On Friday, the Times-Pic's had some great quotes from Monty Williams being retrospective about the season -- what worked, what didn't, and where he goes from here. In a season that saw his (perceived) biggest strength, defense, absolutely battered, we've been scrambling to put together the pieces for a while now. Theories as to why the defense was so abysmal all season have flown left and right, and so it's intriguing to get Williams' perspective on it.
From that article:
And while it seemed as though the Hornets had difficulty holding on to second-half or fourth-quarter leads in losing games this year - most notably to the Lakers who rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit to win, and the Los Angeles Clippers who came back from 10 down in the fourth quarter to win - Williams' team only lost four games in which they had double-digit leads in the second half or fourth quarter. The other two came against fellow lottery teams the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic.
Nonetheless, Williams still dissects what happened in those four games.
"I think about it a lot," Williams said. "Obviously it's easy to sit there and blame it on youth or blame it on whatever the players did. The bottom line is it's not just them all the time. I've got to do my job as well. And I'm not going to hide from that. At the same time, we're not playing against teams who are not trying to win. If you look at a lot of those games, we were playing against pretty good teams."
Through his tenure so far, Williams has continually taken the blame for team shortcomings, and that didn't change in 2013. And although we really saw him single players out in comments to the media for the first time this season (most notably with Al-Farouq Aminu), he's always put himself first for criticism. So far so good.
"I feel like I'm always going to be there trying to improve as a coach. During the season, I talk to a number of coaches, whether it be Pop (Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich), Coach (Larry) Brown, Nate (McMillan). This summer I'm going to do some different things, maybe talk to guys in different sports.
"Last summer I got a chance to sit down and listen to (baseball's Tony) La Russa. And it was eye-opening. Some of the things he said that I was able to use this year. And there were several things. I've got to get better. And I've always said that since I've been here. I'm going to continue to try to do that. That's not going to change. Hopefully, our players can benefit from that.... I have to humble myself and understand that there's a ways to go en route to becoming the best coach I can be."
This is also pretty cool. It'd be nice to get more insight into what specific strategies Williams will try and change over the summer (or what he got from La Russa a year ago), but seems neat enough.
And though he was at times criticized for it, Williams conservatively managed Davis's playing time over the course of the season in an attempt to keep him healthy since Davis, 20, has yet to physically mature into an NBA player.
"For me, as a head coach, I kind of felt like I had to bring some of our guys along a bit slower until they were able to handle the grind of the season," Williams said.
And there it is. I've found the most plausible explanation of the Hornets' defensive tumble this season to be the one put forth by Brian and others in February -- Williams (and the front office) intentionally put player development ahead of playbook development and complexity, and as a result, we were treated to some less than stellar looking sets throughout games.
This quote from Williams is hardly confirmation of it, but the idea that Williams structured the playbook differently to accommodate rookies and D-Leaguers as opposed to the sets he ran with for Chris Paul, David West, et al. doesn't seem that crazy. Right?