve said to work with such great coaches, and you think about some of the lessons that you’ve learned being a part of USA, basketball, what’s one or two things. You’ve picked up there during your experiences that you’ve been able to take back to your high school job and make you a better coach in that environment,
[00:34:03] Dominic Amorosa: Because this good question again, because we spend time with them at the hotel and on the bus.
And in that interim period between like practice and beginning of practice in post practice, the probably one of the biggest things I’ve taken back from is like, yeah. When I walk on the floor and the whistles on my neck, or like practice is going to start. I’m pretty serious, but what I’ve taken away from some of the coaches I’ve been around and in the couple of years I’ve been involved is like when the whistles off and you’re going to, and from those times where you just can make connections like you as a coach, me as a coach, like I have to let my guard down because this a limited amount of time with kids and those kids.
Yes. They’re elite. And, but if they want to be coached, then you gotta have somewhat of a rapport. And so the way you build rapport sometimes is like, yeah, I’m coach and your player, but like, Hey, so what do you like to do if you’re not playing back? Yeah. The ability to connect like Flannery from St. Edwards in Cleveland, like unbelievable ability connect Steve Turner Rob Brost from Illinois. Like these guys just I’m Nick LoGalbo from Chicago. Like they’re not, it’s not like it’s just part of their personality. And, and it’s one of the things that I’m a serious person. My students would say I’m serious.
My players would say I’m serious, but the ability to like, let your guard down so that kids can feel connected to you because at the end of the day, like as talented as you may be, or even as less talented as you may be, the more connected the kids feel to the coach, the more chance you could succeed. And and the more chance the kids are going to want to work hard.
So that’s been my biggest takeaway is like the ability of our coaching staff to, to have quote unquote fun with players. While at the same time, maintaining the professional relationship of coach player. And and I think that’s that’s something I’ve, I’ve taken away.
[00:36:04] Mike Klinzing: I love that because I think just goes back to what you talked about earlier, when you were going through your journey and talking a little bit about how.
You felt like having that impact on kids, right? That you can connect with them. You can have that impact. And by doing that, you’re not only impacting them as basketball players, but you’re impacting them in their life where hopefully down the road, they’re going to remember the lessons that you were able to impart the impart to them.
And as a result of the relationship that you built, it gives you. More credibility. It gives you more connection and then that deepens your impact, ultimately, which is really what it’s all about. And I know all the guys that we’ve had on that, again, the guys that you’ve worked with, a lot of them, Nicola Gobbo and Rob roast, particularly in Eric, Flannery’s from right here in Cleveland, but those guys are they become, they become friends, Nick and Rob, and it just, it’s kind of amazing just from a silly podcast that you get to be friends with guys.
And it’s the same thing that you’re talking about when it’s a player coach here for us, it’s kind of like, we just you get on you interview somebody and then you build that, you build that connection through a conversation. And then it’s a second conversation and it’s a third conversation.
And then next thing you know, I’ll meet up with Nick in Chicago and then I’m seeing coach show out at snow valley and meeting with Greg and all these different people that you get a chance to connect with. And you’re right, when you. When you can demonstrate and show your personality. And when you can connect with players or connect with other coaches in a genuine way, you end up having a lot more fun and you have an up having a lot more success.
I think there that’s really what it’s all about .
[00:37:47] Dominic Amorosa: That’s what the ball can do for you. And that’s, that’s what is sometimes lacking. When we try to organize everything like the organic game pickup game, shooting, contest meal, while you’re going over, practice plans, all that organic stuff is like usually the most memorable.
Like we talk a lot about moments with our team here. Like we get to share moments together. Like your high school experience moments are going to be, I’m going to be in them, whether you like it or not. So we, we as coaches, you as players, The more we can be connected. The more memorable those moments are going to be, whether it’s a win or a loss.
And that’s what’s so cool about basketball. It’s like, it doesn’t matter your ability level. If you’re in the gym with a ball, even if you don’t speak the same language you’re able to connect. And then the, the ability to, to keep those connections. That’s, what’s so cool. Like, I mean, this, this group texts we’ve been on since the weekend with the coaches and like just the pictures and just everything about it.
