The only thing that seems to get bemoaned more than Andray Blatche and his love of contested jumpshots is Flip and the choices he makes on the hardwood, and off. There's been a lot of point and counterpoint on what merits his faults and successes. I want to try and get the criteria we measure him by down in one place. If you feel I've missed anything, I want to hear about it. And from time to time, I'll publish an irregular feature on Flip and the progress he seems to be making with the team.
Gripes are presented in no particular order, as everyone has one near and dear to their hearts. We'll kick things off with preferential treatment for 'veterans' at the expense of playing time for developing youth. By and large, this means Andray Blatche, Yi Jianlian, and Hilton Armstrong logging perhaps more minutes than they should have at the expense of Javale McGee, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. There are arguments aplenty on what's justified and what isn't, but we'll save that for the inaugural cut of The Flip Side. Mike is partial, as am I, to five-man unit stats, and we'll label that a holistic approach to in-game lineups. Who's working together, and who isn't. Substitution patterns will find their home here as well. The first category looks to deal with balancing playing time, with plenty of subcategories. More below the jump, and again, any further categories/subcategories you want to see, list 'em.
Scheming is the bread and butter of super villains and head coaches, so no temperature check would be complete without talking about whether or not our resident chess master should take up checkers. Whether it's switching to the hyperbolic parabaloid transitional floating zone when an opposing team's shooters are lighting us up like a Montecristo or wondering why Andray Blatche can't get back in rhythm, the tacks he's taking take their lumps in this category.
Abraham Lincoln said, "If I was given eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my ax." No one here makes the mistake of ignoring what happens between games, unfortunately this is where we're often reduced to guess work as to what's going on. Whether it's who needs extra conditioning before getting on the floor, to how the team prepares its game plan, to the energy level in practices, game time preparation crosses all of our minds every time an opposing coach makes an adjustment and the Wiz fall flat.
Mystique is not a word that comes to mind when you look at Flip Saunders, but it is important for any coach who has to play 'The Rookie Whisperer'. One observer's 'bashing players in the media' is another observer's 'telling it like it is' and in any environment where emotions are running high, the interpretation of press statements, courtside reactions, and player outbursts belong in the mystique category. What Flip is telling the team they're trying to accomplish and how he's promoting it are crucial to understanding what's coming out of the Wizards' camp.
To sum up, here's a quick rundown of what the categories are shaping up as:
- Balancing Act- playing time, substitution patterns, trusting the bench, preferential veteran treatment, five man units that stand out.
- Schemes - what tricks are working, is Flip looking like Machiavelli or Mumm-ra?
- Game-time Readiness - for 'what the hell are they doing out there' syndrome, and you can never have too many GtR acronyms.
- Mystique - You have a plan, right? Tell me there's a plan.
What's the upshot of all this? We have a lot of back and forth, and the thought is that maybe establishing a common language will lead to a community consensus, or at the very least, cut down on the rehashing of the same old sentiments. And who knows, if we can all agree about one thing, maybe Ted will notice.