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News » Van Gundy to lighten up

Van Gundy to lighten up

Van Gundy to lighten up BOSTON - Stan Van Gundy can't win. He had the misfortune of being born short, not exactly svelte, not exactly blessed with Tom Brady looks and sometimes a little bit, uh, unorthodox in his daily comportment.

Earlier this season he was shown sitting on the bench prior to a game, looking like he was in a transcendental stupor. Other times he's been shown ranting and raving.

He's also a darned funny, accommodating guy, but he can't win there, either. When the Orlando Magic came to Boston last spring to face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, he was asked about his coaching days at UMass-Lowell. He was gracious and effusive in praise of the experience - but a lot of good it did him.

"I got in trouble over that," he smirked. "That was a sign in Orlando that I wasn't serious enough about the game, because I answered your questions."

Van Gundy's quirkiness caught up with him a bit in the last week, when it came to his attention that perhaps his mannerisms were getting to his players a bit, too.

He has a way of really, really laying into his players at times, and players just don't like that.

"Look, I'm not Little Mary Sunshine, but I am going to work on being less negative, which doesn't mean I'm not gonna get on them, just be more constructive," Van Gundy said before his 9-3 team's Friday night meeting with the 9-3 Celtics . "Telling them 'you (stink)' doesn't get anything better. Saying we're playing like crap is maybe a fact, but it doesn't do a damned thing to help anybody. That's where I've been going too much."

The situation was brought up at a meeting with the heart and soul of the Magic, center Dwight Howard. He and his coach talk all the time, but in this case Van Gundy had noticed the defending Eastern Conference champs had regressed, and were playing a bit lethargically and unenthusiastically.

"It wasn't like we were arguing back and forth," Howard said. "When coach wants us to talk to him he'll let us know. Me and coach talk every day. I just told him that sometimes as a coach we need to see a little more positive than negative. He thought that I was right.

"We talk all the time. We text all the time. That's one of the new things that I've tried to teach him, how to text message. He's actually pretty good at it. He knows all the 'LOL's' and 'I'll talk to you later on.' "

For the Magic, this is a good thing, but it's not all that unusual for players and coaches to talk.

Asked if he thought Van Gundy would change, Celts coach Doc Rivers said, "I don't believe it. I think his coaching style is just fine. He was in the Finals last year. He doesn't need to change anything."

Rivers has had such talks, too, and says the main thing is for players to know that while he might be yelling at them, it's probably because he needs them to get through a pick and defend the perimeter. It's more of a teaching thing.

But Rivers has been negative, too, and knows he has to reign himself in.

"I always say I will and then I go back (to his old ways). You just do your job," he said.

"I'm not looking to change," Van Gundy said. "I intend to be very intense and very demanding. I don't think it's a minor point, I think it's important, but the intensity will still be there. It's a matter of commenting on what we're not doing and what needs to be changed as just making a blanket statement like 'we're playing like crap.' I mean, what do you do with that? That doesn't help you do anything."

Van Gundy, of course, has a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. His brother, Jeff, who was broadcasting Friday's game for ESPN, coached the Rockets and Knicks and has been through this himself.

"I am Little Miss Sunshine compared to Jeff," Stan said. "He wouldn't exactly be the guy to talk to about positive energy. Put it that way."

Reach Mike Fine at mikefine@ledger.com. Read more of his Celtics coverage in his On the Hardwood blog at PatriotLedger.com/sports


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 24, 2009


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