Offensive Rebounding Percentage – The Third Most Important Factor of Basketball Success

How does a team know whether it is a good rebounding team?

Most teams simply look at the rebounding totals for both teams, and the rebounding margin between them and their opponents. However, rebounding totals alone can be deceiving. By using rebounding percentage you can take into account pace and field goal percentage which can differ widely by team and season.

Additionally, focusing on offensive rebounds considers their importance in the game. They can demoralize a defense by extending possessions and creating easy put-back scoring opportunities or open kick-out jump shots. A good way to look at this is to compare your offensive rebounding percentage with your opponents offensive rebounding percentage and the margin, positive or negative, that is created. You can do this game by game and compare how it affects your wins and losses. You can also do this season by season comparing your seasonal success, or you can do it with all of the teams in your conference and see how it compares to the success of teams in the conference.

Helpful formulas:

  • Your offensive rebounding percentage:
    • Your ORB% = OffReb / (OffReb + Opp DefReb)
  • Your opponent’s offensive rebounding percentage is:
    • Opp ORB% = Opp OffReb / (Opp OffReb + Your DefReb)

For example:

            2018-19 OFF REB % = 28 % vs OPP OFF REB % = 27 %   + 1% 

            2019-20 OFF REB % = 24 % vs OPP OFF REB % = 29 %   – 5%  

Using rebounding percentages, you can see that rebounding fell off significantly from one season to the other. Now you have another statistic to use in comparing the two season’s results. Here is a chart to get you started.

Stay Tuned for the next coaches corner blog, and the final post of the Factors of Basketball Success – Free Throw Rate.

Turnover Percentage – The Second Most Important Factor of Basketball Success

Turnover percentage is defined as, “The percentage of offensive possessions that end in a turnover”. It is considered by many to be a better indicator than the two most commonly used turnover statistics, the total number of turnovers, for comparing opponents in the same game assuming a similar number of possessions, and assist-to-turnover ratios, for comparing individual players.  However, these commonly used statistics do not consider pace of the game and do not help you look at comparisons of turnovers on a game to game, team to team, and year to year basis.

Why is this important? Over the course of a season, where a team plays against every other team in the league, larger trends play out, including differences in pace. Turnover percentage or rate allows you to compare, in one season as well as multiple seasons, to other teams in your league, region, or in the country.

Using per-possession turnover stats also allows you to measure the game at its smallest possible unit of measurement that takes both teams in a particular game into account. By normalizing stats to a per-possession basis, we take out the differences in pace of play and in doing so can get closer to crafting real comparisons. A possession in 1999 is the same as a possession in 2019. If you take this one step further and break it down to per-100 possessions, you have a number not a percentage. For example, if a team has a turnover percentage by possession of .194, they have a turnover rate per 100 possessions of 19.4.

The end of a possession is when:

  1. A field goal is attempted that is not rebounded by the offense. Offensive rebounds are treated as continued possessions, and by subtracting them from the field goal attempts it ensures that both teams have almost the same number of possessions in each game.
  2. A team commits a turnover.
  3. A team goes to the free throw line and does not get the ball back. There are some catches here that you need to account for: technical free throws, and 1’s, missed 1 and 1’s, 3 shots, and lane violations. .475 is a good determination that 47.5% of all free throws take up possessions.

Helpful formulas:

  • Possession = (FGA-OR) + TO + (.475 X FTA)
  • Turnover percentage per possession: TO/(FGA-OR) + TO + (.475 X FTA)
  • Turnover Rate per 100 possessions: TO X 100/(FGA-OR) + TO + (.475 X FTA)

For Example:

Team A has 17 turnovers, 81 field goal attempts, 10 offensive rebounds, and 21 free throw attempts.

17 /71+17+(.475*21) = .175% turnover percentage

100*17 /71+17+(.475*21)+17) = 17.5% turnover rate.

This team turned the ball over about 17 and a half times of every 100 possessions. This is good as an average turnover rate would be around 20.

To help you get started we have created a spreadsheet for team turnover rate per 100 possessions. Feel free to use this however you see fit for your specific team. You could enter the statistics for each game, up to 33. Use every other row for you and your opponents. Or you could use eight rows for the eight teams in the conference. As you enter the relative information in the first four (A-D green labeled) columns the formulas in the last three (E-G red labeled) columns will start to calculate and give you the information you desire.

