Statophile Volume 18 | Yes, Coach

9 mins read

Yes Coach.

I scrapped three other posts before I settled on trying to tackle the coaching topic. Given our record, it seemed a bit pointless to work on Bayless starting/bench data, lineup combinations, Evans/Bargnani rebounding and other topics that have been rehashed enough.

Certainly its the time of year to lay blame for what’s been a tough season. But where does the blame lie? The easiest/laziest method is to simply blame the coach. They are the conductors and, if the performance is poor, they should ultimately get the blame. Or should they?

National Post’s Eric Koreen also inspired this post with two of his latest: “Tough to judge Triano given expectations” and “Unplugged: A year of hope in the face of losses“. Over at our forums section, we have no less than three threads on the topic. And I may have had a Twitter debate or two on the topic. I owe to a few people to back up my comments with at least a bit of research.

So how do we measure how much success (or lack thereof) a coach has on a team?

It’s a very difficult question as there are so many factors at play. You fire the coach after a poor record, and usually the team gets a high lottery pick – it can be a big contributor to the following year’s improvement. Plus, other young players have that much more experience and improve significantly year over year. Perhaps two division rivals lose key free agents are are less competitive. Certainly its a complex situation and its very difficult to draw concrete conclusions.

But let’s give it a shot. Below are selected consecutive seasons by two different NBA coaches.

Wow. Let’s judge this coach by their record. In EIGHT years, Coach 1 either: missed the playoffs, lost in the 1st round or was fired after a terrible record. Coach 1 ended “year H” with a 29% winning percentage. You’d fire him, right? Of course you would – for good reason.

How about another example? Here are six seasons from Coach 2, with the fourth year removed.

Another dismal record. His team missed the playoffs three of those years and lost in the 1st round twice. A final year winning percentage of 18%?! How did he ever get to be coach?

You must be on to me by now. Yes, I clipped selected data, but it was consecutive years and is as advertised.

So what happened to these coaches?

Coach 1? Fans and the press largely wanted him fired. “If [Coach 1] didn’t have a master plan last season, he certainly doesn’t have one this season. He overstayed his welcome by about nine months, since the last time I wrote that he needed to go. And now he’s gone” wrote one of the most popular writers (source, but don’t peek yet). But he wasn’t let go. He must have followed it up by yet another lousy season right?!

“Coach 1” is Doc Rivers, who guided the Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship finals and won… the year following that outrage. That summer he must have made the most significant coaching improvement of all time right? He even won Coach of the Month 3 times that year.

Or perhaps it has something to do with the Celtics adding a couple players to their roster: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

What about “Coach 2” and the missing Year D? You guessed it:

Coach is, of course, Pat Riley, who took over from Stan Van Gundy after 21 games. Third year player Dwyane Wade had emerged to a 27/7/6 player while Shaquille O’Neal came off injury around the time Riley took over.

So what does this prove? Not much. But it does suggest that the quality of players is the most important driver of wins and losses. Would the 05/06 Miami team be NBA Champs without Riley? Perhaps not. Could another coach have led a healthy Shaq and Dwayne Wade to a very good record and deep into the playoffs? Likely. It also suggests that having a young (inexperienced) core with a good scorer, but not great defender (Pierce) just may have a difficult winning even under a coach who eventually won it all. (Youth, inexperience, great scorer/poor defender – sound familiar?)

The Wealth of Coaching

David J. Berri, of Wins Produced fame – along with Martin Schmidt – wrote about this coaching topic in their book “Stumbing on Wins“. I encourage you to read the whole chapter to understand their methodology but the conclusion was:

Of the 62 coaches studied, 42 – or 68% – didn’t have a statistically significant positive impact on player performance.

The study suggested only a few coaches could alter player performance. Topping the list of coaches that do is none other than Phil Jackson, followed closely by Gregg Popovich.

[For further commentary the study see’s “Why hiring a new coach won’t solve your favorite NBA team’s problems.” and Kevin Pelton’s article at Basketball Prospectus.]

Recent data on the impact of coaching changes

Over at every cool stats guy’s favourite site, APBR Metrics Forum, we found a study of the impact of coaching changes from 2008-2010.

The author found:

  • Before a coaching change, the teams have a cumulative W-L% of 42.0%
  • The cumulative record in the intial year of change? Dropped to 38.1%
  • The cumulative record 2 years after the changes? 43.4%

One conclusion:

Many replacement coaches failed to deliver additional wins in situations that appeared to be locks for progress.

So what should the Raptors do?

