New Orleans Hornets Buzz: Four Games with Coach Jeff Bower

Joe GerrityCorrespondent INovember 20, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 13:  Head Coach Jeff Bower of the New Orleans Hornets watches from the sidelines during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Arena on November 13, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With the surprising win last night against the Phoenix Suns, Jeff Bower evened his coaching record to 2-2 and improved the New Orleans Hornets' overall record to 5-8.

When Coach Byron Scott was fired Hornets fans expected the worst, even more so when we learned that our GM with no head coaching experience would be the one replacing him.

It didn't ease our minds when we heard Tim Floyd would come on as the head assistant.

Who Is Jeff Bower?

Bower has been GM of the Hornets since 2005 (with a short stint in 2003 as well). He has never been a head coach before, even at the college level.

His most recent on-court job was as an assistant at Marist College from 1990-95. He's been with the Hornets in one capacity or another ever since.

As GM, he was responsible for picking Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA draft.

Why Is Jeff Bower the Head Coach?

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Well first off, Byron just got fired. Pay attention!

Anyway, Bower is the guy who knows these players the best. He's also willing to actually listen to owner George Shinn and play the young guys.

Also, he was already on staff with a locked salary, so it seems to be some sort of a cost-saving move by the owner/GM.

Should Fans Believe in Him, or Is He Simply an Interim Coach?

First off, I don't think he's an interim coach. They never used those terms to describe him, so it seems that he is here until further notice.

Secondly, he seems to know what he's doing.

So far he's shown that he's much more knowledgeable than Scott about the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.

Immediately he shoved Mo-P to the bench and put the young guys in position to improve and contribute.

Collison and Thornton barely saw a minute with Scott as the coach, but now Collison is starting (albeit because CP3 is hurt) and Thornton is coming off the bench as the most explosive scorer they have, averaging 33 points per 48 minutes.

The offense, which at times looked pathetic—even with CP3—seems to be back to NBA quality.

Byron pretty much ran the pick and roll 95 percent of the time, whereas Bower seems to have more guys just driving straight to the hole. The screens players are setting now are more for getting slashers open.

Peja, specifically, is being used much more effectively.

Scott used to just set him up for simple catch-and-shoots off a perimeter pick, which is nice, but not the most efficient or effective way to get an open shot for a 6'10" three-point monster.

Bower has been sending him through the lane, where the big men are setting screens to knock his defender off him. It seemed to disorient the defense to a degree, and in the most recent game Peja managed to pull 13 rebounds (his most as a Hornet) to go along with his 26 points.

You need look no further than the rebounding numbers to see that players had just quit on Byron Scott, too.

In their first nine games, the Hornets out-rebounded the opposing team just once. In the last four, they've done it twice.

On the defensive end, the difference in hustle is noticeable, too.

Rotations look better and matchups seem to be more favorable. Byron had a hard time adjusting his lineup to the other team, whereas Bower seems to flourish.

Also, Bower has shown in only four games that he's a superior game manager.

When the other team goes on runs, Bower calls a timeout. When a certain lineup isn't working, he changes it without hesitation.

Also, while the game is going, you see him actually coaching young players, something Byron never did—unless you count crossing his arms and putting his players in the dog house.

All things considered, Jeff Bower is doing a hell of a job so far.

Winning two of four without CP3 is better than anyone expected. If he can keep up the intensity, the Hornets might still have an outside shot at getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

Maybe this coaching change is just what New Orleans needed.


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