I read a comment in one of the DBB threads recently - make yourself known in the comments whoever you are! - that wondered whether Stan Van Gundy was the wrong type of coach for such a young group of players. Perhaps his hard-nosed, confrontational style would work better with a group of veterans who could take it and feed off of it. Perhaps the Pistons were in need of a softer, player’s coach type who could work better with fragile young egos.
An few comments made after Wednesday’s loss to the Bulls by both Stan and his players (from an ESPN article by Nick Friedell) seemed to point toward a real concern that this question may actually be incredibly valid:
"You say so many things," Van Gundy said. "I don't have any idea [what is or isn't getting through]. Clearly, we're not playing well. It's either the message isn't sinking in or it's not a good enough message or the teaching isn't good enough."
Stan has been very open in saying he doesn’t get why his players aren’t playing better. He even is willing to take part of the blame. But the thing that makes the player/coach divide - a divide seemingly between expectation and reality - unbridgeable right now is how differently the extent and severity of the problems are viewed by Stan and his own players. Especially his franchise center:
"I trust my guys," Drummond said. "We're a good group of guys here that are willing to put the work in and willing to fight for what we believe in. We believe that we're a really good team. We believe that we belong in the playoffs. It's going to take a lot of work now. We don't have any room for error right now. We're going to need to win quite a few games to put ourselves in a position to get back in the playoffs again; so we have what it takes to be there, so we're going to do it."
That does not sound like a player who is worried or even capable of being worried to the level Stan obviously is and a franchise player should be. That’s a “yeah, no big deal” of an answer. And well, I’d argue it is a big deal. A huge deal.
And Stan thinks so too:
Van Gundy issued a warning to his team.
"The message I gave them is, 'Look, we got 10 games left," he said. "And if we don't change the way we're playing, this is going to get really, really ugly.
That warning is potentially a thinly-veiled threat of ugly meaning missing the playoffs or ugly meaning say goodbye to this team as you know it. Because Stan Van Gundy the GM is reworking this team for Stan Van Gundy the coach this summer.
Or in other words, if the original premise of this article is that Stan Van Gundy is the wrong coach for these players then your options are simple: hire a new coach or get new players.