Tag:Stan Van Gundy
Posted on: April 12, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 6:25 pm

Road to the Finals: Orlando Magic

The Magic's window seems closed. What do they have to do to pry it back open?
Posted by Matt Moore

It's been a season of dramatics in the NBA. The Lakers aspiring for a second three-peat under Phil Jackson to send him off in style. The Celtics trying to make one more run to the championship to get the elusive multiple titles while dealing with a reformation of the core after a trade of Kendrick Perkins. The Heat. Just, the Heat. The Bulls' rise behind Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau. The Spurs making one last great charge with their core. 

But lost in all this is Orlando. 

Set with a backdrop of fantasy (it's Disney World for crying out loud - how much more symbolic do you want to get?), this season has become a crushing work of disillusionment illustrating the crash of reality on a franchise that was a Courtney-Lee-blown alley-oop from really putting the boots back to the Lakers in the Finals two years ago. The Magic aren't just a team that thought it had the championship window firmly propped open for years. They are an illustration of the have-not nature in the NBA, despite their making what can only be considered the best effort possible. 

Orlando poneyed up for the new arena critics of small-markets allege the non-top cities never approve. Ownership elected to go above and beyond the cap, deep into the luxury tax. They were smart enough to draft, and develop, a franchise player, acquire a competitive and arguably brilliant head coach, surround the team with competent role players. When the 2009 team failed to get past the last challenge, management did not get complacent, and instead opted for the home-run move you're supposed to make, according to many. Vince Carter, for all his Vince-Carter-ness, was still a legit star in the summer of 2009. They went for the big move. When that didn't work out, they once again swung for the fences. You can't say Otis Smith didn't try. 

But here they are. Entering the playoffs as the worst seed they've been since 2008, with little to no momentum, and considered nothing more than after-thought in the playoffs. They are a speedbump in the road to the Finals for teams from Miami, Chicago, Boston. They gambled. They lost. And the worst part of all is this season may turn out to be the one that gives Dwight Howard an excuse to leave Orlando; it may be the one reflected on as what turns Howard away; it may be the year Orlando lost their franchise center, again. 

And then, very dimly, way in the back there, behind the headlines about "DWIGHT TO NY 2012" and "HOWARD THINKS L.A. WEATHER IS AWESOME, COULD HEAD THERE IN 2012?" is this simple formula. The Magic have an elite defense, an array of shooter who have yet to really show how good they can be if they do start clicking, a solid-to-good point guard, and have we mentioned their defense is pretty awesome? In 2009, I talked myself into picking Orlando against both Boston and Cleveland based on their ability to trample any team if they get hot. Offense never wins a championship, but great shooting and elite defense does. And Orlando still has that, at its systemic level. 

Road To The Finals
" target="_blank">Miami Heat The problem is when you get beyond the system. The idea isn't wrong. Stan Van Gundy's structure of building shooters with a driver mixed in to swarm around Howard, create specing, force the double, kick, kick, and find the open shot is a sound one. Play great defense around the best defensive player, create and knock down open threes around the biggest, baddest center in the land. Win. That works. What doesn't work are the elements wrapped around Howard specifically. Hedo Turkoglu, who had a nice start to his time in Orlando but in reality doesn't have the first-step necessary to get the edge on penetration. Brandon Bass, who doesn't have the sheer muscle to fill Howard's role when the big guy sits or gets in foul trouble. Gilbert Arenas.

Oh, Gilbert. 

Arenas is the big missing piece. As in, where he stands, there's an empty shell of a guard that can't shoot, drive, or create. The Magic wasted a huge contract in Rashard Lewis to get Arenas. Lewis wasn't of considerable usefulness at this point, but he was more useful than Arenas has been. 

But then, is there anyone in the league more unpreditable than Gilbert Arenas?

