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Charlotte Hornets HC Steve Clifford (10-6-22)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
October 6, 2022 10:45 pm

Charlotte Hornets HC Steve Clifford (10-6-22)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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October 6, 2022 10:45 pm

Head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, Steve Clifford, joins the show to discuss what makes Lamelo Ball such a rare talent, his first impressions of rookie, Mark Williams, his time at ECU, and how he interacts with the Greensboro Swarm.

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Tomorrow night's gonna be so cool. Greensboro Coliseum. The Charlotte Hornets hosting the Boston Celtics for a preseason game. And right now, we're visiting with the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, who used to be the old head coach of the Charlotte Hornets.

Of course, it's Steve Clifford that's joining us. And coach, I bet it's not every day since you've been in the league so long that you get to venture into a new venue you haven't coached before. Especially one that's as historic as the Greensboro Coliseum. I get it's preseason, but have you ever ventured into the Coliseum before? I mean, I've been over there, but I've never coached a game there, and I'm looking forward to it.

Steve Clifford with the 7.30 tip-off time tomorrow. I can't believe I never asked you about this in your first tour of duty, but I'm an East Carolina graduate, and do I have it right that your last college job was at ECU? It sure was.

I was an assistant there. In fact, you may remember they had a terrific football team that year. David Girard was the quarterback. And I want to say, I believe I'm writing saying, I think they won the Mobile Bowl that year.

They did. David Girard, 1999. And I was thinking a lot about 99 because last week, the state was on edge following the path of Hurricane Ian. And in this state, as I'm sure you know, we often mark history by big storms. In fact, I don't think a lot of people know that Hurricane Hugo, its effect on Charlotte led to the naming of the Hornets mascot being named Hugo.

That's true. And then in 99, anytime that year's brought up, which was your year at ECU, that was the year Hurricane Floyd hit. That was the scariest storm I've ever experienced personally. What do you remember about it? I remember that they almost, we almost canceled the season and that the flooding in certain areas of Greenville made it impossible to, you know, to get around. And actually, I want to say they shut down the school for a while, right? I think because a lot of it was the issues with the water, with some of the hog farms and, you know, just different things that have gotten into the system.

So, yeah, no, that was a dangerous thing. Yeah, 99, going back to football, they couldn't play home games at Dowdy Fickwin Stadium out there. And they were getting set to host a top 10 ranked team in the country in Miami. So thanks to the kindness of the folks at NC State, they played the game at Carter-Finley Stadium.

And after ECU won, the fans stormed the field and tore down NC State's goalpost after beating Miami that day. Steve Clifford is with us. I was actually at that game. Oh, did you get on the field? No, no, no, no, but I was at the game now.

That's unbelievable. Steve Clifford is with us, Hornets head coach. Go see the Hornets tomorrow night against the Boston Celtics at the Greensboro Coliseum. Let's talk about a couple of things you inherit coming back to Charlotte, namely Lamello Ball. He often is described by guys I know in the league as a unique talent, not rare, unique, one of one. What specific skill set do you see with him that in your time in the league you haven't seen a heck of a lot of? Well, I would say obviously ball handling, shot making, shot creation, passing, you know, and just a great natural feel for the game, which is also, you know, given him and especially he's got terrific size for that position, but he's also, he lives in the paint. It's very difficult to keep him out of the paint, whether it's just, you know, transition or pick and roll or he needs very little room to get in there.

Without Miles Bridges in the lineup, how much more of a green light do you think he has to score for you? I mean, you know, he scored a lot last year. I think that, you know, being around him, the thing that I've already learned is, you know, he's very focused on becoming, on improving in every area, you know, running the team, you know, his defense, he's a terrific defensive rebounder. So I don't, you know, one of his beauties is not just his talent, it's his intangible. He's a great teammate. He's a very upbeat person. His teammates like to be around them.

He has a relationship with everybody and he's just a very, very positive guy. So he brings a lot to the team besides just being, you know, like you said, a unique talent. The identity of the teams that you had when you were here in Charlotte before, really strong physical defenses. And we didn't see a lot of that the last couple of years from Charlotte.

You, one of the first things you went to with LaMelo that has impressed you is his defensive rebounding, for example there. How long does it take for a coach's, what a coach wants to implement an identity to actually take hold on a team? Yeah, you know what, obviously the two games we played so far, we struggled defensively, but we have been, you know, a little bit shorthanded and in practice they've worked hard at it. I mean, the trick for me is, you know, we're trying to do things in a way so that we'll improve on an already really, really good offense and then get the defense so we're like top 12 to 15. And if we do, then we'll be a good team.

And, you know, it will take some time, but I think the guys have had good attitude and they're working hard at it. Have you ever seen, or I guess when is the last time you've seen the NBA as talented as it is right now? Because I see more than a few people pointing out that when you go team to team, like especially in the Eastern Conference, there isn't an easy out anywhere. And it seemed that just even a few years ago that was not the case, that people were talking about the league's not deep enough.

What do you think? I think the East is loaded right now. And when things happen where, you know, you bring in guys like Donovan Mitchell to go to a Cleveland team that was already very good, it's, you know, you look at the top, again, like top 10, 11 teams from a year ago, and everybody's very good. So, you know, the trick is to get into the playoffs. And then again, I think that's where the balance play will come in, you know, most both teams, if you can be top 10 in either offense or defense, and then top, you know, 12 to 15 in the other, you're going to have a chance to make it and that's kind of what we have our sights on. Anything on tape at Duke or at practice or early on in preseason really stand out to you about Mark Williams?

Is there a play? Is there a moment that has really impressed you early on? I would say more than just one play, just more than nature of how he is. You know, very bright, very good worker, he picks details up quickly. And he has a really, really bright future.

You know, I think he can be a obviously a defensive president like he was in college. And then also, he's working very hard on the skills and his range shooting. And so I think like a lot of players that first year or two in the NBA, you know, the skills improve because, you know, they have a lot more time in the gym.

And I see that happening with Mark also. Hornets coach Steve Clifford with us. Last thing on the way out since you're going to be in Greensboro tomorrow, 730 at the Coliseum against the Celtics preseason action. You also inherited Jordan Sorenkamp as the swarms coach down here. He was the summer league coach as well for you guys. How much synergy does there need to be between the G League coach and the NBA coach in order to make things work when guys go up to the big team and back down here to Greensboro?

Yeah, I mean, it's a really critical area for any organization. And I'm enjoying working with Jordan a great deal. He did a great job with the Summer League. He's around here in September. And now for training camp, he's with us. He and his whole staff are with us daily and very bright, very hardworking, very, very good coach.

And now we're fortunate to have him. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow night, coach. It's good to have you back in the Carolinas. Steve Clifford joining us. Everybody go out and see the Hornets play the Celtics tomorrow night. Thanks for the time. Hope to catch up with you before the season tips off. Okay. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-25 12:27:57 / 2022-12-25 12:31:50 / 4

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