Friday, October 30, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

During the holiday season, we’re used to hearing Christmas carols describe “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as being Christmas. As a sports fan, the end of October and beginning of November provide the true fan “The Best Time of the Year”. This time of year, we get to enjoy the overlap of a multitude of the finest athletic events.

The World Series has commenced. And while I'm admittedly not a huge baseball fan, the casual observer (like myself) will take in the excitement of the series. Unfortunately, Yankees and Phillies doesn’t muster much enthusiasm for me (I’m a total westcoast bias) but, the fact that it’s happening… and the Evil Empire is participating… provides us with some intriguing, exciting baseball.

College football is in full-swing. Every Saturday is full of games. It’s always exciting to follow the alma mater(s), the chase for a championship, and the build-up to rivalry weekend, as well as the bowl season. As a season ticket holder, I revel in the opportunity to attend the football games.

The NFL season is in midstream. Personally, I don’t get fully invested into the NFL until the playoffs are about to hit us, but nonetheless, teams are jockeying for playoff positioning about this time of year.

And finally, we can cheer loudly for our Jazz because the NBA season has at last descended upon us. Ronnie, Memo, AK47 and the boys can now enter into my life again. Thank goodness for late-October! Mr. October!… Halloween!… Falling leafs!… the Grid Iron!… and Deron Williams! High-fives & butt-slaps to all... Go Jazz!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last Night

Unfortunately, after last night's game you really have to start with the worst.

  • The entire 4th quarter, when we played no defense and looked totally confused on offense. Can we afford to rest D Will at that point in the game on the road against a good team? We seem to totally lose focus when we do.
  • Our defense in general. Yet again, it is not going to be one of our strong suits.
  • Boozer's play. Woof. Poor defense (two minutes into the game his man was blowing by him and he got called for a reaching foul) and terrible offense. It's not rocket science. . . get down on the post and go hard to the rim. D Will is the only one on the team who should be taking pull-up free throw line jumpers with a man in his face.
  • AK's new haircut. Double woof. My fiancee suspects he's had it professionally highlighted.
  • Our intensity through the first three quarters. Yes, we fell apart in the 4th. But we got on the floor for the rest of the game, which we don't always do. Four jump balls in the 3rd quarter alone! Props to Price, Brewer, D Will, and Millsap for actually caring.
  • D Will. He's an All-Star -- it's that simple.
  • Brewer. With Miles, Harpring, and Korver out, it's time for him to step it up. 16 and 6 is a solid performance. . . now let's try to string that together for three or four games in a row.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jazz Dreams

The off season has finally passed us by and it’s great to have the 2009-10 season upon us. Let’s get ready to talk some serious Jazz! In the wake of our first regular season game on Wednesday, I’d like to share my hopes, dreams, wishes and aspirations for our beloved Jazz this season.

Who I hope will improve the most: Ronnie Brewer
Ronnie is a jump shot away from becoming an amazing player in this league. I feel like he’s the main guy that needs to improve the most for our team to move forward. Our offense is in dire need of a scorer on the wing. I believe that Ronnie can make that jump from solid role player to third option scorer and prime defender.

Who I wish will discover his role: Carlos Boozer
There’s no hiding the fact that Boozer and Millsap will be sharing the power forward spot this year. It’s also clear that Paul will be the future of this franchise, while Carlos will not (just look at our salary position and where our $$ will be shelled out). However, that doesn’t mean that the Booz won’t have a role to play on this team. With the way that the Jazz offense highlights the PF, Boozer will be set up to have a monster season if he stays healthy. I believe Boozer and Millsap will play a lot of minutes together on the floor, providing each ample opportunity to star. It’ll be intriguing to see how Boozer fits into the scheme and whether he’ll take advantage of his contract-ending season with the Jazz. There’s plenty of motivation to play well.

Who I dream will have a career-changing season: Andrei Kirilenko
Once upon a time, AK47 was an All-Star. While true, that now seems like an old, funny, make-believe fairy tale. Andrei’s game has gradually sunk since that miraculous season when he showed us glimpses of stardom. Andrei still possesses the necessary athleticism, size, and length to be a very productive and disruptive player for the Jazz. For some reason, he hasn’t fully put together his immense gifts and talents. In my dreams, I can envision AK achieving that glorious season of multiple triple doubles, suffocating defense and clutch time scoring. Just maybe he’ll have the season we believe he’s capable of having.

Who I expect to be an All-Star: Deron Williams
It’s about time this guy got some credit. Mr. Franchise needs to get his due praise and respect. He should have a phenomenal year.

