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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who to fault?

So after miserable performances like last night's loss against the Knicks, where does the blame ultimately lie?

Perhaps it lies at the feet of Josh Smith, who was outrebounded by every other member of the Hawks, including Mike Bibby.

Perhaps it lies at the feet of the collective 6-25 shooting effort behind the arc.

Perhaps it lies at the feet of Mike Bibby for being horrible on defense and -8 for the game.

Really though, it lies at the feet of Head Coach Mike Woodson and the media (especially including our own announcers).

So, by now the Woodson fault is probably obvious. Failure to develop Acie Law (even though he was terrific in his 3 minutes last night +10), failure to develop an offense, failure to adjust to other teams, failure to continue pounding the ball deep when we have an advantage inside, failure to appropriately manage minutes thus wearing the major players out, and so on.

But why the media and local announcers? Because they have failed to hold Woodson accountable. A collective amnesia has overcome the media ever since the Hawks took the Celtics to 7. Somehow, losing in the first round became more than just a great sign of an emerging team. It became a level of infallibility for a coach who has still lost almost twice as many games as he has won. Instead of understanding that the wins over Boston were a result of more effort and grit than coaching acumen, the coach is getting credit for "motivating them" than is actually due.

So I can't really blame Woodson too readily for his failures this season. For example: say you are a sales representative for a company. After months of not selling anything, you decide that the effort you were putting forth wasn't worth it. So you begin to sleep on the job, show up late, not wear a tie. You are seemingly on the brink of being fired. One day a desperate customer happens upon you and you make a huge sale that breathes a little life into the company. You are then hailed as the savior to the company and given free reign to work as you please. So you go back to your old habits, showing up late, sleeping at work, etc. Only you happen to make a sale or two to the previous desperate customer and a couple of his friends. But your boss is okay with this because your "work" is better than before (not really, though) and you are bringing in more business.

That's where we are with the Hawks. Only no one (other than bloggers whose word means nothing) is willing to acknowledge it. Sure, we could make more sales and huge profits for the company if we got a salesman who knew what he was doing and could put his team in the right position. But the increase in sales we have experienced is sufficient for management despite there being no change in philosophy. So, Woody gets credit for the Hawks winning despite horrible mismanagement of the roster and the national and local media give him a pass for effectively sleeping on the job and showing up late to work.

And I can't blame Woody for that, totally. He has been basically told that he is doing fine.

During last night's game, the Hawks were 1-16 on 3 pointers at one point but had scored 42 points in the paint in the first quarter. And yet we are still hoisting 3's in the fourth quarter rather than going back to what was successful early on. Sure, it was Woodson's fault by not forcing the ball in to the post. But it was also Wilkins' (who has a terrible conflict of interest) and Rathburn's job to criticize the Hawk's (i.e. Woodson's) lack of strategy and adjustment. Only they didn't. Maybe they are only allowed to be homers, but I wish they would be a bit more like the old Braves announcers. Calling it like it is may not be nice, but it draws attention to the weaknesses and forces management to fix them. And surely that is not a bad thing.

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