BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mark’s Thoughts - Utah Jazz: Five Reasons Why You Have to Like Jerry Sloan

Five reason that “Sloan haters” should consider…

It has always been interesting to me to hear people talk bad about Jerry Sloan. He is a coaching legend, and it is shocking that he has never won the Coach of the Year award. People still go after him. Some say he is too old. Others say that he doesn’t know how to manage players’ minutes on the court. Another popular argument is he won’t play rookies. All of these arguments seem odd, and off target to me. Sloan isn’t perfect, but what coach ever has been? His strengths greatly out weigh his downsides. Here are five reasons why you have to like the way that Coach Sloan runs the Utah Jazz.

Sloan Has a System –
Watching other teams around the NBA can really open eyes to the importance of having an offensive system. All teams technically have some form of an offense, most being a motion based offense without any set plays. Yet, normally these offenses turn into nothing more than guys playing one-on-five. You have people sitting in the corner waiting for their turn to try and create something off the dribble, instead of screening/moving away from the ball. Not having a system also creates discord on any team. Listen to Matt Harpring describe playing with, Allen Iverson in Philadelphia, and you will hear an example of the frustration that kind of system brings. Players told to give the star the ball and get out of the way. The system Sloan uses elevates players to play beyond their skill level. Why? It is built around getting open looks around the rim. Dunks and lay-ups make any player look good.

Sloan Puts Fear in Officials –
Sloan has already compared the NBA to WWE wrestling. You need to have a rep to get the calls. Young teams struggle with getting calls for years. Sloan is able to use his experience in the league to help his players get calls now. Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams are starting to get some calls, but they would be getting far fewer, if not for Sloan. The intensity that Sloan uses, to go after officials, does rub some officials the wrong way. Steve Javey and Joey Crawford are good examples of this. (Both like to show up named players and coaches) Overall, this trait is invaluable.

Sloan Will Rewards Players That Play Well –
It doesn’t matter how much a player makes, or his credentials before coming to the Jazz, if they work/play hard they will play. He tries to put the best players on the court. Sloan is about winning. Jerry Sloan’s ability to let the best players play helps players shine, when they normally wouldn’t get a chance. Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, and Paul Millsap are a few examples of players that worked hard and were given a chance, by Sloan, to showcase their talents. Sometimes, Sloan does get over zealous with making players prove themselves before earning playing time. Using Deron Williams as a backup point guard for the first half of his rookie season….maybe not the best move. Overall though Sloan is usually on target.

Sloan Doesn’t Try to Be BIGGER Than the Players –
He doesn’t care about awards, he doesn’t care about accolades, and he doesn’t look for an interview. He freely gives credit to the players when they win, and takes blame in loses. He has admitted that his job is to make the players look good, and to have them succeed. Even when hitting large milestones he plays off his accomplishments. After winning getting his 1,000th victory as a head coach, the crowd at the Energy Solutions Arena stood chanting Jerry’s name. Sloan gave a slight wave that could have been mistaken for him swatting away a fly, and walked off the court. When asked about the accomplishment by the media, he side stepped the question calling the attention on him silly. He knows that basketball is a players game.

Sloan Still Cares About Every Game –
Night in, night out, you don’t have to ask if Sloan cares about winning the game. He does everything in his power to try to get every ounce of effort out of his players. He tries to keep his players on an even keel. He doesn’t let them get to high after a win, or to low after a loss. He will go after an official for a bad call whether the Jazz are up or down by thirty points. Pat Riley is talking about missing games to go scout future players for next season. Can you even imagine those words coming out of Sloan’s mouth? The team comes to play every night, and that attitude comes from the top.

The Jazz have been very fortunate to have Coach Sloan. I don’t think the Jazz would have had the same success over the past twenty years without Sloan at the helm. Sloan probably won’t win the Coach of the Year award again this year. Yet, if any man deserves to have the award named after him it is Jerry Sloan.

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