A first-round series against the Hawks shouldn't be too much trouble, but there are pitfalls hidden there. The Magic don't have a forward to match Josh Smith's explosiveness. Al Horford does surprisgingly well against centers bigger than him. He'll lose to Howard, but if he can even hold his own, the onus shifts elsewhere. Kirk Hinrich is a stellar perimeter defender, if a bit overrated at this point, but Nelson has shown to step up in the playoffs against less athletic point guards (prior to being detonated against Rajon Rondo, of course). Jason Richardson should have a huge impact. 

That's where it gets tough. The Bulls are a hard team for anyone to beat, and while the Magic pushing the Bulls to the wire without Howard last weekend has to give them a measure of confidence, trying to stop Rose is going to be a challenge that Dwight Howard can only do so much against. Joakim Noah, Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, the Bulls have fouls upon fouls to throw at Howard. That's what makes Howard such a big x-factor. He's reliable for 20-12. If he could get to that next level? If he could hit his free throws, land a few and-ones on a fadeaway, take over games on both ends like he does on defense? The Magic become an entirely different creature. But that's the issue. Howard hasn't shown that ability on any consistent basis. He'll have one, maybe two games that are out of this world. The question is if they'll come at a time when it makes a difference. 

Dwight Howard won't win the MVP because everyone questions his ability to take over a game, even though no one has an equal impact on the floor consistently minute-per-minute on both ends of the floor. And voters are probably correct in that assessment. Maybe that's the most bizarre twist in all this. The failures of the Magic may provide an out for Howard to leave in pursuit of a championship, and he's capable of being the very thing that pushes Orlando to a championship. 

The Magic aren't out of this. If they get hot from the perimeter, they're incredibly difficult to stop. Jason Richardson steps up in huge ways in the playoffs. They have weapons, they have defense, they have strategy. 

But the narrative still holds. The confidence is gone. It wouldn't take a miracle for the Magic to reach the Finals. 

But it would definitely seem like it.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 2:11 am

Stan Van Gundy voted most annoying coach

Stan Van Gundy voted "Most Annoying Coach" by NBA players in regards to sideline behavior. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Sports Illustrated annual players' poll is released on newsstands Wednesday, but they elected to leak one notable, and slightly hilarious result. Stan Van Gundy trounced all comers in being voted the most annoying coach in the NBA, according to the players. From Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post: 
Sports Illustrated polled 138 NBA players for its latest issue, on newsstands tomorrow, and asked which head coach is the most annoying during games. The Orlando Magic's Stan Van Gundy, with 65 percent of the vote, "won" in a landslide; Phil Jackson of the L.A. Lakers and Scott Skiles of the Milwaukee Bucks tied for second place, receiving seven percent of the votes apiece.

Van Gundy, in his fourth season leading the Magic, is among the most outspoken coaches in all of sports, as his recent feud with NBA Commissioner David Stern demonstrates. He's also taken on targets as big as the Miami Heat and Shaquille O'Neal during his Magic tenure. But this poll asked players to only consider the coaches' attitude during games. It's easy to understand why they may not take kindly to Van Gundy, with his high-pitched shouting and histrionics.
via SI Player Poll: Stan Van Gundy the NBA's "Most Annoying" Head Coach - Orlando Pinstriped Post.

The perception is that essentially, Van Gundy is on a fuse, and when the fuse runs out, he'll be jettisoned for a "player's coach," someone who won't scream, won't yell, and looks more the part of an NBA coach. He's been called a "master of panic" by Shaquille O'Neal, despite having one of the better track records for drawing up intelligent playcalls in key situations as opposed to the oh so popular "give to the best perimeter player in ISO and help no one doubles" tactic that so many coaches opt for (and Scott Brooks has tattoed backwards on his forehead for easy reading in a mirror). 

This vote just reinforces the belief that Van Gundy is not a guy players want to play for. Yet there he is, winning games and contending for a title on a team that just three years ago was considered an afterthought in the playoffs. Van Gundy's performance record places him the past two seasons behind only Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers in terms of team sucess. That's not bad for a guy who apparently most of the league finds annoying. Van Gundy likely doesn't mind the characterization as long as his teams keep getting the message and playing to his demands. 

