Jakes Take: Changing of the Guard - 2/12/11

February 12, 2011
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]

Bucks vs Pacers

Bucks 97, Pacers 103
Gameday Recap
  • Keeping the Faith
  • Holding Down the Fort
  • A Streak That Needs Breaking
  • How to be a Halftime Hero
  • Playing Through Pain
  • Bucks Beat Features
  • The biggest story of this week in the NBA was the resignation of long-time Utah ring leader Jerry Sloan. One of the primary storylines surrounding tonight's contest between the Bucks and Pacers is the resurgence of Indiana under the recently-promoted Frank Vogel. It was these two latest head-coaching changes that got me thinking about in-season swaps in leadership over the last 10 seasons. Here's what I've uncovered:

    • Forty-six mid-season coaching changes have been made.
    • The 2004-05 season was not kind to head coaches with nine teams making in-season substitutions. Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, the Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New York, Orlando and Portland all make changes.
    • Memphis leads the way with four mid-season changes followed by Chicago, Phoenix and Minnesota with three each. You could make a case Chicago has actually made six in-season changes. In the three years the Bulls have made mid-season switches, short-term replacements have been sandwiched between the coaches that started and ended the season. Pete Myers has twice gotten the call, going a combined 0-3 in those two stints as interim coach.
    • Detroit, Houston and San Antonio are the only three teams that haven't made an in-season change. Utah, Charlotte and Indiana were part of that exclusive group until this season.
    • Maurice Cheeks (Portland and Philadelphia), Jim O'Brien (Boston and Indiana), Byron Scott (New Jersey and New Orleans) and Milwaukee's own Scott Skiles (Phoenix and Chicago) have each left twice during the season.
    • Only seven of the 46 coaches who left mid-season owned winning records at the time of their dismissal or resignation. The best record in the bunch belonged to Don Nelson, who left Dallas during the 2004-05 season with a 42-22 record to address family issues.
    • Only 10 in-season replacements posted a winning record in the season they took over. The most success belonged to Pat Riley, who replaced Stan Van Gundy in Miami during the 2005-06 season, posted a 41-20 record and led the Heat to the NBA Championship.
    • Of the 43 coaches who took over mid-year prior to this season, only 21 kept their job the following season.
    • The cumulative record of the in-season replacements in their first game at the helm is 25-21 (54.3 percent). One of those victories belongs to former Milwaukee head coach Larry Krystkowiak, who defeated the Spurs 101-90 in his first game in the big chair.
    • The cumulative record of those replacements in their first five games is 88-130 (40.4 percent).
    • The cumulative record of the 46 teams that made changes at the time of the switch is 630-903 (41.1 percent).
    • The cumulative record of those teams after the switch is 772-1269 (37.8 percent).

    So what does all of this tell us? First, it's commonplace that these changes are made to help revitalize a struggling or underachieving team. Rarely does a coach get dismissed mid-season unless there are health or family aspects in play.

    Second, these changes infrequently result in a major turnaround. Teams may see a slight improvement during the initial moments of the regime change. That improvement hardly ever results in significant long-term improvement, though, as evidenced by the four-percent decrease in team winning percentage following the change.

    Finally, a coach's success is determined almost entirely on the team he's inheriting. If he's lucky enough to be Avery Johnson taking over the 2004-05 Mavericks, he'll win his share of games. If he's Kiki Vandeweghe taking over the 2009-10 Nets, he's not likely to light up too many victory cigars. It'll be interesting to see if these trends continue in Utah and Indiana.

    In-game Musings

    • Indiana's version of Squad 6, Area 55, is a poor replication of the real thing. The pure numbers pale in comparison and the chants lack creativity. That much was understood coming into tonight's game, but Area 55 didn't really do much to help themselves tonight. I counted seven members in attendance, a quantity that will strike the fear into no opposing team. Area 55 is essentially the Fennis Dembo to Squad 6's Michael Jordan.
    • I can help but think Corey Maggette is hearing about all of the hubbub surrounding Ray Allen's recent record-setting three-pointer and thinking it's not such a big deal. Maggette has been bombing away like never before and connecting at a surprisingly regular rate. One night after hitting four three-pointers in a 20-point third quarter, Maggette put up four more in the first quarter tonight. He hit the first two, rolled out the third and clanked the fourth, all before exiting just six minutes into the contest.
    • It's amazing how resilient Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s hairline has been. When this is in your DNA, your hairline has to put forth an MVP-like effort to get through your 20s unscathed. I'm thinking the use of hairline enhancing drugs is in play.
    • I'm not going to lie, there was some serious goosebumpage during the halftime ceremony honoring the Packers Super Bowl title. From the unveiling of the Lombardi Trophy to the arena-wide cheer-inducing speeches from Mark Murphy, Charles Woodson and Charlie Peprah, it was a proper celebration that will hopefully carry over into the second half.
    • Brandon Jennings remained quiet for most of the first three quarters, but showed some signs of life at the end of the third. He pumped in six points in the frame's final two minutes, hitting a step-back jumper, a floater and two freebies. That would've marked a great end to the third if not for two desperation heaves from Indiana's A.J. Price and Paul George that gave the Pacers a three-point lead heading into the fourth.
    • It doesn't happen as often as I'd like, but Andrew Bogut is the proud owner of one of the best behind-the-back passes in the game. That skill was on display early in the fourth quarter when Bogut found Carlos Delfino cutting along the baseline. Bogut wrapped the pass around himself and Jeff Foster, hitting Delfino under the rim for the nice bucket. It went a little something like this. His passing evoked memories of the numerous behind-the-back passes Chris Webber completed from the post once upon a time.

    Closing It Out
    Another night, another fourth-quarter meltdown for the Bucks. In last night's loss in Memphis, Milwaukee opened the deciding final period by hitting just one of its first 11 shots. The Bucks were even worse tonight, going just 2-for-17 to open the frame. Garbage-time points made the final score look closer than it really was, but it was too little too late once again. Fourth-quarter scoring has been problematic for Milwaukee all season long and until it gets a crunch-time scorer who can get himself and his teammates good shots, it's going to continue to be.

    The Pacers tried to give this game to the Bucks early on with 12 turnovers through one half and 15 through three quarters. Milwaukee didn't take advantage, though, scoring just 14 points off of Indiana's 17 total turnovers. What did the Bucks in was a dramatic discrepancy in rebounding and free throws. Indiana outrebounded Milwaukee 46-37 and attempted 41 free throws (30 made) compared to 20 (16 made) for Milwaukee.

    The Bucks received a well-balanced, but ultimately lackluster, showing from the starting five. All five starters scored between eight and 10 points, but combined to shoot just 18-of-50. Carlos Delfino and Keyon Dooling provided nice lifts off the pine. Delfino finished with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting and a team-high five assists and three steals and Dooling finishing with 13 points on 5-of-8 from the field.

    Tonight marked the start of a lengthy stretch of home games for the Bucks with 14 of their next 18 coming at the BC. Let's hope tonight is not an indication of how the rest of the home contests are going to play out. It could be a very long month if that's the case.

    Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.