You just, you strengthened bonds and it’s all because why, because coach show and, and people you know, connected us and then you, from those connections, you build more connections. And so that’s sorta kinda what I try to do as a coach here with our community, with our youth players, with my high school guys and, and go from there.
[00:39:16] Mike Klinzing: All right, let’s talk about that. Let’s go to the moment when you get the job at Strake Jesuit and. You’ve got to come in. And you mentioned earlier that you had the experience of building a program from scratch before now, you come into a program that was already established that it had some success.
And so that experience taking over a program as a head coach, as opposed to building the program from the ground up, I’m sure there was some differences. So just when you think back to that time of starting and what you needed to do in order to get the program to where you felt like it needed to be, and to Institute the things that you wanted to put in, in place for your program that you thought were important, what were some of the first steps?
Obviously we’re going back 10 years, but thinking about that, what were some of the things that you remember thinking I got to get these things done if we’re going to have success.
[00:40:08] Dominic Amorosa: Yeah. So starting a school is super hard, but the kids didn’t know any better. So like, what coach Amorosa said was what they believe.
The group that I inherited, coach Jones had done a phenomenal job here. It was in very good shape. There wasn’t like a bad program coaches leaving. It was man coaches leaving a good program, but coach Jones and I are different. So now it’s like, all right, how can I implement and put my stamp on this group that had finished playing in two, there were two seniors who had played on the varsity as juniors.
And I can specifically remember their approach. When I first talked to him was like, coach, I’m a senior now. And it’s, it’s sort of my turn. And I said, I just remember trying to convince both of these tube. Two kids who’ve become lifelong friends and kids that they still call me coach, but I’m still very tight with both of them.
The battle of I’m a senior. So it’s my team to get. That I was inheriting to understand this was going to be our team and we’re going to do some things differently. Like the two guys that had graduated with summer before I got here, Rashid Suliman and John Gillon, both professional players, both unbelievable guys but had dominated the basketball for them.
So I was inheriting a team that had two 20 plus points scores, and a bunch of varsity level returners who hadn’t had to like make plays or talk or lead. And so the biggest thing I tried to establish my first couple months here was like giving seniors who just because you’re seeing it doesn’t mean you’re.
You know, you have to, and you can be young and lead but the ability to have to take on some ownership of it with those two kids was, was one of the part is challenges because they had an idea, a previous idea of what it looked like that when I took over at Kingwood park, the other kids didn’t know because what I was saying was what they were going to believe.
So the challenge of like coming in and. You know, there was a hold over from the previous staff. So that was helpful in terms of knowing who kids were. But like we did things differently. You know, they played a lot, they played a lot of open gym it was, it was sort of optional in the spring AAU is AAU and high school is just going to have open gym.
Well, my take was like, we can still get stuff done. You know, we can still do some skill work while you do AAU. So like convincing guys of the importance of being around. In the fall. Cause like I said, we have a pre-season and we try to use that preseason to establish like some norms about this is when we practice and you’re expected to be here regardless of whether or not your trainer or your AAU team has a workout.
Like we’re building toward a school team. And the same thing happened in the spring. Like we’re the season’s over, but now we’re building toward the next season. So trying to establish that like school basketball is super important. I get it like, Hey you basketball 10 years ago. Wasn’t as big as it is now, but it was still super important.
I’m going to work with you on that, but it can’t be, oh, it’s a new time. School time, school basketball is behind. If you want to be successful, you get better off, out of sight or off campus here, but don’t forget, like we’re Strake Jesuit. We’re trying to build our program here. So trying to get balance between what kids are doing outside of here. And what they’re doing when we’re here was a super challenge and then understanding academically our school’s hard. You know, so it’s, it’s not like there’s some kids who there’s 24 hours in a day. And so understanding what their day was like, I can remember sending them a Google form and asking them to tell me what their day was like from 6:00 AM, till the time they went to sleep, just to give me an idea of like what they were doing when they weren’t in front of me and learning the culture learning when you go into a school.
And you’re taken over at a school that’s had success. It’s not like I had all the answers I wanted to ask a lot of questions and I felt like, as I asked, the more and more questions I asked, the more and more information I gained, the more I was able to shape things in the way I wanted them shaped.
