Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A coaching change for the better

There are lots of reasons for the Blazers successes over the last 11 games. Great production from the bench and Brandon Roy being the most obvious of those, but as people are starting to realize, the most important change might have came courtesy of Nate McMillan. So says Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times.

But after the Blazers dropped to 5-12 following a 100-79 loss at San Antonio, McMillan changed his tone and his tune.

For his players to change, McMillan had to change at least slightly.

The former Sonics player and coach reminded himself that even though this was his third season in Portland, the rebuilding project was just beginning. His team still was the youngest in the NBA and the third-youngest in the history of the league.

"There had been a lot of hard practices, a lot of screaming. I want to win and I felt I needed to win," McMillan said. "But I had to look at what I had and realize the organization wasn't putting pressure on me. I was putting pressure on myself. I had to do a lot of soul searching and realize the situation we were in.

"I was being really hard on our guys, but I had to realize these are the youngest players in the league and we have to be patient and work with these guys and develop them and help them to grow. We've been doing a lot more teaching, a lot more video, a lot more one-on-one work. And I just kind of took a step back and allowed them to play."

The change has been dramatic.

Under the slightly new Nate, the Blazers have won a league-best 11 games in a row. Five of those wins came without starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and, all of them have come without the league's No. 1 draft pick, Greg Oden, who is out for the season recovering from microfracture knee surgery.

I think coaches tend to draw the bulk of the blame when their team does poorly and less of the credit when their team does well, so it's nice to see McMillan get the kudos he deserves for his work this season.

And I'm going to go ahead and make a declaration: If the Blazers make the playoffs this season, Nate McMillan should be unanimously selected for coach of the year. Argue against that.

1 comment:

NateDogg said...

Casey, great point. Teams are way to quick to drop blame on the coach and let them go. The Bulls just fired Skiles (on chrismas eve) for starting 9-16. Nate started 5-12 on the season and came into this year 53-111 for the Blazers. Mad props to our GM K.P. for sticking to his plan and letting the cream rise to the top.