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Unclebuck
05-21-2006, 09:00 AM
Some quotes from Walsh


http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/v-pfriendly/story/419615p-354324c.html


Less doubting Coach Thomas
BY MITCH LAWRENCE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Sunday, May 21st, 2006

The drill was intended to teach the Indiana Pacers the correct way to throw the ball to the post, a fundamental part of the game that would take your normal NBA player no more than two or three minutes to master. But the man doing the coaching, Isiah Thomas, was known to sit in his office for hours, trying to come up with new wrinkles for the motion offense that he first learned under his mentor, Bob Knight.

So it was no surprise that the drill never took less than 20 minutes. And that the Pacers practiced it almost every day.

That feed-the-post drill got to be a standing joke for some veterans, who supressed smirks and yawns as Thomas went over every detail, down to the footwork of the man catching the ball.

But not everyone was taken aback by Thomas' insistence on micromanaging a fairly simple part of the game.

"I always felt that Isiah's biggest strength is his offensive game," says Indiana CEO Donnie Walsh, Thomas' boss during his three seasons coaching the team. "He came up with some interesting game plans and plays, even in our playoff games, that sometimes surprised me.

"I've heard people say if he takes over the Knicks' coaching job, he'll have to hire an X's and O's guy. But I totally disagree. Isiah has a player's know-how, because he played point guard. And he's a very creative guy when it comes to the offensive end."

If he does succeed Larry Brown, there isn't much doubt that Thomas will have to be at his creative best. The greatly flawed roster Thomas has assembled produced only 23 wins under Brown this season, and is missing more than a few key components to become a championship contender - starting, of course, with a franchise talent.

That doesn't mean, however, that Thomas can't get the Knicks up to the 35-37 win level, which, in the very weak Eastern Conference, could give any team a chance to challenge for a final playoff spot.

To do that, he'll have to throw out Brown's playbook and do what he had intended to do all along, before hiring Brown last August. According to several coaches and GMs asked about Thomas' coaching abilities, his best chance to get the Knicks back to mediocrity is to run a variation of Phoenix's system, even if that means a diminished role for Eddy Curry, one of Thomas' signature acquisitions.

(Unless, of course, Thomas reverts to how he coached in Indiana, sitting in his office for hours, planning out new schemes for the motion offense. Often, those wrinkles would crash and burn when he'd try them out in practice.)

"I think Isiah's approach would be, 'Here's the way we're going to run the offense, and then we'll pick up the defense as we go,'" Walsh says.

If he does go the Suns' route, the Knicks most certainly won't perform nearly as well as Mike D'Antoni's genuine version has, although the players aren't as likely to rebel against the coach, as happened last season.

"The challenge for Isiah is that he's got a lot of the similar players, guys like (Stephon) Marbury, (Steve) Francis and (Jamal) Crawford," says one Eastern Conference coach. "He can't play a slowdown halfcourt game, because it doesn't favor any of their strengths. It's got to be an up-tempo, shoot 'em out type of style. If he plays that style, he'll get the fans excited because they'll at least be entertaining. They'll score and he can show some progress. He can have the Garden rocking again.

"And that will be easier to sell to his players. Guys will be gung-ho to play in it, because they'll get up and down the court, everybody will get touches and it will give them an opportunity to create. For that team, that's a whole lot better than trying to use the approach that Larry did."

When it comes to handling players, Thomas also will have an entirely different approach than Brown. While Brown seemed to revel in pointing out his players' deficiencies to the media, causing numerous firestorms along the way, Thomas almost never ripped his players in Indiana when he compiled a 131-115 regular-season mark from 2001-03.

Even when his teams failed to get out of three straight first-round series, including in 2003 when the Pacers were the higher-seeded team, he steadfastly supported his players - as long as they remained loyal to him. When he suspected Austin Croshere of giving anonymous critical quotes to reporters, he banished Croshere to the Siberian side of the bench.

After spending all of last season exchanging verbal grenades with Brown and bucking the system, Marbury would seem to be the greatest beneficiary of Thomas' attempts to keep problems in-house. But while several GMs think Marbury would embrace whatever role Thomas would have for him, others say Marbury will never make his teammates better, no matter who the head coach is. If the Knicks try to become Phoenix East, for instance, it's hard to imagine Marbury succeeding in the role of Steve Nash, a two-time MVP who raises everyone's play around him.

"I really don't know how he'd do," Walsh says of the guard. "I think Marbury is a very good player. But he's got to be put in the right role to succeed. I don't know how you do that. That would be Isiah's challenge."

Only one of many.

Kegboy
05-21-2006, 09:27 AM
That feed-the-post drill got to be a standing joke for some veterans, who supressed smirks and yawns as Thomas went over every detail, down to the footwork of the man catching the ball.

Maybe it'd be funny if they ever got it right. The downfall of The Quick was, exept for Brad, nobody could run the shuffle cut correctly. Only Brad and Reggie got the triangle aspects. Motion broke down whenever Al had the ball, and don't even get me started on Ron.

DisplacedKnick
05-21-2006, 01:12 PM
Maybe it'd be funny if they ever got it right. The downfall of The Quick was, exept for Brad, nobody could run the shuffle cut correctly. Only Brad and Reggie got the triangle aspects. Motion broke down whenever Al had the ball, and don't even get me started on Ron.

IMO the downfall of The Quick came after the all-star break once opposing coaches had scouted it and figured that if you clogged the lane and bumped cutters you could pretty much destroy it.

Kegboy
05-21-2006, 07:44 PM
IMO the downfall of The Quick came after the all-star break once opposing coaches had scouted it and figured that if you clogged the lane and bumped cutters you could pretty much destroy it.

Oh, the system wasn't working as intended long before that. What you're referring to was the downfall of the team itself, otherwise known as The Collapse. But Ron and Al were ****ing things up long before then. Brad was the only thing holding things together. Once he got hurt, we were toast.

JayRedd
05-23-2006, 02:28 PM
These sound like some pretty back-handed compliments from The Don:


"I always felt that Isiah's biggest strength is his offensive game," says Indiana CEO Donnie Walsh, Thomas' boss during his three seasons coaching the team. "He came up with some interesting game plans and plays, even in our playoff games, that sometimes surprised me."

Interesting like losing in the 1st Round three straight years. Or surprising like taking three seasons to win more than 42 games?


"I've heard people say if he takes over the Knicks' coaching job, he'll have to hire an X's and O's guy. But I totally disagree. Isiah has a player's know-how, because he played point guard. And he's a very creative guy when it comes to the offensive end."

Creative enough to be shown the door after mismanaging and confusing his players for three seasons. What a waste of time this guy was.

Kegboy
05-23-2006, 04:08 PM
These sound like some pretty back-handed compliments from The Don:

You're reaching.

JayRedd
05-23-2006, 04:25 PM
You're reaching.

twas only only kidding around. Can't resist taking potshots at Isiah.