But at the same time, I had some, some help along the way from, from coaches and from those seniors who took a little ownership as the year went on. And you know, one of those seniors is now a GA at VCU. He played professionally for a while. Another one’s a big time accountant here in town and a. You know, I feel like again, I only had them for a year, but I feel like they helped me get things going in the right direction in both AF while they were in college and plan, they came back and have worked with a lot of our players over the year.
So that’s one thing I’m really proud of is being able to like the connectedness of our guys that have played for me to the guys that are currently playing for me. And that was a big deal to me. And our school does it through our alumni relations and things like that. But our basketball program doing it is one of the coolest parts about this.
About the last 10 years.
[00:45:37] Mike Klinzing: How do you connect your older players that are in your program with the younger players that are coming up?
[00:45:43] Dominic Amorosa: We try to get them to watch each other’s games. You have a varsity game starts at seven freshman game starts at four o’clock our locker room. We don’t have a varsity locker.
So everybody’s in the same locker room. We try to make sure that younger players understand that the older players are doing have done the same thing you are they’re just doing it a little higher level. It’s just, like I said, with USA, basketball kids, like they’re talented, but they’re still expected to jump stop and fundamentals of the game still apply.
And so again, with age, that’s a big deal. It’s like we’re all in this together. Try to get older players because our freshmen, oftentimes we will, they’ll do me sometimes a study hall or sometimes they’ll practice in the morning and we’ll practice afterschool. So the ability to have give older players a chance to talk connect, we do a bunch of team meals where kids are together.
We do some service projects where kids are collecting items, bringing them to different spots. And just making sure everybody knows that if you’re a basketball player and we have a campus, that’s like a college. So you going between buildings, you walk by a guy, whether he’s a freshman, B team player or a varsity level player, like you gotta acknowledge him.
And, and we just spent some time talking about it. We role play it like, all right, here we are. We’re walking on the. And I got my ears pilots earphones in, and you got yours in, and we’re one of us looking at our phone, but we make eye contact. There needs to be a dap or there needs to be a, Hey, how’s it going to feel connected to who we are?
You know, we have a sign-up of our locker room, says team first. We try to get them all on the same gear so that. You make them look the same. It builds community. So I think that’s the biggest way. And that’s, that’s a constant challenge. You cause some kids, they become seniors and it’s like, coach, I’m a senior.
And it’s like, Hey, don’t, let’s not forget what it was like for you guys when you were freshmen. And, and to see their growth we take pictures of them as freshmen and then the seniors, they put them on the board and do the our banquet stuff is all like their freshmen picture to their senior picture and said, it was like, oh my gosh, he’s so, so little and tiny.
So that constant reminder of like, Hey, like let’s not forget who you are and who you were because you were, you were that guy too. You were that guy who couldn’t handle school and you know, couldn’t make a shot or got, got your shot blocked or whatever. So let’s make sure we’re remembering where you came from.
And just the appeal, the appeal to them on that. And like, they look up to you even though you’re a senior and they might be a sophomore, they’re still looking up to you in what you, the example you’re setting is gonna, is going to set us 5, 6, 7 years from now. So it’s just a constant communication thing that we talk about and then trying to get them in, in situations where they’re having to communicate and talk to one another.
[00:48:21] Mike Klinzing: That culture and building the community and building the connectedness obviously is really important.
I’m sure to the success of what you’ve been able to do. What about on the basketball floor in terms of the things that you expect between the lines? What if you were going to point to things that lead to your success on the floor as a basketball program, what are one or two things that you think really are important and kind of drive your success?
[00:48:48] Dominic Amorosa: We make a huge deal about making the next pass. Like good shot over here. Great shot with one more. Like, I think that’s a huge staple for us is the, the one more pass. The ability to, to be excited about someone else’s success. Like, I can’t tell you how many times, like the way our gym has set up when we film, we’re able to see the bench as games going on.
So the way we celebrate one, another success is a huge part of our culture. You know, someone makes a good play and you’re on the bench. How are you reacting to that? Showing it to them when they don’t call them out individually when they don’t Play wise making the next past, picking each other up.
When someone falls down celebrating one another success with a lot of touching high-fiving fist bumping. It was weird with COVID. When you’re like trying to tell kids who you’re teaching them for years to touch it. Right, exactly. Like, oh, hang on, hang on. In the COVID year I had, and I would hold a spray bottle of hand sanitizer when they would come off after warmups and, and I would, I would shoot them all in their hands to get their hands clean.
