High hopes for Hollins - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

High hopes for Hollins

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - On Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies played their first home game at the FedEx Forum since head coach Marc Iavaroni was fired. The New Jersey Nets scored a 99-88 victory over Memphis' NBA team.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley says he felt Iavaroni was not getting the response from the players needed to move the team forward. They're currently on a nine game losing streak.

Heisley says he watched the team closely over the last two weeks, and noticed the players weren't showing the same energy the had at the begining of the season.
Assistant Coach Johnny Davis will take over on an interim basis. Then former Grizzlies assistant Lionel Hollins, currently with the Bucks, will take over as head coach.

Fans say they hope Hollins is able to bring out the natural talent the Grizzlies players possess.

"I think they've got some players, they just need someone to put them in action," said Grizzlies fan Jeff Anderson. "Time for a change. Get a new coach, someone who's going to get these guys going."
Anderson says he's only been to one game this season, and the Grizzlies lost. He says they need to start winning games to bring him back to the FedEx Forum.
The Grizzlies' attendance is down slightly this season compared with last season, and team owners hope the sweeping change will fill seats again in a slumping economy.   

Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace says he's hopeful that even during a recession, if the team wins more games, it will also bring in more fans.

"Winning is what actually draws people to games," he said. "I don't think it's style of play. Individual stars that may be coming in on the other team are an attraction on a game to game basis, but winning obviously is the ultimate draw for the fan."
But fans like Kerrance Chandler might disagree.

"I don't think it matters that much. I just love the fact that Memphis has an NBA team," Chandler said.
Alison McGee says she and her husband attend about three to four games a year, but the economy definitely plays a role in how often they make it to the games. "We're both educators, and they do offer discounts occassionally for educators. It does have an impact on how many we can afford."
And what if the Grizzlies hit a winning streak?

"We would definately have to get more tickets," she said.

It all goes back to Wallace's strategy: win and they will come, even if the discretionary dollars are hard to come by.

Wallace says he believes the Grizzlies' game will improve during the second half of the season under the leadership of Coach Hollins.
As far the Grizzlies being a team that can really pose a challenge in the Western Conference, Wallace says he believes the team is a couple of years away.

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