Igor Kokoskov is the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America Malik Jefferson Color Rush Jersey
, but he reminded everyone at his introductory news conference with the Phoenix Suns on Monday that he didn’t exactly just get off the plane.
”I don’t consider myself as a European coach,” he said. ”I’m an NBA coach.”
Kokoskov, 46, just finished his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. He’s been with six different teams. Some played slow. Some played fast. He has been on the staffs of seven squads to reach the conference finals. This game is not new to him.
”As a coach, I’m not spoiled,” he said. ”I think your job is to build and create from what you have in front of you. I’m the kind of guy who loves my team. I love my guys and they can feel it.”
Kokoskov was named head coach of the Suns last week but, as an assistant with the Utah Jazz, he had to finish his work in the playoff series against the Houston Rockets before turning his attention to the desert.
He was an assistant with the Suns from 2008 to 2013 and became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony on the court at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena.
”We really, as a family, the Family Kokoskov, consider Phoenix as a home base,” he said. ”This is always home base.”
Although he certainly has paid the traditional dues as an NBA assistant, he knows he’ll also have the label ”foreign coach.”
Kokoskov praised the ”courage” of Suns owner Robert Sarver and the team’s management to hire a ”rookie coach, international coach Youth Connor Williams Jersey , foreign coach.”
”I kind of carry some responsibilities because, if this fails, then American media and the public are going to say, `See, they can’t coach. We’ve got to stick with our guys,”’ Kokoskov said.
But any ultimate judgment, he said, will come from what happens on the court.
”It’s all about winning,” Kokoskov said. ”It doesn’t really matter if you’re an international or American coach. All that matters is can you get it done and can you coach?”
He inherits a team that went 21-61, worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history. The Suns haven’t made the playoffs in eight seasons but do have the most ping pong balls in Tuesday night’s lottery to determine what team gets the No. 1 overall pick,
Still, Kokoskov said the Suns have ”a good solid foundation.”
”With a couple of guys maybe we’re going to add, obviously we are expecting a lot from the upcoming draft and free agency,” he said. ”That is something that we have a long summer to discuss http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jeremiah-attao chu-jersey , to talk, but the foundation is there.”
Kokoskov, who coached Slovenia to the EuroBasket 2017 championship, said he’s not wedded to any particular style of play, that it will depend on the talent at hand. When he was with the Suns, there was Steve Nash and it was a fast pace.
”I was fortunate to be part of a winning team and be part of the team with Steve Nash and Grant Hill and the rest of the guys,” he said, ”being part of the staff with Alvin Gentry.”
Kokoskov was there when the Suns advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2010.
But the years have not been kind to the once-vibrant franchise since Nash’s departure.
General manager Ryan McDonough has said the time is now to inject some more experienced talent into the current mix of youngsters, who are led by burgeoning star Devin Booker.
Kokoskov gets the task of trying to fulfill that ambition.
The team, he said, needs to be playing on television in June, and he wasn’t talking about its perennial appearance in the draft lottery.
”I think the city of Phoenix deserves that,” Kokoskov said. ”I think the fans that love basketball deserve that and we’ll do our best to bring this organization and team into that path. We want to be in June on TV.”
Semyon Varlamov stopped everything – including a hard-crashing Chicago player late in the third period.
Only, the collision took its toll: sending the Colorado goaltender flying into the net and knocking him out of the game.
Varlamov stopped 30 shots before leaving with an apparent injury Da'Ron Payne Color Rush Jersey , and the Avalanche continued their playoff push with a 5-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar had no update on Varlamov’s status after the victory.
Varlamov was cruising along until Blackhawks forward Tomas Jurco tumbled into his left pad with 6:25 remaining. Varlamov was looked at by trainers before Jonathan Bernier skated in to finish the game.
Bernier, who stopped three shots, and Varlamov combined for the first team shutout in franchise history, according to the Avalanche.
Losing Varlamov – who has a history of groin issues – would be a blow for an Avalanche squad that remains in contention a season after finishing with a league-worst 48 points.
”Varly keeps us in it for a while and then we get our legs going,” Bednar said. ”We have to take care of our business. That’s all we can do.”
Collin Delia stopped 31 shots for last-place Chicago. He made his NHL debut the night before, but left in the third due to cramps. That opened the door for Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who made an emergency appearance and became an instant feel-good story.
Delia was impressed by the speed of the Avalanche, whose scoring attack was led by Sven Andrighetto’s two goals . Tyson Barrie, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost also scored.
”Very skilled,” Delia said. ”It’s good for me to get in there and see that, see a dominant team like them, how they move the puck.”
Colorado converted each of its three power plays. Rantanen’s goal with the man advantage in the third came off a feed from Nathan MacKinnon, who now has 93 points. It’s the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07.
Barrie gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at 8:14 of the second period with a shot near the blue line. Barrie then saved a potential goal minutes later when he swatted away a puck that had trickled through the pads of Varlamov, who was back in net after missing a game with an illness.
”It was probably my fault that the puck was even that close to the goal line Youth Atlanta Falcons Jerseys ,” Barrie said. ”So, it’s fortunate that I could get a stick on it a couple of times.”
Andrighetto scored the game’s first goal on a power play late in the first period. He skated in, split two defensemen and lifted a shot over Delia for his first goal since Dec. 23 at Arizona. He has missed a total of 31 games this season with what’s been termed by the team as a lower-body injury.
”Definitely a big win for us and we’ve got to keep that going,” Andrighetto said.
Chicago called up goaltender J-F Berube on the heels of Foster’s appearance against Winnipeg on Thursday. Foster was summoned into action when starter Anton Forsberg was hurt during pregame and Delia, who was just recalled from the minors, went out with cramps.
The NHL adjusted its rules last summer to mandate that teams have an emergency goalie present for all home games ready to fill in for either side. Foster, a former goaltender at Western Michigan University, stopped all seven shots.
Foster made an immediate impression.
”What are the chances that someone else ever gets to do that again?” Delia said. ”It was good for him and the boys really rallied around him.”
NOTES: Blackhawks D Blake Hillman made his NHL debut. He recently signed a two-year deal with the team after playing down the road at the University of Denver. … Bernier is quickly mending after suffering a cut on his finger that became infected. ”It was pretty bad,” Bernier said. ”Lucky enough, didn’t need surgery.” … Avalanche D Erik Johnson was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. … It was the Avalanche’s 27th home win, which is tied for second-most in franchise history.
Blackhawks: At St. Louis on Wednesday.
Avalanche: Start a three-game trip Sunday in Anaheim.