Here’s an excerpt from There’s Only One Way To Win, a book Dick wrote about his dad, the legendary Coach Chuck DeVenzio, better known as “Coach DV.” Dick played for his dad in high school, where their undefeated 1967 Ambridge team has been called the best in Pennsylvania history.
Basketball coaches are typically fond of talking about all the things they do with their teams to get an advantage over other teams. Coach DV stayed out of these conversations. They irritated him.
“Coaches don’t do anything,” he would say. “Players do. They can have all the plays they want. I’ll take the players. If you have good players, everything works; if you don’t have good players, nothing works. There’s no secret: you get good players and just play basketball. You don’t need all that other crap.”
At basketball camps and coaching clinics, he would often be asked by young coaches what his teams do.
“We don’t do anything,” he’d say. “We just try to play basketball.”
Many interpreted his reply as a reluctance to give away secrets. But Coach DV really couldn’t articulate what it was he did. Or, if he could, he wouldn’t or didn’t like to, or he was “tired of all this talk” and didn’t even want to think about it.
Basically, his teaching consisted of four simple rules.
(Here’s Coach DV’s third rule)
3. Take Only Very Easy Shots
Another laugher. Everyone knows it’s good to take easy shots. But again, the problem is that in games, coaches don’t require it and teams don’t do it. They take difficult and bad shots.
“They just throw the ball at the basket. You can’t just throw the ball at the basket. You look like you’re trying to knock the rim down or break the board. You can’t just throw it up there. You gotta put it in.”
The idea is to move fast and pass to each other until someone gets an easy shot that anyone can make. Coach DV didn’t want anyone making difficult shots. He wanted all the shots to be easy.
When a player would make a shot and run back hearing the applause and show pride in his achievement, Coach DV would be quick to criticize. “Don’t run back like you did anything. Anyone can make an easy shot. Little kids could make that shot. Hell, my grandma could make that shot.”
It was the pass and the movement that created the opportunity. That was what deserved the applause, Coach DV said, not the shot itself.
Long before legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith started his now world-renowned practice of having his players point at the passer in order to thank him, Coach DV was ordering his players to thank each other. He didn’t require a public acknowledgment, but he did require that his players thank each other. And he growled away any player’s swagger after scoring a basket. Coach DV always complimented the passer in hoarse yells that could be heard across the gym. He just loved a great pass.
“He got that basket, not you! Next time you act like that, he’s not going to pass to you, and I won’t blame him. He’ll fake the pass to you and shoot himself. Who the hell do you think you are? Anyone could make that shot. Thank the guy who gave you the ball. That’s who scored the basket. Anyone can make an easy shot.”