Friday, January 08, 2010

Evidence mounts: Jordan is the problem

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - (The Phanatic) - A head coach -- any head coach -- needs more than one season to implement his vision. Of course that theory assumes the mentor in question is actually cut out to be a coach.

Thirty-four games into this season, the evidence is mounting against the Philadelphia 76ers' Eddie Jordan.

Jordan inherited a playoff team piloted by Tony DiLeo, not exactly a guy that is going to conjure up memories of Larry Brown. White not stated directly, it was made clear by general managed Ed Stefanski that he thought Jordan was an upgrade over the soft-spoken DiLeo.

So, why have the Sixers turned from a .500 team that actually gave Orlando a run in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to a moribund group with a pathetic 10-24 record?

Well, let's give E.J. the benefit of the doubt. Stung by a sour economy the Sixers tightened the purse strings and failed to re-sign their leader, veteran point guard Andre Miller.

Problem is, Jordan insisted after getting the job that a "true point guard" wasn't needed to run his version of the Princeton Offense. He even cited his so-called "success" while running things in Washington, where noted gun-enthusiast Gilbert Arenas ran things.

It's true that Arenas has a lot more in common with an Allen Iverson than a player like Miller but the guy Jordan and everybody else learned the Princeton offense from, former Tigers coach and current Sacramento assistant Pete Carril, flat-out disagreed with his struggling protege.

"Jordan needs a point guard," Carril said the Sixers played Sacramento earlier this season. "And then they'll get a lot better. A guy who knows how to get them easier shots than what they are getting."

Sounds a lot like the description of a guy, Miller, who Jordan insisted he didn't need.

Now, if we keep giving Jordan the benefit of the doubt and blame the Miller debacle on Stefanski -- that's fine but let's look at that so-called success in the nation's capital.

Sure, Jordan piloted a team with three All-Star level players, Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, to a few playoff series but they never made any noise in the postseason and the minute Arenas' health went south, so did E.J.'s coaching acumen. The Wizards were a dismal 1-10 when they pulled the plug on Jordan early last season.

Flip Saunders, easily one of the top 10 coaches in basketball, took over things in the nation's capital this year and was stunned at what he saw, especially at the defensive end.

"This team (the Wizards) needs a mind-set change," Saunders recently said. "This team for the last five years has been known as one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Until we decide that it hurts when teams score on you, we have no shot."

Of course Jordan was the coach of the teams Saunders was talking about and it's no suprise that the Sixers, a middle of the road defensive team a year ago, are near the bottom of the league in every defensive category.

OK, strike two you may say, but maybe Jordan is a whiz in dealing with NBA personalities, something very undervalued in a league full of young, immature millionaires.

Guess again, Jordan's rotations change on a daily basis and his charges never know when their number is going to get called. Players like Willie Green, Rodney Carney, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith go from playing significant minutes one night to watching the next. Early on, Elton Brand was starting and not finishing. Now he's not starting and finishing.

The latest problem has become Thaddeus Young, a player the Sixers once projected as an All-Star, who is now in a prolonged slump thanks in large part to Jordan's herky-jerky substitution patterns. One day Thad is
the go-to-guy down the stretch and the next he's watching from the comfort of a folding chair while the final seconds tick down.

"Yeah, it's tough," Green chuckled when asked about the lack of consistent minutes. "You just try and stay ready and contribute when your number is called. It would be nice to know your role but that's up the coaches. A lot of it is matchups but it certainly helps if you develop a comfort level."

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a reaction is easily worth 10 times that. Green had no intention of throwing his coach under the bus but clearly disagreed with Jordan's inability to pick a rotation and stick with it.

Jordan apologists, who seem to be abandoning his sinking ship by the day, still quietly whisper about the Sixers' injuries, pointing to the fact that two of the team's perceived "big-time" players, Lou Williams and Mo Speights, were sidelined for significant periods.

Nevermind, Detroit waltzed into the Wachovia Center last month without Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and beat the Sixers. Nevermind Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady were nowhere to be found when a Rockets team led by players like Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks roared back from a 17-point first
quarter deficit to send the Sixers to another defeat.

Jordan's wasn't coaching with a loaded gun they say.


I wonder if Tony DiLeo is busy tonight.

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