After losing the huge lead to the Pacers, the Knicks came back and didn’t lose a big lead to the Magics. Granted, the Magics had no chance of winning that game, because of the Van Gundy/Howard debacle. But still, it’s hard for teams to come back psychologically from what happened to the Knicks against the Pacers. Good coaches help players move pasts these types of games that can be psychologically damaging. I can’t see D’Antoni doing something like this.
I haven’t had a chance to write in this blog for a while. A lot has happened with the Knicks since I’ve written, but the one thing I want to address is how terrible of a coach I always thought D’Antoni was and how glad I was when he resigned. D’Antoni is a one-trick pony. His entire offense is dependent on spreading the floor and putting all the pressure on the point guard to make plays. During the six game losing streak, I never really saw the Knicks run any actual plays. The offense is dependent on Lin driving to the basket and then trying to create something when he gets there. I was hoping that over the All Star break, the coach would come up with some plays that is more than just Lin driving in trying to make something happen. For example, why don’t they draw up any plays where Lin is running off the screen without the ball to break down the defense. I saw the Nets do this a bunch of times with D Williams in the game that he went off for 8 three pointers. He would be running without the ball through screens to get wide open shots. I was hoping the coaches would look through those tapes and copy that play. It was extremely effective in breaking down our defense. I also think D’Antoni has made several substitutions mistakes at critical times. In the Nets game that we lost, he took too long to bring back some of the starters late in the fourth quarter. And in the March 4th game against Boston, he waited until three minutes or so to bring back Chandler. I don’t know what he was thinking there. He had JR Smith out there for too long. We didn’t need him at the time. We needed defense. We needed a big man in the center to get the rebounds, etc. JR Smith didn’t have a role to play during those critical last minutes in the fourth quarter. I have no idea what he was thinking and I’m surprised no one has written about that. Also, he called a timeout one possession too late in that game in the third quarter when the Celtics went on a run. He should have called timeout to slow down the Celtic’s momentum, but he waited until the Knicks turned the ball over and Celtics got a score before he called time out. That’s two points the Celtics made in the third quarter that could have been the difference in us winning the game. Blatant coaching mistakes. There’s no excuse for that. Substitutions and calling time outs are the two key things a coach has complete control over. And he has made too many clear mistakes in this area to me.
But the biggest reason why I think D’Antoni is a terrible coach is that he doesn’t understand/appreciate the psychology of the game and its importance. He’s not a motivating coach. He’s too laid back and has trouble communicating with his players. Woodson is the complete opposite and this is why Woodson has been able to bring out the best in the Knicks. The biggest thing Woodson stressed when he took over is accountability. Woodson really understands the psychology of the game and his players. He stressed accountability–especially from the veterans and the superstars of the team. This makes them feel significant, again. And this is why Carmelo started meshing with the team again. Melo is someone who needs to feel significant. So Woodson gives players this sense of responsibility and I get the sense that they really care about not letting him down. Whereas with D’Antoni, he didn’t really hold anyone accountable. These psychological things make all the difference. Woodson gets it. Also, contrary to popular mythology, I think Woodson is actually better for Lin than D’Antoni, since Lin doesn’t have to use so much energy to get out of traps and such, as he is no longer the focal point of the offense. Lin is still learning to be a point guard and under D’Antoni’s system, Lin was being asked to do way too much. I mean, Lin never played point guard until the NBA. I really like the way Woodson had been mixing in some of his style of offense along with D’Antoni’s spread offense before Lin’s injury. It made the Knicks offense less predictable. Under D’Antoni, the Knicks offense was way too predictable. All the defense had to do was trap the point guard right as he crossed half court. Anyway, I could go on an on why Woodson is a much better coach than D’Antoni, including, of course Woodson making defense the primary responsibility of every single player. I think it’s pretty clear from the record so far who is a better coach. I don’t know why any organization would think to hire D’Antoni after he got totally exposed as a one trick pony. But I’m sure he’ll still get another coaching job because of his reputation. On the other hand, I think the Knicks would be foolish not to keep Woodson. He was handed a pretty difficult situation and, to me, has already proven himself as a coach who understands and appreciates all the important things about the game.