Dean Smith, the hall-of-fame University of North Carolina basketball coach, was a master at preparing his players for opponents. I once heard a story that described a time when Coach Smith had to get his Tarheels ready for an opposing team that had significant height at numerous positions around the court. Rather than having a normal practice, he gathered brooms and mops from the janitorial closet and distributed them to defenders as arm extenders to block shots. If Coach Smith’s players could shoot over brooms, then they could certainly shoot over their upcoming vertically-enhanced opponents.
Like many of the best coaches, Dean Smith knew that effective preparation often meant stacking the deck against oneself in practice. This mantra also holds true for trial preparation. It is easy to assume that a motion will be won to exclude damaging testimony or evidence, but what if the judge decides in favor of your opponent? What if opposing counsel is more capable than first anticipated or an expert witness handles his or her deposition swimmingly?