Ben Falk Brings NBA Experience to Barrack

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Ben Falk (third from right) with Portland Trail Blazers staff. | Photo provided

It was the fall of 2016, and Ben Falk needed a job. So he sent his application materials to Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy’s athletic director, Justin Cooper, who was looking to fill out his boys’ basketball coaching staff.

Cooper called Falk’s first reference. He was sold.

“We wish this guy was still with us in the NBA,” Cooper recalled Portland Trail Blazers Assistant General Manager Bill Branch saying.


Falk, an Orthodox Jew, spent five years as the basketball analytics manager for the Portland Trail Blazers before being snatched away by former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie in 2014. As the Sixers’ vice president of basketball strategy, he was Hinkie’s right-hand man. He was integral to “The Process.”

But soon after Hinkie was dismissed in April 2016, Falk left, too. He spent the 2016-17 season as a volunteer assistant at Barrack, impressing Cooper and former head coach Jeremy Treatman with his attention to detail and film study. Now, he’s stepping into Treatman’s former role and taking over the program at the Bryn Mawr school in advance of the 2018-19 campaign.

“Our kids and our program, we’re extremely fortunate Ben wants to go down this avenue with his career,” Cooper said.

It’s not as if he had a shortage of options. With eight years of experience in the NBA, the 30-year-old likely could have found work elsewhere in the league after leaving the Sixers. But he felt pulled toward coaching, and knew he couldn’t balance his devotion to his Jewish faith with the rigors demanded of a full-time NBA coach.

Coaches can’t take off Friday evening games to observe the Sabbath.  Coaches can’t go home for Jewish holidays. NBA coaches have to coach, around the clock, around the calendar.

So he latched on with Barrack for the 2016-17 season, and soon realized it was a good fit. Unburdened by the massive expectations of a starving NBA fan base, he found he could focus on what he loved most about basketball: teaching the game and instilling life lessons.

“I told everyone that this is actually the ideal place to coach because at heart it’s what all of us want out of coaching,” Falk said. “The problem at [higher] levels is that a lot of different stuff gets in the way of that.”

Falk served as a Barrack assistant in 2016-17. | Photo provided

He stepped away from Barrack this past season to work on getting his website, CleaningTheGlass.com, off the ground. It worked. The subscription-based, basketball analytics website has been lauded by fans, executives and NBA players alike.  

It features film breakdowns, scouting reports, advanced statistics and a forum home to intelligent basketball discussion. Falk updates the site two to four days per week and recently brought on some contributing writers.

Hinkie provided a blurb for the website: “Excited for the world to experience what it’s like to sit at the knee of Ben Falk and his brilliant basketball mind.”

Barrack players won’t need a subscription to access Falk’s mind. He was approached by Treatman, who led the program to a 36-34 record the past three years, to take over the team after this past season. Treatman plans on spending more time on his businesses, Play by Play Sports Broadcasting Camp and Play by Play Classics, and will slide into an assistant role at Barrack.

“The reason it’s going to work is because we don’t have egos. We just want to have a good experience for the kids,” Treatman said.

Falk isn’t waiting for winter to get the ball rolling, as he’ll hold volunteer workouts throughout the summer.

He plans to supplement conditioning and fundamentals drills with film study. As a volunteer, he would affix a tablet to a tripod during Barrack games and record the action, cherry-picking select sequences to break down with players afterward. It’s a practice Falk said he’s seen implemented throughout the NBA, and one of the core features of CleaningTheGlass.

“It’s one of the most effective ways to teach,” Falk said.

He won’t be an easy grader, though. He doesn’t want players to limit themselves with “artificial” expectations. Yes, The Phelps School, a rival team, recruits players for basketball, Falk said. Yes, Barrack doesn’t have a longstanding history of sending kids to prominent college programs.

But why settle for being realistic?

“If we put in the work and take ourselves seriously, there’s a lot we can do,” Falk said.

His resume is reflective of that mindset. His first brush with the NBA was after his freshman year at the University of Maryland, when he worked as an unpaid intern for Dean Oliver, who was then the director of quantitative analysis for the Denver Nuggets.

Falk hopes to pass along some of what he’s learned to the next generation. Barrack is all in.  

[email protected]; 215-832-0737

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