DETROIT -- Even by the Detroit Pistons recent standards, this was an abrupt change. Detroit fired coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday after less than a year as coach, with the Pistons languishing well below .500 despite off-season moves aimed at putting the struggling franchise back in contention. Detroit is 21-29, and although the Pistons still have a decent chance to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, their new roster has performed erratically. "This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change," team president Joe Dumars said in a statement. "We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work." A person with knowledge of Detroits plans said assistant John Loyer will take over as interim coach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced an interim coach yet. The Pistons havent made the playoffs since being swept in the first round in 2009 -- in Michael Currys only season as their coach. Since then, Detroit has gone through two seasons under John Kuester and two under Lawrence Frank. After neither of them could make any real progress, Cheeks was brought in as Detroits ninth coach since the 1999-2000 season. In addition to hiring Cheeks last off-season, Detroit signed forward Josh Smith and traded for point guard Brandon Jennings, trying to bolster a roster that already included young big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. But the mix has been uninspiring for the most part. The Pistons have had problems defensively and have struggled to close out games in the fourth quarter. The poor attendance thats become commonplace at The Palace hasnt really improved -- and Detroits 11-15 home record hasnt helped. "Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change," Pistons owner Tom Gores said Sunday. "We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress." Detroit is only a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the East, but thats largely because so many teams in the conference are having similar problems. The Pistons are only three games better than they were after 50 games last season. Cheeks became the first coach to leave or be fired after 50 games or fewer with an NBA team since Bob Weiss, who coached only 30 games for Seattle in 2005-06, according to STATS. That does not include interim coaches. "The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around," Gores said. "I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach." The Pistons have won four of six, including back-to-back blowouts at home against Brooklyn and Denver on Friday and Saturday. They host San Antonio on Monday night, and the team has not made any announcement about who will coach that game. Cheeks previously coached Portland and Philadelphia, a team he won an NBA title with as a point guard. The Pistons gave him his third shot to be an NBA head coach in June. Gores was in attendance at a recent game and said he thought the team was better than its record. "Im not satisfied. Our job is to make sure that our players are at their maximum," Gores said after that Feb. 1 game against Philadelphia. "Im not satisfied with the job Im doing. Im not satisfied with the job anyone is doing." At that point, speculation centred around the upcoming trade deadline and the possibility that Detroit might shake up its roster again. Now, the Pistons are hoping another coaching change can improve the franchises outlook. Detroit made the conference finals six straight years from 2003-08, but the teams fall was swift after that, and rebuilding has been difficult. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Pistons championship in 2004 -- and the atmosphere at The Palace could hardly be more different. "Were focused on how to make our players the best," Gores said earlier this month. "I dont think weve done our best job of making sure they are at their best. They are working at 100 per cent, but these are young men who need a lot of preparation." The Pistons became the third major pro team in Detroit to make a coaching or managerial change in the past six months. Jim Leyland of the Tigers stepped down and was replaced by Brad Ausmus after last season, and the Lions fired Jim Schwartz in late December, eventually replacing him with Jim Caldwell. So Ausmus, who has yet to manage a game, is now the second-longest tenured manager or coach of the citys four major pro teams. Yahoo Sports first reported Cheeks firing. Anthony Rendon Jersey
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. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are tightening the race for second place in the Atlantic Division."I dont get this much love at home." Clearly enjoying the moment, he then looked out from the stage towards his eldest son, who was sat in amongst the Impact faithful, and dead panned. "Dont forget to tell your mother." It was the Impacts inaugural Members Assembly and Joey Saputo had just been formally introduced to 500 plus newly minted IMFC members taking place at the downtown Sheraton Centre. As Saputo walked to the podium to welcome all, to a man and woman they got to their feet and gave their club President a rousing standing ovation. He reveled in the adulations. How different it had been just six-weeks earlier and the last time Saputo spoke to an engaged Impact audience. Then, it was a clearly disillusioned Saputo who met with the media for the 2013 season post-mortem. A season which promised so very much and which ultimately descended into the Horrors of Houston. Uncertainty may have reigned that fall Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday night however the theme and focus was future Impact. To set the tone, an hour before the Assembly kicked off, new head coach and director of player personnel Frank Klopas had been introduced to a sizeable media throng. Fresh off the announcement of signing a three-year deal, the latest Stade Saputo sheriff then took his place on the stage at the Impact head table. Sat four-square with Saputo and Klopas on the stage were Sporting Director, Nick de Santis plus Impact and Saputo Stadium Executive Vice President, Richard Legendre. Legendre is the architect and driving force behind the clubs decision to do away with the season ticket model and go with the more widely embracing club member scheme. Before that though, Saputo opened the proceedings Wednesday evening and used the occasion to explain the new technical structure which had