Keith Smart Proven Right for His Udoh Precautions; Still Rookie Needs More Time

It was exactly what Warriors coach Keith Smart had feared.

Kwame Brown – yes, Kwame Brown – got the ball in the paint with Warriors’ rookie Ekpe Udoh on his back. The Warriors’ lead was five with just over two minutes left. Brown, now a wily veteran, took advantage of Udoh. Lost him with an up-and-under move for an easy layup. And the foul. With starting center Andris Biedrins on the bench facing fouls, Brown came alive down the stretch, scoring six points in three minutes (would’ve been eight if he made his free throws).

Smart was right about how Udoh’s inexperience in the league, and at center, would be easily exposed by NBA big men. He is perhaps wise for trying to protect Udoh. With that said, Friday’s game underscored why Udoh needs to play more.

On the Warriors’ four-game losing streak, they have had a hard time against physical, sizable, long, athletic, tough front lines. First it was the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Blake Griffin and DeAnDre Jordan. Then it was San Antonio, which isn’t athletic, but Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter off the bench, are big and/or bulky and play hard and physical. Wednesday, New Orleans’ just worked over the Warriors with David West and Emeka Okafor. And Friday, the Warriors’ had a tough time in the second half with Gerald Wallace, Nazr Mohammed, Kwame Brown and company.

The Warriors bigs have a hard time with athleticism and size. Lee has the skill, and he plays with effort, but he falls short dramatically in the physicalness and athletcism category. Biedrins is the most agile, but he’s just not strong enough. Amundson, based on reputation has the energy/scrappiness thing down. But he lacks the athleticism and offensive skill. Gadzuric is the most physical, but that’s about all he has. Brandan Wright is long and athletic, but not nearly strong enough.

Of all the big men, Udoh has the best combination of size, athleticism, strength, skill, toughness and hustle. Though he lacks experience and isn’t a good rebounder (three rebounds in 20 minutes, though all three were offensive), the Warriors can’t afford to go without those traits. In the last five minutes of the game, the finesse tends to do more harm than good and (mental) toughness and grind are at a premium.

Golden State is going to need Udoh on the court, even if that means he has to take his NBA lumps. The next few teams coming into Oracle Arena – Utah, Milwaukee, Chicago – they go hard in the paint. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are a load to handle. Milwaukee is one of the better defensive teams in the league because they are legitimately big and physical, led by Andrew Bogut. Chicago won’t have Joakim Noah. But Warriors fans have watched Carlos Boozer bully the Warriors for years.

Smart said he looks at this stretch of physical, tough teams as a good barometer for his team.

SMART: “It helps you to understand how hard you have to climb to get to the next level. … They’re going to challenge you offensively and defensively. And you’re going to have to match that. And when you don’t, it shows you where you really are and how far you have to go.”

Marcus Thompson

  • W’s in 2010

    It’s not about Udoh, it’s about Biedrins. Biedrins needs to come off the bench and go against back-up bigs in order to be more productive. It’s the only chance we have to increase his value so we can move him. Starting him is not the answer, he’s been getting destroyed by starter quality Cs. Kwame is a back-up caliber C, last nights game changes nothing. Start Gadzuric if you have to, but Biedrins needs to come off the bench.

  • meir34

    Why is nothing being said about Monta’s ankle?? I’ve noticed in the past that when it’s bothering him he doesn’t tmke his patented 180 degree move and his power drives get blocked. When he’s right that rarely happens and you’ll never see several games in a row without one of his highlight film moves to the basket.

    That he’ll play ironman minutes and turn up even the next game after the injury (on the foot with the plate and screws), we know. But to not note that while noting the falloff in his offensive play is puzzling. I notice no mention of his 5 steals and that great out of bounds play, in crunch time, where he got the ball and while in mid-air threw it to our streaking 2 on 1 for the basket

  • commish

    I am literally incredulous that this is the post you would use in your noteworthy blog after the horrific coaching performance Notso Smart subjected the fans to on January 28th with Capt Jack and the Bobcats in town. EU is absolutely the least of our numerous problems starting with Smart’s lack of defensive-mindedness to his sicking overplaying Ellis so has nothing left in the fourth quarter (or overtime) to help the team. Not to mention. Every other blog is raging about all aspects of this total betrayal of every expectation we were lead to believe would occur when Cohan exited and Lacob entered. But really just more of the same crappy product with the obvious improvement of Ellis, Lee and D. Wright and the sophmore struggles of Curry.

