Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Charles Barkley - The Story Continues

ESPN is running a story about Charles Barkley being accused of assault at a nightclub in Jersey called 32 Degrees. While I have no real opinion of that, believing heavily in Innocent Until Proven Guilty (OK, maybe not with Kobe, but you get the idea), it does give me a chance to tell a story that I've passed on occasionally ever since, and that can now live forever on the World Wide Web. Yes it's true - I have my own Charles Barkley Experience.

Now don't hold me to all of this as fact, because it's a distant memory, kind of like all of these people trying to argue about Kerry's Rumble In The Jungle, as if we can all remember in great detail about an event we considered trivial forty years ago. But I swear this is how I remember it, truth be damned.

It was an exhibition game with the Celtics in Boston. I was in Oregon during the 1986 and 87 exhibitions, so I'm guessing it was the following season, 88-89. I had great seats as I always did, courtesy of my Dad, 7 rows from the Celtics bench, right behind the player's wives and Bob Cousy. Anyway, somewhere in the third quarter, something happened on the court that pissed Charles off, and the crowd got all over him for it. I don't know who said it or what was said, but someone did something to make Charles look up into the balcony, and give everyone the finger.

Well, that just sets the place ablaze, and Charles gets a technical foul. He's all upset, and I don't know if he leaves the game or not, but he never settles down. This where I come in.

I'm only seven rows from the court, for chrissakes. It's my RESPONSIBLITY to respond. I mean, he can't just get away with treating Celtics fans like that. And I was loaded with courage, and Bud, and whatever they'd been serving in Halftime and Charlie's Tap that night. I had to do something. A few minutes later, I got my chance.

There was a foul down the other end of the floor. Everyone lined up at the foul line down there, except for Barkley, who was the lone man back. He stood there with hands on his knees at the foul line, totally unsuspecting.

I knew this was my opportunity. He was standing right in front of me, and with the crowd silent due to the rather insignificant free throws, I rose from my seat. Then, in the largest voice I could summon, I yelled . . .

BARKLEY, YOU (favorite expletive here)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone sitting between me and Charles turned around to look to see who the big jerk was, and I could see Charles, hands still on knees, slowly turn his head, so that he was staring straight at me.

  • For a split second, anything was possible. Charles had that glare in his eyes,and that history of just going off, and there he was, all of the possibilities surging quickly through his mind, calculating the cost to him of charging into the crowd and pummeling me within an inch of my life.

    In the end, he refrained. The crowd turned around, and Charles' head got back into the game. Not completely though, as on the next trip down the court, Barkley slammed into some Celtic on a rebound attempt, getting himself into serious enough foul trouble that he was pulled from the game to a chorus of boos. I laughed and laughed, knowing I had somehow contributed to this vital Celtics exhibition victory.

    No, I don't come out of this looking so good either, but hey it's a good story. If I ever meet Charles, I'll buy him a beer and tell him about it, and maybe he'll laugh, too.

  • Monday, August 30, 2004

    Discovering Japan - The Centers

    First of all, I'd like to thank Celtics Blog for bringing me so many visitors on a hot August night. As someone who attended everything from John Havlicek's last game to the Draft Night celebration that brought us Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer, it's nice to get so many visitors from back home.

    Alright, back to business. After coming to a decision on the point guards, I thought
    I'd move to the centers, for it's here that the problem gets more interesting. Lots of the NBA's centers are from other places, and some others are getting older. Here's the list of NBA centers, from ESPN, by order of minutes played.

    1. Dirk Nowitzki - He's from Germany.
    2. Shaquille O'Neal - He'll be 36 for the 2008 Games.
    3. Tim Duncan - Only 28, a shoo-in to go in 2008 if he wants to.
    4. Brad Miller - Also 28, mentioned by many as someone who should have gone this year.
    5. Rasheed Wallace - Just a shade under 30, attitude has scared Team USA off.
    6. Cliff Robinson - Old, and not a true center.
    7. Jamaal Magloire - Canadian.
    8. Chris Bosh - Very Young. A great early candidate for 2012.
    9. Yao Ming - China.
    10. Nene - Brazil.
    11. Erick Dampier - 30, and zero playoff experience.
    12. Antonio Davis - See Cliff Robinson.
    13. Kurt Thomas - 31, and not a true center.
    14. Zydrunas Ilgauskas - Obviously, from somewhere else.
    15. Theo Ratliff - 31. And 6-10.
    16. Brian Grant - 32. And 6-9.
    17. Marcus Camby - 30. And major league injury prone.