So like that’s what I want. People to see, like, we talk a lot about specifically travel, you know? Like what, what do you, what impression are you getting when we play? What’s it gonna look like? You know, you making the next pass. Are you throwing it to the open man? Are you looking at guy off? Like we, we don’t do that.
Like, that’s one thing. Our guy’s done a pretty good job of like this year we had nine guys score over a hundred points. Now, granted. 36 games. You know, our leading score score like 380 points. And then I think our, the knife guy was like at one 20. So like we have some really good balance. And I think that’s a product of us sharing the ball.
And then defensively, we load to the ball side and we spent a long and arduous process talking about how important it is to, to help the help the guy who’s guarding the ball. Sometimes it hurts us too. Cause I don’t know if we guard the ball well enough because they know that there’s a guy back there ready to step in and take a charge or at least stop penetration.
So those are the key tenants offensively. It’s about making one more pass and then defensively. It’s about we say good teams, help and great teams help the helper. And and those would be the ways that we try to, to show who we are between the lines,
[00:51:17] Mike Klinzing: when you’re putting together your practice.
On a given day. And those are two things that obviously you have in mind. What is your design for your practice look like when you put it together, do you have a specific order that you’d like to do go defense first than offense? Do you have a set series of warm-up drills? Just what’s your practices design look like?
[00:51:40] Dominic Amorosa: Yeah, we try to go from a, a ramp up to super-intense to a cool down. I used to do more. And I think this is another product of USA I used to do more like in isolation, like, all right, we’re doing defensive drills now. And then we’re now we’re going to offense. We play a lot more. It’s funny when I talked to my ex players that are older and when I see him or they’ll come watch us play and they’d be like, man, coach you’re shooting some shots.
He didn’t let us shoot them. Like, yeah, we practiced them more. But I think I’ve, I’ve tried to be more efficient. So for example we, we might start off practice with like a challenge transitioned layup challenge, two minutes, just get them in the mindset of competition and they will go, we will do a 10 minute segment.
We try to do it in eight to 10 minute segments, competitively scored. And then we mix in shooting sorta kind of between the breaks. But for example, I get eight to 10 minute segment would be what we call transition. And it’d be like one on ode, a one-on-one you know? So we’re working on the offensive finishing, then we’re having a guard right away.
Then it’s like two on one to, and what, what used to be two on one job? Is now like two on one to two on two three on two ketchup play the advantage. The defense asset is at a disadvantage or offense has an advantage. Now you’re at the same, same numbers, three on three, four on three catch up.
And you’re like building it up to five and five. And then your last two minutes of that 10 minute segment is five and five, then you’re so you’ve ramped it up big time and now you’re going right to finishing and everybody’s doing the same finishes working on the skill development piece.
So practice contains a lot, much more transition than when I first started as a head coach. I think I’ve given up control by just shaping what I want to see in practice. So like what I wanna see, I wanna see transition. I want to see competition. I want to see skill work. I want to see shooting. And then from there.
When we do, and then I want to see some half-court we’ll do some half court stuff, time and score situational stuff, half court. And in those half court situations is like, that’s where a lot of the teaching’s gonna occur. Like that guy was open. Like, let’s throw it ahead. Let’s cut. Let’s get it to the second side.
Let’s get into all right guys, we’re going to play three minutes. Score, stop score. You got to get a dribble. Hand-off into a ball screen to score it. Got to get a paint hub. Or puncture to score it. You got to get a post catch. You got to play off the post catch. Once you get the post catch after the post catch, you can score.
If you, if you shoot and score beforehand, doesn’t count. So you’re learning like about your players, like number one, do they want to win number two, they follow directions. So that’s how I’m thinking about practices. Like how I can set up situations where there’s competition involved, transition, involve skill work.
And and then as we wind it down shooting shooting, more shooting, shooting as much. And that’s, that’s probably the thing, like as, as a season goes on, like beginning of the season, you’re just like, man, we gotta do this. We’ve got to get this and got to get this in. But like really at the end of the day, you gotta play really hard.
