Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

I'm listening to the game in Utah right now. The Blazers are going for 14 straight. Today has been a mess of a day, with me trying to figure out what's wrong with my car. There is something messed up with the transmission, which I thought was just the fluid, then thought it wasn't, but now I think it might be again. Then there's the debacle with my tire. The way the Ducks destroyed USF today was pretty good for getting my mind of the other stuff, but not completely. But if Portland can pull out this fourteenth win, well, the car worries will fade at least for a little while.

My brother Stephen and I showed up at the Rose Quarter box office around 4:00 on Friday to pick up the tickets for the game. While we were there I asked about tickets to the Sunday game with Philly. The woman at the window told me that the three levels of tickets we would have been willing to buy were all sold out already. This was on Friday afternoon. That was disappointing and also pretty cool.

We stayed around so we could get into the arena early and explore a little bit. Even though I had been to games in the Rose Garden, this was the first time I really walked around much. There were a few cool exhibits, particularly some stuff celebrating the championship team from 1977 and the finals teams from the early 1990s. Once we got to our seats we realized that dad was stuck next to a particular type of fan. This was a 30 or 40 something year old man, pudgy, with a beard. He was talking during the game to the players and coaches. Yes, talking. And he was saying some amazing stuff. "Nate, get them to play 'D.'" Stuff like that. At halftime dad moved over and sat on the other side of Stephen.

I was hoping that the rest of the crowd would be crazy, but I was kind of surprised that it was a little subdued. Well, it was subdued until the latter part of the third quarter. When the team really turned it on the crowd got rowdier, and that was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being part of the "M-V-P" chant during Brandon Roy's free throws. Most of the time that chant started in one of the other cheap sections. But there was one time that the chant was nearly automatic throughout the crowd, and it was pretty exciting. It was that sort of thing that happened often at the end of the game, and it was great to experience.

Two notes about the game:
  1. Martell Webster's game didn't look very good on offense or with his stats, but I loved watching him play. He was hustling, he was working hard on both sides of the court, he was rebounding, and I just loved it. Outlaw and Jones are great too, and they really do give us a pretty formidable trio of small forwards. But I love Webster.

  2. Brandon Roy had another ridiculous layup in this game. I don't know if the highlight is floating around anywhere, so I'll just describe it. He got the ball at the top of the key, saw an opening, and took of for the hoop. As he took off, one of the Timberwolves stepped into the lane. I think it was Al Jefferson. Roy would have been called for a charge had he continued going up that way. So he didn't. He changed the axis of his body. Imagine a clock, with the ball as the center. His body rotated from six o'clock to around 7:30. He continued gliding through the air, and finished the layup softly with his right hand. It was beautiful. We all went nuts.

  3. Alright, I know I said two, but since I'm actually putting this up long after the streak ended tonight, I'm including this part. LaMarcus Aldridge decided to show up on offense tonight. For real. He had a career high. And even though we lost, it was good to see the kid put the ball in the hoop a lot. I think that will continue this season some, but I am fairly certain he'll be doing this sort of thing consistently in the next few years.
That's as much as I really have about the game from the other day. It was great to see, and I'm glad we ran the streak to 13. Now it's important to see how the team responds on this road trip.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day running diary

5:05 pm Here I am, sitting in the house I helped my parents build, on Christmas day, getting ready to watch the first Blazer game of this win streak. I just said “this” win streak, because I believe that the streak will continue tonight.

5:08 pm I love the stat they just showed. Portland is the best team on Christmas day all-time, and Seattle is the worst on Christmas all-time. While I was typing that the Blazers got three offensive rebounds and finally put their first points up.

5:10 pm
Beautiful steal by Martell. It’s good to see him working hard like that. Now he needs to get both of these free throws. Nope, one-of-two. We need to start pushing it inside and stop relying on our poor jump shooting.

5:12 pm Just after I said that, Roy hit Przybilla for a nice dunk. It’s good to see the vanilla thrilla throwing it down like that.

5:15 pm Steve Blake is getting a lot of open looks and needs to start hitting those shots. And now the Blazers have given up the lead. They need to calm down a little bit.

5:16 pm Boom. Webster drills a three pointer off a kick out from Roy.

5:19 pm I just checked the Blazer station, but for some reason the picture n my parents’ new TV is way better on ESPN, so I’ll continue listening to these announcers instead of the Blazers guys.

5:21 pm Great pass by Channing Frye, good finish by Roy, but he can’t get the and-one. Fortunately the Sonics are terrible at rebounding and throw it out of bounds.

5:23 pm Jarrett Jack doing what he does well, driving to the hoop. And wow, Wally Szczerbiak just hit another three pointer. Thankfully Frye made a jumper. Other than the opening jitters, this has been better game than the Miami-Cleveland game this morning. That game was terrible. I expected that it would be, but still. Eww. The Lakers and Suns, on the other hand, played great basketball. That was fun to watch.

