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Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

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  • Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

    Ok we did the players now let's take the time to look at the front office and the coaching staff.

    Obviously right now we are in a downturn as far as our season goes (that is putting it mildly btw) but when looking at both the front office and the coaching staff we are going to try and maintain a bigger picture point of view here.

    So let me just get this out of the way right up front. For those that are on the "fire Jim O'Brien at all costs, this guy is an idiot" bandwagon you are not going to find a lot of meat here in this post. I will point out what I feel to be some faults for sure but I am purposely not going to take a one side only look at him. Same goes for Bird in the front office, while I have been very complimentary to them I will also now probably cast a shadow of doubt that up until now I had not done before.

    Basically I really am not going t review the entire coaching staff nor am I going to review the front office. I am really only going to do O'Brien and Bird because as the old saying goes "the buck stops here" and both of them are in charge of their particular fiefdom's.

    We might as well get the coaching staff out of the way right up front.

    Jim O'Brien: Ok contrary to what some think the man is not an idiot. Just like when you say a player in the NBA has to be a good athlete well you pretty much have to say that to coach at this level you have to be a good coach.

    However just like athletes some are better than others and some have gifts that other don't have.

    First and foremost Jim came to a team that had no cap room, no real tradable assets, a broken down player who was deemed to be "the star" even though he wasn't and a point guard who played every now and then. The fan base was small to begin with but the overall thought in the community towards the club was hatred. Not apathy, not disgust but actual tangible hatred.

    He had one good young player on the roster to work with (Granger) and the rest of the cast of castaways from Golden State and others.

    In "This is Spinal Tap" they had an alternative name for the album Shark Sandwich. Well Jim was pretty much given that sandwich to eat when he came here.

    It is pretty well documented that a few other coach's turned down the chance to coach our team. Between the mess off court and on court don't forget that at the time he was hired we still had the two headed monster of Walsh & Bird. I had read several times that this was really one of the main reasons that Van Gundy turned down our club, he felt that he had too many bosses and that the chain of command was muddy at best.

    So Jim comes in, remember we still had O'Neal with our club and he was making it perfectly clear he did not want to be here, and tries to make the best out of the situation that he has.

    Gone was the dump it to Jermaine offense that not only was ineffective but also just downright boring to watch. Now we had a little higher tempo but whenever J.O. played he still got plenty of touches. The big difference though now was that everybody was getting a touch as well.

    Throughout his three seasons here but in particular the first two seasons Jim was very active in the Pacers P.R. push. He was open to the public and was always approachable whenever he was doing a public event.

    Now I'm going to stop here and just state that I am not going to give a three year history of the club, I just kind of wanted to remind everybody where we were when he got here. O'Neal and Tinsley are gone and the roster has been made over a couple of times since he has been here.

    Looking at the now.

    There can be no denying it by either his fans or his detractors that Jim employs an unorthodox offensive system. Even the Pacers P.R. people have made this statement before. However while it is unorthodox it is not unheard of and he is not the first coach to use this.

    Actually motion offense has been used with great success back in the 60's by both the Celtics and the UCLA Bruins.

    You can argue the merits of it one way or the other with equal success IMO, but you can't really argue that it has never been used.

    His defense also is not unique; in fact I don't even think it really is all that rare. Pushing the ball to the wings or even in the past when he tried to go to the middle is not uncommon at all.

    I guess my point to this is to say that he is not some mad scientist who is coming up with these new earth shattering ideas.

    There is method to his madness.

    Also the idea that he does not tailor his game plan to fit the players he has available on the floor is not right either IMO. We all have talked about the five game win streaks, much like the unicorn it is mythical as time goes on, but you can not deny that both the offense and the defense were different when he had different players on the floor.

    So we know he can coach a different style, so that in and of itself tells me he is capable of being a very good coach.

    In fact I don't think it is unreasonable to say that we probably over achieved the past two seasons here because of his coaching, not in spite of it.

    One more little myth that I think we all need to look at (I include myself in this as well) is that he does not play youth or rookies.

    I think we all tend to forget Larry Brown or Rick Carlisle a little here. In fact I would guess that Roy, Brandon & Tyler have played more min. per game for Jim than almost any rookie has ever under either of the previous coach's.

