Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Captain Kirk It's amazing how two games with similar outcomes could give me such a different reaction. But after monday's debacle against the Heat, last night's game in Minnesota was actually encouraging. Tuning in midway through the 2nd quarter and seeing them down by 20, I was resigned to just tuning in on the Illini for the rest of the night. But a nice rally in the 2nd brought the game within 4 at the Half, and the game stayed close till the predictable lack of excecution led to another defeat. But that kind of late-game execution is hard to come by against a good team like the Timberwolves on the road, so I wasn't too upset. The team actually looked good for most of the game, and that's all I can ask for on some nights. I said yesterday that I was looking for Eddy Curry to have a good game and Jamal Crawford to start attacking the basket. Eddy had another strong effort and looks like he's ready to defend his FG% title by going 6-9 for 16 pts. Jamal was still not attacking the basket as much as I'd have liked, but theres rumblings that his sore ankle may be still bothering him. Speaking of not going to the basket, Eddie Robinson is an even bigger culprit than Crawford. Its hard to notice while he's on the bench sulking, but in a game when he gets minutes like last night and actually scores 13 points you can see its all on jumpshots. This is fine from someone like Kendall Gill, but E-Rob can literally jump over people, and could be a major offensive weapon if he wasn't so scared of attacking the basket. But how much space have I devoted to E-Rob's potential already...its kind of getting old. Getting to the title of this entry, Kirk Hinrich is becoming the only player on this team who can be counted on every game. Last night he had 17 points along with 10 assists, and building a case for making the all-rookie team at the end of the year. Here are his monthly splits:
November: 24.3mpg 6.8ppg 3.8apg December: 36.7mpg 11.9ppg 6.8apg
I remember when he was first getting put in the rotation and he looked completely overwhelmed, but its amazing to see a rookie be the kind of floor leader that he is. Granted, its a team with only 9 wins, but you can tell how the team is effected when he's off the court. And more importantly than court vision and leadership and those other 'intangible' point guard qualities are 2 important parts of his game. He can Defend. And he can *shoot*. Those are 2 things that are rare on this team, and frankly 2 things that a healthy Jay Williams likely would have never mastered. I know its only a month of good basketball, but is it too early to think that Hinrich will be a better fit for this team than Jay Williams ever would have been? I'll leave you guys with that, enjoy the holiday!