Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Wasted Opportunity

Before game 5 I had decided to stick with my original prediction that the Jazz would take this series in six games.  Because of that I had to take off my blue shades and actually pick against the Jazz.  I prefaced it however with the statement that I wouldn't be surprised if the Jazz did win and was hoping they proved me wrong.  I predicted a close game and would have been content had the Jazz at least made a good showing and had given themselves a shot to win it in the last minutes.

The Jazz did prove me wrong but not in the way I had hoped.  Rather than it being a close game the Jazz lost in blowout fashion.  Had they kept it close and at least had a chance in the end I wouldn't call it a wasted opportunity, but based on how it turned out I believe it was just that.

So what went wrong?  

1.  Poor Bench play-  For the first four games of the series the Jazz's bench averaged nearly 23 ppg.  In game five they only scored 9 points as a group.  Two of those points came from Jason Hart who under normal circumstances never sees the court but was in during the garbage minutes.  The main core of bench guys couldn't even put up double digits as a collective group.  Not good.

2.  Foul shots- Once again the Jazz struggled from the line.  Interestingly in this series the team that shoots the best from the line wins the game.  The Jazz only shot 56% from the line which is nearly 20% below their yearly average.  The Rockets on the other hand shot 79% from the line, 7% above their average. 

3.  Rafer Alston- Is he the X-factor?  The Rockets are 2-1 with him in the lineup.  He gave them an early boost from the 3 point line.  For the game he hit 4 of 7 from the behind the arc.    

4.  Tracy McGrady-  T-Mac actually showed up for the entire game, and even had 8 points in the 4th qtr.  He had 29 points as well as a handful of assists.  Overall he played a good game.

5.  Rockets D-fense-  I think Jazz fans are finally starting to realize that this is a good team.  There is a reason why they won 55 games on the year and ran off 22 in a row.  The Jazz averaged nearly 106 ppg throughout the season.  For the series they haven't even broke 100 points in any of the five games and have averaged 86 ppg all together.  The Rockets are a great defensive team.

This is my short list of reasons.  I think any if not all played a role into the loss the other night, and I am sure their are other factors as well that could make the list.

So how will the Jazz respond after such a bad loss? 

I am expecting a good game from the Jazz on Friday night.  We have talked on here before, and really have no evidence to back it up other than our own personal observations, but it seems the Jazz play well the next game following a bad loss.  I wouldn't expect anything less with them coming home to the ESA in front of the home crowd.

The Jazz played below average in Game 5, except for maybe Boozer who had 19 points and 10 rebounds.  I don't expect the team to underachieve in game 6.  I expect Carlos along with the rest of the guys to play at least to their average with a few guys going above average.  D-will is such a competitor that I wouldn't be surprised to see him come out with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove.  Look for a good game from the boys in white and blue.

I am going to stick with my pre-series prediction.  The Jazz are going to take game 6  in front of a loud and boisterous crowd and end the Rockets season for the second year in a row.  Should be an exciting game to watch.

Bring on the Lake Show!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Odds and Ends

I have been gloomy with how the series have gone with the Rockets, but a point Shane made brought it back in perspective. If someone would have told me that Utah would be up 3-1 after 4 games I would have thought that was about right. My biggest concern is how ugly this series has been. It hasn't just been the physicality that has been ugly, but the shot selection, coaching, defense, bench, offense, officiating and the commentating. I find myself frustrated after every game, even the wins. I am excited for them to extinguish the rockets and move onto the Lake show. I am scared of that series, but I think it will be a prettier brand of basketball. Also, I have always liked to cheer for the underdog, and in the Lakers series they will be. Hopefully they will close out the rockets in 5 and move on.