You gotta share the basketball and you gotta shoot it. And, and, and like I put on the top of my approximately like play. Play fast, have fun. And that fun part. Sometimes it doesn’t come off, but like free and fast, what you know is a big part of what we’re trying to create here. And it’s again, like I said, when I first started here 10 years ago, I don’t think it was fast.
I think we tried, we played a little slower. Now we play a lot faster. Although our principles of trying to get the ball to the basket, whether through post touch or drive is still important. And then we’re trying to keep the ball out of the paint as much as we can. We don’t press we’ll have court trap and stuff, but so we work a lot on just guarding the ball, disadvantage, find the advantage offensively and try to keep it as simple as possible.
[00:55:41] Mike Klinzing: How do you balance the flow of practice versus the actual instruction that you’re giving, where you stop and get. A coaching point or a teaching point. I know that’s one of the things that as the coaching profession has shifted more towards sort of that games based approach. And instead of, as you said, drilling an isolation, then one of the things that I’m always interested in is how coaches think about the balance when you’re going a three on three small side of game where you’re going five on five half court and there’s decisions that are being made all the time, some of which are right.
Some of which maybe you disagree with as a coach. So how do you balance out when you stop play to make a teaching point versus when you let the kids sort of play through it and then talk at the end?
[00:56:32] Dominic Amorosa: Yeah, you can’t stop it every time. Like. Literally stop it every time, but I don’t think you, I don’t think it’s productive.
So I’m finding the balance between like, letting them make the mistake. And then like, it’s funny because I just finished right before we get on the call here. I was with fourth and fifth graders work in five out trying to get them to pass. Cut. Fill. When you catch the ball, look the rim peak at the rim pass, cut, fill like really simple concept.
And so we do it five on O struggling. Then all of a sudden we put defense out there looks a little better. And then when it starts to get stale, stop it, hand the ball to a guy and say, all right, let’s replay. Just what just happened. Coach Cheesman at Kingwood. When I worked for him 15 plus years ago now people say it all the time, like replay go, right?
The games based approach, like you just. We were doing a lot of drills in isolation, but we were doing it with a games based approach, constantly. The idea of replay and do it again. Now you drive baseline guy, supposed to drift. Post man is supposed to get out of the way other guys supposed to crack back.
Did that just happen? All right. Replay. Now it happens. And you’re trying to correct that way now. Let’s say it doesn’t happen or the ball gets kicked out of bounds. You don’t stop it again to do it again. You just let the practice flow continue and you try to, again, what’s the emphasis of the, of the timeframe you’re in.
Like. It can’t be a million things. So again, the practice plan, all right, transition. Find the advantage. That’s the emphasis today. Find the advantage transition D eliminate the advantage, hold it up long enough to, to make it where it becomes a four on four game instead of a four on three game. So finding ways to like pop in the instruction versus stopping it.
Like, I just think you got to keep heart rates as high as you can because in a game you don’t get a lot of time to do it. And even what you say, well, coach, what about time outs? Like in the heat of the moment? Like the timeout is, is, is stoppage, but you don’t want I want practice to keep flowing, so I try not to correct everything.
I try to tell them before practice, here’s what our emphasis is. Here’s what we’re trying to do. And then after practice, we try to debrief did we do it well? What do we need to get better at? You know, USA does a good give us one thing you did. Well, two things you need to work on.
And in three things we’re going to do next time like that sort of, kind of quick hitting thing for kids to, to understand.
[00:59:18] Mike Klinzing: And the course of your practice, are you tracking, statting stuff throughout the practice?
[00:59:25] Dominic Amorosa: Sometimes it depends. You know, we got some managers who are incredible, who help us out and drill work.
Early in the year, like in the fall we’ll chart you know, different things like getting to the floor who’s to the floor we chart during the season, not in PR we don’t do it near enough in practice, just because of manpower. But the idea of in games how many times did we throw the ball over half court?
What’s our throw ahead percentage in games? We chart kills, like what we call three stops in a row in practice the way, I guess the biggest thing we, we chart as a scoreboard in the fall, we’ll do a scrimmage like we’ll status scrimmage you know, to eight minutes quarters, just to try to get some data on who’s playing who we think may be playing hockey, you know?
