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Newz Forum: BASKETBALL: Coach Sloan relatively calm despite Utah's record

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posted on Jan, 6 2005 @ 08:51 PM
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah coach Jerry Sloan seems relatively relaxed despite his team's worst record during his 17 years as coach.

After a successful offseason in the free agent market and a 6-1 start, the Jazz are mired in a seven-game losing streak. Utah's 11-22 record is the team's worst since the 1982-83 season, the last time the Jazz finished with a losing record.

About the only person who doesn't seem surprised is Sloan.

"Last year was a picnic. We come back this year, I knew what kind of pressure they were going to shoot the ball under. They were expected to make shots this year," Sloan said. "That's just the nature of this business. Now, we find out who we really are."

Utah lost to Philadelphia 106-99 on Wednesday at home, where the Jazz had dominated the 76ers. The Jazz visit Chicago and Milwaukee this weekend, trying to improve on their 5-13 record away from home.

Nothing seems to be going well for the Jazz, who have lost 10 of 11.

Never one for excuses, Sloan says his players need to learn how to work through a slump.

"Hardships never hurt anybody. It's how you deal with them. I've dealt with plenty of those things," said Sloan, whose wife died in June. "This is not a hardship. This is just basketball. Last year was a hardship."

All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko is still out for at least the next couple of weeks with a sprained knee and shooting guard Raja Bell is nursing a sore knee. The Jazz have four point guards on the roster and are trying to find the right combination of players to stop the skid.

Rookies Kirk Snyder and Kris Humphries have been playing more, but are still making mistakes as they learn. The Jazz don't have the stability and experience they did during the John Stockton-Karl Malone era, which ended after the 2002-03 season.

"We're putting guys that have been in support roles in lead roles. That's fine, but we've been there and they haven't. Mistakes come with that some," Sloan said. "As great as (Stockton and Malone) were, they made a few mistakes their first couple of years. But they had guys ahead of them that carried them through those mistakes."

The Jazz cut an 18-point lead to one against the Sixers on Wednesday night, but never went ahead.

"We're playing well enough to win, but down the stretch we just need to get a couple more stops, and maybe that will give us a chance to win more and hopefully get us over the top," forward Carlos Boozer said. "If we keep looking behind us, then we'll never get out of this hole."

Boozer and center Mehmet Okur signed with the Jazz over the summer, moves that were expected to put Utah back into the playoffs after just missing last season. And the predictions appeared to be on target after Utah opened the season 6-1. Since then, the Jazz are 5-21 and firmly in last place in the Northwest Division.

The only team with a worse record than Utah in the Western Conference is New Orleans, which is 2-28 -- and one of the Hornets' two victories came at Utah in November.

Sloan's demeanor hasn't changed much during the losing streak. He has seen slumps before as a player with the Chicago Bulls during their expansion era and coached the Bulls when they struggled in the early 1980s before the arrival of Michael Jordan.

"I think I'm fairly resilient with those things that come up. If I wasn't I'd get out of it," Sloan said. "Now I don't know how long that will last. I'm not a young man anymore, but the important thing is you try to fight as hard as you can and try to teach these guys that winning still is important."



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