When things are going bad in life, work, sports or bingo you can elect to get mad and stressed in an effort to improve or you can try and relax and stay positive in an effort to improve.
I've personally seen both work both as a leader in tough situations back when I was in the Army or when I'm having a bad game on the tennis court (and lets be honest - even a good game for me is still pretty bad).
You all know what I am talking about. That's just how life works. For this Suns team they fell into a bit of a rut and as Grant Hill said has sad looks on their faces and to a degree were feeling sorry for themselves.
Faced with that and the numerous individual and team struggles, Coach Gentry had a choice. Come into practice today and rip players apart, yell and scream, run lines, and generally try and get the team back on track using fear and anger as the prime motivational force. Anyone who's watched a Suns game lately knows that Alvin isn't afraid to let his emotions show and he isn't adverse to getting on his players publicly for their performance.
Today at Suns practice he went the other way holding what was described as a spirited and competitive session that wasn't particularly long and left the players in a positive mood.
You might disagree with that tactic and when you are in charge you are free to use whatever leadership approach you see fit, but Alvin Gentry feels like the Suns are at their best when they are happy and having fun while playing.
That's not to say he's ignoring reality. Gentry understands the teams' faults and deficiencies in a way that I feel confident is far more detailed and comprehensive than anything you or I think we know. It's not like they are trying to be bad defensively and trying to turn the ball over. These things happen and the question is are they going to be more or less likely to happen if the team is angry and "focused" or happy and loose.
With this team, I am going trust the coach's instincts and see what happens next. As bad as it's been, and no one is sugar coating that, it can turn around just as fast.
Of course, if you lose a home game to a 3-win team then all bets are off.
- Grant had the quote of the day saying the Suns have, "a lot of reasons but no excuses"
- The Suns had a great practice in Atlanta and played well and had their hearts broken. The next night the team was still in disbelief from that loss
- Hill compares what the team is going through as similar to what a shooter goes through in a slump where they start to lose confidence. The important thing is to continue to work and continue to believe
- Hill said they know can play better and can't blame schedule, injuries or "color of our uniforms".
- The opportunity is to come out tomorrow and see the ball go through the basket. Sometimes as a shooter you just need to see the ball go through the basket to get that confidence back
- He said the next opponent doesn't matter and they he just wants to play and erase that bad feeling. Nets are desperate and they are going to play hard but, "it's about us"
- Hill said the team has had a "sad look on our faces" and "to a degree feeling sorry for ourselves"
- The game more upstairs (in your head) than anywhere
- I asked Grant to compare this stretch to last season's struggles. He said one difference is guys still believe in each other, the coaches and their chances as a team. They've not done a good job correcting mistakes but everyone is on same page. Grant said that when teams go through tough times people can get off the ship but everyone is on board here
- I asked Grant if he thought this was just a slump or if there were bigger issues. He said it is hard to be objective when you are emotionally attached but, "I think we have the pieces in that locker room to get it done."
- Asked about Jamal Crawford missing a potential game winner against the Thunder he said, "Figures"
- Gentry describe this current stretch as a funk that teams go through with some unfortunate luck. He called the Atlanta game punch in the stomach
- He says the Suns are still right in the race to make the playoffs - which is the goal. Still have 39-40 games to go and are right in the pack. Still have hopes of having home court advantage. It's going to be a race
- Suns are two games from 11th and two games from 3rd. Gentry said they, "Always look at the glass as half full. We refuse to look at the other options."
- Team needs to get better finishing defensive possessions. Rebound the ball and prevent second chance opportunities. Turnovers are a problem - giving up 20 to 27 points per game on turnovers is a lot of overcome
- He talked about the need to find a way to maintain lead. If Suns have a 20 points lead and the other team makes a run have to keep it to 12 point lead and not 3 point
- On the changed line up Gentry said he would see how that works out but will continue it for now. Lineup changes on a game by game basis. The point is to try and get LB going and it isn't about anything JRich did. Also trying to see if Jason could give push off the bench
- Gentry said if he were Jason he would be disappointed and pissed off and can see that and not hold that against him. He's a competitor and he wants to be starting. "I am sure that he's disappointed and I totally understand that"
- Important to get LB going. He's been a guy that can come in an change game since Gentry's been here. His record as a starter has been impressive (where have I heard this before??)
- Gentry is "not married to this for the rest of the season". It can change again in a week. Jason can be right back starting
- On the team's mood he said they cant get caught up in the highs or lows, "We are a happy team. We have fun when we play. We practice hard but we have fun. We can't have long faces. It doesn't benefit anybody. There's concern and our guys care but you don't have to mope around about it."
- They were a little bit down because there was a great opportunity in Indiana and Atlanta. "It hurts and there's some concern but not to the point that we are going to feel sorry for ourselves. No one is going to feel sorry for you around the league."
- Gentry doesn't read anything into NJ only having 3 wins. "If you don't go out and play against them...No one ever talks about all their injuries".
- He expects to win - not because it's NJ but because they are playing at home. Teams going good are teams with good home record
- No one told Gentry that LB needs surgery. At this stage he says that you've got to play through nagging injuries. Joe Dumars said only time 100% was rookie season on 1st day of training camp. LB has not said anything to the staff about his wrist effecting him