When Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens hired Ime Udoka to replace him on the sidelines, he wasn’t just looking for someone who could squeeze out a few more wins than the team managed last season. He wanted a coach who could re-shape the club in their own, no-nonsense image.
For his part, Udoka looks intent on doing just that. And part of that mindset apparently includes not mixing it up with the officials unnecessarily.
“Only when needed,” he said of arguing with referees during his October 6 media availability. “I’ve stressed that to our team and we got a little chippy out here in practice, just guys getting after it. I said, ‘Let me b**** at the refs. You guys play through plays and move on to the next thing and let me be the guy who complains to the ref.”
In Udoka’s mind, executing on both sides of the ball and persevering through adversity will be the expectation. Theatrics involving referees, which have apparently occurred in camp, don’t have a place in his system.
“That’s not who we want to be and that’s not who I am and I don’t want the team to start crying about every call … We got some young guys who are not official referees here so we’re going to have some bad calls in practice to get used to it for the games.”
Udoka on Rotations: “We Feel Comfortable With 10 to 12 of Our Guys
During the Celtics preseason opener on Monday, a 97-94 win over the Orlando Magic, Udoka used 13 different players, with all of them logging nine or more minutes. However, that was more a product of exhibition basketball than his own philosophies on substitutions.
When the 2021-22 NBA regular season officially tips off, fans can expect things to tighten up at least a little. Still, Udoka has been impressed by his team’s depth.
“We have a ton of quality players,” he said. “It will play itself out to some extent in training camp and preseason, but we feel comfortable with 10 to 12 of our guys. It’s just a matter of, like I mentioned earlier, game by game scheme and coverage and who we’re guarding and who we’re playing.”
He went on to say that playing 12 guys is difficult; “9-10 is a more manageable number.” Udoka also made a point to shout out the incredible experience in the Celtics’ second unit, mentioning two of the team’s big offseason acquisitions by name.
“We have a great veteran group on the bench other than the starters, obviously, bringing Dennis [Schroder] and Josh [Richardson] and some of those guys along as well as the young guys.”
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Richardson Says Cs Practices Are Heat-Esque
Although Richardson has bounced around the Association some in recent years, the high-water for his career to date continues to be the time he spent with the Miami Heat. Now in his first go-round with the Celtics, the 28-year-old sees some positive operational similarities with that club and his current one.
In particular, the hard-nosed nature of Celtics camp has made an impression on him.
“Just the level of competition,” Richardson said of practices, via MassLive. “Every day, every time we start to scrimmage or every time we do something live, it’s like everybody is trying to kill each other. It’s real physical. Everyone is talking s*** to each other and the way I’m cut and the way a lot of these guys are cut, I can tell that’s good for us because it keeps you engaged in practice.”