Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Don't Understand Coach Mike Woodson

I have criticized Mike Woodson a lot. I've tried to also praise him for things he's done for balance. I don't want him to ever read this and have him think I had an agenda. I just happen to have a philosophy regarding how to win a NBA title that starts well before you actually do so and I haven't seen much that I agree with in that regard from our coach.

That doesn't mean that he's a bad guy or deserves scorn, but I won't let my love for a black man who went to Indiana University (my family's alma mater) leading the team in concept get in the way of winning the actual title. Lots of text to get to my point, I know (but I have to always tread lightly here because Coach Woodson from what I know of him is a really nice guy)...

Here's the point: I don't understand you Coach Woodson. You're quoted in the AJC today as saying "“I did something last night I haven’t done all year in terms of playing six guys,” he said. “I really thought we could beat those guys like that but it backfired on me because their second unit beat us.”

Ok, a couple of points - technically, you could be correct in saying you haven't done that before, but that's not philosophically the point - you have OFTEN just not played the bench and rode the starters. You've made living not playing our bench. You've never made it a point to instill confidence in our bench. YOu play them when they play well and you sometimes don't play them when they play well, but you NEVER play them when they don't play well. Like you do with our starters - our starters play no matter what they do on the court (well, until this season with Mike Bibby). Now, that brings me to the point - you said that this was the first time you did this...all season you've had to tinker and find things out about this team. So, instead of things like - finding minutes for Teague, Smith, RandyMo etc to see if they can do something for us in the short and long term - or trying new offensive sets or defensive looks to diversify our toolkit for the season - you wait until we are on a West Coast road trip after All Star break to find out whether a poor playing starting group plus Jamal can stop playing poorly on their own instead of using players that had played well vs. said team only a quarter or two earlier.

THAT was your idea of doing something new. Not only do I question the tactic, but I also question the reasoning - it just doesn't make sense. teams are getting better by bolstering their teams 1-11 or 12 and you made the decision to SHRINK the bench on the road in a non-essential game and that was supposed to turn out! Not only that - what message does that send to the bench? I can see sending a message that says - BENCH go win us a game without the starters that even if you lose, you might win, but the reverse is assuredly more likely. You can win the battle and lose the war.

This has been our NUMBER ONE gripe with Mike Woodson. It's lack of foresight for how to prepare a team for the postseason. I'd prefer to see Joe Johnson not play a game or two than trying to burn him out to win a game that we lost anyway and with no regard to the psychology of such a thing. I watched Darren Collison turn the ball over 8 times the other day - he also had a triple double and they WON THE GAME. Darren Collison looked awful early in the season (except when he and Marcus Thornton beat the Hawks), but has gradually gotten better with more PT. I would expect the same from Teague. I'd expect it from Joe Smith, from Maurice Evans (who is playing less and less DESPITE the fact that Marvin is not having a good season). So, I won't say all this and predict doom in the regular season.

I will say all this and say - as soon as we hit Round 2 of the postseason, I'll be resigned to the fact that we don't have a coach who has done enough to prepare us for that stage. He'll say he has. the players will too, but games like last night vs. the Suns will be an example of why I will think otherwise.

Don't get it twisted - I'm a Hawks fan for life and I'll cheer til there's 00:00 on the clock, but I won't put my head in the sand on this...I don't understand Coach Woodson and honestly, I wish the guys who always defend him (or even the man himself) could help me get it...I'm beyond wanting to be 'right' - I just want it to make being his whole approach to winning us a NBA title!


Anonymous said...

Well said, I don't understand either

rbubp said...

You are absolutely, totally correct. Woodson's strengths seem to be managing players and creating a good atmosphere despite the fact that the bench doesn't play enough. I'm not sure how he does this. Why is Marvin Williams happy with the 17 minutes a game or whatever he plays, or Zaza with his timing deteriorating as the season progresses (I have to assume from lack of sustained PT)? Somehow they appear to be one of the least personal drama-addled units in the league despite the lack of consistency in the minutes distribution (in that poor play from starters does not result in more PT for the bench).

But what happens if someone gets hurt? The Hawks have been very fortunate in this regard.

Perhaps that's what has to injury. It's terrible to say that, yet we all know it would be beneficial in the long run! Of course none of us would ever hope for it, but it seems as though that's the only way the bench will ever be soundly developed.

CoCo said...

The thing that infuriates me most about Coach Woodson is when he gets to the post game press conference and can tell the media exactly what they stopped doing successfully in order to lose a game. It's as if he's a blogger and there's literally nothing he can do about it. Like he's on the outside looking in as opposed to standing on the sidelines with the ability to make changes. I've come to the conclusion that he is afraid to bench his super star. I'm bothered that everyone on this team is all too willing to stroke the ego of one player.

Anonymous said...

I am so disgusted thinking about last night that it was hard to even know what to write. I find Woodson to be equally infuriating in those press conferences. Does he not realize that he is the one in charge? That is what I wrote in my post. If I as a coach demand for a play to be run or for someone to get the ball then I expect my team to execute it. Its like Woody is telling us that he gets in the huddle and says "guys I don't have a clue. Come up with something on the fly and make it good." Are we really to this point? And where the heck was Mo Evans and Joe Smith last night? I don't feel like it had anything to do with the outcome but I want to know the rational thinking for giving the DNP's and playing Mario.

Ron E. said...

What's there not to understand? It's pretty simple. Woody is not a good coach. His defensive scheme is "always switch" even if that leaves Bibby guarding Lebron. And his offense is "I don't care about the offense; we'll score enough somehow by doing isolations to win with our defense" (except the defense isn't anywhere near good enough for that to work due to being little more than roboticly switching). The team has gotten better every year simply because of the accumulation of high draft picks plus Joe Johnson. Now they've maybe hit their ceiling. A new coach is needed to make a serious run at a title in the coming years.

Jesse said...

The answer is rather simple and it's been no big mystery for the past few years. Coach Woodson simply isn't coaching to win a championship. Instead, he's simply coaching to keep his job each year. The mentality that the increase in wins each year must mean he is doing a good job has been bred by the front office twice. Tthat has given him enough support to continue doing just what it takes to get by and keep his job.

I think he knows he is a horrible coach and is completely out of his league. Can we send coaches to the D-League?