Wednesday, December 08, 2004


The Bulls had a rare blowout win, 113-85 over the listless Cavaliers. The Bulls led the entire game and were completely in control, although even up 22 in the 4th quarter I had reason for concern. But the Cavs just didn't really look like they wanted to be there, possibly because they had a close win the night before. It was nice to be at the United Center and not be in a manic-depressive state. Just a fun time: Eddy got some garbage baskets at the end, Tyson was ripping rebounds away from people, Nocioni baited Lucious Harris into a technical, and Ben Gordon had a ridiculous lob catch that finally showed me a taste of what must've wowed everyone before the draft. Good games all around, especially by Ben Gordon who had a team-high 21 in 31 minutes. Hopefully that will mean more minutes for him in the future. I think he's better than Jay Williams already, and I'm guessing I won't have to call him 'bricklayer' Ben anymore.

It'll be interesting to see if the Bulls can finally use the momentum of a win to get a streak going. Even a two game streak, which is entirely possible since they are facing the Sixers at home. Its their annual game on national TV (per NBA rules even the Bulls have to have at least one), so it'll be nice if they can put on a show and force the ESPN talking heads to say something nice about the Bulls for once.

So this is a fun day like after the Laker game, but it'll be even better if they can carry some of it on the court for Friday.

Scroll down for my calling out of Jay Bilas. Not often I get two posts in on one day, I know.

You can't spell 'Bilastrator' without BS

This article from Jay Bilas is disappointing, considering the fact that he is ESPN's best NBAdraft pundit. Maybe that says more about ESPN than it does him. Reading like he had nothing worthwhile to write about this week, Bilas sets his sights on the evil NBA:

This is not an excuse. It's a fact. The NBA has distorted everything in college and high school basketball, and it has been a nightmare for college coaches. On most every campus, there are players thinking about the making it to the NBA, rather than making their teams and teammates better. When a coach tries to teach or gives an assignment, the player is often more concerned about how it will affect his development and his timetable for making it to the League.

I'm not denying this happens, but is Jay just realizing this now?

Because I agree with him. Get the kids who want to attend college and play college basketball, not just want the NBA. Of course you know what that means though. Letting them enter the draft early (even, my god, skipping college), and having the NBA create a true developmental system.

An old saying said by...some old people is that 'college is wasted on the young'. In my world, its wasted even more on the young at just want to be basketball players.

But those steps would pretty much relegate college basketball to the status that college baseball has wouldn't it? I don't personally think that's such a terrible thing, but for Bilas and ESPN, who know that college hoops butters their collective bread, I'd think they'd rather complain about the problem than truly rectify it.


Monday, December 06, 2004

I'll always pick lack of energy over complete crap

Saturday's game against the Wizards was the basketball-watching equivalent of a punch in the stomach. The Bulls started out very well, and held a double digit lead in the second half, before an unequivocal collapse in the 4th. That quarter was plagued with long scoreless stretches to the point where the game was over with 2 minutes still remaining. That quarter, while depressing, provided me with some lessons about how this team can avoid more collapses.

First off, I don't know what kind of scandalous photos Chris Duhon has aquired to blackmail coach Scott Skiles. Skiles, if you're reading this...they can't be so bad that you have to be forced into playing Duhon so many minutes. He played 34 minutes on Saturday, including most of the final disastrous quarter. Duhon finished with a line of 2 points (on 1-5 shooting), 1 rebound, and 5 assists (more than canceled out by 5 turnovers). Again, this was in 34 minutes. In the fourth when it was obvious the team was having trouble scoring, I may have said "why is Duhon still in the game" about 20 times before coming to the horrible realization that Skiles was planning on keeping him in there for the duration (Ben Gordon finally did come in after the loss was a formality). Here's Skiles on why Gordon wasn't in the game for that stretch:

"I do want Ben out there, But he was 4-for-11 and didn't have much energy overall."

Now in fairness to Skiles, Gordon was also careless with the ball, having 6 turnovers in his 26 minutes. But I can't see any reason why he wasn't out there when it was painfully obvious that the team needed help scoring. Duhon should never be playing that much on any NBA team. While he may be valuable for his ability to run the offense and be careful with the ball, that is a skill only needed when Kirk Hinrich is getting a quick breather. Otherwise Duhon brings nothing to the table. His defense is passable, but not as good as Skiles claims (a net +/- of -2.2, and opposing PGs have a PER of 17.9). He can't shoot a 3, can't finish his floaters around the basket, can't get to the line, and defenses recognize this and use his man to double on Eddy or Tyson. Gordon, even if he's having a poor shooting night, can at least give you more than Duhon. And in the dire straits the team was in down the stretch against the Wiz, I wasn't thinking about  'energy' like Skiles, I was wondering how the team was gonna get points. I like Skiles as a coach his worst tendency is to over-reward 'energy' and effort as opposed to talent. There are times when Gordon shouldn't be awarded minutes when he's playing poorly, but in this case it cost the team a win.

So with Gordon wondering where coach Calhoun would be doing right now, the Bulls were forced to turn to Curry as a crunch-time scorer, and he didn't look comfortable to say the least. Without the ability to recognize what the defense and decide whether to pass or make his move, he was easily double-teamed and forced into fallaways and hook shots at ranges that Curry simply can't convert at a high rate. Sam Smith sees this as proof of what he's been saying forever:

Look, we've known this since the Bulls traded for Jalen Rose: Curry needs a better scorer to play with, a player who can create a double team and allow Curry to feed off him. Curry is like the fish who trails in the shark's wake: He'll get the leftovers.

This was apparent at the end of Saturday's loss to the Washington Wizards. The Bulls drew up options for Curry, and he was unable to finish. Who else could they go to?

Based on what I saw against the Wiz, Sam's right. And while nobody is wishing for Jalen Rose back, the need for a scorer to help out Curry is obvious. And while Ben Gordon may not be ready yet, I'd rather give him a chance to fail instead of the predictable failure of Chris Duhon. At least until they trade for one.