Orlando Magic: Stan Van Gundy vows to limit negativity after private meeting with C Dwight Howard
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has the surprising news that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has, after meeting with franchise center and team co-captain Dwight Howard, vowed to be less negative. He believes adjusting his attitude will have a positive effect on the team's energy and mood.
"I think, as a team, there was a lot of negativity and it's not like Stan's a negative guy," Howard said before the Magic left for Boston to face the Celtics on Friday night. "But it's like there's always some clashes and focusing so much on our mistakes. Instead of bringing each other down, we have to pull each other up.
"That's the only thing I wanted from coach."
This news is not inconsequential. Van Gundy's earned the nickname "Stan Van Grumpy" for his wild gesticulations and expressiveness on the sidelines. This development is one to keep an eye on going forward.
Click through to read the whole piece, which includes great quotes from Van Gundy himself. He may cut back on the negativity, but I hope he doesn't cut back on the humor.
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As an example, here's some of Van Gundy's wit:
Coach Stan Van Gundy, tongue planted firmly in cheek, on all teams reporting their players undergo "successful" surgery: "Grant Hill had five successful surgeries. Somehow he could never play after them, but they were called a success. They're all called successes and that means the guy lived through it, which is a success, I guess."
Changing of the Guard
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus attributes some of the Magic's defensive struggles to Howard and Jameer Nelson. However, he believes Howard will foul less frequently as the season progresses, which will have a positive effect on the team's defense as a while.
The league's best defensive team a year ago has struggled at times this season. Orlando has been playing some makeshift lineups with Rashard Lewis suspended until Monday and a variety of players hobbled. Still, the poor start has been a cause for alarm for the Magic, with Stan Van Gundy criticizing the defensive efforts of Jameer Nelson and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. Before Nelson was sidelined by a torn meniscus, Orlando was 4.6 points worse per 100 possessions on defense with him on the floor. Oddly, while the sample size is small, no other full-time starter has been a net minus defensively. As for Howard, his blocked-shot rate is down from last year's 5.9 percent to 4.4 percent, more in line with his career numbers. Equally troubling is that Howard's foul rate is up from 4.2 percent of possessions last year to 6.0 percent this season. Howard is too good not to improve on that, which will help the Magic's defense as a whole.
Mentoring the young guys
On his official blog, Howard writes about how he tries to help young players in the same way Tony Battie, Grant Hill, and Rasheed Wallace did when he was new to the league.
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Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News considers potential trade partners for the Golden State Warriors, as shooting guard Monta Ellis has requested to be dealt. He says the Magic might be interested, but ultimately leaves them off the final list of six suitors.
Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings is taking the league by storm
Although this link isn't directly related to today's Magic, I thought it was pertinent. Bucks coach Scott Skiles, a former Magic point guard, explains what makes the electrifying rookie Brandon Jennings so lethal. His quote reminded me a bit of Jameer Nelson.
"He's one of those guys who has vision and can score without dominating the ball. It's easy to say I want a point guard to run my club and all that, but in the NBA a point guard has got to score some points for you, and he can do both," coach Scott Skiles said before Milwaukee's 99-85 victory over New Jersey on Wednesday night, in which Jennings scored 19 points.
UPDATE: NBA.com: League's best one-on-one defenders get plenty of help
John Schuhmann of NBA.com found that the New Jersey Nets have done the best job of defending L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant in recent years, in no small part due to current Magic guard Vince Carter's efforts. (HT: ben_gleicher)
The Lakers won five of the six games the two teams played in the last three years, but in none of the six did Bryant shoot better than 33 percent from the field.
Vince Carter was the primary defender on Bryant in those games (something to keep in mind when the Magic and Lakers meet again), but fellow ex-Nets Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd and Antoine Wright also took their turns. As a team, the Nets did a great job of keeping Bryant out of the paint and forcing him to shoot jumpers. And when he did, they borrowed a page from [Shane] Battier's book and got a hand in his face almost every time.
Orlando Magic News for November 19th: Stan Van Gundy Will No Longer Accentuate the Negative, and More
By Evan Dunlap Updated