Avery Johnson is a smart man.
He’s taking tips from the coach of the best college football team in the country. While it would be easy to take something from Nick Saban’s mentality, he has learned the most from something he’s noticed Saban emphasizing on the field.
Asked for the most interesting he’s learned from Saban, that’s what Johnson brought up.
“I don’t know if it’s really interesting, and I don’t want to bore you, but it’s just the thing of how valuable the basketball is, and in his world the football, just how you have to take care of it,” Johnson said. “It’s no rocket science, but we spend a lot of time on decisions that players make with the ball. Imagine a guy who gets an interception at the 50-yard line and he’s running it to the end zone and he makes a decision at the 20-yard line to start celebrating and somebody comes up and tips the ball from behind and the other team gets the ball because he made a poor decision of celebrating too early. Or some read that a quarterback will make. Or a defensive player may think he can get an interception when it’s unrealistic and he gets beat. So, I just think — on the level of basketball and football — how much he talks about the ball and basketball.”
So Johnson wants his team taking care of the basketball like Saban’s football teams. The only difference is Johnson’s teams can afford a few more turnovers in a game than Saban. It’s a good night on the hardwood when you have fewer than 10 turnovers, just one can cost any football team the game.
As the article notes, it’s something the Crimson Tide weren’t very good at last season, but that hasn’t stopped Saban from learning from Johnson too. A good idea given he has 16 years of playing experience in the NBA and another eight coaching in the professional realm.
“Avery’s been great, man,” Saban said. “He’s really been helpful to us. He’s been a great addition to the community. We talk a lot philosophically about players. He’s used some of the programs that we’ve used that have helped our players make better choices and decisions. He’s very open to sharing his ideas and thoughts on what has helped him be successful because he has some great experience. We’ve tried to do the same thing to help him. Whether we have or not, I can’t tell you that.”