Individuals

Using turnover percentage, or rate, for individuals is a bit more complicated because if you wanted to do it by possessions you would have to calculate the number of possessions a player is on the floor. The easiest way to look at the individual percentage is to take the percentage of minutes a player is in the game and divide that into the number of possessions. 20 minutes of play would be ½ of the game or ½ of the possessions. While not 100% accurate, it provides a good baseline for your individual statistics.

Turnovers are like most stats, in that what matters most is the comparison of what you are trying to do on offense and what you are trying to do on defense. During the down time this off season you could insert the season turnover stats for every team in your conference, offensively and defensively, and see how they compare. You could also do the same thing with every game on your schedule. Compare the game to game gaps in turnover rates and see if the gap correlates to wins and losses.

Stay Tuned for the next coaches corner blog – Offensive Rebounding %.

Effective Field Goal Percentage-eFG% – The Most Important Factor of Basketball Success

The summer is a great time to look at your past seasons statistics as an evaluation tool. Therefore, the newest edition of our coaches corner summer series is focused on basketball statistical analysis.

In our most recent blog, Coaches Summer Reading List, we referenced fifty books that could be of interest to coaches. One of those books was “Basketball on Paper” by Dean Oliver. He has an excellent chapter in which he does a statistical analysis of what he calls the “Four Factors of Basketball Success”. Below is his list and what he computes as the relative percentage of importance of each factor. He recommends that coaches chart these for their own team, as well as their opponents, creating eight factors, and use the results for analysis. The first post of the series discusses the use of Effective Field Goal Percentage to evaluate your team and players’ shooting. Enjoy!

Four Factors of Basketball Success

  1. Shooting (40%)-Effective field goal %
  2. Turnovers (25%)-Turnover %
  3. Rebounding (20%)-Offensive rebounding %
  4. Free Throws (15%)-Free throw rate

We will focus on each each of his factors in separate posts during this mini-series in order to allow the proper amount of time for each. In keeping with his rating, the first factor discusses the use of Effective Field Goal Percentage to evaluate your team and player shooting. Enjoy!

Effective Field Goal Percentage-eFG% – The Most Important Factor of Basketball Success

eFG% is the measurement of your team or player success from the field. It is calculated by assigning a worth of 1.5 for made three-point shots. While this may seem obvious, field goal percentages are not calculated this way but are instead calculated separately for 3-point and total attempts. Looking at field goal % this way allows you to account for 3pt% and 2pt % with one statistic. The formula for calculating the eFG% is (2pt FGM + 1.5 * 3pt FGM) / FGA.

This site provides a simple eFG% calculator to help you so that you will not have to subtract the 3pt FGM from the total FGM since the calculator does that for you.  

There are many ways to use eFG%. Here are a couple of thoughts. As with all stats it is important to look at what you are trying to do both offensively and defensively. A hypothetical team had a 53.27% eFG% while their opponents had an eFG% of 46.34%. The second figure would be your eFG% defense. The gap between the two is almost 7%, very good for any team. Any positive gap is good and the greater the positive margin between your team and your opponents the better. Coaches can look at ways to improve both their teams offensive and defensive efficiency, both on 2-point and 3-point field goal attempts, especially if the gap is a small positive one or negative. Coaches can also look at changes from season to season to analyze reasons for those changes. For comparison purposes, college teams generally have an offensive eFG% range of 60%-40%, and players generally have a range of 75%-40%.

Another way to use the eFG% is to look at individual players and their effectiveness offensively. This is the easiest of the four stats to do that with. Let us take for example a young player who is inconsistent offensively but was a highly effective rebounder and defender and played many minutes as a starter. The player had an eFG% of 50.20%, rather good for a young player. When you separate out the 2-point FG% (51.9%) and 3-point FG% (28.6%), it is tempting to coach the player to eliminate 3-point shots. However, any improvement this player makes from 3-point range will have a greater effect than improvement from 2-point range, and it would be easier to do if the player were already highly effective from 2-point range. Another way to use eFG% is to look at your entire team’s individual eFG%. If one player is at the top and is a good defensive player, wouldn’t it make sense to have that player in the game as much as possible? Just a couple of thoughts about using eFG%, and you can probably think of many more.

