Monday, January 26, 2004
Updated: January 27, 12:01 PM ET
Don't expect big changes in Jersey
By Dr. Jack Ramsay
Special to ESPN.com
Coaching in the NBA, with all the decisions that have to be made on a daily basis, is a huge challenge for a someone like interim New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank, who has no previous head-coaching experience and is inheriting the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
The first thing to remember is that a new coach can't step in and make a lot of changes in the middle of the season. The best course of action for Frank is probably to keep a low profile while trying to get the Nets playing together and playing hard each night.
New Jersey has been somewhat of a mystery team this year and has had tremendous ups and downs, such as getting demolished at Miami last Friday but coming back Sunday with a good win over Boston. The two-time NBA finalists were hurt by the retirement of Alonzo Mourning and bought out Dikembe Mutombo contract only to see him play reasonably well for the New York Knicks. Frank needs to get this veteran team to step it up on a nightly basis.
Frank is in his fourth year with the Nets, though, and the players likely know him well by now. And while assistants often have a good rapport with players, that changes immediately when you become the head man and take charge of the whole operation, so it will be interesting to see how Frank bridges that gap.
That will be a big job, but on the court things should be a little simpler. Frank does not need to overhaul anything about the system -- just tweak a little here and there in order to get everyone on the roster playing his role to the fullest and let things happen from there.
Frank will not be the ultimate determiner of whether the Nets can get to the playoffs and make another successful run. That is up to the players. They need to start performing as a team on a night-to-night basis. Frank will do what he can to motivate the players, but they are still the ones who can make the biggest difference for this team.
Dr. Jack Ramsay, an NBA analyst for ESPN, coached the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Click here to send a question for Dr. Jack for possible use on ESPNEWS.