Budenholzer Uses Film to Impress Popovich

Budenholzer Uses Film to Impress Popovich by Bob Starkey

This blog was originally posted on Bob Starkey’s website: HoopThoughts.Blogspot.com

As one of those coaches who enjoy watching video, I obviously enjoyed this article on the Atlanta Hawks Mike Budenholzer.  The story is written by Shaun Powell for NBA.com and tells the tale of Budenholzer’s connection to Gregg Popovich and how it started in a film room:

In the summer of 1992, Popovich returned to California to join Don Nelson’s staff with the Golden State Warriors. Budenholzer’s time at Pomona came and went, and after a short stint playing professionally in Denmark, he returned to Arizona, jobless and anxious. Call Pop, said Vince. It couldn’t hurt.

So Budenholzer dialed a man he’d never really met or knew and made a pitch. And Popovich was like: What does this kid want from me?

“He said he didn’t have anything to do and that if I ever wanted help, he’d be available,” said Popovich. “I figured he was someone else I’d have to bring in my office and talk to a bit and then get rid of him. I didn’t have time for this stuff, but he did go to Pomona. So he comes in and I immediately liked him. Engaging young man. I talked to him and then said I had work to do and wished him good luck. Tried to get him out of my office. But he wouldn’t leave. He said he’d do anything.”

Popovich took Budenholzer to the Warriors film room and had him break down film and explain what he saw. Budenholzer, leaning on lessons from his father, surprised Popovich with his savvy for players and schemes. So Pop gave instructions: Come here every day, hand me film, don’t say anything to me, don’t ask me for tickets and definitely don’t ask me for money.

And Budenholzer did exactly that.

“The whole time,” said Popovich, “I don’t think Nellie ever saw him, didn’t know who he was or that he even worked for us.”

During the next offseason, back in Arizona, Vince Budenholzer’s phone rang. Popovich on the line.

“Where’s Mike?” said Pop.

“I think he’s out, but he’ll be back soon.”

“Well, if you can get ahold of him, I might just hire his ass.”

Pop was on the move again, this time back to San Antonio in 1994 to be the Spurs’ executive vice president of basketball operations/general manager and soon begin the tremendous run as coach that will someday put him in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“When I left the Warriors,” said Popovich, “I took only two people with me: R.C. Buford (now the Spurs’ GM) to do scouting and Mike to do film work.”

This is a lengthy column by Powell that also speaks to the role that Budenholzer’s father played.  It’s well worth the read and you can see it in it’s entirety here.

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image_handlerBob Starkey, widely considered one of the top minds in all of college basketball, is in his fourth season (2015-16) as an assistant coach at Texas A&M.

Starkey has had a decorated career, having been a part of 636 collegiate victories, 19 NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Elite Eight and five straight trips to the Women’s Final Four (2004-08), including serving as Acting Head Coach for LSU’s 2007 Women’s Final Four run.Starkey’s former players have gone on to distinguished post-collegiate careers, including both an NBA Finals MVP, Shaquille O’Neal (2001, 2002), and a WNBA Finals MVP, Seimone Augustus (2011). Ten of his players have been drafted in the First Round of the NBA or WNBA Draft, including top five picks Augustus (first overall), O’Neal (first), Slyvia Fowles (second), Chris Jackson (third) and Kelsey Bone (fifth). Seven of his players were named NBA or WNBA All-Rookie during their first year in the league, including A&M’s Bone.

In addition, three of his players—O’Neal (1996 Atlanta), Augustus (2008 Beijing & 2012 London) and Fowles (2008 Beijing & 2012 London)—have gone on to win Olympic Gold Medals.

One of the best defensive coaches in basketball, Starkey’s teams have allowed an average of 54.1 points per game since 2004-05. In seven of those seasons, Starkey’s team has ranked among the top 10 nationally in points allowed per game, and six of his players have been named to the SEC All-Defensive team, since the conference started naming that team in 2007-08.

His players have won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times, with A&M’s Jordan Jones winning the award twice (in 2013-14 and 2014-15) as well as Fowles in 2007-08.

Since arriving to A&M in 2012, Starkey has helped the Aggies to the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship and the 2014 NCAA Elite Eight. As A&M’s “defensive coordinator,” he has helped the Aggies average fewer than 60 points allowed in all three of his seasons in Aggieland.

Starkey spent 22 seasons (1989-11) at LSU, the last 13 of which came on the bench with the women’s basketball program. He helped the Lady Tigers to five straight Final Fours from 2004-08, and served as Acting Head Coach for the 2007 NCAA Tournament (4-1). Starkey spent a season at UCF (2011-12) immediately prior to coming to A&M.

Starkey helped guide LSU to four SEC Championships, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights and five consecutive trips to the Final Four. He was a key component in the Lady Tigers’ outstanding record of 326-105 (.756) from 1998-2011.

Starkey joined the Lady Tigers’ program on a full-time basis in 1998 under Sue Gunter, one of three Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coaches he has worked for (Van Chancellor, Gary Blair). Starkey had previously served as the administrative assistant for both the LSU men’s and women’s basketball team for two years.

In his first role at LSU, Starkey served as an assistant coach for Dale Brown on the LSU men’s basketball staff from 1990-96, during which time the Tigers participated in four NCAA Tournaments. While on the men’s staff, Starkey worked closely in developing three first-round NBA draft picks in Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts. As a recruiter, he helped sign three nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including one which was rated No. 1 in the country.

In his 27-year collegiate coaching tenure, Starkey has worked with 18 20-win teams and has been a postseason participant 18 times.

Before his extended stretch at LSU, Starkey spent one year as an assistant at Marshall during the 1988-89 season and three seasons as a men’s assistant coach at West Virginia State from 1984-87. In his final season at West Virginia State, he helped guide the Yellow Jackets to conference and district titles on their way to the NAIA National Championship game.

Starkey began his coaching career on the high school level as an assistant at Winfield High School in West Virginia.

Starkey, who considers himself a full-time student of the game, has written numerous articles and has authored such basketball books as The 2-3 Match-Up Defense and Motion Offense. His latest project is a Basketball Coaching Series of books that include The Art of Being An Assistant Coach, The Art of Scouting and The Art of Motivation. Starkey is a master motivator and runs his own coaching and player online blog that features daily updates at http://hoopthoughts.blogspot.com.

Starkey is originally from Charleston, W.Va., and is married to the former Sherie Hayslett, also a native of West Virginia.

Career Timeline:
2012-Present: Texas A&M (Assistant Coach)
2011-12: UCF (Assistant Coach)
2007-11: LSU (Associate Head Coach)
2007: LSU (Acting Head Coach)
1998-07: LSU (Assistant Coach)
1997-98: LSU women & men (Administrative Assistant)
1990-97: LSU men (Assistant Coach)
1988-89: Marshall (Assistant Coach)
1984-87: West Virginia State men (Assistant Coach)

By The Numbers
3 – Olympic Gold Medalists
5 – NCAA Final Fours (2004-08)
8 – NCAA Elite Eight Appearances
10 – First Round NBA & WNBA Draft Picks
19 – NCAA Tournament Appearances
54.1 – Points Allowed since 2004-05
636 – Collegiate Coaching Wins

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