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Thread: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

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    Default Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Hello again everyone from beautiful southern Indiana. Before we start, let's all for a moment praise and honor the many veterans who have made this country great and free, and all of us able to have the freedom to be able to argue about such trivial matters as our Pacers.







    Now, on to the discussions of today.

    I got to visit this weekend with two very different hall of fame high school coaches. One of the topics they both discussed (one still coaching, one blissfully enjoying retirement) was how no matter where you coach, or what you do, that the fundamental, core beliefs that you have never change....the same things that were true 20 years ago are still true today. What they meant was that while kids and players may change, that circumstances may change, that your outlook may change...but at its heart and soul the game never does. That discussion led me to later, while watching our Pacers play last night and in the previous 5 games, think about some of the old coaching staple phrases that most of us have heard many times and often just dismiss as tired and old, and realize that many of them are still ringing true where our Pacers are concerned. I think in many ways, they summarize my own thinking about our season, roster, coaching staff, and entire organization so far:

    1. YOU LIVE BY THE JUMPER, YOU'LL DIE BY THE JUMPER.

    Let's face it, our Pacers are a jump shooting team, playing for a staff that believes in the outside shot more than most. By nature, this will make our team more streaky than most.....especially when we have mediocre players taking most of the shots.

    2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE.

    I'm not nearly as mad or upset as many of you are, especially following last night's game against Denver. Why? Because in reality, Denver is much better than we are.....more talented, better put together, more cohesive, and more experienced. Instead of being upset that we blew such a mammoth lead, I'm gratified that we were able enough to get that big of a lead in the first place.

    When it comes to our roster as individuals, we simply aren't that talented.....it's a fact I think most of realize but struggle to accept. We all WANT TO BELIEVE, but we know that in reality that we have to play at a very high level to beat any good team in the league.

    Tinsley IS WHO HE IS: A very streaky and moody point guard who struggles shooting from the perimeter, and lacks the athleticism to drive consistently and create or to stop any decent opposing point guard from scoring.

    Jermaine IS WHO HE IS: A big man who has lots of talent, but is beginning to show signs of losing his burst and athleticism. A low post player without a dependable "go to" low post move. A smart defender who is a nice piece, but no longer capable (if he ever was) of being the premier player on a championship team. A player who looks unhappy, uninspired, and old.....not all the time, but enough to be worried.

    Dunleavy, Murphy, Harrison, Daniels, Granger, Deiner, Rush, etc etc.....THEY ALL ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. Jim O'Brien? He is EXACTLY WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS.....playing and coaching exactly the way that he believes is best. For better or worse, this is who we have and how we are going to play.

    3. YOU ARE NEVER AS BAD AS YOU SEEM WHEN YOU ARE LOSING, AND NEVER AS GOOD AS YOU SEEM TO BE WHILE WINNING.....and it's companion phrase, YOU CAN'T GET TOO HIGH AFTER A WIN OR TOO LOW AFTER A LOSS.

    I chuckled while reading this board after some of our wins. I chuckled again while reading this board after the last three games. This axiom is about as true as can possibly be, and everyone's mental health would be better if you can remember it during the next game we play as you watch us either get hot and win big, or struggle and lose badly.

    Players do this too sometimes, especially the immature ones, of which our Pacers unfortunately have too many of. If things are going well....everything is great, if we start to struggle.... then all hands abandon ship. Our team's biggest problem right now from a mental standpoint is an alarming lack of mental toughness. It's this weakness that concerns me the most.

    Fans like us are bad about this too, and so are coaches. In my younger days one of my teams would have a particularly good practice and I'd tell people how tough we were going to be, how we could blow people out, how well things were going, etc etc. The very next day, with the very same players, we'd stink up the place and I'd be convinced that we'd never win a game. Niether of course is true....you simply have to stay steady and stay the course.

    I have to laugh at some of our game threads and post game threads.....if you want a good chuckle, go back and read them about a week after the game, and compare the same people who one night loved a particular player (David Harrison comes to mind), and who want him cut and burned at the stake a few days later. There is nothing wrong with being this emotional, after all its part of being a fan, but I think a little perspective based upon our long term goals as fans needs to be utilized sometimes....I worry about some of the people on here sometimes, I really do.

    4. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THEM ONE GAME AT A TIME, and it's corrolary "WINNING IS A HABIT AND IS CONTAGIOUS....SO IS LOSING".

