In an earlier thread entitled "Bruce Arena's 'Three phases of preperation,'" I started to wonder what Bruce Arena has done at each program he has run to get his team ready for the "big game." Like Arena or not, support Arena or not, nobody can dispute that no matter where Bruce Arena has coached, he has been a big-time winner in big-time games. At UVA, he established a soccer dynasty that saw the Cavaliers win 5 national championships, including 4 in a row from 1991 to 1994. At DCU, he built the first MLS powerhouse by winning the first two MLS cups. Additionally, Thomas Rongen won another cup at DCU with the team that Arena had assembled the year after Arena left. Also during his DCU tenure, Bruce Arena's DCU squads won the CONCACAF Champion's Cup, the US Open Cup Championship, and perhaps most impressively, DCU won the InterAmerican Cup against perennial Brazil Club power Vasco de Gama in 1998. He followed these accomplishments by winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the US Team for the first time in over 10 years, and then led the US to their best showing ever by a US Men's Team in the World Cup by reaching the Quarterfinals and losing to Germany. Bruce Arena's success in the major competitions in which he has coached led me to question the parallels between his success and that of other coaches who have shown the ability to consistently win the big games they coach. In other words, the "Dynasty" club. Here I will draw parallels between Bruce Arena and three of his contemporaries, Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers, Joe Torre of the NY Yankees, and Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) of the Duke University Men's Basketball team. I start this thread not to submit any sort of conclusive findings on what the "formula" is for building a dynasty, but instead to attempt to voice some similarities I see in these great coaches. Here we go: Environment Perhaps the most difficult aspect of these coach's programs to verbalize, I see a consistent environment in each of their respective teams. It is an environment of confidence. It is a confidence that borders on arrogance, but never seems to cross that line. It is an environment of clear goals and expectations. It is an environment that works every day towards achieving those goals, and consists of a group of individuals who don't lose track of those goals regardless of failures or even successes along the way. There is one expectation - win. Michael Jordan has said that perhaps Jackson's best attribute as a coach is that he instills the confidence in every player that they can and will win. They expect to win. It is not a far-fetched fairy tail that players and coaches hope might happen. They believe it will happen. They believe they will make it happen. They expect it to happen. It starts with the coach, and although Arena, Jackson, Torre, and Coach K have vastly different personalities, one consistent trait between them is a deep-seeded confidence in their own abilities. Arena often comes across as arrogant. He might be. But his confidence bleeds into his players who inherit that confidence and turn it into success on the field. Phil Jackson is beyond arrogant. He is a cocky SonuvaBitch. But again, that confidence helped Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, who had never gotten past the Eastern Conference Finals before, win their first of 6 championships at Chicago. Jackson's confidence then helped Shaq and Kobe go from Western Conference Playoff flameouts into 3-time NBA champions in LA. Coach K, while displaying a more humble public persona, is known to be somewhat different when practice and gametime come around. He is a fierce competitor, and the mild-mannered TV personality quickly transforms into a general who expects greatness, even perfection, from his players every time they step on the court. Joe Torre and Coach K are not dissimilar in public and private personality. Personality Management Another gift of these coaches is knowing WHEN to encourage their players, when to admonish their players, and when to leave their players alone. They also know HOW to encourage and admonish their players. Each of these coaches is known as a player's coach. They take time to get to know their players individually. They know what buttons motivate them, and what buttons tear them down. None of these coaches spend much time publicly deriding their team, and if they do, they use the press as a means of motivating their players, and they only use the press at select moments. Phil Jackson may be the master at this technique, picking his spots to criticize a guy like Scottie Pippen or Shaquille Oneal knowing that they have the fortitude to withstand the criticism and perform better because of it. Whatever technique these coaches use to manage their players, the coaches' goals are the same - motivate their players to perform better, and over time, help their players gain the confidence to do exactly that. Player Selection Each of these coaches are in different situations in their