This week, 64 college basketball teams from across North America will begin competing with a single goal in mind—to reach the panicle of college sports and raise the 2023 NCAA Tournament Championship trophy. While blue blood, behemoths like Kansas and Houston have their eyes set on claiming what each one-seed sees as their destiny, smaller schools sporting a 16-seed ranking look to shock the world and make a run at a modern-day Cinderella story. The stakes couldn’t be higher. As you enjoy watching the stories unfold, there are some key leadership lessons we can gather from some of college basketball’s most influential coaches.
John Wooden – UCLA
Boasting the most championships of any coach in history, Wooden knows a thing or two about what it takes to build and motivate a top-tier, championship-caliber team.
- “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”
- “A coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority.”
- “The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.”
- “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
Coach K – Duke University
Mike Krzyzewski, known simply as Coach K, is a five-time national champion, six-time U.S. gold medalist, and holds the record for most wins in the NCAA.
- “A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That’s how I want to play.”
- “I get a group of people who are talented to commit to excellence and to work together as one. That’s where it starts. Different talents, same commitment.”
- “Don’t take your culture for granted. There needs to be a constant renewal of values that lead to camaraderie.”
- “Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”
Jim Boeheim – Syracuse
Long-time Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim led the Orange to perennial notoriety from 1976 until his retirement this year. He lead his alma mater to one tournament championship, five Final Fours, and 15 regular season/tournament conference titles.
- “If you’re analytical, you have to be blunt. That’s by definition. You can’t analyze something and not be blunt about it. What would you rather hear if not the truth?”
- “There’s a level of familiarity that can be helpful if you’ve been here before. It’s not a magic bullet, but it helps.”
- “We don’t make excuses. They played well defensively, and they deserved to win the game.”
Henry Iba – Oklahoma State University
A two-time national champion, two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, and four appearances in the NCAA Final Four, this Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame member turned a small state school on the prairie into national prominence. Known as Mr. Iba, his effects on Big 12 basketball remains seen.
- “Everyone should want to excel in life. You should never take the desire to excel away from the human race.”
- “Think and then act. Never act and then alibi.”
- “I’m not against taking shots, but I am against taking bad shots.”
- “Don’t let a week go by without conferences with each player, you can’t teach it all on the floor.”
BONUS QUOTE: Fire-brand Bobby Knight of the Indiana Hoosiers and Texas Tech once said, “The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”
Who are some of your favorite college basketball coaches? Which quotes help you build a championship team at your company? Let us know in the comments section below!