Where I believe we finish: 6th in the West
We’re not starting off too well with all the injuries… Harpring, Korver, CJ Miles, Brewer and Price are all suffering.

Where I'd like us to finish: 1st Place. Winners over LA and Boston. Perhaps if all the chips fall into place… well, probably not… but at least one can dream.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jazz Tats: Offseason Update

If you're a young, dominant point guard in the NBA, the offseason is the time to relax, golf, and work on your game. But if you're a twittering point guard, the possibilities are endless. Deron's twitter page indicates that he had lunch with Baron Davis and Cash Warren (Jessica Alba's husband for those that don't subscribe to US), made the rookies use pink backpacks, took a sick snake to the veterinarian, and played video games against Chocolate Thunder. It's a busy time.

But not so busy that you can't cover up some of your horrendous body art. That's right, my original post on Deron's tats is already out of date because he's freshly drawn.

Remember that puny panther he had on his arm? Well, now it's a ferocious love beast.
And who could forget his classic NO GUTS, NO GLORY matching triceps tattoos? The NO GUTS has been replaced by that same snake that had to be taken to the vet.
To be honest, I'm not well-versed in the world of tattoo replacement. But these look pretty good. I can't seem to find the smaller panther or the NO GUTS hidden under these new images. Can you just get bad tattoos replaced these days? What an awesome time to be in the NBA.

No word on whether he's covered up the NO GLORY.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Frontrunner for Mr. 14

Preseason basketball in the NBA offers tryout opportunities for potential signees. On the Jazz roster, only two spots remain available for potential free agent additions. Several candidates are working hard to win over one of those two spots (the Jazz vow to only fill one spot). The primary contestants for the last roster spot are Jazz 2009 2nd Round draft pick from Michigan State Goran Suton, free agent veteran forward Ronald Dupree from LSU, and rookie undrafted free agent guard Wes Matthews. These guys are battling for the chance to be Mr. 14 on the Jazz roster… a chance to land a coveted NBA roster spot.

If there’s any indication of who’s winning the race for a roster spot… it would certainly have to be Wesley Matthews, based upon his playing time, production and ability to fill a needed position. Matthews has taken advantage of his opportunity, averaging 21 minutes, 7.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1 assist and .8 steals per game in 6 games. While those numbers don’t seem overly stupendous, he’s made quite an impression on his teammates and coaches as an undrafted rookie through his ability to shoot, score, and defend athletic players. In looking towards the future, I could see Wes Matthews making the team and contributing to the squad (especially with Harpring likely finished and CJ Miles out with a wrist injury). When I’ve seen him play, he’s reminded me of Shandon Anderson, the former Jazzman… physical enough to post-up, drive to the hoop and shoot a bit from outside, while defending with aggression on the other end. It’ll be exciting to see if the Jazz decide to keep him around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Sight for Sore Eyes

To quote from the greatest film of our generation, Rudy, when Rudy's father walks into the stadium at Notre Dame for the first time, "this is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen." This is how I feel when I look at the photo above; Jarron Collins in a jersey which is not the jersey of the Utah Jazz.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The NBA & Europe Don't Mix!

This is my favorite story on the NBA in a long time. As if David Stern didn't have enough evidence that the NBA and Europe is a bad marriage, the Greek team Olympiakos came across the pond last week to play the Spurs and the Cavs, and they didn't go home to Greece until they had made a few death threats. That's right, a few DEATH THREATS.

Evidently, current U.S. court judgments mandate that Olymiakos pay $1,100,000 to none other than former Jazz-man Chris Morris, who played for the club in 1999.
So Morris' agent, Gary Ebert, calls some team representative named Angelopolous while the Greeks are in town, and ends up talking to some other Greek (I will assume it is Angelopolous' hairy bodyguard) who basically says, 'you'll never get the money we owe to Chris Morris,' and 'you better leave Angelopolous (expletive) alone or I will kill you."

Lesson learned: If the NBA ever expands to Europe, I can see the headlines now: "UTAH JAZZ PLAYER CARLOS BOOZER KIDNAPPED FOR RANSOM IN ATHENS." Then Jerry Sloan will be stomping around saying, "Damn it, where is Jarron Collins when we need him? Can anyone else negotiate us out of this f$%#ing situation?"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NBA London

"Look kids, Big Ben... Parliament." As the Jazz take on the Bulls in London, I wonder what the NBA would look like in Europe. I can't imagine it would ever go there... too much travel across the Pond. Now, thinking of Carlos Boozer playing for the Bulls might be a little more plausible since he requested for such a trade last summer. The Booz takes on questions about his summer inquiries to join the Chicago Bulls.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miles Hurts Thumb

CJ Miles has ruptured a ligament and tendon in his thumb and won't be playing for the Utah Jazz for the next little while, the Deseret News is reporting. The injury apparently happened during a practice at the O2 Arena in London where the Jazz are scheduled to play a pre-season game versus the Bulls.

