Thursday, December 21, 2006

All I want for Christmas is a six-game win-streak

I forgot to add the bullet points when I first published this, so this is what it should have looked like.

Last night I was in attendance as the Blazers won a fifth straight game for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. That streak was in February, and we beat a bunch of teams that weren't very good that year. Those five games consisted of the Clippers at home, the Warriors down there, the Celtics at home, the Heat in Miami, and the Magic in Orlando. We did win four straight last year, all at home, against the Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, and Raptors. But for us to win five straight this early in a season that most "experts" thought would find us at the bottom of the league again is pretty exciting. And exciting is one of the best words I can use to describe the game last night. Another important aspect of this streak is that it equals our longest losing streak of the season, and if we can beat the Raptors at home tomorrow we will have a longer longest-winning-streak than our longest-losing-streak. For a bad team that's a good thing.
  • The first thing I noticed was how empty the Rose Garden was. The saddest part of that was how happy my friend Josh was to see the stands filled up. Yeah, it's been that bad. But we produced a good amount of noise when Przybilla got the tip-off, beating Yao to the ball. The first quarter was pretty ugly at the start, but the Blazers picked it up a bit. Here are the most important things that I noticed in the first quarter:

  • Zach wasn't getting quick double-teams, so he scored 11 in the quarter. He was also rebounding well, with all four of his first-quarter boards coming off the defensive glass. Most importantly, he was running back on defense and showing good energy on both sides of the court.

  • Martell Webster, although he didn't score, was doing exactly what I want him to do: putting shots up as soon as he got the ball. And man, his shot looks so good. He didn't hit that many of his shots during the whole game--he finished with seven points--but it was great to see him taking quick shots when he was open.

  • Brandon R-O-Y brought the house down simply by going into the game. He also brought it down by looking pretty good immediately. I'm not much of a basketball connoisseur, but I had to remind myself that he's a rookie and that he's missed twenty games. This kid is good. This kid is mature.

  • What I said a few posts ago, that Zach has confidence in R-O-Y, was evident even in the first quarter. But the other thing that was evident was that Randolph has developed more confidence in his other teammates as well. Good to see.

  • Przybilla certainly didn't stop Yao, but he made the big guy work really hard for everything. It was great to see. Actually, for the most part the whole team did pretty well on the defensive end.
The second quarter was perhaps the best one of the game for Portland. A lot of players got involved during this period, and it looked like the team was playing with great cohesion. This was even more impressive than it might have been because Jack wasn't having a very good game at this point. This quarter may have been the first time McMillan used the three-shooting-guard lineup, playing R-O-Y at the one, Dixon at the two, and Webster at the three. I liked watching this lineup, especially because of the energy Dixon was bringing. Have I mentioned how much confidence the city of Portland has in R-O-Y? He was playing point in his first game back after missing twenty from injury. And he's a rookie. And he's a shooting guard.
The other main observations from the second quarter:
  • Travis Outlaw has really grown into his role. He followed his one block first quarter with four points, one rebound, and one block in the second. But the second quarter block brought the crowd to its feet. The Rockets ran a play that had Yao moving well, and he caught the lob on his way to the hoop. He pulled up from five feet and shot an easy jumper, only to have Outlaw fly in and send the ball five or six rows into the crowd. It was beautiful. Outlaw played well the rest of the game, too.

  • I love watching Sergio Rodriguez. He wasn't even in for a full minute, just the last five seconds of the half. But I got so excited to see what he could do with the ball. I look forward to seeing him develop into a good NBA player.

  • Przybilla had to leave the game because of foul trouble, as the officials were calling anything on him that they could. That brought Jamaal Magloire into the game, and even though Yao made him look like a little boy, Magloire kept running up and down, putting energy in, and trying to prove that he's worth it to somebody. Maybe even Portland. In fact, Magloire decided that he could do what Zach does on offense, which was pretty good. The main problem is that he can't do exactly what Zach does, because he doesn't have the same nose-for-the-ball, the same arsenal of moves, the same touch on his shot, or the same free throw ability. But his confidence and energy were good enough to get him a few points and rebounds and help while Zach was out of the game.
  • Ime Udoka is such an important player on this team. There was one play, either in this quarter or the third, in which it looked like he and Webster got confused on defense. Well, I have no doubt that Martell was the confused one, and that Udoka nearly covered both men. As they went off the floor for a timeout Ime pulled Martell aside and coached him a little bit. He plays and acts like a veteran, and he's a journeyman getting his first real shot in the league. That is huge. He also does little things, like pulling down a defensive rebound and running the floor. He had one defensive board, four points, and an offensive rebound and assist on the same possession during the second quarter. I hope that he's a part of this team for a long time, even if that should be in a bench role as the young guys progress.*
The third quarter was another good period of basketball for the Blazers. They started slowly, but then picked it up and kept the ten point lead they brought into the second half. Some of the things from the third quarter:
  • Jarrett got into a better rhythm and had a good third quarter. He had two assists and seven points. At one point he made a ridiculous three-pointer. The ball had gone out of bounds with only a few seconds left on the shot clock. After the inbounds pass it looked like the Blazers didn't know they needed to shoot. With four on the clock Zach passed it to R-O-Y, who held it a second and then got it to JJ a few feet beyond the arc. Jack realized that the clock was winding down, set his feet and released an ugly leaning three-pointer right before the buzzer went off. He hardly even hit net it was so pure. As he ran down court he nearly did the Michael Jordan shrug. Jack's confidence and awareness are two things that get me excited about his future with this team.

  • This quarter was characterized by the numerous contributors on the offensive end. Randolph had eight points this quarter, JJ had seven, Outlaw had four, Udoka had three, Przbyilla had two, and Webster had two. Most of the shots were good shots, too, with the exception of Jack's expiring three. One of the prettiest plays in the quarter was on Udoka's three-pointer. Randolph established deep position and got the ball on the right side. He quickly wrapped a skip pass around his defender to Udoka in the left corner, who drained the open shot from range. It was pretty basketball, and exemplifies what has been going well for the Blazers in this winning streak: team play.

The fourth quarter wasn't pretty, but it was telling. I would have had Udoka in the entire quarter. Instead, McMillan showed that his confidence in R-O-Y didn't wain while the rookie was hurt. Randolph got his usual rest at the beginning of the quarter, when Magloire was in, and Przybilla was kept out until the last three minutes because of his foul situation. Otherwise, the core during the fourth quarter was JJ, Dixon, R-O-Y, Outlaw, and Randolph. Przybilla came in for the last three minutes, Udoka came in at the very end, and Magloire started the period. The team did enough to win the game. Randolph, who struggled with his shot the whole game, made one from the floor, and then was one-for-two from the line (right at the end of the game, when McMillan had him intentionally miss the second). So the offense in the fourth came mainly from Jack (6 points), Outlaw (4 points), and R-O-Y (4 points). Outlaw made several huge jumpers in space he created with the dribble. Brandon drove for both of his field goals, and the second shot he made in the quarter deserves its own sentence. R-O-Y drove the lane, got pushed left, and made a left-handed hook over Battier and Yao. McMillan said that the play broke down and Brandon just created with the ball. The play came after a timeout, with Portland only up by two and 30 seconds left in the game. The confidence that R-O-Y displayed in himself, and that the team and coach were willing to put in him, really made me believe all the fantasies I have about him being the savior of this franchise. I know that my ideas are unfair to him as a player, but I have them anyway.

It really was a great game to watch. The Blazers out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the league, got a bunch of hustle plays from everyone on the floor, and played like winners. I'm hoping they can continue this and take care of the Raptors tomorrow. If they do, it would be their first six game winning streak since they won eight straight in December of 2002. Who all was on that team? Rasheed Wallace (18.1 pts, 7.4 rbs, and 1.0 block), Bonzi Wells (15.2 pts, 5.3 rbs, 3.3 ast, 1.6 stls), Derek Anderson (13.9 pts, 3.5 rbs, 4.3 ast, and 1.2 stls), Scottie Pippen (10.8 pts, 4.3 rbs, 4.5 ast, 1.6 stls), a young Zach Randolph (8.4 pts and 4.5 rbs in 16.9 minutes per game), an old Arvidas Sabonis (6.1 pts, 4.3 rbs, and 1.8 ast in 15.5 minutes per game), and role players like Ruben Patterson, Damon Stoudamire, Dale Davis, and Jeff McInnis. Yeah, getting the longest winning streak since that team would be a pretty good birthday present.

