View Full Version : Iron-fisted Karl demands more toughness from Nuggets

10-26-2008, 08:29 AM
Iron-fisted ruler
Karl demands more toughness from Nuggets in 2008-09

...Yet this season, Nuggets fans wonder what kind of coach Karl will be. He has promised change. Demanded it, really, saying he's going to rule with an iron fist following a fourth consecutive first-round playoff exit under his watch.

"A little more hammer-oriented than democracy-oriented," said Karl, 57. "The players were told in the summertime that I'm not happy. And does that mean I'm volatile? No. Does that mean I'm going to do something crazy? No. And I think deep down inside, most of them agree with me.

"Yeah, we've had success, but we're not happy. And happiness has to come with more determination, commitment and professionalism. And the coaching staff, they've been challenged. Everybody's on call to get better."

Skeptics wonder if Karl, having coached one way in Denver, can change the culture of the Nuggets. And, can he change his style and still have players buy in?

As for the latter, all-star forward Anthony said: "I don't think a coach can change his ways after four years. It's kind of hard to snap your fingers and all your ways are changed. I think it comes more from the players letting him coach, rather than us going out there and trying to play and coach at the same time. He don't have to change so much."

So, what about changing the team's culture?

"Certain things have changed it's making sure that we have our discipline on each and every play, in each and every game," said forward Kenyon Martin, who arguably has the strongest personality on the roster. "We're just playing harder guys are coming in all business, which we haven't done a lot in the past."

Follow the rules . . . or sit

Karl might yell more (as Martin has noticed this fall) and Karl might carry himself more like a dictator, but coaches don't completely change their styles overnight. The guy's been at it, after all, since Melo was in a crib. So the idea of a new sheriff in town is, to use Karl's one-time description of J.R. Smith's shot selection, "fantasy land."

But the 2008-09 version of Karl is "standing his ground," Martin said, teaching more and preaching less. Karl has previously lamented that Denver "cheated the game" by cutting corners on fundamentals, just because it could win a game by outshooting its opponent.

This season, Karl's lessons are about learning from the past.

"We (didn't) do the little things every day," he said, "and those little things win playoff games."

And, after watching endless game footage from last season, Karl deciphered two things he demands his team improve upon:

1) "Our shot selection gave up points because bad shots, quick shots and challenged shots created good offense for the opposing team."

2) "Our transition balance and transition retreats were poor, and the commitment was average at best."

And so, this season: "If you break those rules, I don't know how lenient I'm going to be (toward) playing you," Karl said.

Martin said he's seen changes in the preseason, such as players getting benched for taking ill-advised shots. It's not zero tolerance, but less "hero" tolerance.

How Karl handles Smith, who took two ridiculous last-second shots in preseason games this month, will be fascinating to watch. After each of those games, Karl verbally lambasted his gunning guard, questioning Smith's desire to make good team decisions in crunch time. Will Karl keep him on the bench in clutch situations once the games count?

It was Karl, after all, who said on the first day of training camp he had "no desire" to be liked.

"The game of basketball and coaching in the NBA, it's far from what you all think it is," he said. "There's more battles, confrontation and anger on a daily basis ego management than ever before. You have to evaluate the makeup of your team, the makeup of your leadership. But coaching isn't a game of 'like.' I don't know if they want me to like them and I don't know if I want them to like me."

The Nuggets' defense last season was abysmal. "Blame it on coaching," Karl said.

Yes, the focus in previous preseasons was on defense, but in this preseason Karl took it to an extreme. Players said that in the first week of training camp they didn't even work on offense.

Karl has used practice to teach ball pressure, defensive denial, double-teaming and defending the pick-and-roll. In preseason games, the Nuggets have used aggressive full-court traps on occasion. Newcomers such as Dahntay Jones, Chris Andersen and Renaldo Balkman are seemingly better at the defensive end. Overall, the Nuggets seem hungrier on defense.

"This year's team has more George Karl personality to it than any team I've coached here in Denver," Karl said. "It has more guys that want to be mean and angry than cool and pretty."

Sounds great in October.

Will the Nuggets follow through in April?

Consistency imperative

The key for Karl making good on his get-tough approach, fellow coaches believe, is being consistent day to day. Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman played for Bob Knight at Indiana and now leads an impressionable team with little pro experience.

"It's not so much how 'hard' you are, it's just that you're consistent in what your disciplines are," Wittman said. "Can you scream and yell every day? No. But you have to be consistent with how you do things. You can't let things slide one day and then come down on it the next day, because they won't know what to expect."