Stay tuned for the next blog, Turnover %!

Coaches Summer Reading List

There are lots of ways for coaches to learn and grow in the summer and especially this summer with most coaches sheltered in place for the foreseeable future. One of the best ways is to through reading so we have put together our summer reading list of 50 books for you to consider. Many of the books are available as audio books and e-books if you prefer either of those formats to actually having the book in your hand. Those who prefer to have the book may be surprised to find how inexpensive they are through Amazon, Ebay and other booksellers. You can shop online and have them delivered to the door quickly. Why not get started today and take another step towards personal growth. Happy reading!

Name of BookAuthor
Relentless: From Good to Great to UnstoppableTim Grover
Measure What Matters: Objective Key ResultsJohn Doerr
Why the Best are the Best: 25 Powerful WordsKevin Eastman
Eleven Rings: The Soul of SuccessPhil Jackson
Toughness: Developing True StrengthJay Bilas
Sum It Up: A Life in PerspectivePat Summit
Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great TeamsSeth Davis
Geno: In Pursuit of PerfectionGeno Auriemma
The Wisdom of Wooden: A century of Family, Faith, and FriendsJohn Wooden
Players First: Coaching from the Inside OutJohn Calipari
The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive EnergyJon Gordon
Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better LifeJohn Wooden
Conscious Coaching: the Art & Science of Building Buy-InBrett Bartholomew
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful GroupsDaniel Coyle
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosphy of LeadershipBill Walsh
The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices That Make Great Teams GreatJohn Gordon
Attitude: Develop a Winning Mindset On and Off the CourtJay Wright
Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning LifeTony Dungy
The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.Daniel Coyle
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsDaniel H. Pink
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeStephen R. Covey
Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’tJim Collins
Inside Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform LivesJoe Ehrmann
Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win In Basketball and LifeBob Hurley
Outliers: The Story of SuccessMalcom Gladwell
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceMalcom Gladwell
Basketball on Paper:Rules and Tools For Performance AnalysisDean Oliver
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classical Guide to the Mental Side of Peak PerformanceW. Timothy Gallwey
Coaching Your Kids To Be Leaders: The Keys to Unlocking Their PotentialPat Williams
The Rules of Management: A Definitive Code For Managerial SuccessRichard Templar
Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords For SuccessMike Kryzyewski
The Gold Standard: Building a World Class teamMike Kryzyewski
Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and LifeMike Kryzyewski
The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales GreatnessJeffrey Gitomer
Coach: Lessons on the Game of LifeMichael Lewis
Coach: Reflections on People Who Made a DifferenceAndrew Blauner
Brad Stevens: The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball’s Greatest Young  CoachesClayton Geoffreys
Old School Grit: Times May Change But the Rules For Success Never DoDarrin Donnelly
Steve Kerr: The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball’s Greatest CoachesClayton Geoffreys
Lead With Love: How Steve Kerr Turned the Golden State Warriors Into the NBA’s Most Dominant TeamJackson Carter
Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a ChampionPete Carroll
Stuff Good Players Should Know: Intelligent Basketball from A to ZDick DeVenzio
Lead Like Butler: Six Priciples for Values-Based LeadersJudith Cebula
Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone ElseJon Gordon
Tribes: We Need You To Lead UsSeth Godin
The Winner Within: A Life Plan For Team PlayersPat Riley
A Passion to Lead: Seven Leadership Secrets for Success in Business, Sports, and LifeJim Calhoun
Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning OrganizationJohn Wooden
The Basketball Encyclopedia of PlaysVonn Read
Five-Star Basketball Coaches’ PlaybookMultiple

We hope you can find something in this blog to help you for this off-season as well as for future seasons. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Some of this information have you interested? Keep an eye on our blog for more thoughts throughout the summer as we continue this series of comments from our Owner and President Jim Walker. Let us know at info@sportsjourneysinternational.com if there is a specific topic you are interested in.

