Something we don’t discuss too much on this site is the performance of Scott Brooks as head coach of the Thunder. I think most would be of the opinion that it’s much too early to form opinions about Brooks’ ability to steer the team going forward, having only 69 games to prove himself. But the opinions will begin to be formed during this upcoming season.
We all know he says the right things, and that he seems to be genuinely well liked by just about everyone. He seemed to be level headed yet passionate on the sidelines and I never really thought he was completely outcoached at any point last year (like I often did the previous season and early in ’08 under Pajamas Carlesimo). For me, a real defining time for Brooks came in late February when Kevin Durant went down for 7 games and 4 of those were also without Jeff Green. The team went 5-2 during that stretch and almost overnight got the team to buy into a lockdown defensive mode. It was genius. Coach Brooks really showed me he could coach.
Coaches work in the offseason too. The Oklahoman
had this to say about Brooks on the day of the season ending exit interviews: While the players will be working on getting better over the summer, Brooks said he’ll be doing the same as a coach. He plans to visit coaches across the country this summer, looking for better insight into running a team, whether it’s by picking up another practice drill, installing another play or improving his ability to communicate with players.
Good words, good to hear. Then in yesterday’s Oklahoman in the last paragraph of a Mike Baldwin piece it says the following: Brooks experimented with some plays in Wednesday’s exhibitions game against Miami, running a few new plays and a full-court press for a possession or two. “It’s good to look at them in an exhibition game, not against each other in practice,” Brooks said. “When we scrimmage against each other you know what each other is going to do. I want guys to see how it flows against another opponent, see if we pick things up on the fly.”
I didn’t get to see the Miami game, but I am excited that Brooks is putting in the new wrinkle. I love full court pressure defense as a changeup, as a disruptor. It’s a devastating hurricane of chaos for the opponent if used wisely and sparingly. Rick Pitino uses it all the time in Louisville and before that in Kentucky. Coach K used it some in the Beijing Olympics. I think quite a few coaches have it in their arsenal, but few use it extensively. However, just like Brooks changed up the game plan when Durant and Green went out to better suit the strengths of the team without the two the full court press suits the team as well. The idea is that you send swarms of long, quick, athletic guys after the opponent for 94 feet. Oh yeah, we have a few guys that meet the criteria. Guys like Thabo, Weaver, Durant, Green, Westbrook and Ibaka.
Anyway, if your interested Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very interesting (and looong) article about the full court press a few months back. It’s really worth a read. It has just about everything in there: war references, David and Goliath, Lawrence of Arabia, girls basketball etc. You can read it here.
Again, I give Brooks big kudos for thinking of ways to give the Thunder a little edge. We lost so many games by just a few points last year, a new wrinkle like a full court press might put a few of those in the win column in the future