John Loyer was thrown into an impossible situation after the Detroit Pistons fired head coach Maurice Cheeks in the middle of a disastrous season. His task was to hold together a sinking ship, and try to get them to fight every night in the midst of a lost season. Whether he did that, is definitely debatable.
When asked about his job to close out the season Loyer said “I’ll let what I’ve done and what I’ve brought to the table ever day speak for itself.” So let’s examine his work. Loyer guided the team to an 8-24 mark over their last 32 games. A very poor record, but that was to be expected when there wasn’t much to play for. The team wasn’t playing well for Maurice Cheeks so a rapid turnaround wasn’t really in the cards.
What was expected of the Pistons for the rest of the season was that they would fight, and that they did. The Pistons were blown out on occasion, but for the most part the team showed up. They gave solid effort, but generally fell just short. Most nights the Pistons were leading or at least close for the first three quarters, they just didn’t have the chemistry to execute down the stretch. The first three quarters of an NBA game can be called a lot of things, one of those isn’t usually intense. That changes in the fourth quarter when teams see the finish line, and ratchet up the defensive intensity. The fourth quarter is where the Pistons generally faded, while other teams roared to victory. That was by far their biggest problem under Coach Loyer.
The next thing you want to look at with a coach and his staff is development of young talent. In that regard I would give Loyer and the staff an atta boy. The key piece of the puzzle Andre Drummond took a big leap forward this year, and Greg Monroe is also coming along nicely. The next lesson to be learned for both is how to play positional defense without fouling. If the staff can teach that and help Drummond get better from the foul line they will have had a successful year, and offseason.
No matter what happens with the coaching staff as a whole, Loyer did an admirable job with an impossible task. He routinely got his guys to fight, they just weren’t always able to pull out the win in the end. Games against the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder where the Pistons were leading the entire game, but faded late, show just how much talent this roster has. Loyer needs more time with a team, and he ultimately may not get that chance in Detroit, but he certainly proved he has what it takes to lead a talented NBA roster.
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- Report: Detroit Pistons Fire Head Coach Maurice Cheeks After Less than One Season
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