As Kevin Pelton puts it “evaluating coaches [is] an extremely difficult task for statistical analysts in all sports.” It appears from the data I presented above this is certainly the case. However, we hopefully convinced the reader that a large portion of coaching changes have not made a significant impact on a team. It most often comes down to the personnel on the floor.

One of my frustrations in debating the merits of the Raptors changing coaching is the complete lack of any candidates put forward by those in the “change” camp. Shouldn’t it kinda sorta matter who’s coming in?! I think we at least presented that argument well.

The Raptors have lost 200 man games to injuries this year which has contributed to 23 different starting lineups used. They have had 22 different players on their roster. They have also used the youngest starting lineup in franchise history.


    1) Will the Raptors roster improve somewhat with stability (and hopefully less injuries)?
    2) Is stability important? Do systems (esp. given all the different personnel this year) take time to implement
    3) Will the Raptors roster improve somewhat with the increased experience from this young roster?
    4) Should the Raptors make a coaching change? If so, who is realistically available? Argue why they would significantly improve the team with current personnel (our high draft pick should also help next year).

Questions? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.


  1. Good analysis. Also for comparison is Spoelstra and the Heat, dismal one season, one of the top teams the next.

    • But I swear a large portion of Heat fans still don’t like Spoelstra, before and after the Big 3 signed. Or perhaps bandwagon fans get too upset.

      • Yeah that’s true, and to be honest, anyone can coach the Heat and lead them to the record they have right now, if not better.

        • I don’t think I agree with that. Managing the personalities and talents of three similarly-minded ball-stoppers, a season-long injury to the glue guy and a bench thinner than Stan Van Gundy’s hair doesn’t look easy. Spoelstra has done a pretty good job and hasn’t been outcoached in the Heat games I’ve seen.

        • Anyone can coach th Raptors and get them to win more than 22 games. Triano is said to be on the same page as Colangelo. Ownership taking responsibility right now, the free ride is over, the riddle has been solved, the writing in on the wall,.
          We talk about Colangelo’s slow planning his career here and make more cash. But the owner the one who pay the bills have a greater plan and that is “r e s p o n s i b i l i t y”. Every good team is responsible for their own success nobody, is just going to hand it to them. Triano is a dark hearted second handed coach. Cry injury but certain player’s rust on the bench the only time they can play is in historic blowouts while Calderon and Barnia claim injuries. I challenge any to see how much times the raptors were getting blown out and all, aalllll the time Triano take out calderon and Bargnia and say that their are injured way to much of a coincident.
          The New Gm should have a say in coach, why would they give a coach free money when his time is up.
          The draft is under control, it tells you something when every single player that had any possibility of getting pick third by Raptors are heading back to school.

          I can tell you we will have the right draft pick here and none of those long shots who no one seen and heard of before, overlook the hard working college kids who compete against each other in
          to create madness in march.
          If we get number 3 pick I can see brandon Knight. Because their in a position to build right so start with a good solid from point guard school kuntucky Knight is a offensive/ defensive pointguard.
          The Raptor will not resign: Colangelo and his staff, Reggie, Weems, Barbosa,
          trade ; bargnia,kleiza,caleron, alabi,Ajinca

          Next season our team will start off with
          Derozan, Knight, Davis J.Johnson and Johnson. we will get a veteran free agent, a leader that look for opportunity to lead. Add more veteran players through trades and another top 10-20 pick, well rounded player possible a three guard with double double skills who is NBA ready.

  2. The problem with discussing who will replace him is that we don’t always know who will be or would be available. I mean, I can throw out some names of people we know are with out jobs right now (like Larry Brown or hell JERRY SLOAN!). But we don’t know if they even want to coach next year (or if they would come back for a 21-61 team). We can also point to the coaching carousel that says there will be some coaches fired this off-season that might be available. But then again would we want any of them. I think most people on here would agree that we are ready for a great coach, and not another retread, or D’Antoni. The other option is to find a succesful assistant coach and hire him to the big boy role. Chicago has obviously flourised by doing this, but then again Tom Thibodeau’s track record in Boston was already well established. And of course which assistant’s would feel ready to make that step is unknown, just as the average fans knowledge of the leagues assistant coaches is just as vague. That’s why it is up to the GM to find that guy or stick by that guy. Someone has to find that Phil Jackson or stick by that Doc Rivers. It’s tough as a fan to suggest that guy, but we turn to our GMs to do that job.

