Monday, February 9, 2009

Little things add up

Just as Mike Singletary did in SFO when he took over as head coach of the 49ers mid-season, new Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is focusing on "chemistry, defense and discipline" as the foundation for turning things around in Memphis.

An article in today's Memphis paper describes Coach Hollins' coaching style as "old-school yet flexible" and notes how he's "been a hard taskmaster in practices and a strict disciplinarian off the court."

Coach Hollins "holds players accountable in every aspect of their jobs," asking Darius Miles to remove his earrings before Miles went out for "a pre-game workout." Players must also "wear team-issued practice shorts and tops instead of the random gear that had been acceptable."

"These little things add up," Memphis GM Chris Wallace said. "Lionel is a stickler for practicing hard and having a team in excellent physical condition. He's working diligently on those two fronts. We're practicing hard, and we're practicing longer. There's a payoff on this. Plus, I'll say Lionel has a rare ability to relate to players. You have to be firm but you can't be firm in a high school and military way. You can't be overbearing in your firmness on this level. You have to be firm, but at the same time communicate with your players and have a different relationship off the court. You can't be a robot and a total dictator. He has that rare ability to walk down the middle of the street. He knows when to back off. To me that's the essence of NBA coaching."

According to Wallace, Coach Hollins has had an immediate impact on Rudy Gay, who "is starting to attack the basket more."

"He's like a baseball pitcher who can't just throw fastballs," says Wallce. "He's got to throw knuckleballs, curves and sliders. He's got to show a wide-variety of skills, and he's becoming more efficient. We're making progress as a team and our players are making progress individually."