Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Larry Brown (CHA), Rick Carlisle (DAL), Mike D'Antoni (NY), Scott Skiles (MIL), and Doug Collins rumored (CHI) should all be successful in 2008-09. Speaking of Collins, you may have seen what Chuck Daly had to say about the possibility of the Bulls' new coach:
''I was shocked at how long it's been taking the Bulls to hire a coach, and now I know why. This is a brilliant hire by the Bulls because Doug is a beyond-brilliant basketball man. He's proven it pretty much everywhere he's been. He really knows the game, understands it, can teach it and he has matured into a wonderful person. 'With them getting the No. 1 draft pick, I don't think they could have hired a better coach."
There are at least two other terrific coaches out there with a combined 28 years of NBA coaching experience: Mike Fratello and Jeff Van Gundy.
At the time of his decision, Flip said his team was sluggish in Game 3 (a loss). In his words:
"Sometimes you don't realize, but for 8:30 (p.m. EDT) games, you get done so late. We got in at 3:30 (a.m.), guys get to their place around 4 in the morning. The first thing with fatigue, it starts wearing on you emotionally. First thing you start seeing is a change in how teams play a little bit. I thought we looked fatigued in Game 3 at times for some reason, and last night their shot selection was a little more frivolous than what it was in the other games. That happens with fatigue and it happens with pressure."
The decision whether or not to give your team a break from practice is a tough one for coaches, especially as teams that are still playing are closing in on Game #100 for the season. That's a lot of games and it starts to take a toll on players on both teams.
But it's not only a physical toll. As Flip points out, you can see it in shot selection. The grind of a now 100-game season wears on your mind. Maintaining focus and intensity gets harder. In any profession that requires a high level of focus over a consecutive days, there's a concern for mental and physical fatigue. It's something that you've got to monitor closely in any sport [including baseball, as Joe Morgan points out here.]
Growing up in San Diego, I remember one time when my dad had former NFL coach Paul Brown over to our house to discuss coaching philosophies. Like my dad, Coach Brown was an Ohio native.
I think I was in elementary school. I sat there listening to them talk and, for some reason, one thing that Coach Brown said stuck with me all these years later. He said he believed in have frequent non-contact practices to keep his players fresh and eager for Sunday games.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
"There are two reasons I wouldn't coach this team. One, I don't have the experience. I really believe coaching in the NBA is a job that requires training, and I haven't coached at any level. Two, it's an incredibly difficult job that would make balancing my family life and my career very difficult. In short, I'm not ready. Maybe down the road it's something I'll consider, but not now."
"For me, every game is a new journey, it's a new adventure for me. Every day, I'm working on trying to think about where I had the last shot I missed and getting my legs right and being explosive and just thinking about it and having an opportunity to get better. So those are my moments, and those are the moments that I enjoy."
"I learned the importance of confidence to a professional athlete, a lesson I will never forget," Al Kaline told Sport Magazine. "A big-league ball player, who knows he can hit and has hit well before, must never let himself lose faith in his ability to hit well again-regardless of how long any slump may last.""For me and every other major leaguer who takes his baseball life and work seriously, confidence is a secret strength. Without it, many ballplayers who could develop into outstanding hitters and pitchers never realize their true potential.""Confidence is an intangible, something that's impossible to see, but it can make or break a hitter or pitcher and it can make or break a team."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tony Parker (PG): Parker's proven that he's capable of not only leading his team, but leading them to championships. He gets in the lane as well as any PG in the league and ranks as one of the NBA's best in-the-paint scorers.
Kobe Bryant (SG): League MVP and arguably the hungriest and most competitive player in the NBA.
Paul Pierce (SF): Excellent scorer in transition. Can post-up anyone and draw fouls because he's so strong. All of that, and he can hit the three-ball, too.
Kevin Garnett (PF): Long and smart, KG is the best defender in the NBA. His defensive spacing is outstanding. On the offensive end, he can post up and is a great mid-range shooter. Best of all, he's incredibly unselfish.
