G.G. Smith | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

G.G. Smith

Background:  

Orlando "G.G." Smith was named the head men's basketball coach at Loyola University Maryland in 2013 after six years as an assistant at Loyola. This season is Smith's fourth as the Greyhounds' head coach. Smith played at the University of Georgia, starting at guard for three seasons.

The Mistake:

It was in 2003, and it was my first year coaching as an assistant coach for college basketball at Tennessee Technological University. As an assistant coach, I was in charge of certain things such as recruiting, individual workouts and scouting.

Scouting is when I research and study the other team’s personnel, their play styles, their tendencies — basically getting ready for the game and coming up with a game plan. My head coach at the time, Mike Sutton, always told me to have my scouting prepared no matter what, and have it memorized.

And for my very first game when we were playing at Ohio State University, I didn't know I was supposed to scout for the pre-game before the game. So I didn't come prepared at all. I just assumed it was a one-day thing for the big game, but it was a multiple day thing for every game.

And I wasn't ready for it, for my very first scouting assignment in my very first game. I didn't prepare, I didn't research as much as I should. I didn't watch enough film to study the other team.

We ended up losing the game, of course. The players weren’t ready, the other assistant coaches weren’t ready, and the head coach wasn’t ready because I wasn’t ready.

You always have to be prepared for the next opponent.

The Lesson:

Expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything.

You always have to be prepared for the next opponent. I thought I had it all ready, but I was underprepared. Now, ever since that day, I'm always prepared for any kind of game — I even sometimes over-scout.

And that’s something I teach my assistants to do, too. You have to study everything you can about the other team, like finding out exactly what they do well on defense and what they do well on offense.

Another thing I learned was to be patient. Obviously my head coach was disappointed in me at the time, but he understood it was a rookie mistake as a first-year assistant coach. He did a good job not letting me dwell on it and encouraged me to try to do it better next time.

People are going to make mistakes. So when I see someone on my team make a similar mistake that I made, I try not to be too harsh and make sure it won't happen again. You just have to be more prepared next time.

G.G. Smith is on Twitter at @CoachGGSmith and the Loyola men's basketball team is at @LoyolaMBB.

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