    That's all of the players in the NBA that average 30 minutes a game and can say they play center without being laughed at. The next two in minutes played are Eddy Curry (another 2012 candidate)and Mark Blount, and I know that all of you Celtice fans out there wouldn't want to bet on Blount bringing home the Gold.

    So unless Shaq decides to give it a go, you're looking at Duncan, Miller, and Wallace. That's actually a pretty damn good threesome considering that there is almost no one else to choose from. And you know, I think Shaq might go. Nearing the end of his career, it might have more appeal. Can't you just see Shaq retiring after four years, then going after the Gold knowing that he's not facing another NBA season? Also, I'm betting Wallace mellows a little in the next few years. So here are the choices:

    Shaquille O'Neal
    Tim Duncan
    Rasheed Wallace
    Alternate - Brad Miller.

    Lord help us if Duncan decides he's had enough, Shaq quits, and Wallace flares.

    Sunday, August 29, 2004

    Discovering Japan - The Point Guards

    When after all the urges
    Some kind of truth emerges
    - Graham Parker, Discovering Japan

    Last week, I started working on who our Olympic Committee should have chosen for these Olympic Games, and it's only now that I realize how ass-backwards that is. For the challenge is to prepare for what is ahead, not for what has ... Yikes! I'm starting to sound like a Presidential candidate (pick either one). What I'm getting at is that although the next Olympics in China seems to be far off, the World Championships in Japan are only two years away. I would say that after this most recent experience, the time to start preparing is now. So let's lay some ground rules for the team we want to build.

    1. The team picked for Japan should be, for the most part, the team that goes to China. If a player's career takes a serious downturn, then he may be replaced, but we're not kicking anyone off for the next Lebron. The strategy of rotating entire rosters needs to come to an end.

    2. We don't want anyone in China to be over 33, setting the bar for selection now at 29. These numbers could be bent a bit if need be, but it's important to set some parameters to start with.

    3. We want players with playoff experience, guys who have started on teams that have won a playoff series. Sure, guys who haven't won yet may do so in the next two years, but there's enough talent around that I don't feel the need to bet on it. We only get to pick 12, so the standards need to be high.

    4. Understanding that the NBA level of defense is more intense than the rest of the world, we want our team to focus on shooting, protecting the ball, and rebounding.

    Last week, trying to put together point guards for this year's Olympics with similar requirements, I wound up with Sam Cassell and Chauncey Billups, with Damon Stoudamire as an alternate and Baron Davis as the last cut. Obviously, Cassell and Stoudamire will be too old for China, so they're out. Billups we'll keep, but what about Davis? And who would be the alternate?

    I'm not going to reopen the whole thing here (feel free to read the earlier entry), but Mike Bibby was eliminated because it was said he would refuse an invitation. But two years from now? Who knows? We'll assume someone can talk him into it, so he's a keeper. For the alternate spot (which may be a roster spot, depending on how the rest of the team plays out) Baron Davis still seems a step above the other candidates, even with his spotty three-point shooting record and poor assist-to-turnover ratio. So many of the young NBA point guards just don't have big game experience.

    So there it is. The Point Guards will be Mike Bibby and Chauncey Billups, with Baron Davis as the alternate. Not a bad start, not bad at all.

    Saturday, August 28, 2004

    Better Things

    I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead.
    The past is gone it’s all been said.
    So here’s to what the future brings,
    I know tomorrow you’ll find better things.
    - The Kinks

    So now that Lebron has won Le Bronze, It's time to look ahead. Here's a quick look at what the Basketball Gods of America can do to fix our competitive dilemma. The only guideline used is that nothing can be proposed to seriously interfere with NBA profits, because it will never happen. OK, here we go.