    That does not mean that Jim is always right in the way or time he plays them but the fact that he does play them significant min. is probably a step up from what you would get from Brown or Rick in this case.

    Also the myth that he does not have set plays on offense is wrong as well. Being at the games I see and hear him yell out plays often times on offense. Now obviously not like Carlisle did, but he does have them.

    So if all of this is right, what the hell is wrong right now you may ask?

    Well several things really but some are more glaring than others.

    Just because I said that the offense is not unique does not mean that I think it is a good offense.

    One of Jim's biggest faults may be that he leaves to much trust in the players on the floor. Which in turn causes him to play players who understand what he wants ran, that is no crime by the way almost anybody would do this.

    But the offense lacks a certain amount of discipline and actually encourages open shots.

    Now let's get this clear right up front.

    Jim O'Brien is NOT telling his player to take the first crappy shot that they can get. I believe he wants them to take good open uncontested shots. Yes he would prefer them to take an open three as opposed to an open 20 foot two point shot but he does not want them just jacking up contested 25 foot shots.

    However here is where the problem starts to come into play. When the shots are not dropping the players tend to do the natural thing and get closer to the basket, well every defense in the NBA knows that we either are going to go long or are going to try and go one on one and drive the ball.

    So how have they compensated? Simple, they sag off of us daring us to hit a mildly contested jumper and they will live with the results until we can change their minds.

    To which we come to what I think may be standing in Jim's way of more success right now.

    His own stubbornness.

    Jim has a style of play he prefers above all others, IMO. He can coach the other way but for whatever reason he truly believes that this way is the path to success.

    But with the players that he has been given to work with I think it may be time to rethink the overall strategy. (BTW keep in mind the phrase I just used here because it will be big in our next segment)

    His preferred style has made it so that he puts players on the floor that are not only mediocre on defense in one of their cases he is downright atrocious. Thus forcing Jim to use other players to make up for this weakness.

    If Jim had a different group of players would he be more successful with his preferred style? In my mind, there is no doubt about this. However I just am of the opinion that this style will never be able to win big in this league because defenses will adapt quickly to it and unless you have a Bryant type of player who can get a great shot no matter what they can impact the shot selection dramatically.

    On defense I think part of the problem is the players he has chosen to put in for offensive purposes but I will say this. I don't think Jim values athletic shot blockers as a whole. Remember in Philly he did not use Dalembart and in fact he has a long standing feud with him.

    This does bring me to another odd thing about Jim. Have you ever noticed how former players who did not get along with him have no problem in bad mouthing him? Have you ever seen that before from anyone? I havenít. Hell there was lots of players who did not like Brown but everybody was diplomatic about it. But I have heard several former players make statements about him that were less than kind and on the other side of the coin I have heard him say some very negative things about Chris Webber that left me scratching my head.

    This brings us to Jim's use of the media.

    Ok, I'll admit it. I have zero problem with a coach making comments about players on occasion to the media. I hated with the passion of a white hot sun Rick Carlislse coach speak where he would talk a lot and say absolutely nothing.

    So if Jim wantsí to say something every now and then I'm cool with it. The players may not be but hey on occasion it is called for.

    However one problem that I do have with Jim is that when he speaks anymore I pretty much consider him a used car salesman at this point because he says whatever he wants to say no matter what it really means.

    Jeff Foster plays because his +/- are great, but no mention of why Murphy continues to play because his +/- are the worst on the team.

    From day one he has said if you don't practice you don't play. From day one J.O. didn't practice but played. Now we know that Danny hasn't been practicing this season yet always plays.

    He complains about Tylerís defense on PnR's but does not say a word about the overall defense played by.... well you know who.

    Overall I think he was a coach who agreed to come in and help guide the franchise while they retooled without tanking out and maximizing the talent they had available. However I think that what we have going on this season is that we have a mixing of players he does not really want or that don't really fit the style he wants to play.

    Does that make him a bad coach? In my opinion, no.

    Does that make him the right coach for this team? In my opinion, probably not.

    I think while they may talk everyday to make sure they are on the same page I think there is a giant disconnect between Bird and O'Brien in the style of play that want to see.

