Thursday, January 20, 2005

My own personal Skiles love-fest post

I know we all thought the same thing last night, why wasn't Ben Gordon on the floor at the end of Wednesday night's game? After all, this is a guy time and time again who has hit big shots for the Bulls, especially turning up his game in the 4th quarter. The Bulls wound up only scoring 14 points that quarter, and lost by 9. Despite bad games from nearly everyone not named Eddy Curry or Tyson Chandler, the Bulls still had a shot, and I must say even though Gordon was woeful in his 15 minutes on the court (1-7, 5 points), he should've been out there.

I will not go as far as the guys over at the Bulls Report do though:

Having John Paxson and BJ Armstrong in the front office makes me believe that Skiles won't make it past next year, regardless of how well the Bulls do. They watch games like tonight, see Skiles horribly mismanage the 4th quarter and know that they can't win it all with a leader like that. Duhon, Piatkowski, and Hinrich all in down the stretch? Is it a wonder we only scored 14 points in the 4th?

Scottie needs to realize that good teams don't have 10 man rotations. And, if you are going to have one, it only can be used quarters 1-3. In the fourth, you have to have a go to set.

First off, I think that having Paxson in the front office only helps Skiles' case. Have you ever seen a coach and his GM so bound by philosophy and background? I suppose that would change if the team continued to sputter; but with not even a grumbling from Pax when his team was 0-9, the farthest thing from my mind right now is the longevity of Scott Skiles.

Skiles hasn't been using a 10-man rotation in the fourth quarter. More times than not, it'll be Hinrich/Gordon/Deng/Chandler/Curry. And another line of thinking is these rookies are benefiting from seeing their minutes capped. They are, after all, rookies, and perhaps this is Skiles' way of having them avoiding the dreaded rookie wall. And while I agree with the idea of letting Gordon try and carry the team, good game or not, Skiles obviously thought so little of Gordon's performance that night he thought Piatkowski would give them a better shot down the stretch. May have been the wrong move, but you can't look back and assume Gordon would've suddenly found his stroke again. 

Now I sound like a Skiles apologist talking, but perhaps I've finally seen the light and have converted to one. Sure there's the odd fixation with Duhon, and the inconsistencies in terms of who he gives the quick hook to and who gets to play through mistakes. But Skiles may be coach of the year in the NBA. He has rookies playing like veterans, finally coaxed consistency out of Curry and Chandler, and has an extremely young team playing disciplined (turnovers aside) at both ends of the court. This does not happen by accident, its not all Paxson's drafts and signings that got it done. Former coaches Bill Cartwright and Tim Floyd couldn't conjure up half of this progress with the lottery talent they had.

This discipline and determination the Bulls have shown is a testament to the things Skiles does that we don't see. The meetings, the strategy, the practices, the huddles, the overall attitude he projects and teaches with. To get this team playing winning basketball  makes me believe that what Skiles does beyond the scope of a television audience is more important than whether he decides to keep Ben Gordon off the court at a certain time.

Former Bulls coach Doug Collins was fired because he couldn't take his team to the next level. And as we all saw as a result, Phil Jackson brought the team there. Maybe Skiles is in the role of Collins as far as this team's development is concerned. But we are thinking way too far ahead to even entertain who will be next. For now, Skiles is here, and he's the true reason this team is where it's at.