View Full Version : Star: Can Pacers improve mental toughness?

01-01-2009, 09:52 AM
Here is Mike Wells' and Danny Granger's answer to the "hold O'Brien accountable" thread: The losses are due to players making mistakes they've been coached not to make. It isn't the coach.

Indianapolis Star
Jan 1, 2009
by Mike Wells


Fingers usually start pointing as the losses mount, often in the direction of the coach, which helps explain why six already have been fired around the NBA this season.

The Pacers say coach Jim O'Brien can't be blamed for their lack of execution and mental toughness in key moments of close games.

"That's not fair because that's rarely the case," forward Danny <nobr style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 100%;">Grange</nobr> (http://www.indystar.com/article/20090101/SPORTS04/901010398#)r said. "In the NBA, you have so many coaching changes. It's easier to put it on the coach when a lot of times it's the players. That's how the situation is here. It's the players, not the coach."

01-01-2009, 11:55 AM
Well, it's good to see some support from Danny (though someone in a previous thread joked that O'Brien wouldn't be in trouble until he got statements of support from a player).

In any case, if the players aren't "getting" what they are coached, then I still consider that at least a partial failure of the coaching staff.

That being said, I'm still of the opinion that nobody should be fired this season. My expectations would've had them closer to .500 at this point, and I think they probably should be 13-18 or 14-17. However, my expectations did include a healthy Dunleavy.

Even though they are not meeting expectations, I am more frustrated than I am angry at anyone. While I am not fond of O'Brien's offensive system, I believe that he has done a good job of preparing this team and keeping them from splintering to this point. Players have been asked to do more than they are capable of (Jack, Rasho, Marquis) or are ready for (Rush, Hibbert). I do think Obie is wrong in not playing McBob in short stints, but that's the only tactical issue I have.

I am also frustrated with the myriad injuries/illnesses that have occurred. Not so much in that it's stolen victories (which it may have), but in the fact that it makes it next to impossible to evaluate the team as a whole.

While we should certainly continue to look to move Tinsley, and we should be open to moves at the trading deadline, I am perfectly comfortable giving Bird and O'Brien this season and next to continue to add talent and to sort out these mistakes. For Bird, I am still very happy with the moves made last summer, both talent- and money-wise. For O'Brien, unless the team just completely implodes and starts tearing itself apart from inside, then I firmly believe that most replacements would struggle to do as well as Obie has done.

As a veteran of turnarounds in business, the biggest enemies of actually succeeding in the turnaround are (1) reacting badly to missed expectations and (2) confusing activity with accomplishment. While failing to meet expectations are never good, knee jerk reactions and diatribes are counter-productive. You need to understand the situation and the reasons for the failure, and remedy those. In some cases, you need to understand if the expectations were appropriate in the first place. You also need to understand the difference between an excuse and a reason. The worst managers in these situations are those who view all reasons as excuses. It dooms the project to failure because there is no margin for error. The first can also lead to the second. The "do something, anything" mentality wastes resources and muddies the water.

I had projected this team at 35 wins in the "Official Projection" thread. Immediately after the draft, I had gotten caught up in the excitement, said that they could (or would, I don't recall) win 45, then did this post:


Which included this commentary:

So, while I believe that the Pacers have improved themselves on the court with their offseason moves, it's appears that it's possible that won't necessarily translate into more wins. Or, more to the point, that the 36-win figure from last year could arguably have been inflated by some late season "differences in priorities" between the Pacers and the teams they played.

So, while I get increasingly frustrated with each loss, I see no value in lynching anyone, nor do I see any value hyperventilating or self-flagellation.