It's also interesting that all three coaches on this list have career records greater than .500. 
Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 9:48 pm

Van Gundy gets stern shush

Posted by Royce Young

It was only a matter of time before the gavel came down on Stan Van Gundy. You mess with The Stern, you get the horns.

After popping off about David Stern, essentially comparing the NBA commissioner to a dictator, Van Gundy said he has been told he can no longer comment on the Stern issue. This is a day after Stern backhanded Van Gundy in an interview with ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd, saying, "I would venture a guess that we're not going to be hearing from him the rest of the season."

Stern did not take Fredo fishing at Lake Tahoe, though. Didn't even fine him! He just put a muzzle on him.

Van Gundy was mainly complaining about what he sees as hypocritical officiating with Dwight Howard. Van Gundy quoted a stat he attributed to Elias saying Howard had been hit above the head 593 times. This came after Howard reacted against the Bulls by swinging his elbows and picking up his 16th technical, which led to a one-game suspension.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:59 pm

David Stern blasts Magic coach Stan Van Gundy

NBA commissioner David Stern responds harshly to critical comments from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Posted by Ben Golliver. david-stern

You knew this was coming.

Back on Monday, we noted that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was quite upset with his center Dwight Howard being suspended after receiving his 16th technical foul of the season, as Van Gundy believes Howard is a target of hard fouls and that the NBA referees are too quick with the whistle in handling Howard's responses. In the process, Van Gundy made a comment that he "certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinions or free speech or anything." Van Gundy later clarified that he wasn't comparing Stern to any particular dictators, but the damage was done.

During an ESPN radio interview on Thursday (audio here), Stern shot back, and he shot back hard, implying that he was taking action against Van Gundy by speaking with his Magic superiors and that Van Gundy's frustration is borne out of his team's struggles. 

Here are some of Stern's comments via the Orlando Sentinel.
“I’m going to engage in a private discussions at this point with his franchise,” Stern said. “I actually am not going to talk to Stan Van Gundy. I’m going to talk to the ownership of the team.
“I see somebody whose team isn’t performing, whose star player is suspended, who seems to be fraying.

“I would venture a guess that we’re not going to be hearing from him for the rest of the season,” Stern said. “I think when he stops and reads what he said, realizes what he did, he will say no more. … I have a feeling some modicum of self-restraint will cause Stan, and the team for which he works, to rein in his aberrant behavior.”
Van Gundy's frustration is legitimate and has accumulated over the years, as Howard's issues with technicals are nothing new. While his criticism of Stern is factually true -- Stern has made it clear through statements and heavy fines that he does not want any public comments about his league's officiating and its policies -- it wasn't prudent and it was certain to anger the commissioner given the timing in relation to significant world affairs. 

Van Gundy either popped off without thinking (a distinct possibility) or he was ready to take a stand on this battlefield and suffer whatever repercussions would come his way. I tend to lean towards the former explanation, as Van Gundy did attempt to clarify that his remarks were not meant to compare Stern to leaders in Egypt and Libya. 

Stern doesn't often come across petty but his personal, direct attack on Van Gundy and the Magic was way too much, and it was absolutely beneath him as the league's commissioner. When cooler heads prevail, it seems fair to conclude that both sides will wish they could take back their most heated comments.

The worst part: the real thrust of Van Gundy's message, that Howard needs to be protected better even if he's one of the biggest and strongest players in the league, got totally lost in the shouting match.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 4:36 pm

Van Gundy calls out Stern while defending Howard

Posted by Royce Young

Dwight Howard will serve a one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul of the season over the weekend against the Bulls. Via the Orlando Sentinel, the never bashful Stan Van Gundy came to Howard's defense Monday, citing that Howard had actually shown "great restraint" in terms of lashing out after the punishment he had received.

