Thursday, July 17, 2008
Behind The Scoreboard
Grizz focus on defense
Is there anyone out there, besides yours truly, who has questioned (in an analytical way), the statement with which politicians have ended their promo spots in or on the broadcast media?
I know, I know. I have used the term myself to end this column on an occasion or two. My usage was purely facetious. Why wouldn’t one approve a message which one had personally made? Anyway, as we move closer and closer to the national and local elections, the term is ringing throughout the land again. The same one which we have heard for the last four or so years.
Not unlike the message(s) which we have been getting from the Grizzlies. With each succeeding revelation about the inter-workings of the franchise, we look for that main ingredient which will put our area team on a competitive par with the rest of the NBA which shows large at playoff time.
We hear about the trades, shuffles and new acquisitions and wonder if given the same opportunity, would we have taken the same road? It is no secret that this year’s draft balls didn’t fall in the Griz’s favor. Is there anything that they could have done that would have kept Derrick Rose out of Chi-town? Rose was a terrific drawing card and, indubitably, would have helped the Griz in building its fan base.
Cosmetically, the Griz have changed. New coach, new general manager and some new people where it really counts – running between the baskets. Their picks of Darryl Arthur and O.J. Mayo look genius, if the early showings are indicative of the future.
Sometimes the deals after the draft pay off, sometimes they don’t. In the cases of Bill Russell and Magic Johnson, they did. The former was not the first pick in that year’s draft. He was picked by the St. Louis Hawks and traded to the Boston Celtics. The Celtics, with Russell in his freshman year went on an 11-year championship run out of 13 seasons. The latter was acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in a pacification deal after they lost Gail Goodrich. Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the championship in their second year.
High lottery picks rarely help their team right off the bat. Consider LeBron James, Yao Ming and Dwight Howard. They didn’t get their teams to the playoffs.
Now, the Griz are saying that the biggest chink in their armor was defense. So they brought in Kevin O’Neill, purportedly strong on defensive tactics. O’Neill has been in the coaching business since ’79. He has been a head coach at various universities, including the University of Tennessee. His longest tenure was as an assistant at Arizona under Lute Olsen. He led the Toronto Raptors of the NBA and has assisted at New York, Indiana and now Memphis.
Will this finally be the Griz’s “break through” year or can we look forward to something like, “I am Mike Heisley and I approve this season”?
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