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Monty Williams Is Ready To Work Hard In New Orleans

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Monty Williams is Ready to Work Hard in New Orleans

A couple of years ago, basketball in New Orleans was rocking.  The Hornets were not only back in the playoffs, but they were the number two seed in the Western Conference, Byron Scott was the Coach of the Year in the NBA, and Chris Paul was in the MVP conversation.  Since that time though, the Hornets have fallen dramatically.  They missed the playoffs this past year, Chris Paul has dealt with some injuries, Byron Scott was fired, and General Manager Jeff Bower came down from the front office to coach the team.  The Hornets are a franchise that is very much in transition and headed in a new direction. The man that will lead them in that direction is new head coach Monty Williams.  After getting turned down by Tom Thibodeau, who seemed to be the number one up-and-coming assistant in the NBA, the Hornets acted quickly bringing in Nate McMillan’s right hand man.  To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what Monty Williams is capable of, but the Hornets have a lot of young talent on their roster and with a superstar like Chris Paul, it’s going to be Williams job to lead the Hornets back to the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference after a disappointing season. Monty Williams joined WWL in New Orleans with Bobby and Deke to talk about what he has to do to get the Hornets back to the playoffs, whether or not he thought he would ever be a head coach in the NBA, and the amount of pressure he will be under as a first year head coach.

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On what things the team has to improve on moving forward:

“Right away, we have to improve in a number of areas, but I think it’s across the board in the NBA.   There’s a number of teams that have to improve their defensive field goal percentage.  Rebounding shouldn’t have to be on David (West) and Emeka’s (Okafor) shoulders all the time.  We have to get our wings and guards in the paint and there’s some things that we can add to our defense that will help with that.  I don’t want to make rush assessments about the team in June.  Everybody knows we have to improve, but I have to really get with the guys, Chris and David, and talk to them about what they feel and get their heart for the team and share my values and vision and go from there.  We’ll see.  It’s gonna take a lot of hard work and that’s what we signed up for.”

On whether or not he felt he would be in this position as a head coach:

“Not as a young player, never in college did I ever think about coaching basketball.  And I didn’t really think about it when I played pro ball.  The Lord just opened up the door for me and I’ve been running ever since.  I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way get to this point.  Namely Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich, and certainly Doc Rivers.  I’m blessed and fortunate to be in this position.  Hopefully it will pay off for us.  It will take a lot of hard work, but I’m praying that it will pay off for this team.”

On whether or not they are looking at the Lakers as the team they aim to compete with in the West:

“Well you don’t go from not being in the playoffs to thinking you can just run up on the Lakers and knock them off their pedestal.  You have to crawl before you can walk and we have to take the steps necessary to move in that direction.  There’s a few teams in the West that have staked their claim.  Portland has staked its claim on the playoffs and Oklahoma City.  There’s some teams that feel like they’re gonna be there every year.  At the same time, there’s some older teams that may start to break down a little bit and we have to take advantage of that.  I don’t want to jump the gun and say that we’re gonna be in the playoffs.  Everybody wants to win a championship, but not everybody wants to work that hard.  The guys that are playing right now are playing with a lot of pain and you mentally have to be ready to play in 118 games if you add ‘em all up.  Just to get your mind around that is a tough thing.  That’s our goal, that’s everybody’s goal.  That’s how we’re going to work every day.  That’s our plan.”

On holding each other accountable for the bad season last year:

“Yeah, it always starts with the guy in the mirror.  For this team, it starts with me.  It’s my job to take the pressure off the players.  If people want to criticize me, my age, and my lack of experience, then bring it on.  That means they’re not messing with Chris, David, Emeka, or any of our players.  But at the end of the day, you can’t lie to yourself.  You can front for your boys, your posse, or whomever, but you know why you’re not playing well, or doing well, or succeeding the way you want to if you haven’t put your work in or you’re not trusting the system.  I have to be realistic about my expectations.  I’ll know why we didn’t reach our goals at the end of next year.  It’ll fall on my shoulders and those will be things that I have to improve on.  I can’t look at anybody else.  Not my staff, Jeff, or anybody else.  It’ll be on my shoulders and that’s what you sign up for.”

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