*I was a little off. Those stats were actually from the first quarter. In the second Udoka had two points, two defensive rebounds, one offensive board, and two steals. Did I mention that he's really important to this team?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NBA Executive of the year

This week I’ve had very little access to the internet. My brother’s apartment is surrounded by people who have passwords on their wireless networks, and I didn’t make it to coffee shops to connect more than twice. So I’ve been unable to post much. Mainly I spent the week playing video games and hanging out. My brother’s roommate Bradley and I played NCAA 2007 for a few days. I started as the coach as Northern Colorado, went to Wisconsin (accidentally), then took the job at Indiana State. After turning the Sycamores into a better team than they’d ever been—even with Larry Legend—I jumped ship to UConn, which allowed me to get my dream job at Oregon. We played until 2040, and if the game is any indication, the Ducks will be a powerhouse in basketball by the middle of this century. I also played some NBA 2K7, and turned the Blazers into the NBA champions by the 2009 season, which is what I’ve been proclaiming would happen in real life. And I did it by trading Zach and Darius for expiring deals and developing my young players. The biggest acquisitions? I drafted a small forward from Mississippi State who became the finals MVP three years in a row, and I traded for T.J. Ford. (Don’t worry, J-Lew, I only did that because the game didn’t respect Jack, but by 2010 JJ had developed enough that I didn’t renew Ford’s contract.) And of course, because my owner--a fictional owner, not Paul Allen--was most concerned with making money, I managed to cut my pay-roll and win championships, so that I was executive of the year several times in a row. I also played both Guitar Hero games, which was a lot of fun and made me feel like a rocker.

One of the few outings that my brother and I went on was to a youth basketball tournament in which two of his roommates were coaching. That would have been fun enough, but watching Stephen’s roommate Jeff coach against Kenny Smith was fantastic. I kept trying to figure out which kid was Smith’s, and I also kept trying to see if he had his championship rings on. I never figured out either. I’ll only say these two things about Kenny Smith’s team: they were shooting the lights out, and his guards could beat anyone off the dribble. It was pretty crazy to watch. I was wishing a little that I’d worn my Zach Randolph jersey to the tournament so that I could try to elicit a comment from Smith on the Blazers’ MVP.

Speaking of Portland’s MVP, he played pretty well in the team’s fourth straight win Friday night against the Clippers. I’ll be there in person to see the game against the T-Mac-less Rockets. I’m looking forwards to it, especially because it sounds like R-O-Y is as close to being a for-sure as one can get after being injured. Also, I’m more excited for that than I was before because the Oregonian reported that Randolph talks about R-O-Y ten times a day, and that he can’t wait to get Brandon back in the line-up. That adds even more credence to my brother’s theory that Portland needs to see how well the two play together for a while before they ship Randolph off for the best deal they can find. If a guy is that excited to get a player back, and especially if that guy is one that some people think only cares about himself, I think that means good things are in store when the two get the chance to pair up again. If you remember, Randolph went those three or four games in a row with 30-plus points while R-O-Y was in the lineup, and Brandon was averaging near 20 a game, so he was still getting his shots. In addition, Randolph has been playing on the move really well in the last few games, passing out of double-teams with good consistency, and generally being a mature team player (minus one bird incident). If he’s like that now, I can hardly imagine what he might be like when R-O-Y is back in the rotation.

That’s all for now, I’m writing this in LAX as I wait for my connecting flight to Oakland before I land in Portland. Hopefully I can get bumped so I can finagle a plane ticket to Chicago in my near future.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Two turtle doves, or a partridge in a pear tree

I wrote the first part of this post on Saturday, December 9, while I was flying from Portland to Los Angeles.

This morning when I woke up I put my on my Zach Randolph jersey. I knew that I was running a risk, because the Blazers played the Pacers last night and I didn’t know how the game turned out. I figured that the risk was worth it, since Zach has played consistantly well so far this season.

I changed out of the jersey after coming downstairs and getting this greeting from my friend Kirk, who I was staying with:

“Wow, that’s gutsy.”

Apparently Randolph pulled a Michael Vick on his hometown crowd last night. I don’t hold it against him too much. He was frustrated, he was at home, he had just fouled out, and some guy had just told him he sucked. But his actions, and my subsequent removal of the jersey, are a good lead-in to something I wanted to write about yesterday: I finally believe that trading Randolph could be the best move this franchise could make.

I know, I just invested in a jersey, and I’m the one who said the most important thing was giving a team time to work together and gel and all of those things. And Zach may be, as the Sports Guy insinuated, the best offensive post player in the NBA. But, as Dwight Jaynes of the Portland Tribune said a few days ago:
It’s becoming increasingly clear that for the young players to fully develop, Randolph probably has to leave.

Not every game, but many nights he dominates the ball so much that I don’t think anyone else has the opportunity to find a game. It’s pretty much the same thing every time down the court—dump it into Randolph, spread the floor and watch Zach play one-on-one.

Sometimes he will pass out of the post—he’s much better at this than in previous seasons—but other times he just heads to the basket against whatever coverage he sees. He’s successful a good portion of the time, but that isn’t doing a lot for the development of his teammates.

I pondered this as I tried to figure out why Martell Webster seems to do better off the bench than when he starts. Well, part of it is that he’s not on the floor with Randolph as often. He gets a chance to get into some sort of rhythm.

For another team with a lot of outside shooters and not much of an inside game, he’d be just the ticket. But I think Portland wants LaMarcus Aldridge to develop an all-around game. I think the coaches probably want to do more on offense to get all the young players involved.
I was so excited during the off-season because of what the future holds for this team. This year they have surprised me with some wins, and that’s clouded my judgment a bit. We are not winning this year. Yeah, we’ll get some games like the Nets sweep and the victory in Detroit, but we’ll have plenty of losses at home to the Hawks and give-up-the-leads to the Bucks and Pacers. We have the best young talent in the league. Yes, I really believe that. Jack and Rodriguez are very good point guards. Of course, they also proved last night that they are young and fresh. Martell Webster has shown glimpses of his ridiculous ability in the last few games, scoring a career high in Detroit and making five three-pointers in Milwaukee. Brandon R-O-Y is getting healthy at home, and he has already convinced me that he’s the future of the Blazers. Aldridge has been really good for a skinny rookie forward playing center. Outlaw shows glimpses of great play every once in a while. Those are six young guys who I could build around. Add in the veteran presence of Joel Przybilla, a proven leader on this team. Add to that the great effort and team play of Ime Udoka, the hometown kid who is proving his worth. *

In a conversation with Casey Holdahl, the Oregonian’s resident Blazer blogger, the Blazer beat writer Jason Quick revealed a story about talking to Nate McMillan. Quick said that McMillan doesn’t plan on playing LaFrentz. Yep, a guy that’s getting $11 million, a guy they traded for during the off-season, that guy isn’t going to get playing time. Why? McMillan wants Aldridge to get as much time as he can, because he’s earned it and because it’s important that Aldridge gets as much experience as he can. A similar statement was made about Webster. McMillan has been beside himself trying to find the best line-up, and has sometimes started Webster and sometimes not. He does a lot better off the bench, but Jaynes already addressed one theory for that in the quote I included. Even with all that, McMillan says he is going to start Webster. Why? For similar reasons to the ones given for starting Aldridge.

So if this team will probably be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year with Zach, why not move him now? His contract is too long. He is a liability on defense and might be the reason that no one else can get into the offense. I don’t even know if I want comparable talent back, or if I just want a first round pick and cap relief. I’m still convinced that I want Oden. If we have two first round picks, we might be able to trade them for the first overall, since this draft is considered to be so deep.

This part was written on Tuesday, December 12.

My brother brought up a great point while he was driving me from LAX to his apartment in Orange County. As I told him what I was going to write in this post, he reminded me that R-O-Y had no problem scoring with Randolph in the offense, and he did a lot to get the other players involved. So it would make sense to wait until we see how R-O-Y and Randolph play together, because if the two of them work well and the rookie shooting guard gets everyone else involved, then keeping Randolph makes more sense. Especially since, in the days after I wrote the first part of this post, the Blazers have won two in a row on the road. Plus, they’ve been in every game during this road trip, losing several in typical young-team ways.

Here’s the complication: after Randolph’s incident he was suspended for a game. What did the team do without him? They won without him or R-O-Y. Sure, they were playing against a poor Toronto team, but road wins are tough for a young team, and even tougher without your top two players. So just as I was rethinking my conversion to the trade Randolph bandwagon, the Blazers go and win without him on the road. I don’t know what to think anymore.

So I haven’t come to any good decisions about what we should do with Randolph. Hopefully the team does come to a good decision, and hopefully they stick with it. I may be coming up with some more trade scenarios, if I can get online this week, to see some more options with Randolph. These would be different from the last ones I did because I would be looking mainly for cap relief in the form of expiring contracts.

