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Bye bye, Lawrence

November 30, 2009 Comments off

I suppose after a coach goes 0-17 in the NBA, a firing is in order. But New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank got screwed, and screwed hard, by a team and an ownership more concerned with clearing money for this supposed move to the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn than with putting a competitive team on the floor.

There is a little talent on the Nets. A little. There are a lot of injuries as well. And a lot of backups. Josh Boone and Rafer Alston – as much as I love the guy from my neck of Queens – shouldn’t be logging major minutes. Every trade shouldn’t be to cut space. Courtney Lee is not a starting 2-guard without some high-volume shooters around him.

And while Lawrence Frank may not have been a miracle worker, he was a good soldier, and a decent coach. A man with a lot of energy. He’ll land on his feet – take some time off, stop losing hair, sleep 8 hours in one night. Maybe he will coach college… that Rutgers job could use a tactician…

“…we in here talkin’ bout PRACTICE”

July 24, 2009 Comments off

Just as Allen Iverson twists in the wind as a free agent, waiting for someone to make him an offer worthy of his talents…

A great, great mashup with a solid beat of Iverson’s “practice” rant, Jim Mora on “p-p-PLAYOFFS?”, Dennis Green’s “they are who we thought they were” (which I never thought was that outrageous), Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” tirade, Joe Namath’s “I want to kiss you” leer, and Terrell Owens’ crying with emotion about his quarterback.

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Categories: funny, pro basketball, Sports, video

Bzdelik and the “casual talk”

July 17, 2009 Comments off

You may have heard that Colorado Buffaloes head coach Jeff Bzdelik (once the coach of the NBA Denver Nuggets), had a “casual talk” with the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves while taking in an NBA summer league game. This blog thought it was curious that the Athletic Director of the University of Colorado put out a statement about the “casual talk”.

Turns out that, according to the Denver Post, the statement seems to be an effort to put the information out there and crush any rumor-milling that may come of the “unexpected”, “casual talk”. On the face of it, it’s good to make sure that, for recruiting efforts and team morale, it is very important to let the Buffalo players know that their coach isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, this bit of “news” helps reinforce Bzdelik’s bonafides – the NBA people hold him in high regard, despite the severe outclassing that Bzdelik’s Colorado tenure has been. After all, one shouldn’t lose toget blown out by Vermont and Texas Christian as a major conference team in a coach’s second year. Eyebrows, fully raised.

All of this may be blown up/ over-communicated on the web over essentially nothing. Jeff Bzdelik might be completely committed to the Buffalo basketball program. But this also might be a coach who would be happy to land on his feet after last year’s 9-22 record; or an AD who might look at his team, the unknown recruits and lack of size or competitive athleticism and think… well, if he left, would that be the worst thing?

The Buffs were simply awful last year, an uncompetitive 1-win skidmark on the Big XII schedule in basketball. They have a long way to go to make a turnaround, and their terrible rebounding highlights the struggles of a short team with one excellent talent in Cory Higgins and non-rebounding, distance shooting big men.

Faced with long odds, when does a “casual talk” become serious interest for Bzdelik?

NBA Draft Day 2009

June 25, 2009 Comments off

[Also known as Confirmation Day in the Church of Bracketology]

photos from Draft Express and the Hoops Report

Years ago I would meet with some friends at one of the larger bars in Manhattan to watch the NBA draft, mostly so I could lose my mind and start cussing into the air, in public, when, say, Marcus Camby was traded (with the rights to Nenê) for Frank Williams and a broken Antonio McDyess (who has, admittedly carved out quite a decent post-injury career for himself). I think my friends just wanted to see what I did when the Knicks did something so very obviously bad for their future and salary cap.

The funny thing is that I have a lot more affection for the Nets, really, but the Knicks are what New Yorkers of my age grew up with – Patrick Ewing, the kind of physicality and slowdown style that facilitates rules changes, the haircut of Anthony Mason, the post-game interview voice of John Starks… so it’s the Knicks I focus on when watching the draft. The Nets under Rod Thorn have made very good picks, from the Richard Jefferson year to Lopez and Anderson last year. They’re not all gangbusters, but they get players who get on the court.


Some of the storylines going into tonight’s NBA draft:

+ The Knicks might be looking to trade Quentin Richardson for Memphis’ Darko Milicic… and may pick Gerald Henderson of Duke tonight. Apparently Coach Krzyzewski convinced Mike D’Antoni to sign free agent Chris Duhon, improving Duhon’s nightlife options immeasurably… possibly to the detriment of the team (no evidence, just conjecture). I kind of would like Darko. He’s not the second coming, but might be better under D’Antoni; he improved slightly in his scoring per 40 minutes last year. What else will the Knicks do to improve?

Ricky Rubio DKV Joventut+ Not a storyline per se, but Free Darko analyzes the model stylings of future draftees Hasheem Thabeet, Pretty Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Tyler Hansbrough, and more.

+ Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal who is very large was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the expiring contracts of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Basketball Prospectus thinks it is a poor trade, since O’Neal is a defensive liability and needs the ball to be effective… and he’s not that effective anymore. And I like Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s game next to LeBron (Z has some range and some post game)… I think the team needs something more impactful at the guard position.  Casn they find a steal in the draft to keep Lebron in Cleveland?

+ Speaking of Basketball Prospectus, here are some statistical translations from Euroleague stats for Pretty Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, Omri Casspi, and Sergio Llull, who I have not heard of. And while we’re at it, here are translations for stateside players, ranking the guards in terms of WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player).  Will these projections be correct? Is Nick Calathes a future NBA star?