    1. Adopt international rules in their entirety, across all levels of play. It's time we start playing the same game as the rest of the world. American players always look confused and tentative in these events, and everyone always attributes it to a lack of desire, or the lack of familiarity with each other, without noting the differences in the game itself. I think this one change would make a dramatic difference. Can you imagine a team as physically gifted as the USA squad taking full advantage of the rule that allows you to touch rebounds over the cylinder?

    2. Eliminate most of the exhibition schedule, and start the season earlier. This will cut two weeks off of the very long season, and allow you to begin practices for Team USA two weeks earlier.

    3. Allow Olympic players to report to their NBA teams on December 1. The NBA grind is a whole lot worse than the Olympic experience, so this would probably entice more of the best NBA players to enlist. Also, Team USA members, having played all summer, would have less of a need for training camps. Finally, a December 1st return date would not greatly affect the playoff races, or attendance, and would allow for things like special recognition for Olympians. Can you imagine the applause for a returning conquering hero?

    Notice that none of these suggestions has anything to do with roster selection. While Team USA cetainly has to get away from the Star Factor in selecting players, some of our problems are more systemic, and need to be addressed. Will it happen? I doubt it, but you need to have big ideas if you want to build a Dream Team.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2004

    Take Paradise, Put Up A Parking Lot

    Don't it always seem to go
    You don't know what you got til its gone
    - Joni Mitchell, 1970-something

    I seem to have gotten a few hits the last few days, and I don't know how, because every time I tried to pull up this site it came up blank, pure parking lot gray, with just the new Blogger toolbar that killed my great Shaq photo up at the top. Maybe the hits of the blank site came up, which would suck. I'd hate to think people who were finding Cap and Shaq for the first time left with nothing. Anyway, I'm back in business, and will probably have something or other later this evening.

    Saturday, August 21, 2004

    Wild World

    There are just so many possible titles for this entry. I thought about Consolation Prize, or The Pride of Tel Aviv, or Parallel Universe. After watching Sarunas Jasikevicius hit more threes than the average Team USA member has tattoos, I thought I would do some research. After all, Jazz Vicious (an Americanized nickname waiting to happen) has never set a foot on NBA pine. Just who the hell is this guy anyway?

  • Well. if you're a basketball fan in any other part of the world, you've heard of him. So you're probably thinking what I was, that he was a star of some European league in Spain, or Greece, or Turkey, or Germany, or Russia. In fact, he did conquer these places, but not from an expected locale. For Jazz Vicious was a star for the European Champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

    That's right. As one of probably millions of Jewish South Florida basketball fans rooting for Team USA, I had no idea that I probably have distant relatives who were simultaneously rooting for him to kick some American tuchus (I don't know how to spell it in English, but for those Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Pagan, and Atheist fans of CapandShaq, I'll tell you it means the same thing as butt). I don't know just how popular Maccabi Tel Aviv is in Israel, but I would imagine that a team with that kind of success must have a fairly rabid following.
    And this was no ordinary Championship run either, as Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Skipper Bologna (Mmmm, bologna) by a score of 118-74 back in May, the most points and largest point-differential in the almost 50-year history of European basketball Championships. Other Maccabi Tel Aviv members included David Bluthenthal, who recently signed with the Sacramento Kings, Anthony Parker, a first-round pick of New Jersey in the 97 NBA Draft, and Bruno Sundov and Maceo Boston, who both appeared in the NBA. In the Championship game, Jazz Vicious scored 18 points in 17 minutes.

    So here's some more background on the man who would look great in a Heat uniform, Sarunas Jasikevicius. Included is the story about the championship win, and also an interview.

    MACCABI IS CHAMPION, 118-74!!!