My brother came up with the title for this post, as it is now Thursday and I still hadn't gotten it online yet. So we're sitting in a Starbucks in Costa Mesa getting internet that isn't from T-Mobile. Anyway, the title is a seasonal reference, and I thought he used it to capture the idea that trading our partridge might allow the turtle doves to develop. No? I like it, but then again, I need something to remind me that it's almost Christmas. Oh yeah, I guess no school works too. I'll have more for sure after I attend the Blazers/Rockets game in Portland on Wednesday.

*Udoka has started every game this year. He doesn’t have a guaranteed contract, and was only invited to camp because Aaron Miles, the guy Portland wanted, couldn’t pass his physical. I’m serious; Udoka is one of the most important guys on this team.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What a ridiculous young team

Beat the Pistons last night, lose to the Bucks tonight. I-N-C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-T. That spells Blazers. I'm going to adress some comments.

  1. RE: The Bulls SF "logjam"
    Somewhere this offseason I read about this. Maybe the writer made it up, or maybe I'm making it up now, I'm not sure. Regardless, I had trouble figuring out where, exactly, this overpopulation was when I looked at the roster.

  2. RE: The rumors about Zach
    A lot of people in Portland still think that Zach will regress. They're worried about his knee and his head. Also, he's the last guy on this team that is frequently mentioned for doing stupid things off the court. Some fans would like to see him moved because of his "questionable character" and high salary, and they think that now is the best time to do it. They're right, of course. If he's going to be traded it should be at this very moment, when his value is huge. But I don't understand where they're coming from. We just shipped off a guy who was supposed to be part of our future plans because he didn't fit with Zach. Now we want to trade the guy we just decided--finally and totally--to build around? Doesn't make sense to me. But if it did make sense, those are two possible deals based on ridiculous rumors.

  3. RE: A Hawks/Blazers trade
    We really do have very similar teams right now. You guys throttle us at home, lose to Seattle, come back to beat Denver. We lose five straight, including four at home, then go to Detroit and beat them, then hop to Milwaukie and lose in overtime. At least Jack was fantastic in that game. What a good fantasy pickup for me. Oh, and here's the trade I'm trying for our two teams:

Here is the ESPN trade machine version, and here is the RealGM version. I was going to try a straight-up trade at first, which would have probably been Randolph for Williams and Stoudamire, with a pick thrown in. But I gave up on that because it didn't do much for Portland. I know this trade is very unlikely for New Jersey. I was trying to get them Stoudamire, who from my understanding is a better shooter than Childress, but to make salaries and the other personnel work I went this route. The Nets would probably need a pick here, and that would probably have to be from the Blazers, since they get Vinsanity. Maybe not though, the Hawks would get another huge scoring threat (who might not mesh with Joe Johnson) and another big body to "help" play defense. The Blazers give up the man they've been building around, but bring in another exciting young guy in Williams and a proven quitter, I mean, scorer/athlete in Carter. The Nets get their help up front with Magloire and Pachulia, which would actually be a tough fit since they already have Krstic, and they bring in Childress to pretend he's Carter. What's funny about this trade is that if you look on the ESPN version and compare the PER that each player has, the Nets are actually getting the better end of the deal in Hollinger's world.

Anyway, there it is, just for J-Lew. If I actually knew what Atlanta needed, or had knowledge of some of the rumors regarding their players, this could have been even better.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My take on the rumors

I don't want to trade Zach Randolph. I've said that for a while. But during a break from working today I came up with two different scenarios that, while maybe not great, would be possible with some picks thrown in. These are based on what teams have been rumored to be interested in Randolph, what Portland wants/needs, and the cap situation. I used two different trade generators to figure them out, each of which has some cool features.

Here is the first trade I came up with at RealGM, and here it is with ESPN's trade machine. Rumors have been swirling that New Jersey might want Magloire and that Detroit could want Randolph, so I packaged them and ended up helping the Pistons...maybe. Team chemistry gets shot to hell here for the Pistons, and for the Nets, actually. This trade would never fly unless the Nets and Blazers both got first round picks from Detroit, which they do have. Even so, as much as this trade "works," there's no way it would happen. But it was fun to put together.

But think about this: the Pistons would be getting two players who want the offense to be about them, while giving up two guys who play their roles very well, even if the roles look different with Saunders than they did with Brown. The Nets would be getting tons of front court help, but giving up their best player to do so. They would most certainly insist on having the higher of the two first round picks, how ever that turns out. The Blazers would be handing the reigns over to LaMarcus and trading two guys starting big men for two back-up big men, but they bring in a clutch shooter who can help bring along that bevy of young guards. They would definitely need a that other first round pick. Again, I'm not saying this could ever go, but it was fun to think about. And I want to keep Zach, let me say that again.

The other one seemed more likely to me, but still not likely. Rumors have said that the Bulls would like to have Randolph if they can't get KG. Other rumors have Ray Allen wanting out of Seattle. Much talk has been made about the glut of small forwards in Chicago. I deal with all of those things in this trade, and get a different clutch shooter in Portland. Here is the RealGM version, and here is the ESPN trade machine version. In lots of ways this trade makes more sense to me. Seattle gets some front court help, at least in the short-run, in P.J. Brown, they get rid of Allen--if he does want out--but replace his contribution with a potential star in Deng and a proven bench scorer in Dixon. The Blazers end up with a great scorer in Allen and bring back a glue guy from last year's team, Kharapa, who might help with the weird small forward situation. The worst of this is really for Chicago, who would deserve a first round pick from Seattle in this deal. They would be handing the starting job to Nocioni, sticking with Hinrich-Gordon-Duhon in the back court, and relying on Zach for a lot of offense. I would not make this move if I were them. Then again, if they thought they were getting Seattle's high pick, and they believe that Nocioni can do the job...NO. Sorry, but if my friend Ek sees this he might throw up. Maybe I should work in a trade with the Hawks just so J-Lew doesn't feel left out.

Alright, I really do need to get to sleep now. And at the beginning I said something about these trades being "possible." I'm an idiot.

Too many good things

I should be in bed right now, but instead I'm going to at least start this post. My final week of the term is shaping up nicely. I have a few things to do during the day on Wednesday, but they're not too big and then I'm done. So that's nice. I'm leave Saturday to spend a week with my brother in Los Angeles, so that's nice. The Blazers are getting everyone back healthy, so that's nice. And best of all, they won the game tonight in Detroit, which is awesome. They now have half as many road victories as they had all of last year.

Because people are coming back, I started kicking around some line-up ideas. Here they are, with aprropriate titles.

Starting Unit

PG-Jarrett Jack
SG-Brandon R-O-Y
SF-Ime Udoka
PF-Zach Randolph
C-Joel Przybilla

2nd Unit

PG-Sergio Rodriguez
SG-Martell Webster or Juan Dixon
SF-Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster
PF-LaMarcus Aldridge
C-Jamaal Magloire

Big Unit

PG-Brandon R-O-Y or Jarrett Jack
SG-Martell Webster or Brandon R-O-Y
SF-Travis Outlaw
PF-Jamaal Magloire or Zach Randolph
C-Joel Przybilla or Raef LaFrentz

Running (small)Unit
PG-Sergio Rodriguez
SG-Jarrett Jack or Juan Dixon
SF-Brandon R-O-Y
PF-Travis Outlaw
C-LaMarcus Aldridge or Joel Przybilla

Shooting Unit

PG-Brandon R-O-Y or Jarrett Jack
SG-Juan Dixon
SF-Martell Webster or Brandon R-O-Y
PF-Zach Randolph
C-Raef LaFrentz

Defensive Unit

PG-Brandon R-O-Y
SG-Ime Udoka
SF-Travis Outlaw
PF-Raef LaFrentz or LaMarcus Aldridge
C-Joel Przybilla

This leaves a few players out of the rotation completely, namely Dan Dickau and Steven Graham. Perhaps Dickau could be included on the shooting unit, and maybe Graham could be on the defensive unit. But this would still use a ton of players, even without those two. Some depends on how units work together, who is hot, who stays healthy, and if some players meet their potential. After the win tonight, it's anybody's guess how things will look in the next few weeks. I hope this team can get healthy and stay that way.

Here are three Brandon R-O-Y clips to get you as excited as I am about his return to the line-up.

The first one is an interview he gave recently about his status. Good news, basically.

This second one is a little montage from the summer league in Vegas, when he tore people to shreds. It starts getting me excited for his return.

