Friday, November 18, 2005

B. Jones: Sonics Follow Up

Interesting road trip for the boys in green and gold.

They have managed to net two wins out of the six game road trip. They barely beat the struggling and winless Toronto Raptors in overtime; this after having an 18-point lead going into the fourth. The second win was over the hapless Celtics, who gave away their team, essentially, over the summer to the Miami Heat. They were 2-5 before the game.

Things aren't as hopeless as they once were though, as the Sonics finally started showing signs of life after being creamed by the Washington Wizards 137-96.

I think that game was as important and pivotal as last season's 30+ point loss to the Clippers on opening night. Simply because it served as a wake up call, then and now. Both games reminded the Sonics that they couldn't afford to be lazy on defense (they allowed 71 points in the first half against the Wizards). Both games reminded the Sonics that they really need to produce on offense.

Look at the Sonics' style of play since last Friday. They finally started getting intense about the game.

I think the best indication we've had that things are on an upswing was this quote from Rashard Lewis (after the win against Toronto): "We can't really be satisfied just because of this win. We've got to go out there and beat a legit team...When we get to beating good teams, then we can start feeling good about ourselves."

For another indication, look at Tuesday's loss against the New Jersey Nets. The score was 109-99. It was much closer than it looks.

The defense looked and felt as close to last year's smothering style as it has all season. Players who'd been having scoring droughts were actually connecting. The game was close well into the fourth quarter (the Nets started pulling away with about 2:30 minutes left to play), which really hasn't happened yet this season. This is one of those cases where the loss was much closer to a victory, even when compared to the actual wins they've had.

Still and all, not everything is blooming under the sun, and the Sonics still have a few things to fix.

I don't have a lot of criticism for the players, because of their renewed sense of purpose. However, this purpose can't be allowed to get stale. Yes, you can tell they're working hard, it's just that they don't have anywhere to flow this energy into. This, though, is a coaching thing.

A note to Vlade: It'd be easier to take your criticisms seriously if you produced while out on the floor.

Now then.

Last time, I intimated that the time to call for Coach Weiss' head was nigh; now I believe that the problem is much more deeply rooted than that.

(At this point, I'd like to thank the Sonics' front office for screwing up a good thing...yet again.* [In this sentence, one could substitute the Sonics with the name of any other Seattle sports franchise, and still have it be relevant.--tbo])

The thing is this, Weiss isn't the only new factor involved. We've got Jack "In Wally's Pocket" Sikma as Asst. Coach, and faceless offensive and defensive coordinators to contend with. Here I'd like to offer some simple points of focus.

Offense

A simple acronym: ABM, Always Be Moving. Or as Larry the bartender likes to scream, "move off the fucking ball!"

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to watch Allen dribble the ball at the top of the key, while the other players do nothing. This isn't an effective offense, guys. Fix it.

Defense

Yes, your defense has improved a bit during the past week, but:

Pick any playoff gametape from last year, especially any win against the Spurs, watch it and then watch the NJNets game from last Tuesday. Discuss.

That's it...not much further right now. There are still 70+ games left in the season, so let these be the early building blocks for right now.

Just make it hard for me to refuse...

*Don't get me started on this topic. I can go back to the Ackerley's firing of Bob Whittsit.--tbo

7 Comments:

At 2:32 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

"(At this point, I'd like to thank the Sonics' front office for screwing up a good thing...yet again.* [In this sentence, one could substitute the Sonics with the name of any other Seattle sports franchise, and still have it be relevant.--tbo])"

Of course, I'm reacting to the astericked comment.

What have the Hawks really fucked up under the Paul Allen ownership? I can think of some mistake along the way, like giving Mike the GM job (but it got him here, didn't it?), sure. But they inherited a messed up team - nearly moved, fucked up cap situation, years of futility.

Things have gotten better, if not yet quite good enough, consistenlt since Allen took over. The laid out the bucks for a high-profile and pedigreed coach, there's a new stadium that is a damn fine place to watch football. They've made the playoffs with some regularity.

And they are even a class act. Witness the paying out of Urbhan's contract when they cut him, despite the fact he had signed a waiver saying they didn't have to if he was injured.

I can't think of one good thing they have screwed up, much less the one that would qualify as yet again.

Old Hawks? Maybe. M's? Sure. Sonics? Hoooooooooooooo-Nelly. They singularly provide the context that gives that phrase meaning.

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

actually, the asterixed comment would be the "don't get me started" bit at the end of the post.

in re: Seahawks. Progress has taken how long? How much jiggering needed to happen to get to this year? Holmgren as GM probably retarded that progress by at least a couple of years.

Beside that, let's see what happens during this off-season...

 
At 6:39 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

True that, we'll see. Or maybe we won't have to. Alexander is playing his way into fans heart and a lot of other deals have been taken care of. I doubt he goes into the post-season under his current 1-year deal.

We all thought they'd screw it up this offseason, with Alexander being all pissy n'shit. Then they signed Matt, good, signed Walter, fer real?, and tagged Alexander. Boo-yah, baby, that don't get any better. And I think at least part of Alexander stepping up, getting the tough yards, is being on a one-year instead of multi-year deal.

I don't know if you know how badly the situation was fucked up before. Earlier GMs had mortgaged the future for jack shit, and the Hawks had money counting against their cap for players that were long gone.

It took a long time, but you have a good, young team, with depth, on an upside swing and solid finances. They could own the NFC West for the next five years.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

I don't know if you know how badly the situation was fucked up before.

Buddy, believe me, I know all about it.

I'll give your boys props for the year so far, and if they go further, I'm sticking to refusing, if you catch my drift. Actually, that's a cosmic reminder to the rest of the fans out there.

And should the 'Hawks/Alexander 1-year deal thing work out, let the mechanics of which be a lesson to the other friggin' franchises around here, whatever they were. Probably more than "yeah, let's see how you do this year."

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

oh, another thing: I'd like for all the franchise teams to fucking stop playing down to their opponents. The 'Hawks being a recent example of this beef.

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger patrice said...

this is the one with the orange ball, right?

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

ayuh...

 

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