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Just to reiterate, it’s OK to not play hard before or after the All-Star Break apparently

I mentioned this in the game recap last night, but it’s worth repeating in its own post. Here was Lawrence Frank before yesterday’s loss to Philly:

“Sometimes, guys are still on break,” he said. “Physically, they’re here. But you see it. The first game on breaks sometimes are a little bit funky, for both teams, because you have no rhythm of practice or playing.”

Here was Rodney Stuckey before the game:

“It didn’t really feel weird, I picked it up and it was just the same-old, same-old,” he said of his return to practice Monday. “But taking five days back and you start running, it’s a big difference. Other than that, my body feels good. I think the first couple of minutes, everybody’s going to be huffing and puffing, but other than that, everything’s going to be good.”

Here was Tayshaun Prince after the game:

“Still on vacation,” Prince said, then repeated it twice more, when asked to explain the 97-68 blowout at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

I have one very simple question after reading those comments again: why is any of this OK?

I’m OK with the Pistons losing games. I’m realistic enough to understand the situation they’re in from a talent standpoint. Namely, they don’t have much. They’re over-matched on a sheer talent basis against nearly every team in the league. But the problem with this team hasn’t just been about talent. They also quit. They quit against Philly last night, they didn’t play hard against Toronto in the game before the All-Star Break and I can go back through the schedule and point to a handful of other games where they simply just did not compete whatsoever.

That lack of fight, to me, is inexcusable, and to brush it off with comments like the ones above? That’s lunacy. It’s even more crazy that, apparently, no reporter had any follow-ups along the lines of, “… so your message now is the team might not be able to play at an optimal level after five days off when the storyline all season prior to this was that the team wasn’t playing well because of a compacted schedule that allowed no rest?” And people wonder why this team isn’t drawing.

Fans will watch and appreciate a team that has little talent but still tries really hard consistently every game. The Pistons lack talent and they lack consistent effort. That’s a problem.


  • Feb 29, 201211:46 am
    by JT's Hoops Blog


    Their whole sad situation is the result of Joe Dumars.  that guy needs to go.

  • Feb 29, 201212:03 pm
    by Nwdavis1


    I totally agree with the effort problem. That is what makes this team so hard to watch. They are lucky to be able to play a game for a living, and get paid well to do it. I don’t care how strong, quick, or tall a player is; if they aren’t playing hard, they don’t deserve to be in the league.

  • Feb 29, 201212:54 pm
    by frankie d


    gee…i guess doug collins and the sixers didn’t get the memo about not playing hard….
    franks is a mediocre coach.  it is obvious that the team does not respect him. 
    don’t you think that everyone knows about his ignominious record? that he owns records for most losses at the beginning of the year? and that his record is at best mediocre, overall?
    and unlike some guys who suffer through those bad times – like byron scott at cleveland – he doesn’t have the rings to back up what he might say to players.
    and i absolutely disagree about the team’s talent level.  
    while they are not at miami’s level or okc’s level, the team is not without talent.  yes, it is horribly mismatched with too many similar parts, but there is talent on the roster.
    good coaches, like collins, take the talent available, design a system and win with that talent.
    when collins coached detroit, he had a big plodding team, that was excellent offensively and somewhat mediocre defensively.
    now he has an excellent defensive team that is mediocre offensively.
    he is doing what good coaches do.
    if you gave collins detroit’s team and philly’s team to frank, detroit would look like philly after a year and philly would devolve into what detroit has become.
    i’ve seen little evidence that frank is capable of doing the same thing that collins has done.  
    when collins took over last year, it took about 1/5 of the season – less than 20 games – for the team to start to develop it’s identity and turn the season around.  the pistons are over half done with this season and fiascos like this continue to happen.  the team has no identity.  the team is doing the same things it has done the last few years.
    and frank has no clue.

    • Feb 29, 20121:04 pm
      by neutes


      Collins’s shtick fades fast. That’s why he’s had so many coaching jobs. He’s like Scott Skiles. Dudes will only let you micromanage them for so long. He always shows improvement off the bat, but then his teams stagnate or get worse in the long run.

      • Feb 29, 20123:16 pm
        by frankie d


        i don’t disagree.  he is definitely more of a short-term fix who wears out fairly quickly.  very much like larry brown.
        but if he is to be criticized because of that fact, what recommends frank to be a head coach anywhere? 
        what is his schtick?

