As a high school math teacher for over 20 years, I can't tell you how many times I've had kids ask me "When am I ever going to use this stuff" when I'm trying to teach some concept. For many of the lessons, my answer was "to pass the end of the year exam." You can imagine my joy this morning when I read the Herald article on Jared Sullinger and saw the following paragraph where Jared's dad, Satch Sullinger, was talking about how he taught Jared the fundamentals of basketball.
“I’ve always taught my players that you play the game the way you live your life,” Satch said. “You handle your business. It’s called accountability. Like when you’re in math class, do math, because there’s a place for math in your life. It might not be carpentry or as a mathematician, but for example, if Jared gets double-teamed, one pass out of a double team automatically creates a 4-on-3 advantage for the Boston Celtics.
“So notice where the double team’s coming from so you know where to pass the ball. That’s math. That’s as simple as it can be.”
Yes! Finally an answer for that age old question. Unfortunately, I didn't have any students go on to play pro basketball but I did have one major league baseball player and a few math teachers come out of those classes. But, that's another story. Back to basketball and Sully, who was taught the right way to play by his dad. Not just the math thing, but the team thing. Sully has been taught that the most important thing for a player to do is to fill a role on a team. As the Herald article puts it,
"That's the difference between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, the difference between a champion and a singular sensation."
One of the biggest advantages the Celtics have is the presence of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics don't have a big man coach this year and that may be because Kevin Garnett has become the de facto big man coach for this team. The big test for any rookie is to be accepted by Kevin Garnett. We have all heard the stories during Garnett’s five years with the Celtics of him turning on a player when they dismissed his advice. KG has spent a lot of time working with Sully, who has soaked it in like a sponge and come back for more. In the video above, after Saturday's game, KG expresses his thoughts on Sully's move to the starting lineup and what he brings to it.
“I.Q. No offense against Jeff [Green] or [Brandon Bass], but we have different mixes of people and he brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with the starting group.”
So, there you have it. KG endorses Sully's move into the starting lineup. Of course, Doc is still working out his rotations and he could very well move Brandon Bass back into the starting lineup for some games, or for good. After all, Sully is a rookie and we all know that Doc doesn't just give playing time or starting rolls to rookies. He'll make him earn it. But, he may also heed KG's words and keep Sully in the starting lineup.
It makes a lot of sense to start Jared. As KG said, Sully blends well with the starting group. He brings a low post presence to the starting lineup that neither KG nor Brandon Bass do. Both KG and Bass prefer to shoot jumpers and play away from the basket. It also gives the second unit another sorer with the addition of Bass. And, Sully has an uncanny knack for grabbing rebounds.
But, in order to continue to stay on the court, Sully needs to do two things. First, he needs to play defense. Along with the praise for Sully from KG, he also had this to say,
"We're a defensive team that can score... We're a defensive team first." Playing lock down team defense has to be the top priority of each player on the court. Sully's willingness and ability to play that type of defense will be key to his staying on the court. Second, he needs to find some way to cut down on his fouls. He's been getting the rookie treatment from the refs, racking up 8 fouls in the last two games. But then again, Dave Cowens seemed to be a foul magnet as a rookie also and it seemed to work out pretty well for him.