ability to choose what players get to play for their team. Coach K has the task of college recruitment. Phil Jackson and Joe Torre have to work their selection through drafts, trades, or free agent pickups. Bruce Arena, on the MNT, has a pool of eligible US players to draw from. But one consistency stands out between them. Each of these coaches builds a relatively small core group of stars, and builds the team around them. Each of these coaches place a tremendous amount of responsibility on their star players. Their star players become the in-game coaches. They provide the leadership in practice, getting the rest of the team to work a little bit harder by example. During key situations, each coach may even defer critical decisions to the team leaders, but only after those leaders demonstrate they are up to the challenge. What these coaches don't do is build a team of all-stars. The chemistry of the team is placed in higher priority than even overall talent, and each coach is careful not to bring in players who will adversely affect that chemistry. In Chicago, Phil Jackson built the Bulls around Jordan and Pippen. He then went out and found role players that balanced the weaknesses of his stars. Steve Kerr, John Paxon, Horace Grant, and even Tony Kukoc were not among the best players in the league. But they played their roles to perfection while they played on the Bulls. When they left the Bulls, none of these players excelled on their new teams. Jackson then followed the same formula at LA, and even brought Ron Harper along to show the Laker role players how to work in Jackson's system by working off the strengths of Kobe Bryant and Shaq. Guys like Glenn Rice who weren't willing to fill those role positions were happily departed with. Coach K does the same thing at Duke year after year. He goes out and finds two or three stars to lead his team. He then gets good players, but not great ones, to fill in the spaces. These role players know not to overstep their bounds, or they'll be sent packing, either to another team or to the end of the bench. Joe Torre does the same thing with the Yankees. The Yankees can pretty much buy any player they want, but Torre is careful to select only those players who will work with established stars like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera. Torre will go out and get other stars like Roger Clemens and Giambi, but even these stars know that once they get to NY, they are just a piece of the puzzle, and have to earn their respect and leadership roles from day one. Arena did the same thing in the last WC cycle. He built his team around a couple of players who knew every last detail of Arena's system, guys like Claudio Reyna, Jeff Agoos, and Tony Sanneh. He even used Richie Williams to show the rest of the team how to fill a certain role without placing themselves above the good of the team, much like Jackson used Ron Harper in LA. As players new to Arena's system proved themselves over time, Arena gave them more and more freedom to work within his system. Earnie Stewart is a perfect example of this. He showed over time that he was willing to place the goals of the team above his personal goals, and as the games went on, Bruce gave him almost complete freedom to roam the field knowing that Earnie would use that freedom to better Arena's team. I'm sure this will be the point of much debate, but I think this point also had to do with why a guy like Jason Kreis was never included in Arena's plans. Kreis either couldn't or wouldn't fill one of the roles Arena had envisioned, so he stopped getting called in all together. While Kreis might have been the star for Dallas, he was never going to be a star for the MNT, and in the games he played, he never looked comfortable in his Nats role under Arena. Timing Each of these coaches have the ability to tune their team in when the big game approaches. Although the Bulls and Lakers might have struggled occasionally in the regular season under Jackson, by the time the playoffs came around, Phil has his teams working like a finely-tuned machine. Coach K has a very good record in ACC basketball, but it is nothing compared to his record as a coach in post-season tournaments, both the ACC and NCAA tourneys. Joe Torre's Yankees teams demonstrate the same ability to come together when it matters. Last year, the Yankees had no where close the regular season the Seattle Mariners did, and yet when the teams met in the American League Championship Series, it was the Yankees who were flying and the Mariners who were struggling. I'm sure there are other points I am missing. I hope other posters help fill in the gaps I have left open, as I'd love to hear other posters' insights into the similarities between Arena and other "Dynasty" coaches. While I may have been an ardent Arena detractor, his performance leading up to and in the World Cup were splendid, and I hope he leads us to the 2006 WC, too. I reserve the right to criticize mistakes Arena makes, as no coach is perfect. But overall, he has at least this poster's support.