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Marquette Is Working Hard & Learning Shaka Smart’s Values At The Same Time

Ah, the things that are accidentally revealed to us in videos....

News: New Marquette Mens Basketball Coach Shaka Smart Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

On Monday, the official Twitter for the Marquette men’s basketball program posted a video of the team going through an offseason strength and conditioning drill in the Kasten Gym in the McGuire Center.

At its heart, it’s pretty standard offseason social media and S&C work by the team. It’s “hey, here’s what the guys are getting up to these days, please enjoy” with the subtle underneath message of “don’t you enjoy watching Marquette basketball? Please remember to buy tickets and donate.” From Todd Smith’s perspective when it comes to helping the players develop physically, it’s a pretty strong summer workout. There’s only so many days in a row you can just throw iron around in the weight room, especially with freshmen getting their first taste of summer workouts at the collegiate level, before the guys just get burned out and you don’t get the best possible results from them. This is something different to break up the monotony, and, since they’re doing fireman’s carries, it’s also quietly a team building exercise.

Speaking of things that are quietly a different thing, the video is quietly an insight into the things that new head coach Shaka Smart values for his team. If you look at the backgrounds in the video, you’ll see that there are a bunch of signs hanging up in the Kasten Gym that were not there when Smart shot this promo video back in April:

We’ll go with the small yellow signs in chronological order that they appear in the video, and then we’ll talk about the big sign on the wall that I had to piece together from different shots in the video.

1 — Closeouts

Well, that seems pretty straight forward. Closeouts are what a defender does when a pass goes to a slightly more open than they should be offensive player in order to defend against an open shot. That’s pretty important. I suppose “closeouts” could also refer to the more ethereal concept of “close out everything you do strong,” whether it’s a drill or a play or whatever you want to imagine it could be.

2 — Paint

Getting the ball into the paint is pretty important in basketball. This shouldn’t be new information to you if you’re a long time Marquette fan. Last year, the Golden Eagles shot just over 60% on shots at the rim. When you consider that some of those 40% of shots that missed were attempted tip-ins that weren’t layups or dunks, that’s a pretty great shooting percentage. If you can make 60% of your shots anywhere on the court, you’re coming out ahead.

The reverse is also true, as Marquette is probably pretty interested at denying the ball getting into the paint on defense. Obviously, from one five-letter sign, it’s hard to say for certain which end of it Smart is particularly interested in, but given the defensive orientation of the first sign as well as the next one, I suspect that the defensive end of “Paint” is pretty important to Smart.

3 — Deflections

Deflecting passes the #1 way to disrupt an offense. Sometimes deflections cause a scrum that wastes time on the shot clock, sometimes they go out of bounds and force the other team to reset on offense with a limited shot clock, and sometimes they turn into steals and easy runouts going the other way.

I presume this is primarily a defensive mindset sign, as there’s not really anything you can work on to avoid deflections on offense. I suppose being smart, quick, and decisive with the ball counts there, but sometimes the defender gets a good read on your smart, quick, and decisive move and there’s nothing you can do about that.

4 — Multiple Efforts

Before we move on, if anyone knows a way to figure out what that sign on the far left says, shout it out in the comments. I can’t get a clean look at it to even guess as to what it says.

Anyway, this one seems to be a multipurpose basketball idea. If you wanted to make this a little bit longer sign that’s a little less catchy, it could be “keep trying until the play is actually over.” That works on offense or on defense. I presume that Smart has a much smarter and insightful way of explaining what he’s looking for from his team. In fact, that smart and insightful way probably has a lot to do with the big white letter sign on the wall, so let’s move on to that.

Lose Yourself In The Fight

We technically already knew about this one, but we just hadn’t seen the whole sign yet. In fact, when we saw most of the sign thanks to Keeyan Itejere, I made a logical guess as to what the final word was and had my guess corrected by none other than freshman guard Kam Jones.

“Lose Yourself In The Fight” fits right in with “Multiple Efforts” as an attitude towards a goal. If you lose yourself in the fight, then you’re going to unconsciously make multiple efforts to achieve whatever goal it was you were working towards. I’d love to hear Shaka Smart elaborate on what he means on Lose Yourself In The Fight in terms of what he’s preaching to his players. There’s a lot of possible directions it could go, both on and off the court.

What was your favorite part of the video? Sound off in the comments!