        • Feb 29, 20123:27 pm
          by neutes


          He’s funny?

          I’ll agree on that point. Frank isn’t anything special, as most coaches aren’t. You need talent to succeed as a coach. If I can say one thing about Collins, and any coach for that matter, it’s about how they are perceived, and a lifetime of lifting mediocre teams to the playoffs doesn’t give off this perception that the coach is ready to coach a championship team. So Collins will never get a look by a team that’s really good, and maybe he has the ability to take a good team and make it great, but all he’s ever been given the opportunity to do is take a mediocre team and make it good.

          Being good is only acceptable for so long in the NBA, at some point you want more, and you blame the coach. You saw all this improvement and you as a GM thought hey, were going places, but in reality you can only get so far with limited talent. The GM sees this improvement and sits back thinking its going to keep going so he doesn’t think he has to go out and improve the team himself. What Collins provides is a double-edged sword of sorts.

    • Feb 29, 20121:07 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      OMG, I hope the Pistons never play Philly again so I never have to hear you talk about the Patron Saint Doug Collins.

      He’s a solid coach if your goal is to take a mediocre or slightly below team and make them into a playoff team. That’s really all he’s done in his career. He makes the playoffs. That’s it. His teams have won two playoff series in nine tries. He had phenomenal talent in Chicago, including the greatest player of all time. He had one of the best players of the 90s in Detroit in Grant Hill. He had a terrible tenure in Washington and was, along with Jordan, partially responsible for burying young players like Rip Hamilton, Kwame Brown, Larry Hughes, etc. In Detroit, he did a terrible job with Theo Ratliff. He’s not some sort of miracle worker with young players.

      He’s a solid coach with good defensive principles and a huge abundance of athletic personnel in Philly, including one of the best defenders in the league in Iggy, to run his system optimally. That’s it. You’re jocking him like he’s Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson or something.

      • Feb 29, 20123:14 pm
        by frankie d


        no…i’m not jocking him.
        i am specifically comparing him to the coach in detroit.
        i’ve never said anything remotely that compares him to pop or chuck daly or even jackson.
        what i have said is that he has taken a team that is/was very similar to detroit in terms of talent – regardless or your protestations to the contrary and curious theory about the natural improvement of players (how does that happen?)- and given the team an identity, given players specific roles and now he has a team that leads his division.
        and detroit, despite better talent than it had two years ago, is going downhill.  that is what the record shows.  they are on pace for the worst winning percentage in almost 20 years.
        and the respective achievements, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of the competence of the two coaches.
        collins is a good coach.  he’s proven it every place he’s been. his record is what it is.
        he took a bad chicago team and turned it into a playoff team that was on the verge of becoming a great team.  funny, jordan had been there for a couple of years and they had still been lousy until collins.
        he took a pistons team that had won 20 and 28 games the years prior and turned it into a 46 win playoff team.
        he took a 19 win washington team and won 37 games with many of the same players.
        we know what he has done with the sixers.
        he is similar to larry brown in that he has often taken bad teams and made them much better.  which takes lots of skill. until brown won his title, many of the same things that you write about collins were said about brown.
        blaming collins for the trainwreck in washington is rich.  michael jordan has proven that he is the worst exec in the league and if anyone is to blame for that mess it is jordan.
        similarly, here in detroit, collins was the victim of the nba’s typhoid mary, rick sund, who tore apart what was beginning to be a very good team with a number of moves that eventually strangled the franchise, starting with the historically botched free agent loss of allan houston.  my recollection is that collins did not want the ratliff trade and that trade was one of the moves that helped push him out of the door. and yes, he was tough on ratliff, but ratliff was turning into an excellent player under his coaching.
        my opinion of collins is this; he is in the second tier of nba coaches.  in the level below popovich and carlilse and doc rivers and thibadeau.  he’s probably on the same level as van gundy and karl and d’antoni and adelman and scott brooks.  there is a chance that he could leap up into that upper tier, but he has to do it.  he has to take his team to the conference finals or beyond.
        and it is hysterical to now find philly’s roster described in such glowing terms when, pre-collins, no one had any idea those guys were so good.
        i’ve been clear: frank is a mediocre to bad coach and his record reflects that fact.  if he gets his team to perform in a fashion that alters that fact, i’ll acknowledge it.  so far, he’s done nothing that indicates that he is anything but a mediocre coach.  and no, knowing a lot about basketball does not make you a great coach.  there are lots of guys who know tons about basketball who are lousy nba coaches.  great coaches get their players to perform in a certain way.  frank has not shown that he can do that.
        imho, he learned his lessons under bobby knight too well.  there is a reason knight – depite his brilliance – never tried to coach in the nba.  he understood that his act would not fly.  it took a couple of years, but it appears that the same has happened with frank.  his bobby knight approach is failing.
        his record is almost the opposite of collins’.  he took an elite team and the next year won fewer games.  the following year, he won more games than he ever had in his career and from that point it was all downhill.
        collins is proving that he is a good coach every game.  we’ll see what happens with frank.  so far, the results are not good..

