SAN ANTONIO — The Utah Jazz remain a captainless crew.
That's not to say the team is without leadership early in the 2011-12 season. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin just hasn't officially designated a team captain (or two).
"I'm in no rush yet," the second-year coach said.
Corbin doesn't have any particular characteristics he's looking for in a potential team captain, but he'll know it when he sees it.
Corbin: "Just who the guys respond to, (and) how the guy responds to his teammates."
Asked who's taken the most vocal role in the locker room, Corbin mentioned veterans Al Jefferson and Earl Watson.
Makes sense. When camp started, Watson said he wanted to speak up more to help his team in his second season in Utah. Backing up Devin Harris on the court wasn't going to be his only contribution this season for the reserve point guard.
"I think you have to back it up with action first, consistent action," Watson said. "That's what I'm trying to focus on now is consistent action, helping my teammates whenever I can, especially in tough situations such as (after losses Tuesday and Wednesday)."
Even if a captain emerges, the Jazz like the leadership-by-committee concept.
"The guys are kinda rallying around each other. It's not one or two guys," Corbin said. "The older guys in this group are starting to make sure that we give ourselves a chance to win and stop making the mistakes that's costing us to win, really staying focused and getting tighter as a group of guys. I've been pleased with that."
"I think everyone's stepping up," Watson added. "If we've got a problem to solve, it's a collective group."
C.J. Miles, the Jazz's longest-tenured player, said the team needs (and has) players to be a "glue guy" who keeps them bonded.
"We have guys capable of doing that," said Miles, in his seventh NBA season in Utah. "I think with everybody searching for an identity nobody, wants to step out when ... they're trying to figure (it) out."
Thirty-two games into his first head coaching gig, Corbin is feeling more comfortable and confident in his role as the team's ultimate leader.
The team has gone through a lot since he took over for Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan last February. The tumultuous nature of that situation. Deron Williams' trade. Late-season struggles. Prepping for a lockout. The long offseason's uncertainty. Then a camp crammed with a lot of catch-up work.
But Corbin likes how the players are heeding his teaching.
"I think the guys are responding to where we are," Corbin said. "We've just got to get better and familiar with everybody (players and assistants). It's a process. You can't just expect it to happen overnight, you flip a switch and it's there."
The most important thing any Jazz leader can do — whether it's Big Al, Watson, Corbin, Harris, Raja Bell, Paul Millsap or Miles — is help keep the team moving forward through rough times.
"You've got to go through some things. You've got to grow through them, struggle a little bit, fight back," Corbin said. "The struggle's got to make us stronger and tighter as a group, and if we do that we'll be OK."
Email: [email protected]