Former NBA coach Doug Collins said: "The big thing for George is if he still has the passion and love to do it. If you're going to coach in the NBA, then you'd better have a tremendous burning in your gut and love what you're doing, otherwise it's just going to beat you down."

Martin has been through highs and lows with Karl including a spectacular "low" when he was benched during the 2006 playoffs. As for Karl's new approach, Martin said: "You can't overdo it on this level, because you have grown men, you don't have kids. But you still have to stand your ground and be stern and I think he's doing that." denverpost (http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_10816413?source=rss)

10-26-2008, 11:04 AM
hmm, ya know, everything hes said so far has pretty much been really good this preseason. im beginning to be a believer, especially with their performance in the preseason games, and the starters werent even playing half the time. that tell me we have great role players, Birdman has been huge for us, almost better than Nene (in terms of numbers) and there is alotmore energy this year, im thinkin we are going to be way better than last season, idk about championship yet, but im thinkin like WCF for sure against the Rockets. Us a 6 seed and them a 2 seed

10-26-2008, 01:08 PM
got to love that talk..however we have been showing it during the pre-season, especially with our role players stepping up. but that is pre-season lets prove it on wednesday.

10-26-2008, 01:58 PM
I cant wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10-26-2008, 01:59 PM
denverpost (http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_10816413?source=rss)

I cant wait!!!!!!!!!!! :jumpy:

10-26-2008, 03:29 PM
Greatest article i've read thus far this year.....I'm glad Karl is standin his ground, and i'm happy to hear players still feel bad about them 1st round exits...Hopefully it fuels their ambition.

10-26-2008, 03:41 PM
ya, i hope it does too

10-26-2008, 05:38 PM
I like it also. Thinking this may be the first time I believe some of the preseason coaching talk, since the results showed a little in preseason, and the players seem to support the defensive focus. We really have the guys to play physical down low and hopefully pressure the ball on the perimeter.

I need to wake up and have it be Wednesday

10-27-2008, 02:16 AM
Karl: Critics wrong, passion still strong

He doesn't yell and scream from the bench the way he once did. But Nuggets coach George Karl said that shouldn't lead anybody to believe his passion has waned.

"I don't think anybody enjoys the gym as much as I do," Karl said.

Nevertheless, there has been speculation whether Karl still has great passion for coaching. An anonymous scout told Sports Illustrated "it doesn't look like George Karl is into coaching this team."

In a conference call last week, TNT analyst and former coach Doug Collins said the Nuggets last season "were so loose with everything" it hurt them in the playoffs.

"The big thing for George is if he still has the passion and love to do it," Collins said. "If you're going to coach in the NBA, then you'd better have a tremendous burning in your gut and love what you're doing, otherwise it's just going to beat you down."

Karl said he's not as emotional as he once was during games. But he said he has been that way since coaching Milwaukee from 1998-2003.

"I don't know why Doug gets validity, because he never sees our practices and he doesn't see our team very much," Karl said. "I'm sure it's just from hearsay. I know that was kind of a blog gig about my cancer (prostate in 2005) that . . . I'm not taking the job home with me. I feel really good about this year. . . . I can't deny at times over the last two or three years this team has been hard and difficult to coach."rocky (http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/oct/26/karl-critics-wrong-passion-still-strong/?partner=RSS)

10-27-2008, 04:46 PM
Haha! The Iron-Fisted Rule of George Karl. I love to hear this stuff, but I am gonna hold my breath until December. I remember feeling pretty disheartned by Karl's presence (or lack of presence) during frustrating games last season.

I do believe that the players sound more serious about stepping up this year. I also think that karl believes it. I just need to see him take some control, and get a little pissed off during a few games. yell at a few players, yell at a few refs, take that Iron Fist and put it use Karl.

10-27-2008, 09:46 PM
Well, Coby just got waived, so hopefully that will help him focus on the Nuggets.

10-27-2008, 10:36 PM
and make him more of a hard ironed fisted jerk so they work harder, lol

10-28-2008, 10:54 AM
Hope its true. Cause honestly, I would fire Karl if the nuggets don't mae it out of the 1sr round this season - they just don't believe in the guy.

10-30-2008, 12:38 AM
I must say, I saw it tonight...KARL was into the game...He was acting in a way, that I wasn't familiar with.

10-30-2008, 03:20 PM
Tip of the hat to Karl last night. he actually looked emotionally invested in the players' decisions, the ref's gaffes, and the overall conduct of the game. I'm happy, Karl. Keep it up :clap:

10-30-2008, 07:27 PM
Yeah it was nice to see him busting the refs butts instead of busting about 20 breath mints.

Angrier coaches get more results from players, and less bad calls against them. I like what I seen from his actions, and the team's actions tool.