5:27 pm Did you see Roy juke Durant out of his shorts a few minutes ago? That was great. And then Brandn just rose up and put it through.

5:28 pm Sergio Rodriguez is looking good in his quick stint for Roy right now. El Mago making magic happen.

5:30 pm That first quarter wasn’t great, but 24 points for each team isn’t bad when we started so poorly.

5:32 pm Apparently there’s a new American Pie movie, and guess what: there are girls in it, and it’s about sex. Man, that sounds hilarious.

5:34 pm Jack just made another great drive. He is really good at that. And Travis Outlaw is great at shooting over anyone. He just elevated to drain that jumper.

5:36 pm WOW. Beautiful pass inside from Rodriguez to James Jones, and Jones THREW that down. As the announcers just noted, the second unit for this Portland team has been playing so well and they’re doing it again today.

5:38 pm That was a terrible call. They just called Jeff Green for the charge, but Channing Frye pushed him. Boo. Oh well, I’ll take it.

5:44 pm Jack has eight now, which is great, but Szczerbiak just hit another three.

5:45 pm Collison just completed the three point play to tie the game back up. This really does look like better basketball than the first game today.

5:48 pm Apparently Greg Oden had some sort of surgery on his knee before the season started. I also just found out that he’s supposed to be good. Man, just imagine what this team could be like with him back. (Oh, and Przybilla just made both free throws. He’s improved that aspect of his game so much.)

5:50 pm That was a terrible foul call. Przybilla played great defense on that, but they called him. Lame. The ball never lies, then Przybilla gets the rebound and gets fouled. That worked out.

5:53 pm Blake just missed another open jumper. Blech. Roy then comes back with a good drive-and-dish to Przybilla, but he was on the baseline. And now another terrible foul call when it should have been a travel.

5:57 pm Durant just made his first really pretty shot. That was nice. Of course, on his next play he traveled.

5:58 pm Blake finally hit a jumper. This one was behind the arc, where he has been shooting better than everywhere else on the floor.

6:00 pm Jarrett Jack is filling in nicely for Roy, who is in the locker room after getting hit with a Chris Wilcox elbow. We need to come out really strong in the second half.

6:02 pm At halftime we’re ahead by two, after having a pretty poor first half, so that’s not too bad.

6:06 pm Scott Van Pelt is a genius. “The Boston Three Party.” I love it. Although seeing Garnett, Pierce, and Allen do the Three Amigos salute was the best part of that commercial.

6:18 pm Red Bull is shameless. Geez. “Start with practice and work our way back to theory.” I’m sure that’s how my friend J-Lew studied biology in college.

6:21 pm Wow, Jon Barry just made two great jokes.

6:24 pm Ugh. This is a rough shooting game. R-O-U-G-H.

6:25 pm Jon Barry just made a joke about streaking and Will Ferrell in the movie Old School. This guy is culturally relevant.

6:26 pm Roy is starting to hit now. And there is LaMarcus Aldridge. Pretty basketball right there with that turnaround by LA.

6:30 pm There was a beautiful play by Roy and Przybilla, once again highlighting the progression of the big man’s offensive game this season.

6:31 pm FAST BREAK POINTS!! Portland has so much trouble getting those, it’s good whenever we can find some.

6:34 pm ESPN just showed a great stat: Portland didn’t have any field goals in the last five minutes, even though they just went up by ten. I think they had the wrong team there. Oh, and Roy is playing really well right now.

6:36 pm Brandon Roy. Brandon Roy. Brandon Roy. Brandon Roy. (I think he must have just heard that he didn’t win his third consecutive western conference player of the week. He has 11 points in the quarter.)

6:41 pm The Sonics just made their first field goal in 12 attempts. Portland has been playing pretty good defense. And there Channing Frye knocks down another jumper.

6:43 pm Kevin Durant, everybody! He just tripped over the ball and himself. No ceiling, right Bill Simmons?

6:44 pm Durant just absolutely swatted a runner by Jack. I change the tone of my last comment: now it’s slightly less smarmy.

6:47 pm Sloppy play right there by Jack on defense.

6:48 pm Shades of old Travis Outlaw on his last ill-advised jumper and poor defense/foul on a Jeff green lay-up.

6:50 pm The second unit didn’t look as good at the end of that quarter, but they’re still up by eight. Brandon Roy was so good during the third quarter, and that was great to see.

6:54 pm Nice steal by El Mago to start the fourth quarter.

6:57 pm The Sonics are shooting well again, which is tough for us.

