What we know about the Bobcats new head coach Steve Clifford

Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Do you know how long after reports of Steve Clifford's hiring it took before I heard that he didn't have a Wikipedia page?

Well, I was at work at the time, but I saw it on Twitter within a minute or two as soon as I had the chance to get on my phone.

Here we go again.

So since apparently people lack the ability to search anything besides Wikipedia, here's a rundown of what we know about the Bobcats new head coach:

Background

  • Clifford has had an incredible rise to the NBA ranks. He played four years at the University of Maine at Farmington. Yes, Farmington. In the final two seasons, he was named Best Defensive Player while serving as team captain.
  • He then became a teacher and basketball coach at Woodland High School in Maine, leading the team to two tournament berths in his two years at the school.
  • From there, Clifford jumped to the next level, coaching as an assistant at Division II school Saint Anselm College for four years. Then he went to Division I's Fairfield College for a season as an assistant before returning to coach under Bob Brown, who had been the head coach at Saint Anselm and then became the head coach at Brown University.
  • After four years as an assistant at Brown, Clifford briefly coached at Siena College for a season before taking his first collegiate head coaching gig at Adelphi University. At Adelphia, Clifford led Adelphi to four straight 20-win seasons in his four years there (the first such streak in school history) and four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. After that, Clifford went to Eastern Carolina University as an assistant for a season (HINT HINT, LOCAL NEWS ENTITIES: THERE'S YOUR IN!) before starting his NBA career.
  • For the 2000-01 season, Clifford was an advance scout for the New York Knicks, before subsequently becoming an assistant coach for the team from 2001 to 2003 under head coaches Jeff Van Gundy and Don Chaney. When Van Gundy was hired by the Houston Rockets in 2003, he brought Clifford aboard. He stayed with Van Gundy in Houston for the entirety of his tenure there until 2007.
  • Since then, Clifford went to work with the other Van Gundy, Stan, in Orlando for five seasons. When the Magic decided to separate from Stan Van Gundy and effectively begin a complete rebuild, including sending Dwight Howard to Los Angeles.
  • With Orlando's situation in shambles and Howard in Los Angeles, Clifford joined the Lakers' coaching staff as an assistant.
  • This offseason Clifford was a coaching finalist for not only the Bobcats but also for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Coaching Style

Honestly, I don't know much about his coaching style with regard to any specifics. I know he models himself in the mold of a Tom Thibodeau style coach. So if Thibodeau is any indicator, Clifford likes a grinding pace with strong defensive fundamentals, with an emphasis on spacing and physicality.

It will be interesting to see how his influences separate him from that mold, however. Stan Van Gundy was especially talented at coaching a team to respect spacing on offense and finding the value in efficient three-point looks that the space created. I'm not sure who's to say. Stan Van Gundy certainly thinks he's a fantastic hire, telling Sports Illustratedthe following:

Though Clifford has a reputation as a defensive-minded coach, Van Gundy said Clifford "is not a specialist."

"He has got it all," Van Gundy said. "He's a great Xs and Os guy and he has got a great ability to teach and he has great relationships with players. He's very much into preparation. He won't take any shortcuts. Steve will put a great emphasis on developing players. Not just skill development, but using film, talking to guys individually, spending time with them. And on the court he will emphasize defense, ball movement and guys playing together. He will be a fabulous head coach."

I'm intrigued and excited by this hire and with any luck, the Bobcats have found the coach with experience and talent for a sustainable future that they were looking for.

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