Van Gundy cited a stat he credited to the Elias Sports Bureau that Howard had been hit above the shoulder 593 times this season without one being called a flagrant.

"You could say 'he's losing control.' I would say just to the opposite," Van Gundy said. "I would say his control is amazing. Basically, what we're saying [is] for those of us that work out, go run on the treadmill for 43 or 44 minutes that he plays, and I get to come by three times in that 43 minutes and smack you as hard as I want upside the head and I want you to retaliate less than once out of every 15 days that I do that three times."

But what was most interesting was an exchange Van Gundy had later on where he didn't mince words about commissioner David Stern.
When a reporter asked Van Gundy if he expects anything to change in the way referees officiate Howard's games, Van Gundy responded that he expects no change from the NBA.

"They like the way the game is being called," Van Gundy said.

When another reporter asked if it's fair to fans who paid money to watch Howard play tonight but now won't be able to watch Howard, Van Gundy responded, "You'll have to ask [NBA Commissioner] David Stern about that. He obviously thinks it's better that he sits out."

A reporter later asked whether the technical-foul system is fair, but Van Gundy expressed concern that any statement of opinion could net him a fine from league officials.

"I can't answer that," Van Gundy responded. "And I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinions or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion, so it's up to him. He decides. And he likes the system that he has."
I'm sure the commissioner will have some thoughts about Van Gundy's comments. Implying that Stern is running a dictatorship is a pretty strong statement. Probably not an incorrect one entirely, but strong nonetheless. But Van Gundy is defending his player, something he absolutely should do.

Howard has been criticized a bit for being a hothead and for not being able to control his temper. He disagrees.

"There's nothing I can do about it," Howard told the Orlando Sentinel Sunday. "I'll try not to let the officiating affect the way I play. It's very tough, but I've just got to do it. I think it's like they want to make an example out of me, but I'll just stay positive and continue to do all the things that I do to bring fun to the game. That's all I can do. I'm not a bad guy. I'm not a hothead because I get techs, and I think that's the message that people want to put across. I guess last year it was I smile too much. Now I don't smile. And now I'm a hothead."
Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:57 am

Howard upset with teammates. Again.

Dwight Howard rips teammates after embarassing loss to Kings
Posted by Matt Moore

Dwight Howard is angry at teammates for what seems like the 400th time. The Magic fell to the Kings last night in an unforgiveable loss in which Howard scored 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. During the game, the big man let his voice be heard. When his teammates didn't respond, Howard said he was through talking. From the Orlando Sentinel

“I’ve said everything there is to say,” said Howard, sitting dejectedly in front of his lockers with a semi-circle of reporters around him. “That’s it. I’ve talked every timeout, when we’re in the huddle, in the locker room… What, you want me to Tweet about it? I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do as a leader.” 
“If guys don’t want to play, they’ve got to sit down,” Howard said. “We just can’t have guys or anybody out there not playing hard.”Howard continued.  
“Everybody on the team has to step up and play hard,” he said. “I’m not singling anybody out; I’m not calling anybody out. But as a team, if we don’t play hard we’re going to lose every night.”
via Dwight Howard rips Orlando Magic after loss to Kings video – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

The timing is particularly poor for the Magic, as Howard, a free agent in 2012, watched Deron Williams be sent to New Jersey and Carmelo Anthony win in his debut in New York. Even though the Magic are the better team of those three, it's another step in the direction of the door, providing Howard another excuse for leaving the Magic high and dry.  Howard did everything he should and could last night to help the Magic win. It wasn't enough. 

No word on whether the Magic teammates will try and give him a technical. 

