This has always been, to a basketball coaching geek like me, one of the most interesting and complicated arguments about how to coach successfully and how to build a team. Since this has been a topic of conversation about RC regularly, I thought it might make for an interesting thread topic all into itself.
Basically, I think successful people have approached this different ways. For the purposes of this thread, I want to break down the choices something like this:
1. Do you play the same starters night after night, with the same basic player rotations and substitution patterns.....or do you change semi regularly depending on how your guys are performing and who you are playing? If you are a person who favors changing your personnel depending on the opponent, do you try and match up more for offensive advantages or for defensive advantages?
2. What philosophy do you have for an overall offensive structure? In other words, do you run the same plays against all opponents regardless of who you are playing, because thats what your team does best? Do you have an overall philosophy of getting your star players approximately the same shots each night, or do you like to ride the "hot hand" more than most, even though that isnt a guy you normally would go to? Do you run a patterned offense against everybody (Phil Jackson), or do you run wide open stuff against everyone (Mike D'Antoni), or do you adjust based on who you have and who the opponent is?
3. Do you basically treat everyone the same as far as rules and behavior, or do you have different rules and standards for different players? If you do have different ideas for different guys, what are those rules based on?
Think about these ideas based on how RC does things, and tell us how you percieve him to be in these categories, loosely interpreted as they are. My guess is, some of you will think RC is too stubborn, and some of you will think he is too quick to change. Some of you will think he doesnt match up often enough, and some of you will wish he worried more about what we do and force the opponent to match up with us. I'm interested to see what many of you really think, and how you percieve RC to be when viewed through this prism.
When I think about my own basketball past, I see things from both perspectives. I went to a high school which had 2 hall of fame coaches. They both were of the school of thought that you "do what you do", and give very little thought to the opponents substitutions or personnel, and simply play the way you believe is correct.
Then in college, I meet Coach Knight and others (hall of fame level coaches), and we learn about the importance of scouting and watching film, and changing your lineups and offensive strategy based on your own players strengths, and spending time trying to scout the opponents flaws and try and figure out who to guard who, and come up with different defensive strategies based on the opponent. (Who to lay off of, which player to force a certain direction, who can be pump faked, etc etc)
Then later in coaching in different school systems for coaches with different philosophies, I found myself having to coincide the good and the bad with both these ideas. Do you change who plays minutes depending on the opponent or how a particular kid practiced? Do you play the same players in a regular rotation so everyone gets comfortable with their "role"? Do you zone some teams and play man on others if you know the opponent has a weakness against one of them? What do you do if your game plan doesnt work....do you stick with it or do you adjust quickly? Sometime in this era Bird was hired to coach the Pacers, and I used to watch Chris Mullin get absolutely torched early in games by just about every small forward we played at that time, but Larry never wavered and never played him less, and usually it would work out in the end. Larry got points for leaving Mully in and letting the players have a steady role, but was that really smart to start Mullin against big time athletes he had no chance of stopping, often getting us in an early hole? It worked, so it must have been....or was it?
Basically, you know no matter what you do that you are going to be right some of the time, and wrong some of the time. Like Marv Levy and Bill Polian say, "if you have 2 choices, you try one that doesnt work, then you are an idiot for not doing the other thing."
Anyway, so thats what has my mind working tonight in the aftermath of a tough but expected road loss to Detroit. Maybe the next time we will try the same things but the result will be different, or we will try different things and get the same result. Its all part of what makes basketball the greatest game ever invented.
Just my opinion of course.