Friday, January 28, 2005

The Wacky Mr. Skiles

Bulls coach Scott Skiles took an odd approach to last night's game. While the Bulls started out very hot, the Bobcats were staying in the game by taking advantage of a seemingly disinterested Bulls defense.

What did Skiles do? Emptied the bench, and liked what he saw.

“They were staying in the game tonight. They clearly deserved to and they set the tone for us in the second half and there was no reason to think of doing anything else."

Behind Andres Nocioni, Eric Piatkowki, and Jannero Pargo, the Bulls bench scored 63 points and stayed in the entire 4th quarter to pull out a comfortable 101-93 victory over the YMCA Bobcats. I guess my post touting Pargo was a month or so early.

So while the team won, seeing Deng play 12 minutes and Gordon play 7 is a little disconcerting, especially since they seemed to be playing well. But what Skiles did was definately rare. Normally even when the bench is playing that well the starters come in soonafter to finish the game. Bulls broadcaster (and former bench-player himself) Bill Wennington said after the game that he wished he had a coach like Skiles.

But I think Skiles got away with one last night due to the fact that he has a young team. If he were coaching, say, the Minnesota Timberwolves, somebody would be getting punched in the face in practice today. I'm less concerned that the Bill Wenningtons of the world are happy with the coach than the Michael Jordans. But there are no stars on this team, so Skiles has enough clout where this one-game 'message' to the starters will be taken the right way.

Will Skiles change when the team has more established stars (and that can be from within, obviously)? That has been an issue since he was hired due to the fact that the 'firery old ball coach' strategy normally has a short shelf life in the NBA. With this team though, he can get away with it. If there are problems when the team gets a lot better, well then that'll be something I can worry about when it actually happens. Until then, I can appreciate what Skiles is doing, because it's working.