Smart Defense

After Friday’s game, Nellie voluntarily offered up to us his decision to make Keith Smart a “defensive coordinator” of sorts. He will turn over all defensive responsibilities to Smart and his assistant in defensive czardom, Sidney Moncrief.
Is this a stunt or a legitimate strategy to help the defense. Here is the transcript. You decide.

Don Nelson:
“I’ve decided to identify one of my weaknesses at this point in my life, which is I’m not tough enough anymore. I’m a little soft as I get older and I feel like I haven’t done a very good job defensively this year. And so I’m making Keith Smart the defensive coordinator and Sydney Moncrief his assistant. They will be handling all of the defensive training, the game plans defensively and, during the game, the switching of situations. They’re in charge of the defense now. I’m going to try what football has done for years and that’s pass off some responsibility and I think it’s going to be a real positive move.”

We have to identify some of our problems. Our problem is not offense. We normally generate enough offense. It’s defense and I feel I’ve let the team down in a lot of ways because I haven’t been stern enough. What I’ve been trying to do is cover everybody’s weaknesses, understanding their reasons for not being able to do certain things defensively and trying to cover for them as opposed to demanding that they get better defensively. So I’ve got a couple of really good young guys. As you know, Keith Smart is a Bobby Knight disciple. He knows a lot about defense. Moncrief is a two-time defense player of the year. Hopefully they can do that job I failed at, and that’s to be more demanding defensively. I’m still the head coach, but we’ll make decisions together. But they are in charge of the defensive program from this point on.

How will this impact substitutions?
We’ll talk about that. If there’s something that really bothers them defensively and they want to make a move, I’ll do that. Normally, we talk about substitutions anyway, so I don’t that’ll be a problem, making moves on the bench.

What will be different?
More authority. What I wanted to do is put an emphasis on our weakness as a team and my weakness as a coach. We must improve on the defensive end and this is a start. We’ve identified the problem. Everybody knows about it. I’ve known about it. But we have to do something about it. This is step one in trying to do something about a problem.

Did tonight’s game illustrate the need for this change?
We missed some assignments. Actually, we did a pretty good job for a long time. I mean, Joe Johnson’s a great player. He’s going to take over and do a lot of positive things offensively. He’s one of the best players in the league. So I don’t know what exactly that question means, but I thought we did a pretty good job for a long time.

Is this the first time the NBA’s had a defensive coordinator?
I think it is. I hadn’t heard of one. Anyway, this is a first. It’s very successful in football, so we’re going to try it out for our team and I hope that it works, and I think it will.

How long has this been a weakness of yours?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become softer, which is a good thing for me. I was way too stern when I was young, too demanding, really, often times. You have tyo have a good balance of that. At this point, we just need some more tyoughness and young coaches making more demands than I have. So, anyway, this is a problem that I’m identifying in myself and trying to do something about it.

Why is it too much?I think its going to help me concentrate more on some other issues and some other things. Right now, to do the whole thing is pretty demanding. I spend a lot of time watching other teams’ defense and I need to watch my own team play some. It’s not enough hours in the day to really do every thing so this will help me identify some more time and be a positive for the ball club.

Is this a precursor to handing the team over to Smart?
That’s not my decision. I have two more years. I wouldn’t worry about that at this point. That’s got nothing to do with anything. This is identifying a problem that we need to work on and I’ve got two guys that have great energy, great philosophy, great abilities in that area and I’m going to turn it over to them.

Jackson had some interesting comments:
“I think it’s good because Keith probably can see different things that probably the coach can’t see. For what it’s worth, he’s a younger coach. You know, he probably can relate to guys more. So, hopefully it might work.”
“I think we’re a soft team. We could be more physical on defense. Since we play a lot of small ball, we have to rebound better. But we have to trust each other on defense. We don’t trust each other like we did in previous years. And that’s a big problem.”

Marcus Thompson

  • cheesy poofs

    basically, Nellie knows this is the problem, but doesn’t want to keep being the “bad guy” and criticize his players crappy d – if the TK report of Nellie’s incident w/ Jack is true, it may speak to why – and so he’s letting Smart and Moncrief be the “bad guys” criticizing the players and their lack of d.

  • Andrew

    At least it is something rather than the same ole same ole.

  • jsl

    Nelson’s living in oblivion. What a JERK!

  • Ed

    I don’t feel this is a negative.. It takes a man to admit his problems… you have assistant coaches for a reason. let them assist! honestly, as a fan, would you rather just let things go on like this the rest of the season? atleast he’s willing to give something else a try. and if it doesn’t work out and smart/moncrief get the blame, well then that just comes with the territory of getting paid to COACH.

  • run dmc

    i think this could be a good thing. keith smart seems lik he could make a difference. i lik the fact that nellie realizes he is not a good defensive coach and is willing to address it.

  • jlight

    Did someone say defense? It took him 2 plus years to figure this out? Well, better late than never. Maybe we can get payton to work with ellis and the rest of the guards, the worm to work with wright and randolph on positioning and rebounding, and some of that badboy defense, rick berry to work on Andris jump shot. Hell just have them suit up.