On another front, I have to give my love to the Diamondbacks. They are playing a great brand of baseball. Their pitching is leading the majors in ERA, and their hitting and scoring is in the top echelons of the majors. I know their colors are red (instead of gay purple like before) but I love this team. If anybody gets a chance to watch a game, I'd suggest you check them out. If Randy Johnson can pitch around 15-20 games of solid baseball and Harin and Webb continue their dominance, the D-backs will be in the World Series representing the NL. The AL is not looking as tough this year, check out the AL East where Tampa Bay is leading the Yankees and the Red Socks. The Devilrays entire team makes less than A-Rod. That is embarrassing and should not happen. It should show the owners that they should not overpay for one player. Baseball is a team sport, which leads me to the next point; baseball should implement a salary cap. There are two major sins committed by the Yankees and the Devil Rays. First, the most apparent, the Yankees are ridiculous in that they make so much money that they will pay whatever to get the biggest names in baseball, and that is just not right. This abuse by the Yankees hurts smaller market teams in that the smaller market teams don't get the big names, which leads to less interest by fans, which leads to lower attendance, which leads to less corporate interest, which coupled with attendance means less revenue and all this equals the apathy that many people have towards baseball now, and the smaller teams not spending the money. Bud Selig tried to rectify this by imposing a profit sharing cap where teams that spend over a certain amount have to share with the smaller teams to keep them operating. This leads me to the bigger of the two sins, the smaller market teams like and especially the D-rays pockets the money and pays the lowest amount they can to their players. Their highest paid player is a middle reliever, what a travesty! The sin they are committing with the aid of Selig's terrible leadership, is that they understand it is a team sport and they can stay just competitive enough each year with the young players, that they will never pay enough to their young guys. Salary caps are great in that they have a maximum amount or a minimum amount a team can spend in a year. There is a hard cap (like the NFL) which makes it so no team can spend more than the determined line (no matter what) which is determined by looking at the overall balance sheets of the teams combined, or a soft cap like the NBA where teams can choose to break the cap, but that means they have to pay a hefty luxury tax. No team goes over by too much, unless you are the Knicks and that is why Isaiah will never work again in the NBA. There is also a minimum, and that is why some teams trade for expiring contracts. Anyways this is a boring post, but baseball is really screwed up and Bud Selig needs to fix it or get out of the way. The popularity for America's game has been waning since the strike and now because of roids. We have to get it back and the way to do it is increasing the competition and parity a la NFL. Every team has a shot every year and every team has a level ball field... Ok I am done with my rant. Nobody drop the Florida Marlins on me as an example, they are an aberration, and they have traded or released all their players every time they get them. Their strength is in their farm system and they exploit the talent at minimum salaries and then get rid of them when they mature. They are guilty of sin numero 2.

I love T-Mac... just kidding. Go Jazz

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's Mr. Williams to you!

Did any of you catch T-Mac's post game interview? That guy has an ego as large as the state he calls home.  

A reporter asked him about the game plan that the Jazz had in place to slow him down.  He said that they played him more physical in game four than any of the rest and that they were putting a body on him as soon as he crossed mid court.  When asked if it had any affect on his play he said no.  It didn't matter what they did he still got his shots.  He got his shots all right, 25 of them in fact, but because of the pressure put on him by the Jazz he only made 9 of them.  You keep shooting T-Mac, shooting your team right out of the game.

The guy disappears when it matters most.  In the fourth quarter of game #4 he scored 4 points.  He had one layup and the rest of his points came on foul shots of which he went 2/4.  I loved it when he clanked a foul shot hard off the rim as the fans chanted over-rated.  For the game he only shot 50% as well from the line.  

He also had his pocket picked by Harpering in the fourth which led to points on the other end.  Like he said though, the defensive pressure had no affect on his game.   

The guy wasn't about to give the Jazz any credit.  But that was only the half of it.  He was asked about the rebound Memo got after Williams missed a couple of free throws at the end of the game.  He took the opportunity to blame a teammate for not grabbing the ball after he had tipped it to him, he then threw his coach under the bus for having the wrong guys in the game.  He then had to stop in his answer to get clarification on whether to pronounce Williams' name Deron or Da-ron. What a punk. 