  • Interview: Sarunas Jasikevicius

    Friday, August 20, 2004

    Adonal Foyle

    The NBA being the league of stars that is, it's not surprising that many of the players have their own websites. I figure while things are slow, I'll plug a good one when I come across it. The first time for that is now, as I would like to share with you the site of Warrior Adonal Foyle. It's got a lot more than what you would expect from an athlete, including poetry, political commentary, and some amazing honesty, including this list of pros and cons about resigning with the Warriors:

    Do I feel comfortable with this Warriors team?
    Do I feel confident that things will change?
    Is the team good enough to compete?
    Mully looking to make majors changes
    Great fans.
    My home is here.
    Sunny weather.
    Many of my friends are here.
    Politically conscious people in Berkeley.
    I would like to be part of bringing the championship title to the Bay Area!

    I can't remember an athlete admitting he wasn't confident that the team he just signed with could turn things around. For more, here's the link:

    Adonal Foyle

    Wednesday, August 18, 2004

    My Olympic Team - The Point Guards

    This is not an effort to further criticize Team USA (that's been done more than enough already), but an attempt to approach the problem in a more positive way. Even if this year's model wins the gold medal, I think everyone would agree that the selection process was greatly flawed and filled with more self-delusion than anything since WMD. So that got me to thinking, what exactly should Team USA look like?

    I'm starting today with the point guards, and I figured the best way to go about it is to set up some basic requirements for the position. Let's go through them, one by one.

    1. I want point guards who play, and play a lot, the idea being that any player who isn't vital to his own team doesn't belong here. I set the cutoff at 34 minutes, with the next closest player being Rafer Alston. Under ESPN's list of point guards, 16 players are included. They are, ranked by number of minutes:

    1 Steve Francis
    2 Stephon Marbury
    3 Baron Davis
    4 LeBron James
    5 Damon Stoudamire
    6 Gilbert Arenas
    7 Jason Terry
    8 Jason Kidd
    9 Mike Bibby
    10 Eric Snow
    11 Kirk Hinrich
    12 Chauncey Billups
    13 Sam Cassell
    14 Dwyane Wade
    15 Andre Miller
    16 Gary Payton

    Kidd rejected an invitation, and reports are that Bibby would have as well, so we'll eliminate them. Three of the other 14 will be finalists for our Team USA (we may cut down to two later, when we see the rest of the roster).

    2. I want a player who has won a playoff series. This would seem like a simple requirement, right? We want a Court General that has proven he can win something. Amazingly, this cuts our field in half as Miller, Hinrich, James, Arenas, Terry, Francis, and would you believe it, Stephon Marbury, have never won a playoff series.
    We are now down to Davis, Stoudamire, Snow, Billups, Cassell, Wade, and Payton.

    3. I want a point guard who takes care of the ball. There were 42 point guards who qualified for the assist/turnover ratio championship. Here's where our candidates

    Snow 5th
    Payton 6th
    Stoudamire 15th
    Cassell 20th
    Billups 29th
    Davis 30th
    Wade 41st

    41st out of 42 is too dangerous for me. Wade is eliminated.

    4. I want a player who can shoot a three, knock one down with the shot clock running out. Here's their rank:

    Cassell 3rd
    Billups 7th
    Stoudamire 15th
    Payton 19th
    Davis 22nd

    That's out of 28 who qualified, one of whom wasn't Snow. He shot only 18 all year, and only hit two of them. Snow is eliminated. Meanwhile, Payton's .333 percentage, and Davis' .321 make me nervous. Combine Davis's poor assist/turnover ratio with this and you have to start thinking if he's the best man for the job on a team full of superstars. In a sure to be controversial move, we'll eliminate him. Payton might have survived, but his terrible NBA Finals is reason enough to think that the man wouldn't be ready to play again in August.

    This leaves us with Sam Cassell, Chauncey Billups, and yes Damon Stoudamire, a surprise finisher. Little known Stoudamire fact - his career three-point percentage shoots up to .393 in playoff games, and he's a good rebounder for a little guy, too. So let's leave it at this:

    Cap N Shaq Team USA members - Sam Cassell and Chauncey Billups
    Cap N Shaq Team USA altenates - Damon Stoudamire

    Tune in soon for the Shooting Guards

    Sunday, August 15, 2004

    A Pathetic Performance

    There is no excuse for Team USA's performance today. Early news reports are pointing out our 3 for 24 effort from beyond the arc, nodding knowingly, but that was hardly the problem. Admittedly, I did not see the game, but I'm assuming that most of those threes were fired after we were already down 20 points. If you want to place blame, look at these numbers:

    Puerto Rico had a .564 fg % for the game.
    Puerto Rico hit 8 of 16 threes.