The last one is long, and includes the end to the seasn opening win in Seattle. If you don't care, skip ahead to the end, when Mike Barrett interviews R-O-Y and then they show highlights from his first NBA game. I cannot wait until he's back.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A great site

I've been reading this blog for a while now, but I need to share it with anyone who reads mine. It's really good. I thought of it because of how much I enjoyed reading the preview for the Blazers-Hawks game Sunday night. Once again I'm quoting someone who says things far better than me. And once again, this is for J-Lew. After Dave says how similar Portland and Atlanta are, then a bit about Joe Johnson, he says this:
"So Dave," you say, "Tell me who ELSE Atlanta has to be bearers of such a fine 6-8 record." That's a very good question. Their second leading scorer is...Tyronn Lue. Yes, THAT Tyronn Lue. He's averaging almost 31 minutes a game and you know that ain't good. He's hitting his shots better than ever before, but he still carries all the same liabilities that made five other teams give up on him: he's short and couldn't defend a handcuffed marshmallow if you gave him a tazer. Zaza Pachulia is a European-type center with a nice scoring touch and he's managing to grab a fair number of rebounds this year, especially on the offensive end. But he couldn't guard a napping slug if you gave him a salt shaker. Bench guard Salim Stoudamire is a deadeye shooter from long range and the free throw line but he can't hit anything in between. He couldn't guard a bolted-down gas can if you gave him a flamethrower. Point man Speedy Claxton lives up to his nickname but he's been in and out all season, is producing nearly as many turnovers as assists and can't hit the broad side of a barn with his jumper. He couldn't guard your grandmother's Christmas Cactus if you gave him a weed whacker. Are you starting to sense a pattern yet?
I don't know how true it is, but I do know that it's said pretty well. Even if you're not a Blazers fan, you should check out his blog. He posts two, sometimes three times a day. And it's usually really good stuff.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The backcourt situation

Let me set up my own comments with this quote from Brian Meehan at The Oregonian:
Look for McMillan to play Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez together more often. Rodriguez gave Portland a boost again in the fourth quarter against Orlando. The rookie Spaniard is clever with the ball and beats just about anybody off the dribble.

His playing time has soared with Roy out -- from two minutes a game in the first five games to 13.3 in the last 11. And Rodriguez had recorded all 43 of his assists in the last 12 games.
This afternoon I drove down to Roseburg to find some paperwork I need to turn in on Monday. I didn't find it. But on my way back I was thinking about fantasy basketball. I recently added Jarrett Jack to two of my teams, because he's playing pretty well and I could use the assists and steals he's putting up. He's doing better than Telfair, I think, and I'm glad that we chose Jack over Bassy. That got me to thinking about our backcourt situation, and the Meehan quote is good for setting this up.

This update--which is also important for understanding our backcourt situation--was in The Oregonian today:
Rookie guard Brandon Roy will not make the Trail Blazers' six-game trip that begins next week, the team decided Friday. That was the bad news for the Blazers.

The good news was that Roy, who had a magnetic resonance imaging Friday, removed the boot he has been wearing for more than three weeks and said he hopes to play when the Blazers return from the stretch of road games.

"The scan showed improvement from the last one," said Roy, who missed his 12th game Friday because of pain in his left heel.

Roy said he hopes to be in the lineup Dec. 15, when the Blazers, who play Atlanta at home Sunday, will have returned from the nine-day trip and will play host to the Los Angeles Clippers. By that point, he will have missed 19 games.

While his teammates are gone, Roy said, he will try to strengthen his ankle and try to get back into basketball shape, conditioning in a pool before graduating to a stationary bike, then a treadmill.

"We're still trying to take this as slow as possible because right now we don't want to do the surgery," he said.

Coach Nate McMillan said the Blazers will continue to be cautious with their prized rookie.

"The doctors don't feel like we have to do anything, but we have to give him time," McMillan said. "How much time, no one knows."
Coming into this season the Blazers didn't know for sure who would play guard when and how much. There was a lot of speculation that Sergio Rodriguez would be sent to the D-league because he wasn't ready to play in the NBA. He is certainly still rough, but has proven that he knows how to run an offense and what to do with the ball. He gets all the minutes that many thought would go to Dickau at the beginning of the season. This might have to do with R-O-Y being out, as Meehan suggested, but I think we may get to see him play some even when R-O-Y gets back.

Jack has done a pretty good job of running the offense, and has put up impressive numbers so far. He is averaging 12.6 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.47 spg, and 2.41 topg, to give him an assist/turnover ratio of 2.44. Sure, that's 22nd in the league, behind Telfair and our boy Damon Stoudamire, but it's not too bad for what he's working with: a young team that's still reeling from some big injuries. Also, he's averaging 8.1 assists per 48 minutes. Rodriguez, on the other hand, is averaging 14.7 assists per 48 minutes. He's only playing 12.7 mpg, but he's the only person to play more than one game who has a higher ap48 than Nash, who has 14.* Rodriguez is also third in the NBA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.91. The only two players ahead of him are Andre Miller and Chauncey Billups. Rodriguez is only averaging 2.5 ppg, but 1.3 rpg, which is not too bad considering his small mpg number. What's the point of all these numbers? My point is that playing Jack and Rodriguez together might be really smart. Jack has done a much better job of picking his spots and making good shots. That was very clear in the New Jersey game I watched last week. And his points are showing it. Neither of them is great on defense, even though Jack gets the steals, so that will hurt us. But they both create well and free up their teammates. Outlaw plays better when Rodriguez is in there. Aldridge plays well with him too. The two did a good job at the same time last night against Orlando.

It may sound like I'm not saying anything new, but wait for it.

R-O-Y could be coming back soon. As much as the organization talked about him as a possible PG, they also mentioned that he could perhaps play SF. He might take a while to get back in the swing of things, but he's a good player on the both ends and makes his teammates better on offense and defense (something someone like Steve Nash knows nothing about).

Here's the new:

Play all three at the same time.

It probably won't be a good idea to play all three at the same time, but early in the season we tried small ball a little bit. Zach played center and Outlaw played power forward. If we played with Sergio at PG, JJ at SG, R-O-Y at SF, Travis at PF, and Z-Bo at C, we would get burned on defense. But we would also score a lot of points. Here's another way to run that lineup, since it would be for short spurts anyway: instead of having Zach play center, put LaMarcus there. That team would be able to run, and Aldridge is a better defender than Randolph, even if he doesn't get the same respect from the refs or have the body to do damage down there. Also, we could change it up by switching out JJ, putting R-O-Y at the SG spot and either putting Ime Udoka in at SF, or sliding Zach and Travis down and playing LaMarcus at center. Or we could just keep mixing it up.

My point is that our backcourt, which seemed so shaky before the season started, has probably developed more than it could have if R-O-Y hadn't hurt his heal. I'm still not happy that he got hurt, because we've missed him a lot. But this could turn out to be better in the long as it doesn't affect him negatively past his imminent return to the court. Before the season I thought that the potential of those three guards was really high, and that they would eventually become a very good trio. Now I think they could end up getting closer to that potential sooner than I had imagined.

The biggest thing that could keep that from happening is that none of the three are great outside shooters, so the defense can just play the lane. But maybe if Martell Webster starts getting some confidence and Raef LaFrentz comes back healthy, then they could be in the mix to pull defenders out to the perimeter.

I guess I just want to see Rodriguez continue to get playing time, even when R-O-Y gets back. Once again I'm convinced that the Blazers did a great job in the draft this year. All we have to do is wait to see how Joel Freeland turns out. As Ian Whittell, of The (London) Times, told ESPN back in September:
But enough of the semantics. Who is the next great international player out there? I could go for Britain's very own Joel Freeland, taken 30th by the Blazers in this year's draft, but even though one NBA European scout has told me he's convinced he could be as good as Nowitzki, Freeland's best is still more than a decade away.
We still have the potential to get Oden in the next draft. Put him together with those young guards, Aldridge, "the next Nowitzki," and maybe even Travis Outlaw, and we could develop into a great team in the next decade. I'm not going to be able to sleep now, because I'm so excited for the future of the Blazers.

*I apologize for using statistics in a dishonest way. Rodriguez hasn't played enough to be considered in the qualified version of ap48 on, but he has enough assists to be considered in the qualified version of ast/to. So I used one qualified version, when it made Rodriguez look good, and one unqualified version, also when it made Rodriguez look good. Although I don't think I skewed the truth too much.

Another audio clip

Here is the message that Jeff Griffin left on my voicemail last weekend. I think it's worth sharing with the world. It's pretty quiet, so listen closely, and there's no video, even though it's a YouTube clip.

