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Grizzlies' Hollins Sells Reality, Not Hope

Mar 31, 2009 – 6:00 PM
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Matt Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz %BloggerTitle%

Lionel HollinsMemphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is 8-22 since taking over for Marc Iavaroni in late January. Iavaroni was fired after the Grizzlies started the season 11-30.

In case you're scoring at home, that gives Iavaroni a .268 winning percentage compared with Hollins' .266. But Hollins should get credit for at least one thing: He's not selling false hope like a lot of other coaches. In fact, he's not selling hope at all, really.

Hollins peddles reality.

"You just don't come in, take over and start winning," Hollins said before Monday's game against the Warriors in Oakland. "There's a foundation that has to be laid, a groundwork of how we're going to play and an accountability to that. And it's a process. You don't teach a dog how to go outside and go to the bathroom in a day or two."

We'll skip a gimme canine reference about the Grizz here. It's too easy when you're talking about a team coming off consecutive 22-win seasons and heading toward another – if, that is, they can get some wins in the last two weeks of the season.

"I said it when I first got here," Hollins said. "My first comments to O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay was your 20 (points) and your 20 (points) won't win us nothin'."

And it certainly hasn't won Memphis much. Then again, to hear Hollins tell it, wins aren't going to come unless the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed. And that kind of attention to detail is difficult to instill in a young team.

Good for Hollins he doesn't just assume it will happen. Or worse, tell everyone it's going to happen.

He's practical and makes no promises that the Grizzlies' young core of Gay, Mayo, Michael Conley and Marc Gasol can get it done. Only that those players have the potential to get it done.

But when?

"Who knows," Hollins answered.

"We talk about growth, but it's about making plays and doing the right things consistently," said Hollins. "Playing defense, rebounding, executing on offense, coming down the last five minutes, making the right decisions and winning.

"Young players tend to not be able to do that. They make a lot of mistakes. They're trying to establish themselves in a league and who they are. It's hard for them to make those sacrifices and play for the team. And it's not just in that (Memphis) locker room, it's all around the league. That's why you see young teams lose everywhere.

"The teams that ultimately rise above that usually have one player who rises up and becomes dominant over everyone else and all the other people fall in line."

Do the Grizzlies have that guy?

Said Hollins: "We'll find out."
Filed under: Sports