Tim Duncan (C): A smart player who rebounds the ball and has the best mid-range bank shot in the game.
What's interesting about the four teams that remain in the NBA postseason is that their biggest weakness may be their benches.
For example, the Spurs have a relatively "old" bench with vets like Horry (16 years), Vaughn (10 years), Finley (12 years), and Barry (12 years). That's not to say they can't play and veterans are great because they provide leadership and smart play. They can also catch fire, like Barry did in Game 4. But the Spurs traded away Udrih and Scola this year and both could have helped off the bench.
When Phil Jackson goes to his bench, he's got Walton, Vujacic, and Farmar -- all young guys who have continually improved. If Bynum and Ariza hadn't been slowed by injuries, LA would have the most depth of the Final Four teams.
Boston's best player off the bench has been PJ Brown. Cassell hasn't contributed as much as people expected and House has been inconsistent. Powe and Davis are still too young for this stage.
I think Flip Saunders has done a great job with his bench. Young players like Stuckey and Maxiell provide athleticism and energy. On the other end of the spectrum, 35-year-old Ratliff and 37-year-old Hunter are still giving the Pistons 10 mins/game.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
"You have to get used to being in that environment where you hear, 'You guys didn't make it to the NBA Finals? What happened?' A lot of other organizations aren't used to that, and what we claim as success here is a lot different than what most people claim is success."
Monday, May 26, 2008
"...an impartial point of view, an active concern for others, and a disciplined attempt to meet the claims made on one’s behavior. These are the marks of the morally sensitive man, and they constitute a large part of what we ordinarily mean when we speak of personal integrity. These qualities are found in great leaders in any age..."
"A man may obey you if he is afraid of you, but his obedience is a weak and fleeting thing. Remove the immediate grounds of his fear and you have removed his sole reason for obeying. But if that same man is loyal to you, his obedience will have been insured in a much more lasting way, for the attitude of loyalty is a stronger stimulus than the attitude of fear."
"...believed in a discipline based on respect rather than fear; ‘on the effect of good example given by officers; on the intelligent comprehension by all ranks of why an order has to be and why it must be carried out; on a sense of duty, on esprit de corps."
"First, Marshall valued loyalty. Second, he was recognized by friend and foe alike as a man of imposing moral integrity. And third, in the major war of this century, Marshall passed the ultimate military test of the commander: he brought his nation victory."
The world needs clappers, see. Everyone can't be the fairy princess in this life. Everyone can't be the star of the production. But the production wouldn't go on without the butterflies and the trees and the rest of the cast. The clappers are as important as anyone.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
"When I came to Pittsburgh, the team was in last place. When you're in last place, there is a reason. They had good players, but the commitment, not only defensively, but the all-around commitment was not there. If you want to have some success, we had to change everything: the attitude, work ethic, and commitment, because we were going the wrong way."
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
As I look at this year's draft, if I was sitting in the Bulls' position, I'd ask myself where would D. Rose and M. Beasley be right now at their position?
Rose would rank among the league's top 10 point guards right now, behind only C. Paul, D. Williams, S. Nash, T. Parker, G. Arenas, and B. Davis. Rose is that good. In fact, I think he'll be better than D. Harris, Billups (Chauncey's getting older), J. Kidd (so is Jason), and M. Williams in MIL.
Looking at Beasley today, I don't think he'd rank among the top 10 at either forward spot. Just look at the NBA's best power forwards -- Dirk, KG, Bosh, Boozer, Gasol, Jefferson, Marion, Brand, Aldridge, Jamison, West, Josh Smith. How about small forwards? LeBron, Pierce, Butler, Anthony, Howard, Turkoglu, Iguodala, Kirilenko, Gay, Deng, Artest...
Of course Beasley is a great player. But the NBA is loaded with talented forwards.
Here's my case for taking Rose:
- You'd immediately have one of the league's top 7 point guards.
- You can trade Hinrich for a team need. I'm sure the Bulls are already getting calls about his availability.
- In order to win in the NBA, you need a great PG (Paul, Williams, Nash, etc.)
