Former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson will make his first trip back to Philips Arena as the head coach of another team Friday night when the Hawks take on the visiting New York Knicks. Many predicted that former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's days were numbered the moment Mike Woodson was announced as part of his staff. Those people were right and Woodson has made the most of the opportunity going 8-1 since sliding down the bench.
Watching this Knicks from afar it was never about a lack of talent under D'Antoni. Its more about the pieces fitting together in D'Antoni's fabled point guard heavy system where things were getting bumpy. Woodson hasn't done anything revolutionary. He has put the ball back in the hands of his best scorers and therefore is getting a much better effort defensively. He is also talking accountability and it sounds good but as Hawks fan during his tenure here its not something I remember seeing on a daily basis.
"It's the accountability factor. If there is a difference in this team from what we've been seeing, it involves accountability. The players' willingness to play for one another as opposed to just playing with one another. Their willingness to accept blame for the things they know they are not doing.
"I'm going to hold them accountable because that's just the way that I am. That is what I do. But I believe in this team. I believe in our ability to be great, and I've told them so. And knowing they believe in themselves, then there's no excuse to avoid getting the job done. And when they've struggled to do so, they don't look for anyone else to pass the buck to. They accept it themselves."
It sounds good in theory but I remember Woodson complaining about Josh Smith jump shots much more than I do him doing something about Josh taking them. I also remember him developing a switching defensive philosophy to help cover up what amounted to a revolving door defensively at the point guard position.
Where Woodson does deserve credit is putting this Knicks in position to be successful. They are no longer trying to force players into a system that they never were really equipped to run. They are having fun and more importantly they are now playing together at both ends of the floor. Part of that is Woodson and part of that is timing as he was the breath of fresh air that was let into the room when D'Antoni was shown the door. More trying times will come to this Knicks team and it is how Woodson and company handle those that well tell the story.