Thursday, April 1, 2010
Pistons P.R. Guy: I'd like to thank everybody for coming out this afternoon for the 2009-10 Year in Review with our head coach, John Kuester. The coach is here to answer any questions you may have about this past season. Let's begin.
Reporter: Coach, can you explain to us what happened with Ben Gordon this year? Twelve months ago, the guy was on top of the basketball world, leading the Bulls during what was quite possibly the best opening-round playoff series in NBA history. He blew up for 42 one night, 33 in the Game 7 loss, and seemed to have more confidence than anybody on the court. So how is it that in the span of one 82-game schedule, you were able to completely shatter Ben's confidence and also surgically remove any semblance of a soul that he had left?
Coach Kuester: Well, it wasn't easy, I'll tell you that. It all starts by making his role as unclear as possible. When Ben walked into the arena this year, he had no idea whether he'd be getting 35 minutes or 13. Maybe I'd throw him in the starting lineup, maybe not. He would have no idea until the game got going. Those things are crucial to removing a player's confidence. Also, I would often give him a quick hook if his first couple shots didn't go down. There is no way a guy will play to the best of his abilities when he's got that nervous feeling in the back of his mind, so that was very important as well. And let's not forget the instrumental contributions from Ben's ankle and groin, which he was able to borrow on loan this year from Joe Theismann and Nomar Garciaparra, respectively. Currently, Gentle Ben has gone 18 straight games without reaching the 20 point mark, which is by far a personal best for him after six years in the league. This is a guy that shot over 40% from 3-point land every year of his career; this year he's below 30. Going forward, we will just try to keep his role completely undefined like it has been all year, and frankly, just continue to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible whenever he steps foot on the court.
Reporter: Hey Kue, how important is it for you guys to finish last in the league in free throw shooting? I know you've been dead last for most of the year, and now you sit in 29th, one spot ahead of the Cavs for this honor. Wouldn't it be nice for your team to accomplish something this year??
Coach Kuester: Yes, obviously we are well aware of that race and are doing everything possible to finish the job. Make no mistake about it, we want this record. Haven't you noticed the increased burn for Kwame Brown lately? That's not an accident. The guy is an atrocious free thrower and that's earned him extended minutes. We aren't even in this race without his 5-for-20 effort in March, and his horrifying 35% on the year. Sometimes it looks like Kwame is trying to see if he can actually shatter the glass with one of his attempts, and lemme tell you something, I really hope the kid does it. You work that hard at something, you want to see results. One thing that has hurt us is the injury to Ben Wallace. He really had been so painfully bad at the line this year, and we've truly missed that 39% down the stretch. Who can forget the night that Gregg Popovich went to the Hack-a-Ben, and I left him in there to shoot 10 fourth quarter free throws??? You can't pay for memories like that. We just have to keep doing what we're doing, and hope Cleveland starts hitting a few. I mean, who does Antawn Jamison think he is, getting traded to the best team in the East and then transforming into a 46 percent foul shooter?? We won't stand for tank jobs like that. It might take putting Jason Maxiell (59%) at point guard and slashing Ben Gordon's (84%) minutes even further, but trust me, when all is said and done, we will be the worst free-throw shooting team in the National Basketball Association. You can quote me on that.
Reporter: The Pistons' trainer, Mike Abdenour, has been with the team for 31 years. He also happens to look just like the iconic Nintendo character Mario. But that being said, the team has suffered countless injuries this year and rarely has the full lineup been available. At what point do you cut the umbilical cord here, Coach?
Coach Kuester: It's a very tricky situation with Mr. Abdenour. Putting all our cards on the table here, I will tell you that we have fired Mike after each of the last three seasons. We clean out his office, give him a pink slip, and escort him out of the building. But I'll be darned, when we open training camp the following season, the little fella is right back on the bench, stuffing himself into that Youth Small sweater vest and cleaning Rip Hamilton's face mask. In a few weeks, we will bring in Bowser and Koopa Troopa, remove all mushrooms from the facility, and try to let him go again, but it likely will not matter. Mario never goes down without a fight.
Reporter: John, it seemed like Charlie Villanueva was starting to come on a bit of late. He had three straight games scoring in double figures and was finally beginning to display a consistent human pulse. But then you played him just five minutes in Sunday's loss to Chicago. Is there any truth to the rumor that you are planning to install an actual dog house at the end of your bench next season for Charlie V to crawl into when he is not in the game?
Coach Kuester: Yes, that is true, and I'll tell ya what, we are very excited about the possibilities with this. Joe Dumars and I have been spending a lot of our free time at IKEA looking at all kinds of different models and designs, and we think Charlie is really going to be happy with the end result. There's one particular dog house that we think will be perfect. It has enough space for a sleeping bag, a pillow, and a little shelf for an alarm clock. That way, Charlie can get some good rest when he's not playing, while also remaining perfectly clueless as to the flow and direction of the game out on the floor. I can call him out of the dog house, throw him in the game, and he can go jack up senseless 25-footers with no real idea of who's winning or how much time is left. It's essentially the same situation we have now; this would just make it official. A win-win for everybody involved.
Reporter: Coach, Rodney Stuckey is about to complete his third NBA season and he is still light years away from being a legitimate NBA point guard. Is there a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, or should we just politely accept the fact that he's never gonna be more than a glorified version of Robert Pack?
Coach Kuester: Rodney is really coming along as a point guard, and with a couple more years of tutelage under Chucky Atkins- hold on, I just threw up in my mouth a little- we think he will become one of the top assist guys in the whole league. Here's who Rodney is, in a nutshell. He's at a kid's birthday party at a bowling alley. The last frames are rolled and the pizza is being delivered to the tables over by the Claw Grabber machines. Rodney darts over before anyone else can get there, helps himself to the three largest slices of the pie, and sits down to enjoy his Za. Once he has devoured every last morsel of cheese, sauce, and crust, he will then go find the birthday boy: he will help him scrounge up any remaining grub, refill his glass of Coke, and make sure all the presents are up front and accounted for so the gift opening process can go on without a hitch. His ultimate reaction was all well and good, but it was not his first reaction. His initial move was to help himself to the pizza, fill up his own belly, and then go forward in helping his buddy out. That's not the behavior of a true point guard. Steve Nash wants to hook up Amare, Richardson, and everybody else. Then he will look for his own offense; but still, never at the expense of getting his own teammates involved. Unfortunately, we are still teaching Rodney these essential skills, and like I said, Chucky Atkins remains heavily involved in this process. Uhh, you're gonna have to excuse me...I think I'm gonna be sick.
Drop a thought on Kuester and the Pistons, or send me an E-mail at email@example.com