Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

survey aims to find ways to handle player conflict

March 14, 2002


With tournament season getting into full swing, most of the good basketball coaches probably will be too busy the next few weeks to fill out Craig Jonas' survey.

But Jonas is willing to wait.

The Kansas University doctoral student is studying the ways coaches deal with conflict among players.

"It's a good time to consider this during March Madness," Jonas said, "because the microscope becomes more focused on the minutiae of coaching."

Jonas, a former coach who is specializing in health, sport and exercise science at KU, is soliciting college basketball coaches to complete an online survey about how they handle player disputes. He expects the results will show correlation between certain conflict management methods and winning.

He's sent e-mail requests to about 3,000 college basketball coaches in the United States to fill out the 53-question online survey.

"Conflict is going to happen," Jonas said. "The challenge is for (coaches) to use it for growth instead of it being a destructive element. I don't think coaches are aware of that skill."

Jonas, 37, is a former assistant men's basketball coach at Colorado State University and head coach at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis.

At Lakeland, where he coached from 1992 to 1994, he said he inherited one of the worst teams in the country and recruited international players and players from Chicago to beef up the team.

The recruits helped. The team made it to the NAIA tournament for two years. But the recruits also brought conflict because of their diverse backgrounds. It was a typical situation for a coach, he said.

"It's very situational," Jonas said. "It's everything from playing-time types of conflicts to the style-of-game decisions to conflicts that involve players' families that spill over into the court."

Jonas lives in Denver. He said he hopes to have results of the survey by the end of spring, then to compile a report for publication.

The results also could help business leaders handle conflicts, Jonas said. While serving as an executive with Coach's Edge, a Lawrence company that created computer sports animations before merging with Sportvision, Jonas said he realized the parallels between business and coaching.

In both, he said, dealing with problems early and at their root before they escalate is key.

Jonas said he thought Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and KU coach Roy Williams were effective conflict-handlers.

"Roy Williams seems to have an understanding of the players and is able to motivate them from where they come from," he said. "Some coaches have a blanket approach, and that works for some players and not for others."

Jonas said he expects Williams to complete the survey  but not until postseason tournament action is over.

"Don't worry," Jonas said. "I won't bother anybody there until the appropriate time."

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