Is Brad Scott the AFL’s true coaching genius?

Angus McKenzie Roar Rookie

By Angus McKenzie, Angus McKenzie is a Roar Rookie

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    On the back of some expert coaching from Brad Scott, North Melbourne are seriously exceeding expectations.

    If their momentum continues, Scott truly has claims on being coach of the year – and so far no one has coached better.

    Before the beginning of the season, many pundits had the Kangaroos finishing in the bottom four, or even taking the wooden spoon.

    Now, they are sitting fourth, with four wins and three losses – particularly impressive when you consider they were written off after their Round 3 loss to the Demons.

    From that point, they have won three of four matches, and their best football is as good as anyone bar Richmond.

    They pounded St Kilda in Round 2, starting as underdogs, kept Carlton to a measly 30 points, and wiped the floor with Hawthorn in the first half of that game, playing scintillating football to lead by 57 points at halftime.

    Perhaps the most significant result came in Round 7, against Sydney. Having played free-flowing, attacking football up to this point, with key pillars Jarrad Waite and Ben Brown up front, they beat the Swans – largely considered the best in-and-under tough team in the game – at their own game.

    When Mason Wood, playing his first game of the year, charged through a Dane Rampe tackle and slotted the goal from 35 out on a slight angle, it was clear the Roos were far better than first thought.

    Where has North’s improvement come from though? This is where Scott’s brilliant coaching becomes clear.

    Best player on ground, Shaun Higgins, has long been recognised as talented, but never quite able to get it together. Having won a best and fairest last year, Higgins appears to have taken his game to a new level, which can be attributed to the brilliance of Scott.

    Scott has realised his team lack supreme ball-users through the middle of the ground, so released Higgins as a full-time midfielder, and he would be considered among the top echelon of ball users in this year’s competition.

    Then there’s Ben Jacobs, who is widely considered a stopper and a stopper only, having taken the scalps of Tom Mitchell and Patrick Cripps. On Saturday, Scott released him and Jacobs finished with 29 possessions and nine tackles. More impressively, he went at a disposal efficiency of 82.8 per cent, to be named among North’s best. It was a prime example of Scott’s influence.

    To further emphasise the coach’s status as among the elite in the competition, he recruited Billy Hartung when he wasn’t wanted by anyone else – let alone his former club Hawthorn.

    Now, not for a second am I suggesting that Scott is a superior coach to the great Alastair Clarkson, but Scott has achieved something with Hartung that Clarkson never could – Hartung is an integral piece of the North puzzle, providing good ball use, improved contested work and great outside run.

    Have Alastair Clarkson, Adam Simpson and Nathan Buckley exceeded expectations so far? Yes. However, have any of these three coached as well and inspired their players as well as Scott? No.

    If North continue upward, exceeding expectations, then Brad Scott will finish the season as Coach of the Year.

    The State of Origin teams for Game 1 of the 2018 series have both been revealed! Check out our expert reaction and analysis to the NSW Blues squad and the Queensland Maroons line-up.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • May 10th 2018 @ 6:29am
      Lroy said | May 10th 2018 @ 6:29am | ! Report

      I think both the Scott brothers have done a good job with the cattle at their disposal. The test is ”would anyone else have done any better with the players available that they had” and I think the answer is NO…and whats more, a lot of people may have done a lot worse. They have done well those two.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 7:19am
      I ate pies said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Surely you jest? The author must be a North fan.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 8:44am
        Don Freo said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Make an argument then. Both Scott brothers have done really well.

        • May 10th 2018 @ 9:21am
          I ate pies said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          Nah, can’t be bothered. I don’t care about North. No-one cares about North.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 12:29pm
            Don Freo said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            Who are you calling a ‘no-one’?

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2018 @ 7:57am
      Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      A bit early to call him brilliant but he was certainly well respected in his time at the Pies. Not as opinionated as his brother either.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 8:34am
      Bogdan Kanacheeny said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Forgive me if i’m wrong but I’ve got the feeling Jarrod was home watching TV on Saturday night.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 10th 2018 @ 9:09am
      Wilson said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      I find Brad to be brilliant. What the Scott brothers have done with their respective lists is brilliant. Both top coaches who are very underrated.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 9:30am
      Pope Paul VII said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Apart from sound tactics, Braddles has a good rapport with his players I think. He’s good at instilling self belief and he’s loyal to his players. Jed Anderson is a good example. I thought the old Hawks had sold us a lemon but North stuck with him and he’s having a ball. Maj Daw in defence has been an excellent move.

      The major surprise in NM’s progress is that alleged experts are surprised. They wrote them off with barely a glance.

      Proven forwards, proven defence, solid middle, young players coming through and a bit of toe. Worth a look you would think? Most don’t seem to have looked beyond Champion Data.

      Last year the lost 6 games by less than 14 points in a 6/16 year with buckets of injury and a many debuts. Not bad at all.

      I don’t think Scott would mention it publicly but the fact that no one rated them is pretty good motivation. Also many North supporters have been up Scott for the rent as well as players like Anderson and Daw. In fact Daw could win the Normie and hoist the premiership cup and people would still say “he’s got no ball awareness” or “I’m still not convinced”.

      Scott said the other night he thought the player standard was much better and the comp much closer than many people realised.

      There is still a long way to go but they are tracking well.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 1:58pm
        Perry Bridge said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        Similar to what I planned to contribute.

        The ‘experts’ writing North off seemed to forget the quality remained where you needed the experience and hardened bodies. i.e. Tarrant/Thompson down back, Brown/Waite up forward along with Ziebell/Cunnington and Goldstein in the mid/followers. Throw in Higgins mid/fwd and MacMillan off the back half and that’s 9 pretty good senior players.

        The key in many respects has been getting the cattle back on the park – Ben Jacobs is a coaching tool that without him – Scott was severely hampered. With him – he has more levers to pull.

        North fans at least know what there is with guys like Mason Wood – he just needed a decent run – – well, 1 game back, let’s see how he goes from here. Still need to get Taylor Garner back. Anderson has had a decent run at it. The most important thing is getting guys like these along with Turner, Simpkin and Clarke to build their games tallies. This year is very much a bonus – next year is more realistic – but, you never know for this year. Ahern has still to debut and UDL is the quality young player who will be nurtured along who could yet show his wares in the back half.

        With big Pruess as backup for Goldstein – there’s cover there. What we saw though that is the vulnerability is the impact of the loss of Higgins – the classy ball carrier who executes well is still a rarity in the royal blue and white.

        I was happy pre-season with our fundamentals and am even happier now – largely because I was dubious about the value of Anderson and Hartung.

        • May 10th 2018 @ 2:52pm
          Pope Paul VII said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

          Hey Perry. Still a few younger players like Durdin, Larkey and McKay too who can contribute if need be to a well functioning side. I reckon the depth is ok if inexperienced. Hope Flash Gordon Narrier gets a run at some point, maybe next year. I was surprised Hawthorn offloaded Hartung. Like Scott said they try and win every game and you never know what might happen.

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