Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Key Quote From the Official Introduction of Larry Drew

It didn't come from Larry Drew, which is no knock on Drew or anything he said. He seems a reasonable man who likely has ideas, good and bad, innovative and naïve, about how to be a head coach. I expect he'll have many new and different ideas about how to be a head coach in six months. As he should. And he did say several intelligent:
"The thing is to get [Josh Smith] off the perimeter. Put him in position to be a little more successful. I believe with his athleticism, he has a lot of capability in low post."
and crowd-pleasing things:
"I really believe [Jeff Teague] has the package. Rick [Sund] and I spoke about it. I think he has the ability to make this team better, to have an impact on this team. The offense will really benefit from his speed and his quickness — to break the defense down."
The key quote (reported, as the above quotes were, by Jeff Schultz of the AJC) though comes from Al Horford speaking on the differences between Mike Woodson and Larry Drew:
"He’s totally different. Coach Woodson was more laid back. Larry’s different. He’s already reached out to us and let us know he’s going to change the offense a little bit and how he’s emphasizing the defensive part of things...Even though Larry was a part of our team before, it’s a big change for us. Because when you have a head coach, you [the assistant] can’t get the last say. With him being in charge now, things are going to be different."
I think Woodson's tendency to be "laid back" then transitioning into a "screamer" when things didn't go according to plan is what ultimately lost the confidence of the locker room. A coach could survive, especially after a 53-win season, an inability to communicate or an inability to make effective in-game adjustments. The combination of those particular weaknesses fails to inspire or even reassure. Horford also indirectly addresses the dissonance between Mike Woodson's frequent invocations of defense in the media and on-court results. Improving the team's defense is, to my mind, Drew's primary challenge.

Hiring Larry Drew doesn't come close to solving this team's myriad weaknesses but, if he can convince the team's young talent to play differently (whether Joe Johnson returns or not) than they've grown accustomed, then the chances of him making a successful head coaching debut increase. The players got what they wanted but, in gaining a new head coach, they lost a scapegoat. Mike Woodson took the bulk of the blame for the team's (relatively) poor playoff performance. If the returning Hawks fail to give Drew a consistent, committed effort as he learns on the job (as he assuredly will) they'll find there's plenty of blame to go around when changes don't lead to improvement.

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