Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

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Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

INDIANAPOLIS Bill Belichick might have written the book on dour, but Tom Coughlin had the market cornered on being square.

If one coach in the NFL looks like a dark socks and sandals at the beach type, its Coughlin.

Hes always been all business. Glasses. The thinning white hair swept to the side. Fast walker. That air of slight impatience as he rocks side-to-side in press conferences that are long on business, short on laughs.

The guy who long believed five minutes early is on time and four minutes early is actually late doesnt have a cool, away-from-football alter ego like Belichick does tooling around Nantucket on his boat with Jon Bon Jovi in tow.

So its interesting to see the controlling Coughlin not just tolerating his players verbal brashness but in some cases jumping in himself.

While the Patriots are still name, rank and serial number for the most part under Belichick, the Giants make more guarantees than Bobs Furniture.

And Coughlin has at times gotten a tad brash himself. Relatively speaking. After the Giants win over the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau Field last month, Coughlin said in the postgame, I think were a dangerous team. I like where we are.

This week, while Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz have taken turns disparaging Patriots wideoutDB Julian Edelman and Antrel Rolle has been doling out guarantees, Coughlin hasnt told anyone to dummy up.

Has Coughlin changed?

Probably, but I think its important as the process of learning, Coughlin said. You learn, develop, and change every year. You have to bring a fresh approach each year to your team, especially when youve been doing it a few years in the same place. If Ive changed, its been an attempt to motivate and put us in the best possible chance that we can be.

And Coughlin seems to believe that letting his team be itself and forge its own personality is the best way for it to motivate itself. Its a supremely confident team, especially for a group that went 9-7 and had a four-game losing streak that had them on the verge of missing the playoffs.

But that confidence also allows it to forget about the bumps and then go into Lambeau or San Francisco and win.

Coughlins approach is a galaxy removed from the other head football coach in New York, Rex Ryan, whos willingness to let whatever hits his brain exit his mouth was happily adopted by his players when he joined the team in 2009 and resulted in a 2011 implosion.

But Coughlin does let the players express themselves.

Players have personalities and they are who they are, Coughlin noted. You want a certain amount of that on your football team, but you dont want someone who puts themselves in a position to hurt your team.

Coughlin has positive proof that allowing his players to be brash helps them. In 2007, they talked themselves into the notion the Patriots 18-0 coming into that Super Bowl were a dynasty that needed to be buried.

They showed up in Arizona dressed in black a funeral for the dynasty was their reasoning. And they went out and backed up their brashness with one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

Coughlins players say he really isnt as bad as his reputation.

My first season I questioned a lot of things that Coach Coughlin was doing, said Rolle. After taking a step back and reflecting on all of it, I understand exactly why he is the way he is. I used to always wonder, I felt like he was always trying to turn us into men. Does he not know that we are men before we ever step on the football field here as a Giant? I used to ask myself questions like that. Once I matured enough and I took a step back, he is not trying to turn us into men, he is trying to help us become better men.

The buy-in from his team is apparent in the way they revere him. After the Giants beat the Patriots in November, they carried him off the field on their shoulders.

When Coach Coughlin comes up, everybody wants to talk about how rough he is, how unforgiving he is, how the reigns are pulled back pretty tight on the football team, but playing for him is golden for me, said defensive end Justin Tuck. You know exactly what to expect from him, you know what he expects from you. Its easy to go out and do your job when you dont have to go out and worry about what we are doing here, what are we doing there. I love playing for the guy, and I hope I get to play the rest of my career for him.

While Belichick are both regarded as branches on the Bill Parcells coaching tree, its not that cut-and-dried.

Belichick is more a disciple of Paul Brown, the man Belichicks father Steve emulated.

Brown is credited with saying, When you win say nothing. When you lose say less.

Belichicks passed that on to his team and they adhere to it. The penalty for too much verbosity? An uncomfortable trip to the coachs office.

While Coughlin says hes become more patient and less rigid, Belichick doesnt alter his approach too much.

Hes very consistent as a coach, said Tom Brady. On our team, there really is no separate treatment for different players. The rookies are expected to perform and act the same as the veteran guys. Its great as a player on our team because . . . you really dont have to hold the other players accountable because the head coach does it. Hes very tough. He says to us from time to time he understands that its a demanding place to play and that its really not meant for everybody.

Belichick doesnt hide his agenda.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis acknowledged when he came to New England that hed heard Belichick was a hard coach to play for and the hooded monster and all the stuff like that. When I got here, I realized in our first meeting, he let it all out on the line right there. You are what you are when you get here. That was it. He let it all hang.

His players will never get to hang loose with their words say nothing when you win, say less when you lose. The Giants? The muzzles are off.

The methods to their madness have brought their teams here. Whose method works best? Can the answer be both?

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”