  • firethefrontoffice

    Nellie may be getting ready to step down. If I were him, I’d look to do the same. This team has lost its excitement. The team of last year and two years ago has left the building and the excitement is gone (who knows for how long). It took 10 plus years to get it back and only after BD and supporting cast were in place did we have an exciting team.

    Now the jerks from the frontoffice, the same jerks who know nothing about basketball and get in the way of moving the Ws forward are probably looking for an escape goat. Someone will get thrown under the bus here shortly by these same idiots.

    Way to go Rowell and Cohan!! You guys are major Boneheads!!

    Get your dumb Warrior girls and Thunder out of the building and put a good competitive product out on the

  • Earl monroe

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    We got here in one quarter of a season………

    It’s still my team though, as disfunctional as it is.

    For the love of….. just relax and teach the young guys Nellie,
    let them make some mistakes and next year you will enjoy the
    fruits of your labor, believe in something other than the next 42 minutes.
    Like all of us loose some weight, that would help you mentally.
    Stop hitting the sauce every night, stop playing mind games with
    everyone, we all know by now that is what you do with the fans, media and
    players, its no longer effective, I grant that you have a great deal of
    basketball knowledge and enjoy your brand of basketball, but sometimes
    we just have to play with the cards we are dealt. Take it like a team member.
    You are part of the team, yelling and screaming is not always the solution.
    And remember, without Chris Mullin you would never be in this position to
    chase the all time win record, never mind that wining percentage should be more
    important than number of wins due to longevity.
    You made Stephen Jackson the focal point, you pumped him up to his status on the team, you allowed him all the freedom on offense, he is good but not what you have made him out to be. Now bring him back down slowly.
    And when you talk about poor defense you should also talk about poor offense.
    The most important thing we all can do is look in the mirror.
    Be good to your players, without whom you would not be here or in Maui.
    Maybe have a conversation with Al Attles, he won it all, with a team that played defense and shared the ball on offense. He would do anything for his players including fight the opposing team.
    Lets right the ship and get this thing going.
    I close with my opening, relax bro, like all disfunctional families, ultimately we are on your side.
    Here’s to a fresh start tonight.

  • Son of Ahmed

    “Is this a precursor to handing the team over to Smart?
    That’s not my decision. I have two more years. I wouldn’t worry about that at this point. That’s got nothing to do with anything. This is identifying a problem that we need to work on and I’ve got two guys that have great energy, great philosophy, great abilities in that area and I’m going to turn it over to them. ”

    In other words, Nellie has two more years and he’s not quitting (i.e., surrendering his salary) unless the FO decides to fire him for young blood that can actually do the job and in which case Nellie would still get his money.

  • mydeadog

    One foot out of coaching and it’s pointed at the front office. Watch out RR, it’s you he wants, not Mullin.

  • Dave

    At least he realizes that he needs to do something, although this is entirely not enough. We already knew he is weak with defense, now he needs someone to decide on which players to keep and which ones to phase out, as he cannot continue to keep bringing in guards to play all positions. Obviously don’t ask Rowell anything.

  • jsl

    Hey Marcus: Why nothing here or in the CCTimes today about Nelson’s widely reported statement to AR, telling him to have his agent work on a deal since “it’s not working out here”? Even Janny — with Shea — had the story today; ESPN yesterday.

    Isn’t it time for the beats to call Nelson on his BS? Is there any question that this Nelson statement about going “soft” is anything other than transparent? Do you see this team going anywhere now that Nelson’s alienated ALL his players?

    We’re losing our team as Nelson slides further and further downhill. Yet only TK seems able to say anything about how Nelson is destroying the team — and its future. What gives here?

  • Andrew Rosenblum

    Good lord, the Warriors are in a state of complete chaos. Hey why not bring back Spree to serve as player-management liason while we’re at it?

    I guess the best that can be said is that there’s never a dull moment in Warriorsland — except during the games.

  • The Seer

    Now its time to put us out of our misery and for Nellie to go back to Hawaii, and let Smart coach the team..Nellie is the worst coach possible for a young team..He can’t teach anymore, and he never could coach defense..He is stealing money from the Warriors, but actually Rowell and Cohan deserve it..

    Have you noticed since Rowell has come into the forefront and pushed Mully aside, the team has gone completely down the toilet..This is not a coincidence..I am very happy for Mully to go back to NY and get out of this dysfunctional mess..

    The Baron Davis good Warriors are gone forever and it will be at least another decade before this dysfunctional garbage sniffs the playoffs again..

    Thanks Rowell and Cohan..The suits always ruin everything..

  • The Seer

    How does the bay area sports end up with Bobby Rowell, Chris Cohan, Brian Sabean, Al Davis, the Yorks, Billy Beane(most overrated person in the history of sports, Billy ball sucks), with these losers in charge, bay area sports is doomed..

    What did we do to deserve these losers running our teams?????