Are you thinking of taking an international team tour some time down the road? We would love to help you get started planning. Whether it’s Ireland, Canada, or any of our alternative sample tours, or even somewhere else you had in mind. Contact us, or call us at 610-390-9298 for more details.

If you are interested in videos from the past 30+ years of Greyhound Coaches Clinic’s please complete this form to order and receive them by mail.

Twenty-Five Little Things to Remember

This weeks entry in our SJI Coaches Corner series, featuring Owner and President Jim Walker, is from coach Pete Carril’s book, “The Smart Take from the Strong”.

Summers are a great time for coaches. They are great for rest, relaxation and re-energizing, but they are also great for reading and preparing for the next season. Every coach has a bookshelf with plenty of basketball books and yesterday I was browsing through mine and came across a book that I first read over twenty years ago. It was a good read then and just as good now. My good friend Pete, with whom I have shared both tears and beers, has lots of interesting philosophical thoughts about the game of basketball. If you don’t have this book, perhaps you want to add it to your shelf? He ends the book with this helpful list of coaching “tidbits” that I thought you would enjoy. Even if you find only a few things to help your coaching, this would be a worthwhile read and you will be a better coach.

Twenty-Five Little Things to Remember

  1. Every little thing counts. If not, why do it?
  2. When closely guarded, do not go to the ball. Go back door.
  3. Whenever you cut, look for a return pass.
  4. When you commit to a cut (or back-door) do not stop and do not come back to the ball.
  5. Bad shooters are always open.
  6. On offense, move the defense.
  7. Putting defensive pressure on the ball makes it harder for the other team to run an offense and gives your team a better chance to defend.
  8. In a zone, or in any defense, when their five men guard your three men, throw a cross court pass.
  9. Watch the man in front of you. He shows you what to do.
  10. Keep your dribble. Use it when you’re going to do something useful.
  11. A pass is not a pass when it is made after you have tried to do something else.
  12. A good player knows what he is good at. He also knows what he is not good at and only does the former.
  13. You want to be good at those things that happen a lot.
  14. When the legs go, the heart and the head follow quickly behind.
  15. Defense requires three things: courage, energy, intelligence.
  16. If your teammate does not pass the ball to you when your open and he doesn’t say anything, then he did not see you. If he says “I’m sorry,” he saw you and did not want to throw you the ball.
  17. In trying to learn a specific thing, the specific thing is what you must practice. There is little transfer of learning.
  18. Whatever you are doing is the most important thing that you are doing when you are doing it.
  19. Anyone can be average.
  20. Being punctual is good in itself. However, what is more important is that your punctuality tells your teammates what you think of them.
  21. Hardly any players play to lose. Only a few play to win.
  22. I like passers. They can see everything.
  23. The way you think affects what you see and do.
  24. Rarely does a person who competes with his head as well as his body come out second. That was said even before Coach Vince Lombardi, by the Greeks and Romans, and probably by the Chinese.
  25. The ability to rebound is in inverse proportion to the distance your house is from the nearest railroad tracks.

We hope you can find something in this blog to help you for this off-season as well as for future seasons. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Some of this information have you interested? Keep an eye on our blog for more thoughts throughout the summer as we continue this series of comments from our Owner and President Jim Walker. Let us know at info@sportsjourneysinternational.com if there is a specific topic you are interested in.

Are you thinking of taking an international team tour some time down the road? We would love to help you get started planning. Whether it’s Ireland, Canada, or any of our alternative sample tours, or even somewhere else you had in mind. Contact us, or call us at 610-390-9298 for more details.

If you are interested in videos from the past 30+ years of Greyhound Coaches Clinic’s please complete this form to order and receive them by mail.

Game Notes, Their Summary, and Your Summer Planning for 2020-21 Season

Welcome back to another weekly installment of the SJI Coaches Corner series brought to you by Owner and President Jim Walker.

Whatever system you use to evaluate your past season, notes taken during or after games, notes taken after watching video of games, or your post season notes from you and your coaches, the off season is a great time to use those notes to evaluate the season and prepare for the next season.

As a volunteer assistant coach sitting in the stands for the past four seasons, I have been taking notes on things that I see that we can do better. For the first three years I would simply write comments and then compile them into topics sometime in the next 24 hours and then summarize them after several games. These would be regularly shared with the head coach, as well as the other assistants. There was also an end of the season summary prepared.

