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Monday, November 29, 2004

Fan Jam Thoughts

My turn. Can't ... stop ... typing ...

First, I'll mention that Casey Jacobsen of the Suns has an on-line daily diary at Suns.com about his training camp. Good stuff so far. One thing he points out is that the 4/5 straight days of 2-a-days to open camp are no joke. By the last day EVERYBODY is sore and stiff. He said guys won't get up from the training table to go get the ketchup bottle 10-feet away because they are just too dang sore - they'd rather just go without. They rest, eat and play - that's it. Same for the Mavs. These guys' exhaustion and soreness shouldn't be overlooked by the Fan Jam critics. Generally, the youngsters looked spry, the vets looked like 3rd gear was about all you're getting outta their stiff old hides, and the ding-ed up looked careful AND tired out there.

Also, it should be mentioned that Daniel Meyer doesn't have an NBA 3-point line nor a charge/block line in the paint, and only a college-width key. The refs looked NBDL-caliber at best and not real interested in stopping play. 4 Q's x 10 mins with an automatic TO every 5 mins. 2nd team vs 1st team was basically how they divided it up. I'm sure there will a boxscore and/or lineups posted someplace. The final score was around 54-54 - fans shooting FT's failed to break the tie - but everybody left happy anyway. I'm guessing Josh had 20 plus for the blues and Dirk had 20 plus for the whites. Dirk hit a 25-footer with 4 secs left to tie it up after Shawn Bradley had sunk 2 clutch FT's to give the scrubs a seemingly insurmountable 3-point lead with 8 secs left. The scrubs led big virtually the whole game, and the game was the most hotly contested and competitive of the last 3 years I've been. It was fun, worth every penny.

Oh, having 'DFW' on the jerseys and having Finley and Bradley pick fans outta the stands to shoot FT's to decide a winner was a nice touch. The latter idea appeared to be Cuban's - if I interpreted the situation correctly.

Scrubs -

Devin Harris - I was happy that I wasn't disappointed. But, he has work to do yet. He had 2 flashy passes on the break and a Kidd-like bounce pass on the secondary break once. Oooohs and aaaaahs from the crowd. He hit a big baseline jumper near the end that looked to be a coffin nail for the starters - pretty clutch - you could see him bear down to hit that shot. He played a lot of 2-guard with Dickau at PG - they tried to run him off screens Wisconsin-style in this line-up. I don't think he shot well at all, boxscore will tell us more. He has a very business-like demeanor and concentration level - good game face - not a phony like Stevie Franchise - THANK GAWD. He seems to understand he's the QB and needs to be aware of everything. I see court-awareness and some niftyness to his passing. He can pass off the dribble with one-hand nicely and seems to have excellent peripheral vision. Seemed a little bit too right-hand dominant at times. Quick like bunny, cross-ovah he got, head up on the break, puts his passes in good spots for the receiver to matriculate down the field, vocalized running sets, babysat the offensively-clueless Ebola in the half-court, and chided Hood once for missing an eye-popping pass he attempted that ended up in the front row. The bad ... Terry picked his pocket 2 or 3 times just pressuring in the back-court. When Dickau ran point the starters didn't pressure the ball. When Devin ran point they turned the heat on high. He even had trouble fending off Terry to take the inbounds pass. Then Terry would hound him up court, often with Dirk at his side harassing Devin with the mini-press. I'm guessing Nellie sees a weakness and is giving Devin reps against the press, 'cause he needs them. He's fast and can dribble, so his problems against pressure must be experience-related - he has the tools to handle it with ease if he can learn the tricks. His defense didn't stick out to me, but Terry didn't run amok, gotta credit some of that to Devin's D. Devin is cloooose to having a grasp of the runners and floaters NBA PG's need to master - needs work still. All in all it looks like his biggest problem is that he's an ignorant inconsistent frackin' rookie. Get the floaters down, learn to handle pressure better, shoot better, get some experience - maybe we got something there. I'm just happy a low ceiling wasn't obvious in his young game.

Josh Howard - Game MVP. The scrubs basically gave the ball to Josh and got outta his way - Devin's choices weren't difficult to make. He seemed to win every loose ball with his long arms and tenacity. Josh is such an enigma for me. The guy could be stupid good but for some reason I doubt it will ever happen. He matched up with Dirk on D lots and dominated stretches of the game. The rotation and arc on his shot look better. If he is patient and works his shot could fall better someday. Seemed healthy and strong. Relentless. Had Stack complaining to the refs. I think he flat out stuffed a Finley fall-away at the FT line once - rare sight indeed considering Finley's high release point. [Mighta been Mbenga that did that.] If Josh is playing that well in practice it makes you wonder why Nellie is doubting his PT in the press. Josh is setting the standard high for Marquis when he returns.

Bradley - Played well, kind of shocking actually. His height and the small paint bottled up Damp a bit. Damp ain't gonna be facing The Gantry every night in the L.

Henderson - He'd be fine for 10 mins a game if he could be counted on. Much more polished and fluid than Booth. That peanut brittle back must be a bummer.

Hood - I think he started. Would look good driving a beer truck.

Dickau - Played more than I thought he would. He played like Dan Dickau always plays. Dead man walking.