Cause sometimes as a coach say, oh well so-and-so is playing really well. Well did he score, did he have an assist? You know, like w what did he do that makes you think he’s playing well, kids need to know that too. You know, kids want to know, well, coach, what do you mean? I’m not playing well we played at 12 minutes, we played a 16 minute scrimmage and you, your strength is being a three point shooter in hunting shots.
And you weren’t, you were over six or you told me your strength was you distribute the ball and we played a 16 minute scrimmage and you didn’t have a single assist. You know? So data eliminates emotion. I wish we could have more data as good as the ma my student assistant managers are like in game and with practice, it’s tough to, to ask them to chart every single part of practice, but there are there parts of practice where we’ll try to chart, score, assists, deflections, whatever it is we might want to emphasize that day, but we don’t do it nearly enough.
[01:01:11] Mike Klinzing: How do you use film? What’s the, what’s the usage of film for both yourself. And then how much of the film do you share with.
[01:01:17] Dominic Amorosa: This time of year, the cell phone working on form shooting and trying to help them with their shots. Like in this morning we had a shooting or workout actually yesterday morning, today we’re in the weight room, but that’s a huge way.
Like off season time, like you film a kid shooting, you send it to them, you watch it with them. Practice, we film it in the fall. Usually kids have access to it through huddle. We start each day with a team meeting and we’ll oftentimes clip up either a college film clip or something that we’re doing, or a lot sometimes we’ll do like side by side, like here’s Texas and Kansas last night kid goes over his left shoulder.
He goes straight up, his shoulder goes into the guy’s jaw, here’s us shooting a similar shot and look how we drop our back right shoulder. And we dip so again, that wouldn’t be a full group that would be like with, with post players or we might do a small group of guards. But we, after games, we clip up stuff and again, like I said, kids have access to it.
We might show you know, we try to show those one more passes. We try to show multiple effort plays. We’ll show the bench reaction. We played a four overtime game this year. And it was interesting to see how that game went because like you’re playing four overtimes and that’s a, that’s a one and a half games and it was a game we had to have, it was, it was on the road and You know, so the, the way the bench changes that game went on, like you had some guys who didn’t play in the game that were just like super fired up and you had other guys that had played, but weren’t playing like in the third and fourth overtime and their body language was bad.
So we use film, film, doesn’t lie I think Jimmy Dykes wrote a book called film don’t lie or something like that. And kids want to see it, you know? So we also try to make sure we highlight just, we’ve had two weeks of off season, I think on my way to USA on Thursday, I had taken some clips and I put together like a mini.
Four or five of our workouts and put it on YouTube and send it to all our kids. And it was all just separatory stuff like kids lifting kids, jumping rope, kids, slide boarding. So I think film is obviously a great teaching point, but I think films a big celebration point and, and kids want to see it.
And we try to get them to understand when you clip up your own stuff, which a lot of them know how to do. You know, let’s make, make sure it’s about our team. And we had some times this year where like, we lose a game, but man, if you watch what what’s out on, Instagram and Twitter, it’s hard to tell for loss.
And so that’s, that’s a lot of conversations about that. You know, let’s, let’s make sure when we’re, when we’re celebrating ourselves, it’s not like, oh yeah, we lost the game. You know? Cause it’s it’s counter I tell, tell them this all the time, like we’re going against the grain. We’re asking you guys to go against the grain here a little bit.
Like, yes, you might’ve had a heck of a game and let’s, let’s clip that up for you. Like that’s good, but let’s make sure when we put it out there, that the stuff we’re putting out is, is about our team. And then we’ll keep the stuff for you to the side and the way you, you present yourself in social media, like social.
Can destroy a team or it can be a incredible uplifting thing and I’m, I’m on it. Like I’m not gonna like, oh, I’m never on social media. No, I’m on it. And and I think there’s a lot of positives to it, but man, because everything is filmed nowadays, you can really like, did you have a good workout or did you have like a good dunk?
Cause it’s hard to tell sometimes with the way kids put it out there. And, and so we’ve talked a lot about that this spring the wind in the dark book by, by calf you know, John Moran. There’s a big story on ESPN a couple of weeks ago about his trainer said, gave him this wind in the dark book and and job Moran like took it to heart.