    That's not a lot of defense, folks. And this Puerto Rico team is no mystery European team, filled with NBA and ought-to-be NBA talents. I mean, Jose Ortiz? Are you kidding me?

    Team USA may not have many deep threats, but they do have a collection of amazing athletes, many of whom have succeeded because of their agressive style of play. Where is that here? Where is the defense? Team USA ought to be able to stop this band of Puerto Ricans from even crossing half-court, and yet we're making their enter I roster look like a Pack of Pejas. I don't get it, and I'm disgusted.

    I'll finish with a post-game quote from Miami's own Dwyane Wade:

    Dwyane Wade
    On tonight's game:
    They came out and wanted it more than us. I don't know why, but they did. They executed great in the beginning, we didn't and we dug ourselves into a hole that we weren't able to get out of tonight. We didn't make shots, but we had some great looks. I think we just came out flat, it happens, we have to learn how to come out more aggressive for the next game.

    We lost today, but we have another game, we'll learn from this and we have to continue to compete. We can't worry about the practices we didn't have, or how long we've been together. Everything happens for a reason and so hopefully our reason is to learn from this and continue going forward.

    We weren't really playing together as a team the way we should. Tonight we didn't utilize our big fella Tim Duncan as much as we should so therefore the ball was out on the perimeter too much and once you keep passing the ball back and forth, back and forth, something's liable to happen. Tonight something bad happened. We've been careless with the ball a lot and tonight it came back to bite us.

    Saturday, August 14, 2004

    Disaster Relief Fund

    I'll let the Red Cross description speak for itself.

    Disaster Relief Fund:
    The scene is now mass devastation in Florida's Gulf coastal region. Hurricane Charley's death toll is rising, while hundreds are missing, and thousands are displaced. These disaster victims need your help! Help Hurricane Charley victims and the victims of thousands of disasters every year with a gift to the Disaster Relief Fund.

    Disaster Relief Fund

    I know this is a basketball blog, but if one more person gets help because I posted this, then its worth it.

    Charley - The Day After

    With close to 2 million fellow Floridians without power, and emergency teams ordering body bags, blogging is certainly a luxury. Cap and Shaq will have some kind of emergency relief link posted as soon as I find one.

    Friday, August 13, 2004

    New Priorities

    I would like to announce that The Captain and Shaquille has declared itself the Official Basketball Blog of Hurricane Charley. And with that vast responsibility, I will be reporting on changes in weather as they occur out my window. So here's my first report:

    Umm, it's getting kind of windy. Enough so that I have put my grill and beach chair that I never use in the garage. And I'm a little worried about my kid's playset blowing over. It looks kind of nasty on the TV though.

    Hey, what did you expect? I ain't no weatherman.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Wesley Person

    Wesley Person signed with the Miami Heat today.

    "Wesley has proven throughout his career that he is one of the best and most reliable shooters in this league," said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. "Obviously with Shaquille O'Neal in the post and Dwyane Wade penetrating, people are going to want to compact their defenses against us. We feel shooting is at a premium for us and today we signed one of the best shooters in the league."

    Well, ok. The Heat are going to need outside shooters, and Person's still pretty good at that. But my assumption was that the Heat would:

    1. Play many minutes with Wade at the point, Eddie Jones at the two, and Rasual Butler at small forward.

    2. Play many minutes with Damon Jones at the point, Wade at the two, and EJ or Butler at the three.

    Adding Person means shared minutes for all of those guys, and maybe it will work. There are 144 minutes to split between those three positions. So let's check that out. How many did each man play last year?

    Wade played 35 minutes per game.
    EJ played 37.
    Jones played 25.
    Butler played 15.
    Person played 18.

    That's 130 minutes, so Wesley fits. Of course, we haven't mentioned Keyon Dooling, who played 20 minutes a game last year. And where does this leave Dorell Wright? My money has him going down with some kind of back strain, and missing the entire year.