    So with that we end our portion of the O'Brien files and will now move onto Bird.

    But first a musical interlude.

    Since I know Chicago J can not stand my long winded posts I will give him a little of the boss in hopes that it soothes his soul.

    I think the title of the song is pretty appropriate for the season.


    Ok now to Bird.

    I do NOT consider the Larry Bird era to have begun until Donnie Walsh left the team. Now you can argue and I won't disagree that when Donnie took a seat up in the suite that he had given over the team but still Larry had to report.

    Now it is all on him.

    If O'Brien inherited the sandwich Bird got an entire pie made out of it.

    This guy had to deal with criminals, malcontents and a prima donna. In short order he has remade the team twice over the past two summers.

    There has been as stated long term plan in place to get the franchise back on course and they have set up the salary structure so that in a couple of years we can be significant players in either the free agent market or great trading partners.

    The problem is going to be having enough people to put in the seats to make it for two years.

    I have been on board for everything he has done.

    But recently I think I have come across the first chink in the armor so to speak.

    Over the summer he made what I thought to be outstanding free agent signings. In fact I said at the time and still believe that this was probably the best free agent signings we have ever had.

    However he then went out and extended OíBrienís contract.

    Which is fine but the problem is that Larry is not giving Jim the kind of players he wants or needs to run his offense.

    I think Larry has in his mind what he wants to run on the floor and I think that Jim has in his mind what he wants to run on the floor and I don't think the two match up.

    Take Hibbert for example. Why draft a player who is going to be a low post slower player for his entire career when you have a coach who does not play low post offense?

    I feel confident that Jim is playing Roy at all because Larry has made it clear they want Roy to get some time. He is not dictating his min. probably but I bet he is saying he wants him on the floor some during games.

    I understand the extension may have been essential for Jim's benefit but now we have to wonder if there may have been some steak with that sizzle we heard this past summer about some of the players not being happy about it.

    Also I really hate to use this but I can't help it because Bird is the one always bringing it up.

    But I think that Jim and Larry have a very different value system when it comes to Josh McRoberts. Now while I don't think Josh has done enough in terms of growth as a player it just seems to me that Bird is higher on him than Jim is. In fact whenever Larry talks about players he almost always bring up Josh's name. Now whether or not this is a local boy p.r. stunt I can't say but from an outsiders point of view I think there is a disconnect there.

    I guess what I am getting at is why doesn't Larry bring in players that are going to fit into Jim's system if he is committed to retaining him? I understand that players are generally going to outlast a coach but when you have a coach who uses as system like Jim does, how do you not give him players who fit the system.

    However if his idea is to make Jim a better coach by forcing him to adapt then I don't know how this is going to happen without trading a certain forward on our team.

    Overall though I am still thrilled with the job and the vision of the front office.

    They have gotten the community to go from hating the team to back to apathy which was no small feat I assure you.

    Ok, that is enough for now.

    I hope I have been fair and balanced.

    Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

  • #2
    Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

    Originally posted by Peck View Post
    Take Hibbert for example. Why draft a player who is going to be a low post slower player for his entire career when you have a coach who does not play low post offense?
    That was a great post, thanks.

    I don't think Bird cares that O'Brien is the current coach when he is drafting guys like Roy. Bird knows that by the time Roy is in his prime that O'Brien will be long gone. Bird is getting the guys whom he thinks are the best. You don't consider a coach who will be around just a few years max when drafting a player who you hope will play a decade or so with you, especially when you are building to win in the future and not the present. I think when Bird makes his next pick at coach, he will go with a guy that adapts to the styles of Hibbert, Hansbrough, etc.

    I think Bird is in the same place that we as fans are right now. That is, I'm sure he would like to fast forward the clock to a year from now when Murph/Dun/Ford are all expiring contracts. I know some people say trade Murph now, but I think that would be silly as his value will never be higher as it will be a year from now. Teams know they can hold a year before they bring him in.
    Last edited by Sollozzo; 12-10-2009, 09:53 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

      I think we all need to keep in mind O'Brien was at best 'second choice' and for all intents and purposes- an interim coach.

