Woody: NY's struggles 'all on my shoulders'
March, 6, 2014
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesMike Woodson believes he can win with any group of players, and these Knicks are no exception.If you're looking for someone to blame for the Knicks' miserable season, Mike Woodson has a candidate for you.
"I put it all on my shoulders," Woodson said Thursday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show.
"I’ve always thought as a coach, and most coaches probably feel the same way, you need talent to win, you need healthy bodies to win. But I’ve kinda gotten past that," Woodson added. "I think I can take whoever suits up and win with it. That’s just how I feel."
In the interview, Woodson noted that injuries have played a "major part" in the Knicks' struggles this season, one that he called the "most challenging" in his nine-year head-coaching tenure.
New York has lost Tyson Chandler for 20 games due to an injury. Raymond Felton has been in and out of the lineup due to various ailments. J.R. Smith started slowly due to offseason knee surgery, Iman Shumpert has had knee issues, and Kenyon Martin has missed more than three weeks with an ankle injury.
"It’s been hard to put a team on the floor and have any kind of chemistry all season long. It’s just been that way," Woodson said. "Not being able to practice based on all the bodies being in and out, not having 10 guys on the floor to go up and down in practice, it’s been a lot this season."
All NBA teams deal with injuries, though. And not all have dealt with them as poorly as the Knicks. New York is 18 games under .500 and 5½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 games to go.
Smith and Ruocco pointed out that the Chicago Bulls have weathered injuries to Derrick Rose and a trade of Luol Deng to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the East.
"A lot of it has to do with our chemistry and being able to have the pieces in place when you really need it. The core group is there, in Raymond, J.R., Melo and Tyson and Iman. That was the core group we brought back this season and [were] going to depend a lot on," Woodson said. "Guys have been in and out, there’s no question about that. But we just have not been able to put it together defensively as well as offensively."
Some, including this writer, noted that the Knicks looked like a team that had quit on its coach and each other in recent losses. Woodson doesn't see it that way.
"There were games where we held double-digit leads," the coach said. "If you’re quitting, you’re not competing to get an advantage in a ballgame."
Woodson's job security has been in question all season. The Knicks are likely to let him finish out the season and start a coaching search over the summer. On Thursday, Woodson defended his record as coach and pointed out that the Knicks are still mathematically eligible for the postseason.
"I haven’t forgotten how to coach, there’s no doubt about that in my mind, I haven’t," Woodson said. "Again, our record doesn’t indicate that, and that’s the downside of coaching."
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