You think he really didn't know how to pronounce Deron's name?  They have been going up against each other for three years.  If he doesn't know how to pronounce Deron by now it is because he isn't all that smart.  He was taking a shot at D-Will for missing the FT's.  The guy bothers me.  I will take much pleasure in watching him get bumped from the playoffs in the first round yet once again.  How many will that make?  Seven?  

The best sign of the night in the crowd had to be the one that had a picture of him in a golf shirt and the caption "Second Round Virgin."  I got a good laugh out of that one. 


Saturday, April 26, 2008


You would think by the way the fans are reacting to Thursday's loss that the Jazz were just eliminated from the playoffs.  As we drove home from the airport we listened to one fan after another call into the radio station we were listening to and complain how the team should have done this or should have done that.    

It was a bad loss, don't get me wrong, but it was only one loss.  Taking the glass half full approach, as far as I can tell the Jazz still own the home court advantage, they still have a series lead of two games to one, and they get to come back to the friendly confines of the ESA to redeem themselves.  In my estimation things are still looking pretty good.  

Prior to the start of the series I felt that the Jazz coming into tonight's game would be sitting with lead of 2 to 1.  I didn't think the wins and losses would have occurred where they did, but regardless they sit win wise right where I thought they would be.  

I didn't think a loss would come on their home court.  I won't blame the loss on foul shots because by doing so you would also have to take into consideration that in the previous two losses the Rockets shot about 10% lower in FT's than their yearly average.  Would it have changed the outcome of the game had they shot consistent with what they normally shoot?  I don't know.  Possibly.  It definitely would have made things a lot closer. 

I think the hustle plays are what made the difference.  It was apparent the Rockets were playing with more energy and determination than what the Jazz had showed up with.  They out rebounded the Jazz.  They had 16 offensive boards, 7 of which came from Landry who is a bench player.  That's too many extra possessions in a tight game.  They had more steals than the Jazz and fewer turnovers. 

I think the teams showed up that night with two different mindsets.  The Rockets came into that game in survival mode.  If they lose that one their series is essentially over.  They were playing with a sense of urgency.

The Jazz on the other hand appeared to have shown up thinking that because of their usual success at home that this was going to be just another win at the ESA.  I think a lot of us felt that way.  

They won't make that mistake tonight.  I am expecting the Jazz to come out refocussed with a sense of urgency themselves.  The Jazz historically respond well after a tough loss.  I don't expect tonight to be any different.  

I think tonight's game is huge in that it will determine the outcome of this series.  The Rockets have the chance to steal back the momentum along with home court, whereas the Jazz can basically put the series out of reach.  The Jazz need to get a win.  I think they will.

I am still feeling pretty confident with my prediction of the Jazz winning it in 6.  After tonight they will be one game closer to doing so.                           

Take me out to the Ball Game!

A Great Place To See a Game

Sporting a New Hat

The Cheap Seats

Vacations are great, but it's always nice to come home.  We took the kids this last week down to SoCal and spent a few days at Disneyland.  Kade has been asking to go to Disney for a few months now, so we finally went.  

We took a day off in between trips to the park and made our way down to San Diego to see the Padres play.  For me, it was the highlight of the trip.  What a great place to see a baseball game.

We watched future hall of famer Greg Maddux pitch 7 scoreless innings, only to watch Trevor Hoffman enter in the 9th and blow the save.  He gave up a homerun to Giant's Benjie Molina.  The game went 13 innings and the Padres ended up on the short end of it.

That's alright though because we have no attachment to either team and were just there for the experience.  It was a great one.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dear Shane

Hey fellers what's the deal, I feel like I am writing messages to Shane! Where is everybody?.... Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody out there, just yell if you can hear me....

The Jazz are kickin some major arce. Hopefully the Stank Nuggets can wear the LakeShow down a little bit and the Jazz can sweep. Doug Collins sucks as an announcer, he was blatantly cheering for the Rockets.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Taking Back the Home Court- Game 1 thoughts.

