Why Vinny Del Negro Can't Coach the Chicago Bulls

Sam BrownAnalyst IJanuary 13, 2009

For weeks now, Bulls fans have known something was wrong with the coaching style of Vinny del Negro.  The defense was far too soft, the rotations were far too odd, and the offensive game plan was non-existent.  No one could quite put their finger on it, but something was wrong.

After Saturday’s inexplicable meltdown at home against the lowly Thunder, it was the words of Skinny Vinny himself that might have shown some light on the answer. 

Vinny’s first comment about the game was to make excuses that “it’s tough” to win when “your captains are out.”  Guess what Vinny?  Every team has injuries, and they manage to beat teams like the Thunder.

Skinny then went on to criticize his team’s failure to take ownership of the team.  According to Del Negro, he and his coaching staff can’t make the players take on that responsibility; it has to come from his veterans.

Guess what, Skinny: You are the coach of the team and you set the tone. You are the getting the paycheck to motivate your players and to set a standard of responsibility and hard work. It’s your player’s job to make plays yes, but you are the one that sets the environment.

But Del Negro has failed to set the environment time and time again.  Clearly there is no emphasis placed on defense in practice, one only has to watch the games to see that.  If you watch the offense, it is pretty clear that they don’t actually run any sort of offense whatsoever.  Generally everyone stands around while Derrick Rose or Ben Gordon tries to score. 

Larry Hughes wants out. What does Del Negro say?  He understands but he has too many guards.  A guy doesn’t want to play for you, bench him and play someone who does. Could you imagine Scott Skiles playing a guy who yaps like Hughes does?

Del Negro’s own comments seem to suggest that he admits the fact that he can’t properly run the team.  As the interview continues, Skinny continues to throw his players under the bus by saying that “they’re the ones playing” and that if “if they can’t make good decisions then [he’ll] have to make good coaching decisions”

Wow, finally a suggestion that Del Negro should try to do something to help his team play better.  Hey Skinny, isn’t it always the coach’s job to make good coaching decisions to help the team share the ball better and play better defense?

It is becoming so clear that Del Negro is in over his head with this roster. Remember the bulk of the team is intact that won 49 games two years ago, and that made three-straight postseason appearances under Scott Skiles.

Now if this “it’s all on the players” jargon was coming from a veteran coach with a proven track record I could understand it. But for a guy who is only a head coach in name and not in any true sense of the word it seems strange that he has thrown his hands up this early and basically said it’s not my fault the players have to step up. 

If Del Negro wants the respect of his team he has to earn it, or demand it. He has done neither.  Maybe Scott Skiles lost his players respect last season, but at least he came into town demanding it and benching anyone who didn’t buy into it.

When Tim Thomas sulked about playing time and refused to play defense Skiles told him just where he could stick it and plopped him on the bench and then kicked him off the team.

"Skinny" Vinny Del Negro sets no standard of play and seems content to watch loss after loss and simply keep talking about how good his rookie point guard is. But don’t listen to me, just listen to Vinny tell you how there isn’t anything left for him to do.

Please John Paxson, realize your mistake and let Del Negro not coach the Bulls from the stands instead of from the Bulls bench.