Saturday, January 24, 2009

Changing the game off the bench

Last night against DAL, Rip Hamilton came off the bench for only the first time in his seven seasons as a Piston (including the postseason).

Hamilton's reaction?

"Regardless, you want to win games. They told me I was coming off the bench, that it was something MC (coach Michael Curry) wanted and I said, 'Fine, cool.' The bottom line is you want to win games. If this is the best way we can win a championship, then I am all for it."

Some bench players say they prefer coming off the bench because it gives them an advantage:

"Coming off the bench allows you to see what's going on," said Tennessee Wayne Chism, who came off the bench against Vandy the other night to go for 20 points and 7 rebounds. "You're able to see what's working and what's not working and use that to your advantage."

For players, the challenge is adapting to the change from players lots of minutes to only a few.

According to CHA's Adam Morrison, who's only started one game this season, "I feel like I'm the same player I was in college, but it's much different playing 38 minutes and playing short minutes. It affects your mentality."

As this article in SI puts it, "Morrison is beset by a vicious cycle common to bench players: The less they play, the less confidence they have; the less confidence they have, the less they play."

Says ORL guard J.J. Redick, the ACC's all-time leading scorer:

"I've started games, then I've been totally out of the rotation, then I've been back in. I don't know if you ever get conditioned to it, but you accept it, and just try to be a good teammate."

The value of a good bench can't be overstated. Just last night, in a win over WAS, the Lakers bench played a key role. "The bench was what broke the game open for us, actually," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Sasha, Trevor, Lamar."

LA's Lamar Odom, who until this season had started nearly every game he's played in during his 10-year pro career, takes pride in his role with this year's Laker team:

"Every game when me and Trevor are checking into the game, I tell him, 'Let's change the game. Let's change it. Whether it's offensively, defensively or the intangibles.' Our depth is important to us. As a team, we're proud of it. It makes our practices very competitive. Hopefully it'll help us down the stretch."