By MARK GRAY
However, we do disagree on the future of head coach Ty Corbin. Like veteran sportswriter Kurt Kragthrope, I think it is time to hire a new coach. (“This is not about convicting Corbin,” Kragthrope wrote in a Salt Lake Tribune column last week, “as much as there is not a compelling cast to keep him.”)
It doesn’t help Corbin that former Jazz player (and assistant coach) Jeff Hornacek has taken an expected last place team in Phoenix and is contending for the playoffs. No one expected Corbin to win many games either; this was supposed to be a “rebuilding” and learning year for the young but gifted players, a year in which they improved as the year progressed. The exact opposite happened. The Jazz collapsed in the last third of the season (as I write this, 16 losses in the past 19 games).
As for the future, the team may have to pay a fortune to keep its leading scorer, Gordon Hayward, under contract, Turkish center Enes Kanter is often under-performing, the veterans are talking about moving on, and without some luck the team won’t procure the top tier of college athletes in the draft.
Ty Corbin faced a tough challenge; so did Jeff Hornacek. One succeeded in surpassing expectations and one didn’t. To keep Jazz fans buying his tickets next season, a new head coach is needed.
By DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
True confession: My husband thinks that my happiness is not tied to the fortunes of the Utah Jazz. The only reason I gave up watching every second of every game is that he is a notorious arm chair coach. I love the team, love the coach, and believe that win or lose they are my team. I can’t tolerate his criticism. He crossed the line complaining about Jerry Sloan and I still haven’t gotten over it.
This year’s team was never going to be a contender. You can’t decimate the roster, giving up so many veteran players and expect a barely 24-year old Gordon Hayward to be the stabilizing force on the team. He is barely out of his teens and although a good player, doesn’t seem to have the temperament to be an “enforcer.”
To hold Ty Corbin to an impossible standard and expect a 50+ win season was unrealistic and unfair. All along, I knew that Coach Corbin would be in an impossible position.
If the Jazz squeaked into the play-offs, fans would complain that he failed to lose enough to get a high lottery pick. If the Jazz were bottom-dwellers, fans would have called for his dismissal. How would you like to be playing to win, but not too much? Try coaching young players with that mentality.
While the Jazz has great talent, the truth is that rookie Trey Burke is the only true “franchise” player on the team. With a cast of players who had never played together before, I think that ending the year with a 25 win season is nothing to gripe about. Another year as a team, another year figuring out the NBA vs. the college game and the Utah Jazz will be just fine.
Ty Corbin took the reins of the team at a rough time and has stuck with them, working with a virtually untested squad this year. Jazz management owes him at least one more year to prove his ability.