    To me, Jay didn’t deserve to be brought back after his first year. After Smitch was fired, he did nothing to improve the team, and they seemed to do much worse after he took over. Not to mention he seemed completly over his head. His next season, could be argued to be an even greater failure. He had more talent then before, and a big off-season aquisition (not giving him all of the blame for Hedo, but he doesn’t avoid it all either), and yet could not make the playoffs. That was a season where anything short of the playoffs would be failure, and thus was a failure. He should have gotten the axe after that. However, this season, the expectations have to be low, because the talent just isn’t there. To fire him now would not make sense, since the talent is not there, but it is hard to forget that he did not succeed when the talent was there either.

  3. As usual, nice piece Tom.

    As for Triano, there’s no denying that he exhibits flaws that are un-related to the roster:

    – Waiting too long to call timeouts
    – Following a pre-determined substitution pattern, rather than adapting to how well/poor a certain player is playing
    – A lack of discipline when it comes to basic defensive principles
    – Playing veterans at the expense of youth during the final 20 games of the season (perhaps to save himself?)

    Regarding a replacement, I like the idea of giving Lawrence Frank a shot. The guy clearly out-coached us during the 2006-07 playoffs in our opening round series vs. New Jersey. He knows his Xs and Os. And the fact that he’s now an assistant with Boston leads me to assume that he’s absorbed what a championship calibre locker room is supposed to be like, how players are held accountable, strong defensive principles, and what it takes to win 50+ wins in a season. Plus, he’s probably itching to be a head coach again, and might see Toronto as a desirable destination.

    Lastly, sometimes all it takes to light a fire under players’ asses is a new voice. Triano has been around these parts for 7 years. During the in-game soundbites, does he seem like he has any ability to rally/motivate his troops when playing poorly?

    • I second the Frank nomination. But would MLSE fire a coach making $400k/season for one making $4MM/season. (I’m fudging the numbers, but that’s the ballpark, right?)

      • I believe the avg. nba hc salary is about 4 mill. Triano is in the 2 mill range and Frank is currently an asst. in Boston. I dont know what he was pulling in as hc of the Nets. The issue currently is also the possible lockout. Each org. has set their own standard for paying their staff during that period with a 50% cut in JT’s sal.

        I maybe corrected on some of the above.

    • Good points. A few items to consider:
      – Phil Jackson waits too long to call timeouts and he’s does okay. Often its important to preserve timeouts to advance the ball at the end of games. Timeout mgmt is not as easy as many fans believe – I know some that would call 5 within 7 minutes of the 1st qtr. The problem is lack of experience (calmness) in the roster to manage through stretches.
      -Don’t quite agree. Missing 220 man games means there isn’t a pattern. But there have been stretches in the season where players like Weems should have been sat when not committing to defense. Play Wright (even if you’re sacrificing on the offensive end) to “send a message”.
      – Have Evans in the lineup for 82 games or give Davis/JJ another season working together and you should see improvement. With injuries, trades and inexperience its tough to conclude as players simply haven’t had that much time with each other and/or learning the system. Davis and Bayless, for example, each have less than 1,500 minutes of playing time under the system.
      – Agree with you. But not to “save himself”. The young lineups have been more competitive. And I’m okay with playing Calderon and Bargnani as the odd “big game” may help slightly in potential trade talks (I use these two as examples as they have the two largest contracts)

      Lawrence Frank appears to be a solid coach. He also has a 68-112 W-L record (38%) his most recent three years of coaching. Defensive ratings were 109.4, 111.0, 110.5 in those three (“strong defensive principles” does not seem like an apt description, but he may have changed with the BOS exp). And he had some solid assets (Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson) etc in some of those years.
      As per the new voice – Triano doesn’t have a 7 year history with anyone on this roster. In fact, the majority of the players have been here a year or less.

      I don’t personally see the top tier, step function increase in value that I would be looking for.

      • Phil Jackson doesn’t call timeouts deliberately. He likes his teams to ‘play through’, which is easier, as you suggest, when you have veteran guys + Kobe rage.

        If that doesn’t work, I’ve seen him fire off timeouts on consecutive possessions.

  4. Thankfully someone can put a respectable arguement together for an opinion i’ve held for a while but didn’t have anything to base it on. The team can’t expect Triano to have done much more than he did this season. The fact that they played hard for 90% of the games is a testament to his coaching abilities.

    Plus, the “stability” argument doesn’t get enough recognition I feel. The Raptors as an organization need an identity that comes from the top down. When players come here, there should be a reputation that they feel obligated to contribute to. You can’t have that without consistent management that is in place to expect that reputation to be enforced. I like the DIRECTION the team is taking, if not the current product. I am encouraged…

    • I agree with you on the “identity” front, but I just don’t think Triano provides us with that desired identity.

      Instead of tough, hard-nosed, defensive, no easy baskets, type of a team, we’ve got swiss cheese, lackadaisical, lazy, and indifference.