Two videos and some audio

The Blazers lost a heartbreaker last night. I have a ton of work to do. My fantasy teams--all four of them--are floundering at the moment. What better way to get happy than by posting two videos and an audio clip. Well, except that one of the video clips is one of the worst sports moments of my life. I had never seen the downfall of the Blazers, because that was the day of my high school graduation. But thanks to YouTube, I now know what triggered our 21st century mediocrity. Sorry, mediocrity is too generous, but you get the point. This team was so loaded. Here's the starting lineup: PG Damon Stoudamire, SG Steve Smith, SF Scottie Pippen, PF Rasheed Wallace, and C Arvydas Sabonis. The second unit is here: PG Greg Anthony, SG Bonzi Wells, SF Detlef Schrempf, PF Brian Grant, and C Jermaine O'Neal. We also had Stacey Augmen contributing as the 11th guy. Sure, most of those players were either past their prime or not quite there, but come on! Ugh. We've got to exorcise those demons. Here it is, thanks to TrueHoop for putting it up first.

Alright, the second video was shared by my friend Bob on Facebook. It's a really good stop-motion short film. After the Blazers collapse, this brings me some happiness.

And lastly, here is a radio message that Jim Wallis gave a few days ago. As someone who cares about politics, what he says gets me excited for the impact Christians could have in the next few years. Even if you don't care about politics you should give it a listen. It's not very long.

There you have it, some media to make you feel like I feel right now. Hopefully, if getting paperwork done hasn't taken all of the feeling out of me.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Really, I have a lot to get done, but instead...

Alright, I'm not much of a college basketball fan. It might be because I was never that good at the sport, so I don't appreciate the more "pure" form of basketball. It could be because my team, the Oregon Ducks, wasn't very good when I was growing up as a sports fan. It may be because the Blazers occupied so much of my basketball fan-ness as a kid that I didn't have room to develop as a college basketball fan. However, my fanatacism has been growing ever since Luke, Luke, and Fred turned my words around sophomore year at Wheaton. At the end of that football season Oregon crushed Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, making the BCS look foolish for putting Miami and Nebraska in the title game. About the same time, the basketball team lost to Minnesota. One of the guys on my floor left me a note rubbing in the fact that the Ducks lost to the Gophers. I told him that I didn't care, since the Oregon basketball team was never that good and so not worth following. Apparently the big three didn't appreciate my comments, because they proceeded to take Oregon as far as it had been in the NCAA tournament since winning the whole thing in the inaugural tourney back in 1963. I started following them as the season went on, and then I made the trip up to Madison to watch the elite eight game against Kansas. By the way, that game was fantastic--Hinrich, Collison, Gooden anchored the Kansas team, and the trio of Ducks I've already mentioned held their own for Oregon. I say all of this to give context to my next statement: I'm pretty excited for the rest of the college basketball season, and would be even if Oregon hadn't beaten Georgetown last night in their first ever meeting. It was also the first Oregon win against a tp 25 team on the east coast. Ever. That's a big deal. In fact, Oregon didn't even play their best game. Sure, the basketball team might just be setting us up like the football team routinely does, but it's still an exciting prospect, being undefeated early on and beating a big-time east-coast program in their house.


On an unrelated pop-culture topic, I'm a huge fan of Studio 60 on NBC. This morning I found a pretty funny graphic that I thought I should share with anyone who reads this. So here it is, from this site.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some more random NBA junk (and a quick mention of the Seahawks)

The Sports Guy mentioned NBA beat writers in his column today. I already knew that Jason Quick from the Oregonian was great, but he lists a few others. If you like one of these teams, it would probably be good for you to check out the local reporter who gives the good stuff on 'em. This is in the section about the Hawks, and ends with a great line that I'm including for my friend J-Lew, although I'm sure he already read it. From the Sports Guy:
Random tip: The Hawks have one of my favorite NBA beat writers: Sekou Smith of the Atlanta J-C. He always breaks a sweat, does a good job breaking games down, passes along a steady stream of inside gossip/anecdotes and strikes a nice balance with his newspaper stuff and blogging. While we're here, I also like Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal, Ivan Carter and Michael Lee from the Washington Post, Jason Quick from the Oregonian and Howard Beck of the New York Times. All of those guys do an excellent job. I don't know why I'm telling you this.

Worst-case scenario: Come on, how can you think "worst-case scenario" when the Hawks are eighth on this list right now? This is a victory for the dozens of Hawks fans everywhere!
The Blazers had an ugly loss to the Pacers last night. Well, it wasn't too bad, but they needed to win the game. Getting Przybilla back was a good start, but now the team has to gel again on defense. It would help so much to get R-O-Y back very soon. Jack had a huge night, Randolph dropped 30 and pulled down 11, and Outlaw and Udoka gave their now-typical supporting performances. We just need the energy, charisma, peremeter defense, and game-changing ability that R-O-Y brings. We need it badly.

As impressive as LaDanian Tomlinson is, and I think he is probably the best player in the NFL, I could not be much happier with Shaun Alexander's second game back. It does seem that he's worked his way into a nice groove, and hopefully Holmgren rides this through week 17. If Shaun can get 150+ in each of these last five games, he'll finish with about 1,175 yards, which would be pretty good for starting in a funk and then missing a bunch of games. He also needs to get on TD roll, because we could use the pressure on opposing defenses. Right now they have to be far more concerned with the passing game, even in the red zone, so if Shaun gets rolling we can really start putting points on the board.

Alright, I need to get to school. I still have a ton of stuff to do.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Blazers odds and ends

ZACH'S KNACK: As good as Zach Randolph is posting up, he may be even better attacking his defender from the perimeter. His sense of where the angles are is innate, and special. Now he just needs some consistent guard play, like all bigs do. -- Thorpe
From Blazer's Edge:
Individual Observations

--Zach had the most magnificent first quarter I can remember from him in forever. He definitely came out to play. It wasn't just scoring either. You could see it in the way he set picks, directed traffic, went for rebounds, passed, and helped on defense. You could even see it in the bounce in his step as he moved around the court. If he came with that every quarter, or even every night, there would be far fewer questions about him. He lost it by the second quarter under the continuous Phoenix assault and the not-so-favorable officiating. I don't know that he'd have been able to carry us on his back anyway. I really, really want to see that effort brought back and extended farther though.

--Ime Udoka also came to play, albeit much more quietly. I love that guy.
This is a little old (after the loss to San Antonio at home a week ago) but I needed to get it in here, from Hoopsworld:
Now 5-7 after a tough road trip and a loss at home to San Antonio, it’s clear we were wrong. The media was wrong, the fans were wrong, the team management was wrong…heck, even Nate McMillan and his coaching staff were wrong. Wrong about a lot of things. We were wrong in our expectations of the team and of the rookie class. We underestimated them. Most teams if they lost that many starters/key players would barely be able to keep things together, let alone see players step up and make such great contributions.
A few more from Hoopsworld, the grey one is here and the red one is here. The first one is about Travis Outlaw:
This is the kind of play the Portland Trail Blazers thought they would get from Travis Outlaw when they made him the 23rd first round pick back in the 2001 NBA draft.

Five years later, the 6'9 Starkville, Mississippi native is making a significant contribution off the bench and is quietly leading the second unit for Nate McMillan's 6-7 Blazers.

McMillan got the biggest glimpse of this when Outlaw poured in 13 points off the pine in Wednesday nights 100-97 comeback win over the New Jersey Nets, their second win over the Nets in a week.

With this outing, Outlaw is currently averaging 9.5 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, in just over 23 minutes per game. Maybe those numbers aren't "Sixth Man of the Year" award worthy, but nonetheless McMillan, Steve Patterson, and Kevin Pritchard must admit they are pleased with Outlaw's performance this year.
Here's the second one, about Aldridge.
Well, funny how things work out: an injury to starting center Joel Przybilla and a philosophy change by Coach Nate McMillan has thrust Aldridge (albeit likely only temporarily) into the starting center position. In five starts this season before Sunday’s game against Phoenix, Aldridge has averaged 9.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, and shot 20-38 (53%) from the field. For the season (nine total games) he is averaging 8.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and shooting 58% from the field.
It's time to get back to work getting school stuff done. I've had the Oregon QB rating done for a while, but I never put them up here. After Joey's game on Thanksgiving and A. J. Feeley's short stint last night, maybe I should do a quick update before posting it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tip of the hat, wag of the finger

Copying Colbert, I offer these:
Tip of the hat to...
The Wheaton men's and women's soccer teams, who both won in the semi-finals of the NCAA soccer tournament today. Both had shutouts, and are now playing for the national championship. I've been following them a bit this year, but thought that the men were really off. Apparently they decided to step up in the playoffs. As for the women? As usual, they have been dominant. Tomorrow they could come away with their second national championship in three years. That's pretty fantastic. And Joe Been could finish his coaching career at Wheaton with another championship.

Wag of the finger to...
The Oregon Duck football team. Geez. I respect Oregon State, and would even if they hadn't beaten USC, but we had a chance to beat them at home and just blew it.

