Dispelling Myths About Iavaroni's Tenure

If a coach whose name no one can spell is fired by one of the league's worst teams in one of its smallest markets, does he make a sound on the way out? ↵

↵That's the question basketball scribes across the country are asking their pets today, as the world tries to reel from the news that the Grizzlies have canned Marc Iavaroni. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal: ↵

↵
↵⇥Iavaroni essentially led three different teams while with the Griz. In 2007, he inherited a team with veterans Mike Miller and Pau Gasol. That team underwhelmed before the Griz traded Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the season. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥The organization's full-blown youth movement began at last June's draft when Miller was part of a trade package that netted the Grizzlies' guard O.J. Mayo. The Grizzlies began this season playing aggressive, energetic basketball. But the Griz began to lose games they should have won — especially at home — and players lost confidence in Iavaroni's system. ↵
↵Iavaroni's replacement is Lionel Hollins, once the head coach at Memphis, currently an assistant under Scott Skiles in Milwaukee. His staff will include Maurice Cheeks, whose firing you might have missed if you're prone to blinking. The Grizzlies aren't wanting for talent: Mayo is the dark horse Rookie of the Year, Rudy Gay remains on the cusp of stardom, Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur are young bruisers who turned out better than advertised. Hakim Warrick is energy off the bench. But it's pretty clear this team is back in rebuilding mode, after an early flirtation with legitimacy. ↵
↵
↵However, I would like to take this opportunity to dispel any number of myths surrounding Iavaroni's tenure in Memphis. First, dude was a defensive specialist in Phoenix, not part of the offensive braintrust. His primary contribution on that end of things was working with big men on stuff like footwork and post moves. Everyone expected the Grizz to run under Iavaroni, and for this to vivify the franchise. This was stupid, since his predecessor, Tony Barone had them scoring in bushels but losing all the time. This hire was not about making Memphis the Suns South. ↵
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↵There's also been way too much talk about Iavaroni and point guards, which isn't good for a team with major PG issues. Conley either wasn't brought along properly or just isn't that good; Kyle Lowry is somehow both beastly and very limited; Javaris Crittendon never got any burn. This is how you end up with a team like the pre-Bibby Hawks, a headless horseman that can't very well implement a plan. If you believed Iavaroni was somehow carrying around part of Nash's brain with him into every practice, this would be a major letdown. But guess what: No one sane ever thought Iavaroni was hired to develop point guards. ↵
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↵So go ahead and call Iavaroni a bum, just make sure you don't make him a victim of over-the-top expectations that he never deserved in the first place. He could have at very least urged Mayo to take the ball inside more. Granted, he can't jump over the Elvis Dome, but he's deceptively quick and has a solid, Joe Johnson-esque grasp of how to make plays without superior athleticism. Mayo's three-point show is part of what's caused Rudy to stagnate. Now that's blame we can believe in.
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↵(Image via Bright Side of the Sun)↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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