Coach Bob Hill needed to get a few things off his chest yesterday. That much was clear from the nearly 40 minutes he spent with a few media members going over the state of the team.
A tired, but upbeat Hill displayed a lot of passion going so far as to draw out various blown plays from the loss to the Hornets on the teams chalk board. During the course of the conversation he made clear his opinions on several matters:
First of all let it be known that the young centers Swift and Petro are going to continue to see time and that he is optimistic about the future and enjoying the development of those two players.
â€œThatâ€™s where we are.â€ Said Hill, â€œthe two big kids are going to play. Theyâ€™re going to be good. Nobodyâ€™s got two young 7 footers in the league, nobody.â€
Optimism aside Hill acknowledges that both Swift and Petro have some additional work to do before they learn how to win games.
â€œI look at it as a process.â€ He says before reitterating, â€œIâ€™ve made a commitment to Robert and Johan.â€
While he is optimistic about the â€œtwo babiesâ€ as he refers to Swift and Petro Hill remains perplexed at the teamâ€™s inability to improve at basic defensive help and communication. According to Hill there is a lack of support on the defensive end of the floor that stems from not talking to each other or offering enough help in defensive rotations.
â€œIâ€™ve got to get them (Swift and Johan) not to help as much and weâ€™re trying to get everyone else to help more.â€
Defense is the key for Hill who states â€œYou have to piece surges of defense together during the course of the game to get enough stops to get the win. They are a plethora of little things away from becoming good enough defensively to win games.â€
â€œTheyâ€™ll be on the bus and talk as much as they do, then they get on the floor and refuse to help each other and talk defensively.â€
The results are not pretty.
â€œThere were plays, probably 5 or 6 or 7 of them throughout the course of the game that their reaction, it didnâ€™t make any sense.â€
Unfortunately the roster provided does not offer a many defensive minded options to turn to.
â€œEvery guy we have is a basketball player first and foremost because they can score. Itâ€™s not because they bring a mindset day in and day out that Iâ€™m going to stop my man.â€ Hill said. â€œIf youâ€™re out there playing defense you need to talk a little louder than weâ€™re talking. I donâ€™t know, weâ€™ve got some soft spoken guys I guess. They just refuse on a consistent basis to help one another.â€
Hill constantly refers to this team â€œBeing built to score pointsâ€ and cannot name the defensive leaders on the team when asked. He does however feel that Nick Collison has the ability to step up on the defensive end. Collison was slated to become a starter even before injuries removed Vladimir Radmanovic from the lineup.
â€œNick deserved it and our interior defense wasnâ€™t what it needed to beâ€ Said Hill â€œMaybe (Nick) could help that some.â€
â€œNick is a very good team defender. I think Nick Collison can be a very, very good big forward who can play both ends of the floor. I think heâ€™ll evolve into that.â€
Unfortunately Collison continues to struggle with foul troubles that he will need to overcome before he can move up to the next level.
â€œI go on stretches where I get in quick foul trouble and I wasnâ€™t on the floor enough. Itâ€™s my own fault, getting into foul trouble.â€ Said Collison. â€œI have to do a good job of not playing with my hands. I have a tendency to play with my hands and when you have your hands extended sometimes theyâ€™re going to call it whether you commit a foul or not."
As for the rest of the team Hill feels they simply need to talk to each other, pointing out screens, communicating on rotations, etc.
It remains difficult to listen to comments by coaches or staff and not feel like the organization intends to make some type of move to make things better.
â€œIâ€™m sure that theyâ€™ll want to change this team a little bit, and add to it. But youâ€™ve got to get a couple of guys who take pride in making stops.â€ Said Hill who adds â€œWe have who we have and I donâ€™t go into Rick Sund and say I need this or I need that. I never do that. I try to take who Iâ€™ve got and make them better. The thing that is frustrating is that we have really, really quality people on this team. But they donâ€™t play together on either end of the floor like they should.â€
If Hill were to go to Sund he would be seeking defensive role players to build around their offensive talent.
â€œWe donâ€™t have anybody whoâ€™s going to step over that line with the attitude that Iâ€™m going to shut this guy down.â€ He said. â€œIf you want to build a championship team with guys who can score initially, then decide who of those offensive players you want to keep then fill the rest of the roster with defensive minded guys. If you look at the teams that win every yearâ€¦I mean all you have to do is look at their rosters and the answer is right there for you.â€
When the defense gets better either via trade or improvement from the existing roster Hill is confident that the team will come around.
â€œThey do go out there, and they play so damn hard, and theyâ€™re having a hard time getting wins. Those will come when they start being a real team.â€