The injury couldn't come at a worse time. The Jazz are already thin at the wing positions, with Matt Harpring planning to retire, and Andrei Kirilenko & Kyle Korver ailing from pre-season injuries. CJ's injury could also be a doozy because tendons on the hand take time to heal. I would expect CJ to be out for at least 3-4 months, especially if he's scheduled to have surgery, which it looks to be the diagnosis. As Jazz fans, we better get used to the sight of having guys like Ronald Dupree and Wesley Matthews in the Jazz line-up. Perhaps we should make a trade for a significant wing prospect. Another item of business for the Jazz to do will be to extend Ronnie Brewer's contract. While that situation has little to do with the Jazz's current circumstance (CJ's injury), I believe renewing Ronnie's contract is something we need to take care of in order to establish our future at the guard/wing position (a position that's been somewhat shaky and troublesome in the past). CJ and Ronnie are expected to be our future at SG and SF. In the meantime, we can only hope CJ gets better sooner rather than later.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Start

The Jazz started the preseason out on a high note with an impressive win over the Nuggets.

Among the encouraging signs for the Jazz were CJ Miles's 16 points in 17 minutes and Okur's Kareemesque baby hook. Miles reported to camp in great shape and showed signs that he may be ready to play up to the potential the Jazz have talked about for the past few seasons. Improved play from Miles and Brewer would go a long way toward making us more competitive with the elite teams in the West.

The report out of camp is that Okur has been working hard on his post moves, and he showed one of them off when he hit a baby hook over the Bird Man. Okur's ability to play out of the post could be critical when Boozer is gone. Although it was only the first preseason game, the Jazz played well and showed signs of good things to come.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Preseason Game 1: Jazz - Nuggets

It’s hard to get too excited about the preseason, but this year there are several interesting position battles that should make tonight’s tipoff with the Nuggets and the rest of the preseason interesting.

1. Who will start at power forward? Millsap and Boozer both have starter talent and are being paid starter money. Millsap signed a contract that makes him an essential part of the future of the team, and Boozer will likely be playing for another team by the time the trade deadline rolls around. But Boozer’s offensive game is more developed, and Paul has shown the ability to contribute off the bench. I’m not sure how Boozer and his me-first attitude would adjust to being a 6th man, and my guess is that Carlos will get the start.

2. Who will fill the HUGE gap left by Jarron Collins? The battle for playing time at the back up center spot between Fes and Kosta begins tonight and could possibly last well into the season. Fes has been around longer, has a bigger body, and has a new girl friend, but he has never shown the focus or grasp of the offense that Jerry demands. Kosta seems to be a quick learner, is active on defense, and has an underrated shot. My guess is that Kosta will win the spot, and I would love to see him give the Jazz a solid ten to fifteen minutes a night.

3. Who will back up DWill? Although DWill plays a lot of minutes, the Jazz need a capable backup point guard to keep the momentum going during the last two minutes of the first quarter and when DWill is in foul trouble. Price has shown flashes of being an effective change of pace PG, but, for the last two season, he has endured long stretches when he couldn’t seem to get off the bench. Enter Eric Maynor. The Jazz passed on several promising players to take Maynor in the first round of the draft and are obviously very high on him. Judging from the summer league, he seems to know how to get a team into the offense and is good at getting to the basket. Price has the edge going into the season, but Maynor will be given opportunities to prove himself, especially during the preseason. I could see this going either way but would bet on Price seeing the lion’s share of the backup PG minutes.

And finally, according to Ross Siler at the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz will break the huddle this year with "1-2-3 Defense." Whether that means that they will actually play solid defense remains to be seen. Sloan has really emphasized defense during the teams early practices, and it will be interesting to see how that translates on the court.

Expensive Jazz

Is our team elite enough to warrant spending so much money? Ross Siler from the Salt Lake Tribune put together a nice piece about the expensive payroll we'll be having for this season. $94 Million is boatload of dough. Is it worth it?

"I want the Millers to make the best decision they can," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I'm kind of caught in no-man's land with that. I want the players here to play. I appreciate [the Millers'] support in trying to keep players.

"I've always felt like it's important to keep players together, give them a chance to know each other. Your young guys get better as you go along. That's how you have a chance to build a team that's competitive."

"What I want to do is have a very good basketball team and be an elite team," O'Connor said. "I can't go past that."
"We control our own fate next year, we didn't this year."