    • You like the direction the team is taking? Encouraged?

      From division champs to confernece chumps all under BC?lmfao

      Stability or stagnation?

      Rap’s have the reputaion League wide as being an up & down team that plays a Euro style of basketball.

      Apologist give Jay aka Mr Company Man aka Mr No Accountability more excuses for losing than a married man caught with a prostitute. Sam was fired at 8-9 more proof that Jay is a just puppet coach of BC’s just doing as he is told not creating his own mold.

      • Re-read my post. I said that I like the direction…not the current product. Meaning that recently BC has brought in more hard-nosed athletic players instead of soft jump-shooting role players. It’s a direction that I hope the team continues to move in. Do you think that the lack of defence could be a product of the youngest roster in team history? Of course Jay takes some of the blame here as well because he is ultimately responsible for the system the guys are playing. But c’mon…its not like we have any all-stars on this team. The season was as we all predicted, awful, but encouraging.

        • The projected direction is a yearly NBA pass str8 to the Lottery- as is, think LAC’s or Minnesota.

          BC this season has brought in Peja (soft jump shooter- bought out now playing in Dallas).

          Ajinca (another soft jump shooting Euro center).

          Solomon was acquired by BC another soft 7 footer and NBDL player 4 life.

          Dorsey is a hard nosed player but he stays glued to the bench.

          Evans is hard nosed.

          Wright is hard nosed but stays glued to the bench.

          I guess JJ is hard nosed- so far.

          Kleiza? Bayless? Davis?

          Defense is a mix of effort, recognition (bb iq), teamwork & coaching (accountability/system) it has nothing to do with one’s age- defense is a mentality- one that the Rap’s lack from Bc on down to Jay and seen via Barg’s & Jose (the 2 most tenured Raptor players).

          Awful, but encouraging- really? I’m not encourage at all by this season in fact I’m discouraged by it.

          CB TPE- do you know me?

          What if Rap’s were winning would the Rap’s collective roster youthfulness still be an issue or a rationalization? If the Rap’s need vets why trade away Peja?

          BC put this team together- point blank, I don’t care about age that’s on him and is nothing more than another BullChit pr spin on losing with a purpose.

            • To varying degrees they all suck. It’s a talent-driven league, at least in the regular season, and we don’t have much of it.

  5. On hindsight Sam Mitchell wasn’t that bad and was on the mark in many ways. Benching Bargnani to get him to play defense, trying to hold players accountable. There are instances of the same coach being rehired by teams. I know it won’t happen under Colangelo, but I wouldn’t mind having sam back

    • George Karl is my coach of the year (yet doesn’t get any mention). The two main CoY candidates are excellent coaches, but also have amazing talent. What Karl did amongst all those distractions (and w/o any real star currently) makes him my easy choice.

      Unfortunately, there are only a very few George Karl “calibre” coaches in the league and they’re all employed (and certainly happy with their current positions)

  6. I always respect the analysis Tom. With coaches it’s obviously difficult and I do agree with you that talent means a whole lot to a coaches success.

    When I look at the Raps situation I don’t think Colangelo has provided either coach he has employed with out of this world talent, but it has been similar and it could be argued that last years edition of the team was it’s most talented version of the turnstile roster strategy that BC employs.

    Coaches are usually judged on the W’s and L’s and unfortunately Jay has accumulated far more L’s in his almost 3 years as coach of this team. If you don’t have one winning season to hang your hat on after 3 years you typically will have to hang your hat elesewhere as thats just the nature of the business.

    • [“coach” has accumulated far more L’s in his almost 3 years as coach of this team.]

      So you would have firmly been in the “fire Doc Rivers” camp after the 06/07 season?

      • Doc is an extreme example. Relatively poor x’s and o’s coach (to his credit has found great assistants to fill that role and help him over the last few years), but one of the all-time nice guys / respected NBA guys out there. As a result, he succeeded in the ego balancing / motivating veterns portion of coaching once he got a team of stars, but failed when the team was less talented.
        I actually think both sides of this one can be right. He SHOULD have been fired after his performance with the pre-Garnett Celtics .. he wasnt doing well and wasnt the man for THAT job. At the same time, he was the perfect man for the job once the team dynamic changed – and (obviously) has very much succeeded.

        • It seems like some people feel that marginal NBA players can be coached up into legit NBA players.

          I don’t think its true. There aren’t any stories that I know of that indicate less talented players have vaulted themselves into stardom, coaching or not.

          Phil Jackson’s rise to success happened with an extremely talented roster, including MJ and Pippen, Horace Grant, and later Rodman. If his first coaching gig was the Wizards, does he ever get 1 title? Who knows. Maybe he goes 15-67 and never coaches another team as a HC.