What a game! This last week after the San Antonio loss Adam and I speculated on how the Jazz would respond after such an embarrassing showing. We both agreed that, based on their history, they would come into Houston hungry for a win and play a good game. I think they did even better than what we had expected.

I was glad to see them withstand the runs that the Rockets made. There were times that the momentum was in Houston's favor but the Jazz stuck with their game plan and were able to steal it back from the Rockets. This team in the past has had a tendency to fold under that type of pressure and give up, but not tonight.

Is D-will amazing or what? Kyle Korver knocked down some key threes as well and then that block on Lazy Eyes was huge. That is about the time the Jazz pulled away for good. AK played a great game, and Boozer was big down in the paint. Harpering is a gritty player that knows how to get the job done. It's no wonder he has lasted so long in Sloan's system. Overall it was a great game by everyone.

This win gave the Jazz the much desired home court advantage. We all know how well they play at home. I am glad with this first win, and am feeling pretty good about their odds of possibly coming back to Utah with two of them. Monday can't come soon enough. Should be a good game.

One Team....One Dream. Oh yeah baby. Go Jazz!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

March Madness NBA Style

We should start our predictions for the playoffs. Here are mine:
1st Round
Lakers over the Stank Nuggets 5 games
Mavs over New Orleans (Insert comment on Bush creating Hurricane Katrina) in 7 games
Suns over San Antonio (bowen is as dirty as USU's football team's personal lives) 6 games
Jazz over Houston (Mcgrady cements his legacy as the worst playoff player in history) 6 games

Boston over Atlanta 4 games (Atlanta could have had Paul or D-Will, ouch)
Detroit over Philly 5 games (Yawn)
Orlando over Toronto 7 games (Bigger Yawn)
Lebron over Washington 6 games (Would these teams have made the playoffs in the west)

Second Round
Jazz beat the Lakers 6 games (I'm such a friggin homer)
Suns over the Mavs 5 games (Mark Cuban must kick himself every day for letting Nash go 4 years ago because "his best years were behind him" Good luck with J Kidd, I remeber watching him play college ball when I was in Junior High School)

Boston over Cleveland 5 games
Detroit over Orlando 5 games

Conference Finals
Jazz beat the Suns 6 games (by this time Shaq and Grant Hill will be broken down and be in street clothes)

Boston over Detroit 7 games (still a boring series)

Boston over Utah 6 games (once again the Jazz fall just short. Thankfully this time I will be in the country to see them in the finals.)

Random Odds
2:1 AK-47 becomes a distraction
3:1 AK cries
2:1 Karl Malone secretly cheers against the Jazz
A sure bet=Karl Malone is interviewed and he talks in third person

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gonna be good, gonna be DANG good.

