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News » Carlisle is all talk (but in a good way) Communication, trust are shaping Mavs into solid all-around team

Carlisle is all talk (but in a good way) Communication, trust are shaping Mavs into solid all-around team

Carlisle is all talk (but in a good way) Communication, trust are shaping Mavs into solid all-around team A year later, we're still getting to know Rick Carlisle.

Unlike the last two coaches of the Mavericks , Don Nelson and Avery Johnson, Carlisle doesn't seem to easily fit into a category.

Everybody knew Nellie was going to push the tempo, try to create a small-ball team that could win big with offense and pretty much rely on so-so defense. Johnson, on the other hand, was a strong-armed disciplinarian who stressed defense, but eventually wore down his players.

Carlisle, in his third NBA coaching stop, is tougher to compartmentalize. If Nelson was the far left and Johnson the far right, Carlisle falls somewhere in between, although there's a wide gulf there.

"I think that's what he's trying to be," Dirk Nowitzki says. "He tried to open up the offense a little and give [Jason] Kidd a lot more freedom last year. He's got us playing hard and he's got us practicing hard. He's interacting more with the players. I think we're doing fine together."

Just as there is no such thing as the perfect player, the perfect coach doesn't exist, either. But that doesn't mean there aren't perfect fits for a team, and Carlisle appears to be just what the Mavericks need. He wants an up-tempo style. But he wants a team that can get back on defense just as quickly as it races up the court offensively. Special teams can do both, he says.

And can this team be special?

"We're working on it," Carlisle says.

Working on it, with a style that can only be called "comprehensive." Carlisle is too smart to try to mold this team into something it's not. He realizes that his goal for a great defense can't be reached at the expense of stalling an offense that should be among the NBA's most potent.

"I believe in playing a playoff-style of Basketball," Carlisle says. "That's the consistency and the intensity we strive for, but it's got to be tailored to your personnel."

Carlisle has effectively rebuilt the trust that had been lost within the Mavericks at the end of Johnson's run as coach. Johnson led them to their only appearance in the NBA Finals. But in the years after that, there was no connection between players and coach, particularly not on Kidd's part.

Carlisle took a big leap last season when he turned over much of the play-calling to his point guard. The Mavericks were a different, and better, team because of it.

"His greatest strength," owner Mark Cuban says, "is that he wants the team to take credit for winning."

Players stress that lines of communication are always open with Carlisle. And they always know where he stands.

"He sees things out there that sometimes we don't see ourselves," James Singleton says. "And he'll tell you exactly what he wants done. Exactly. He won't beat around the bush. That's all I ask for. ... Coach Carlisle is in a league of his own. He doesn't do things like everybody else."

If there's a point of pride in Carlisle's way of doing things, that would be it.

"You can never be too good a communicator," he says. "I try to be very honest because I feel there's a definite correlation between how a team responds to communication and the value of the power of truth.

"But it's my job to make sure players realize that our success doesn't always depend on scoring, but in our defensive disposition and posture."

Kidd has played for a small army of coaches in his 15-year career. He's seen pretty much every style, and understands what Carlisle is trying to do.

"He wants to play good defense, there's no doubt about that," Kidd says. "But he recognizes we have a good offense, too."

The bottom line, of course, is respect. With a talented roster, there will be players who don't get as much playing time as they feel they deserve. Nothing wrong with that. A coach wants all his players hungry.

"As long as we keep working and stay together, I think that's the main thing," Nowitzki says. "We're all in this together. Coach sometimes has to make decisions that not everybody likes."

So egos have to be put aside. Players have to realize it's not all about them. Just as Carlisle realizes it's not all about him.

"Everybody has to understand that they have a job within our system," he says. "And that they're all committed to something that's bigger than themselves. That's what being a team is."

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 27, 2009


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