Monday, May 21, 2007

Van Gundy...More Like Van DONEdy

Following a painful first round exit to Utah during which his team lost series leads of 2-0 and 3-2, Jeff Van Gundy was fired last week by the Houston Rockets. This was a make-or-break season for Van Gundy, as the Rockets hadn't made it out of the first round in his 4 year tender. His preffered deliberate style of ball and stubborn demeanor (what, you don't think proven playoff assasian Bonzi Wells would have made a difference against Utah?) have worn out their welcomce in today's NBA. Cmon' Jeff, this isn't 97' anymore. Patrick Ewing isn't out there creating puddles of sweat in the 4th quarter and Charles Oakley isn't clothlining dudes into the 3rd row. Hey Jeff, you're a brilliant basketball mind and a stand-up guy, but we've seen enough. Get with the times or stay out of the league.

Van Gundy certainly is the most accountable for the failure of the Rockets to beat the underdog Jazz but make no bones about it, this is a flawed roster. T-Mac and Yao may be able to win a championship together at some point and they are certainly worth keeping together for the long haul. But there are glaring shortcomings in each of their games, shortcomings that must be improved for Houston to take the next step. T-Mac is a great distibutor of the ball, but he can be something of a ball hog in the halfcourt, over dribbling and forcing pull-up jumpers, the effect being teamates frozen on their heels on the offensive end. 0-6 in the first round of the playoffs, McGrady has not proven to be a clutch playoff performer either. Yao is a defensive liability. He struggles to get up and down the floor, and cannot contain a quick, bullish big man like Carlos Boozer. Both players have lengthy injury histories that diminishes their long-term value.

The supporting cast in Houston features guys put in roles that are too big for their games. Rafer Alston is quick and can pump in a 3 now and then, but his game is better suited for the playgrounds of Rucker Park. Chuck Hayes, for all his defense and hustle, lacks offensive ability. Dikember Mutumbo and Juwan Howard would fit well on Van Gundys 97' Knicks, but these dinosours games and bodies have seen better days. If I'm GM Carrol Dawson, I hold onto my 2 superstars, glue-guy supreme Shane Battier and Luther Head (a nice 3rd guard off the bench) and I try to get a legitimate guard who can take some pressure off McGrady (maybe making a push for Mo Williams or Jerry Stackhouse) and a bruiser with size to take some pressure off Yao (maybe a guy like Jason Collins). And I bring in a coach like Rick Adelman who will open things just a little bit and stop playing the Van Gundy ball that does not work in the modern NBA. As for Van Gundy, maybe his dismissal is for the best. Take a year off, get some sleep for once, go back into the booth and get some polish for that nice shiny bald dome.

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