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In Defense of Ty Corbin in Atlanta

I can make snarky comments about him at times. I wish he would do a couple things differently. But really, I'm fine with this guy leading the team at this point. And I'm talking about Coach Ty Corbin. Who did you think I was talking about?
I can make snarky comments about him at times. I wish he would do a couple things differently. But really, I'm fine with this guy leading the team at this point. And I'm talking about Coach Ty Corbin. Who did you think I was talking about?

Well, sort of ...

I feel kind of funny writing this. Aside from the second overtime, I didn't see any of the Hawks game. I didn't see the Jazz get down. I didn't see the comeback. I didn't see Favors go Beast and then ride the pine. I didn't see the tired players.

But I still wanted to write a bit in response for the criticism Ty Corbin is getting.

More after the jump

First of all, let's remember that in-game decisions, substitutions, etc., make up only a part of what a coach does. A lot of a coach's job is made up of making game plans, designing the playbook, instilling the defensive philosophy, etc. This is the stuff that comes from training camp, practices, and shoot-arounds.

And in this way, I think Corbin has bee pretty sharp. He's designed a defensive plan that makes even Sap and Al look decent a lot of the time, and his players have bought into his plan completely. He really is getting more out of this roster and these lineups than I expected. Not exponentially more, but still more.

Ty's very conservative

When we look at what Ty does during the games, and the sources of many fan frustrations, it all comes down to Ty's conventionality. He doesn't do things outside the box at this point.

He put in the starters to finish the 4th quarter after the bench got a lead. Well, most coaches put the starters back in to protect the lead. He then kept the starters in during all the overtimes. Again, most coaches keep the same guys in for the overtimes (barring a foul out). He runs iso's for his go-to scorers in crunch time. So do most coaches.

I could go on.

There are some games in which Ty's conservative game-coaching is more extreme than that of other coaches. There are also some games in which he is more willing to try new approaches—but I think these are the exceptions.

But this conventional, conservative coaching ought to be expected. When I was a brand new teacher, I spent the first year following the script outlined for me exactly. After I got that down, then I knew how to add my personality, my unique abilities, etc. in a way to help the team.

Ty did not learn from the best in-game coach

He learned from Sloan, and his clock-work lineups, his insistence rookies work a little harder than they think, etc., etc., etc.

I loved Jerry Sloan, and I think he's one of the greatest coaches of all time. But that doesn't mean his substitution patterns were always wonderful.

This is Ty Corbin's coaching mentor. So it shouldn't be surprising these issues are even more pronounced with rookie coach Ty. I believe they will become less an issue the more Ty coaches.

Ty's coaching according to front office expectations

At the locker clean out last season, Kevin O'Connor called the post-Trade games a mulligan. He also said that there would be no mulligan this season. He also specified whose shoulders all expectations would fall on: himself (the guy who built the roster), Ty Corbin (the coach), and three players: Al, Sap, and Devin (the guys with the primary roles).

Isn't it interesting that Corbin is putting the success of the season on those guys' shoulders—and really in that order? Al has been the go-to guy from day 1, and he's been the go-to crunch time guy from that day to the end. Sap's been his number two. And Devin—well he's been the only guy who struggled mightily but never got a minutes cut, a move to the bench ... nothing. Even when Earl and Jamaal were outplaying him nightly. He kept going with Devin to the end.

And thankfully Devin has been doing much better. But I find it fascinating that he got the long leash nobody else would get—not Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Burks. Not Earl, not Tinsley, not Raja, not CJ, and not Josh.

I don't imagine there's a specific ultimatum from the front office: "You will base the game plan on these three guys." But there is a clear understanding between the front office and the coaching staff regarding what this season is about, who the primary guys will be, and that all decisions from here on out will be based on the success (or not) of this season put on their shoulders.

It's not just sheer stubbornness that has produced about 15 games in which the bench got us a lead in the early 4th, only to have the starters come in and lose that lead (sometimes losing the game, sometimes barely pulling off a win). That's what all decision-makers have decided this season will be about.

Ty is a rookie coach

Seriously, Ty Corbin has had 78 games as a head coach. Less than a full, ordinary season. We all expect rookies to make huge improvements over their first few seasons. The same holds for rookie coaches.

I believe Ty has improved. I believe he has shown signs that he'll be able to take a few more risks in the future.

And while there are certainly things I hope he becomes willing to do (play young talent, end crunch-time iso's for the go-to guy, etc.), at this point I'm totally willing to wait and see what happens.

I hope we all can as well.