Jeff Bower May Be Coaching Himself Into A Job
The New Orleans Hornets got off to a sluggish start this season and for that reason Byron Scott was fired as head coach. The Hornets General Manager, Jeff Bower, replaced Scott and has done a great job. So far the team is 3-2 under Bower and that is without their all-start point guard, Chris Paul, who is out with an ankle injury. Bower has changed their offensive strategy and has them running up and down the court playing at a faster pace than they were under Scott. This has increased their scoring and fast break points and plays to the strengths of rookie guards, Darren Collison and Marcus Thorton.Chris Paul has been a great help to these young players and gives them scouting reports on the opposing team’s point guards as an assistant coach would. The injury to Paul has surprisingly helped the team and should benefit them down the stretch this season. If Jeff Bower continues to develop these young players and win some games he may have coached himself right into a new job.Jeff Bower joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about the adjustment for him from assistant coach to head coach, the development of the young players this season, what he has done differently and has had some success with, and the bench being a big reason why they are 3-1 in their last four games.
On the adjustment for him from general manager to head coach:
“Well sure it is totally different to go from sitting back and observing and evaluating and to go right into the middle of it was certainly a different set of circumstances. It is something that the players made the transition very smooth and very easy to go through.”
On the development of the young players this season:
“Well I think they are talented young men and they are guys that can help our team. We have seen the impact that we have made in their roles here with us recently. I think there are guys that have skills, talents and abilities that fit with our other players as well and help them become more effective. We think they can help us improve and help us win. That is why we are giving them the minutes that we are and of course with Chris’ situation that changed the scope dramatically as far as available minutes. It didn’t change our goals and expectations for this group and so they have taken on the challenge and really have done a remarkable job for us these last few games.”
On what he has done differently and has had some success with;
“Well the biggest thing from an offensive standpoint, we have tried to play at a faster pace and we have tried to give more emphasis on the ball movement and cutting and screening. That has helped create some more shots in the flow of the game. It has helped some of our key personnel get open a little bit easier into scoring position. From a defensive standpoint, what we have emphasized is more accountability in guarding the basketball and staying out of rotations whenever possible. We have really just tried to simplify things offensively and defensively and relying on a fundamental approach to basketball so that we can go play a little bit freer without thinking and a little bit harder with higher energy level to make it all effective.” On the bench being a big reason why they are 3-1 in their last four games:“Well I would agree with you Deke.
Those numbers mean something and our rebounding numbers especially when you look at those rebounding numbers for instance. Those give us more field goal attempts and one of the most important things for us is to increase the number of shot attempts that we get per game. So we have attempted to do that by rebounding, offensive boards or creating things off of our defense to get us extra shot attempts at the other end. You don’t have to shoot as high of a percentage if you are getting more shot attempts. So it helps you in that regard. Our bench has been very effective for us and we have seen Darius Songaila, who has always been a stable, consistent player. We have seen James Posey increase his levels of production and get into a little bit more of a rhythm these last few games and really add something for us and of course Marcus Thorton has really been a big energy boost as far as running the floor and his scoring production coming off the bench. Those things all have been big helps for us.”