- Rose is a Chicago kid.
Regardless, both Rose and Beasley will be terrific pros. Because they're so young and talented, they've got plenty of upside.
If you have time, check out the article and watch this clip of Coach Muschamp in action.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
[Lamar] Odom had hired a well-known Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy, to prepare meals for the entire team. "Instead of going back to our rooms after practice, we stayed together, put our feet up, hung out and talked," says [Luke] Walton. "All of us, every meal, Kobe included. It was a major, major factor in us coming together." Plus, the food was damn good. "Sam made a chicken crusted with, I kid you not, Cap'n Crunch," says Odom. "Best thing you ever ate in your life."
Credit Odom with a terrific, albeit simple, idea. Food brings people together -- whether neighborhood block parties, Thanksgiving dinners, or... NBA training camps.
Lincoln had the confidence to bring them into his camp and the nation benefited from their combined experience and insight. In other words, he wasn't worried that these guys knew more than he did or that they would "outshine" him. Instead of surrounding himself with friends and "yes men," he went out and got the best of the best.
As I pointed out in a previous post, Rick Carlisle in DAL is employing a similar strategy by working to add former NBA head coaches (Stotts and Casey) to his staff.
I wonder what kind of coach Abe would have made...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Older players who are smaller in stature tend to struggle more than bigs after the 82-game grind. But you can get away with playing bigs as they can do a lot of things that don't show up in the box score: Set a screen, alter a shot, block out on a free throw, make the right read on a pass. And, of course, by nature of their size, they can still get 3-5 boards/game.
If the vet is PJ Brown or Robert Horry, they're still effective shooters, as well.
Yes, there are exceptions to the "big vs little" argument. Derek Fisher has been a great addition to the Lakers. On the other hand, Chris Webber didn't have much of an impact with the Warriors.
Monday, May 19, 2008
"He's got a very solid sense of where you are and what you need. Sometimes you need something said to you. Sometimes you need to figure it out yourself. His strongest asset is he doesn't try to make everyone the same. What works for Andrew Brown might not work for Joey Devine. He doesn't blow smoke and say, 'You're great, you're great.' When he steps in and says something, it's very genuine."
Sunday, May 18, 2008
"You cut a little harder. You move a little faster. You're looking for the ball because you know it's coming when it should be. Everything's in rhythm. It's hard to express how much fun that is."
The best timeouts, by the way, are the ones where players take some ownership, giving feedback on what they're seeing out on the floor. Of the coaches I've worked with, Chuck Dalyt was the best at soliciting feedback from his players during timeouts.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
The first 100 pages or so are about Pete's Dad, Press Maravich, who was a fascinating guy. It then goes into Pete's days at LSU, then his career as a pro. It finishes with Pete's post-playing career.
It's a great example of taking a lot of pride in and paying close attention to a special situation like defending an in-bounds along the baseline. Effectively defending 6-8 of these during a game could be the difference in a win or loss. Plus, if you execute to perfection, it might cost your opponent a time out.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
"You can have the best, most qualified people in the world, but it doesn't always matter. You're dealing with exceptionally competitive people, or else they wouldn't be where they're at. That makes me worry about their egos. Hell, I worry almost as much about the egos of their wives because they worry about who's making more money. It's a very tough relationship to keep healthy for a long period of time.''
Of course, Jerry Sloan's tenure in Utah shows that it's possible -- even at the highest levels of sports -- for a coach and owner to get along, even over two decades.
What causes the disputes? First, as the owner above outlines, there are strong personalities involved. Second, the people (coaches, owners, GMs) have typically had a lot of success in their careers. They know what it takes to win/succeed. Third, in many cases, they have the same goals, but different ideas and strategies for achieving those goals.
I've been lucky to work with a number of terrific GMs over the years. Pete Babcock was in ATL when I was an assistant for the Hawks. We still talk or email about once a week. Ditto for John Gabriel, the GM in ORL when I was on staff with Chuck and, later, Doc. I also talk regularly with Garry St. Jean, my GM in Golden State. They're friends who I often turn to for advice and to bounce ideas off of.