      It's hard to imagine why we should go out of our way to get O'Brien the players he needs for his system. Particularly when his system is suspect to begin with and management must consider him the 'interim' coach.

      I don't doubt that Bird/Morway think O'Brien should work a little harder to play the hand he's dealt. If anything, that trait of O'Brien's will simply make that 'interim' tag glow a little brighter. It will keep his seat a little hotter.

      So believing the above like I do... I have no idea why you give him the extension and particularly when the team gave it to him. I can only tell myself it was a bit of a 'thank you' for taking the team from the gloom and doom places we'd been with off court incidents and on court debacles... when nobody else would have. But now? ...We're headed right back to fan apathy. We've already got fans questioning players left and right... Even Granger is not immune.

      The problem with that 'thank you' extension being that O'Brien's expiration date was already becoming apparent.

      I'm going to run counter to some of the gloom and doomers on this but I think the team turnover went a little faster/better than could be expected. I think we have a team that with the right coach COULD start thinking about the playoffs. That's why O'Brien has quickly fell out of favor because most can see that he's not good for the collection of players we've assembled or the direction we're heading (playerwise).

      Or maybe the extension was to bribe him to adjust his system... It didn't work if that is the case.

      I don't think a motion offense is the problem. A motion offense has structure and roles. We're a quick strike offense... to the point of stifling motion, positioning and roles... Too often we're so busy trying to get that quick strike that we look lost if we haven't shot it in the first 8 secs of the shot clock.

      But just as I think the remold of the team has went quicker than planned, I think it also means O'Brien's time of the bench has ran out of steam quicker than planned.

      I question whether there's even any value to letting him coach out the season rather than just putting a puppet in place to start laying the groundwork for the new coach to actually coach to our strengths and teach these player to play basketball again... not to just shoot the ball. Why make this a total lost season?
      Nuntius was right for a while. I was wrong for a while. But ultimately I was right and Frank Vogel has been let go.


      "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

      -John Wooden


      • #4
        Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

        Actually can a coach that has three years under his belt with a 4th one on the way be considered an interm coach?

        Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13


        • #5
          Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

          Originally posted by Peck View Post
          Actually can a coach that has three years under his belt with a 4th one on the way be considered an interm coach?
          O'Brien was a coach who was hired as the best available filler for a period when the team wasn't going to have a roster good enough to attract a better coach.

          Call it a 3 or 4 year interim period, or whatever. I suppose Bird could have hired a greener, younger and unproven guy, but he chose to go with a guy who dragged a not that talented Celtics team to the ECFs.

          Regardless, there are a lot of rebuilding situations where any coach who is going to be hired is essentially going to be a "throw away" coach within a few years as soon as the talent on the roster gets better and they can hire a better guy.


          • #6
            Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

            Originally posted by Peck View Post
            Actually can a coach that has three years under his belt with a 4th one on the way be considered an interm coach?
            This is a very good question, and I think the answer must be yes. All this talk of making the playoffs this year seems like pure BS in retrospect. But you can't blame the PR guys for trying. I think as a best case scenario Bird feels Jim can lead the team to the playoffs, and the worst case scenario was already planned on. That is, Jim as an interim coach for a bad team till 2011.

            It is what is.

            For us fans, what is so frustrating is we got to see potential (the legendary 5 game win streak). And after years of sub par mediocrity, it can be tough to have your hopes dashed by what seems to be inexplicable stubborness. Jim has handled this season horribly so far, I mean if Murph (and to a lesser degree TJ and Jeff) had not been injured and given us all a bit of hope that our bench can actually play some basketball at a NBA level, there would not have been such a backlash. We might only have 1 win, but we wouldnt have known there was any potential to actually hope about in the first place. Jim missed a golden oppurtunity to change things up and give us fans a team we could actually chear for instead of yelling "OLE!" at Murphy and just laughing/crying at how bad the Pacers are.

            I don't think Bird wants to change coaches because he feels it is bad no matter who is coaching and that to me explains the extension. We suffer through it for another 2 years then we can reach the promised land of... something better than sub par mediocrity? We will see. I hope the team makes it there.