Two of our previous Coaches Corner blogs, Evaluating the Past Season and Using Your Game Notes for Off-Season Planning, described this along with the system used by John Beilein in Michigan’s run to the 2103 National Championship game. Over time, I became more aware of the number of possessions missed while writing the notes and decided to change the system.

Working with the coaching staff we chose 21 different offensive and defensive topics that we identified as areas of concern to us and made a chart with space for tally marks. By making a tally mark, a coach hardly has to look down and can concentrate on the game better. Many coaches will have a coach doing this already on the bench for various topics.

Here is an example of a chart for some ideas that may help you and your team. Also, here is what a summary chart might look like and how to use for the post season analysis. These documents are for you to use as you want and feel free to download them and tailor them specifically for your team.

We hope you can find something in this blog to help you for this off-season as well as for future seasons. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Some of this information have you interested? Keep an eye on our blog for more thoughts throughout the summer as we continue this series of comments from our Owner and President Jim Walker. Let us know at info@sportsjourneysinternational.com if there is a specific topic you are interested in.

Are you thinking of taking an international team tour some time down the road? We would love to help you get started planning. Whether it’s Ireland, Canada, or any of our alternative sample tours, or even somewhere else you had in mind. Contact us, or call us at 610-390-9298 for more details.

If you are interested in videos from the past 30+ years of Greyhound Coaches Clinic’s please complete this form to order and receive them by mail.

Fifteen Great Websites to Help You with Your Summer Planning

We hope this edition of SJI Coaches Corner finds you well during these difficult and trying times. With everyone sheltered in place and the season over, this is a great time to both review the past season and begin planning for 2020-21. Our Owner and President, Jim Walker, returns with the 5th installment of this highly received series. Below is a list of fifteen websites that you might find helpful while doing some of your off-season planning. 

The first link might be a great place to start since they have live clinics that are currently being conducted and you can even watch replays of clinics that have already taken place. Just like players, coaches need to constantly strive to improve their coaching and knowledge of the game. If you missed any of our earlier editions of #SJIcoachescorner click here to find them.

summit.coachesclinic.com

hoopcoach.org

coachingtoolbox.net

team.fastmodelsports.com

basketballhq.com

basketballforcoaches.com

nothingbutsets.weebly.com

championshipproductions.com

winninghoops.com

pickandpop.net

coachingulive.com

coachesclipboard.net

breakthroughbasketball.com

hoopsking.com

coachtube.com

We hope you can find something in this blog to help you for this off-season as well as for future seasons. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Some of this information have you interested? Keep an eye on our blog for more thoughts throughout the summer as we continue this series of comments from our Owner and President Jim Walker. Let us know at info@sportsjourneysinternational.com if there is a specific topic you are interested in.

Are you thinking of taking an international team tour some time down the road? We would love to help you get started planning. Whether it’s Ireland, Canada, or any of our alternative sample tours, or even somewhere else you had in mind. Contact us, or call us at 610-390-9298 for more details.

If you are interested in videos from the past 30+ years of Greyhound Coaches Clinic’s please complete this form to order and receive them by mail.

Indiana Wesleyan University Men’s Basketball Canadian Journey with President Jim Walker

Wednesday October 16

An excited Indiana Wesleyan team departed at 8:30 am from Marion, Indiana for their day long bus ride to Niagara Falls, Canada. The hungry and tired team arrived just in time for dinner at the Skylon Tower Summit Buffet overlooking the Falls lit with colored spotlights in spectacular fashion. After eating and viewing the falls along with a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, the team made their way to the very comfortable Courtyard by Marriott hotel for a good night’s rest.