I was likely one of the few, if not only, of the Blue Bloggers that attended the spring scrimmage in Lavell Edwards Stadium last Saturday. Consequently, I wanted to make my inaugural post be on this topic. I've been spewing my commentary elsewhere, at work and with other Coug brethren.
I am on board! The anticipation for this fall was only heightened for me on Saturday afternoon as I sat in the stands with my bro. This team looks very poised to do things that have never been done before and it will be extremely exciting to see each week unfold. I like how the Bronco regime has changed our approach and they have really solidified how they prepare in the spring to maximize preparation for fall camp and minimize injury. I thought that the offense looked even better, as many of the offensive line looks more seasoned and ready to step up and be leaders within their position and throughout the whole team. I particularly think that Oswald and Dallas Reynolds will be even better at the Tackles and we will see less sacks coming off the edge. They looked better and more fine-tuned. Feinga and Matt Reynolds looked nasty at the Guards and it will be intriguing to see if Travis Bright heals completely to compete for the right guard spot. The thing I like the best with these guys is depth. Tom Sorenson is ready to go, RJ Willing can back up wherever and is solid. Garrett Reden will get healthy like Bright. These guys are going to be brutal. Imagine having to scheme against our passing game and then think as an afterthought, "how in the heck are we going to stop their run??"
The scrimmage with the 1's was very controlled. They didn't play to full contact in tackling, but they looked to be going full in blocks, etc. They worked situationally to start the scrimmage, working on Blue Zone stuff and 2-minute drill situations. I was impressed, at one point, they scramble to about the 42 yard line with time running down, ran in the field goal team, and Payne nearly drills a 57 yarder with time expiring! It hit the left upright but was a phenomenal effort. I thought to myself that Payne isn't giving up his spot to Sorenson without a battle! Not to mention, it is going to be very crucial that we are substantially better in the kicking game, specifically field goals and kickoffs to have a dream season next year.
What I most wanted to comment on is the talent that was displayed once the 1's got their work in. I was thoroughly impressed with a few guys. Diluigi has great vision and just looks like a football player. He looks very multi-faceted and seems to be picking up the offense well. He had a couple of nice runs and yards after the catch where he displayed excellent ability to see the field and gain positive yards. Spencer Hafoka looked solid and will be a great receiver. Curt Mcuen threw a sweet corner route to Hafoka that he laid out for and secured a nasty catch. He looks lanky and athletic and he will only get faster. I also liked the looks of Kaneakua Friel. He could play for a lot of teams as a starter at tight end, and I would venture to guess that he will see some good action this fall behind Pitta and George. He is also lanky and looks to create a lot of mismatches against linebackers on a regular basis. That position is deep again. As far as a position that I was most impressed with?? Running backs. Your famous fellow Davis Dart, Brian Kariya looked great and I think he will eventually contribute. I was impressed with him back when they won the 5A title and he carried them on his back. I have heard that he is a great kid and worker and I was hoping that he would come back from a mission and be a contributor. I also thought Isaac Taylor made some nice plays. Wayne Latu runs the ball very strong but scares me in the pass game. I think there are several guys that could play if we have injuries at running back and I feel we are deeper there than last year.
On defense. I like the looks of Andrew Rich. He's a safety, transfer from Snow that came paying his own way. He is from Bonneville and looks big and nasty. He is a competitor and I think that he will be a solid backup to Kellen Fowler and/or Jordan Pendleton. He will see the field and will likely contribute mightily on special teams. He had a pick and just ran it right up the middle of the field almost to say "I dare you to stop me". I like the looks of him. Another safety, Jamison Frazier had a nice pick where he showed some athleticism to go up and grab a ball on a vert route. G Pittman plays with some spunk and confidence. He looks like he thinks he can cover anyone and it has been a while since we have had a corner like that. I think Criddle always played with a lot of confidence and Jaime Hill seems to be instilling that attitude in our secondary guys. I was impressed with G and look forward to seeing him help that defense get more takeaways in the fall. The move for Vic So'oto was awesome. He looks tough, physical and athletic. I think as he learns more of the gap assignments in the run game, he will become a force and once again, the outside linebackers may be the strength of the defense.
All in all, it looks like the Cougs are doing what they need to do to reach their goals. Being able to reach those goals is anyone's guess, but at least they seem to be putting forth the effort and they aren't afraid of setting lofty goals and playing for a dream season. I like that and am glad to be on board. I never got off of the bandwagon and plan to be on it for many years to come.
August 30 at Lavell Edwards Stadium and September 6 in Husky Stadium can't come soon enough for me!
Go Cougs!

Let the games begin!