6:58 pm I’m really excited to see Roy come in and take over the fourth quarter, but it’s also nice to see Channing continue to make those mid-range jumpers.

7:04 pm
Channing Frye just nailed another jumper. That is soooo good to see.

7:08 pm Jarrett Jack just took us shopping. It was fine until one of the announcers said that Jack is a “single male addicted to retail.” Yikes.

7:12 pm The Blazers are taking far too long with the ball, and waiting until the end of the shot clock. It’s making for some pretty ugly basketball right now.

7:16 pm I really don’t like this “wired” thing the NBA is doing now. It doesn’t really seem to add any insight, and it’s mainly just annoying.

7:18 pm It’s nice to see Jack having another good game. The same for Przybilla. He has 16 rebounds. Once again the team is getting it done by having various people step up well.

7:21 pm Well, we didn’t play that well again today. It is exciting that we keep winning when we’re not playing that well.

7:23 pm Neil Everett just said that the Blazers may never lose again. I’ll end this on that note...(merry Christmas)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A birthday blog (a day late)

Stephen and I are driving right now. We left Roseburg this morning a little after 6:00 and have been driving since then. When I say that Stephen and I are driving, I mean that I drove for a while and now he is. I’m not trying to write this post while holding the wheel.

We just finished the last episode of The Basketball Jones podcast for 2007. Again, to the few people who read this, if you haven’t yet subscribed to that podcast on iTunes, you should. They are fantastic.

Yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get caught up on all the online coverage of the Blazers after their win streak reached 10 Friday night at home against the Nuggets. They now have the longest win streak of anyone in the NBA this season, and once again they had to come back from being down by seven at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On top of that, the game was decided in the end by a Brandon Roy block of a Carmelo Anthony jump hook and a Travis Outlaw swat of a Linas Kleiza desperation three. It’s good to see guys stepping up in the fourth quarter, and those two have been doing it consistently throughout this winning streak.

All the coverage and the win really were the best things about my birthday. Not that I didn’t enjoy yesterday, but just that I am so excited about how this team is doing. Stephen and I were talking about it in the car, and it doesn’t make sense that everyone is as surprised as they are. Surprised? Yes. But this surprised? I don’t think we should be. Yeah, we traded away our leading scorer and rebounder. Yes, we have the third youngest team in the history of the association. Sure, we’re without the number one overall pick from last year’s draft and the guy many envisioned as the savior of the franchise. But the hallmark of this team is their chemistry and how much fun they’re having together, with everyone contributing. We couldn’t have expected that when the team started playing together five weeks before training camp? Shouldn’t we have foreseen this type of beyond-their-years-maturity from a bunch of guys who chose to get together, without pay, more than a month before they had to? I think so. And yes, that still makes this really surprising, but not completely surprising.

My battery is about to run out, so I’m shutting the computer down for the rest of the trip. But I wanted to share a little post-birthday thanks to the team for making it a great one, and a little Christmas cheer to anyone who makes sure I have a few readers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I forgot to mention

When I did that quick update on Roy I forgot one important note: he missed practice yesterday with the flue, and said that he was playing tonight at around 70%. That certainly isn't the same sickness MJ played through in The Flue Game, but to do what Roy did while being a little under the weather is pretty good. Especially for a second year player. Oh, and that second year player really is making a very strong case to be Western Conference Player of the week for a third straight, and then conference player of the month. If he keeps this up, he'll be battling with Aldridge and Outlaw for most improved for sure. Here's the box score for your perusal.

(Trying to settle nerves and calm expectations...)

I love listening to these games online, but I really need to get league pass when I come back after Christmas so I can watch them.

Brandon Roy is awesome

With three and a half minutes left in the third quarter, Roy has 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Oh yeah, and his shooting line is this: 8/11 from the field, 1/1 from the line, and 3/5 from behind the arc.

Dumping it all on you

I should really be grading quizzes right now, but I have too much to blog about.

Firstly, I have a lot of links to put up. Some aren't as new, and I forget where all of these were found, but it's just a ton of Blazers stuff.

Seriously, here we go:

This is a surprisingly good take on the team so far, something that surprised me even more because of where I found it. Yeah, that's some bias creeping in, which is too bad. This is really just one of the articles I've read that has the best perspective.

This is from the Toronto Star, and is only in a sidebar:
A scout said last week something along the lines of "in two or three years, no one's going to want to play Portland." Well, no one wants to play them now, either. The Blazers rattled off their seventh win in a row Sunday and the Raptors get them tomorrow night.
I don't think I agree with much in this article by Lang Whitaker over at Slam, but I'm happy to have people around the country arguing about Portland at all.