Brandon Jennings Lottomatica Roma+ And then there’s the Brandon Jennings thing. Ball in Europe talks about how Jennings’ season was a net negative, a bust, and those numbers bear it out. Rough season for the youngster, even though Lottomatica Roma teammate Ibrahim Jabber likes his game in a long-winded post on True Hoop.

And he might be bitter now, but the benefits may be greater than simply showing that he can play and score. Lisa Olson writes on Jennings’ study abroad year:

People who study these things for a living say he is certainly a top three talent, but then they add words like “mystery” and “enigma” and “bad attitude” to his dossier, and nobody knows quite where Jennings will land….

“It was tough,” he says. “But I made a decision and I stuck with it. I like to think I matured as a man and as a player.”

Thing is? Jennings is still talented, but he has to improve some parts of his game, according to scouting reports (the outside shot, the decision-making). And he’s probably going to be drafted in the lottery. His experience will inform players like Jeremy Tyler that it is possible to go to Europe for basketball and come back, but it won’t be like going to State U and playing 38 minutes a game, with Dick Vitale yammering how they are awesome-baby. And maybe that’s a better fortune.

+ The last few days have been trade-crazy, with teams trying to get into position to get the impact players in what many feel is a weak (but possibly deep with role players?)  draft.  Richard Jefferson is happy to be “relevant again,” and I am happy he is as well; part of that deal means forward Amir Johnson will go to Milwaukee; the Timberwolves got the #5 pick in the draft, along with some large bodies who hold down the chairs; 76ers are looking to the old school logo; and Tracy McGrady might find himself traded for a draft pick. Those Rockets played pretty well without him…

+ Who are going to be the sleepers and the busts? SI’s Luke Winn looks at efficiency numbers in different scenarios… James Harden might have some work to do on his game in the faster-paced (than his Arizona State offense) NBA.

Joakim Noah: big time finish

May 1, 2009 Comments off

I take a break from the college basketball to say I really should not have paid attention to other people’s status messages and turned on the Chicago Bulls game. I was dead tired, completely exhausted, but I wanted to see a little bit of this “whoa” game that people were talking about.

Joakim Noah BullsAnd it would not end. Big shot after big shot. Players fouling out. Big Baby Glen Davis ballin’ like we knew he could – that big man is something.

At the end of the third overtime, Joakim Noah came out of some sloppy ballhandling and used that agility to dribble his found basketball to the hoop and get fouled by Paul Pierce – one foul away from disqualification – in the process. So Pierce fouled out. From the Sun-Times:

”Words can’t really explain it right now, but at the same time I understand that we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Noah said. ”I’m just really excited that we’re still alive. We were really close to death today. I feel like every game’s like that — it’s such a roller coaster — but I’m having so much fun right now. I really feel blessed to be in this situation.”

Big play by Mr. Noah, great activity – that was some of the best of his game. Sometimes haphazard, but always balls out.

Categories: pro basketball, Sports

Kobe Bryant Ankle Insurance Shoe Commercial

January 15, 2009 Comments off
Categories: funny, pro basketball, video

Second Chance for Pierre Pierce

September 24, 2008 Comments off

Proving you can always get a second chance… former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player Pierre Pierce won his appeal to “complete his probation” in France, where he has a contract to play professional basketball. The Attorney General of Iowa took it to the state Supreme Court to no avail.

I’m a proponent of guys getting back on their feet after a crime, earning a living in whatever they can, and in this case, at a sport that Pierce has always been regarded as excellent in. While the claim is that there are few restrictions dealing with probation, I’m not sure how Pierre Piercesupervision will be maintained in France. Will he have to check in with the US Embassy? Is there an embassy in Toulon, where Pierce will play for Hayes Toulon with Drew Lavender and others? (the embassy is in Paris.) It’s one thing to complete your sentence… but Pierce was arrested for violating his probation by going to an NBA Developmental League tryout in Vegas, and partying on the side. I guess what happened didn’t stay in Vegas.

As for Pierre Pierce’s transgressions… well, there was the arrest in 2002, where he was charged with sexual assault causing injury and pled guilty to a lesser charge (claiming “inappropriate conduct with a fellow student”) that allowed him to remain with the basketball team. And in 2005, he was sentenced to two years for assault, and one year (concurrent) for false imprisonment and criminal mischief. he also had his sentence suspended for the burglary charge. He did 11 months with time off for good behavior.

If you want to read what he did (and please ignore the bolded misspellings in Pierce’s quoted email, many people can’t spell to save their lives), the search warrant is here, including how Pierce had a domestic dispute, came back the next night, and after the cops came the second time, assaulted his ex-girlfriend, tried to restrain her, and after she got away, trashed her apartment and stole her laptop.

And then, of course, apologized, as any recurring abuser does.

Henry Abbott of True Hoop has kept up with Pierce at summer league and asks a lot of good questions about redemption, and more recently last January, where Pierce says:

Everything in my life is basketball-related. I keep my body right with Pilates once a week, yoga once a week. I’m in contact with my probation officer every two weeks.

I have been seeing a psychiatrist once a week since May, sometimes two times a week. The psychiatrist helps, definitely. We read all kinds of different books, talk about past mistakes, and relate it to my everyday life. It helps me….

I made mistakes. I served time for that. And I learned from the mistakes I have made. Now I’m a better decision maker. I work on anger management, relationship coping skills … all things I wasn’t aware of before. It’s a lifelong experience for me.

I take a very low view of sexual assault; I think it’s an area where the law doesn’t punish hard enough in cases where one party is clearly assaulting the other. There is no cause for holding someone down and for making violent threats. And twice? That is a lot of anger that Pierce has to work through. Can someone clear their impulses and learn to react to their relationships in a different way? But moreover, is a chance at a successful professional career extraordinary enough for a man to move his probation out of the country? Especially when he violated parole before?

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