    But I guess in the end I feel pretty good about this, because its a playoff run kind of move. EJ gets more minutes at small forward instead of trusting them to Butler, and Person is another veteran presence that keeps you from having to play Dooling or Wright. All of the young players may in fact pan out, but you would hate to have to count on them, and now the Heat won't.

    In the end, I'll give the signing a B. There's the Piston and the Pacers, but I don't think there's another Eastern team that can touch the Heat right now. That makes a conference semifinal the worst the Heat should do, the conference final a real possibility, and the NBA Finals within reach, and we saw what the Pistons did with that opportunity. It's amazing what one little signing can do for moral. Go Heat!

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    A Whole New View

    Bought these reading glasses today, because I'm going to get my Florida driver's license tomorrow, and without the glasses it was even money at best that my vision would meet with their approval. But I'm finding all of these other advantages as well, like pounding the keys without my face being six inches from the monitor.

    Meanwhile, I checked the referrals on my hits today (a sick little habit of all bloggers), and I'm getting these hits from a place called Blogshares, where people - get this - buy fantasy shares of stock for blogs they think may have a future. It seems as though the success or failure of a blog is judged by the number of links it has, in an attempt to foster a giant, huggable, blog community. I'm not kidding.

    Somebody recommended me for the Basketball Industry, where I am currently the 32nd ranked basketball blog in the universe, which is very flattering when you consider how long Cap and Shaq has been in business, but kind of insulting when you see the blogs ahead of me. Not that they're terrible, it's just that most of them are barely about basketball. Of course, this entry isn't either, and I don't believe in rigidity when it comes to blogs (or anything else, for that matter), but you get the idea.

    So hey, I'll play along, especially seing my stock value has gone from 44 cents to $56.10 in the last nine hours. At the bottom of my links column there will now be links to anybody who shows enough faith to buy Cap and Shaq shares, and who's site isn't completely offensive. Sure they may have nothing to do with basketball, but Olympics aside, we're still eight weeks away from the first game, and variety is the spice of life. Check them out at your own risk, and enjoy.

    Sunday, August 08, 2004

    Team USA - The Weekend

    Team USA had a nice weekend, relatively easy victories over Serbia + Montenegro, and Turkey. On Friday, I gave some things to look for in these games. Let's see how they did.

    Shooting - I gave them a B after 3 games, because they were shooting over 50% from the field. This weekend they shot 50% vs. S+M (stop giggling), and .596 vs. Turkey. They also shot .833 from the line for the two games combined. Finally, they missed all six three-pointers today, but hit 4 of 9 vs. S+M. We'll keep the grade at a B. The threes won't matter if they take care of everything else.

    Passing - Today was Team USA's best day, 23 assists vs. 14 turnovers. Against S&M they had 19 and 19. We'll choose to be optimistic, and with the last game always being the most important, upgrade Team USA from an F to a C.

    Defense - Turkey shot only .315 from the floor and .306 from the arc. Also, they had only 10 assists to go with 14 turnovers. S+M had a .350 fg%, hit only 1 of 14 three-pointers, and had only 10 assists with 17 turnovers. Opponents for the full five exhibition games are now shooting only .391 from the field and .314 from the arc. If those numbers continue through the Olympics, Tim Duncan will be standing at that podium with a gold medal around his neck. We'll give them a B+, thinking there's still room for improvement.

    One more point of interest - Allen Iverson is starting to take over. Against S+M he shot 50 % with 6 assists and only two turnovers. Today he shot 6 for 7 with 8 rebounds. If A.I.'s feeling it, then life is good.

    Friday, August 06, 2004

    Damon Jones!

    Early readers of TCAS (that's the new shorthand for the title) will remember my pushing for the Heat to sign Damon Jones. Later on I'll go into more detail about why this is so cool, but for now here's the original story, published on July 17th:

    Damon Jones

    Thursday, August 05, 2004

    Clown Time Is Over

    Team USA is currently 2-1 in exhibition games, beating Puerto Rico and Germany, and losing to Italy. In these games they have outscored their opponents by a grand total of 11 points. The general consensus is that Team USA can't shoot, pass, or defend at a level that can guarantee them a medal (It's funny how people only talk about the Gold Medal. Doesn't anyone remember the 2002 World Championships?). How much of this is true? Let's take a look.

