Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is far from infallible. The fact he so readily admits that is part of the reason I think he’ll succeed.
Three things I’ve noticed about his approach to coaching: He’s honest without critiques becoming mean-spirited or personal, he’s accountable when he’s made a miscalculation and he learns from his mistakes.
A couple examples from Friday’s close road loss to the NBA-best Indiana Pacers:
The second example is more about accountability: When asked why the Bobcats didn’t close the deal in a tight second half against the 20-3 Pacers, Clifford said his team’s post defense was ill-equipped to stop Indiana and “that’s on me.”
Clifford said his players need more practice guarding in specific strategies, like “fronting the post” (playing between the scorer and the feeder, looking to deny the entry pass) or “front-and-back” (basically sandwiching a post scorer).
Clifford said his players need those options, and he just hasn’t found the time in practice to fine-tune. What he didn’t say was the crowded early schedule – 17 games in the first 31 days – has made it a balancing act between practice and keeping players fresh.
I think the players appreciate all this, particularly after the coaching churn of the previous couple season. They know their roles and what Clifford does and doesn’t like about how they play. They see him admitting mistakes and learning from them.
It’s creating an atmosphere in which everyone feels vested in each other’s success. That’s a big part of why they’re bobbing around .500 and putting a scare in teams like the Pacers and Miami Heat.
Five thoughts on the NBA and the Bobcats:
According to his tweet, Hibbert applied some Flexall and Bengay to his knees shortly before game time, then put on his game tights. Somehow the heat balms rode up to his, um, uh, man parts, and the burning sensation was pretty uncomfortable. You can’t say Hibbert lacks for candor.