Behind the Scenes of Villanova’s 2016 National Championship Success

Lahnee Pavlovich
Head of Research and Writing

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DISC, understanding and valuing leads to success

It is not every day that we have the privilege of writing an article about a clients’ success that includes images of the team they work with meeting the US President. But, today is one of those days. We congratulate and celebrate the behind the scenes work of consultant George Naughton and his colleague Dr Jim Brennan with the 2016 National Championship winning team, Villanova Wildcats.

When you look at the athletes in your team, what do you see?  Do you just see the number on their back?  Do you see their technical ability, and how this translates into their performance? Or do you see something more? Do you understand and value how each team member brings something unique to the team beyond their physical abilities?

If you were to ask college educator and human performance specialist Dr Jim Brennan, he would tell you that being able to value difference equates to being able to perform at your best.

Dr. Brennan has worked with Villanova Men’s Basketball for over 10 years as a sport psychology Consultant. Consultant George Naughton introduced AthleteDISC and CoachDISC to Villanova in the summer of 2014 and since then, these Profiles have been used to assist the Coaches and players to better understand themselves and take their performance to the highest level.

Winning the 2016 D1 National Championship was the result of Coaches and players coming together as a team.

DISC, understanding and valuing leads to success
Villanova Wildcats forward Daniel Ochefu hoists the national championship trophy with teammates after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four at NRG Stadium, April 4, 2016.

In reflecting on the use of CoachDISC and AthleteDISC Reports, Dr. Brennan said, “The information we received back from using DISC about each player’s competitive and adaptive styles, as well as the coaching styles of our staff, was helpful at multiple levels,”

“Every individual without exception felt validated in their own uniqueness when we discussed their results. The information contained in their reports brought self-understanding and with that, a feeling of permission to be oneself. Even beyond that, it provided motivation to work on being one’s best self. Players immediately became interested in their teammates’ profiles and this led to a more mature, respectful, and motivating interpersonal environment.”

Developing a positive Coach-athlete relationship has been proven to be a critical factor in high-performance.

According to findings presented in November 2015 at the World Class Performance Conference in London, superelites felt that their Coaches fully satisfied their emotional needs by acting as friends, mentors and unwavering supporters in addition to providing superb technical support.

“There needs to be a productive rapport between the Coach and the athletes. When mutual respect doesn’t exist, the Coach-athlete relationship is compromised and negatively impacted. This results in a lack of engagement and the result of this is poor commitment, disharmony, lack of enjoyment and distrust,” Athlete Assessments’ Bo Hanson said.

Dr. Brennan agrees.

“Through using the Athlete Assessments DISC profiles, I was given an objectified and non-threatening platform to discuss with each individual their tendencies, behavioral patterns, and emotional reactions. In short, they all grew wiser about themselves and each other,” he said.

“Our Head Coach, who is already a very relationship focused leader, quickly improved his understanding and appreciation of every player too. Of course, a Coach is always trying to figure out what makes a player tick and how to motivate and inspire them, how to get their attention, and how to reward them through positive communication, all while being realistic in their assessments,”

“In my opinion, he was able to more effectively do all of these things, communicating with all of them collectively while building a better Coach-athlete relationship with each of them individually,”

“Consequently, the Coach was able to coach this team harder and subject them to more pressure and higher challenges. He exercised less top down control than in the past because there was a deeper harmony holding things together at the core,”

“Somehow, the DISC information was never far from the Coach’s mind or from my mind especially when the pressure was on, when the interpersonal chemicals were reacting. We got smarter about avoiding the breakdowns that take you nowhere and much better at converting those same breakdowns into breakthroughs.”

DISC, understanding and valuing leads to success
President Obama introduces Villanova coach Jay Wright while the NCAA-champion Villanova men’s basketball team was honored at the White House on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Also working closely with the Villanova team and Dr Brennan is consultant George Naughton.

George has been working with the Villanova Men’s Basketball team for two years and understands the needs of Coaches when it comes to creating these important relationships and building self-awareness within teams.

