Keith Smart – the Captain of a Sinking Ship

When there are times of desperation, people look to a leader. Someone to guide them through difficult situations; someone to project hope when all seems lost; someone who can dream of what could be, when others are focused on what is. Sometimes a leader emerges from the crowd, sometimes leadership is thrusted upon those with potential, and sometimes a leader leads because that’s all he knows how to do. Regardless of how one comes into leadership, the key factor of a leader is always the same. Influence. The ability to motivate others into doing or acting in a behavior designed by the one leading.

This year the Sacramento Kings have a new leader guiding their ship. Keith Smart started the year as an assistant coach, and has now been given the Captain’s hat after a dismal 2-5 start to the season. January 5th, 2012 was the date. The weather was stormy, the waves were crashing, and there seemed to be utterances of a mutiny on deck. Although it seemed almost immediately that this Captain had the influence his crew was looking for.

Not unlike most new coaches, it took time to redirect the course of a wayward ship. Coach Smart started his campaign the same way Coach Westphal did; 2-5. Although as the season progressed, you began to see teamwork, ball movement, and energy. The ship seemed to be heading in the right direction….FINALLY! And then came a 5-game losing streak which included a 33 point loss in Memphis and a 29 point loss, at home, against Denver . In fact, the USS Sacramento closed out their January run losing at Golden State 90-93. But wait! There was hope. It wasn’t a blowout!

Since that loss, the Kings have been competitive, energized, and passionate about their play. It seemed as though their influential leader had begun to steer them in the right direction. Coach Smart has been preaching ball movement since taking over this team, and his message has not fallen on deaf ears. Under Smart’s guidance the Kings have raised their assist per game average (apg.) from 13.7 to 17.5 apg. They have also gone 4-2 in their last six games. These are the types of statistics that are encouraging as a fan.

Perhaps Coach Smart’s greatest test will be the team’s upcoming 6-game road trip, where the Kings will face arguably the top 3 teams in the Eastern Conference in Chicago, NY, and Miami . But like any good Captain, Keith Smart will take his team into the storm one game at a time. Let’s just hope they come out the other side with some victories. “The best thing about the future, is that it comes only one day at a time” -Abraham Lincoln.

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