The beauty of DVR

Since I've been in Roseburg I've been taking advantage of my parents' DVR. It was nice to be able to watch all of Joey's game yesterday without being up too early, and it was really nice because I saved the Portland-New Jersey game from Wednesday night. I just finished watching the Blazers 14 point comeback to finish a season sweep of the Nets, and some of the stuff I've been reading came out well. Here are some thoughts:
  1. Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw really did step up in this game. I read that in game summaries, but seeing what they did hit it home. Both guys played with maturity and timing. Outlaw hit three or four huge shots in the fourth quarter, and even though Webster is still not shooting as well as we'd like, he is doing all sorts of other things that are helping us win.

  2. Sergio Rodriguez and Jarrett Jack are a great PG tandem. Jack struggled early, so Spanish Chocolate came in and got things going offensively. Then Jack came back in, directed things well, and made some big jumpers of his own in the fourth quarter. Rodriguez had one particularly gorgeous pass, throwing it over his head to hit Outlaw for a pretty long two.

  3. Jamaal Magloire is finally contributing, which is important, since we're still missing Przybilla and LaFrentz.*

  4. LaMarcus Aldridge had already made me a believer based on his numbers, but after seeing him there is no way I could disbelieve in his ability. He is good.

  5. It hurt to see R-O-Y and Przybilla sitting on the bench in their suits, and even hurt to see LaFrentz** on the bench. I cannot wait until we get the first two of those guys back. Oh man, that'll be a good time.

  6. Mike Rice, one of the Portland announcers, comared Ime Udoka to a different former Blazer and Spur than I did. I said Kersey, he compared him to Mario Elie. Either way, watching Udoka play this game showed me all the little things I had imagined from what I'd been reading. He is good. He does great things for our team. Just like either of those two guys did for us, Udoka brings energy and smart play to the floor.

  7. Zach Randolph is a star. He played pretty poorly at the start of this game. He wasn't getting post position like he has been, and wasn't playing defense. So McMillan pulled him. But when he came back later, he scored in numerous ways, and hustled a lot more on both ends. He was beating people off the dribble, using various moves as he got to the hoop, and getting to the line. I could see why he leads the league in free throw attempts and free throws made. He ended up with 25 points, but more importantly he hit a bunch of free throws at the end to clinch it. I am so excited about how Randolph is playing.

  8. I'm still excited about the possiblity of Greg Oden, but not like I was. Now I have to remind myself how good Oden will be and what he could bring to this growing team. Then again, after watching this game, I'm beginning to believe even more that this team could end up sneaking into the playoffs, especially if R-O-Y, Przybilla, and LaFrentz come back soon and are worked into the lineup well.
*I would have never expected to be pining for LaFrentz. But it'll be nice to get the extra body and those things that he brings to the court.
**Honestly, I can't believe that I wish LaFrentz would come back. Well, maybe I can believe it. I mean, if we're going to pay him that much, it would be good to say how he can help this team.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Not what's supposed to happen

Going into this best-sports time of year, I was counting on a few things.

  1. The Seahawks would continue to slightly disappoint me, based on how the season started

  2. The Blazers would be disappointing most of the time

  3. and

  4. The Oregon football team would be my one relief.

The last week has flipped that upside down.

  1. The Seahawks came out of a frightening stretch of season with several gutsy wins. Did they look good? Not really. But they won. And now, after being without Alexander, Hasselbeck, Engram, Tobeck, Locklear, and Hutchinson on offense, we'll be getting all of them back soon. Except for Hutch of course, but he hasn't been as much of an addition for Minnesota yet as he has been a loss for Seattle. It is huge to be at 6-3 right now, 3-0 in division, and looking at the team starting to gel as we head toward the postseason. My Seahawks have given me anything but disappointment in these last few weeks.

  2. The Blazers are also doing everything but disappointing. Sure, they lost four of the five games on this long road-swing. But they won the last one, and it was against New Jersey. This story from the Oregonian says a lot of what you need to know about the team this year. I'll give you the opening, but the whole thing is worth the read.
    Like his teammates, who had just absorbed a 28-point beating from Boston, Jack was distraught over the state of the Blazers and his own play. The team had lost four in a row, and Jack was coming off a game in which he had five turnovers.

    "I was going crazy," Jack said.

    So, when the team arrived at their Short Hills hotel around 1 a.m., Jack called McMillan's room. No answer.

    He dialed the coach's cell phone, and McMillan -- who already was dissecting video of the Blazers' loss -- picked up.

    "Me and him had the same thing on our minds," Jack said. "So he was like, 'Come up to my room.' "

    The point guard and the coach sat next to each other and watched the first three quarters of the Boston game until after 3 a.m.

    "It actually seemed longer than that because we rewinded dang near every play," Jack said. "I didn't know I was going to be there that long, but the tape session really helped. I think I really understand the game plan now; I really understand his system."

    That was evident Saturday, when Jack played his best game of the season, scoring 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting and handing out eight assists without a turnover. Jack kept the Blazers' offense flowing and disciplined throughout the game.
    That's just great stuff. LaMarcus had a great line, Jack was amazing, Randolph did what he's been doing, even while getting fewer touches than he has been. (Which made him a little testy, so hopefully he realizes that it will help the team win when the ball gets moved around better, or at least he realizes that he'll have more chances if opponents know they can't just put everyone on him.) Most importantly, we basically shut down Kidd and Carter, which is amazing, especially since Portland is certainly not known for its defense at this point. We didn't even have R-O-Y, who had already established himself as our best front-court defender.

    Also this week were some flashes of brilliance from Sergio Rodriguez, whom I've been excited about since the draft. He needs to start hitting his shot, because it only took NBA players two games to figure out how to frustrate him, but his passes are so good.

  3. The Ducks are doing the best job of disappointing me out of any of my teams playing right now. The loss at USC hurt, but losing at home to Arizona was brutal. I don't even know what to say. The defense is porous, and the "best" offense in the Pac-10 can't move the ball. Dixon, for as much as I like him and prefer him to Leaf, is playing terribly. The only good thing yesterday was the sophomore running back tandem of Stewart and Johnson. So that means if one of them doesn't transfer this offseason, then we'll be losing them to the NFL soon enough.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quick note on June Jones

Thanks to Lew for reminding me that I already mentioned Jones as a former Oregon QB who played in the NFL. Jones was born in Portland and started his college career as a Duck, but he transferred to Hawaii after two years, and then to Portland State after two years on the island. There are several former NFL quarterbacks who were Ducks for some time, but shouldn't be included in my statistical analysis because they spent more time at other schools. There are also a few former Duck QBs with really interesting stories. In the space I'll mention a few of those.

The other quarterback worth noting is Tuffy Leemans. Leemans is considered the greatest athlete to ever attend George Washington, but he started his college career at Oregon. Here's a little about him from the GW Hatchett, the George Washington newspaper:
In a time when numbers were much less inflated than they are today, and being a back was about as specific as you could get about positions, Leemans ran for a GW-record 2,382 yards on a record 490 carries during his three-year career. As he wowed the packed houses at Griffith Stadium in the heyday of GW football, he led GW to some of its greatest gridiron success (the team went 17-9-2 in his career with wins over Auburn and Oklahoma). Along the way, he also set school records for carries (207) and yards (1,054) in a season.

He was All-District and All-Eastern his last two years and honorable mention All-American his senior year. In addition, he was a proficient passer and punter, and he also starred for the basketball team.

As a 195-pound, 6-foot back, he was actually rather stocky for the time. It was everyone�s lament at GW that if the shifty, savvy Leemans only had some blocking, he could really do something.

Tuffy found that blocking with the New York Giants. After a stunning most valuable player performance in the College All-Star game at Chicago�s Soldier Field, he joined the Giants for the 1936 season and promptly led the league in rushing.

During eight seasons and 80 games, he would rush for 3,142 yards, pass for 2,324 and receive for 442. He had 16 touchdown passes and averaged 14 yards per punt return. He was All-NFL in 1936 and 1939.

December 7, 1941, was �Tuffy� Leemans Day at the Polo Grounds. The 55,051 fans only learned after the game that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

In 1978, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A year later, he died at the age of 66.
And here's some more about him from the Professional Football Researchers Association:
For the next three years, Tuffy was virtually a one-man show, a true running- passing-kicking yriple threat, as the Colonials played competitively against such powerhouses as LSU, Alabama, Rice, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Oklahoma. As a senior, Leemans was the team captain.

Still it is doubtful that the pros would have been knocking at his door had it not been for a young high school boy on vacation in Washington who caught a terrific Leemans perfomance against Alabama in 1935. That young man was Wellington Mara, whose father Tim owned the Giants. Young Wellington, who is now the Giants' president, reported back to his father that Tuffy was a prospect the Giants must sign once he was eligible.

