Yesterday’s Scott Skiles

30 05 2008

Word on the street is that Doug Collins is the front-runner for the Chicago Bulls’ head coaching position.

Didn’t we just fire this guy?

Oh, wait… that was Scott Skiles. This is Doug Collins, a Midwestern mind that was the first overall pick in the 1973 NBA draft. My mistake.

Collins has won 53.6% of his games as a coach (332 wins and 287 losses). He’s had moderate success in the post-season with a career record of 15-23 in the playoffs. He’s branded as a defensive-minded, old-school coach that is hailed as a guy that develops younger players.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Scott Skiles, the guy that was fired from this position on Christmas Eve, has won 52.8% of his games. In comparison, he’s gone 15-20 in the post-season. Skiles is a coach that focuses on defense. He’s old-school. He was branded as a great teacher.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that opportunities arise depending on who you know rather than what you know. Doug Collins is a good coach and he knows the game. If you’ve listened to his comments during TNT broadcasts, you’ll likely agree with me.

However, this move reeks of “good ol’ boy.” Collins has some sway in league circles; he’s in the know. Take a look around at other teams’ recent hires — Mike D’Antoni, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, Scott Skiles and Erik Spoelstra. Everyone but Spoelstra is on at least their third coaching stop. Is fraternity really that thick?

Paxson can’t find someone fresher than Collins? He has been out of coaching for five years. Since leaving the Washington Wizards, he’s made it very clear that he was no longer willing partake in the plight of an NBA coach.

I don’t blame John Paxson for sticking to his guns and hiring an old-school guy. Paxson realizes that it takes defense to make noise in the playoffs — as evidenced by this year’s NBA final four. He can re-tool a bit and draft Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose. But he’s leveraging his suddenly attractive coaching spot to grab a re-thread?

Maybe we should’ve just re-hired Skiles.

I guess I’ll just have to wait 10 years.





The Other John Hires Scott Skiles

23 04 2008

Who loves Scott Skiles?  I do!

In fact, I’m ecstatic the ball club in my adopted city has picked him up.  I’m only a two hour drive away from seeing his bald head gleaming along the sidelines.  His menacing, dinosaur-like glare gives me goosebumps.

Goosebumps in the way of R.L. Stine.  God, I love Scott Skiles.

And R.L. Stine.

Thanks to John Hammond, Skiles is coaching the very team that drafted him as a player.  The man can help the lowly Milwaukee Bucks win.  In each of Skiles’ full seasons, his teams all finished over .500.  He can coach and it’s exactly what the Milwaukee franchise needs.

Is Skiles a rethread?  Yes, but lots of other NBA coaches are.  If Larry Brown’s name comes up every now and then in the coaching carousel, those same teams should do their due diligence on Skiles.

John Hammond is Joe Dumars’ protege.  Hammond can allow Skiles to resuscitate the franchise much like how Dumars used Rick Carlisle to jump start the Detroit Pistons.

The knock on Skiles is that he’s an old-school coach; he’s too tough and he doesn’t mess around.  Every professional sport is a players’ league so Skiles’ style can create dissonance within a team.  But all of Skiles’ drawbacks double as his strong points.

John Hammond is no fool.  He’s seen Larry Brown, Flip Saunders and Carlisle coach.  Non-player positions in the NBA are like revolving doors.  Given the unpredictable nature of Hammond’s position, it says something that he’s willing to put his eggs in the Scott Skiles basket.

The man is one tough cookie.  He demands as much from his players as he does from himself.  Jeff Van Gundy once said that Skiles was one of the best-prepared coaches in the NBA come game day.

Skiles owns a 281-251 record as a coach with 15 playoff wins.  This may have been a questionable move if the Bucks were an established, playoff team.  But they’re not.  They have no identity and forging a defensive mindset is the way to go.

Maybe Charlie Villanueva will think he’s playing for Jim Calhoun.  That way, he’ll forget that he’s supposed to lose every game.





Rick Carlisle: Kung-Fu Master

11 04 2008

Rick Carlisle will beat up your mother. It’s true.

The former Coach of the Year has been linked with potential jobs opening up after this season. The Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks (with John Hammond pushing) are among the teams that are interested. And this will also allow Carlisle to join Ben Wallace in a tour of the Central Division.

The word around Chicago is that Carlisle is a good coach but is too much of a Skiles look-a-like. I resent that statement because the man looks like Jim Carrey.

An interesting trend can be found when looking at the record of Carlisle’s six seasons in the league. None of his teams have ever improved record-wise.

Detroit Pistons 2001-2002: 50-32 (.610)
Detroit Pistons 2002-2003: 50-32 (.610)

Indiana Pacers 2003-2004: 61-21 (.744)
Indiana Pacers 2004-2005: 44-38 (.537)
Indiana Pacers 2005-2006: 41-41 (.500)
Indiana Pacers 2006-2007: 35-47 (.427)

Clearly, something is up. Generally speaking, the longer someone is with an organization, the better they become. As one goes further along on the learning curve, they get more familiar with their position. Players come to know what to expect from their coach. The coach, in turn, gradually learns how to motivate his players. With all other things remaining equal, a coach of Carlisle’s caliber should have shown improvement.

I don’t want to come to conclusions but is it a case of players burning out on the coach? If so, the Bulls might want to steer clear because they’re still salty off Scott Skiles.

In Carlisle’s first season at the helm, he makes his predecessors look like idiots. If there’s one thing that can be said about Rick Carlisle, it’s that he will give you an excellent first season record.

Carlisle took over the Detroit Pistons job from George Irvine in 2002. The Pistons went from 32-50 and into the lottery under Irvine to 50-32 and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals under Carlisle.

Same deal in Indiana. The Pacers went 48-34 in Isiah Thomas’ last season while losing in the first round of the playoffs. Under Carlisle the next season, the Pacers went 61-21 with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The man can get you there but he won’t keep you there very long. The Milwaukee Bucks need a culture change. Their young players need to experience winning and the atmosphere of the playoffs. Michael Redd has only really played in three of his post-season campaigns, so their veteran leadership isn’t exactly savvy in that regard. If they wait any longer, it might be “next year…” for a long time.

If he’s willing, they should roll the dice with Rick Carlisle.








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