          It isn’t like the head coach provides more than the structure within which a team can succeed or fail. He isn’t going to make an average athlete an elite one.

      • No, because If I am reading the stats properly he had seasons where he won prior to sucking it up.

        Triano has no leg to stand on or remote success to point to as an indication he could be or is a good coach.

  7. To me, the case for letting Jay goes begins and ends with his team’s defence. You can talk about the lack of talent he’s been given, and I’ll buy that with respect to things like shot creation, shot making, getting to the free throw line, collapsing the opposing defence… all the offensive stuff. But defense has less to do with talent and more to do with communication, trust, and effort.

    Did you see that Derrick Rose quote the other day? “I know defensively, I’m alright. I’ve got my teammates behind me. We have each other.” What would be the comparable Raptor comment? “I know that defensively, if I leave my man, no one’s gonna cover my back, so I’m not gonna leave my man to help anyone else and risk looking bad. I know that coach gives playing time based on who’s scoring a lot so I’m going to conserve my energy on the defensive end so that I can look good when I get the ball.”

    This is the Raptors’ team culture. You can argue that is more Colangelo’s fault than Triano’s, but if you’re arguing that a head coach shouldn’t be held accountable for allowing that kind of culture to develop… I just can’t buy that.

    • So…the players are not responsible for their defence only their offence? That’s crazy talk. How many times did you see Bayless screaming at his guys last night for blown assignments. It’s on the players to at least try to play the defensive scheme.

      So state that players are only responsible for their offence and not responsible for their defence is inane.

      • I don’t think he was stating that players are only responsible for offense, but was simply describing the culture/mindset that has developed among the players in Toronto under Colangelo/Triano’s watch.

      • You misread me – probably my bad – we agree. I was saying that effort and teamwork can overcome a shortcoming of individual talent on defense more than offence.

    • “But defense has less to do with talent and more to do with communication, trust, and effort.”
      Does having 22 different starting lineups impact this? or 220 man games missed? Evans being out most of the year? Trusting Calderon, who wants to play good D, understands it, but doesn’t have all the natural talents to perform effectively?

      • Larry Brown did a pretty good job of getting Cap’n Jack and Diaw whom were from two offensive minded teams (golden state, phoenix) to buy into playing defense. And I beleive Charlotte was one of the best defensive teams under coach Brown.

      • I’ll be frank, these ‘220 mangames lost’ don’t pass the spit test for me. Evans is not a great man or help defender. Sonny is not a good defender. Kleiza was not a good anything. Barbosa is more of an offensive threat.

        It’s not like we lost a shotblocker or lockdown perimeter guy, or even a great help defender and it’s not like this team just never got a chance to gell.

        We are just a terrible defensive team — for the second straight year. Claw back 200 of those injury games and maybe we are a slightly less terrible defensive team.

        • Sonny was a pretty swell defender last season, actually. But the “scoring gets me playing time and a contract” culture of this team has ruined his value as a player.

      • “Does having 22 different starting lineups impact this? or 220 man games missed?”

        It certainly would lead me to give him the benefit of the doubt if this season was all we had to evaluate him on. But we have almost 3 seasons of coaching the worst defensive team in the league, with no real improvement. Good, thought-provoking points in you article though Tom.

  8. 1) BC has to go first cause he’s the one keeping AB here.
    2) JT can probably do a decent job as a GM, instead.
    3) PJC can probably do a decent job as a head coach, instead.
    4) There’s a nice balance of ‘change without change’ involved.

  9. If Houston doesn’t re-up Adelman, I’d love to bring him here. I wouldn’t mind bringing Messina in either.

  10. I think Gherardini is the one that needs to go, no one seems to talk about him. He seems to manipulate BC into taking Euro players, and really doesn’t do much else yet is still getting paid. Assistant GMs are supposed to play a key role in management, he does not, he’s just a former fat cat banker with designer glasses and slicked back hair, I really can’t understand why he was hired, he has no concept of American basketball players, and he better not have any say in our draft pick, because I sure as hell know he’ll want some kind of foreign player that he believes is the next big thing. If that happens, I swear I’m done as a fan. He needs to go ASAP.

    • “…a former fat cat banker…”. lol.

      I get it that you dont like him but maybe you should get the facts right rather than taking all of Wikipedia’s bio at face value. He does look the part though I grant you. His biographer must have taken his position at Benetton Treviso (which owns a bank amongst many other companies incl. a basketball team) to have anointed him a “banker”. I dont think he was counting liras as a prime job ever. It was always basketball from a young age from everything else I have read.

