Celtics

Philbin surrounds himself with New England familiarity in Miami

951631.jpg

Philbin surrounds himself with New England familiarity in Miami

FOXBORO -- The Patriots travel to Miami on Sunday, but they won't be the only ones with New England ties.
Springfield, Mass. native Joe Philbin filled his coaching staff with people he worked with in the New England area before he became Miami's coach in January.
He was part of coaching staffs at Northeastern and Harvard before he jumped on an NFL staff. And from his former English professor at Worcester Academy in Mike Sherman, to coaches he worked with at Northeastern, Harvard, and even at local football camps, Philbin has surrounded himself with familiar faces, all who have connections to New England.
"When I was fortunate enough to get this job, I knew it was going to be important to hire, number one, excellent coaches, but number two, people that I could have total trust and faith in, guys that were loyal," said Philbin in a conference call on Wednesday. "That's the first and foremost thing."
So he hired his former high school teacher, Sherman, to be the Dolphins' offensive coordinator, while hiring former Holy Cross defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to run Miami's defense.
"I'm delighted about having both of them as the coordinators," said Philbin. "Obviously they have double-digit years of experience in the National Football League. Mike's been a proven winning head coach in the National Football League. He was the head coach for six seasons and had five winning seasons, so I think he knows how to build a winner. He's a great resource to have.
"Kevin Coyle's a dedicated professional, and made a nice contribution in 11 years in Cincinnati. He's an unselfish guy and a real pro.
"So, to have both those guys on the staff, I feel very fortunate."
Out of the two coordinators though, Sherman's presence is one that looks to make the most sense. Sherman coached rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M, and even though the reunion wasn't necessarily planned, their familiarity with each other has certainly helped the transition.
"I barely knew who Ryan Tannehill was between you, me, and the four walls," said Philbin.
"I think it's helped quite a bit," added Philbin. "Sherman knows how the kid thinks. He knows how the kid acts. I believe the coordinator and the quarterback have to be on the same page, and have to kind of view the game the same way, if you will. That part of the relationship has been helpful, no question."
"I definitely think it helped," said Tannehill in a conference call on Wednesday. "It definitely made my transition easier, in the fact that, I didn't have to learn a full playbook. I had the foundation of it down. And of course we have some new things and new tweaks, and we've built on it along the way. But coming in, having the foundation of it already known, I didn't have to spend the same amount of time learning the plays. I could devote more time to understanding defenses and focusing on the fundamentals and intricacies of the plays, rather than just the concepts in general."
Philbin enjoys the familiarity he has with his coaching staff, especially with those who aren't coordinators.
"Jimmy Turner, I worked with at Northeastern University, he's coaching our offensive line," said Philbin. "Lou Anarumo is coaching our secondary, I worked with him at Harvard. And I used to work the Holy Cross camp with Kevin Coyle 100 years ago. Ya, we've got quite a few guys from the New England region, no doubt about it."
Bringing those guys in, was just one way that he could return the favor to those who gave him coaching opportunities in the past, helping him get to the NFL.
"It was a great experience at both Northeastern and Harvard," said Philbin. "Barry Gallup, who's the assistant AD at Boston College, was nice enough to give me a job at Northeastern. I was unemployed after going to Ohio University. We went a glamorous 0-for-11 and I didn't have any job. I had four children, and my wife was pregnant, and Barry was good enough to give me a job, and I loved coaching every minute there. I was the offensive coordinator. Barry was excellent to work for. We had a winning season in the Yankee Conference, the first time I think they ever had one there, in '96 I want to say.
"I used to drive by Harvard every single day at work, going to Northeastern, so I cut my commute down about 10 minutes. And Harvard football head coach Tim Murphy's just done a fantastic job there, as you guys know. An excellent and program that he has there. And I really enjoyed that experience as well."

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

usatsi_10396353.jpg

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”