“I understand the importance of the Coach-athlete relationship and the importance of DISC. Dr. Brennan and I have come to realize that when Coaches understand and use CoachDISC and AthleteDISC, it will inevitably become an integral part of their coaching,” he said.

“The Villanova journey has been a tremendous experience and hopefully, it will get Coaches to learn more about insights, benefits and results that can and will be achieved when they truly understand AthleteDISC,”

“Villanova has showed what can happen when you have a “TEAM” and not a group of individual superstars.”

In summing up, we as athletes and as Coaches can use DISC to fully understand each player’s role and know each player’s role from a Technical and Non-Technical perspective. If we do this and we understand how to best contribute to the team, we will ultimately achieve success.

Check out our recent Q&A with Consultant George Naughton to see what George is most proud of, his career highlights and biggest supporter, and the ‘ah-ha’ moment in his career plus much more.

Dr. Jim Brennan

Dr. Brennan is a college educator as well as a human performance specialist whose expertise is the field of Emotional Intelligence. He serves a wide range of clientele who must perform at their best under substantial pressure including university students, elite athletes, business executives and corporate leadership teams both in the U.S. and around the world.

Since 2005, Dr. Brennan has served as the sport psychology Consultant for the Villanova men’s basketball team which has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 10 times in the last 11 years, reaching the Final Four in 2009 and winning the NCAA National Championship in 2016.

George Naughton

George Naughton is a consultant using Athlete Assessments DISC Profiling tools. As a former collegiate athlete, it wasn’t until he was introduced to DISC that he realized his individual performance could have improved if he would have been introduced to the profiling while he was in college. He believes DISC is the single most profound tool used to increase individual, team or company performance.

In 1998, George and his wife Linda founded consulting company Synergistic Resources. He partnered with Resource Associates Corporation (RAC) to assist in creating, building and expanding a successful consulting practice. He currently works with a number of athletic clients including the Villanova Men’s Basketball team.

Prior to his this, George had over 20 years of diverse experience that included multi-plant manufacturing, strategic planning, change management and rapid performance turnaround. With a track record in implementing systems and processes that effectively impact productivity, efficiency, quality and morale.

George attended University of Tennessee and Murray State University and lives in Blacksburg, VA with his wife and two daughters.

Are you a consultant looking to achieve similar results with your clients? You too can take your consultancy to the next level and achieve the success that George has.

As a consultant, your clients rely on you being the best in your field, knowing the true determinants of success and having access to the tools that will make the most impact when it comes to improving performance. Athlete Assessments’ DISC Profiling is the tool you need to help your clients realize their potential.

Find out more about Athlete Assessments’ Consultant Program now.

At Athlete Assessments we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can do to be of service, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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consultant DISC Accreditation Program

Mental Performance Coaches | Sport Psychologists | Coaching Consultants

Our DISC Accreditation Program Includes a series of six one-on-one consultations with Athlete Assessments’ Founder, Bo Hanson; plus 20 DISC Profile assessments to get you started. Additionally, you will benefit from quality manuals, an extensive library of resources, videos, and sample marketing materials to support the integration of DISC into your practice. 

We tailor your training to your specific needs and previous experience to ensure an efficient transition to using the Athlete Assessments DISC Profiles with your clients and those you work with.

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Bo Hanson

Senior Consultant & Director

Bo Hanson’s career within the sport and the business sector spans over 25 years, delivering leadership, management, and coach development. In addition to his own athletic career comprising of four Olympic appearances and including three Olympic medals, Bo has worked for many years with coaches and athletes from over 40 different sports across the globe. Bo was also the winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) 2023 Award for L&D Professional of the Year, for his dedication to L&D and transformational work across various industries.

After a successful career in sport including four Olympics and three Olympic Medals, Bo co-founded and developed Athlete Assessments in 2007. Bo now focuses on working with clients to achieve their own success on and off ‘the field’, and has attained an unmatched track-record in doing exactly this.

BoRowing-Atlanta Olympics

Now, watch us interrupt him for a round of quick fire questions.