    I feel like this team is still emotionally immature, because I consider our 2 best veteran players to be that way in JO and Tinsley. When the going gets tough for us, I don't really feel our 2 vets rise up and play better, I think they shrink......and the rest of our guys seem to shrink with them. I felt like the loss to the Bobcats really carried over last night, as doubt and worry crept into our minds. And fans, we are just as bad, because it happened to all of us too......I'll bet most of us thought Denver would win once they began to rally.

    The key now is for our best guys to rise up and play better, to individually lead everyone else to preserve leads....to not play with fear, but to be fearless.....we are not a particularly talented team, so we have to make up for a lack of skill by being tougher and more mentally strong. Do we have it in us?



    Now, on to Jim O'Brien for a minute.

    Jim O'Brien, again, IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS. We knew he'd rely on the outside shot, we knew he'd play uptempo, we knew his directness and honest approach, we knew he wouldn't call as many plays, we as in depth NBA and Pacer fans who read this board knew Jim O'Brien had a system and was a "true believer" in it, and not an "adapter" like Rick Carlisle was. For the most part, things are playing out pretty much as I expected with a few minor differences.

    Right now, I love how Jim O'Brien isn't calling that many timeouts, and isn't calling them nearly as quickly as RC would have. In the 4th quarter of these last 2 losses he let the Pacers play it out, just to see how they would react, and they struggled mightily. That's great coaching for the long-term I think, because to be a real contender you can't just rely on your head coach to pull you out of tough spots....you have to develop the toughness to do it yourself. Coach O'Brien is coaching like a man who is secure in his convictions and beliefs. Someday if need be he will adjust and take a different approach, but for now he is in evaluation mode.....which is exactly the right thing to do. I think this approach maybe cost us a chance to win last night, but I'm ok with that, since the goal isn't to win a game in November 07, it's to build a championship contender by 2009-2010.

    Coach O'Brien has some decisions to make eventually. Most of us already have long ago concluded that we will never win with Jamal Tinsley as our point guard (all of us have our various reasons), but O'Brien wants to see for himself.....I respect that, and it isn't like we have any one else who is a viable option anyway. It's a problem that likely won't be rectified until next year's draft.

    Coach O'Brien is also going to have to experiment and try and figure out a way to play the same way but get more out of JO. Jermaine is struggling, and his knees and conditioning do not look good. This to me will be the single most interesting thing in the next 3 weeks....how might Coach O'Brien, whom we know doesn't adjust his system for anyone much at all, get more out of JO without slowing our team's offense down? My guess is that he will involve JO alot more in early screen/roll situations as he comes down the floor, and that he'll give JO some screen action inside so he can catch the ball on the move instead of just strictly posting him without any help to get open.....that will interest me alot the rest of this month and on into December.

    He also is going to have to figure out a couple of signature plays our guys can run well enough to score when we need a basket bad, he needs to identify which plays from last year he wants to keep and which ones he wants to never use again (I see some of the same sets people, not often, but they are recognizable to me), and he needs to figure out a way to get some low post scoring without Ike being able to sub for JO.

    Adversity is here, and it will be very interesting to see how our group of players handle it. If we can string together a few wins right now, all might fade away for a while.....but if we don't, I predict we will start hearing rumblings from our players about the physical and demanding Jim O'Brien practices. It was grumblings from the players that led to his dismissal in Philadelphia, but I don't think that will happen in Indiana.

    Basically, what I've been trying to say in this entire thread is that I'm encouraged by our effort, and the fact that I believe just about everyone but JO has bought in all the way to this new system....I think JO is probably on the fence. We all just need to realize that for the first time in a long time that the Pacers seem to have a long term plan, but it's going to take time (and I mean 24-36 months) to fully see it through.

    We need to keep our patience, and our perspective.

    As always, this is just my opinion.

    Tbird
    Last edited by thunderbird1245; 11-12-2007 at 12:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Great post as usual Tbird.

    I'm also anxious to see what JOB will do with JO if he truly is slowing down the offense, stopping ball movement and bricking jumpshots. Will he bench him in the 4th quarter?

    This will be an interesting upcoming period with the relation between JO & JOB at stake.
    Maceo Baston's #1 fan on Pacers Digest!

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    Member owl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    It is going to take awhile for things to take hold and to be able to fully evaluate who
    fits and who does not. Look at the midpoint and see what is going on.
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Interesting read and it rings true. Your perspective is always appreciated.
    No matter how much success Larry Bird attains in Indiana he'll never top that first command to fire Thomas. -Peter Vecsey. NY Post 12/4/07

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    Intuition over Integers McKeyFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Yes, I agree that it's a good thing JOB does not call many time-outs.

    He's learning first hand the great judgment of Jamaal Tinsley.