    Shooting - Team USA has shot .333 from three-point range, which would have ranked them 25th among last year's NBA teams. Of course, it's only a 45 shot sample, so if only one more had fallen, they would be 9th. The 15 shots and 5 made per game would be low average for the NBA, but it would dwarf the Champion Pistons 11.8 and 4.1, respectively. Also, keep in mind that the Olympic games are 8 minutes shorter, so I think it's fair to say that there's hope yet for their 3-point game. Their overall shooting percentage is an outstanding .525, which would have led the NBA by 63 points. However, they're shooting only .653 from the line, which would be last in the NBA by a wide margin. So what's their grade? At this point, you would have to think that their .525 field goal percentage would win them a lot of games, so even with those other issues, I'll say a B.

    Passing - Originally, the point guards on this team were expected to be Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and Dwyane Wade, with LeBron James and Lamar Odom helping out in a half-court set. But so far, A.I. has only 3 assists in 50 minutes, James has only 2 in 2 games, and Odom has zero. Wade has 14 assists, but he also has 11 turnovers. Marbury is the best at 17 and 9, but the only other player with positive numbers is Richard Jefferson, with 7 and 2. As a team, Team USA has 56 assists and a whopping 57 turnovers. Team Passing Grade - F.

    Defense - Team USA's opponents are shooting .434 from the field, .368 on threes, and.771 from the line. It's the three-point number that stands out, as it would have placed third amongst NBA teams last year. Also, they're firing them at a great pace, one that would have placed second in the league. Actually, The Opponents' numbers look a lot like last year's Seattle team, but also keep in mind that they're playing 8 fewer minutes. They've turned the ball over 22 fewer times as well. Defense Grade - C.

    So here's what I'd like to see going into tomorrow's tough match with Serbia-Montenegro:

    1. A shortened lineup of guys ready to play. I'm thinking Duncan, Anthony, A.I. and Marbury have earned starting roles, and need to learn quickly how to play together, so let's give them 30 or more minutes a night. Jefferson, Carlos Boozer, and Shawn Marion can split power forward, and the others can share the remaining minutes, or pick up more during practice. If they don't like it, too bad. There's no time to worry about anyone's feelings.

    2. Extend the defense. This means all players, all over their man, all of the time. We have the defensive weapons to pull this off, and we need to stop all of these shots from beyond the arc.

    3. Protect the ball. Some of those turnovers is lack of familiarity, but some is just sloppiness. We're not good enough to get away with that.

    Let's see what happens tomorrow.

    Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    He shoots...score!

    More of a hockey reference, but it's the sentiment that matters. Brendan of These Days informs me that you can get Team USA box scores at USA Basketball.com. These Days has a deeper analysis of today's game than I have here, and lots of other stuff, so check it out. I'll be back with any interesting info I can dig out of the boxscores tomorrow.

    Our Olympians - By the Numbers?

    So the US Men's Olympic Basketball team won today, beating Germany on a last-second three by Allen Iverson, after which they celebrated like they had won, well, the Gold Medal. I guess it's good to see some emotion displayed by the players. I mean, when you get pummelled by Italy, and it's not a soccer match, there's a problem. I also saw the first half against Puerto Rico last weekend, in which they jumped out to a 10-0 lead, and at the half still lead by only ten points. There's really no reason to believe that this team is going to win the Gold Medal, but that's not what is bothering me. OK, that's wrong. It does bother me, but there's something else bugging me too, and that is the coverage of these games.

    There isn't any place, anywhere, on the internet where I can find a box score for any game the USA has played so far. Now I know they are only exhibition games, but I have a feeling that this is going to carry right through the summer games, and that would be awful. Isn't analysis of these games the best way to:

    1. Evaluate Foreign Talent. There's clearly some Italians who can play a little. Wouldn't you have loved to have seen shooting percentages, assist/turnover ratios, or rebound numbers for those guys?

