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Vipers coach Brase, players have admiration for former Rockets coach McHale

Discussion in 'Rio Grande Valley Vipers' started by HoopScribe, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Vipers coach Brase, players have admiration for former Rockets coach McHale

    Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 6:27 pm


    EDINBURG — Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Matt Brase worked closely with former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale during the last four years. When Brase broke into professional basketball in 2011, he was immediately introduced to McHale, then in his first year as coach of the Rockets.

    In a way, Brase and McHale came to Houston together.

    “His style of playing fast and being gritty defensively was the first style I was really introduced to in the pros,” Brase said. “You can’t even express how much I learned over the past years.”

    But in a surprising move Wednesday, the Rockets fired McHale following a 4-7 start to a season that started with — and still has — championship aspirations. Three of the Rockets’ losses were by 20 points and they had the second-worst point differential in the Western Conference (minus-7.7).

    Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told reporters Wednesday the team wasn’t responding to McHale, who was awarded a three-year, $12 million extension in December. J.B. Bickerstaff was named interim head coach.

    “It’s just something that happens in this business,” said Brase, the Rockets’ director of player development for two years before being chosen to lead the Vipers. “Every year it happens. I don’t know what’s been going on the past couple of weeks; I stay in close contact, but I’m not there for the ins and outs every day.

    “It’s never a good thing to hear something like that. But they’ll move forward. J.B will do a good job and they’ll take that next step.”

    The Vipers have four players who spent most of the preseason last month with the Rockets. All said they took something away from their time with McHale, a Hall of Fame player with the Boston Celtics in the ‘80s and ‘90s who went 193-130 as coach of the Rockets and leaves as the franchise’s all-time leader in winning percentage.

    Guard Will Cummings said McHale helped him establish the disciplined mindset he needs to be successful as a pro. Center Joshua Smith said McHale helped reassure him as a physical talent.

    “Coach taught me a lot,” Smith said. “We were blessed to have a coach who played on championship teams with championship players. He’s a players’ coach who kept it real with me. He really emphasized me using my size, taking advantage of that by setting screens, blocking out and making guys feel my presence. He helped me with my confidence.”

    Former Vipers coach Chris Finch, who led RGV from 2009-2011 and won a D-League title with the Vipers in 2010-11 before jumping on board to the Rockets as an assistant, was promoted to associate head coach with the reshuffling.

    “Since day one, the Rockets have promoted and advanced coaches from here with the Vipers,” said Brase, who has progressed from intern to Vipers assistant coach to director of player development and now head coach of RGV. “(Former Vipers coach) Nick Nurse is now with the Raptors as an offensive coach. Chris was in his first year with the Vipers when I joined the Rockets.

    “And not just with the Vipers, but you’ll see former D-League assistant and head coaches on NBA benches every single night.”

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