You know when players or teams have it and you know when they don't. But what exactly is ‘it?'
Colby Blaine is doing his best to define the indefinable, to figure out the factors that are integral to the success of elite players.
Blaine, a volunteer assistant with the College of Southern Idaho men's basketball team, has outlined eight elements that elevate great athletes above good ones. Blaine's list is merely a starting point - it's what he called "things that everyone would think of if they thought about it."
In his second year at CSI, Blaine sent his handout on "The ‘It' Factor" to coaches and basketball minds across the country. He asked them to consider his eight points and offer some input of their own.
Feedback has come from the likes of Boise State coach Leon Rice, Butler coach Brad Stevens, Colorado State coach Tim Miles and SMU coach Matt Doherty. Memphis coach Josh Pastner even phoned Blain to discuss ‘it.'
"The fun part is to actually get other peoples' responses, just to open up the conversation about it," said Blaine. "It's kind of taken on a life of its own."
Early feedback has led Blaine to consider adding more tenets to "The It Factor," including pride, being a winner, being loyal, understanding pain and having the ability to comprehend.
For CSI head coach Steve Gosar, ‘it' comes down to one thing.
"It's either God-given or it's a derived skill from spending a lot of time on the court. But it's the confidence of knowing that you can do what you need to do whenever called upon," said Gosar. "It's that confidence that I can go get a basket, I can go get a stop."
And, it's what college coaches want in recruits.
"After doing it and looking at kids, I think to get to the college level as a high school kid, you have to have about five or six of these solid," said Blaine.
The genesis of Blaine's project came last summer when he coached one of Idaho Select's 17U squads. As he worked with Idaho Falls guard Sean McCarthy and Melba forward Joey Nebeker, he noticed something special about them.
"They both have it," said Blaine. "They're both unbelievable kids. They just get it and they play hard and they're genuine."
That's when Blaine decided to put "The It Factor" on paper. Ideas continued to form as he hit the recruiting trail for CSI.
"Going through the summer and doing recruiting and with us changing our recruiting philosophy on the kids that we look at now, that's kind of where it's all built," said Blaine.
So do members of this year's CSI men's squad have ‘it'?
"I think a lot of them have a lot of the pieces," said Blaine.
That is certainly one reason the third-ranked Golden Eagles just claimed the Scenic West Athletic Conference title and will be the No. 1 seed when they host this week's Region 18 Tournament.
And as Blaine continues his coaching career, "The It Factor" will be at the forefront.
"This is what I'll look for every time I recruit from now on. I'm not going to budge from that," he said. "It's hard to have all the pieces, but for you to get to the next level, you've got to have five or six. The more you have, the more success you'll have."