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Bits from Jeff Van Gundy Interview, 12/4

December 5, 2014
tags: ,

Jeff Van Gundy

What does it say about a team that needs a wake-up call or alarm clock to suddenly start playing well when they’ve gotten down by 20?
If you need that supposed alarm clock, then you got the wrong guys. You got the wrong guys. I mean, it’s a first quarter league as much as it is a fourth quarter league. That’s been proven over and over and over again. I have never seen low energy players be competitive.

So if you have low energy guys that start out consistently lethargic, you got the wrong guys. You have to have an energy and an urgency and an aggressiveness. That has to be a part of your DNA. No coach is going to change that.

This idea that this guy’s a great motivator or that guy’s a great–there are no such things as great motivators. You can’t motivate the unmotivated. You can help in certain situations with a guy’s habits. You can help with his routine.

But if you have to be the one trying to consistently prod a guy to play with energy and assertiveness and aggressiveness and fire and passion, you got the wrong guy and you gotta move on.

The Jazz have lost seven straight. What are some possible remedies?
The game has changed. It’s so hard, it’s so much harder now than five years ago or 10 years ago to get stops because of everyone shooting such, the volume of threes. They’re putting four 3-point shooters on the floor, and that’s where the Jazz are a little bit different right now, right, ’cause they’re still relying on the two-big approach of [Enes] Kanter and [Derrick] Favors, even though Kanter, you know, wants to step out there and shoot some threes.

Listen, it’s hard. And so, you have to, the ideal situation would be big, be big in the guard area, so you can do some switching of pick and rolls, and have bigs who have great lateral quickness. When I watch Utah, obviously, Kanter is less than mobile. He’s a good offensive player; defensively, more challenged. So, they have some issues defensively.

I do like how they play offensively. I love watching ’em play, the way they move it and they share it…

To me, their growth will be tied directly to [Trey] Burke, and he’s had some good moments and some struggling moments. And if he can become really good, I think they can have a real shot. If he can’t, then all they are is small in the backcourt. And they need more consistency from [Gordon] Hayward and Favors, and [Alec] Burks.

I mean, they’ve invested in all those guys, and now, you know, hopefully they’ve got the right horses…[Hopefully, they] see that their improvement is going to be tied directly to the defensive end of the floor, [and] they have got to take the defensive, their defensive games, as serious as they take their offensive improvements.

Common thread tying losing teams together
You look at all the teams that are losing, their point guard play has been–let’s keep it kind–inconsistent.

Would you make any changes to the replay/Secaucus process?
I would board up that room and never have anyone enter it again. I am so tired of replays, I can’t stand it. I can’t st–in all these sports. You wanna talk about killing the momentum and flow of a game? To go over there and, like, it, I loved the initial, I was for it. …

Now, there’s so many triggers, it just seems endless. And I know they’re just trying to get the call right–I understand that philosophy–but it’s gonna be a slippery slope where it’s never-ending, where we’re going to be going to more and more calls…

I think everything has to be done so that the game has more flow to it, and I think replays started out with the best intentions, and now, if I never saw that room again during a review to see everyone looking at all these screens and angles and all that, I w–I could, I would be so happy.

Quin Snyder is in the process of trying to get his players to buy into his defensive philosophy. What would you tell him, based on your own experiences?
Well, I would say this. If you truly have to try to sell the importance of defense to your team, like sell it, like, or beg it out of them, you got the wrong guys. It, I never one time had to sell defense to the core of guys I had in New York. They wanted to win; thus, they understood that they were going to have to play really good defense in order to win games.

And so, there’s one thing that you’re a young team, and you’re just not there yet with your reaction time or you don’t have your schemes down. But the first part of it is, you gotta have the commitment of the best players that, yes, it’s important to us because we care deeply about winning. If you have that, eventually they’ll get it.

So, this isn’t about Quin Snyder being able to sell it to his team. The players already know it’s important to winning. Now the question is, is winning important to them? Because if it is, they’ll commit to this long process of becoming a good defensive team. It’s not gonna happen overnight, particularly for young players. The experience of seeing different NBA actions over and over again helps you with that.

But the commitment to the importance of defense and the seriousness of trying to improve on that end has to already be there. And that has nothing to do with Quin Snyder trying to sell something. You don’t con NBA players. Either they want to win, or they don’t.

Kentucky vs. the 76ers
You know what I don’t like, though? I don’t like the idea that people say, “Oh, Kentucky could beat [the 76ers] in a game.” I mean, Philadelphia would drill them every game…It’s mind-boggling to me how the average fan thinks that because a team is gonna have some [future] pros on it…that they could beat a whole team of pros.

Spencer Checketts: No, I completely agree. One hundred percent. [changes topic]* (1280)

* Let’s rewind to just 10 days ago, when Checketts asked Dennis Lindsey, “The real question, Dennis, obviously now that you’ve seen ‘em play is, would Kentucky beat the Philadelphia 76ers?”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. russellkanning permalink
    December 6, 2014 12:55 am

    Sounds a little like Sloan … in whether the coach needs to motivate the players. :)

    Why not tie playing time to defensive efficiency?

    You can tell some players are comfortable being pretty good on offense, and that is all.

    When they interview Trey he doesn’t havie any idea our team is one of the worst on defense for 2 years now.

    I think most of us guys love all of the guys that have energy from the first moment. Give My Rudy trying to block every shot. Give me Booker. Give me some energy from Evans, even if he isn’t perfect. He wants to fly around. We don’t need young guys saving their energy. We can play 10 guys and run around. :)

  2. Cliffhangers permalink
    December 6, 2014 6:19 am

    Van Grundy won zero nba championships. Cred is zero

    • December 7, 2014 2:08 am

      so did sloan, stockton, and malone lol…

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