Can you tell how a coach is going to do by what he says in a press conference? No — no more than what you can tell by how a politician will do, based on his campaign promises.
Jerry Glanville: Entertaining in press conferences but a clown as a head coach.
Mike Smith: Dry in press conferences but solid as a head coach
Larry Drew? He said all the right things at his introductory news conference. Actually, he said more than you would have expected, and without much prompting. Here are eight quotes that stood out Monday and why:
♦ 1. Drew on impending free agent Joe Johnson: “I know there’s been some criticism at times that he may go a little too much one on one. Certainly, I do believe that he’s a focal point of this team. I’ll implement some things that probably will take the ball out of his hands a little bit more but it will make him even more effective.”
Comment: Well, that didn’t take long. Drew basically tells Joe out of the box, “I want you back but under these circumstances.” You have to like that.
♦ 2. Drew on Josh Smith: “I just saw Josh Smith come in here, too. The thing is to get him off the perimeter. Put him in position to be a little more successful. I believe with his athleticism, he has a lot of capablity in low post.”
Comment: Well, that didn’t take long (part II). Drew basically tells Smith, with Smith standing in the doorway, not far from the stage, “Don’t shoot from out there.” Drew is just like the fan screaming at his TV set.
♦ 3. Drew on his coaching staff: “I’m compiling names.”
Comment: The assistant coaches in the room at the time must realize: Change is forthcoming.
♦ 4. Drew on point guard Jeff Teague, who was seldom used as a rookie by Mike Woodson: “I really believe this kid has the package. Rick [Sund] and I spoke about it. I think he has the ability to make this team better, to have an impact on this team. The offense will really benefit from his speed and his quickness — to break the defense down.”
Comment: I think Mike Bibby just became a bench player.
♦ 5. Al Horford, the most universally respected player in the locker room, comparing Drew to Woodson: “He’s totally different. Coach Woodson was more laid back. Larry’s different. He’s already reached out to us and let us know he’s going to change the offense a little bit and how he’s emphasizing the defensive part of things. … Even though Larry was a part of our team before, it’s a big change for us. Because when you have a head coach, you [the assistant] can’t get the last say. With him being in charge now, things are going to be different.”
Comment: Horford recognized during his two seasons that Drew had ideas that he couldn’t push through. That’s a bit of an indictment on Woodson.
♦ 6. Drew on the same subject: “When you’re an assistant coach, your job is to give the head coach as much information as you possibly can. He decides what he wants to use, and what he doesn’t want to use he gets rid of. Mike made the decision to use what he used. I don’t fault him for that.”
Comment: Everybody else will.
♦ 7. Drew, on the need to change his relationship with players, now that he’s no longer the assistant coach: “Everybody tells me when you move over six inches, it’s all the difference in the world. But when you’re talking about dealing with players you have to know what buttons to push. I know now. I’ve had conversations with a lot these guys this morning. I’m still going to be Larry. But I’m to be a little more firm in what I want. Things are going to be done a little bit different.”
Comment: The level of accountability just went up.
♦ 8. Sund, on perceptions by fans that Drew was an afterthought as a candidate, not to be taken seriously: “I don’t care what the perception is. He was the very first candidate we interviewed. We know how the process went. I wanted to hear what other candidates thought about our club. I wanted to hear what Larry thought of our club. That was the process. What he’s done in the last six years made him a candidate. The process is what made him a head coach.”
Comment: It’s widely believed there was disagreement among Sund and owners on who to hire. There was clear interest in Avery Johnson. But thumb-twiddling by all involved, primarily over his salary demands, led him to take the New Jersey job. Bottom line, we’ll probably never know the whole story. But Drew is saying all the right things, and now we’ll see what actions follow his words.