Thursday October 17

Following a great breakfast at the hotel, the team boarded the bus and headed toward their Hornblower Niagara cruise straight into the mist under the Canadian Falls. Riding into the mist was truly a breathtaking experience and was like being in a torrential downpour. Despite the ponchos everyone was wearing they were still soaked at the end of the cruise. Everyone then went for a walk along the Niagara River rapids, where the extremely fast river current travels at up to 50 km/hour and roars so loud that it is hard to talk to the person next to you. After picking up sandwiches for lunch the team continued to the TownePlace Hotel and Suites in London. They then enjoyed a great pregame steak dinner at Moxie’s Grill before continuing to a game against Western Ontario University. It was a great game decided in the last minute. Indiana Wesleyan led throughout the game and was up by seven with 4 minutes to play. However, Western went on a run to end the game and defeated the Wildcats 76-74. After some post game pizza, the team returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

Friday October 18

After breakfast, the Wildcats drove to Guelph University for a morning practice on the court where they would play on Saturday night. They then practiced on the brand new 2,200 seat Athletic Centre basketball court in preparation for next night’s game against the Gryphons. Afterwards they drove into Toronto where Hawaiian Bobby, their bus driver, took them on a bus tour of Canada’s largest city with about 3 million residents. After virtually covering the entire city, the team stopped at the CN Tower for a trip to the top for some spectacular views of the city and Lake Ontario. The gorgeous sunset was particularly impressive. The team then drove on to Brampton for dinner and checked into the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

Saturday October 19

In the morning the team enjoyed breakfast before driving to the Black Creek Pioneer Village for an axe throwing competition amongst themselves. The competitive nature of the players resulted in a very spirited event and lots of fun for everyone. In the afternoon the players and coaches rested in preparation for their upcoming game. In the evening game the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead against the Guelph Gryphons and led by 11 at the half. Guelph made a run in the third quarter to close the gap to 2 before Indiana Wesleyan outscored the Gryphons 16-3 in the last 3 minutes of the quarter to lead by 15 at the end of the third. The Wildcats led by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter before clearing the bench and winning by a final score of 103-90. After a short drive back to the hotel, the team retired for the night with a long drive home coming up in the morning.

Sunday October 20

Up early the next morning, the team packed up their bus for the return drive to Marion, Indiana and Monday classes and practice. They took with them their memories of some excellent competition and great team bonding experiences that helped them prepare for the upcoming season and a run in the post season.

Viterbo University Women’s Basketball Canadian Journey with President Jim Walker

Wednesday October 16

An excited Viterbo team departed LaCrosse, Wisconsin in the early morning, for their day long bus ride to Niagara Falls, Canada. The hungry and tired team arrived just in time for dinner at the Skylon Tower Summit Buffet overlooking Niagara Falls, which was lit with colored spotlights in spectacular fashion. After eating and viewing the falls along with a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, the team made their way to the very comfortable Courtyard by Marriott hotel for a good night’s rest.

Thursday October 17

Following a great breakfast at the hotel, the team boarded the bus and headed toward their Hornblower Niagara cruise straight into the mist under the Canadian side of The Falls. Riding into the mist was truly a breathtaking experience. It was like being in a torrential downpour and despite the ponchos everyone was wearing, they were still soaked at the end of the cruise. Everyone then went for a walk along the Niagara River rapids, where the extremely fast river current travels at up to 50 km/hour and roars so loud that it is hard to talk to the person next to you. After picking up sandwiches for lunch the team continued to the Welland Canal Center in St. Catherines where the they had a chance to learn about Ontarian history and see the workings of the Welland Canal which connects two Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie, as part of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. After lunch the team drove to London, Ontario for a game against Western Ontario University. After battling through a hard-fought game which neither team led by more than 3 points, the Lions fell behind at the end to lose by 15 points, 92-77. They then enjoyed a great post game steak dinner at Moxie’s Grill, before continuing to the TownePlace Hotel and Suites for some much-needed sleep.

Friday October 18

After breakfast the team traveled to Toronto for a guided bus tour of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Janet, their tour guide, provided them with an interesting look at Center city Toronto, including Toronto University, multiple sports venues, city hall with its iconic Toronto sign, and several of Toronto’s many ethnic neighborhoods. They then enjoyed lunch at Fran’s, a popular city diner. From lunch the team went up the CN Tower for some amazing views of Toronto and Lake Ontario. Then it was on to Paisano’s, one of Toronto’s great Italian restaurants where the head waiter Jesse treated them like royalty. Following this great day in one of Canada’s great cities, the V-Hawks checked into the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Brampton for a restful evening.

