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Heading into his third season as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, Dave Joerger holds a reputation as a proven leader with a knack for tough, championship-caliber basketball. While his success in Memphis is known to NBA fans, they might not know that Joerger has been producing winning basketball since he assumed a coaching role.
A college athlete at Concordia College and Moorhead State, Joerger transitioned from playing to coaching when he accepted a position with the Dakota Wizards of the International Basketball Association. From 1997-2000, he would serve as an assistant before becoming the team’s head coach in 2000. Soon after, titles came to Dakota and Joerger until he moved on in 2004.
After leaving Dakota, Joerger brought winning pedigrees to the Cedar Rapids River Raiders (2004), the Sioux Falls Skyforce (04-06) and another stint with the Dakota Wizards (06-07).
Joerger’s success garnered the attention of the Grizzlies, as he joined the team as an assistant coach for the 2006-2007 season–a position he’d hold until 2013. When the Grizzlies announced that head coach Lionel Hollins would depart the club after the season, attention turned to Joerger.
With the team under his guidance, the Grizzlies reputation for hard-nosed, efficient basketball would grow. Players like Mike Conley Jr., Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph would be just a few that bought into the new head coach’s system. In his first season, Memphis would reach the first round of the playoffs. The following season would see the club reach the conference semifinals before bowing out to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
As Joerger enters season three at the helm, Grizzly fans are excited to see what’s in store. With new addition Matt Barnes joining the squad, Joerger has a bolstered squad ready to push further into the playoffs. The Grizzlies open the season October 28 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just recently, my Memphis Grizzlies’ season of absolute Grit-N-Grind came to a halt at the hands of the out-of-this-world Golden State Warriors. While it’s not the ending the fans in the FedEx Forum hoped for, it was a season of improvement, action and nonstop heart. From the new arrivals to our veteran core, this squad came together and left it all on the court every night. Coach Dave Joerger and General Manager Chris Wallace have to be commended for their excellent work assembling this immensely talented team.
There is no shortage of heart in Memphis. From Tony “1st Team All-Defense” Allen to Zach “Z-Bo” Randolph and countless others, Grizzlies fans knew that there wouldn’t be any nights taken off by this squad. They came prepared and ready to take on the premiere organizations of the league on any night. That sort of work ethic showed via our improved record of 55 wins and 27 losses–improving on last season’s 50-win total. No one can say they got an easy win over this season’s
Our veterans were stellar on both sides of the ball as Marc Gasol joined Mike Conley and Zach Randolph as a key stat leader in several offensive and defensive categories. They’re hard work propelled the Grizzlies to have the second-fewest points per game allowed in the league. Even the most talented squads had a hard
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time getting through our stingy perimeter defense and strong bodies down low. Certainly, there were areas where we can improve on the stat sheets, but with a solid defensive foundation the team could assuredly contend with any club.
Once again, GM Chris Wallace did an excellent job making acquisitions before and during the season to keep the team thriving even during trying stretches. Veteran additions like Vince Carter and Beno Udrih helped anchor a strong bench, while the trade for Jeff Green improved an already impressive defensive unit. Although these moves led to Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter moving onto new clubs, the team made the tough decisions to put the club in a better position to compete.
Mike Conley grits it out during Game 6. (Source: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images)
From top to bottom, this roster were willing to put themselves out on the floor and win no matter what.
Injuries bit the Grizzlies for most of the season, right down to the end, which served as just another testament to this team’s grit. Mike Conley and Tony Allen’s injuries nagged them right to Game 6 where they fought their hardest to grind another win out. While the result isn’t what anyone wanted, no one can say the Grizz didn’t go down swinging.
There are several major questions the team will face in the offseason. The draft and free agency are going to be integral pieces in the team’s immediate and long-term future. We have faith that Coach Joerger will continue to push this team in the right direction while we push off the court. The season may have ended earlier than we hoped for, but the Grizzlies will be back for many years to come.