Friday, June 8, 2007
Magic going with Van Gundy, Donovan says he's sorry
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Having been burned by Billy Donovan, the
Orlando Magic now wonder if they have the right coach in Stan Van
In Van Gundy, they got an NBA-proven leader already familiar
with the team. Donovan was a $27.5 million question mark -- even
before he decided to leave after his first day on the job.
The Magic insist Van Gundy was a close second. He and Donovan
were the only two guys the team interviewed.
Donovan might've sold more tickets -- the team moved 200 season
packages within 24 hours of his hiring -- and put a more photogenic
face on the Magic's push for a new arena. But Van Gundy could
easily put up more wins -- particularly in his first season.
In Donovan, Orlando had a personality whose own celebrity might
have dwarfed his players'. In Van Gundy, they get a strategist who
can't change schemes fast enough to fit the franchise.
Van Gundy is excited about Orlando's young big men -- All-Star
Dwight Howard and 7-footer Darko Milicic -- sharing the court. He
already has ideas for the Magic.
"We've got to utilize both the athleticism and energy of the
young players, and I think that means playing in a more up-tempo,
attacking style," Van Gundy said. "I think sometimes that gets
presented as just running fast breaks, but it's more than that. It
means that we should always be on the attack, we should be getting
to our options quicker."
Donovan said he envisioned Orlando looking a lot like his Gators
-- pressing the floor, playing in transition and trying to create
"I understand over an 82-game schedule you're probably not
going to be able to press as often as we did," Donovan said.
Van Gundy knows that after spending the past 12 years at Miami --
just over two seasons as head coach.
He emphasizes the importance of playing the 24-second shot clock
-- the biggest difference between college and the pros besides a
deeper 3-point line, another thing Donovan would need to perfect.
So what's the biggest difference between the two?
"NBA experience," Orlando general manager Otis Smith said.
"Being around a very good coach, a great coach in Pat Riley.
Knowing the players and the assets that we have. Knowing the
players and assets of the league," Smith said.
Van Gundy has done nothing but study the league since he stepped
down as head coach last season. Miami retained him as an adviser to
Riley, which meant Van Gundy did a lot of scouting. Just about
everything he learned will be useful to Orlando, which plays the
Heat four times a year and shares the Southeast Division with
"Basically what I did was watch a lot of games and provide my
ideas on their team, on the teams they were playing," Van Gundy
said. "I watched a lot of NBA basketball. I was watching 10 or 12
games a week and really getting a chance to watch the league and
stay abreast to what was going on."
Smith is confident he got the right guy, no matter how happy
Orlando once was about the Donovan deal.
"To be honest it wasn't a hard sell at all. For us it was a
good thing," he said.