            • #7
              Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

              Prior to the season, my lengthy posts about the front office and the acquired players tended to end with

              Trust Bird and Morway
              Trust Bird and Morway
              Trust Bird and Morway
              Trust Bird and Morway
              Trust Bird and Morway

              I really doubted what we were getting with everybody we picked up with the exception of Hansbrough, and didn't really care about AJ Price, and lamented the loss of Jarret Jack due to the leadership we lost when he signed with Toronto. Dahntay has been more of a factor than I expected him to be, both for the good things he has brought being better at times than expected, and for the bad things he has brought being more varied and involving both ends of the floor. His impact on chemistry has been both good an bad, in my opinion, as well. His contract may or may not be excessive, time will tell, but I still feel that Denver would have at least put up resistance had they felt him to be worth keeping. Solo is what he is, and unfortunately either has not had the time to prove himself on the floor, or, as I believe, just can't get the job done. Watson has been far better than I expected, and will supplant TJ as the starter on a consistent basis when we become serious about trying to win games.

              I believe that the front office did well given the constraints that they face both from a cap standpoint AND a financial reality standpoint where the team loses an obscene amount of money each year and has no realistic expectation of that changing any time soon.

              On O'B, he may be the last residual of Donnie Walsh remaining with the team portion of the franchise, and I am beginning to doubt that Bird would have hired him if it had been his choice. At this point, I also doubt there would be very many takers for the position of head coach of a franchise that may have a difficult time being financially viable and therefore has a lessened opportunity to acquire talent going forward. I also believe that Bird is doing his best not to pull the trigger despite O'B not doing the job that he was hired to do -- guide the team through the rebuilding process while maintaining a palatable on the floor product and developing the young players who will either be the core of the franchise going forward, or valuable trading pieces because of developing their potential.

              O'B actually underachieved on the floor on game nights during his first two years here through various mismanagements of game momentum, rotations, and timeouts that have been discussed to the point that it is ridiculous. This year, it is impossible to tell due to the overall dysfunctionality that has reigned outside the Unicorn Streak for whatever reason, which I believe goes beyond simply being upset about losing. How much of it is coach related is difficult to say, but the previous rumors appear now to be indicative of at least some underlying problems there.

              He may well be a good practice coach, and good at working players hard (or is it too hard based on the recent tidbits about his full taped up practices on the morning of games?), but it certainly has not led to any maximization of results for any players with the exception of Murphy and Granger, or the end result of actually winning games which pretty much only happens when we outshoot our opponents, and certainly almost never as a result of sound defense, including during the Unicorn Streak, where we defended at a high level for about three quarters of the C's game, and at most for a couple of quarters of the other games, not counting our Nets and Knicks performances which were more reminiscent of what we have seen during the other 14 games (including our uninspired home win against the mighty Clips where they played ridiculously poorly even by their abysmal standards, very little of which having to do with our playing well except for a portion of the 3rd and 4th quarters).

              My ending position regarding O'B by the time the summer ended was the old Al Davis "Just win, baby", and I am waiting, very impatiently, for either that to occur or to begin building for the future. The status quo with respect to the product on the floor is obviously not acceptable to anybody, and the style that players who are ill equipped to play it (I am not certain who we currently have who would be more able to play it, and perhaps O'B is doing the young guys a favor by not exposing them more to it on the floor at this point) is very difficult to watch, at best, and actually unwatchable at times which really hasn't been the case for the most part the last couple of years.

              So, one more time, I will

              Trust Bird and Morway

              and be elated when this ugly chapter of Pacers history comes to a merciful conclusion.


              • #8
                Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                Originally posted by Peck View Post
                Actually can a coach that has three years under his belt with a 4th one on the way be considered an interm coach?
                I think (unless I'm very wrong on the timing) he can be considered a coach who's contract expires at the same time some of the larger player contracts (Murphy, Dun, Foster and maybe Ford?).

                If they intend to make a coaching change at the end of OB's current contract, would it not be a good thing to have the cap space to go after players that actually fit the new coach's game plan? Or to entice free agent players with the hiring of a "player friendly, bigger name" coach?

                I don't know. It just seems interesting to me that many player contracts and the coach's contract all expire at the same time.


