In Which I Defend Vinny del Negro

7 05 2009

Quick question: your favorite team adds a new rookie/hires a new coach?  How long a grace period do you give that player/coach before you stop excusing mistakes and refer to him as a bad player/coach.  My feeling is that your answer is somewhere around 1.5 years/10 days, though feel free to correct me in the comments section.  That is, fans give young players much more leeway out of the gate than they do coaches.  But why?  Shouldn’t a rookie coach be allowed to learn and mature in the same way that a rookie player does?

The excellent Bulls fan blog Blog a Bull has been absolutely relentless in its criticism of Vinny del Negro, the Bulls’ first year coach.  Criticisms include his use of unusual rotations, his benching of strong players for long stretches, and that he doesn’t design many plays.  Yet none of these seems all that unreasonable for a coach who inherited a team deep in talent but light in age and experience.  Note that the Bulls’ starting lineup included rookie Derrick Rose, sophomore Joakim Noah and third-year starter Tyrus Thomas.  Would you really want to have Rose try to memorize twenty set plays?  Wouldn’t that just confuse him?  Given the team’s depth, and the fact they’ll have to decide which players to keep on the team over the next 5-10 years, doesn’t it make sense to try a bunch of lineups?  To test what happens when a particular player sits for a long stretch?

It’s worth noting that del Negro took a young team, a team that imploded just two years ago, took them to the playoffs and to a close game 7 against the defending champion Celtics, a team with three legitimate all-stars even without Kevin Garnett.  Vinny, now with a year’s experience under his belt, has the off-season to chart a strategy, to develop an offense and all the plays that go with it, and to do some hard thinking about how to take this team to the next level.  So tell me, Bulls fans, do you really want to replace this guy?  Really?

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