      • Actually read it from a Globe & Mail member article years ago upon his hiring, talked about his background and such. I believe he had some role in Intesa Sanpaolo, a director or some gig. Yeah, I make sure I go to a credible site rather than one that is edited by the lay person, the accusations aren’t needed, at least you checked though…

        As I was saying, it doesn’t matter if someone is a “great European basketball mind,” the difference is night and day between the NBA and over there. Hire him as a director of international scouting or something, but leave him out of NBA affairs, an area where in my opinion he knows little about. BC simply hired him to groom his prized asset: Bargnani.

        • I think you need proof, you can’t make the outstanding claim that gheradini is manipulating BC into running his european based agenda without solid proof.

          lol, you make him sound like a cardinal from the middle ages, who is running things from behind the scenes. although pop a biretta on his head and throw on some robes and he could probably play the part pretty well…….

            • I tend to think it was kind of the other way around. BCo had decided to pursue European players to build his teams. His hiring of Gheradini was to help him do so. So it’s not that Gheradini is in his ear convincing him to go after europeans, as much as BCo turns to him as his expert in European affairs.

    • Gheradini was hired, from what I have read, to be BC’s talent expert in Europe- fail, as most teams Euro’s are seemingly better than ours whenever they match up in games.

      Also, to me it seems like Gheradini is King Barg’s own personal GM to go along with his trainer from Italy- Cuzzolini.

  11. My first option to replace Triano would be John Calipari. Definatly a players coach, perfect with young players, gets respect from his players and has a tone of backbone!(something triano doesn’t have) Triano out, Calipari in!

    • College coaching and NBA coaching are 2 completely different animals. These days, NBA players simply have too much ego to be yelled and screamed at by someone without any NBA experience…or anyone for that matter. It’s common to see a college coach running up and down the sidelines, screaming out instructions on every possession, but in the NBA, those antics wouldn’t work.

      We all remember how great Rick Patino was in Kentucky before taking his act to Boston with the C**tics. But the NBA chewed him up and spit him out.

      Now I realize that a lot of today’s great NBA coaches started their work in college, but those were the days when players still treated basketball like work, and didn’t have a sense of entitlement like most of today’s pro hoopsters. Players were much more “coachable” (for lack of a better word) back then.

    • I hope that was a joke. Calipari is a great college recruiter of one-and-dones. He may have shown a little more this year, but one year does not a great coach make.

      • What do you mean, 1 year? He was the head coach at Memphis for Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose, and made the championship game in 2008.

        This years final four was not his first rodeo in the NCAA tournament. He’s been to the Elite Eight 7 times, the final four twice, and the championship once.

        His two years at Kentucky, he has an elite eight and a final four to his credit. You can argue, if you like, that his work with the Nets in the mid 90’s was mediocre, but I’d argue his team sucked, and the record indicated his players couldn’t play, not that he couldn’t coach, much like Triano.

        I don’t know if Triano can coach or not, but I do know Pat Riley and Phil Jackson aren’t getting to 30 wins with our Roster.

      • All he does is coach NBA talent at the college level with all the one-and dones he recruits, and all he does is is take his teams to final fours every year. I know he wont get hired by Toronto but he is going to come back in the NBA and be a very solid head coach for whoever he coaches and your gonna wish he was hired by Toronto if you are a raps fan.

    • Calapari is a slime ball who has the moral ethics of a fallen angel.

      I would consider the following to replace Jay aka Substitute Teacher off of the top off my head:

      Lawrence Frank
      Mike Brown
      Brian Shaw
      Dwane Casey
      Jeff Van Gundy
      Alex English

      Nate McMilliam would have been my perfect replacement choice but PO wisely retained him.

      • Ugh, please remove Mike Brown from that list. Sure he was a good defensive coach, but his only offensive plan was “give it to Lebron” like the old “pass it to Will”. Sure it worked, but we don’t exactly have a Lebron on this team. And I don’t think we want a “pass it to Derozan” or “pass it to Bargnani” offense next year!

        • I believe MBrown can formulate a cohesive offensive system w/o LBJ that would be more advanced than throw it to DD or

          MBrown knows defense inside out though and that’s what the Rap’s need a real coach not a BC puppet coach like Jay.

          Sam fired at 8-9. Jay finishes up at 25-40 and is given a contract? BCisms…..

          • Mike Brown sucks, he’s overrated! LeBron made him look better than he is, that’s why no one has hired him for any coaching position! Stop drinking the koolaid!

  12. I guess that the could be a decent argument that defensively, you’re doomed when you “have” to start Bargnani and Calderon…But being last in the league for two years in a row is hard to defend man, to me at least.