Eventually the talk's going to stop and then there are going to be changes, if the Magic don't turn this thing around. 
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 7:58 pm

Funny story, Arenas' cold streak may be legit

Gilbert Arenas says his struggles may be because he's under the weather. Turns out he may be right about why his shot has cooled off so badly. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Pretty much whenever Gilbert Arenas opens his mouth, it's kind of like Ron Artest at this point. You listen, nod your head, and throw his comments on the career pile of wacky stuff he's spit out over the years. But for whatever reason, Arenas' latest wackadoodle comment had a shred of truth to it. From CBSSports.com's own Ken Berger: 

“Cities that are high on the map, I have trouble with,” Arenas said. “Like this city during the winter. But as soon as February shows up – that’s why they call me Mr. February, because I’ll be dunking and jumping around in practice. I’m glad we’re about to have a month basically at home so I can just get my rhythm and be in the warm weather where my knee is going to feel a lot better. It’s like day and night. It’s weird.”

Asked when it will feel better, Arenas said, “As soon as we land in Orlando. When it’s cold, the coldness swells in my joints and puts moisture in my joints and that’s what makes it stiff. So once I get to a warm city, or any city that has high humidity, I’m fine.”
via The artist formerly known as Gilbert Arenas - CBSSports.com.

Now, lots of players like to talk about things that seem to affect their games without actually affecting their games. But in Arenas' case? He's got a point. Let's take a look at some numbers from Basketball-Reference.com.

For his career, Arenas is a 42% shooter from the field and a 35% three-point shooter. But in January, Arenas shoots just 41% from the field and 31% from the arc. In February? 42% and 37%. Then in March? It jumps to 43% and 38%. His point totals drop, too. Check it out in this super-cheesy graph I made: 

So maybe there is something to what Arenas has said about his knee locking up in the cold months in the cities "high on the map." In fact, in 2004-2005, Arenas' best months for point production were January and February, even if his shooting percentages dropped over all. But in his career best season of 2005-2006, we see the same winterly decline pattern, as he scored just 25 points per game on 44% shooting versus his season average of 39 on 45%. 

But saying he's Mr. February may be a bit much. Maybe Mr. Valentine? Or Mr. March? Perhaps Mr. Pre-Easter? Mr. Ides?  Granted, Arenas' overall numbers are still sliding due to the knee injuries, age, and diminished skills. He's not the scorer he once was, no matter what month of year it is. But either way, it turns out that among the bonkers things Arenas has said throughout his career, this one was actually a little bit on the money.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:58 pm

LeBron has not forgotten Magic summer comments

LeBron James has some words about Orlando in preparation of their meeting Thursday. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Orlando Magic had some pretty strong words about the Heat in the preseason. That led to an increasing rivalry between the two clubs, and it's been furthered by them both being contenders for the East this season, and in splitting the first two meetings this season. With the third matchup coming on Thursday, it would appear that LeBron James in particular considers this to be an important game for the Heat. From the AP:
"The simple fact that it's a division opponent, that means a lot," James said. "Trying to win your division is very key. And also playing exceptionally well on the road is definitely key. That definitely helps later on in the season. And being an Orlando team that basically said a lot of things about us in the offseason, that definitely adds a little bit to the fire."
via LeBron James still remembers Orlando critics when he joined Heat.

Basically, it bugs the Magic that the Heat got all the attention they feel they deserved as the Celtics' biggest rival for the East before playing a game, and it bugs the Heat that the Magic open their mouths.  This rivalry may feel like it's for second-best in the East, but it's more authentic than the blood between the Celtics and the Heat. The Magic can play the disrespect card, the Heat can play the "keep my name out of your mouth" card, and everyone walks away salty. It's a good system.

What's more interesting is how each side exposes the other one's weaknesses.  The Heat's sometimes lackadaisical defense struggles the inside-out motion of Orlando and the presence of Dwight Howard.  The Magic struggle with the perimeter penetration caused by James and Dwyane Wade, and have had issues with the ball movement of Miami as well. With the Magic vastly different from the last time the two teams met, but struggling as of late, Thursday's matchup should be a fine one. 

And a good test of whether the Heat intend to make good on that "list" they were making this summer. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com