Stotts' refusal to call out players gains team equity

Stotts' refusal to call out players gains team equity
December 29, 2013, 8:00 am
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Lillard: Didn't lock down defensively

(Tim Fuller | USA Today Sports Images)

NEW ORLEANS -- Saturday night’s 108-107 loss at home to the Miami Heat is about the most frustrated you’ll see Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts get in public.

There was a defensive breakdown when Heat forward Chris Bosh found himself wide open and knocked down a game-winning three pointer to steal the game with LeBron James out nursing a strained groin.

There was plenty of blame to go around on that final Trail Blazer defensive possession, yet, during his postgame presser, Stotts held his tongue when it would have been more than appropriate not to do so.

That approach has credited him equity with his players.

“I don’t see the purpose in calling out a player through the media,” Stotts told CSNNW.com after a weekday practice session. “I believe there’s more negative that could come of it than good. I don't believe in it. That’s not the way I choose to go about my business. If I have something critical to say, I’ll address it to the player directly.”

Some coaches use calling out players in the media to light a fire or to send a message. But this team appears not to need such a drastic tactic.

Wesley Matthews says he’ll run through a brick wall for Stotts. Nicolas Batum says Stotts’ way of handling players helps with the buying in aspect. This team believes in him and whatever he draws up, they’ve got the confidence that it’s going to work regardless of who the play is for.

Stotts has developed into one of the league’s supreme game-callers and his diagramed plays out of timeouts are second to none. With .5 of a second remaining in the game after that Bosh dagger, Stotts put his team in position to pull off the unexpected with a lob inbounds pass to LaMarcus Aldridge in the paint.

Unfortunately, Aldridge’s catch-and-shoot attempt at point-blank range was off as he fell to the ground from being off balance. Aldridge was also the player who left Bosh open for that three when the Trail Blazers were up two to help on a penetrating Dwyane Wade.

Wade threw a behind-the-back pass to Bosh and Mo Williams tried to rotate over but he had too much ground to cover. Mental lapses happen from time to time and that was one of those moments. That’s why it’s huge to have started the season off 24-5 so they’re able to absorb such a defensive breakdown.

After last night’s contest, any other coach might have seen an opportunity to make a public, name-calling statement following that debacle. However, Stotts demonstrated restraint and his players are appreciative of this method.

“Nobody wants to hear their name being called out by their coach,” Aldridge said to CSNNW.com. “I’m not saying a coach shouldn’t do it, but it’s definitely not something you look forward to hearing. The way he handles us is what you hope for: Just us talking it out between the two of us.”

The little things like that make all the difference in the world.

Often, coaches are viewed as truly coaching when they’re constantly barking at the players or jawing with the refs. Nice-guy, composed coaches seldom get the credit they deserve for coaching their tails off.

But make no mistakes about it, when it’s time for Stotts to turn up, he’ll turn up. And the players take it in just how you’d expect from a 24-6 squad.

“He’s a calm person but he knows how to turn it up when he needs to,” Damian Lillard said. “When he speaks, everybody listen because we know what he’s telling us is going to work if we execute properly. I think everybody likes how he approaches us.”