82 games into career, Corbin growing as coach

Apr 1 2012 - 11:33pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- When the Jazz visit the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, it'll mark Tyrone Corbin's 82nd game as Utah's head coach.

Under normal circumstances, that's called a full NBA season.

Since taking over for Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan in February 2011, there has been nothing normal about Corbin's run as the Jazz's head man.

"It seems like two seasons," he said with a chuckle.

In fact, the 49-year-old former Jazz player has been Utah's coach for parts of two season. After taking over for Sloan, he led the Jazz to an 8-20 record to finish out the 2010-11 season.

Then came the lockout, a brief training camp and a truncated 2011-12 schedule, all of which combined to add another degree of difficulty to Corbin's first "full" season as head coach.

Going into tonight's game the Jazz (27-26) are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, 11aN2 games out of the playoffs. Combining this season's mark with last year's, Corbin's overall coaching record is 35-46.

"It's been a good ride," he said. "It's been a great learning experience. We'll continue to learn and grow as coaches."

Corbin said Sloan offered him some advice as he left.

"One of the best things he told me was 'Be yourself,' " he said. "(Sloan added) 'You're not going to know everything, you're not going to make all the right decisions but do the best you can and be yourself.' That's held true."

Over the course of 16 NBA seasons, Corbin played in 1,065 games for eight different teams. As a coach, that journeyman career has given him a player's perspective, he said.

"I played with all kinds of guys and personalities," he said. "You just deal with (different personalities). Hopefully they understand at some point in whatever they're trying to go through that the team is more important than anybody. We have to continue to work and develop the team and not just individuals."

Corbin overhauled the Jazz's defensive philosophy during training camp and it took several games to finally get his player to buy into the program. Also, he's had at least two public conflicts with veteran guard Raja Bell along the way, but Corbin's players stand by him.

"From last year, they way he got put into this situation, all of us thought he handled it very well," center Al Jefferson said. "He's getting better and better everyday.

"Even with this year, with the short training camp and the lockout and everything, I think he's handled the situation well. If it wasn't for him I don't think we could be in this position."

Bell, 35, has missed 10 consecutive games with a strained adductor muscle in his left leg. On March 8, Corbin sent him home in the middle of a road trip and the two later met with general manager Kevin O'Connor to iron out some communication issues.

Since then, Bell has played in only three games.

"I've never questioned him as the right coach for the job," Bell said last month.

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