20130112_lbm_aw6_188

I did not get to know him very well, but former Suns head coach Alvin Gentry was generally sociable and affable with the media before games. He joked with reporters on non-basketball topics and was quick with a good-natured snark at the expense of Suns employees or policies when the opportunity presented itself.

Being the rookie on the media circuit, I did not have (a better word might be that I did not make) the chance strike up an "off-recorder" relationship with Gentry like others have done. Walking with him in and out of press rooms or practices, sharing off-the-record observations, was already taken by the host of veteran media and dedicated bloggers already in tow. Nay, I am the rookie this season and just aren't aggressive enough to drop my ride into 5th gear this early.

So I cannot say, without equivocation, whether Alvin Gentry is really this nice or if he's craftily shaping public perception for a rainy day just like this one.

The twittersphere blew up yesterday with outrage over the ouster of Gentry, wondering why a team in such transition was dumping the only semblance of long-term continuity left? And, why replace someone that wasn't really the problem?

But the reality of professional sports is that when a team is not jelling, when a team is visibly imploding upon itself, change must be made.

Player comments in recent weeks have shown the lack of cohesion amongst this group.

Luis Scola began the year saying that the Suns must scrap and claw for 48 minutes to win games. This is a statement from a man who thinks he might just have an answer.

The team eventually got this message - that hard work must propel an under-talented team - but other cracks began to show once they started playing playoff-caliber teams over the past month. It's been painfully obvious to anyone actually watching these games, including yours truly, that the Suns players had lost confidence in themselves.

The season started with hopes and dreams. Confidence comes easy to guys who have not yet faced adversity. Despite digging big deficits in nearly every game, the Suns started forming a tenuous identity around coming back from those deficits to win (6 times) or at least make the game exciting before eventually succumbing. Some of the players took heart in their ability to fight back, while others was the writing on the wall.

But the Suns could not beat good teams, and then eventually could not beat average to below-average teams. They have a small handful of wins against teams who were winners at the time of the game, but even now - 41 games into the season - you can count the wins over playoff-caliber teams on a couple of fingers.

Eventually, the team began to realize their own futility. It started with a 7-game losing streak, broken momentarily by a nice easy home stretch of 4 wins, before devolving into a stretch of 13 losses in the last 15 games. Add in the 7-game streak and you've got 20 losses in the last 26 games.

The last loss came to a Milwaukee team barely above .500 on the season that struggles to win road games. The Suns built a ten-point lead in the third quarter before seizing up and barely scoring the rest of the game.

Whatever you think about the Suns (lack of) talent, their psyche is broken even moreso.

When the Suns talk of "feel" and "regression", everyone around the team knows what that means. Those who watched the game saw the players lose confidence game after game.

Scola said recently that the Suns are just "waiting for bad things to happen" every game. They all know, collectively, that every game is doomed from the start.

We see it on the court. We see a semblance of execution and effort that helps the Suns keep games close or take leads against their opposition in the second half.

And then we see the self-destruction unfold before our very eyes. Ball movement stops. Shot-jacking and "dribble tantrums" start. Missed layups and dunks. Bad passes. Turnovers. You name it, the Suns can do it.

Every single game. To the tune of 13 losses in 15 tries. 20 losses in 26 tries. 28 losses in 41 tries.

It's not the losing that required change at the head coach level.

It's the loss of spirit. The loss of confidence in the plan and schemes it takes to win games.

It's months of "I don't know" answers from coaches and players on queries of "How do you fix this?"

Sure, they are partly refusing to give scathing answers about the talent-acquisition department or their teammates, but they also appear to genuinely be confused and defeated.

It's not a fun locker room anymore. And the prospect of 41 more games of the same-ole-same-ole is not appetizing to anyone.

So while Alvin Gentry is a good NBA coach and will thrive somewhere else where he can enjoy a higher level of talent, it just was not working here at this time, in this place, with this set of guys.

I will miss seeing Alvin Gentry. But I am looking forward to hearing another voice, even if that person ends up with a big or bigger mess.

The NBA is a player’s league, and thus coaches often receive more credit than they deserve when they win and more blame than they should shoulder when they lose. Such was Alvin Gentry’s...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Alvin Gentry is out. What his departure means for the Suns’ franchise will be covered in detail here at Valley of the Suns over the next few days. For now, let’s not dwell in the past. The front...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
159372510

"We were regressing," Lon Babby said of the Phoenix Suns today. "I didn't feel like we were moving forward, and I don't think Alvin thought we were moving forward."

Babby described the meeting as one that gathered after last night's game, one that not coincidentally had the players and the coach at their most depressed, frustrated point of the season to date. Babby and managing partner Robert Sarver asked to meet with Alvin, and a long meeting and a night to sleep on it resulted in a mutual decision to end the relationship.

"It's not something we planned for. A month ago, Robert Sarver was direct and blunt that Alvin would be here through the end of the year. But sometimes in this business it gets to the point where it doesn't feel right and we just reached that point."

Certainly, there was a lot wrong with the Suns and there still is a lot wrong. Letting the coach go doesn't solve any problems, though it does allow the team to move in a new direction with a new voice at the helm.

"I think in fairness it would not be realistic to not say at this stage given our record," he said. "That maybe the emphasis is going to shift a little bit in the direction of player development, but we're still trying to win games and still try to compete, but maybe the emphasis is slightly altered."

It is easier to switch gears with a new coach than it is for the existing coach to suddenly change everything he's been saying to the team all season.

Alvin Gentry was trying to win games first and foremost because the team went into the season thinking they the talent to produce better results than they have shown so far this season.

"I think we gave him a team that was better than the way they were playing," Babby said. "But I don't put that all on him. I don't even put the lion's share on him. That's not what this is about. It's not about winning enough games.

"The decision for Alvin and us to part ways wasn't a reflection of the quality of him as a coach. It's just that at this time, in this place, in this moment with this group it obviously just wasn't working."

Ultimately, the team was regressing. At the very least, they were making the same mistakes today that they were making on day one of training camp. Since the beginning of 2013, the Suns have the worst offense in the league after starting the season in the middle of the pack.

"I want us to progress culturally," Babby said of the next steps. "I want us to begin to see some modest or substantial growth in our young players. I want us to play hard every night, which for the most part we have done. I'd like us to be disciplined. I'd like us to execute.

"I think progress is something that, if you see it, you'll know. And I want us to feel good about moving forward. And that's how I think we have to judge the season going forward."

But he knows it all comes back to him.

"I'm going to be judged every day on what we do. Ultimately I am accountable."

An interim coach will be named in the next 24-48 hours from among the current coaching and player development staff. Likely Elston Turner or Lindsey Hunter, who are both highly regarding nationally as future head coaches. It's just that neither has ever done it before.

PHOENIX – Something didn’t feel right on Planet Orange, and though it still might feel uneasy, let’s focus on the past. The Phoenix Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry decided it was best...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Page 1213 of 2083

1213

Web Links

Sponsored Ads