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Is Michael Curry doing too much?

Chris McCosky thinks so:

Essentially, it comes down to this: He's making the classic rookie mistake. He's doing what every great coach from John Wooden to Red Auerbach forever warned young coaches against - overcoaching. He's micromanaging just about every offensive and defensive possession, the effect of which is to paralyze his ballclub.

Take the loss to the Rockets on Sunday as an example. From what I could gather, he was trying to have his team guard pick-and-rolls one way on the strong side of the floor and a different way on the weak side. No wonder the players looked dazed and confused out there. I mean, when you can make intelligent, high basketball-IQ players like Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace look like they don't know where they're supposed to be on the court, you are doing something wrong.

[...] That said, don't quit on Mike Curry. I truly believe he's going to figure it out. He's coaching like he played - aggressively, almost manically, trying to give every ounce of himself on every play. It allowed him to carve out a 12-year playing career, but it will kill him as a coach. And I think he knows it. Over time, he will calm himself and learn to let his players breathe.

I agree with just about everything McCosky is saying, including the parts I didn't quote (I suggest you read it all). When it comes to rookie players, you hear coaches talk all the time about what mistakes the players are making making and what aspects of the game they're improving upon as the season progresses. And as fans, we're generally more willing to excuse mistakes from a young player than a wily veteran, knowing that in time those mistakes will help them become better players.

But rookie head coaches? That's a different story. Most fans treat coaches like a finished product. General managers don't go on TV and dissect their coach's performance each night -- and that's probably a good thing.

It's not a perfect analogy (it's easy to look at a box score and see what a player accomplished; it's absolutely impossible to measure what degree a team's success is due to coaching), but you see my point.

A similar argument was made in the comments last week by James B:

I’m surprised at how many of you are taking the ridiculous stance that this wasn’t a tough position for Curry to be in. You compare him to Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, and Greg Popovich as if Michael Curry is a coach with years of coaching experience dealing with superstars and managing a roster.

He doesn’t. He’s a rookie coach who was expecting to go this season with a lineup that was proven and tested and two games into the season, that goes right out the window.

His rock steady PG is replaced by AI, and one of the most effective backcourts is destroyed.

On top of that he loses McDyess, by far the best big off the bench for a month.

Finally, I guarantee you that Popovich’s decision to move Ginobili to the bench last season was not an easy one even for Pop…and Ginobli isn’t even an all-star. To try and decide between a future hall of famer and a 2 time all-star is quite different than the position Pop was in anyways.

This was not an easy decision, it was not an easy position for Curry to be in, and the fact that we’ve heard almost nothing from Joe D. on any of this only puts more pressure on Curry to explain his actions…something a rookie coach would have little experience in.

You guys have come to expect perfection from coaches in Detroit when no coach has ever brought us a perfect world. LB brought us a perfect season, but screwed it up the next year. Flip brought us regular season dominance at the cost of postseason glory, and Curry is a rookie coach who needs to learn to manage his roster.

If anything, I’d say this entire situation has forced Curry to grow as a coach much faster than any of us should expect.

Does this mean Curry deserves a free pass? Not at all. Rodney Stuckey is allowed to make mistakes because we know that players with his potential come around only once every several years. But coaches? They're largely disposable, not just in Detroit (10 coaches in the last 18 years) but across the league (two of the last three Coach of the Year winners are looking for work).

At the same time, you have to start from somewhere. Popovich was 17-47 his first year on the sidelines; Jerry Sloan, 30-52; George Karl, 36-46; Stan Van Gundy, 42-40; Chuck Daly, 9-32. (I'm cherry-picking, of course. Pat Riley and Phil Jackson had instant success, but they both had multiple Hall of Fame players in the prime at their disposable.)

Coaching is a skill that can only be honed with experience, and if Curry doesn't finish the the year a better coach than when he started, I'm guessing he won't be around very long. But no matter what anyone thinks of the job he's done so far, he's going to get that chance.