Watch enough media pressers and you’ll find it’s easy to put coaches into specific categories. There are coaches like Frank Vogel and Duane Casey who politely listen to each question and give their most honest response.
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Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle own the market on “I’ll answer you if I feel like it” positioning. Humor takes the lead with Steve Kerr versus dead pan one liner answers like Mike Budenholzer offers.
Certain coaches use the media to make points like George Karl or take out their vitriol on their teams like Sam Mitchell was want to do. Then there are the emotional coaches like Dave Joerger who’ll even shed tears at pressers.
D’Antoni: reading between the lines
Whatever category the coaches fall under it’s unusual for any to give much away. Especially when they are trying to keep their opponents in the dark. This brings me to Mike D’Antoni who uses more analogies than any coach in the Association.
Already through his initial introduction, media day and previous training camp pressers it’s clear D’Antoni prefers to be vague. Bottom line, D’Antoni isn’t about to share much beyond what the eye test reveals. Arguably this could be due to his past experience with the media or potentially he wants to keep everyone in the dark. Suffice to say if you want to reveal anything beyond the top line, you’ll need to read between the lines of his quotes.
In his most recent presser let’s deconstruct his answers to reveal what he’s really saying:
Reporter: how is team progressing?
Mike D’Antoni: Team displays propensity to practice hard, if the “energy ” is there. D’Antoni talked about the myriad of guys who can shoot well and pinpointed Harden’s ability to see the floor as unparalleled and is masterful at directing traffic.
What he’s actually saying: Defense hasn’t caught up to offense. But, D’Antoni is very happy with Harden who he expects to be the determinant on whether the Rockets win or lose.
Mike D’Antoni: likes what he sees so far, but notes they need someone other than each other.
Actually saying: team is bored with playing each other and need a real opponent to gauge where they are.
Reporter: Harden was among the league leaders in total minutes played, will he continue that trend.
Mike D’Antoni: wouldn’t give any specifics. Rather, he noted while he would like to set a limit the game will dictate his usage. The coach notes at 27 Harden is in his prime, so capable of extended playing time. D’Antoni points to Stephen Curry resting entire 4th quarters or the Spurs strategy of employing rest for their core as ideal scenarios. Ultimately D’Antoni points to the team, saying their performance will dictate Harden’s usage.
Actually saying: Hence, until the team demonstrates someone else is capable of doing what Harden does expect him to remain among the league leaders in MPG.
Reporter: how is defense progressing?
D’Antoni: ultimately the team needs to know the terminology, needs to communicate and be consistent with energy.
Actually saying: It’s clear new assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik is handling the defense. D’Antoni has given Bzdelik defensive autonomy so he can focus on offense.
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