    If BC’s still here, Triano will stay another year, leading us to a marvellous 32 wins and then he will promote PJ or English. Probably, anyways.

  13. Tom:

    I just did a post where I touch on the “Coaching Issue” briefly – my conclusion is…meh. While he hasn’t wowed me – and there have been some troubling signs – at least he’s cheap, and I don’t think he’s anywhere near the Tim Floyd zone.

    I think an important point is this: given that the Raptors are bound to improve on their record next season (it would be hard not to), whoever’s the coach is bound to get some undeserved credit – just like Triano is getting some undeserved blame.

    Good stuff.

  14. “I don’t know if Triano can coach or not, but I do know Pat Riley and Phil Jackson aren’t getting to 30 wins with our Roster.”


    People grasp at any number of things to ‘prove’ that Triano isn’t a good NBA coach. All of these things presented as fact, when they’re nothing but speculation. The root cause, bottom line, call it what you will, is that this roster is not capable of playing the kind of defense you think Triano should be instilling, or talented enough to win more than 30 games under ANY coach. Given that fact, how can anyone suggest that coaching is the problem in Toronto? It’s ridiculous.

    – Doesn’t call timeouts at the right times. (really? what? can you validate that in any way at all??)
    – He’s completely over his head (huh? by what standard do you measure this?)
    – Follows a pre-determined sub pattern (by pre-determined, are you suggesting he has the pattern written out before the game, and doesn’t make subs based on situation? nonsense. you may not like the subs he makes, but that doesn’t mean they’re ‘pre-determined’)
    – Lack of discipline when it comes to basic defensive principles (are you talking about the coach here, or the players? the system the Raps play is a fairly simple one; the players simply aren’t savvy/experienced enough to execute it properly/consistently. not a coaching issue)
    – Playing vets at the expense of youth (well, I’ve always argued for a balance here — you can’t play youth solely unless you want to undermine their development. I don’t see any problem with how the youth of this team is being nurtured, and I don’t think guys like ED, Alabi would be further along with more PT. not sure who else on this team qualifies as ‘youth’ that’s in the team’s plans and is not getting played…)
    – His sound bites don’t sound like he can rally a team (and yet, all evidence from people around the team points to the contrary: that he has these guys playing hard in both practices and games, that the team is very close, etc. SVG is notorious for yelling and screaming, and also for being a joke among players)
    – Lack of defense is this team’s ‘culture’ and Triano is responsible (again, this flies in the face of everything said by players and coaches; they preach defense non-stop, they say the offense is easy; face it, this roster is just devoid of many defensive players)

    It’s natural after such a disappointing (though not unexpected) season that people want CHANGE at any price. Status quo was bad; let’s change something/anything. How about we wait and see how THIS particular roster develops, under THIS particular coach and system, for more than one year? The younger players who were here under Triano last year have all developed, with the possible exception of Bargnani (who has developed offensively, but certainly not defensively) and maybe Weems. They worked hard under him last year and improved, and they have done the same, incrementally, this year. That was Triano’s primary job this year: develop the younger players. Not make the playoffs, not turn Bargnani into an All-Star, not win a COY award. He’s done his job.

    • Say what you will, but 2 years in a row of being historically bad on the defensive end has got to lay at least some responsibility on the coach.

      Sure players have their limitations, but there are motivational techniques that can be used to get more players. If a player consistently gives up offensive rebounds, sit his ass instead of rewarding him with 35 minutes. If a player consistently takes a shot with 17+ seconds left on the shotclock, sit his ass. If a player complains to the ref about a non-call while the opponent scores an easy transition bucket, sit his ass, etc, etc.

      It’s really quite simple in a rebuilding season where the primary goal isn’t to win as many games as possible.

      • 200+ games lost to injury
        A roster of undertalented players
        = little ability to determine PT by performance

        I know what you’re getting at here: Bargnani shouldn’t have been playing because his D sucks. But when everyone else’s D also sucks, what do you do? You can’t sit all 15 players.

        Players and team chemistry also do not develop when players who are being evaluated as legit pieces for the future aren’t allowed to play through mistakes. You end up with a roster of guys with no confidence, unwilling to take the chances that spur their development, etc.

        And in terms of guys like Reggie, Calderon and LB getting too much time, those guys need to be on the floor with the developing players as well, because they either set a good example or help facilitate on-court situations that also spur development. I can’t imagine where the development of Demar or Amir or Ed Davis would be with Bayless as the starting PG all season, for instance. Not where it is with the benefit of Calderon’s playmaking, certainly.

