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News » Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2008-04-30

Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2008-04-30

Charlotte Bobcats Getting Inside 2008-04-30
When unrealistic expectation meets early misfortune, you get the Bobcats.

This team was full of false confidence at the end of last season, and their new coach, Sam Vincent, fed to that from the day he was introduced to Charlotte, saying he'd be "very discouraged and disappointed" if his team didn't reach the playoffs for the first time this season. Then Vincent trumped himself, saying just before training camp that the playoffs weren't enough; the Bobcats should shoot for home-court advantage in the first round.

In reality, the Bobcats' playoff chances were in intensive care by February. And Vincent was fired on April 26.

Losing Adam Morrison and Sean May in the preseason (both with knee injuries) didn't help the Bobcats' cause, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Even in a severely-weakened Eastern Conference, they didn't play a meaningful game in April. The Philadelphia 76ers reached the playoffs, and did anyone think the Sixers were more talented in November than the Bobcats?

The coach's inexperience showed frequently and tellingly. His rotations were often fickle, if not erratic. More than once, he ripped the players in ways they found mystifying. An example: In Toronto, after a loss to the Raptors, he hypothesized his players weren't getting enough sleep or eating the right food -- even though, in their first three seasons, the Bobcats' one great strength was extraordinary hustle and professionalism.

Players might not have said so publicly, but many of them lost faith in Vincent's judgment. He seemed too quick to yank people in and out of the rotation and deflect blame. This was in stark contrast to Vincent's predecessor, Bernie Bickerstaff, who was always accountable for his own mistakes and fostered a sense of commonality among the players.

Bickerstaff's teams improved consistently over three seasons. Vincent took a step back from Bickerstaff's work, both in team record and in long-term player development. For those reasons, his firing shouldn't be a great surprise. New coach Larry Brown can't help but be a huge improvement, obviously.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: For the second straight season, the Bobcats did their best work against the Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, it was a triple-overtime victory in Charlotte, in which the Bobcats fouled Kobe Bryant out of the game. This time it was a March visit to Los Angeles, and the Bobcats so frustrated Bryant that night he was ejected with two technical fouls, the second for kicking a ball at a referee.

TURNING POINT: They knew (because of college basketball commitments at their arena) that 26 of their last 41 would be played on the road. They never built sufficient momentum in November and December to overcome that schedule imbalance, and four straight losses out west -- Sacramento, Golden State, Denver and Phoenix -- did them in during early February.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 30, 2008


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