    • Feb 29, 20122:09 pm
      by tarsier


      How is it clear that the team does not respect Frank? I mean, over the past three years we have been given a great view of exactly what a team that clearly does not respect its coach looks like and how it behaves. So I feel confident saying that if this team did not respect him, we would all be able to tell. We know what to look for.

  • Feb 29, 20121:00 pm
    by neutes


    I’ve thought about this and I just don’t think this team has very many players that want to win. That have that strong desire. Knight seems like he has some fight, but he’s just not good enough to do anything with it. Monroe wants to succeed. If Prince wanted to win he would have signed somewhere else, instead he took the money. Gordon just irritates me. I don’t think you have a shared goal among these players. They just go out there and play.

  • Feb 29, 20121:01 pm
    by Kels


    No, no, no, no. We cannot place the blame on the coach AGAIN.  IMO Frank isn’t a mediocre coach, he just doesn’t have much to work with.  I’m pissed that they’re saying “oh we’re still on vacation” as if that makes it okay to lose like they did last night.  Other teams still put forth an effort, and some of their players were in the all-star game.  It’s BS, they aren’t trying.  He’s right, they quit.  I guess now it’s “tank for a lottery pick” which also pisses me off because people still believe bad record = top pick.  There’s no guarantee we’ll end up with Davis.  Ugh.

  • Feb 29, 20121:02 pm
    by steve battle creek, mi


    patrick i thought you were a reporter?  you dont have access to the players to ask questions???  so all the information on this site is just like from a “fans” prospective like me??  i really thought with some of your evaluation of the team and players you were actually at the practices and spoke w/ the coaches and players.   hmmmm,

  • Feb 29, 20122:49 pm
    by MrBlockedShot


    From my point of view it´s not fair to blame on Frank what´s happening on the court. At least not the major part, of course. As far as I can remember, I would only put our last loss against the Hawks on Frank, because of that last possesion where we didn´t foul. But even that decission is questionable. 
    So what we have?  imho a decent coach, and a majority of players that are skilless and heartless according to nba standards. I can´t say they do not want to win, but their body language, comments and their effort on the court most of the games tells me so. As a result we´re one of the worst teams in the league. It´s that easy.
    The worst thing is many of them have nothing to fight for:
    -Prince, who lost his desire years ago and never was a leader, didn´t want to be back but signed that contract though
    -Stuckey didn´t want the money we offered and finally accepted (I gues no other team was going to pay him that much, frankly)
    -Gordon has no preassure on him (he comes off the bench, shots some shots everygame and no matter if he makes them or not he will get paid here for the next 20 years or something – thanks Joe D. for that contract-)…do I have to continue with Bynum, Daye, Wilkins…?

    The only bright spots in terms of effort and desire to win are:
    -Maxiell who at least seems to care about the game (am I wrong if I ask if does it something to do that he might be in his final year here (player option next year)?) 
    -Monroe, Knight, Jerebko: all young guys but still without the maturity and skills needed to get wins 
    -Wallace, all heart and effort, even about to retire. What a shame he´s so limited on the offense…

  • Feb 29, 20124:17 pm
    by apa8ren9


    I dont believe for a second that last night’s effort could be blamed on the coach.  I saw him take the timeouts when Philly was on a run.  When they were throwing alley-oops on the break and we werent getting back on defense.  That was a total mail in job.  They quit and played horribly.  But the problem I had is that at no time as they were getting their asses kicked did they say enough and fight back.  Not once. To Philly no less. This is one of the teams we have to leapfrog in the upcoming years.  I may be a bit emotional after this one game and going a bit overboard but this one really pissed me off.  Maybe because I didnt have my basketball fix for 5 days.  I dont watch any of the all-star crap.  So I was ready for some competitive basketball.  They just tanked and that is unacceptable.  I know this year is a throw-away but the off-season CANNOT here fast enough so that they can blow some of these dudes outta here.  This has got to end. I can take losses just give me effort. TRY.

