Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boclair: Stallings is Too Honest

In a thought-provoking column from last week, David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper calls out Kevin Stallings' coaching style.  According to Boclair, one of the attributes that makes Stallings a refreshing interview subject is his brutal honesty and willingness to tell it like it is.  But, he argues, that same personality trait doesn't lend itself well to coaching 18- to 22-year-olds who may need more in the way of positive reinforcement than CKS is willing or able to give.  Boclair's conclusion is that an "occasional lie" may be worth a try, but the implication seems to be that Stallings' non-empowering personality is keeping a good coach from becoming a great one.  Here's an excerpt:
Maybe Stallings does it, but there’s nothing to suggest that he ever looks a player in the eye prior to a game and tells him, “They have no one who can defend you. It wouldn’t surprise me if you score 50 tonight.” Never mind whether it’s true.

Watch the Commodores, and it’s hard to see any real joy. No one looks like he relishes the moment. Moreover, the players seem to exude a sense of dread about what they might get wrong and the reaction such an error will bring from their coach. They play with stern faces. They don’t — or at least this season they didn’t — multiply their good moments with more good moments. Rather than be freed by double-digit leads, they tensed up and too often allowed the opposition to close the gap, as was the case in the NCAA loss to Richmond.

Stallings knows basketball. Lots of it. There can be no debate on that front. But it’s questionable whether he understands the full range of personalities that exist within a team of 15 or so players, and whether he’s equipped to deal with some of the softer, more sensitive ones.
Is Boclair on the money?  Off his rocker?   Incomplete?  Overwrought?  Let us know...


6 comments:

Bob Loblaw said...

He's got as good a position as anyone, I think. He's right that no one seems like they're having fun out there; the Dores are very businesslike. Same deal for the honesty angle. Anyone who's seen one of CKS's practices knows he's very hard on the team and he magnifies errors. He obviously can coach, but Boclair may be right.

Seth said...

Anyone watch when they played Miss St. in the SEC tourni? Stallings was fired up. He was fist pumping and did a twirl when Jenkins shot and was fouled on a made 3 point shot. The team was fired up and so was Stallings. They actually looked like they were having fun, all of them... I just don't see how CKS wont look back and think he should be more fired up like that for his team.

Jason94 said...

Imagine that - we were winning and looked like we were having fun - much like pretty much every win. And the team NEVER looks like they are having fun after they lose, but this is true with every team that I've seen. Does anybody think that Butler looked like they were having fun last night?

Stanimal said...

I'm not going to disagree that Stallings perhaps gets too down on his guys and that there is no question that they don't look like they're having fun (when they squander leads and get the deer in the headlights look). But they sure as hell look like their having fun when they're winning.

Why is it so hard to accept that this team just wasn't as good as everyone wanted them to be? That they have taken a longer period of time to mature than we had hoped? We all wanted this group to play like Derrick Byars and Shan Foster from the second they set foot on the court as freshmen. They are all ahead of where those same players were in their junior years. Are we so seduced by the idea of youth-laden teams overcoming experience that the "peak" of their basketball prowess is now in their sophomore year, perhaps junior year?

Prior to his sophomore year, Jeffery Taylor was not even a gleam on the draft boards of any team. Most teams had never heard of him. Festus Ezeli was even more remote. Tinsley was bottom of the top-100 player and Lance Goulbourne was somewhere in the 70s. Steve T. was somewhere in the 100-150 range for players in the nation. John Jenkins was about as "fringe" a five-star as you could get, and he led the nation in scoring!

The vast majority of players that Stallings has had success with are 4 year projects. Derrick Byars was not the stud he became until really SEC play his senior year. Shan Foster went from a nice complementary player in his junior year to an absolute bedrock his senior year. There are two players I can think of that regressed, Mario Moore and A.J. Sure, there are a couple that just never really panned out (Julian Terrell), but Matt Freije, Derrick Byars, Shan Foster were all 4-year players.

We've heard this same song and dance before, Stallings is too hard on his players, he gets so down on them, they look like they aren't having fun, blah blah blah. But you know, when they do what he asks, they typically have A LOT of fun, because they typically win. I won't say that Stallings doesn't get outcoached now and again, he certainly does. But he wins the coaching battle an awful lot of the time when you compare his talent level to those of others schools. Even with this roster in hand, he was still towards the middle of the pack in SEC recruiting for a LONG time.

If JT is back in the fold and Stallings screws the pooch with this squad next year, I'll be a lot more down on him than I am now. For now, I'm content to let these guys mull over yet another tournament loss, take the offseason to clear their heads, and come back next year where they will clearly be the most experienced lineup in the SEC. Maybe Stallings needs to do something to "motivate them", or maybe he needs to recruit players that are "more motivated", but it should be noted that prior to this little free-fall few conversations on coaches who "get the most out of their players" didn't involve Kevin Stallings.

Anonymous said...

1.) The column is correct that Stalling's fails in motivating his players to play passionately, with intensity, and a sense of urgency.
2.) THE REASON IS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what the column proposes!

This is absurd. The problem here is that CKS refuses to discipline his players. He is too damn soft on them. Our guys fall into a comfort zone that limits their drive and passion. Our guys would never show the moxy that Kemba Walker has.

This is also the cause of our softies Taylor, and formerly Ogilvy and Foster.

The last guy we had that showed true grit was Derek Byars, and he got his at UVA.

CKS needs to get tougher on his guys. They don't lack the fire and want that they need because he's too hard on them. They lack it because it has never been made apparent to them they will need it.

I bet you our guys weren't in the gym at 6 AM the morning after any of our 1st round losses. At any other major program, where they either have or create great players and great teams, they would be.

I hate watching our guys back away from a fight. I hate watching our guys fail to step up time after time. I hate to watch our guys get over-powered and intimidated.

I also hate it being attributed to hard knock coach. Because that just doesn't make any damn sense.

If anyone agrees with that article, you're a damn fool, and have clearly never played the game in your life.

Seth said...

Im just saying I like seeing Stallings have fun. Its not hard to get 18, 19, 20 year old guys to have fun but I like seeing Stallings fired up... in a good way