I really enjoyed his article about the winning streak. It's from a blog put out by the Washington Post, with this post being written by Michael Lee. I enjoy the stories that come out of DC, partly because they're good, but also because they write about the Blazers thanks to the Steve Blake connection. Because of that, they have a good focus on the role players for the Blazers, and that's been the main reason for the streak (other than Roy and McMillan, of course).

This is just another one talking about how good the Blazers have been during the streak. And this one is sort of similar, from Hoopsworld. Oh yeah, this one is from RealGM, and talks about how Portland has won all these games, too.

This might be my favorite article link of the day, because it provides a ton of insight into how the Blazers have done this, focusing on the development of Travis Outlaw (with a little Martell Webster thrown in).

Now for a few a/v links.

I called in to The Basketball Jones last night on my way to pick up my roommate Eric from the airport, and today I made the podcast. You should listen to the whole thing, but if you just want to hear what I have to say, go to the 15:45 mark. Oh, and you should just subscribe to their podcast on iTunes. It's great.

My second a/v link is to an interview Brandon Roy did with Jim Rome. I hate Rome, but there's a point in the podcast that is amazing (oh yeah, it will open up in iTunes, sorry about that): Roy mentions that Pritchard asked him what he would think of them signing Steve Blake before they did it. He also asked who they should draft, but that seems like less of a big deal to me. Roy was asked before they made a move for a free agent (a move that has looked pretty good so far this year, despite what many said about it).

And the last link I'll put here, even though I'm embedding the video. Kelly Dwyer is doing awesome things on Yahoo! Sports. So visit his blog.



There you have it. Now I'm going to listen to the Blazers' attempt at number nine. Down by two, 6-4, as of this second.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kelly Dwyer puts everything in perspective

This quote was too good not to include in a post. It's from Kelly Dwyer's blog on Yahoo! sports.
Not many NBA teams could lose enough games to grab the first pick in the draft, trade its leading scorer and rebounder, lose said number one pick for the season to injury and still roar out of the gate by winning half of its first 24 games. This is a special team, and there's no point in pushing Aldridge back into the lineup too soon just to sustain a surprising turn of mediocrity.
When he puts it that way, I can't even deal with how giddy I get about the team now and the team of the future. These kids are special, and I love being a fan. Less than ten minutes until tip-off against the Hornets to go for eight in a row. Here's hoping...

Oh yeah, and how great s it that Roy won his deserved second straight player-of-the-week for the western conference? I'll tell you how great: really really great.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm trying something new...

Here it goes, press play if you want to hear the first attempt. Here's a link to some people who do this very well.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Look! A widget!

I put a widget on the sidebar to the right so that people will vote for LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. So only use it if that's how you're going to vote.

I kid, I kid. Vote for whomever you want. But even with the poor stretch he had, I think Roy deserves your consideration. And I'm voting for Aldridge everyday because I'm a homer.

Brandon Roy is good at basketball

Understatement? Yes. I was trying to embed the highlights from NBA.com, but had no luck. Instead you'll just have to click this link or the title of the post to see Roy look the way Wade is supposed to.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The signing bonus

I think I wrote about it here, but even if I didn't, I know I told most of my friends: I received a "signing bonus" for coming to teach in Compton. For some reason I remember it as $3,500 bonus per year for up to three years. Apparently I remembered incorrectly, as I went in today to actually sign for it. The sheet says that the bonus is for $11,000, but spread over four years. Oh yeah, and it's on condition of staying at least two years. So I had to sign today saying that I wouldn't apply for any other jobs or take any other jobs before my second year is up. So I did. And the whole time I was reading the fine print, I was trying to figure out if it was worth paying back later to have the money now – you know – just in case I decide to leave after one year. And that still seems like a distinct possibility. I did decide that it was worth it, because I have enough bills now that it will be good to get a little extra money in early January. That feels especially true since I just paid a bunch of those bills. Medical bills are a pain. Oh yeah, and on the sheet it said the bonus was a "recruitment" bonus, but I really know that I'm more like a star athlete than most of you, what with my signing bonus.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart

I received my paycheck today. I deposited it shortly after receiving it. I will be paying my rent for the month tomorrow. Even with all that, I'll have more money in my bank account than I have had for a long time. Usually that wouldn't do much to make me happy, but considering the predicament I've gotten myself into, that's a good thing. I still owe several doctors and the hospital and ambulance company from this summer. In fact, I'm probably slightly delinquent on payments to them. In addition, I haven't finished registering my car in California, which means I probably owe some late fees and need to get that finished. Oh yeah, and I need to start my insurance coverage down here. I'm pretty glad my brother's car is down here for me to borrow when I need it. You know, like now. I also just paid about $900 to fix several things that were wrong with my car, which was part of the reason I hadn't finished taking care of registration stuff yet. Then there's the student loans that I thought were in a grace period. Nope, that only happens once. I owe some back payments there, too. So it's pretty good that I have this current surplus, so that I can try to take care of this stuff. Of course, lastly, I still owe my parents money for all the cash they put into my move down here. If I totaled it up, I certainly owe more than I have. But I can actually make a significant dent in most of it, and that is a place I haven't been for a while. Which is why, for the first time in a long time, I'm really excited to have some money.

