A Terrible thing just happened....so now what?
Coaching is nowhere near simply knowing your Time and Score Situations inside and out, have a sound substitution pattern to maximize your players' energy levels, have a solid X and O portfolio, knowing how to structure your practice plans so that it flows well while touching on all the important things your team needs to refine or knowing when to help the refs do their jobs better (yeah I went there). There are so many times in a game that high character leadership must come before all of that. This video is by far the best example of how to NEVER have your team leave a huddle after a terrible mistake and it does not matter what level of play we are talking about.
Yes George Hill should have hit his second foul shot. Yes JR Smith should have known what the situation was on a make or a miss. But the shot was missed and the NBA (Next Best Action) move from JR did not happen or from Tyronn Lue with a miss timeout situation. We can all pick that apart like there's no tomorrow. But what I want to focus on is, what was happening, or more importantly, not happening on that Cavs bench after the terrible thing.
Coaching as mentioned before, has so very little to do with the focus of this timeout from the coaching staff (the next play). In this situation, togetherness as a unit needed to be the NBA move. It is painful to watch the Cavs completely fall apart from a messed up moment. All that needed to happen (not to over simplify) was for someone to step up and get that group to move on together from the bad moment. Not to let that one moment kill their chances to regroup and play inspired basketball for game two. But it is not at all what happened. Instead, the coach waited until there was just about no time left in his timeout before joining his team and showed, in my opinion, a weak way to confront the situation that really needed to be addressed- togetherness. George Hill needed to hear and feel from someone that he will get a shot again. To not worry about it. He needed to be given energy. Nothing like that happened. Instead, everyone stayed silent and just got sucked into the terrible moment. You will notice Kyle Korver speak up and Smith seemed to snap out of it. Then he touches Hill (touching is a big deal in energy giving) and Hill seems to snap out of it. But again, far too much time elapse and both players fall into the negativity of the moment. Where is Lue....why is every single coach silent not doing a thing to help keep everyone's minds away from going dark and yes, Lebron should have stepped up as well to try and get his guys going again. But, the terrible moment was sealed when Lue finally gets to the huddle and admits that they had a timeout left but did not call it. Smith and Hill want one more crack at it but the negative energy from their player leader was too much. This to me was the moment that buried the Cavs in that series. Not to take away the plan the Warriors had in place to beat them.
What needed to happen is not taught in any coaching course I have ever heard of. Nobody talks about these situations in coaching clinics. But they are MASSIVE to building teams, togetherness and a trust culture.
1- Leadership starts at the top.
The Head Coach needs to tackle every difficult situation head on. Be true! Head Coaches are human and they make mistakes just like anybody else. Thinking about oneself when you have players that need you is to me, the worse mistake you can possibly make (forget about missing a timeout call). Be there for your players ALWAYS AND NO MATTER WHAT! (I have made the mistake of not being there in hard times. It will never happen again).
2- Player leadership
It is critical to any successful team. The best player does not always need to be that person. It can be anybody really. But most of the time, the guy (or girl) that has a relentless work ethic within his or her team will have the ability to get everyone's attention. But when a player's leadership is being manifested, it needs to be supported by his peers and by the coaching staff.
It sounds odd but the touch makes it personal. It says "I'm with you". It helps tremendously to snap the mind out of the funk it is in or it helps keep it right where it needs to be. Tap on the leg, shoulder grab, hard hand squeeze, etc are all tremendous for showing a high care level.
Coaches need to work on these skills as well as all the other stuff they need to be able to do in a blink of an eye.