Like he just was gonna do his thing and no one was going to know what was going on. He was going to work as hard as he could. And then all of a sudden he’s MVP candidate, you know? So just using film correctly is important. I think you gotta have a plan. And I, I think our plan is pretty good. We don’t kill them with it, but we try to use it as teaching points and we’ll use a lot of old stuff we’ll use stuff that, oh, here’s what we did two years ago.
Look how look what we’re doing two years ago versus what we’re doing. Now, we try to clip it up as teaching points for our freshmen coaches and freshmen players. So they see like, this is what we mean by baseline drift. This is what we mean by next pass. You know, we’ll film our practice drills so that our coaches junior high people know what’s going on as well.
[01:05:55] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. Being able to use film, as you said, the film doesn’t lie. It’s really easy to make. Clear, I think for players when they could see it on film, because we all have this perception of what we are, what we’re doing, even for coaches if you’ve ever had the good fortune of having yourself film, I know that I’ve people have said to me, I’ve had my own kids say, dad, whenever things go wrong, why do you always put your hands on top of your head and bend over?
You know, so you kind of just, you get to learn that sometimes your body language could be improved. And being able to use film is really, really important. I think for, for players to be able to see and have a better understanding of what it is they’re going to do before we wrap up, I want to ask one final question.
It’s a two-parter. And the first part is when you think about what you have ahead of you in the next year or two, what’s the biggest challenge that you see. And then number two, when you get up in the morning and you think about what you do, what’s your biggest joy. So a two part question, your biggest challenge and your biggest.
[01:06:55] Dominic Amorosa: Biggest challenge is to juggle the juggle of I’m a parent, I’m a teacher, I’m a coach, I’m an individual, I’m a husband. The challenge of making sure like that each of those categories get the, the analogy of like get watered get taken care of while, while not allowing the other one to wilt.
And that goes like on a, on a bigger perspective, like with my team, but also with each individual player on my team, like with my family, but also each one of my three kids. So that. The biggest thing. It’s like, man, am I talking to so-and-so enough? Or am I building a relationship with so-and-so? Team-wise am I professionally advancing myself in terms of knowledge and you know, how to be better as a coach or how to be better as a scheme or how to be better as a practice or a planner.
Am I I have, like I said earlier, I have unbelievably supportive wife. Am I making sure she understands, like, this is not possible without what she’s does? You know, as USA basketball, like the ability to just leave for two days and miss school and be in new Orleans and then hopefully the next time we get a chance to be together, get invited and do that.
And if I don’t do that, like or else am I doing professional things to help grow the game? So that’s probably the biggest challenge is like just the juggle of, of making sure I’m, I’m giving myself the best opportunity to, to succeed in each one of those areas. Because I think as coaches, man, I could be a heck of a coach at the expense of my family or at the expense of my teaching.
But I don’t want to do that. And so the, the planning and the time and the energy it takes to find those things and make those things work. For all parties involved is my biggest challenge. The biggest joy is just the process of seeing these guys grow up. And again, I relate it back to my own children.
I have a 17 year old son, who’s an elite gymnast and like figuring it out. I drives and you know, my daughter’s 15 years old and she’s going to be driving. It’s like got a year old, who’s into everything. So that I take a lot of joy and like growth. And it’s not like it doesn’t necessarily have to be like visible to anybody else, but maybe the kid shoots me a text about, he just saw.
Steph Curry, come off a screen really hard and pick at the rim before he took two dribbles like something where it’s like, oh, they are listening. Or, you know like my son with the college stuff like searching out different things and like, oh, okay. He he does care about this and it’s not going to be my wife and I’s problem.
He’s figuring it out. So that’s probably the biggest thing is like kids starting to take ownership of their other own journey. Cause I think, again, as coaches, we do a lot of polling I think you know, the definition of a coach, like the coach tastes locks as this is like, we’re the the coach like pulse like we’re pulling kids forward and we’re trying to pull or push, but My, the joy is found in like when kids start to do it themselves.
And then instead of pushing from, from behind them or pulling from in front of him, you’re now like running alongside I’ve had a couple of guys who’ve played for me. Who’ve been who’ve assisted for me as coaches, which is super cool. Former players who will text or call and say, coach, I saw your guys on Twitter or whatever, it looks like you’re doing well.
