A Larry Drew crash course
We humans are quite the reactionary breed.
Sometimes it’s pretty great. For instance, when people rush to the aid of someone in need without any hesitation? Good on them. That’s awesome. However, when we rush to a conclusion about something we may not know a whole lot about? Not so good. In fact, that’s pretty unsavory.
Such is life of the Bucks fan, though. We can’t help but be reactionary. It’s tough, really. We can’t be blamed for being this way. After years and years of being stuck in mediocrity and being led to believe that plans outside of five years down the road didn’t exist, we fans may have gone a little off of our collective rockers.
That being said, insanity is no excuse for ignorance, which finally gets us to the point. With yesterday’s hiring of Larry Drew to be the 13th head coach in Milwaukee Bucks franchise history, a majority of the people made quick work to question the move. It can’t be proven that we are wrong, it just seems a little too premature to make such a judgement on a guy a lot of us don’t know much about.
That’s why I enlisted the help of Robby Kalland, a writer over at Peach Tree Hoops and all-around brilliant guy. He’s been closer to Larry Drew during his time in Atlanta than anyone in Milwaukee, and he offered some insight into what to expect with the new head coach. It may not ease our anxieties, but at least we’ll have something to chew on instead of formulating opinions on just the bare bones. Let the Q&A begin!
Eric: So Bucks fans aren’t exactly beaming after this hire. The reasons vary, but a majority of the response is that they don’t feel Drew is an inspiring hire. Is there merit to that? Talk us off the ledge here. Why should we be excited about Larry Drew?
Robby: There is definite merit to that thought. Larry is a good coach but I don’t think even the biggest Drew fan (like me) would put him in the elite category of coaches, but he’s definitely not among the worst. However, there needs to be some realism when it comes to the coaching search. Not many of the top candidates, either former head coaches or top assistants, are going to look at Milwaukee as one of their top destinations, so choices are limited. Kelvin Sampson was supposedly the other top candidate for the job so it is understandable for the Bucks front office to go in the direction of the proven commodity. Is it “inspiring?” Not necessarily, but would Sampson really have been “inspiring” either?
As to why Bucks fans should be excited, Drew’s had relative success in similar situations. As a team in transition, Drew has proven himself to be able to take an ever-changing roster and get the most out of it (see: 2012-13 Hawks). He has experience with moody stars that like to take jump shots (see: Josh Smith). Drew is very much a players coach, and that might be a nice change of pace considering there was a clear dislike in the locker room for the hard-line regime of Scott Skiles.
Eric: What kind of coach is Drew? What can we expect? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Robby: Drew’s true skills as an offensive coach finally came through this year without the crutch of Iso-Joe [Johnson] there to lean on. Drew showed himself as one of the best ATO (after timeout) play-callers in the NBA last year, and did an excellent job taking advantage of the athleticism and passing ability of Josh Smith and Al Horford with the 4-5 pick-and-roll. Drew’s offense will mold to fit the Bucks personnel, but the basic principle of his offensive scheme is to create a lot of motion and ball movement to apply pressure to the defense.
You can also expect to see a team-oriented defensive scheme that will take advantage of LARRY SANDERS! defensive prowess on the interior. Drew emphasizes three H’s on defense: Hands, Havoc, and Hustle. He wants perimeter players to be active with pressure on the ball, and for bigs to look to disrupt passes around the paint. He will tell his players to push the ball in transition and, for better or worse, will allow more players than just the guards to bring the ball up the floor (MORE POINT LARRY SANDERS!). Drew will also mix in zone looks when he feels like the opposition has mismatches on the perimeter.
His biggest weakness has been struggling to make proper in-game adjustments. Drew often has a good game-plan entering the game and will make necessary adjustments at the half should the team fall behind early, but he does not do well making changes in the middle of quarters. He is very predictable in his rotations, will always pull a player if they get two fouls in the first half, and abides by the “hot-hand” rule to a fault. His rotations will frustrate both fans and players at times, and if a defense shuts down the initial game-plan he is not quick to make the necessary adjustments.
Eric: A lot of Bucks fans were hoping for some semblance of a rebuild. The hiring of Drew, right now, suggests a different direction. We’re all confused. Can Larry Drew help turn the Bucks around, one way or the other?
Robby: Drew, like his predecessor Mike Woodson, has been labeled as a coach that is not rookie-friendly. While Drew does tend to play veterans over young players, he and his staff did an excellent job this past season developing John Jenkins and Mike Scott into very solid players. Drew’s signing does seem to suggest that the Bucks will look to remain a fringe playoff contender in the coming years, but it does not mean there won’t be an opportunity to develop young players.
The bigger issue for the Bucks is not Larry Drew, but what to do with guys like Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. I don’t think the organization is going to go for a “blow it up” strategy and the Larry Drew hire seems to solidify that belief, but, as we saw last year in Atlanta, Drew has no problem dealing with a rotating cast of players which he very well may face in his tenure in Milwaukee.
Well, there you have it. While your opinion on the hire may not have changed as a result of reading this, at least you can get to know about the guy before you begin your riots.