Looking at Aspects of Coaching in the D-League

It's 2:37 a.m. I just woke up from a nap - I fell asleep early, but then woke up watching CMT, listening to a little boy scream and a British nanny telling his father to ignore him in the middle of a crowded grocery store.  I nearly threw my PS3 controller at this terrible advice - she shoud have let him shut the kid up.  I'd still be nestled in my slumber, dreaming of my Hawaiian vacation featuring Joel Abelson, Josh Davis, JRose, Jessica Alba (Honey version), Jessica Biel, Jon L and the world's newest power couple: IcemanCometh and Luna Vachon.  I was footing the bill as they say, since I had a job and wanted to flaunt my newfound wealth.  Oh boy, how that wretched lady ruined my first solid slumber in ages!

(Mood lightened from yesterday's ridiculous comments section? Yes? Good.)

Anyway, the mediocre french toast maker himself, our own Jon L, has been handling the D-League Finals coverage, with a Game Two preview coming a little bit later this morning.  Since that's covered, I'll dig a bit into a topic I've been wanting to get in since myself and Rumble talked coaching earlier this week in the comments, mostly because I wanted to get it out in the mainstream as well.  Well, at least as mainstream as the front page of a D-League blog can get.

Anyway, first I'll brief you with a couple of new changes thus far, just so we're caught up.  (former/current/I have no idea) Anaheim coach Sam Vincent was just named head coach of the Jamaican men's and women's national team.  This seems like a pretty broad assignment, but he's pretty well versed in randomness - he's the only coach to go from a D-League head coach to an NBA head coach and back to a D-League coach, and he did it in a rather short time span.

Also, Gary Garner, assistant coach of the Iowa Energy, took the head coaching job at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota.

As far as I can tell, that leaves an opening for a new staff in Tulsa, Fort Wayne, Springfield, Portland and an assistant job open in Iowa.  That's about 10 positions that are currently open for D-League coaching.  What exactly should they be looking for to fill these spots?  Check after the jump!

To effectively coach in the D-League, there are three major requirements:

A familiarity with the D-League system of acquiring players or ability to not be easily frustrated.  The D-League system can be described many different ways, depending on where you've coached.  It's simple - the D-League signs players, coaches just say "I want this player" and Boom! He's on his way to Boise.  It's complex - "Well, we already have 4 'A' level salaries, but our affiliate really likes him.  We're not at the top of the waiver wire anyway, so we have no chance.  Wait, what if we do a sign and trade?"  It's much easier than other minor leagues - Chris Alpert signs players during the season that have the skills needed to play in the D-League, so all you have to do is send an email and that player is yours.  It's so much harder than other minor leagues - "Well, I'd love for you to come play for me, but we're number 11 on the waiver wire.  Just sit at home until next month, hope for 10 guys to come into the league worth acquiring off the waiver wire, and you can come back up here if you really wanna play for us."  That's not even getting into the confounded allocation process.

Previous minor league playing/coaching experience.  This just makes sense.  To get players to actually buy into the D-League system, a coach has to have previously demonstrated the ability of getting from the minor's to the major's.  This is well documented on the assistant coaches bio's in the D-League: The still Single with a capital 'S' Deane Martin bio says he had hands on action action developing Lou Amundson, Tony Fritz has coached Raja Bell and Ronny Turiaf, Randy Livingston and Darvin Ham went undrafted but had a decent NBA career, Casey Owens developed many players while he was in Dakota, and the list goes on.  If the coach doesn't have extensive minor league experience, he's probably not the right coach for the D-League, where players are going to want to play for someone that can teach them how to make the jump.

The ability to adjust on the run.  This might be the hardest thing to accurately hire for, but I'm sure the guys doing the hiring try to get a feel for this as well.  In the D-League, players leave for more money overseas, NBA call-ups and injuries.  With just 10 players, players that are gone mean a new player has to come in to fill his spot.  Plus, with the D-League constantly bringing in new players, a coach has to be ready to radically alter his team if a great player comes in while his team is at the top of the waiver wire (Quincy Douby to Erie was one I saw mentioned this season).  There's also the issue of NBA-assigned players.  It's not easy to keep the chemistry going through all of that, I'm sure.

Even if a coach possesses all of those skills, he still has to have a good basketball mind.  Pretty self-explanatory.

Looking at the two firings this postseason, it looks to me like either Woolpert wasn't familiar enough with the D-League system of acquiring players or he wasn't able to effectively deal with injuries and NBA-assignments; as for Jackson, he didn't integrate the Pistons players well in their brief time in Fort Wayne, but I'd also have to question his coaching ability, as it's tough to finish last in the division with two all-star's on the team.

In a round about way, this is what I'm telling you D-League coach hirerer's: Hire from within the D-League or look at guys with past D-League experience.  Joey Meyer and Michael Sanders come to mind, as they dominated in Asheville.  Randy Livingston will be getting a head coaching job, as he's effectively demonstrated his coaching abilities both as a player and coach.  

Other hirings will come down to how many openings there end up being.  Will Quin Snyder get a call-up to the Spurs?  Is Jay Humphries going to get a look with the Suns?  Will Duane Ticknor hang up his suit?  Where will the Colorado coaches end up?  This will be an interesting offseason of coaching changes, to say the least.

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