"If I am remembered for nothing else, I'd like to be remembered for discovering Tuffy Leemans," Mara once said. "It's a good thing the Redskine didn't move to Washington until 1937 or we could never have gotten Tuffy."

The NFL employed its first college draft in 1936 and Tuffy was the Giants' second-round choice.
At that same site I discovered the reason that Leemans left Oregon. The coach who recruited him to Oregon from his high school in Wisconsin took the job at George Washington, so Leemans followed him there.

George Shaw was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1955. That was the same year that Johnny Unitas was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unitas ended up with the Colts the next year, and by 1958 had shown himself to be an amazing quarterback. Shaw had a decent first year, but didn't stand a chance to remain the Colts QB once Unitas had proven himself. Shaw was the backup quarterback for the Colts in the NFL championship game against the Giants, and then was on the Giants squad that lost to the Colts again the next year.

Those are a few of the stories that I found interesting as I was researching how Oregon quarterbacks have fared in the NFL. Before I post the W-L record, which is proving really difficult to find, I'm going to post the combined QB rating of the Oregon quarterbacks in the NFL.

Progress update

I've spent all morning doing research for my Oregon QB post, and it's not going well. I'm having a hard time finding W-L records online. A very hard time, actually. I've been guessing on some, so I don't know how I'm going to fix that. But I have found some other interesting stuff, so I may update my list of Oregon players who have been in the NFL to include undrafted players, and I may post about the overall QB rating for the Oregon super-QB. I wish I could do this more quickly, but I should have been doing paperwork this morning instead of this. Oh well.

Quick Blazer note: tough loss last night in Minnesota. I've read about it, since I didn't watch it, and I'm convinced that we need R-O-Y to help our perimeter defense. Randolph is still playing well, but if we can't keep guards from doing whatever they want we're going to have a tough time winning. We play the Cavs tonight. Hopefully we can abuse their guards, since that's our best shot to be close. Onward and upward.

Here's a picture of former Oregon and NFL quarterback June Jones, the head coach at the University of Hawaii. Just one of the names that will be included in the QB post. It's coming, just wait.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Things are looking up

It's been a pretty good few days. Even though I didn't get any work done over the weekend, being at the coast and seeing family turned out to be a great use of time. Then last night I got fairly caught up on my school stuff. Yesterday was the first time in a while I've been genuinely excited about the prospect of teaching next year, which is fantastic. I realized recently that the things I need done for this term are actually going pretty well. And with the exception of Oregon getting demolished at USC, the last few days have been pretty good for my teams. I've said enough about the Blazers, but I want to include a snippet from Hoopsworld.

Can we say enough about the turnaround of Zach Randolph? Yes, he has been an absolute beast on the block and on the glass, but that's not new - everyone knew and expected that Randolph would return. What really has people turning heads - fans, teammates, and opposing scouts alike - is Randolph making the extra pass and playing defense. His preferred place to get the ball is about 12-15 feet from the hoop, roughly a 45 degree angle from the basket. Often he will get the ball in post-up position, but then turn and face up his defender. When that happens teams are starting to send an extra defender his way.

In the past Randolph would take that as a challenge and try to score over two or sometimes three players. Now Randolph calmly holds the ball away from the defenders - much like Shaq does when double-teamed - and waits for a cutter to go to the hoop. Many times this season that cutter has found themselves with some extremely easy points since Randolph is looking to make that pass.

The defense is another improvement, too. Never much known as a guy who gets in the air and blocks shots, Randolph is changing people's minds. He is averaging 0.6 blocks a game so far this season. That may not sound like much, but consider that's triple his career average. His steals are also up to 1.1 a game, over 50% better than his 0.7 career average.

And no, it doesn't hurt that he's scoring 27.3, grabbing 10.3 rebounds, and hitting 91% of his foul shots either.

How about the OTHER rookie? LaMarcus Aldridge had a fabulous NBA debut on Sunday, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds. This had been discussed in the days leading up to the draft and also during his play in Las Vegas this summer, but Aldridge really does remind a lot of people of Rasheed Wallace with his wiry build, his high jump shot on the block with nice touch, and his ability to run the floor. Think Coach Nate McMillan is excited to have him back? Look for Aldridge to get even more playing time, at least until Joel Przybilla and Raef LaFrentz come back from injuries. Actually, if he continues to play as well as he did Sunday, those players coming back may not matter.

That's the sort of thing that gets me excited, which is good, because I was not on the Aldridge bandwagon coming into the season. The other good sports news for me was Seattle pulling off the win over St. Louis. It looks like Alexander and Hasselbeck could finally be back this weekend, and perhaps Bobby Engram, Sean Locklear, and Robbie Tobeck could be following them. Yeah, those are five offensive starters. Pretty impressive stuff, this winning without them. Here at the University of Oregon we had some fun on Sunday night, as a Tajuan Porter set a freshman record with 38 points against Portland State. Oh yeah, and he made ten three-pointers. Also I should point out that the women's basketball team from my brother's alma mater, Vanguard University, beat the Oregon women in an exhibition last night here at McArthur Court.

I'm having a harder time finding an exhaustive list of Oregon players who went on to the NBA, but it's coming. And the QB post is coming too.

I decided to put up a little photo comparison of Aldridge and Wallace. If LaMarcus does turn out like Rasheed, I'll be really happy, since I love 'Sheed's game. Especially in tandem with someone like Zach.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This team has me pretty excited

The one coffee shop I could find in Depoe Bay, Oregon—whale watching capitol of the world—doesn’t have wireless internet. Instead, customers can buy time on the one crappy computer. Needless to say, I spent two dollars to check a few things online for ten minutes, but I’m not willing to pay more so that I can blog. Thus, this is being written on Saturday afternoon, but won’t be published until sometime Sunday.

The Blazers game last night would have been the perfect one to watch, because there wasn’t much else going on. Alas, it wasn’t on TV anywhere in the country. Which means that I missed seeing another example of the team’s new calling card: toughness. Last year the consensus about Portland was that the players didn’t care. They gave up. They didn’t work hard. Teammates quit on each other. I don’t believe anyone is saying any of those things this year, as they improved to 4-2 on this young season, won their second straight game, and remained undefeated at home.

(Props again to the Hawks, who are also 4-2, and to Joe Johnson who is still playing really well. Also, it was nice for my fantasy teams that Josh Smith decided to show up finally.)

Even though I didn’t watch the game, I saw some of the highlights and a bit of the stat line, which makes me think I can comment on a few things, or more precisely, on a few players.

Zach Randolph is unreal. I know I’ve been saying it, and I know I’ve been quoting others who are saying it, but give me a break. One of my friends with insider needs to tell me what Hollinger said the other day, because I think Randolph is trying to have the best offensive season by an undersized power forward in history. I saw some clips of the game last night, and there were several offensive rebounds that he took out of the hands of multiple Hornets, one of which was after a free throw. This man is possessed. The big men are still hurt, Roy only played 12 minutes (with nothing to show for it stat-wise), and we’re never sure who else is going to show up. And Zach has carried this team to 4 wins. I know that it’s early, and the season is long, but a comment by my friend Ek reminded me of how special this team is already.
The Bulls are still a relatively young team, and have multiple new guys in the rotation, so I'm not surprised they're taking a little time to gel...
I agree, and don't fault them for taking a while to get it together. But in thinking about the Bulls, I can't help but compare the Blazers. We are still one of the youngest teams in the league, and there are a lot of injuries right now. And yet the team is playing really well together. Maybe McMillan is better than I thought. Oh wait; he missed Friday night’s game because of a death in the family. THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THEIR COACH. So, to recap: the Blazers won Friday night after being down by 25 at the end of the first quarter. They’re only the second team in the shot clock era to do that. They did it with three of their five legitimate post players hurt, they’re star rookie still battling a foot injury, their head coach absent, and only one of two captains suited up. Who was the only person out there with a leadership title? Captain Zach Randolph, also one of the two legit posts, and the only player that the Hornets knew was going to get the ball every time down the floor. He responded by scoring his fewest points in three games, a measly 31, and grabbing 14 rebounds. MVP is a three-man battle right now (thanks to LeBron’s walk-off…) between Randolph, Johnson, and Dwyane Wade. Yes I am delusional. Moving on.

