During a seven-game losing streak, it’s easy for a team to blow up by virtue of finger-pointing. It can be evident on the court sometimes; when there are collapses on the defensive end or bad passes, missed shots on offense, the New York Knicks tend to look at each other in frustration. It’s a natural tendency, but it’s a dangerous one, too, especially for a 3-11 team that is failing to meet expectations in about every regard.
However, despite an iffy coaching job 14 games into the season, Mike Woodson is trying his best to keep control of the Knicks’ locker room. According to a report from the New York Daily News, Woodson still has a firm grasp over his team:
The Knicks’ head coach was in the middle of an answer when Tyson Chandler interrupted the press conference. The injured center, whose loss has proven to be devastating, shook hands with Woodson and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving.
It was a small show of support from a respected veteran and yet it was a telling scene. Besides all the losing, the silliest moment of the past week for the Knicks was when Woodson, during his weekly radio address, felt the need to say that he hasn’t lost the locker room.
Has he lost Iman Shumpert? That is open for debate. But the entire group? Nah. In fact, Woodson is taking preemptive steps to keep the team together.
Frank Isola also adds this tidbit into the report, a very encouraging sign:
In separate post-game interviews, both Shumpert and Stoudemire said the lack of ball movement is what hurt the Knicks.
That is usually basketball code for “Melo won’t pass.” Woodson and Anthony seemed to take it that way, and the head coach wasn’t about to allow finger-pointing to invade his locker room.
According to a source, Woodson actually played MSG Network’s tape of Shumpert’s and Stoudemire’s comments and told his team, “If you have a problem with anyone, say it to their face, not the media.” That’s leadership.
Again, Woodson’s coaching has been below-average at best this season. He’s played poor combinations of players, failed to utilize lineups proven successful, mismanaged players, and demonstrated a lacking sense for in-game adjustments. Nonetheless, keeping the team together and maintaining control is critical going forward.
At some point, the Knicks’ losing streak will end (hopefully), and the next most important thing is how they rebound afterwards. Can they string together more than a handful of wins to get some traction? Is this poor start just some really rough growing pains? If there’s any hope for the season turning around, then there can’t be any dysfunction in the locker room, and currently, there’s been hints of that happening. Calling out Stoudemire and Shumpert in front of the team is a great move in terms of keeping everyone responsible for their actions.
Tonight is the last game of the month of November. Having these types of struggles early, the first month of the season, is understandable, and truly good teams can rebound from it. Woodson’s coaching has left a lot to be desired, but he’s typically been good at managing personalities, and if he can keep the locker room from faltering, then this team is talented enough to get back on track.
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