Sinai Says: Poor decision making will cost Hapoel Jerusalem dearly

Dumping coach Guy Goodes after a single season was the latest in a run of impetuous and irresponsible decisions by club's management.

Allon sinai 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Allon sinai 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Over the last 72 hours Hapoel Jerusalem has showed exactly why it has failed to realize its potential as a basketball club in the past five seasons. The decision to dump coach Guy Goodes on Sunday after a single season at the helm was the latest in a run of impetuous and irresponsible decisions by the club's management which have denied the team any real chance of achieving success on a consistent basis. Unreasonable expectations and a lack of foresight have meant that over the past 15 years no coach has managed to survive at Hapoel for more than two successive seasons. The list of the coaches who have left the club in unceremonious fashion in recent times reads like a who's who of Israeli basketball. Pini Gershon, Tzvika Sherf, Effi Birenboim, Gadi Keidar, Yoram Harush, Erez Edelstein, Sharon Drucker, Dan Shamir and now Guy Goodes all had the honor of coaching at the Malha Arena, but also all left before they had a real opportunity to make their mark on the club. The management's decisions over the last five seasons have been especially baffling. Ahead of the 2003/04 season Hapoel picked the then-36-year-old Drucker to guide the team and, despite a disappointing league campaign, Jerusalem fans will never forget Drucker's first season in charge after he led the team to a historic ULEB Cup triumph. The following season the team failed in Europe and was eliminated in the playoff semifinals, resulting in Hapoel capitulating under the pressure and parting ways with Drucker. Jerusalem didn't have the patience to give its promising young coach another chance, a mistake it has irrationally repeated time and again. Edelstein was brought in for the 2005/06 season, but after guiding the team to the Final Four and State Cup finals, was replaced by 31-year-old rookie coach Dan Shamir. In his debut season, Hapoel claimed the cup and was seconds away from winning a first league title. Jerusalem didn't fare as well the next season, failing to make the Final Four, but still ended it as the cup holder after a dramatic comeback victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final. Once more, however, Hapoel inexplicably did little to try and hold on to an up-and-coming coach it had nurtured and Shamir left for Europe instead of being handed a long-term contract. Similarly to Drucker and Shamir, Goodes has also long been considered one of Israel's future top coaches. It therefore came as no surprise that Jerusalem brought him aboard last summer in place of Shamir. Goodes's team came up just short in both the league and cup this season, losing to Maccabi Haifa in the semifinals of both competitions. However, the Hapoel management went out of its way to complement his work at the club and, until Sunday night, it seemed all but certain he would remain for another season. Once again, though, Jerusalem decided to go for an unnecessary change and chairman Danny Klein called Goodes on his holidays to inform him he will not be continuing at the club. At that stage, Klein thought he had wrapped up the signing of Oded Katash, another promising coach, but Katash had a change of mind on Monday and chose to stay with Hapoel Gaill/Gilboa for the time being, leaving Hapoel in an awkward situation for which it only has itself to blame for. A constant change in the coach's position is one of the worst things a club can do, and the lack of continuity has cost Hapoel dearly. The club does an excellent job in bringing in the best coaching talent Israel has to offer, but until it gives a coach the backing and support he needs for more than just one or two seasons, it will continue to wonder why its promise remains unfulfilled.