The Right Coach(?)

You may have noticed that of all the things we've discussed this summer, coaching has been largely absent from the main page.  This has been somewhat intentional on my part.  Frankly we get too much coaching discussion sometimes during the regular season.  The old saw that a coach gets too much credit when things go right and too much blame when things go wrong holds a fair amount of truth.  Except I'm far more cynical than the wise man who said that.  My version is simpler:  It's always they coach's fault...until we win.  It's actually been refreshing to go a few months without going back and forth about coaching.

Nevertheless we should talk a little bit about it, since we've been discussing plenty of players and playing styles.  Coaching does matter.  So I'd like to know whether you think Coach McMillan is the best (or at least right) coach for this team now, and if so for how far in the future do you foresee that holding true?  An alternate way to look at that second part would be, what needs to happen in order for that to remain true, either in terms of benchmarks or in terms of the team makeup that suits Coach McMillan?  If you do not think Coach is the best guy for the job, who would you rather have?  That would have to be a guy you think would come as well as working out.

For myself I tend to think Nate is the best guy for the job right now.  Starting from an abysmal situation that would make most prospective coaches cringe and then run, he has built up the team's confidence and level of play.  His record has improved each year.  41 wins was an extraordinary total last year given the conditions and the competition in the West.  Plus, despite expectations, this is still a young team.  Nate is a fine teacher.  He has surrounded himself with a staff that also likes to teach and he invests them with responsibility.  He won't coach against his convictions which sets standards for the players he oversees.  Unless and until this team actually wins something that's exactly the kind of shaping they need.  Plus there's the simple fact that this team has a ton more to learn.

As far as the future, I have a hard time thinking of anybody who's actually going to be available who would be a better candidate.  Most of the names people consider A-level are already coaching with Western Conference contenders.  Some of the best coaches are better suited for veteran squads on the verge than up-and-coming teams, and Portland is still a ways from that.  I suppose if Coach K ever wanted to leave the cozy confines of college and try the NBA, providing conditions were favorable (i.e. the Blazers aren't coming off of a 60-win season), Paul Allen would probably throw the coffers wide open for him, and rightly so.  I thought as much even before this summer but the Olympics gave him exposure working with NBA players, successfully so.  The most impressive thing was not the gold medal, but that it apparently meant so much to the players involved.  That coaching staff made NBA players care, which speaks well of them.  But then again Nate was part of that staff...

Anyway, I'll throw the floor open at this point.  Give us your thoughts and ideas about the coaching situation.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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