Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Well, That's Settled...? 

"I'll stand by what I said all along," Colangelo said. "I want Bob to have this year. He's going to have this year unless the bottom absolutely just falls out."

You just had the worst May in franchise history, he was told. What do you consider the bottom falling out?

"A worst June."

- from Paola Boivin's article in this morning's Republic

So those clamoring for Bob Brenly's firing will be unsatisfied through June. The first offer of support from management can usually be ignored, but the second shouldn't be. Brenly won't be fired on Monday. Barring a collapse (we can't really go 9-20 again, can we?), Brenly will be around for awhile to come.

For those checking for the earliest possible opportunity in July, might I suggest Monday, July 5th, the first game of a 7-game road trip before the All-Star Break (with Randy set in the rotation)?

Now, I also don't hear anything in Jerry's words that suggest any strong desire to keep Brenly beyond this year, so the coaching debate's definitely not over. (Not that any type of statement would stop the debate amongst bloggers, forum-philes, and sports talk radio listeners.) In the end the debate comes down to what do coaches do and how good are they at it. Coaching, in my mind, comes down to three things:
1. Preparation -- teaching skills
2. Motivation -- getting peak performance out of your club
3. Execution -- doing the "right things" on game day, "Xs and Os"

It is definitely a legitimate question as to whether Bob Brenly's skills in these three areas are adequate to the team he has sitting with him in the dugout. As the D-Backs complete the transition from veteran team to much younger team, skills that were less important (preparation) become more so and techniques (motivation and execution) may need to change. The knock on Brenly is that the staff isn't good at preparation and he isn't great at execution. Motivation, the hardest skill to get an objective read on, probably varies. Has the team quit? Does he know which buttons to push with each player? Difficult to read.

It's worth noting that the NBA Finals will feature two coaches who are very arguably the two best NBA coaches of the past 20+ years. My feeling is that Larry Brown and Phil Jackson are the best motivators out there -- it's difficult to motivate players with gigantic guaranteed contracts. And, yes, the Lakers have 2 of the top 3 or 4 players in the league. But those players hate each other, and yet still Jackson has managed to keep the team together.

Makes you wonder where Brenly would actually rank...

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