  • Feb 29, 20124:36 pm
    by frankie d


    a coach like frank earns around 2 million per.
    what is his responsibility? 
    if he is not responsible for players developing?  if that just happens “naturally”…
    if he isn’t responsible for getting his players to play hard?  if their failure to do so, just …happens…
    if he doesn’t really decide playing time, as that is “earned” in a kind of computer-like fashion where players compete and at the end of the “competition” one player has clearly beaten out the other player and so the coach simply and mechanically places the successful candidate into a predestined rotation spot?  
    if he really isn’t responsible for wins and losses because that just…happens as a result of the sum of players’ talents.  teams with “x” numbers of good/great players win 45 games, teams with “x” number of good/great players with 50+ games, and on and on and on…
    so what does any nba coach do to earn the millions of dollars that they are typically paid?
    and if their presence means so little, why bother paying a coach all that money.  why not let the players sort it out themselves, game by game? 
    i am very serious….what does the coach do, and what does he do to earn his millions?

    • Feb 29, 20124:45 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      It sounds like you are blaming Frank for the lack of development in players before he arrived here. Realistically, he’s only been working with these guys less than three months. Greg Monroe is significantly better this season than last. Brandon Knight is getting all kinds of minutes to prove he can be the starting PG of the future. Stuckey has already supplanted a veteran (Gordon) as the starting SG. Jerebko is getting good minutes off the bench.

      Even veteran players, Maxiell and Gordon, are a bit better under Frank than they were last year.

      Really, your only beef is with him not playing Daye as much as you’d like him too. I just think that’s nit-picky.

  • Feb 29, 20126:21 pm
    by frankie d


    daye and macklin.  those aren’t the only beefs, but the main ones.
    and those are really the only two positions where he is facing real choices.
    the other positions have already been sort of penciled in, even knight.  the injuries to stuckey and gordon basically opened things up for knight, in the same way that tay’s injury a couple of years ago opened it up for JJ to come in and play. and because knight is the team’s lottery pick, well, it’s a given he is going to play.
    so on the only two places in the rotation where he really has to make a tough choices, he goes with the old guys over the young players. 
    and in doing so, he has simply failed to move the team in any new direction.  
    the young rebuilding teams simply aren’t giving minutes to guys like wilkins and wallace, except in emergencies. philly is a perfect example. 
    nocioni and battie could easily be playing instead of meeks and lavoy allen.
    when meeks had his – or has his – slumps, and after the hawes injury, collins could have easily moved either nocioni or battie into the rotation.  he didn’t.  he stayed with his young guys, which has proven to be a good move in both the long and short term.
    frank has done the exact opposite and he’s hurt both the short term and the long range prospects of the team.

    • Feb 29, 20127:52 pm
      by tarsier


      For what it’s worth, I am in agreement about the hopes that Frank plays those two guys more. But I also don’t know all that he does and I trust that he knows his job better than I do. Or than you do. And we don’t know what Doug Collins would do in this situation, because as many comparisons as you may wish to draw, it is not the same situation as his.

      That said, I’m not sure that I trust Dumars to do his job better than I would. For some reason, most GMs seem to make such boneheaded moves. I don’t get it. They are payed millions of dollars to make smart decisions. How can they so often make ones that everyone can instantly and correctly recognize as total flops.

    • Feb 29, 201211:12 pm
      by D_S_V


      I don’t understand how you dispute a Player “naturally” getting better when we just saw stuckey and Monroe get better despite coaching changes. The Philly players you cite may actually just plain be more talented than daye and took a year or two to get better.

  • Feb 29, 201210:37 pm
    by Garrett


    That sounds like buffoonery to me.  Do you all know what that means?

  • Mar 1, 201212:18 am
    by MrHappyMushroom


    Frank *could* be interpreted as trying to deflect criticism from his team.
    Stuckey’s comments didn’t seem inappropriate at all.
    For Tay to even *joke* about playing like he’s still on vacation makes me want to find a really big guy to pick up Joe D. and pummel Tay with him.
    The nail in the coffin of my respect for Tayshaun Prince was in place after last all-star game’s comments, which were along the line of, “Well, we’re three or four games back and have a week schedule, but I don’t see how this team gets into the playoffs.”

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