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(Chron) Misery loves company of Van Gundy By RICHARD JUSTICE

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by vtkp99, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

    Jun 30, 2002
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    March 5, 2005, 1:13AM

    Misery loves company of Van Gundy

    Jeff Van Gundy walked through the door wearing white socks, gym shorts and a wrinkled T-shirt. He needed a shave and looked like he hadn't seen sunlight in a week.

    Had he finally gone over the edge?

    My first thought was that he had been in his office a couple of days obsessing over all the defensive breakdowns and bad shots in Wednesday's loss to Washington. It's not like he would be the first NBA coach to flirt with insanity during a tough stretch.

    And then he began to speak, and I realized all was right with the world. He was completely miserable, and as usual, unable to hide it.

    He's as prepared, thorough and competent as any coach in the NBA. He's also — can we be delicate about this? — a bit different.

    "We really have dumbed down," he said. "If you want to win in this league, you can't do the stuff we've been doing. Our margin of error is minuscule."

    Darkening cloud
    Cue Dr. Doom.

    "You can start to see excuses creeping in," he said. "We have a lot of things surrounding the team that have no bearing on winning."

    When someone asked how new point guard Mike James was fitting in, he shrugged.

    "It's the worst possible scenario and best possible scenario," he said. "The worst part is throwing someone in there who has very little knowledge of how you do things. The best part is that if he screws up, he's staying in."

    If there hadn't been some nosy TV types around, I would have given him a hug.

    Besides, this is the kind of season that would test even the most upbeat coach. The Rockets were reconstructed once last summer and again in December and then again at the trading deadline.

    They've used a franchise-record 22 players. They've had five starting point guards. Just when they found a formula that worked, guard Bob Sura's second trip to the injured list forced general manager Carroll Dawson to shuffle the deck again.

    Dawson has had a terrific year, first in acquiring Tracy McGrady and Sura last summer, and then in tweaking the roster with the acquisitions of David Wesley and Jon Barry.

    Shaking the mix
    No sooner had he gotten it right than it all came undone again. He's thrilled that he was able to trade for James, a player he coveted last summer. Problem is, they've been forced to change the mix at a bad time.

    Now the Rockets have no idea if they'll be able to regain the magic they had during that eight-game winning streak.

    Did we mention the schedule?

    They're the sixth-seeded team in the West at 33-25. But their final 24 games are against teams with a .540 winning percentage.

    One of their toughest stretches begins with Sunday's home game against Dallas, followed by a killer trip to Seattle, Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State.

    Van Gundy mentions the things that are going wrong — defensive mistakes, bad shots, turnovers and the like.

    "Some teams could overcome those things," he said. "San Antonio can overcome. Dallas can overcome. Seattle to a point can overcome them. We're like most teams. We're not constructed that way. We can't overcome them."

    He stressed that message during Friday's two-hour practice.

    "It's how you win," he said. "It's both complicated and simple. Be ready to start the game and be ready to start the second half. Don't beat yourself."

    In losing four of five, some of the old problems have resurfaced. Yao Ming looks tired. And when he has gotten open, his teammates haven't gotten him the ball.

    The Rockets are being beaten on the boards and turning the ball over too much. Almost every team has similar lulls, but the Rockets don't know if they can recapture what they had before the All-Star break.

    "Even in our eight-game winning streak, we had a couple of big leads we let get away from us," Wesley said. "Winning covers up a lot of things, but there are still things we need to work on."

    Friday, Van Gundy's players got the message. Not one of them offered an excuse.

    "Losing Bob Sura, obviously, has been a big part of this," Barry said, "but it's not a crutch. Mike James is 'just' one player, and he's a veteran. He understands the game."

    Yet as Dawson said: "When you have change, you do have to put the guys together for a while and let them get to know one another."

    The Rockets have had massive change. Only three players — Yao, Scott Padgett and Clarence Weatherspoon — remain from the team that went to the playoffs last year, and what began as a season has turned into a roller-coaster ride. The coach is hanging on.

  2. Fegwu

    Fegwu Contributing Member

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Good read. Now lets go out and get it done.

    WCF here we come.
  3. Rockets-R-Us

    Rockets-R-Us Contributing Member

    May 22, 2001
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    Outstanding article!! Put together with the one from ESPN (different thread) and you have everything you need to know about where we were, where we are, and potentially, where we could wind up!!

    Fegwu, I don't know if I'm ready to proclaim us ready for the WCF just yet... Let me see how Sura does coming back into the mix, and if he stays healthy.

    Also, RainMan Gundy needs to be willing to throw a different look or two at opponents in the 4th quarter, because it seems like by the end of the games, better teams are having less trouble overcoming our "D" (see Lakers, Wizards, etc.).

    Anyway, the article on the Rox ROCKS!! And I think we're finally due for a trip to Round 2 at least!!! :cool: :cool: :cool:
  4. gunn

    gunn Contributing Member

    Dec 10, 2003
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    Coaches coach, players play. Simple as that.
  5. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

    Jun 30, 2002
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    They showed it in Dalas game yesterday

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