been put in place during the intervening weeks since the November 5th post mortem. After welcoming Klopas deep inside the Impact bosom, Saputo announced that from now on De Santis would now only deal with the senior team on an exclusive basis and that long term servant Matt Jordan had been elevated to technical director. With all but assistant Philippe Eullaffroy, who would return to his first love as IMFC Academy Director, all of the other 2013 backroom staff remain for 2014. Eullaffroy is immensely regarded by the club hierarchy, staff and his charges so need to wonder about the vote of confidence this bestows on Mauro Biello, goalkeeping coach Youssef Dahha and fitness coach, Paolo Pacione. Klopas has inherited a staff which will always bleed blue. In a city where often language defines, each of them is tri-lingual. To complete the coaching set up down Stade Saputo way, Klopas is expected to bring in a friendly face, perhaps two. After Saputo had concluded, and sat down with warm cheers still ringing in his ears, Sporting Director Nick de Santis got to his feet to address an audience which was a reflection of a very diverse Impact fan base. They ranged in age from a blue clad baby about to meet Santa for the first time to many who likely would have attended Stade Olympique from those early 80s Montreal Manic NASL days. Largely male, the conference room was scattered with some rather stylish looking ladies which la Belle Ville is synonymous for the world over. The Impacts Sporting Director might not always have had the best of relationships with certain members of the clubs supporters but his 10-minute completely unscripted speech at the Assembly delivered entirely in French was more passionate and said with more conviction than anything the Bell Centre has witnessed in recent years. Good luck topping that Miley Cyrus when you visit in late March. There is no denying De Santis or his incessant conviction and devotion to a club that made him as a player, and one which likely had the greatest influence on defining his entire character profile. With Beckham now retired to the London suburbs there likely is no more a stylish individual in all Major League Soccer. Only MLS Cup hero and haute couture devotee Aurelien Collin could likely give De Santis a run for his clothingg money.dddddddddddd I doubt there is another single executive across the league who is more devoted to his club than De Santis. His Montreal soccer roots even pre-date the Impacts 1993 birth. He might not have always got it right over the decades, but has always been willing to lay it all out on the line. Ruthless if need be, De Santis does not hide or shirk away. Having won it as a player, a head coach and most recently in 2009 as a GM - make no mistake before De Santis calls it a day the Impact will be crowned MLS Champions. When his turn came to wax lyrical Wednesday night, Klopas opened up admitting he didnt have a clue what De Santis had just said in French but promised there and then he would learn the language. If the new head coach is anything like Montreals sizeable Greek community, then come the opening game on the season on March 8th hell be able to recant De Santis speech verbatim. Klopas said all the right things, pointed out Joey Saputos deeply embracing ways played a key role in Montreal convincing him. The new head coach also stated this was the best ever fan event he had ever attended. He should know having joined the league in the inaugural 1996 season. For a club which truly positions itself as an extended family, Klopas disclosed he has been a visitor to Montreal for a number of years, often at Christmas and could recall those Manic days. The concluding speaker for IMFCs inaugural Assembly was Legendre who gave a power point presentation in his native tongue which revealed some rather startling data. In mid-July when the Impact announced they were setting up a members only club, their Executive VP explained to TSN.ca at the time, "The way it originated for us is the fact we wanted to go one step further in the interaction of our season ticket holders." Wednesday evening we had empirical evidence of this. With a nod to a deepening soccer sophistication of the Stade Saputo devotees, eight in 10 season ticket holders demanded Saturday evening matches in the summer. For a competition that was conceived as one to be played under floodlights in midweek, the Impact faithful took a cue from the UEFA Champions League with a sizable majority also preferring Wednesday night matches. Go check the clubs schedule to see how the Impact responded to this extensive supporter feedback. The soccer is what will always compel Impact folks to part with their hard earned money for the season cause - but for over 30% of them they place the Saputo Stadium ambiance and atmosphere just as highly. Led by the Ultras Montréal and having been attending football grounds the world over for close to 4-decades I can lay witness to some quite fantastic Saturday and Wednesday night matches last season. No greater measure than closing your eyes and allowing the cacophony of Stade Saputo sound lead your match commentary. This crowd doesnt need any PA encouragement. It occurs organically. When Legendre took his seat a very well spirited Q & A period which extended itself well beyond the allotted time had all 4 of the Impact hierarchy go through the entire football emotion playbook. Fittingly the evening also included the introduction of the Impacts brand new 15 person member council. This football collective will meet four times a season and liaise directly with senior club personnel on matters of vital importance for those most meaningful for any FC, its supporters. Saputo and Legendres last point of business on an evening that went deep into the cold and wintry Montreal night was to announce the name of a club member who would get to take themselves and a guest away from the late winter Montreal deepening cold for a quick hop down to the sun and fun of Florida. Not just any old Florida resort mind you. Instead chance to take in the 2014 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic® and scream their level best as the Impact looks to defend a title that very much helped set up a very memorable 2013 campaign. Roll on March 8th. You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca @TheSoccerNoel on Twitter Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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