- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Lest anyone forget, Collins could play a little. He was the first pick of the 1973 NBA draft and a four-time All-Star who was just hitting his prime when a variety of foot and knee injuries slowed him. He had surgery seven times and finally had to retire after the 1980-81 season. Before he was hurt, Collins was quick and volatile on the court, and his moves were more playground than textbook. "Tell you the truth, I never thought of Doug as a coaching type," says Heard. "Henry, yes, Doug, no." But though his play may not have reflected it, Collins was a student of the game. He kept detailed notes about every opponent. During Philly-Boston games he delighted in telling his opposite number on the Celtics, Charlie Scott, where Scott was supposed to line up on a particular set play called from the Boston bench. Further, Collins devoured the agate type on the sports pages and kept up with the college game, too. "I had so much info they called me Scoop," says Collins.
Bibby has had coaching aspirations since high school. When his nine-year NBA career ended in San Diego after the 1980-81 season, he signed on as a Lancaster player-assistant coach under Cazzie Russell, and they led the Lightning to the CBA championship. Two teams in that league, the Albany (N.Y.) Patroons and the Wyoming Wildcatters, offered Bibby the head job for this season. He was mulling over which one to take when his lawyer urged him to apply for a slot at Arizona State.
Collins and Bibby are splitting the princely sum of $52,000, the amount budgeted for two basketball assistants. However, Collins is still getting paid by the 76ers, having settled a seven-year contract that once paid him a reported $300,000 a year. Not only did that make him one of the highest-paid players in the league at the time, but he also invested his income wisely.
Bibby, on the other hand, is an average Henry. He never had a contract worth as much as $100,000 a year and didn't have a lot of money for investing. But he has a job in the town where he wants to live, and he's not spending $800 a month on phone bills as he did when he was looking for a coaching job after he retired.
While Heard, 34, tries to make it as a businessman, he's also getting some deferred money from his contract with San Diego, the last team he played with before retiring after the 1980-81 season. Unlike Collins and Bibby, he never thought about coaching until he spent a year away from the game, but now he feels that it might be his future.
"The year after I quit was the first time I really started watching basketball," Heard says. "I went to a lot of Suns games and began looking at college games on TV. I really got interested in it from a coaching standpoint." He discussed that interest with Phoenix Sun Coach John MacLeod, who also was Heard's college coach at Oklahoma, and MacLeod urged him to apply to work with Weinhauer. "The main thing that placed Doug and Henry above Gar was that they'd had one year of coaching," says Weinhauer. Adds Heard, "I really wasn't disappointed at all that Doug and Henry were chosen ahead of me. I'm just looking to pick up some coaching experience. I think I'd like to stick with it now."
None of the three turns practice time into showtime. Collins might be tempted, but the left knee that ended his career blows up like a balloon after strenuous activity. Rather, they concentrate on specific responsibilities: Collins handles the man-to-man offense, Bibby the full-court man-to-man and half-court defenses, the 6'6" Heard the big men. Weinhauer's specialties are the zone defenses and offenses and the transition game.
During games all three assistants coach the way they played. Collins is a jumping jack and a screamer, who's often hoarse by the end of a game. Whoever comes to the bench, big man or small man, will get a few words of advice from Collins. Bibby is quiet but relentlessly intense. He speaks almost to himself using the buzzwords that characterized his own game: "Pressure, pressure! Push it, push it! Step in, step in!" Heard will occasionally have a word with a big man, but he's silent most of the time.
Because Collins is more familiar with Weinhauer's system, he's Weinhauer's principal sounding board during games. But Weinhauer will often ask all his assistants, "Any ideas on personnel?" Despite the presence of these big-name former pros, this remains Weinhauer's team. A sardonic, wisecracking disciplinarian who took Penn, an Ivy League team, to the Final Four in 1979, Weinhauer runs practice, draws up the game, plan and does almost all of the talking during timeouts. And he knows of what he speaks; his major-college record is 103-46.
Still, no one can forget that his three assistants represent 28 years of NBA experience. All three played in NBA title games, and Bibby owns a Knicks' 1973 championship ring. Their example has been particularly significant in the case of junior Guard Byron Scott, the only Sun Devil with surefire pro talent. Scott, who sat out last year because of personal problems, was initially unreceptive to the Weinhauer staff because he felt the head job should have gone to Jim Newman, a Wulk assistant. Scott has changed his tune, now that Collins has him squaring up when he takes his jumper and Bibby has worked with him on establishing defensive position.