2018 - F - Brandon Johns (Commit)



We had a player miss practice the day before a game, so we didn’t start said player. We provided written rules before the season that informed the players that if they missed practice the day before a game, they would have to sit. We still played this player, but sat her out for the first quarter. You wouldn’t believe the scorched hell that we were given by this player’s parents after the game. They threatened us, said we deserved to be fired and said some of the worst things possible. Needless to say, the rest of the season our relationship with said player changed. Coaches should be allowed to run their program and not be bullied by parents who are not at practice every day.


I had a coach once who at the start of the season said, “If any of your parents call me complaining about playing time you will sit the entire season.” I respected that. I’m not sure that would fly today.


In my experience, some parents are quick to think their kids are being cheated or treated unfairly. But if they were in a similar situation themselves, they wouldn’t make the same claims.


It’s quite a bit more complicated than a single coach-parent thing. First, the player is a frosh and the parent is also an AAU coach–of some repute as I understand it. Second, Finnamore has a short fuse–on and off the court-- and this is far from his first dispute with parent.


The best way to handle these situations is to, at an appropriate time, ask the coach what specific things your kid can work on to earn more playing time. Short of that kind of approach there is not much to talk about with a parent.


That’s my view. You only jeopardize your child’s relationship with the coach if you come at them critically. Ask what your kid can work on, for an honest assessment, ask other coaches and people with a practised eye. My kid was for a long time the top scorer on her team; then a new girl, with kind of a kamikaze style, joined them and got a flurry of immediate goals. My daughter ended up in the backfield, going up to replace the new girl every now and then. We really chafed for a while, but my daughter learned a new position. She never complained at all and the coach–who recently became her middle school coach–recently told us how grateful he was that she had accepted playing back because although she was in his view more skilled than the girl who replaced her, that player could in no way play in back. My daughter now plays center-mid most of the time on a travel squad, which is kind of the quarterback position on a soccer team, and often moves all over the field during a game. This is hardly to say she doesn’t have her ups and downs, but if we’d made a lot of noise–including to our daughter–none of this might have happened. She has likely improved her future value, maybe including to play in college, by being a lot more patient than I really wanted to be.


Having coached for 67 sports seasons over 33 years as well as being the parent of a varsity athlete, I’ve been on both sides, parent and coach. I agree with most everything said above. I also believe the only person who has the job of determining who starts and how minutes are distributed is the coach. Parents don’t get a vote. Having just read Mattski’s comment, I believe positive parents who tell their kid to hang in there and keep working can be very important to a player’s success. In my preseason meeting with parents I always told them what my criteria were for starting and what may criteria were for getting minutes as a sub. I had a pecking order, and frankly it was something I gave a great deal of thought. The kids understood this, too, at least they were told multiple times, and had every opportunity to come see me in my office after practice, if they disagreed. MOST of my kids understood exactly where they stood on the team and why. They also knew what they needed to improve on to play more. I would always tell my parents, “When you look at our team you are looking with tunnel vision. You may think you are looking at the entire team, cheering like crazy for all the guys, but you really focus on one player, your son or daughter. You really do. I understand that, but I tell all of your kids, and I’ll tell you this, too, I will treat all of them fairly but I will not treat them equally, because they are not equal.” Then I emphasized to them the criteria I used in evaluating the players. and placing them in the order in which they would play from starter to last man on the bench. I would finish with, “AND, I will always do what I believe to be in the best interests of our team and our program.” I also told parents, “IF you wish to speak to me, please call me and we’ll set up an appointment. I will not talk to you immediately before or after a game, unless it’s to congratulate us on a great game or to commiserate about horrible officiating.” It was also pretty much understood that if their son (or they) couldn’t accept the criteria I set forth, they did not have to play in our program, but were welcome to find another one. By the way, I WAS the random History teacher when I was coaching at the middle school and high school levels. But in addition to that I was a pretty good coach that kids wanted to play for.

As for being a parent, my son hardly got off the bench as either a junior or a senior. As a junior he played a little bit until he got hurt. When he DID play, he didn’t play well. He got hurt about two thirds of the way through the year, so didn’t play the rest of the year. He decided to come back his senior year, and the coach, I thought quite generously, kept him. He didn’t play much except for a few spot minutes, and his attitude got pretty bad. As the season wore on he was buried at the end of the bench, deservedly so. Attitude, by the way, was one of my personal criteria for playing on MY teams. I wasn’t always happy with the coach, but NOT because of playing time. I never complained to him but I DID have several talks with my SON about his attitude and the commitment he had made to the team. And, yes, I DO know that parents with the kind of attitude I had and Mattski has are fewer and fewer in number these days.

