One of the more tired phrases tossed around by apologists of the Jazz's struggles over the past 4 years has been "Tyrone Corbin has faced more adversity than most coaches in the league." What's fascinating is normally it would be hard to argue that. Ty Corbin had to take over midseason over a disappointment of a team that was playing itself out of contention for a playoff spot. He had to take over a team that would soon mortgage its present for its future by trading away Deron Williams for a young prospect named Derrick Favors and draft picks. He took over during a rebuild that was never classified as a rebuild. It's a very unique situation. Which is why it is odd that Frank Vogel is never brought up as a valid comparison.
This is the first installment of a four part series, Vogel & Corbin: Midseason Replacements. We will compare the careers of both head coaches year by year.
The Troubled First Year
The Beginning of Vogel
In 2010, the Indiana Pacers were not meeting Larry Bird's expectations. He had just landed Darren Collison from the then New Orleans Hornets and landed an ultra-athletic young player in the draft by the name of Paul George. He had a budding star in Danny Granger. He had gone all in for 2010 with a young, but up and coming team, or so he believed. It was Jim O'Brien's fourth year as head coach of the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers had spent the prior 4 years building a team through the draft despite never having a high draft pick. This was supposed to be the Pacer's breakout year.
But the team took a turn for the worse. Jim O'Brien's squad after 44 games was 17-27 and the team looked as if it had quit on him. O'Brien was fired and Frank Vogel, the then assistant coach, was inserted as the head coach. Frank Vogel had never played a single professional minute of basketball and here he was coaching one.
Frank Vogel took over an Indiana team that had Darren Collison at point guard, Mike Dunleavy/Brandon Rush at shooting guard, Danny Granger at small forward, Tyler Hansbrough/Josh McRoberts at power forward, and Roy Hibbert at center. The young players on that team were Collison (2 years), Tyler Hansbrough (1 year) , Roy Hibbert (2 Years), Lance Stephenson (rookie), Josh McRoberts (3 years), Paul George (rookie), and Brandon Rush (2 years). Those players accounted for 55% of their teams minutes.
After Vogel was promoted as head coach, he got them to play as a team. They ended up going 20-18 the rest of the season and squeaking in as a playoff team. That year they faced the Chicago Bulls in the first round. They lost the series 4-1, but managed to sneak off a win against the #1 seeded Bulls. They may have been a sub .500 record team, but under Vogel they were an above .500 team. Vogel's changed the teams defensive schemes. By the end of the year the Indiana Pacers were the 12th best defensive team in the league. He established their identity by moving more defensive minded players Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough into the starting lineup at shooting guard and at power forward, respectively. The added length of Paul George on the perimeter made life hell for opposing point guards and shooting guards. Tyler Hansbrough's intensity lit a fire underneath the team. They played with heart and worked hard almost every defensive possession. Vogel had a knack for coaching despite never playing professional basketball.
The Ascent of Corbin
Much like Frank Vogel took over under less than ideal circumstances, Tyrone Corbin took over a struggling Utah Jazz team that was lacking its identity. 10 games after to be exact. Jerry Sloan's intensity and blue collar mentality could not be found on the 2010-2011 Utah Jazz. Corbin's rise to head coach was very abrupt. While Frank Vogel could start to see the writing on the wall for his superior with every loss, Corbin could have never predicted the cacophony of chaos that was about to erupt from Energy Solutions Arena after the Jazz's most recent loss to the Chicago Bulls.
An argument broke out between Utah's star player Deron Williams' and Jerry Sloan. It was after that loss in a heated exchange with Deron Williams, GM, and owner that Jerry Sloan knew it was time to hang it up. His love affair with coaching Utah was over that night. The next morning a press conference was announced and Jerry Sloan announced his sudden retirement from coaching. Tyrone Corbin was announced as his successor. Shortly after he was given a long-term contract. One can argue whether it was to calm the waters of uncertainty that had rarely come ashore around Energy Solutions Arena or if it was actually merit based. But there it was. The Jazz's new coach in ink for the next 4 years would be Tyrone Corbin.
Soon after Tyrone Corbin's appointment the trade deadline loomed large. It was the trade deadline of Carmelo Anthony. Which is why it was such a surprise that the star who was on the other end of Sloan's last argument as coach, Deron Williams, was traded. No sooner had Corbin's tenure started then his star player was traded for a veteran point guard, a prospect, and draft picks. The Utah Jazz prior to Tyrone Corbin taking over were in a tailspin. Going 4-10 over their last 14 games under Jerry Sloan.
Tyrone Corbin's starting lineup starting out would be Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson. His main alterations to the lineup were moving Hayward to a designated bench role. Hayward had been in and out of the starting lineup with Sloan. Under Corbin, he came off the bench until injuries forced him to start the final 4 games of the season. Derrick Favors was designated the first big off the bench. Little changes were made to the defense. The offense was simplified to help Devin Harris and Derrick Favors adjust to their new team.
In Tyrone Corbin's half year as coach, the team continued their tailspin and finished the season 8-20. There was no miracle revival of their playoff hopes. Instead Utah Jazz missed the playoffs in Tyrone Corbin's short lived first year. Many didn't blame him. There just wasn't enough time and the team had given up. With the front office trading Deron Williams, many felt the front office had given up on the year, too.
Whatever it was, no one was pointing a finger at Tyrone Corbin. He was put into the unenviable position of taking over after a legend. His best player was traded for cents on the dollar (at the time). He didn't have enough time to really put his mark on the team. The Utah Jazz finished the year out with a positive note by beating the Denver Nuggets at home. Fans even got a show when Gordon Hayward took it to Kobe in L.A. and dunked on him. Many were looking forward to his second year and what he could do as a head coach.