New Rockets coach Kevin McHale was introduced to the local media today, and he and owner Les Alexander sought to tamp down expectations -- not that there were many -- that the team will immediately get a lot better.
McHale says his goal is....making the playoffs. Which really isn't all that impressive in the NBA, although it has proven difficult for the Rockets at times.
"I think that they have pieces in place, very good pieces, that can be part of a championship-type team," McHale said. "Our goal is to make the playoffs next year. That's what it is and that's going to fall on me to do it and if it doesn't get done, it will be on me. But we should make the playoffs -- that's what I feel. And once you get in, anything can happen -- ask Memphis."
McHale dodged any questions on who would be his assistants, but he did note that he thinks the way for the Rockets to win is to get better defensively.
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"That's the best thing about the NBA, there are millions of ways to play it, but you have to have conviction in the way you feel it needs to be played and I have a lot of conviction on how the game should be played: up-tempo, but you've got to defend," he said. "You've got to be able to play fast, but you have to be able to defend. You see in the playoffs now, defense kind of reigns supreme."
He also talked about former Rockets coach Bill Fitch, who coached him in Boston, when he was asked what he had learned from him:
I learned not to curse the players out as much as Bill did. No, I love Bill. Bill's a tough guy. Let me tell you something, coming out of college I had never been around a coach that talked the way Bill did to you, but he really pushed you hard and I thought Bill did a great job. What I learned from Bill Fitch was (the importance of) repetition, repetition, repetition -- you get better at what you work at. And I tell you what, we dummied our offense, we ran our offense, we did stuff to the point where you literally wanted to cry.
But I found out that a lot of teams didn't do that. It's a lot of drill work and a lot of repetition, but whatever you're going to do on the floor, you've got to be prepared and you have to do it in practice all the time, and I think that was what I learned from Bill. Bill was a fantastic coach and he still lives in the Houston area, so I'm sure I'll run into Coach Fitch.
McHale will obviously be good with the media and fans; like everyone else, only results will matter.