MBenga - Athletic, like all the reports. His repertoire was a 12-foot jumper that he hit 1 outta 2 of, and a hop-along baby-hook over his left shoulder swinging into the paint. The baby-hook looked good, looked unstoppable ... but never went in. Clueless on offense - spacing, recognition, picks, knowledge of the plays - Devin started every set with a shout and a point in aid of Mbenga's confusion. The starters seemed to overplay the scrubs on defense in order to lure the ball into Mbenga's hands as the shot-clock dwindled. Hey, at least he wasn't shy to put it up. Once, DJ and Josh were doing a 2-man game looking to get Josh open for a pass in the post. MBenga was so inept at executing the rub pick that Josh just stopped, closed his eyes and started giggling to himself. Mbenga lamely protested his plight ... to Josh's further hilarity. He tips a lot of balls and battles - he understood his role on offense was mainly to hit the boards. I can see why they want him in the stable for the next two years. I don't know why he can't eat minutes occasionally at center if a situation arose. Meh. Needs to improve if he wants another contract.

Starters -

Dirk - he needs a lot of work if he wants to ever average 100 pts/game. Still looks like a lowly 25/28 point/game guy to me. A pathetic example of wasted potential. I don't think he missed after rimming off his first 2 shots.

Finley - Bet he gets panned. Going back to Casey Jacobsen's diary - old Fin is stiff and sore from the 2-a-days, and his hammy hurts - you could just tell. He was careful and deliberate with his movements and explosion. He'll be fine if the hammy strain is truly minor. Showed flashes, but held himself back a bunch. He was hilarious during a stint as post-game MC of the fan FT shooting tie-breaker. Loves me some Fin.

Stack - Slow start, nice finish. Another vet who looked to be feeling the 2-a-days. Loosened up as the game progressed. He had some educated moves and drives that got him to the FT line in the 2nd half - his FTA numbers aren't an accident. I don't think he hit a jumper - kinda cold. The refs let Josh man-handle him - Stack complained a few times. He laid low and blended in - John Gonzalez of the Dallas Observer can bite me. He seemed to work well with Fin, Dirk and Terry - the guy's a fluid player. They really didn't run a lot of plays for him. The starters rode Dirk for a tie after being down big to the scrubs - Stack's looks suffered as Dirk rained harm. He might get panned for the Fan Jam but he'll be fine. It was so nice not to hear Antoine Walker's constant whooping for the ball. I think they are gonna LOVE not having that oppressive distraction around.

Terry - He seemed to be under orders not to push the ball. Mostly just brought it up and started the sets. Was offensively very conservative. Scored 6 or 8 points I'm guessing. Had a coupla nice passes. Took at least 4 clean steps before his first dribble as a rule - it was hilarious, almost a Steve Francis-like disregard for the arbiters. Executed with Dirk and Fin pretty well - happy to see that. JT ran a high p'n'r with Damp pretty well in crunch-time a coupla times. One play stood out to me in crunch-time - a high p'n'r off double picks by Damp and Dirk had JT veering to the hoop unabated drawing the weak-side help. Both Dirk and a cutting Fin were wide open spotting up - JT had his pick, and wisely chose Dirk. That's the kind of offense I wanna see Nellie run - not that crap point forward stuff that AW put me to sleep with last season. Defensively Terry was a pest. Very nice. Devin probably has nightmares that Terry is denying him the other pillow. He's not Nash, but he's not horrible either. Dirk and his offensive sidekicks are gonna have to do a little more work for themselves this season without Nash poking holes in the opponents' D.

Dampier - Still has bad hands. Bradley just umbrella'ed him most of the game. Got kinda ugly once when a nifty Terry pass hit him in the back when he turned his head looking for a rebound - very Raef-like - shoulda been a bunny. He does have a nice chemistry with Dirk. [Yeah, Dirk can't pass. Please.] Didn't show much, but he's big and pretty agile and I can see how he could be a double-double guy easy. Set a few nice picks - once, Fin rubbed off him for an easy look along the baseline. Swish. There were usually 4 7-footers in the game clogging up Damp's cramped, college-width office space - mighta bottled him up a tad. He ain't Shaq. He's nice to have when healthy. Just stay healthy.

Booth - Warmed up by almost exclusively taking face-up perimeter jumpers. Nellie has a plan for Cal. Good luck with that. He's big and nimble - not very fluid. Y'all know Cal. Cal is Cal. Seemed more at ease and personable with his teammates this time around. Like he enjoyed being he. Didn't get that vibe from him the first time around.


Avery - Climbed in Charlie Parker's coaching jock and road it the whole game. Every gesture or shout Charlie made was punctuated by Avery's fervent Wooden-esque patois. He pretty much ran the starters' huddle. He played a little spelling Terry. Kind've embarrassed himself lamely fumbling the ball out of bounds once. As a player Avery's a heck of coach.

Didn't see TAW. Didn't see Esch. Didn't see P-Pod. Marquis Daniels hung around the starters' bench. Seemed at ease. Didn't see Nellie. Saw Donnie. Saw Terdema. Cuban just sat at the end of the starters' bench and annoyingly hovered over their huddle. The wife of the Ft. Worth mayor had a strong sweater-presence ... almost gravity-defying, if I do say so. Humble Billy Hayes ... I'm not saying he needs to be assassinated, but didn't Lee Harvey Oswald live in Ft. Worth? The horse mascot fell off a folding chair and had to be physically pried from it's grip by a few strong men.

Generally speaking - those fellas were tired, sore, stiff and sick of playing each other. But they competed well and to the end. I get a more 'homogeneous' feel from this group than last year. That's a good thing.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does "matriculate down the field" mean?

December 10, 2007 at 2:03 PM  

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