    But can he turn/improve JT and JO? Can 30-year-old dogs learn new tricks?

    I did notice that in the press conference JOB noted that Marquis makes good judgement decisions. Of course, he didn't say that about other point guards. Interesting . . .
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    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    I really enjoy reading your posts, people need to put things in perspective and not freak out so much about wins or losses this early.

    I tend to be the eternal optimist... I get really high after wins, but I also tend to try to find the good in a loss. My current perspective is just that we need more time to evaluate the team and let players get used to the system before we can really see where this is headed. Should be interesting to see...
    "As a bearded man, i was very disappointed in Love. I am gathering other bearded men to discuss the status of Kevin Love's beard. I am motioning that it must be shaved."

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    4. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THEM ONE GAME AT A TIME, and it's corrolary "WINNING IS A HABIT AND IS CONTAGIOUS....SO IS LOSING".

    I feel like this team is still emotionally immature, because I consider our 2 best veteran players to be that way in JO and Tinsley. When the going gets tough for us, I don't really feel our 2 vets rise up and play better, I think they shrink......and the rest of our guys seem to shrink with them. I felt like the loss to the Bobcats really carried over last night, as doubt and worry crept into our minds. And fans, we are just as bad, because it happened to all of us too......I'll bet most of us thought Denver would win once they began to rally.

    The key now is for our best guys to rise up and play better, to individually lead everyone else to preserve leads....to not play with fear, but to be fearless.....we are not a particularly talented team, so we have to make up for a lack of skill by being tougher and more mentally strong. Do we have it in us?
    You have posted a lot of great stuff over the past year or so, but I think this is probably the best thing you have ever posted. I agree 100% and have nothing to add.


    Adversity is here, and it will be very interesting to see how our group of players handle it. If we can string together a few wins right now, all might fade away for a while.....but if we don't, I predict we will start hearing rumblings from our players about the physical and demanding Jim O'Brien practices. It was grumblings from the players that led to his dismissal in Philadelphia, but I don't think that will happen in Indiana.


    Tbird

    That is interesting because according to Mike Wells' blog today O'Brien got all over the players Saturday (before the Nuggets game) and some players "took it better than others"

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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Another great Tbird post. I agree with pretty much all of your points and am cautiously optimistic that the Pacers might finally be edging closer to a long term plan. We've pulled off what was thought to be impossible in the NBA by successfully rebuilding on the run not once, but twice in the past 15 years. It's not going to happen this time, and I think LB is finally coming to that realization. That doesn't mean that this team can't be fun to watch.

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    It Might Be a Soft J JayRedd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE.

    I'm not nearly as mad or upset as many of you are, especially following last night's game against Denver. Why? Because in reality, Denver is much better than we are.....more talented, better put together, more cohesive, and more experienced. Instead of being upset that we blew such a mammoth lead, I'm gratified that we were able enough to get that big of a lead in the first place.

    When it comes to our roster as individuals, we simply aren't that talented.....it's a fact I think most of realize but struggle to accept. We all WANT TO BELIEVE, but we know that in reality that we have to play at a very high level to beat any good team in the league.

    Tinsley IS WHO HE IS: A very streaky and moody point guard who struggles shooting from the perimeter, and lacks the athleticism to drive consistently and create or to stop any decent opposing point guard from scoring.

    Jermaine IS WHO HE IS: A big man who has lots of talent, but is beginning to show signs of losing his burst and athleticism. A low post player without a dependable "go to" low post move. A smart defender who is a nice piece, but no longer capable (if he ever was) of being the premier player on a championship team. A player who looks unhappy, uninspired, and old.....not all the time, but enough to be worried.

    Dunleavy, Murphy, Harrison, Daniels, Granger, Deiner, Rush, etc etc.....THEY ALL ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. Jim O'Brien? He is EXACTLY WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS.....playing and coaching exactly the way that he believes is best. For better or worse, this is who we have and how we are going to play.
    Couldn't agree more here, and it reminds me of a point that may take a minute to get to.

    I have a friend who hates Michael Jordan.

    My friend loved the way he played, loved watching him play and thinks he's undisputedly the best player of all time. But he hates him for what he inadvertently turned the NBA into. My friend blames the way that games are played, coached and GM'ed on how good MJ was and that everyone who plays coaches or GMs does so now with the expectation that another MJ is out there somewhere (someone who seemingly never fails at the end of a game and can be counted on to make the last shot or defensive play without fail). It's like the search for the Holy Grail for GMs and every semi-athletic wing believes that they are the Holy Grail.