        • Triano needs to be judged on his whole body of work, not just this season. Injuries and youth weren’t always convenient excuses.

          • Lack of defensive talent in Triano’s tenure has ALWAYS been a convenient — and applicable — excuse. At the same time, player effort and youth development has always been an applicable positive hallmark to his tenure, unlike Mitchell’s, for instance.

            • playing Calerone 34+ mins a game a giving Bayless 14 mins a game, and giving Bargnani majority minutes over Ed Davis is NOT good youth development! And atleast Sam Mitchell could get 40+ wins out of a roster full of nobodies. I guarentee Sam Mitchell could easily get 41+ wins out of this roster and make it in the 8th or 7th seed if he was still coaching the raptors. That was the biggest mistake Colangelo has made during his time as GM in Toronto was replacing Mitchell with Triano! Next to drafting Bargnani first overall over Lamarcus Aldridge.

    • Your ridiculous! “guys playing hard in both practises and games” where the hell have you been this season!? I have never seen a team play with as little effort and intesity as this team has this season. And you said it best, there defensive system is so simple and he still cant get his players to buy in and play with any effort. I have played basketball for along time and it is more then obvious these guys dont have the respect of Triano. When players respect there coach and listens to what there coach has to say they execute and do what the coach has asked at the very highest of there ability. And with Triano everything he says just goes one ear out the other with these guys. So you clearly havent seen to many games this season or else you wouldnt be saying all this BULLSHIT sticking up for a spineless headcoach who cant get any respect!

      • This is my point. I don’t know how you can KNOW this BS you’re spouting about guys not playing hard or that Triano can’t get the players to buy into the system.

        “When players respect there coach and listens to what there coach has to say they execute and do what the coach has asked at the very highest of there ability.”

        Exactly. I think they (most of them) are executing at the ‘highest of their ability’. I just don’t think they have the “ability” to excute it at a high enough level — yet.

        I’ve played basketball for a very long time as well (30 years), and I don’t see what you’re seeing. If you’ve played ball a long time, you know that, even when you’re trying your hardest to follow directions, sometimes you’re just not good enough to see results. Sometimes it’s a lack of talent, sometimes a lack of enough experience. But it’s not always the coach’s fault.

        You’ve got absolutely no basis to say that everything Triano says goes in one ear and out the other with this team. You have no idea what he says to them, or how they react to it internally. Every piece of evidence — from journalists who are around the team daily, to the players themselves, to coaches of other teams — says otherwise. That Triano has them playing hard, putting in effort both in and out of game time, and gelling well as a team.

        Calling Triano “a spineless coach who can’t get any respect” says pretty much enough about your ability to logically assess the situation.

  15. Couple of things. First, what if we change the null hypothesis of Berri’s work? Instead of, “Coaches don’t significantly alter individual player performance” we start with “Coaches can’t signficantly alter individual player performance”. Two things, I think, follow: one, that obviously isn’t true (otherwise there would be no need for instruction or training which is absurd) and, two, good coaches compensate by affecting team performance in other ways (benching bad players, trying differenct lineups, employing varying tactics, etc.).

    There are good, average and bad people in every job. Since most are average it strikes me that saying that most coaches are indistringuishable from one another is stating the obvious. It’s trite. I don’t need Berri’s fuzzy math to tell me that. What matters is not whether most coaches are average (duh), the questions to me are: what is it that coaches can do that causes significant differences, and does our coach do those things? These are questions that only experts in the field can really answer but, according to Berri, they are all idiots, which makes you wonder why, instead of doing regression analyses all day, Berri isn’t out making billions since everyone else is a moron.

    • Did you read Berri’s work before you commented on it?

      Berri doesn’t say “if you replace a team with a pylon, they will play just as well”. In fact, what he says is that, since NBA coaches are very similar to one another, there is not much to be gained from switching coaches (with a few notable exceptions). The overwhelming majority of coaches do not offer any advantages over each other, but that doesn’t mean that a coach doesn’t offer an advantages over not having a coach.

      I suspect that Berri’s “fuzzy math” is umpteen times better than yours, as he gets paid to do statistical analysis for a living. Would you, with all of your mathematical expertise, please explain why his math is “fuzzy”?

      It would also be nice if you didn’t put words into his mouth. Berri used data to answer a question. Data can identify things that “experts” cannot pick out with the naked eye. Clearly, given your hostility towards Berri, you must prefer subjective analysis over objective analysis?

  16. The problem is more often than not the GM in many cases, but the coach gets the axe all the time so the GM can save his skin.

    Bryan Colangelo was great in Phoenix, but when he gets here we find out that he is a one-hit-wonder.

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