Finally, the AD. I obviously don’t know the whole story, but the AD MUST support his coach. I had an AD once who told parents, “You may come talk to me, in my office, about anything EXCEPT playing time. That will be decided by the coach.” That same AD, a rather large man and himself a successful and respected former coach, once intervened between a coach and a parent who tried to confront him angrily after a game. The AD stepped in, ushered the parent away, and said, “Call me tomorrow, we’ll meet in my office and talk. You can’t talk to the coach right now.” THAT is part of the job, and an important one. A good AD is invaluable! Quite frankly, and especially in the world in which we now live, players AND parents must be told what the rules are. Those rules must be communicated effectively. I once had a contract ( in another sport, not basketball) that the kids had to sign before I would keep them on the team, and frankly, every parent I talked to loved it.

As for Steve Finamore, I feel really bad for him. He’s obviously a very good coach. I believe he truly has the best interests of his players and the team at the forefront of the decisions he makes. I hope he’ll be alright. I also feel bad for East Lansing HS, AND for the kid whose parents confronted that player’s coach. He may be a great kid whose parents, for whatever reason, can’t handle the kid’s lack of playing time. I also feel sorry for the other kids in the East Lansing program at the needless loss of their coach. Sorry for the length of this, but It’s something about which I am pretty passionate and with which I’ve had some experience over the years!


Good stuff silverblue. Thank you for sharing. I wish all parents had to go through helping out in practice to see just what a coach has to evaluate and go through.


Coaching is tough. Especially basketball. Why? Everyone thinks they know basketball the way the coaches do. I coach in MN and I am having a very rough year, we’ve lost 12 straight. I’m 6’2" and I would be the fifth tallest student in the school. We played against teams that are sometimes five times the size of us (enrollment wise) and have gotten blasted quite a few times.

One of the hardest things about coaching is that everyone has answers. Everyone has answers and that’s usually give their son/daughter the ball more. I’m getting close to allowing parents into practice consistently so they can see how difficult it can be to coach HS aged kids. I’d like to run a certain system but the players don’t allow it because they aren’t physically or mentally capable of doing. So you have to adjust. For example, my point guard flat out can’t play helpside defense. We’ve worked on it for two years and he can’t process the info. I’ve had to get him to deny the opposing team’s best player and that’s only way he can stay engaged. His parents sit in the front row of every game and think the world of his play. I also have a tough time with set plays because we can’t figure out where to go and which spot to be in. It’s really frustrating because if we need a basket, I have to rely on our motion rather than calling out a set.

HS coaching is difficult, we don’t get paid enough to deal with all the crap we have to put up with. The kids can be great but then the parents make it difficult. Having an AD and administration that is supportive is the key. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

Sorry for making this completely off topic Dylan


OK, this may be off topic, too, but hang in there hoops. It WILL get better. Keep doing what you’re doing, have faith in yourself and your system. I really hear what you’re saying. You’re right, It IS tougher than most people think it is. We don’t just throw the balls out and rely on great talent. Sometimes parents make out job much tougher than it needs to be. Sometimes there isn’t much talent at all. Sometimes kids just don’t have the attitude they need to have to get better. Believe me, I have been where you are. Keep working at it, hang in there, and I’m serious, it WILL get better! Thanks for doing what you do!


If you like it, keep at it. I found coaching was making me less happy, not the losing (my teams averaged about a 0.100 winning percentage and struggled with things like “catching”, “what team gets the ball after a made free throw”, and “open 2’ shots” at the varsity level), but the parent and player attitudes. I ran an open practice, 3 parents came, none of whom had complained.

If I had it to do over again I might make every parent RUN a practice.

Anyway it was hurting my family life, so I stepped down. If it’s causing you distress walk away and know other opportunities will come along.


I once made parents who came to practice run suicides with the team! Kidding! :rofl:


I’ve been doing a little research into the Finamore/East Lansing situation. It seems folks know that the parent involved does this kind of thing. My understanding is that he is notorious for it. Of the people I’ve talked to and the comments I’ve read and heard, everyone thinks the situation was handled poorly. One person wondered why the parent’s kid didn’t play in a 31 point victory, but agreed that he didn’t have all the facts and that those decisions are up to the coach. It seems that Coach Finamore has had “problems” with this parent in the past, and that these problems aren’t going to go away with his resignation. It’s really a sad situation.


33 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals


Michigan signee Brandon Johns excited to learn Mr. Basketball fate



Did it feel like those highlights were sped up at times? Looked like it was on FF. All that aside, Johns is personally one of the most exciting prospects I think we’ve gotten under Beilein. I fully expect him to be an NBA wing when it’s all said and done. With him and iggy coming in we should have some very good depth at the 3 and 4. I’d be surprised if those two don’t steal a lot of minutes from Matthews and Livers.


either Jones or livers will play some 5 next season. teske will start but neither he nor davis can stretch the floor


I am still hopeful for Wagner to return and will not seeing Johns or Livers at the 5 unless it is for a very specific reason


I think it’s more realistic that Teske is shooting threes next year than Johns or Livers playing the five