Woodson has coached this team to its best record in a decade, now having improved the Hawks record every year he has led them. The team is very close to locking up the fourth seed in the East. And yet, I have called for his firing at the end of the season. How can something that seems so unfair make so much sense to me? I will let you figure that out. But like in any business, Woodson can't just be let go. He needs to be given some obtainable goals. So I have found five things that don't require him to change his "defense first" mindset or mess with his play book or anything major. So here you go, Mike. I even provided some analogies from other sports. Since I don't think you are going to tell me thanks. I will give you a preemptive "your welcome."
- Do not switch on every single screen every single time.
The Hawks have too many defensive liabilities to have an absolute rule on defense. It is just too easy for average coaches to get Al Horford guarding a lightening fast 6 footer. In football, if you blitz ever time the defense is in a passing formation, you would be called an idiot. I would never be so harsh. I will just call this hard and fast strategy idiotic.
- Allow players to learn to manage their own fouls.
Coaches should manage fouls. It is on the coach if a starter fouls out with ten minutes to go in the fourth. But you have to trust your player at some point or they will start playing toward your strategy and not the game. If a manager makes a player take the rest of his pitches after he works a count to three balls even if that means striking out on a called strike, the player is going to start swinging at balls trying to avoid having the game taken out of his hands.
- Coach the player not the reputation.
This one arises straight out of Bret's recap from yesterday's game. Bibby was on the bench as the Hawks cut the lead into single digits. Bibby also was having a bad night on both ends of the court. Bibby has also been clutch in the past. Guess which one Woody used to decide who would finish out the game? Our coach is anti flow. He is decisive to an extreme. Remember when he had hair and then we made the playoffs and he shaved it? Woodson said something like, "if I shave my head, I am keeping it shaved forever." The man only works in cement. Cement that is protected by a steal cage. If he has labels a player a certain thing, that is always how he will use that player. To keep up with the other sports analogies, it is as if Bobby Cox kept Francesco Cabrera as his only pitch hitter for the next ten years following the 1992 NLCS.
- Don't use Joe as a stop gap.
If a lead is dwindling or a deficient is growing, Woodson has two moves, a timeout or Joe goes one on
five one. Joe is our best player so I get that he needs to touch the ball, but making him "the answer" is horribly not useful. Sometimes I think Woodson understands mismatches simply on skill. Joe is our most skilled player, therefore, he must be a mismatch in our time of need. Joe being the best scorer does not mean Joe can get the best shot. If you are having trouble with the leadoff hitter, you do not simply put Albert Pujols in that position to solve the problem.
- Give the ball to Horford more.