    I just don’t get your blog today. Is this some kind of kiss up to Smart after his disgraceful coaching performance on 2/28/11. What the heck would possess you to write about how smart Notso Smart is when we just witnessed the worst game under Smart’s coaching “expertise” and Lacob’s ownership.

  • meir34

    BTW, W’s in 2010, funny you picked this time to ask AB to come off the bench; it was is first double double in a while and only his second all year. He used to be a regular double double guy and for sure they’ve all been waiting for that Biedrins to emerge again.

  • W’s in 2010

    Biedrins does better against scrubs(like Kwame). This is proven. Let him come off the bench. On any other team Biedrins is a backup C. And he might be better off in that role.

  • Gizzm

    I can’t stand hearing about how Biendrins is a “double double guy”. He hasn’t worked on his game at all, is useless beyond 3 feet from the rim, can’t hit FT’s to save his life, and needs a good PG to spoon feed him hoops. It’s no coicidence that he racked up his best numbers when BD was dishing off to him. And his rebounding is overrated due to the fact that he is not a defensive presence at all, and leads the league in fouls per game. 9 million dollars a year for trash.

  • Reason

    Commish, take it back a notch…it’s just basketball. I know that when we see poor play on the court, we have to look not only at the players, but also at the coach and GM; but really? Monta fouling Jackson at the three point line, Radmonovich throwing the ball away in crunch time and Monta shooting 6 for 24 has to be considered greatly in this most recent loss. A lack of focus by the players in crunchtime is really a reflection of an inexperienced team and not so much on the coaching. Lack of production in the paint is a result of a poor roster, not much the coach can do with the hand he’s been dealt. I just don’t get all of the Keith Smart bashing so early in his tenure.

  • HardFacts

    Let’s break this “just get back to old biedrins talk”

    First of all he sucked even when he was apparently good.
    All his points are grubbed off stars. YOu can get any average player to jump around and tip balls back out and dunk the ball as you are wide open. Let’s set this fact straight regarding this double double crap.

    Let’s flash back a few years when he was playing with this double double type numbers. Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson and Matt Barnes and Mikeal Pietrus were the main guards. Well what do you know the are not anymore and we suck……is this a shock? What’s the excuses now!!!!!!

  • manhattanproj

    couple years ago, i was hoping the w’s would draft joakim noah with the 8th pick. accomplished so much at florida. has a similar game to biedrins when he was a double-double machine. could’ve been the back up center his rookie year.

    instead w’s drafted brandan wright. think about what the w’s could have had if they took noah instead.

  • Yoda

    Reason, explain why the dumbest play of the game was made by the most experienced guard. Monta does that stuff all the time. He’s lost several games with dumb fouls on three point shooters when it wasn’t even necessary to challenge the shot.

    I don’t like Smart’s coaching but some things you just can’t fix.

  • Yoda

    Reason, explain why the dumbest play of the game was made by the most experienced guard. Monta does that stuff all the time. He’s lost several games with dumb fouls on three point shooters when it wasn’t even necessary to challenge the shot. That’s not inexperience – it’s that he’s not a real smart player.

    I don’t like Smart’s coaching but some things you just can’t fix.

  • HardFacts

    Keith Smart just like all the other coaches talk about rookies and not being ready and a bunch of other crap.

    Rookies play, you play good players rookie or not. Sick and tired of he’s still young and let them grow as a player. That’s a philosophy 20 yrs ago. This is 2011 and if you are good; then you play.