    The point here, is that Steve Nash has sort of started to do the same sort of thing for the expectation for long-time NBA veterans. When Steve Nash turned 30 years old, he got astoundingly and unprecedentedly better than he ever had been before. Yes, he was a two-time All Star and two-time All-NBA Third Team selection in his 20s...but he got A LOT better when he went to the Suns and became back-to-back MVP. It honestly took me a solid year to overcome the cognitive dissonance of this and believe that this actually happened. I tried to play it off as D'Antoni's offensive genious and other possible answers. But that was BS. Steve Nash just got A LOT better. He figured something out. He started seeing the game better. He understood the game in a much more profound way.

    It's still unbelievable.

    But...to my knowledge, this has never, ever happened before in the NBA. I mean, there has to be some other less drastic examples of marginal improvement at such an advanced age, but nothing on this scale. At 30, no other borderline All Stars become MVP candidates. Fringe starters don't become All Stars. Rotation players don't become #1 or #2 options.

    That scale of improvement just doesn't happen. I mean, basketball is a simple game. By 28, you either have it or you don't. A gradual climb can probably continue from like 28 through 35, but essentially, most every player ever to be in this league WAS WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE at 28 and has either linearly improved or linearly declined from there.

    But since the "Nash phenomenon," we believe this can happen again. But, IMO, it won't. We all want to see a real life The Natural or Scott Bakula from Necessary Roughness or, heck, even Chris Weinke. But this is just nonsense for 99.999999999% of the players in the NBA.

    But unfortunately Nash has inadvertedly skewed the possible expectations for fans to think some 30-year-old player will finally put it all together. They won't.

    Now we're seeing it all over the place with Jamaal. He has never been an All Star or a Top 10 pg in the NBA. But now at 30, we think he might. Like TBird says, we WANT TO BELIEVE. That's all well and good, but it's not happening.

    Jamaal is Jamaal, for better or worse. Aint no system, coach or even HGH that's gonna make Jamaal anything but Jamaal.



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    Last edited by JayRedd; 11-12-2007 at 06:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    i didn't think this deserved its own thread and it kind of fits with jayredd's post. from the mouth of toni kukoc...

    Kukoc rips modern-day NBA players

    SPLIT, Croatia (Ticker) -- Former Chicago Bulls star Toni Kukoc has branded modern-day NBA players "selfish" and claims he can no longer watch the poor quality of play in the league.

    Kukoc won three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, and also played for Philadelphia, Atlanta and Milwaukee before retiring prior to the 2006-07 season.

    Now back in his native Croatia, the 39-year-old Kukoc wants to take up coaching. He will not, however, be doing it in the NBA.

    "The NBA is a league of selfish people and it is no longer a part of my life," Kukoc said in the Jutarnji list newspaper. "Last year, I watched just three games of the Chicago Bulls.

    "I hardly ever go to the United Center because there's little to see. It irritates me to see the poorness of the game of today and the lack of intelligence on the court."

    Kukoc claimed that players are putting themselves before their teams and, by doing so, are sacrificing their chance of glory.

    "There are too many selfish players in basketball nowadays," he said. "I could also have scored 30 points per game but, how many titles would I have won playing with that style?"

    During the late 1980s Kukoc established himself as one of the best players in Europe and he was drafted by the Bulls in 1990. He stayed in Europe three more years before heading to the NBA, where he would win his first title in 1995-96 when the return of Michael Jordan gave the Bulls the edge they needed.

    But for all of his brilliance, Kukoc wonders if Jordan's legacy hasn't damaged the game.

    "Fifteen years ago, a more collective basketball was played," Kukoc said. "Today, the players believe themselves to be very smart when they say 'give me the ball to prove to you what I can do.'

    "The last team was that of the Detroit Pistons. Afterwards, everyone wanted to imitate Michael Jordan."

    http://www.sbrforum.com/Headlines/NBA/55551.aspx
    This is the darkest timeline.

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    It Might Be a Soft J JayRedd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Disclaimer: I'm not friends with Toni Kukoc (but if I was, I'd refer to him solely as "The Waiter").

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    Headband and Rec Specs rexnom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    By the way, Dennis Green called...

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    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old coaching axioms ringing true, calling for perspective, and handling adversity

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    4. I feel like this team is still emotionally immature, because I consider our 2 best veteran players to be that way in JO and Tinsley.
    I think this has been our main problem for years. This team has a history of quiting. They got off to a great start one year with Isiah coaching, and then fell apart. I've always asked myself why? Now I think you have put your finger on it.

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