Pelicans.com Give-and-Go: Monty Williams
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Last week New Orleans Pelicans Coach Monty Williams held his annual basketball camp for kids at the Alario Center, one of the team’s final functions in Westwego prior to the opening of a new practice facility in Metairie this summer. There’s a great deal of “out with the old, in with the new” happening around Pelicans headquarters this offseason, with the franchise already ushering in a new nickname and logos. The team will unveil new uniforms later in the offseason, as well as a renovated New Orleans Arena.
On an individual level, Williams will begin his new assignment as USA Basketball assistant coach on July 22 in Las Vegas, after watching New Orleans’ summer league team compete over the previous 10 days. Williams discussed his USA role and many other topics in a lengthy conversation at his basketball camp. He also answered numerous fan-submitted questions from Twitter during this 15-minute interview:
In the weeks that have gone by since you were named assistant coach for USA Basketball, what has it been like for you in terms of the reaction of your friends and people you know within the sport?
Williams: It’s been great. Once the announcement happened, the calls and text messages just flooded in from family members, former players, our (Pelicans) players, different people who’ve been in my basketball life and my life in general. People came out of the blue congratulating me. It was pretty overwhelming to see how many people were paying attention to me. And the people around the city have been unreal to me. Everyone here, it’s almost like they made it (onto the USA Basketball team). The people here in New Orleans feel like one of their own is going to represent the country. That’s been really cool.
On to Twitter questions from fans. From @AshB_43: What is your view on the beginning of the Pelican era and how do you think this is beneficial to the team and the city?
Williams: I think it’s a great change for us. Everybody’s excited about the colors, excited about the practice site and the new arena. Excited about where our team is going after having the foundation year last season. It’s fitting that all of this good stuff is happening, and then we have a new name, new jerseys and a new outlook. It’s not like the past was bad, but to me, New Orleans gets a chance to start something that is theirs (with the Pelicans nickname). It’s not attached to Charlotte. I think that is a good thing.
From @oceanback: What do you want your offensive philosophy to be next season?
Williams: The same things we always stress, such as trying to get efficient baskets without turning the ball over. But we are going to stress passing the ball up the floor more. I thought our point guards held the ball too much last year. Now, a lot of that was by necessity, because we had so many injuries. This year we have to really get the ball up the floor and take advantage of our wings. We have guys who can really put the ball in the basket from the wing position. If we can get layups from hit-ahead passes, we’ll try to do that as best as we can.
From @WalkrFranck04: What do you think is the most important thing we should focus on, leading up to this upcoming season?
Williams: For us, (on defense) we have to stop dribble penetration. That’s something that plagued us last year more than the first two years I was here. Dribble penetration allows other teams to get into our paint and forces our bigs to have to help. You give up so many corner three-pointers that way. We have to take that away. The number one thing is that our guys have to understand how much work it takes. Our young players, and even some of our young vets, didn’t realize how hard you have to work to be good. A lot of our guys have been able to depend on other good players (on previous teams they’ve played for). We’re not in that position. The guys we have, they have to step up and be good. That takes a lot of work.
From @LoganLovesLyfe: Do you think Austin Rivers can have a breakout season this year?
Williams: I think he can. But saying that isn’t going to make it happen. I think he can certainly improve, and he’s put himself in a good position to show that he can make huge strides. He’s putting the work in and certainly dedicated enough. Now he’s just got to go out on the floor and perform consistently.
From @KingJewels: Why don’t you continue to wear the goatee during the season?
Williams (laughs): I would wear it during the season, but it’s so gray now, that I change it up (and shave it). And I don’t like using cosmetics to make myself look younger. When I do shave it off, everybody says I look too young. Overall, I don’t put a lot of thought into how I look – that’s probably my best answer. My wife makes sure I look neat when I leave the house, that’s about as far as I go with it.
Speaking of how you look, a follow-up from @AshB_43: How do you decide what suit you are going to wear for each game?
Williams: Sometimes I’ll just go in my closet and grab a suit. Sometimes my kids will go in there and pick it. My youngest daughter, Janna, she’ll go and pick something out for me. That’s always cool. They take ownership of it and are more excited about how I look than I am. I’m not (preoccupied by it). If I could dress every day like Bill Belichick, I would.
From @hornetsfan202: What's your favorite part of New Orleans?
Williams: The people. It’s a unique group of people here. From the bayou to New Orleans East to the Ninth Ward to Metairie to Mandeville, to me Louisiana is like being in a different country. You can go down 30 miles south of here, and you may run into somebody, and you’ve never, ever met anyone like that before. Since I’ve been here, the people have been the biggest thrill for me, because they’ve all supported me and my family. I rarely meet somebody that I’m like, ‘Gosh, I don’t want to be around this person.’ I mean, I love fishing, the food and being in the South too, but the people here are what makes this place special.
From @mknkachow: Oysters: charbroiled, raw, or fried?
Williams: I actually don’t eat them. I’m a shrimp and lobster guy.
A follow-up from @KingJewels: Will you ever give press conferences like Coach Popovich?
Williams (smiles): No. You know, everybody sees me coming from San Antonio, but I think the last thing that Pop would want me to do is try to be like him. The one thing he taught me, when I first started coaching, was that all you have to do is be yourself and everything will work out. First of all, I’m not smart enough to come up with the answers he comes up with. But I’d love to be in those press conferences, because usually when you see him, he’s in championship series.
From @SonnieInkstar: Let the coach know that the fans are ready for him to get a 'Tweetbook' (Twitter) account.
Williams (smiles): I’d rather get a massage by a cat than to tweet. First of all, I don’t think anybody would listen to the things I have to say. Secondly, I just don’t have the time. If I’m tweeting, when I could be with my family instead… I can’t do that. The players do it, but they don’t have as much responsibility as I have. I get it: today’s players, some of them use it to promote themselves. Some of them use it as a business (tool). I get that. But for me, I’m too boring for all of that stuff.