Greg Popovich schooled Vinny del Negro at Game 1 – Can he pull it off again?
Los Angeles Clippers head coach, Vinny del Negro felt different after Game 7 against Memphis Grizzlies. The 45-year-old former Chicago Bulls coach, Vinny del Negro could only hear praise for himself wherever he went after his team stepped into the Conference Semifinals.
Well, Vinny del Negro’s feeling of satisfaction ended after his team got manhandled by the San Antonio Spur on Tuesday.
For a couple of days, Vinny del Negro was criticism-free. Los Angeles Clippers’ Game 7 upset against the Memphis Grizzlies allowed Vinny del Negro to establish himself as a strong coach in front of his fans but all of that was before Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals.
Following a 16-point loss in the opening game of the series, Vinny del Negro kept his head down through most of the postgame press conference. Now, Vinny del Negro is on the hot seat once again, where critics are lambasting against the young coach and questioning his ability to make winning adjustments.
“We have to do a better job with a sense of urgency getting out to shooters,” admitted Vinny del Negro. “We need to do a better job at our pick-and-roll coverages so we can get back and bump our wings out. We have to do a better job at controlling the glass and controlling the turnovers and making plays when we have opportunities.”
Vinny del Negro has visited the gallows already a couple of times this season. Rumors about him receiving the axe have been around for a while. Moreover, the former San Antonio Spurs player, is now being compared to Greg Popovich; the man who has 16 years of experience with Spurs, has won four championships and is hailed for holding the record for the longest tenure as coach with a single NBA team.
To make matters more interesting, Greg Popovich is aware of the comparison.
Greg Popovich has been with the San Antonio Spurs so long that he even coached Vinny del Negro for two years. In an interview on Sunday, Greg Popovich casually joked about Vinny del Negro when he was a player. Greg Popovich said that Vinny del Negro was “limited athletically” but such limitations had “made him smart”.
“There's usually about one to three people on every team where you know they really get it, and he was one of those guys,” Greg Popovich said.
Nonetheless, Vinny del Negro admits Greg Popovich has a huge coaching advantage over him.
“Absolutely,” Vinny del Negro answered. “Pop has done it. He's hung banners. He's been doing it for a long time. He's a guy that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
Vinny del Negro also admitted that he has asked Greg Popovich for help on a number of occasions. Sadly, Vinny del Negro won’t be able to make such calls in this series.