The title of this post is a quote from e e cummings, and it's fantastic.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pollution, in three easy installments

I am now in Roseburg, the place I still really consider home. I drove over last night from Bend, mainly because I didn't want to add three more hours onto the already long drive back to LA. I had no intention of coming over here when I decided to drive up for Thanksgiving, but I am happy that circumstances became such that coming over made sense. I like it here, and I miss it here. This place really is home to me, and being here is relaxing and refreshing. I'm sitting in MyCoffee, which is conveniently named. It really does feel like my own personal coffee shop. I walk in and they get ready to make me something new and creative, and they usually don't charge me for it. Even when I was living here I would get treatment somewhat like that. I've just been catching up on religion news I had missed during the travel, and now I'm getting ready to figure out how to spend the rest of the day here at home before beginning my drive back "home" tonight. One thing that has been emphasized to me in this quick trip back (again) is how much I enjoy the small community and the real interaction with people I grew up with in Oregon. I was frustrated by the fa├žade of goodness in the midwest, and I'm often bothered by the pace and haughtiness in California. There are certainly things to complain about in Oregon, but those things don't bother me nearly as much as the others. Having said that, getting involved in the smaller community at my church in Long Beach has done so much to make me more comfortable there, and I am very glad that I started putting in the effort. Whether I end up n southern California for the long term or not, the similarities between that small group of people and a town in Oregon will be part of the reason any amount of time spent there is really good.

I think I already said this in a post, but I felt the need to say it again, mainly for my own sake.

I can't wait to pollute the environment for 12 straight hours again starting tonight. Driving to and from Los Angeles is terrible.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Time with family

I'm in Oregon again this weekend. I drove up with my friend Michelle starting Wednesday at around 5:30. We got to Sisters, Oregon,
around 9:30 on Thursday morning. The trip was disgusting. Michelle was surprising her family, who came over from Roseburg to have Thanksgiving dinner with some good friends. I was glad to help her do that, especially because it reminded me of my junior year when I flew home to surprise my family at Thanksgiving.

Since being here, though, I've been thinking about something else that has to do with my family. For a long time I've thought that getting married and having children would be something that, if I do it, will happen later in life. Many of my reasons for putting it off in my mind have to do with not wanting to rush into things, or not being ready, or other sorts of things. I don't know for sure what they all were. But I realized something while hanging out with my grandparents and seeing my cousin with her two little kids. I want any kids I may have to know their great-grandparents. I am really happy that I have some memories of two of my great grandfathers. They're not really clear memories, but I'm still glad to have them. Well, my remaining three grandparents are also fantastic. I hope that any kids I have will get the chance to know them and remember them. But the more time that goes by, the smaller the possibility that will happen. As annoyed as I am when I see my cousins who already have kids, and how disturbed I am to think that they can't provide for them very well and that they're being raised around a lot of ignorance, I envy the time those little kids get to have with my grandpa and grandma. Any kids I have will most certainly get less time with their family. And that is really too bad, on a personal level and on an intellectual level. I think it is important to know the people and history from which one comes, and it is harder to know that stuff without having actually experienced some of those relationships.

So that's been running through my head a lot since arriving at my grandparents' house on Thursday morning.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Depressed? Yeah, but really just homesick.

I was just about to blame LA for how bad I feel right now. I mean, I feel depressed as Hell. I was sitting here, recalling the same feeling from the other time I lived in LA. That lasted all of five weeks. But as I grabbed some napkins to scribble on I remembered another time when I had done that. It wasn't in LA, either. In fact, it was in Portland, one of the places that I thought could solve the problem of feeling like this. The feeling might just be loneliness. But it's a loneliness that is given to me by cities, and it's a loneliness that only gets the chance to settle when I have no connection to a real community. Sure, I have some good relationships here, but that isn't enough. I need actual community, which is far different from just having a few friends – even good ones – or being around a lot of people.

