Friday, June 1, 2007

Feelin' For Flip .... Kinda

I like Flip Saunders. No coach in Wolves history has had near the success he had. Imagine what Flip could have accomplished in Minny had someone more competent then Kevin McHale was running the basketball operations.

That said, Flip Saunders was, in fact, an idiot last night. I agree with much of what was written at the Michigan blog MGOBLOG. LeBron James, for the first time last night I am willing to admit, is the next coming of Michael Jordan. Many others have tried to make claim to that mantle, but LeBron is the only one to have displayed greatness on this stage. My rooting interest in this series if for Minnesota alum Flip Saunders. But, I have to say, he erred in his defensive tactics--defense, of course, always being Flip's weakness. Here's what the Detroit partisans are saying.

Consider this: on the last Cleveland possession, Ilgauskas, Gooden, and Daniel Gibson had fouled out. Larry Hughes' foot had held him out the entire second half. On the floor with Lebron were Donyell Marshall, Anderson Varejao, Sasha Pavlovic, and Eric Snow (or Damon Jones? I forget, does it matter?). Saunders' brilliant idea: put a point guard on the guy who had scored the last 23 points and give him no help whatsoever. This was also his brilliant idea -- except it was Tayshaun Prince left alone -- on the final two Cavs possessions of regulation, both of which ended in thunderous Lebron dunks.

All of the above is true. With Chauncey Billups doing his best to stay in position to challenge a LeBron jumper, Jordan's heir appaarent drove right by. What did the rest of the Pistons defenders do? Not much, really. They waved their arms a tad and really didn't make James' winning layup all that difficult. Don't believe me? Just watch:

While Minnesota reporters, alumni and fans clamored for Flip to leave Detroit to coach his alma mater, Piston fans would have been pleased to see him go. In a long, interesting post on the Flip Saunders experience in Detroit, the blog The Wayne Fontes Experience takes Flip to task.

The only men more hated [in Detroit] is the 'stache running the Lions, and Tigers relief pitcher gas can Jose Mesa. There is no one left to defend Flip Saunders in Detroit. Not that he had many defenders left before last night, but after the LeBron debacle, Flip doesn't stand a chance in the court of public opinion. His only hope is in the backing of Joe Dumars and Pistons owner Bill Davidson, and nobody's talking in Auburn Hills.Not that James was going to be denied, but Saunders has done nothing, especially in this series, to convince an already skeptical fan base that he is the long-term solution. Then again, there is no such thing as a long-term Detroit Pistons head coach, but that's another post.
For a Detroit sports figure, being compared to 'the 'stache running the Lions,' known outside Detroit as Matt Millen of draft-a-receiver-every-year-fame, is not a good thing.

I was rooting for Flip last night. He did well by us here in Minnesota, leading the Wolves to the conference finals, something they didn't sniff before his arrival and won't again until McHale is long gone as well. In the end, Gopher fans, perhaps it was best that we landed Tubby Smith and Detroit fans can suffer through complicated horrendus team defense.