Team Division and the New Piston Culture

[Note by Matt Watson: Front-paged for awesomeness. Thanks for the thoughts, tads. ]

Finding things to cheer for as a Pistons fan can be difficult this season, especially with our wins that "don't even feel like wins" and losses that tear your heart out. More than that, what is most fearful is the threat of our team being torn apart with, coaches pitted against players, and old players pitted against new players. It can seem really sad to watch this ugly, contentious brand of basketball from a team that is normally prided on team work.

The only positive for this team is the future, as it has been for perhaps the last three seasons. In this future the Pistons will build around the startlingly effective offensive of Ben Gordon and CV and the promise of rookies (ed. note: and/or second-year players) like Austin Daye. As disappointing as it may be to cheer for a team with all of these problems it must be harder for these players to play successfully with all of the other stuff going on. That's what makes me glad about this quote which I stole from a Piston Powered post, originally from Detroit News

The Pistons started 0-5, punctuated by a listless performance against the Celtics that featured his tête-à-tête with Kevin Garnett and the drama that ensued from Kuester calling the team out.

Tayshaun Prince took exception, and it looked like the ship was sinking again — and the second-year guys, Villanueva, Ben Gordon and Austin Daye were center stage.

But the trio went out to dinner, cleared the air and vowed no matter what happened, they weren't going to be the problem.

Since then, the Pistons have won four of five.

It seems like the CV - BG combo are currently the central force behind what will become our new nucleus. I think the two of them took this year very seriously, but without the "entitled former star" attitude surrounding Rip and Tayshaun. They have been putting in lunch pail types of performances and have been playing Piston like (except for BG's defense and CV's rebounding). If Austin Daye has joined them and has been working hard since, it shows. His game has been much better since the dinner, some would say it's 'Terry Mills-esque' or better.

In an article about our losing slump which discussed "a locker room where there’s an obvious division between the old guard (Prince and Rip Hamilton) and the new guard," I wonder how much longer it is until this new guard dominates the locker room, and if that could be the lockerroom ethic that will be our first step towards glory. I imagine the old guard as the dark side, using their previous accomplishments not for good but evil. I also imagine a number of people are in the middle deciding between the apathy of the veterans and the fearlessness of the new guys. I see a few people being very big in deciding their allegiance, Stuckey, T-Mac and Big Ben namely. You have to wonder if they would rather play in the wide open offense of the future, or the Iso oriented offense of the past. Whether they realize that relying too much on the defense of the past is preventing the learning that the defense of the future needs.

Ultimately, this philosophical battle will be waged in the wins column, and the wins right now are on the side of the young players. (Check out B Gulker's new blog for more detail in this regard). Let's hope the right people are victorious.

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