Perhaps, but it's
also true that zones are more likely to expose the Tigers' potential Achilles'
heel. Memphis shoots only 34.2% from three-point range. "John's got just
about all the pieces," says Walberg, "with the exception of a knockdown
shooter." Then again, a bad shooting night may not be enough to stop a team
with perhaps five future NBA players. "Whatever you're running, you'd
better have guys who can play," says Calipari. "If you forget that, you
don't have to worry about being innovative."
The same could be
said for Hurley's team, which includes six seniors (five of them guards) who
have accepted Division I scholarships. Yet Hurley points out that talented
players can always improve their skills, and he swears by Walberg's
high-intensity practice drills. In fact, some coaches think Walberg's drills
are his crowning achievement. "It's like a franchise for McDonald's,"
says Welch. "Not only are you getting a system, you're getting built-in
drills to teach your system."
For all their
success using DDM, Calipari and Hurley have one major difference. Calipari made
three trips to visit Walberg in Fresno, studied his game tapes and spent
hundreds of hours speaking to Walberg about his offense. But Hurley and Walberg
have never sat down and talked. One day last year they finally connected over
the phone. "I love your Blood drills," Hurley told Walberg.
"They're really great."
For a moment there
was silence on the other end of the line. Walberg didn't know whether to be
proud that Hurley had fallen for his creation or horrified that one of his most
closely held secrets had crossed the continent. "Blood drills?" he said
at last. "Bob, how do you know about Blood drills?"
doesn't look like one of the most wired social connectors in U.S. basketball.
By day he's a security guard at Omaha Central High, where he moonlights as an
assistant coach for the boys' basketball team. A short, pear-shaped man,
Welling, 45, wears tight purple Omaha Central T-shirts that make him look like
a smaller cousin of the McDonald's character Grimace.
Welling at your peril. He's the tactical brains behind Omaha Central, which has
used DDM to win the last two Nebraska state titles and draw sellout crowds of
rabid fans (including the Sage of Omaha, investor Warren Buffett, who knows a
good product when he sees one). For years Welling was the righthand man to
Howard Garfinkel at his famed Five-Star Camps, where Welling met the top
college and high school coaches in the country. "Herb and I talk once a
week," says Hurley. "He originally called me, and we started talking
about [DDM]." Before long, Welling had sent Hurley more than 200 pages of
notes on the offense.
But how had
Welling "cracked the code," as he puts it? DDM wasn't something you
could master from a phone call or a few game tapes or even from attending a
clinic, which reveals no more than 10% of the scheme's secrets, according to
Calipari. Welling had never visited one of Walberg's or Calipari's practices,
but he remained undaunted. "I'm kind of psychotic for finding out
stuff," he says. "At school they call me the Minister of
are a secretive lot. Indeed, for Walberg, sharing has always been a
double-edged proposition. "I want to help people because a lot of people
helped me," he says, "but [DDM] is kind of my ace in the hole."
Before dribble-drive broke nationally, Walberg would host dinners at his home
for interested coaches from Fresno-area high schools and junior colleges, often
sharing information liberally—perhaps too liberally. "Vance is too
unselfish with his offense," says his friend Brad Felder, the Hanford
( Calif.) High coach. "In the long run it will hurt him because the longer
[the offense] is out there, the more others will adapt."
These days Walberg
and Calipari have a policy: They'll let coaches observe their practices;
they'll send them game tapes; they'll answer questions and host clinics. But
Walberg and Calipari won't give out their playbooks, and they refuse to make
instructional videos. "I want to wait a few years," says Walberg, who
estimates he gets more than 300 calls a year from coaches seeking info about
his offense. "I talked with John, and we didn't really want it
"If I wanted to do these tapes, I could make a ton of dough. But that's
Vance's money. That's not my money."