The coaching carousel continues to revolve at Taft Avenue as the DLSU Green Archers part ways with another head coach in Louie Gonzales. Despite finishing Season 81 with an 8-6 win-loss record, Gonzales and the Green Archers still missed out on the Final Four after Arvin Tolentino of the FEU Tamaraws buried the game-winning three-pointer in a knock-out match last November 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A few weeks after the heartbreaking loss, the school decided to sack Gonzales and move on with a new head coach. Rumours of who will replace Gonzales spread like wildfire, but it came to a halt when there were reports that Jermaine Byrd, a former Los Angeles D-Fenders assistant coach, was the chosen one.
Lady Archers head coach Cholo Villanueva immediately notified The LaSallian and shared that the reported news was wrong. “The media people got confused, it’s actually Larry Bird who will lead the men’s team next season.” He continued, “Same pronunciation of the last name, but clearly, the spelling
New nest, same bird
After spending his entire playing career with the Boston Celtics, Bird quickly joined the front office of the NBA’s winningest franchise as a special assistant, but eventually left the team to take up a head coaching job with the Indiana Pacers in 1997.
In his three seasons coaching the Pacers, Bird led them to three consecutive Playoffs berths, two division titles, and one Finals appearance in 2000. He resigned after losing the championship to the Los Angeles Lakers that year, but returned to the team in 2003 to become the Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations.
Bird stepped down from his position in 2017, and said that he wanted to “do other things away from basketball”, but had a change of heart when La Salle came calling just before 2018 ended.
“[I’ve] been hearing good stuff about the Philippines and the people’s love for the sport, so I decided to give it a shot and experience a new challenge,” said the
This is the sixth coaching change for the Green-and-White since former head coach Franz Pumaren left the team in 2009, but Bird remained unfazed when this particular news got to him.
“It just shows that the school is very serious about winning and competing for the title. Failure is not an option, so hopefully, I can deliver and stay with the team until the end of my [five-year] contract.”
Bird will be banking on the better execution of three-pointers as the focal point of the offense of La Salle. Being a three time winner in the three-point shooting contest and averaging a 37.6 percent three-point field goal percentage in his NBA career, Bird prides himself in utilizing the three-point line. “I believe that this talented group of young players have the ability to become knockdown three-point shooters,” Bird stated.
The player that Bird believes will be the next top scorer for the Green Archers is Aljun Melecio. Bird explained, “The kid has a lot of heart and talent. He has potential, the potential to become a scoring machine. He just needs to develop his shooting even more, as well as his
The main focus of Bird is to improve the three-point percentages of Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Jollo Go, and Joaqui Manuel. Bird will be looking to equip Encho Serrano, Mark Dyke, and Brandon Bates with the three-point shooting during the offseason. “I plan on making everyone on the team a shooter, this will help spread the floor, and make life tough for the
While most of the Green Archers are doing fairly well with the training of Bird, the same cannot be be said for some of the players who have been struggling at the three-point line. Center Bates shared that it was “extremely difficult at first.” Bates also talked about how every time he attempted a three-pointer, it would either hit the rim or hit the ceiling lights, ricocheting after bouncing from the basketball board. “That was last week, this week I’ve made 10 out of my 50 attempts,” Bates added.
Written in the stars
DLSU is a perfect fit for Bird as both his former team, the Boston Celtics during the 1980s, and his new team, the Green Archers, don the same team colors: green and white. When asked about the similarities of the team colors, colors, the NBA legend responded, “I love it! It’s as if I never left home.” This was also one of the key reasons that helped Bird decide to take on the position as La Salle’s head coach. “Honestly, at first, I was 60 percent committed in coaching for DLSU. But when I found out that DLSU has the same team colors as my former team, I was completely sold. I told the Office of Sports Development that I would sign up immediately,”