Saturday October 19

On a beautiful Saturday morning the V-Hawks made their way into Old Town Toronto for a walking tour with their guide Adam, a native Englishman, who had a typical English sense of humor. He gave the ladies a funny and informative tour of the Old Town teaching them everything from religion, dogs, architecture, and history. Next, they had a great time with a team axe throwing competition won by assistant coach Kris who threw so well he must have been secretly practicing. After lunch at the amazing St. Lawrence Market, the team headed to Guelph to take on a very strong and undefeated Gryphons team. Falling behind early, Viterbo was never able to get it going offensively and were defeated 95-43. On the way back to their hotel, the team stopped for a post-game dinner at the Mandarin, a fabulous buffet restaurant, before returning to the hotel.

Sunday October 20

Up early the next morning, the team packed up their bus for the return drive to LaCrosse, Wisconsin and Monday classes and practice. They took with them their memories of a great team bonding experience that will help them throughout the upcoming season as well as future seasons.

Ashland University Women’s Basketball Iberian Peninsula Journey with Managing Director Jeremy Walker

Wednesday August 14th

After their overnight flight the group arrived excited and ready to explore Portugal and Spain over the next 9 days. After meeting myself and our local partners from Portugal it was off to the hotel. Having taken a direct flight which arrived in the morning rooms were not ready yet so everyone left their bags in a secure room and as a group headed down towards the river for a nice walk to get a feel of Lisbon. After the walk it was back to the hotel for lunch before heading into the center of Lisbon for a walking tour. They got a chance to learn about the city which would be their hub for the next few days while walking around and learning some history as well. After the walking tour everyone got some free time before dinner. Some used it to take the walk up the hill to one of the famed castles of Lisbon which has breathtaking views across the entire city, while others took the time to rest or shop. The group gathered together again before having dinner at one of the oldest monastery’s in the city. After dinner a very tired group returned to the hotel to call it an evening.

Thursday August 15th

A now well rested group enjoyed breakfast this morning before heading south to the ocean side village of Sesimbra. Starting at the old fort in which the town was built around, the team participated in a scavenger hunt through the city where they had to speak with locals in order to find some of the tasks and answer some of the questions being asked of them. Others did some shopping in some of the local shops and enjoyed a few beachfront cafes. After the allotted time to complete the scavenger hunt was up everyone joined together in the park and enjoyed some pizza and laughs about some of the answers. After lunch everyone enjoyed some free time which was mostly spent at the beach, and of course also eating some gelato for dessert. The next stop today was Cabo Espichel which provided views out to the vast Atlantic Ocean as well as back to the western parts of Lisbon far in the distance. Another cool part of this particular cape is that their is an old monastery and still working church which some got to enjoy on the short stop. Everyone back on the bus for one last stop which was in Setubal for a evening cruise with Dolphin Bay. This truly incredible experience included cruising out along the coast while enjoying the sunshine, jumping off the boat and into what many learned is the very cold Atlantic Ocean, as well as a Portuguese BBQ dinner cooked on the boat! After an incredible day it was time to head back to the hotel for another good night’s rest.

Friday August 16th

Time for some basketball to start the day today! It was a leisurely morning as departure was a bit later today. The group made its way to a local gym where today they were participating in Elite Camp which is known for producing some of the best Portuguese players year after year. While the team participated in everything from strength and conditioning workouts to on court drills with some of these Portuguese players the rest of the group took the morning to explore the Belem area of Lisbon before meeting back up with the team. A few tired legs were apparent after a few hours of hard work, but they were all way too excited for the next activity to not make their way quickly to the bus. The reason they were so excited is that it was time for surf school! Making our way to the beach the group was met by their instructors and eagerly started their course first learning some basic skills on land before heading out into the water. Smiles, laughs and a lot of fun ensued as they tried time after time, mostly successfully, to ride the waves. Once the course was complete everyone boarded the bus to head back to the hotel for dinner and a well-earned good night’s rest.