If Travis Outlaw keeps up his one-in-three performance, I’ll take it. In the third game of the season he scored 19 and had 18 rebounds, all while playing out of position. (He has said that he feels like a two who can play three, which is where Portland usually plays him. With the numerous frontcourt injuries, he’s been playing the four alongside Zach at five.) Oh yeah, and that performance was against Minnesota, who has a decent PF. In the sixth game of the season he did it again, scoring 18 and getting six rebounds and SIX BLOCKS. I didn’t see the game, so I’m not sure how those all played out, but in a game that sees your team down by 25 after one quarter, six blocked shots is going to help a lot at getting the fans back in and disrupting the other team’s offense. People who have seen the in-between games have said that he “looks lost” or “looks like he’s asleep.” I don’t want him to be lost or asleep for two thirds of the season, and I would much rather see him perform consistently, but if he plays a third of the season like that? I’ll look forward to what happens as he matures even more. The kid is only 22.

That last post about Ducks in the NFL was pretty lame, but I am still interested in posting all the Ducks in the NBA. And I think the upcoming post about Duck QBs and NFL winning percentages should be a bit more interesting. Speaking of which, when this gets published tomorrow I’ll know what happened, but I hope Oregon can pull off the upset in L.A. Dennis Dixon needs to have a good day running the offense.

Oh, and on Friday I bought a Randolph jersey for $22.50.

This team has me pretty excited.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A quick post for J-Lew and Ek released the new power-rankings today, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Portland jump 21 spots. Who else jumped that many? Atlanta. The two teams are ranked 8 and 9, respectively. Plus, Joe Johnson and Zack Randolph are both playing like MVP candidates right now. Don't believe me? I've got the picture to prove it. Look a few spots down and you'll see some names that could surprise you. Also, I love the category of teams we're included in. That's right, The Contenders. This must continue.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All the Ducks ever drafted into the NFL

I just saw that the Blazers beat the Lakers. Without R-O-Y. And Zach is unbelievable. He is phenomonal. I love this team.

I found this chart online and decided to just use it instead of making my own, because it is really thorough.

200611212Haloti NgataRavensDT

21749Kellen ClemensJetsQB

414111Demetrius WilliamsRavensWR

727235Justin PhiniseeBuccaneersDB
200533094Adam Snyder49ers G

79223Marcus Maxwell49ersWR
20042335Igor OlshanskyChargersDT

2436Junior SiaviiChiefsDT

49105Samie ParkerChiefsWR

633198Keith Lewis49ersDB
200347104George WrighsterJaguarsTE

48105Onterrio SmithVikingsRB

77221Keenan HowryVikingsWR
2002133Joey HarringtonLionsQB

22254Maurice MorrisSeahawksRB

31479Rashad BaumanRedskinsDB

45103Justin PeelleChargersTE

616188Wesley MallardGiantsDB

736247Steve SmithJaguarsDB
2001524155A.J. FeeleyEaglesQB
200031981Reuben DroughnsLionsRB

434128Peter SirmonTitansLB
1999133Akili SmithBengalsQB

438133Josh BidwellPackers P

72208Jed WeaverEaglesTE
199821242Patrick JohnsonRavensWR

523146Blake SpenceJetsTE
199732282Paul WigginsSteelers T

33494Kenny WheatonCowboysDB

73204Tony GrazianiFalconsQB
199611111Alex MoldenSaintsDB

48103Ricky WhittleSaintsRB

76215Jeremy AsherRedskinsLB
1995624195Dino PhilyawPatriotsRB

71209Chad CotaPanthersDB

712220Herman O'BerryRamsDB
199431075Romeo BandisonBrownsDT

335100Ernest JonesRamsLB
1993621161Eric CastleChargersDB
1992925249Muhammad OliverBroncosDB

1219327Matt LaBounty49ersDE
1991423106Bill MuscraveCowboysQB
199032578Latin BerryRamsRB

424105Chris OldhamLionsDB

824217Curt DykesEagles T

1110286Daryl ReedSeahawksDB
1989s800Brett YoungBillsDB
198922250Scott KozakOilersLB

3258Matt BrockPackersDE

69148Thom KaumeyerRamsDB
19882835Anthony NewmanRamsDB

4688Rollin PutzierPackersDT

823216J.J. BirdenBrownsWR
198711313Chris MillerFalconsQB

31874Clifford HicksRamsDB
1986528138Lew BarnesBearsWR

919240Tony Cherry49ersRB

1121298Drew SmetanaChargers T
1984u133Gary ZimmermanGiants G
198431975Steve BaackLionsDE

623163Dan RalphFalconsDT
198322250Mike WalterCowboysLB

32783Steve BrownOilersDB
198241295Reggie BrownFalconsRB

612151Vince Williams49ersRB

1121300Stuart YatskoBroncos G
1981618156Bryan HinkleSteelersLB

1221325Kevin McGillBrowns T
198041497Terry DionSeahawksDE

84197Don ColemanBroncosWR
19791018266Bruce BeekleyFalconsLB
197879175Fred Quillan49ers C

93225Reggie GrantJetsDB
197611818Mario ClarkBillsDB

823232Ron HuntBengals T

123322Ron LeeChargersDB

1717476Chuck WillsRedskinsDB

1727486Stan WoodfillCowboys K
197511616Russ FrancisPatriotsTE

112262George MartinGiantsDE
1974518122Tim GuyBills T

1610400Jack Conners49ersDB
197322652Chuck BradleyDolphins C

3860Tim StokesRams T

31264Dan FoutsChargersQB
1972144Ahmad Rashad (Bobby Moore)CardinalsWR

12222Tom DrougasColts T

424102Tom GrahamBroncosLB

88190Leland GlassPackersWR

1223309Mike WilliamsChiefsDT

1720436John McKeanRams C
1971716172Bob NewlandSaintsWR

1015249Jack StambaughBengals G

1218304Tom BlanchardGiants K

1420358Lionel ColemanRamsDB
197031264Andy MaurerFalcons G

41290Jim EvensonSteelersRB

1113273Alan PitcaithleyGiantsRB
1969922230Claxton WelchCowboysRB
196811212Jim (Yazoo) SmithRedskinsDB
19671515382 Steve BunkerRamsTE

169402Bill SmithSteelers C
19661512227Jim KollmanBears G

173248Mike BrundageSteelersQB
1965104130Dave TobeySteelers C
19642317Mel RenroCowboysDB

3129Dave Wilcox49ersDE

112142Bob BerryEaglesQB

194256H.D. MurphyCowboys B
19632620Steve BarnettBears T

3735Ron SnidowRedskins T
1961810108Neill Plumley49ers T

113143Riley MattsonRedskins T
19604137Willie WestCardinalsHB

127139Dave GroszEaglesQB

157175John WilcoxEagles T
19598488Jim LendenLions T

304352Ron StoverLions E
1958123136Jack CrabtreeEagles B

212243Jerry KershnerPackers T
195671184Jack MorrisRams B

8994Dick JamesRedskins B
1955111George ShawColtsQB

4744Jack PateraColts G

7578Hal ReeveSteelers T

188213Ron Pheister49ers C

306355Bill TooleGiants B
1954182207Emery BarnesPackers E
1953241278Monte BrethauerColts E

289334Tom Novikoff49ers B
1952309358Dick Patrick49ers C
19511810217Dick DaughertyRams G

219252Earl StelleRams B

272317Ray Lung49ers G
195031340Bob SandersEagles B

810102Sam NevillsBears T

811103Woodley LewisRams B

1512195Ted MelandBrowns G

1913248Darrell RobinsonEagles E

252315Steve DoturBulldogs G
19494637Norm Van BrocklinRamsQB
1948151126Dan GarzaGiants E

169144Don StantonEagles T

251226Dick WilkinsGiants E
19477954Chris (Duke) IversenGiants B

206181Brad (Whitey) EcklundPackers C

228203Chuck ElliottRams T
194610989Jake LeichtRedskins B

272252John KauffmanYanks G
19453117Cecil GrayDodgers C

5638Georege BujanRedskins C

9783Bill MaytherBears C

215213Leroy EricksonRams B

295301Bill DavisRams B
194410693Bob KochPackers B

281286Bob DavisCardinals G
19433116Dick AshcomLions T

5636Val CulwellGiants G

11595Tom RobinRams B

154134Floyd RheaDodgers G

235215Ed MoshofskyRams T

255235Jim ShephardRams E
19423722Curt MechanDodgers B

192172Bill RegnerRams E
19415434Chet HaliskaRams B

51040Jim StuartRedskins T

11191Marshall StenstromEagles B

195175Len IsbergLions B
19405232Frank EmmonsEagles B

6141Vic ReginatoCardinals E

1410130Bob SmithGiants B

164144Dennis DonovanDodgers B

188168Jay GraybealRedskins B

1910180Cecil WaldenGiants G
1939179159John YerbyPackers E
19376858Del BjorkBears T
19365541Stan RiordanCardinals E

8669Ross CarterCardinals G

Of those, here are the ones still in the NFL, along with their current teams.

Next up, the NBA Ducks.