I wrote that last night in this very coffee shop. Then this morning at church I decided to proactively take steps to change things. I introduced myself to a few guys who had been here for music last night, and then went to their small group. It was good. Then I went out to lunch with them. It reminded me a lot of the group of friends I got to interact with when I stayed with my friend Michael in Stanford two years ago. Hopefully I can grow to become an actual part of that community for as long as I'm in Long Beach. Even if I end up back in Oregon next year, it will be good for me to have the connection with people while I'm here, as evidenced by my scribbled realization on that napkin last night. Even with that, though, I still miss the community in which I've invested so much of myself already. I was trying to find the right Wendell Berry quote to show how I feel, but instead I'm going with this one, which shows part of why I feel drawn back home
It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.
I can most certainly learn from those around me here, but there is something much more forceful about learning from people who have already invested in me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Injuries are my favorite

Let's get it out of the way: many teams in college football dealt with bad injuries this year. That's part of what has made the season so crazy. The reason I was so happy with Oregon's season mainly had to do with how the team fought through a bunch of their own bad injuries. There really is no excuse for losing a very winnable game, but when Dixon went out it felt like the season just ended. The most frustrating thing is that it seems the coaches knew he had a torn ACL. As much as I can't stand Brady Leaf, game planning for a game quarterbacked by him would have been far different from the plan with Dixon at the helm. And did they seriously think that a week and a half of rest would be enough to bring Dixon back from a torn ACL? Again, we should have won anyway, or we should have won the Cal game to take the two-loss prospect out of the picture, but was still really painful to lose the Heisman front-runner.
Nearly as painful as that game was the one that happened Friday night between Portland and Philadelphia. We went into Philly and took care of business for a little while, but something just happened. It was gross, and I only read the box score and recaps. Aldridge and Roy were both golden, which is great. But really, it hurts the team if only those two can produce. But the theme of this post is injury, not anything else...
...so I'll talk about the big Blazer injury news that's been floating around these last few days. Greg Oden is a BEAST. When I say beast, I mean a beast like this:The stories are talking about the fact that Oden has put on 30 pounds since he was drafted. Maybe I should just quote the rest from the best coverage of this story, in Jason Quick's blog.
And get this: A high-ranking Blazers source told me that Oden today still has the same body-fat percentage (7.8 percent) as he did when the Blazers drafted him, yet he has gained nearly 30 pounds, bringing him near 280 pounds.

Translation: That's 30 pounds of muscle that has been attached to his upper-body (he hasn't been able to do any lower body weight training because of his knee surgery).
The body fat thing is crazy. A lot of the stories out there mention that Nate McMillan wants Oden to back off a little, and his reasons make sense. McMillan wants Oden to look more like this:The difference in these two pictures might not be as obvious as many would think, but most probably remember the difference: Karl Malone had tons of muscle. There was so much bulk on his upper body. He was huge. David Robinson, while big, was lithe and cut. He was scary, but not because of how big he was. He was scary because he was in better shape than anyone else on the court. With Oden having a surgically repaired knee, McMillan thinks it would be better if he took a little of that weight back off so as to not increase the risk of injury on the knee. I agree, but it's also really exciting to see how committed to everything Oden is. I mean, he's maintained the fat percentage even though he can't hardly work out, only lifting weights. This kid is willing to do everything he needs to do.

The main reason I bring this up is that I might have finally come around to the "blessing in disguise" take on the Oden injury. In addition to Aldrdge being the focus of the offense down low and having to deal with the focus of the defense and Roy dealing with greater pressure, this actually does give Oden a chance to build muscle and work on his game and do other things before facing NBA competition. It also builds even more his desire to dominate, since he has to just sit, watch, and wait for an entire season. Man, injuries really are my favorite.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two quick posts in one night

I didn't plan to do this, but I'm listening to the Blazers game against the Pistons right now, and I couldn't help it. I'm also watching the game cast, and it's ahead of the radio broadcast. This made me think about switching over. The reason I don't? The Blazers are playing great basketball right now, and it is way too exciting listening to the crowd go nuts as the announcers tell me what I know already happened. Some quick in-game notes:
  1. Jarrett Jack is fantastic for this team off the bench. It's great.

  2. Przybilla is great. He's one-for-one from the floor and two-for-two from the line so far, to go with six rebounds and one block. Oh yeah, it's only the second quarter, with five minutes left. And he just set another huge pick. I love it.

  3. Rasheed Wallace is great, and I still love him.

That's it, time to go home soon and watch HOUSE, M.D.

Really not much to say

Going into tonight's game, Portland has won three straight, including a win over the Mavericks. They're 3-3 in the first six games, and all six games have been against teams from the consensus best conference in the NBA, the southwest. One other thing to note, before ending this short paragraph of excitement, is that Dallas' only loss before we beat them was to J-Lew's Hawks. So the two youngest teams in the league have that going for them.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

He's becoming my favorite NBA player

Thanks to TrueHoop for posting a link to this.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mad Dog