The Jazz have had a great season, while they have under-achieved against lesser opponents, they have excelled against the upper echelon teams and tend to rise to the level of their competition. Luckily for them, the playoffs in the West is full of high caliber squads. The Jazz are the epitome of what team basketball is. Their discipline comes from their hard nosed coach. Deron Williams has developed into the leader they desperately lacked in since the days of Stockton and Malone, and in some ways he is a better leader in that he is vocal where Stockton was quiet, and he can be respected where Malone couldn't put a sentence together and was self-centered in the latter part of his career. This years team is probably the most complete team Utah has ever had. Memo has peaked at the right time, and in my estimation, should be the player of the month in the Western conference. He has been a double-double machine and his shooting has been very consistent. Booz has fallen off from the start of the year, but is still capable of dominating the paint. Korver gives the Jazz the outside shooting they have lacked since the departure of Horny, and Harpring is the physical stalwart that any contender has to have in the playoffs, ie Bowen, Wallace, Rodman and so on. Kirilenko has to play well in order to facilitate the trade he so desperately wants, hopefully he can keep his head and not break down emotionally like last year. Brewer has developed into a defensive stud and is the king of garbage points. I have never seen a player dunk as easily as he does. Milsap is our energy player that does anything and everything to contribute. Price has improved dramatically as the season has progressed and has confidence which is key in b-ball. All and all, the Jazz has what it takes, it all comes down to execution.
The West is tough, but every team I look at has major flaws. The Lakers have the best player in basketball, who has the killer instinct not seen since Jordan. However, they have major injury problems and a lack of depth. I just don't know if they can overcome the physicality of the playoffs in a seven game series. The Hornets won when they were supposed to win all year. They are young and energetic and can run some people into the ground. They lack experience, and they tend to wilt under pressure. The Spurs are still a complete team and a real threat. The big problem they face is father time. Parker is still inconsistent, my compadre Ginobili is banged up and Duncan is not as dominant as he was even a year ago. Houston has skated through and caught some breaks. Their biggest strength is that they play team basketball and good defense. Adeleman has piggy-backed on the Van Gundy era of hard nosed b-ball, but has also added a good offense. If they had Yao, I would be afraid of them. McGrady is the Phil Mickelson of basketball, he has a hard time performing under pressure. Is this the year he breaks it like Mickelson did at the Masters 04? Phoenix is a wreck, I listen to talk radio constantly down here and they make me sick. I have grown to hate the suns, part of it could be be having been hit in the back by a hot dog when I went to a game and cheered for the Jazz. And no, it was a real hot dog and not a man dog like some of you may be thinking. Anyways, Shaq can guard a five foot radius in the paint and gobble up boards, but with Memos range and Boozers speed coupled with Amare's lack of interest in defense. The Jazz should dominate them over a seven game series. Dallas has potential, but I hated the trade for Kidd, he can't guard the quicker points anymore and Williams and Paul with take him to school. Nowitzki is a stud, but cannot do it by himself. Lastly, Denver is full of thugs and gangstas and is a prime example of what is wrong with professional athletes (please see articles on Melo's recent arrest in the middle of the most crucial week of the season). I love to see the Jazz pound them, Denver has no chance!
I may be biased by my shades of blue, but I firmly believe the Jazz to have a better shot than any team to advance to face the dream team in green. Hopefully they are not too tired after weathering the vicious West. Alright I am a homer, hopefully we can get some smack going. Anyone that wants to Instant Message during the games, I am on MSN messenger and my account is I will have my laptop fired up watching my 60 inch plasma in HD with the wife locked out of the house. Later boludos!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get that out of here!

Last night Brian and I met up at the ESA to watch the Jazz take on the Rockets.  It very well could have been a preview of what we'll see in the first round of the playoffs.  I hope so.  I think the Jazz match up well against them.

It is amazing how close the western conference is.  Teams 1 through 6 are only separated by two games.  Should the Jazz care who they get matched up against in the first round?  Is it going to matter or is every series going to be a dog fight because the teams are so closely matched?

I think it does matter.  I would like to see the Jazz matched up against the Rockets or maybe even the Suns.  I think against either team they would advance to the next round.  The Spurs however still make me nervous mainly because of the fact that the Jazz can't seem to win down in San Antonio.  Hopefully that will change tomorrow.

Either way it should be exciting.  I'm more stoked for these playoffs than I have been since the championship runs in the late 90's.  As Bolerjack would say, "buckle up, it should be a wild ride."

What are the odds of the Angry Black Man getting out of the first round?