Saturday August 17th

Today, the last full day in Portugal, was spent just west of Lisbon in Sintra-Cascais, one of my favorite areas in all of Portugal. The first stop today was Cabo da Roca, or Cape Rock, which is the westernmost point of continental Europe. Although the wind was whipping quite a bit at this stop, and the sun was not out yet it was still an enjoyable experience and the group got to see just what some of the rugged northern Portuguese coast is like. The next stop was the fishing village of Cascais where they got some time to explore the city as well as have an excellent lunch along the main promenade. After lunch people went their separate ways to shop, check out the beach and also get some dessert. Everyone gathered back together and it was on to the final stop of the day in Sintra, Quinta da Regaleria and its beautiful gardens, fountains and secret passageways. After the group took the somewhat grueling walk up to the entrance a few went their own ways to explore everything the gardens had to offer. Eventually everyone met at the bottom of the gardens, happy they didn’t have to walk the hill again, and made their way back to the bus to return to the hotel for one last dinner in Portugal.

Sunday August 18th

Everyone was up and out relatively early today since we had a long drive to Madrid, our next stop. After breakfast and loading everything onto the bus we started the drive east with a few pit stops along the way while also stopping for lunch in Elvas just before the border with Spain. One thing of note is that upon crossing the boarder (which these days in Europe is just a sign) you have an immediate time change of 1 hour. So if you cross at 2pm it immediately becomes 3pm after getting into Spain. A few more stops, and even a team stretch at one rest stop, and the group finally arrived at their hotel in Madrid in time for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

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Monday August 19th

This morning the group was met by a local guide and started out by taking a scenic overview bus tour of Madrid so that she could explain certain things about the city. After that they were dropped by the bus at the Royal Palace and it was time to get a more intimate view of the city with a walking tour while making their way towards lunch. After exploring the city on foot a well-earned typical Spanish lunch hit the spot before moving on to one of the world’s most famous museums, The Prado. Our local guide continued her excellent service by taking the group through the museum before allowing for some free time to explore the parts she couldn’t get through, unless of course you spent an entire week in the museum! Once everyone had finished in the museum the group headed back to the hotel for some rest as it was again time to play basketball!! The game this evening was against Olimpico 64 and even though this was their first real game of the trip The Eagles started fast and didn’t stop pulling away for a 73-39 victory. After the game it was back to the hotel for a well deserved dinner and relaxing evening.

Tuesday August 20th

Today took the group outside of Madrid to the city of Toledo the former capital of Spain. Everyone’s favorite local tour guide was back with the group again this morning to lead them on their exploration of the former capital city. Upon arrival and a brief overview as well as a stop at Mirador del Valle, known for its spectacular views of the city, it was time to explore on foot. The hilltop city boasts many spectacular sights, but the cathedral is always at the top of the list for visitors and it didn’t disappoint again. After lunch it was time to return to Madrid in order to have some time to rest before another game tonight, this time vs. Madrid All-Stars. Tonight’s match-up was a bit tighter, but the Eagles certainly never got rattled on their way to a 80-70 victory, their second of the trip. After the game the group returned to the hotel for dinner and another relaxing evening.

Wednesday August 21st

Today was a free day for the group to enjoy Madrid and do some last minute things which maybe they hadn’t had a chance to do yet. Many of the group enjoyed some shopping, and it sure was easy to see that due to the number of bags in peoples hands when we all met for lunch. Others explored the beauty of El Retiro Park. After lunch myself and a group of 10 enjoyed a tour of the Santiago Bernabeu which is Real Madrid’s famed soccer stadium. The experience was unlike any other and was really enjoyed by all (especially me)! The late afternoon was again used for rest before the final game of the tour again against Olimpico 64 with a few different players arriving home from holiday. The Eagles however were again at their best and finished the tour off with a perfect record with the final score tonight being 84-53. After the game the group again returned to the hotel, but this time for one last dinner in Spain before an early morning departure home.

Thursday August 22nd

As is typical with departure day a very early wake up and trip to the airport is necessary. As with every trip you do the last day is always the toughest when you get to know a group as well as I did this one. Through some sad goodbyes I wished everyone safe travels after getting them checked in before making my way to my own flight home. This group was truly one of the best, classiest and most fun I have had the pleasure to work with. I am looking forward to watching what this team can do this year and can only hope that after welcoming me into your group as much as you did myself and Sports Journeys International were able to provide you with something you will never forget.