When I saw the headlines today about Greg Maddux re-signing with the Padres, I had caught a quick case of nostalgia. Somehow I missed the "Padres" part in my initial reading of the headline, and I wondered if he would be heading back to Atlanta to re-join Smoltz and Glavine. And I was really excited for a few seconds. Then I realized that the story was about him signing the deal with San Diego, and then I realized that it's probably better to not try to just relive the '90s. But for that second, I was ecstatic about the thought of having those three guys in the rotation with Hudson next year, with all the young guys battling for the number five spot. Well, unless Hampton actually comes back. Then we could have the best rotation from the turn of the century.
I only have a few things to say about the Oregon game on Saturday. The first thing that struck me was how much better I thought we looked against Cal and USC than we did against ASU. Maybe that's not true, but that's how it looked to me. The second thing that struck me was how dominant our offense was when we got into a rhythm. That offense looked unstoppable when things were going right. Sure, most teams would probably say that. But it reminded me of the Seahawks attack in 2005, back when Tobeck, Hutch, and Walter Jones just decimated defenses and Alexander was able to run all over them. Of course, that opened things up for the passing attack. That was exactly what it felt like watching Dixon and Stewart march all over the Sun Devils on Saturday. The last thing that struck me was how truly annoying LA fans are. I was watching the game at a sports bar here in Long Beach, and it was excruciating. The USC fans were really obnoxious as they watched the Trojans steam roll Oregon State. It made me wish even more that I was either at Autzen, with my family, or watching anywhere else in the world.

I don't think those things actually struck me in that order, I just listed them in order of importance.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Game two wasn't as good

I know we didn't win that first game against San Antonio, but we played really well. There were good signs not only for next season, but for the rest of this one. Something happened between Tuesday night and Friday night. What it looked like was that Portland forgot how to play basketball in those intervening days. I listened to part of the game last night, and watched most of the ESPN gamecast too. I summed the game up for my brother almost the same way Dave at Blazer's Edge summed it up. I said this to Stephen: we were terrible, but three individual players did really well. Brandon Roy, James Jones, and Sergio Rodriguez were all pretty good. Unfortunately, that's a pretty low percentage of the people on the team. Especially since only one of those guys is a key cog in our attack right now.

Having said that, Sergio's performance is the encouraging thing for the future. Sergio played only 12 minutes, but he had eight points on 3-5 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, and one turnover. He hit one of his two three point attempts, and provided a great spark – as always.

Martell Webster actually had another decent game, which is pretty good. And Travis Outlaw was okay. So having those three young guys do well is a good sign for the future. But again, that future is hard to look at as we lose by twenty to the Hornets. Ugh.
In better news, the Ducks take on the Sun Devils today, and that is exciting. There's a nice little story about my friend Scott's older brother Brett, the assistant equipment manager for the University of Oregon, in the hometown paper. This week was also the first time in a while that I got to see a lot of great coverage of the Oregon team in national publications. I received my Sports Illustrated and ESPN the magazine with articles about Ducks in them. Plus, ESPN had stories about Oregon all over their website. Try this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one. That's six different stories plugging the Ducks on the ESPN site. Pretty impressive.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How could I have forgotten?

Umm, I just watched the video that sits below this text. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, and I think people around me thought I was a little loopy because I was giggling like a little kid who has heard the best poop joke ever. Watch the video, then keep reading.


Somehow, as soon as Greg went down I forgot that he was on the team. In fact, somehow my mind just latched onto Taurean Green and Josh McRoberts as our only rookies this year. And technically they are. In my head I keep thinking about the value that we got out of the draft, because our two late picks are guys that should end up contributing at some point, even if that contribution is just making the team better by working hard in practice this year. But those aren't the only two guys we got in the draft. Nope. We also drafted Oden and Rudy Fernandez. Well, we actually traded for the rights to Fernandez, but I'm still considering that a draft pick. I don't know how many people remember this post, but I'll reference myself for fun:
Now for the reality check: as much as I was thinking about winning every game while reading the various accounts of the game, there's no way we'll even win more than 35 games this year. So that's what I want, along with some payback from the bouncing balls for us getting the fourth pick last year. Then we can still draft Oden and build on what happens this year...[then I put pictures up of what I thought would be the starting line up of the 2009 NBA champion Blazers]...
PG Sergio Rodriguez
SG Brandon Roy
SF Martell Webster
PF Zach Randolph
C Greg Oden
Once again I'm impressed with how well I predicted the season and the lottery on the opening day of the season last year. What I'm more impressed by, though, is that at the time I had no idea how good LaMarcus would be, and how soon he would be that good. I was always a big advocate for Randolph, especially because of the stories about how hard he worked. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop said this in June:
Scottie Pippen once told me that Randolph works harder than any teammate he has ever had.
I mean, that makes Zach a harder worker than, umm, Michael Jordan, right? At least in Scottie's opinion? Well, Nate McMillan was quoted in an article last week by Jason Quick of the Oregonian. Here's the whole section from Quick:
"I've never seen a starter in this league work like he does," McMillan said after a recent practice. "And it's every day. I mean look..."