    2. Analyze the USA's strengths and weaknesses. It's not enough to say that they can't shoot and don't hustle.

    3. Place blame for our failures, or credit for our successes. If Dwyane Wade throws six balls away in the first half, I want to know about it. If he has eight assists and one turnover, I want to know that, too.

    If anyone finds any more info, let me know. In the meantime, I'm probably going to do more analysis of at least our team, because the Olympics is the most important thing going on in basketball right now. So if you're looking for some Olympic coverage, check back in soon.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    Mama Said Knock You Out

    You know, I saw this story the other day just in passing, barely mentioned, and I hadn't heard anything since, so I think I just chose to disbelieve. But someone found my site today searching for "Shaquille O'Neal" and "boxing", and then it came back to me. I did some searching on my own, and damn if it isn't true.

    Shaquille O'Neal is going to fight. And he's going to fight the Light Heavyweight Champion of The World.

    Oh, they're calling it a charity event, but hey, we all saw that Rocky movie where Rocky got into this charity fight with a wrestler named Thunderlips (which gained an Oscar nomination for the stirring portrayal by Hulk Hogan), and we all know what happened: Rocky got his ass kicked. Now granted, this is a little different. Antonio Tarver is much smaller than the Big Diesel, and of course it's real life, but there's nothing Tarver could ever do to gain more notoriety than leaving Shaq bleeding and unconscious on the canvas. Not to mention, Shaq could trip and fall, he could break his hand, throw out his shoulder. A whole assortment of potential calamities await.

    The event is scheduled for this Friday, in Orlando, to benefit the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which provides a scholarship for individuals seeking careers in nursing, but we know better. A closer look reveals that if you rearrange the letters in Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life, you're only an R,N, and G away from spelling Orlando Magic. And doesn't RN stand for Nurse? G must be for all of the Gs the Magic have lost since Shaq bolted the Orlando area. What a scam! We can't let the Magic and those nurses get away with it!

    This must be stopped. And there's only one way.

    Below is the link to win a ticket for the event (Obviously, they don't want the public there to witness the carnage). It's only good until midnight, and this site doesn't get many visitors, so we don't have much a chance. But if you come across this in time, please enter, so we can have someone in the audience who can maybe talk some sense into Shaq, or dive in front of one of Antonio's punches.

    Shaq's Mama Said Knock You Out Event

    Monday, August 02, 2004

    Catching Some Heat - The New Schedule

    I started looking at the new Heat schedule, figuring I'd make a list of the Top Ten games of the season. As I started looking, it soon became Top 12, and then I realized just how many games there are that I'm excited to see. So let's just do November. There's plenty of great games there, and hey, the season is still three months away.

    3rd - at New Jersey. The Nets are in complete disarray, but it's the Heat opener, so who cares?

    4th - Cleveland. LeBron, the home opener, and the first Michael Doleac Special - back-to-back games for Shaquille O'Neal.

    6th - At Washington. One you can skip. Might be interesting because it's a road test.

    9th - Washington. Definitely boring if the Heat clobber the Wizards in the previous game.

    11th - At Dallas. Always fun. May have Jason Kidd by then.

    12th - At San Antonio. Shaq's old nemesis, and the first big test.

    14th - Milwaukee. Bucks will be OK.

    16th - At Minnesota. Another very tough road matchup, and the league MVP, Kevin Garnett.

    17th - At Milwaukee. See the 14th.

    19th - Utah. Quality Western conference team.

    21st - Philadelphia - A.I., America's most ill-suited Olympian.

    23rd - Portland - Always fun to see the Jailblazers. When I went to college out there, we called them the trailbozos. You decide which is worse.

    24th - At Atlanta. Take a night off. Rest up for football and feast.

    26th - At Detroit. The Biggie. View with Turkey sandwiches.

    28th - Boston. You should skip it, but I'll be watching.

    30th - Toronto. Will Vince Carter still be there?

    And that's just November! 16 games in 28 nights. It should take time for the team to click, but it will be a lot of fun watching it happen.

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