Thursday , Apr , 24 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Suns-Spurs Game Three Preview: Coaching and Management

Suns-Spurs Game Three Preview: Coaching and ManagementAfter receiving the “foul or not to foul” criticism after Game 1, Coach D’Antoni told all of his nay-sayers to work on their games down at the “Y.”  Ah, touché, Coach.  I’ve heard the rumors that there is some pretty good ballin’ going on down there – Dan Marjerle mentions his squad from time to time during the broadcasts. 

I half-agree with him.  Those tactical decisions are probably best left to the coach.  He has more basketball knowledge that just about every amateur critic in the blogosphere combined.  He is, no doubt about it, one of the best basketball minds in the league.  From a technical standpoint – drawing up plays, his short, intense practices, film review, “chalk talk” sessions – he has, time and again, shown us all that he’s brilliant.  He is a brilliant basketball mind.

Greg Popovich is a brilliant leader.  Bluntman and I are always fearful whenever he takes a timeout.  After his timeouts, the Sp*rs always respond.  We used to call them “evil timeouts” but now we call them “testicle timeouts” because we figure that whenever his team screws up, he uses some of his counterintelligence background and electrodes.  A sick and twisted part of me really wants to know what he did to Michael Finley at halftime during the last game.

If he gets fired, here is the comment that did him in: “I’m here to win a championship, not develop a bench.”  This was in response to a question about why he was not giving more players time during the regular season.  It is a myopic comment because a bench is necessary to win a championship.  It is not the only ingredient and you can win a title with a thin rotation, but isn’t a deep bench a tool in the tool-box?

No bench for Game 5 last year did the Suns in.  No bench the year before that hurt the Suns when Raja Bell went down, Amare Stoudemire sat out the season and Kurt Thomas was just getting back into the groove.  The year before that, Joe Johnson’s broken face may have cost the Suns a game or two against San Antonio.

A physicist once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.”

Say, like, failing to develop the bench so that a groin injury (Grant Hill) does not result in a gaping defensive hole.  What about going to Doris (not a misspelling) Diaw four times in a row in the post?

Why is Raja Bell logging so many minutes?  At the beginning of the season, I was advocating letting Bell come off the bench right when Manu Ginobili got up and sit down when Ginobili sits down.  He can do a decent job of guarding Manu when he’s not spent, but he is nowhere close to the “Manu-Stopper” that he may have been when he came to Phoenix three years ago, and he is definitely not a huge offensive threat (even though he had one good season with Nash was dishing to him).

But I digress.

I, personally, am more than qualified to talk about his leadership abilities.  Many bloggers are, in their “day” jobs, leaders in some regard or another.  Leadership and management theories cross from offices to the junior high court to the NBA.

Moreover, refusing to accept criticism is the sign of a bad leader.  Being stubborn kills.  I fully subscribe to the military maxim that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – but something is broken.  And some of the criticism is coming from guys who know much more about the X’s and O’s than I.  My leadership criticism is that he does not listen to the guys who do know what they’re talking about.

What the hell happened at the beginning of the third period?  Sure, Amare Stoudemire started missing shots, but why was Boris getting all those looks?  To spread the ball around?  Puh-lease, San Antonio stayed close in the first half precisely because the scoring was not spread around to those jokers that were missing shots.  Then, Pop did something in private to Michael Finley and the Suns were cooked.

On the radio last night, he was saying how the Suns out-played the Sp*rs in the last two games, save for one quarter in each game.  Well, Pop and his Testicle Timeouts sure made the most of those ten minutes, didn’t they?

Oh, and I know that he is evil, as all San Antonians are.  In my last post, I fully expected to get ribbing from the commenters, but I kind of figured it would be something like, “Sucks that you broke your nose and your team blows.”  You know, a little bit of sympathy wrapped up with a good-natured insult.  But, no, I got none.  They just kept kicking me in the nose.  Pure evil.

I love Coach’s attitude that his guys are going to lace’em up and go play.  I love the “let’s line up and go” attitude.  But he is repeating the same mistakes.  Even Rocky Balboa learned to fight with a right jab.  This is kind of along the lines of my last pre-game analysis – Pop’s guys know what is coming and know just when to sidestep the charging rube.

He has a great basketball mind but seems to be missing key leadership characteristics.  Suns fans have been through this before with Paul Westphal and the Charles Barkley-era Suns.  Great talent and great basketball IQ might be enough to win the title.  Do not count the Suns out.  If they lose, though, it is because of leadership.

Lest anyone misinterpret this, do not think I am calling for his job.  First, no one would listen.  Second, a new coach would detrimentally impact the Suns’ run for the championship.  There are essentially two more years with the aging core together.  After the 2009-2010 season, only Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw are on guaranteed contracts.  Why throw a monkey wrench into things?  Third, he has a great basketball mind.  Fourth, I really cannot think of anyone that is available that could do a better job.

The Suns will be contenders until Steve Nash is no longer able to compete.  If Coach D improves his leadership qualities and evaluates criticism in stride, there is no reason the Suns should not win a championship or two before 2010.  There is always room to improve, Coach.  It’s not always just a matter of trying to do the same thing better next time.

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