These are kids who, I didn’t think they were paying attention. You know? So that’s, that’s where I get the biggest joy is like the idea of like, yeah, what we’re doing is working as an elementary school teacher and you know this, you get it like every day, like the kids love it. You know, you’re playing recess with fifth graders.
They love it and they tell you, they love it. But man, high school kids, they don’t really. But they tell you when they’re 25 with a, with an email or with a invitation to their wedding or a phone call about coach, I’m trying to get this job. Can you, can you be a reference for me? And it’s again, it’s like, man, I didn’t think I was that kid really understood that I liked him enough to do that.
So that’s probably that’s my biggest joy is like seeing the growth, even if it’s minimal, even if it’s slow, even if it’s non-linear and then understanding, like, he’ll figure it out. Like I say that all the time to my assistant, like they’ll figure it out. It’s not going to be a straight line.
And just like I said, the idea of the polling and the pushing, becoming the side-by-side is, is a really cool part about coaching and teaching and parenting, to be honest, because it’s sort of the way. Should evolve. And it’s the way I view this job.
[01:12:05] Mike Klinzing: That’s well said, Dominic, I think two things that you said in that answer really stood out for me.
The one is the push and pull versus the running beside. And I think anybody who’s a parent out there, you can probably well relate to that with your own kids where there’s lots of times where you’re pushing them along. You’re pushing them along, you’re pushing them along. And then all of a sudden you’re like, Hey, they kind of got it.
And now I’m just over here on the side, maybe giving them opportunities instead of dragging them to opportunities, or I’m just kind of watching what they’re doing and wow, they’re starting to get it. And coaching goes the same way. There might be that kid that when they’re a freshman, sophomore, you really got to stay on them.
You got to keep pushing them. And then by the time they’re a junior or senior, like, Hey, they’re starting to figure that piece of it out. And then the other thing that really stood out for me is your, in your answer. When you talked about how you may not see that growth right in front of your face, and it might be 10 years later where they come back to you and they say, Hey, I remember when you said this or, Hey, do you want to come to my wedding?
Or, Hey, I’ve got a big job interview. Can you give me some pointers on what I should look for? And those kinds of things that you, we do a lot of teaching, we do a lot of coaching. We do a lot of talking. We do a lot of sharing and sometimes you can stand there and not know for sure whether that message is sinking in.
And as you said, I think one of the biggest joys of having an impact on young people is that not only could you have an impact in the immediate moment where you see it, but there’s oftentimes impact long down the road where sure. Sometimes you figure out and learn about that impact, but there’s other times where there’s players and people that you’ve impacted, that probably are never, you’re never going to know the impact that you have.
Somebody somewhere, even if it’s just in some small way. So I think those are really two, two great answers that you shared in terms of challenge and joy. Excuse me, before we wrap up, I want to just give you a chance to share how people can get in contact with you, share your social media, share your email, whatever you feel comfortable with for anybody who might want to connect with you after the pod.
And then I’ll jump back in and write.
[01:14:16] Dominic Amorosa: Sounds good. Man, this has been a really, really enlightening hour. And plus for me, it’s really fun to connect and connect with someone who I followed on, on Twitter. And like you said, the other day, just a reach out. So if you want to get in touch with me. So I’m @damorosasj on Twitter.
My email is the same DAmorosa@Strake Jesuit.org. And like I’ve done to people before I I’ll respond. Like you send me an email or Twitter message and you want to talk to. That’s the response and we might not connect that day or maybe the next day, but it’s always going to be responded to.
But like we said earlier, the ball connects it’s really fun. It’s really fun to connect like three and four degrees from when you start and the way different people in players or, or coaches have been able to like connect the dots. And so that’s, that’s one of the coolest parts.
And, and like I said, I’ve been blessed to have good coaches and parents who’ve, who’ve supported me. And I look forward to trying to help other coaches connect and young or old to share the game.
[01:15:33] Mike Klinzing: Dominic cannot. Thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule tonight, to jump out with us, spend a lot of fun, great conversation, learned a ton.
And I really feel like we’d been at, we were able to pull out some great little coaching nuggets for members of our audience. So to everyone out there, thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.