Jerry West, our GM in MEM, was one of the most knowledgeable basketball people I've ever had the pleasure to be around. His competitiveness was unbelievable. He really believed in the importance of mental focus in the pre-game routine. He's a great mentor who has been incredibly supportive.
As I told him, no coach ever lost by playing the wrong defense. Teams lose because they by play that defense poorly. Early on in Dallas, Avery emphasized teaching defense and made it clear what he expected of his players on the defensive end. By doing so, he got his guys to buy into his plan.
In my experience, players want to know about stuff like defensive rotations and where are the rotations coming from and when. You can't be vague about it. It has to be excruciatingly clear. And it has to be emphasized and taught every day.
The same goes for offense. The players need to know where their shots come from in the new offensive system and how they fit in. Understanding a player's sweet spots (i.e., where they're most comfortable shooting from) and developing strategies for getting them shots from those points is the job of the coach and his staff.
As Rick put it:
"You've got to play to your strengths and you've got to adjust."
At the college level, one thing is very clear: In the latter stages of a game, when you are ahead, DON'T FOUL. Just ask Memphis.
I don't mean in the obvious situation, when you're up by four with 6-7 seconds left. It also includes situations where you're ahead by five with 4-5 minutes left, as well.
In the NBA, a coach will have more decisions based on the early bonus. The quality of free throw shooters in the NBA and that the 24-second shot clock cause more possessions than a college game in late-game situations are factors. And, in the NBA, at timeouts you can advance the ball to mid-court, which plays into late-game planning.
Regardless, it's these points that often get moved to the bottom of a coach's "to do list" and come back to haunt them at some point
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I've read where Flip has been criticized for not playing his younger players enough. Here's the problem: With a talented, veteran team that's trying to win it all, it's tough to find minutes for young guys. Second, they're still learning the game. Throwing them into a game before they're ready can destroy a player's confidence.
In Stuckey's case, Flip's done a masterful job in helping him develop. Stuckey played 30-plus minutes to help the Pistons close out Game 5 against ORL. In that game, he had zero turnovers (DET only had three the entire game, which is remarkable) and was the point guard in a close-out game. Stuckey also stepped up in Game 4 when Billups went down.
At the same time, Stuckey's stats show that he's still coming along. He's only shot 35% from the field in the postseason, including less than 20 percent from 3-point range. But these numbers will improve as he develops. And he will develop under Flip.
A couple other rookies who received votes, but didn't make the First or Second teams are Boston's Glen Davis and New Orleans' Julian Wright, both of whom have contributed in spots during the postseason.
When it comes to knowing how a player is developing, it's not as simple as looking at the MIN column of a box score. Simply giving rookies lots of minutes doesn't mean they're "developing." It only means they're playing a lot.
Development happens at practice. It happens in the film room and the weight room. And it happens, strategically, during games. Young players need to earn their minutes and be placed in situations where they have the best chance to succeed.
What I didn't know about until I read the story this morning was how much of a leader he was. The oldest of nine kids, Walt was put into a leadership role early on. Like LeBron, Walt worked overtime on his game. "I was always the first one at practice and the last one to leave. The other players could see that I practiced what I preached."
Frazier points out that while all of the guys in the NBA are talented, many don't succeed. Why?
According to Walt, it's a lack of "tenacity." "Talent is sometimes a detriment, because you take things for granted."
He also talks about his intense competitive spirit, remembering how, as a kid, he'd cry after losing a game. As a pro, the losses ate at him, as did the behavior of his teammates following a loss.
"After a loss, I'd go into the locker room and guys would be drinking beer and fooling around. I couldn't understand that. I took everything to heart."
An interesting sidenote: Today, the 63-year-old Frazier lives in the Virgin Islands.
Read the whole article here.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I often wonder why more teams don't use a team like Utah as an example. Utah drafts and signs players who fit Coach Sloan's system. The Jazz value intangibles like toughness and often-overlooked skills like screen-setting as an important element for their team to be successful.