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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mr. Accentuate the Positive

I’m heading out to Seattle tomorrow to catch my beloved Seahawks versus the Ray-duhs on Monday night. [Dave sticks his fingers in his ears.] La la la la la la. I can’t hear anything about Super Bowl losers’ curse. La la la la la la la. So I figured I’d weigh in with the rare Friday afternoon post on the opening game of the 2006-2007 Knick season. Without having seen much more than about 5 minutes of said game I don’t know that I can offer much insight on the actual contest–certainly nothing beyond what KB has already posted. However, I do want to add a comment or two on what I have read so far in the papers.

Embattled Knick Czar, Isiah Thomas, managed to eek out a 3OT victory over the “Czar of Telestrator” in Memphis despite what was apparently a dizzying array of bumbles, fumbles, and stumbles. In his post game comments Thomas may have given us some real insight into what life will be like now that he is both Lord and Janitor of the Manor. It appears that Mr. Accentuate the Positive would rather light a candle than curse the darkness. Instead of declaring that the basketball apocalypse is nigh and chastising the team for its 20+ turnover near grasp of defeat from the jaws of victory, as Larry Brown would no doubt have done, he is voicing his pleasure with the team’s effort and–at times–execution of The Quick(TM). If you’ve seen the paper’s at all Thomas is apparently all but refusing to acknowledge that the Knicks frittered away a 19 point lead, instead crediting Memphis with a spirited comeback, and is making a point of stroking his guys for building the big lead and finding a way to win.

After Larry Brown’s stint as the impossible-to-please father figure last season I suppose this is something of a welcome change. The part I have been most curious about since Isiah was named coach is to see how he would try to coax better play out of the same players. Anticipating that the roster would only change at the margins, I wondered about his approach. Isiah has been promiscuous–from an Xs and Os standpoint that is–at Indiana. So I kinda figured that whatever he ran it would be a hybrid. Philosophically though I didn’t know what to expect. If the opening game is a clear indication–always a dangerous assumption–then Isiah seems to be channeling Chuck Daley. Daley always maintained that the most important part of the job as coach by far is to get players to play.

For the little I’ve read and even less I’ve seen Isiah appears to be implementing two major changes:

1. On Xs and Os he’s upping the pace and keeping it high, which is interesting in that it is not an immediate concession to Marbury (or Frye), whose strength is the screen-roll.

2. He’s working hard to build trust with his players, at least in part by being clear with the media that he is not going to savage them in public after a poor showing.

In principle, these changes seem wise. However, the line between accentuating the positive and enabling dysfunctional behavior is a fine one. Isiah’s penchant for hiring coaches (prior to Brown) who enabled the worst in Marbury makes me cautious about his ability to straddle that line successfully. It’s easy to forget that along with accentuating the positive one must eliminate the negative. At the same time, all things considered, I thought Isiah played the aftermath of game one reasonably. In an 82 game season there’s absolutely no reason to be anything other than all smiles in public after going 1-0.

10 comments on “Mr. Accentuate the Positive

  1. KnickerBlogger

    David – you’re right about the Xs & Os. Marbury looks like he can adjust to this offense & looked good playing off the wing. However Frye looked totally out of sync. He even had a few poorly thought out three pointers, the first seemed to be him desperate to get his hands on the ball and take a shot. With the pick & roll Frye was one of the main cogs in the Knick offense. Right now it looks like he’s the 4th option. The guards control the ball at the top and when they do feed the post it’s usually to Mr. Curry.

    The offense looked good until the fourth quarter, because the Knicks stopped using the offense in the fourth quarter. Instead of moving the ball, it was every man for himself.

  2. Nixluva

    I think Isiah has done a good job of selling his vision to the players and if he has to be all glass half full, with the media so be it. Behind closed doors i’m sure he’s making it clear what the team needs to work on.

    I think all that we need is time for this team to adjust to this new way of playing the game. They will have some slippage and a game like Memphis is a good teaching tool to show them how stark the contrast is from when they trust the offense and how bad they look when they don’t.

  3. Matt

    Frye and Curry have to be able to coexist on the floor together. If Frye can play in the high post, then this offense will be money. It’s only one game, and Isaiah will realize (Aguirre will realize, and tell him) that they’re going to have to run some screen-roll sets and some high-low sets for Frye to get touches. He’s too good not to. Otherwise, putting Frye at the 5 and Lee at the 4 with a smaller, quicker look might be a way to go.

  4. Marc R

    You’re right that Frye doesn’t look good in this offense yet, but he does seem versatile enough to adjust. He probably would thrive more in a pick and roll system, but he’s not SO good that it’s worth organizing a whole offense around him.

    Nixluva, I suspect you’re righat about what Isiah does behind closed doors. I remember Marbury saying in an interview a year and a half ago that Isiah told him he was the worst defensive point guard in the league at that point. You would never hear Isiah criticize Marbury like that to the press (hello, Larry!), but he apparently doesn’t mince words in private.

  5. Bryan

    This is the first time I’ve seen the Knicks play on tv in years. Is Frye always this bad? He couldn’t catch a simple pass 3 times in a row and then he missed a wide open dunk. What’s up with that?

  6. Michael Zannettis

    Frye is not usually this bad, and I think the reason everyone is so concerned with him, it’s because his development is going to be one of the only important story-lines of the Knicks’ season.

    As fans, we’re not going to see a winning team this year, so we’re obsessed with developing our youth.

    I don’t know why Frye’s been stinking it up, but I’m willing to give him some time. He’s really, really young, and it’s only been two games and a meaningless preseason.

    As stats guys we always talk about the danger of extracting too much from a small sample. I hope that’s true here too.

  7. Brian Cronin

    The problem is, Michael, is that he’s stinking it up stat-wise AND “just looking at him” wise.

    When those two things match up – it’s not a good sign.

  8. Brian Cronin

    As for the Hawks loss, the Knicks should always lose when I’m not watching the game. That way, I don’t have to freak out about it.

  9. Bryan

    Who here likes Marbury? Marbury stunk tonight. 1 for 9 and then he kicks the ball like a big cry baby and jerk! Isiah needs to sit Marbury’s ass down, and just play Francis. I bought a Starbarry shirt at the Garden a couple years ago. I didn’t know much about him at the time. I thought he was going to be the next superstar of the team like Ewing. But I was wrong. He’s just a piece of garbage with a bad attitude. At least I can use the shirt as a rag! Q Richardson, Robinson, Curry and Lee have been impressing me. Lee is like Rodman. He gets every rebound. It’s incredible.

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