A good coach is a great alchemist


There has been a lot of chatter about coaching lately. Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story. Let's give it to you straight:

nÊOK, the Ducks lost a game they should have won in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But I'm sorry, I'm flabbergasted at the suggestion that UO's Ernie Kent was somehow outcoached by Utah's Rick Majerus. See, this is one of the problems with NCAA basketball Ñ the players aren't around long enough to be made into heroes, so the coaches become stars.

And in the case of this game, it was totally unfair.

Understand, please, that sportswriters don't like to dwell on the poor play or bad decisions of college kids. Coaches often take public blame over players Ñ because, theoretically at least, these are amateurs, not professionals.

Well, that's fine. But the fact is, when that game was on the line last week, Oregon's best 3-point shooter, James Davis, had not one but two makable 3-point shots to win it. All day long, Luke Ridnour, who is the reigning Pac-10 player of the year, was awful. Ineffective. The Ducks' Ian Crosswhite went to the foul line and missed crucial, late-game free throws. And where was Luke Jackson all day?

Kent put his players in the right spot to win. I thought he coached a sensational game. But the players decided it. Fact is, the Duck players had a much worse day than their coach. And Majerus? He's OK. A good coach. But over the long haul, I'm not so sure I wouldn't take Kent, quite honestly.

nÊNobody ever talks about Rick Adelman as a candidate for NBA coach of the year. He doesn't spend a lot of time campaigning for the award, either. But you might want to note one very special thing about the Sacramento Kings' coach: A lot of players certainly seem to play the best basketball of their careers while they're playing for him. And that goes way back into the early 1990s.

You can talk about the very good players Ñ Clyde Drexler, Chris Webber, Mike Bibby or even Rod Strickland Ñ or the role players such as Bobby Jackson or Danny Young. A lot of them were enigmas, but Adelman figured out a way to get the best from them.

Adelman is comfortable to play for Ñ everyone knows that. He's a players' coach. But more than that, he has a knack for figuring out what players do best, then designing a system that puts them in the spot that benefits the players and the team. He is an ego juggler of the highest order, selling players on roles and assignments that benefit the overall effort.

He's also one of the best offensive coaches in basketball. His teams always move the ball well, share it willingly and score a lot of points Ñ and, if you ask me, that's one of the most important things in the game right now. Fans have seen enough of teams that can't score.

There's no way you can convince me that coaching the Kings this season has been an easy task. Just about every player, including the most important ones, has suffered some sort of injury. And Adelman has had to battle the listlessness that is bound to come with a team that has known since opening night it's playing all season for nothing but one thing: the inevitable playoff rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers.

nÊI've never seen a great coach, or even a good coach, spend as much time and energy chatting with fans during games as Maurice Cheeks. And the irony is, Cheeks is getting coach-of-the-year consideration Ñ which is downright laughable Ñ because of how hard it is to coach a team with all the disparate talent of the Blazers.

Too much talent. Yet, that's a reason why people won't vote for Adelman. You know, it's easy to coach a team with all that talent.

Dwight Jaynes' sports talk show airs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays on KPAM (860 AM).

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