                • #9
                  Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                  Originally posted by Peck View Post
                  Actually can a coach that has three years under his belt with a 4th one on the way be considered an interm coach?
                  Originally posted by Tom White View Post
                  I think (unless I'm very wrong on the timing) he can be considered a coach who's contract expires at the same time some of the larger player contracts (Murphy, Dun, Foster and maybe Ford?).
                  This is significant, I think. Had the offense not gone so spectacularly south (and, really, who expected the team to go ice-cold from 20 feet?) then we'd be grumping about JOB but not calling for his head.

                  Regarding the original post, there's not much for me to disagree with (I'll let the standard dig at Walsh go as it was subtle and not completely wrong).

                  I'll simply take the opportunity to mention that the people who continue to believe that the way to make the team great is to simply suck bad enough over the next 2 years to get high draft picks still don't realize how much that will cost in lost attendance and further apathy about the team. I have said far too often that it will not make me happy for a team in 2011-2012 to be competitive at the highest levels if that team is in Seattle or Las Vegas.

                  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
                  Or throw in a first-round pick and flip it for a max-level point guard...


                  • #10
                    Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                    I feel like Bird has helped lead this team into the irrelevant territory. He was part of the trades & drafts prior to Donnie leaving. In fact, I think he was a major player. I believe Walsh stayed around to help clean up the mess and deflect criticism from Bird. I've come to this conclusion over time. I could be wrong.

                    After watching the last home game I realized this team is irrelevant. Nobody in the stands. No players anybody wants to see. Losing upon losing.

                    I clearly watch every game and follow this team with a passion only matched on this board. The only people who care about this team are the few here. This is a huge problem.

                    Should the Pacers have gone after a guy like Iverson? At least people know who he is and it would've generated interest. With Danny out, this problem is super magnified. I place this blame at the feet of Larry Bird.

                    You have to have something to get people to look in the first place and this team doesn't have much at all.

                    I didn't make alot of sense but I've gotta go.......
                    I'm in these bands
                    The Humans
                    Dr. Goldfoot
                    The Bar Brawlers


                    • #11
                      Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                      Damn, I spent all of that time reading Peck's well thought out and well written post just to get to that one nugget, trade Troy and everything will be great from then on.


                      • #12
                        Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                        Originally posted by Dr. Goldfoot View Post
                        After watching the last home game I realized this team is irrelevant. Nobody in the stands. No players anybody wants to see. Losing upon losing.
                        I disagree.

                        Fans want to see Roy, and his minutes were drastically reduced, AFTER he helped the team win five in a row.

                        People also like to see Dahntay's passion to win. But his minutes were also reduced after the win streak.
                        "Look, it's up to me to put a team around ... Lance right now." óKevin Pritchard press conference


                        • #13
                          Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                          People needed to see players they could respect as people, but they have to see winners before they start coming back.

                          I love how people think fans will come to watch the Pacers lose just because the players are young and unknown. How in the world do you market that?

                          We may not agree with how it is being done, but right now no one can deny they are trying to find a way to win. Giving up on that isn't going to send a "hey, come watch us!" message to the community.

                          A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
                          Or throw in a first-round pick and flip it for a max-level point guard...


                          • #14
                            Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                            Originally posted by McKeyFan View Post
                            I disagree.

                            Fans want to see Roy, and his minutes were drastically reduced, AFTER he helped the team win five in a row.

                            People also like to see Dahntay's passion to win. But his minutes were also reduced after the win streak.
                            You're making the assumption that people know these guys exist. Generally they don't.
                            I'm in these bands
                            The Humans
                            Dr. Goldfoot
                            The Bar Brawlers


                            • #15
                              Re: Odd thoughts about coaching and management...

                              It's not everyone's cup of tea, but they could have chosen to market the young core guys along with Danny.

                              I could see banners/posters/billboards that have navy-blue tinted photos of Danny, Roy, Brandon, Tyler, and AJ with tag lines such as, "Be a part of the New Generation" or "Witness the beginning of a New Era" or something more clever than I can come up with in 60 seconds. Then follow that up with making sure all of those guys see solid minutes or more if/when they earn it. Doesn't mean they have to start.