    Funny thing is if you examine that statement by Smart then you would conclude that Biedrins plays with like he never played the game of basketball….so in your face keith dumb coach smart

  • HardFacts

    their needs to be a backlash against this team. we need a serious attitude adjustment.

    this starts with firing the coach and getting rid of biedrins and curry…..i heard a few times out there are looking to acquire biedrins for a pile of cow manuer

  • HardFacts

    I got a great trade proposal:

    Fitzgerald the announcer, biedrins, and curry

    for 1 developmental league player that can face the basket from 3 feet away and shoot a regular shot. Cuz we ain’t getting that from uslessdrins

  • windex66

    Talk about going great guns, and then falling through the floor. Rick Barry wasn’t always “on”, so he learned when it wasn’t his night, and he clamped down on defense. Has Smart ever mentioned this to Monta? (Shooting 25% isn’t a winning formula.)

    BTW, Brandon Wright has played VERY WELL his last two games, when he had PT: active, rebounds, blocks shots, altered shots, inside scoring. The results? More bench time from Coach Smart.

    I still believe that Al Attles had a winning approach: playing 9-10-11 men. Smart’s (and Nellie’s) obsession with matchups seems a bit too much for me. As a former player of modest means (I’ve played with many college and pro players), I can tell you that when you play 30-40 MPG, you choose your spots to rest, to only go 50%, 60%, or 80%. And most players save their best for trying to score – and lag on defense. In contrast, Attles had everyone play balls out, and so everyone made the most of their 10-15-20 minutes.

    Attles also brought in a JuCo Coach who was a MASTER at teaching defense and motivation: Legendary Bud Presley. Google him (read the SI article).

    Lastly, we all know that Nellie or Smart would never playe an old has-been guard, has-been forward, and an unorthodox, one-dementional guard. But Attles did. (Mullin, Bridges, and Grasshopper.)

  • windex66

    Maybe Monta might not make said fouls, if he got a little rest.

    And maybe when he got said 4-minute rest, Coach could remind him about no silly fouls at the end of the game.

  • robert rowell

    if you’re not angry you’re not paying attention…

    MT2: you should of said- “The Warriors bigs have a hard time with…” pretty much every facet of the game.

  • mac

    We have a better team this year on paper, but let’s face it we aren’t making the playoffs anytime soon. Looks like another late lottery pick. Wait, Mullin traded our pick for Marcus Williams. So we have to lose to be in the top 8 to keep it. We should be playing Udoh 30 plus, we have nothing to lose. Biedrins is turning into the Rick Ankiel of the NBA. Sorry, Dre you can’t switch positions.

  • Bucky

    Coach needs to have the balls to bench Biedrins and give Monta more rest.

  • HardFacts

    coach has no balls bucky, hahahahah

    Do we even care about his 2 double doubles last two games. Who’s impressed? He gets all his points on flip hook shots that are basically unskilled; he’s just trying to flip them up fast so he don’t get fouled. If they go in it’s just by luck or freak chance. He’s got now intimidation or swagger on the court. This is also a big reason why no ref will give him the benefit of the doubt

  • I agree. If the W’s are not squarely in the hunt by late feb.. they need to play the young guys (Udoh and Lynn), and play for a top 8 draft pick. they need to draft a BIG banger / Center, or a SF who can play. I wish they could pick up Iguadala from Phili, but they keep winning. Too bad, b/c reports had them looking to dump him for expiring contracts this season.


  • I’m not sure if you meant it as a joke or not.

    “The Warriors bigs have a hard time with athleticism and size. ”

    What big man in the league isn’t big or athletic. Oh wait, us! So, that means the Warriors bigs only has a chance against the slow and small big men in the league. Haha. Yeah, it certainly feels that way.

  • Kenny Seagle, Emperor of the North

    it’s part of udoh’s education, marcus

    let’s call it like it is on brandan: he is weak & brittle

    gadzuric has very limited skills

    amundson hasn’t been very good @ all

    & wut good is andris agility (u note it) when he is flat foot so many times, late 2 his spots, & just playing like his eeg is flat line ????

    ANY QUESTIONS ???????

  • joeyp

    do something before gs looses its fan base. biedrins needs to stop playing like a girl, and we need a backup two n five who can defend and have size