McMillan pointed to Aldridge, who was shooting on the far side of the practice court, shirtless, his sweat-soaked jersey off to the side.
In that same article Quick included this piece:
And Bobby Medina, who is entering his 11th season as the Blazers' strength and conditioning coach, said Aldridge's work ethic in the weight room reminds him of former Blazers great Scottie Pippen, whose maniacal workout regime is legendary.
Let me use some logic here that I've been teaching my geometry students. If Scottie, who was known for how hard he worked, said that Zach worked harder than any teammate he'd ever had, and then Nate McMillan, who played in the NBA for a while and has coached a few years, said that he's never seen a starter in this league work like he does, then by the transitive property, McMillan must be suggesting that LaMarcus also works harder than a certain MJ. Throw in the fact that Medina compared LaMarcus' habits to Scottie, whose original statement set the table for this argument, and I think we can at least be certain that Aldridge is going to continue improving for a while.

Alright, I think that took me off subject for a second, so let's come back: I've been so focused on Aldridge, Przybilla, Roy, and Webster, that I nearly put Oden and Fernandez completely out of my mind. In that clip above this text we see Aldridge and Oden finding each other with really good passes. Sure, they don't finish very many of them. And sure, it was in summer league. But it was also within the first month that the two had played together. They were already playing like that and they'd only been together for less than a month. The reason that's really scary? The way the Blazers played against San Antonio on Tuesday and all the news from camp and the preseason have allowed me to focus on the team this year, instead of what they'll be when Oden gets back. That reminder of what they looked like with the two bigs together for just a second is the glimpse I need to get me absolutely excited again about next year. Regardless of a new draft pick, or some trade, or even another free agent signing, next year should bring the two best picks from this year's draft to the team. If Webster plays like this all season, Outlaw continues to be a great sixth man, Przybilla is consistent with his resurgence, and the expected guys step into the roles we envision for them next year, we only have one question mark in our nine man rotation next year. Seriously. We have a front court that includes Webster, Aldridge, and Oden in the starting unit, with Outlaw and Przybilla supplying relief off the bench. We have a great Ginobili-like sixth man in Rudy Fernandez, spelling our team leader SG/PG Brandon Roy. The only real question is who starts at point guard, and if it's Roy, then who ends up as the combo guard giving breaks to Roy and Fernandez. But PG is the position we still have perhaps the most potential. Now do you understand why I'm giddy? This team will surprise people for some wins this year. But next year? We won't surprise anyone, we'll just beat them anyway.

I just nearly giggled to myself again, that's how exciting this is.

If I end up back in Oregon anytime soon because I get sick of LA or teaching down here is just too much, I plan on making as many Blazer games as possible. In fact, if I end up in Portland, I'm going to get season tickets. Being there for the dynasty will be even more fun than writing about it is now. And writing about it now is pretty fun. I can't wait...fortunately, while I have to wait for that, I don't have to wait to see the NBA's youngest team come out hard against every team this year.

I'll end with a quote from the Basketball Jones podcast yesterday, as they spent most of the time they were talking about the Blazers/Spurs game focusing on Portland:
SKEETS-The Blazer specifically – you can really tell that this team had been practicing and playing together all throughout the summer.
MELAS-Hell of a point Skeeter, hell of a point.
SKEETS-Could you not?
MELAS-When did they get into Portland? They got altogether earliest of any team in the league, right?
SKEETS-Maybe May.
MELAS-Yeah, May. Early June. It was frickin' early.
SKEETS-It was early. It was early.
MELAS-And they looked frickin' good.
SKEETS-Yeah.
They go on about Portland for a while longer.It's nice to have NBA people talking about the team again because of good basketball reasons. Oh it's nice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A bunch of grading

This morning I took my brother to LAX at four o'clock. Our dad was working on the siding of their new house last week and went down with the ladder. When he landed his elbow was wrenched with the weight of his fall and tore his rotator cuff. Because of that, and because they're hoping to get the house done by Thanksgiving time, they bought Stephen a ticket and he flew up there today. He'll be there for about a month. After I dropped him off I went to the school, but since I didn't feel very well and had a ton of stuff I needed to get done, I set my room up for the day and called in for a sub. So far today I've finished a lot of what I needed to do, but not all of it. Hopefully in the next hour I can get more done while watching football before Chuck comes on.

I was really sad to see my brother go this morning, for these reasons:
  1. Even though he isn't around that much down here, what with not having a job yet to solidify his schedule and his girlfriend and best friends living a decent distance away from us, I'm still going to miss him while he's completelygone for a while.

  2. I envy him for getting to go back up to Oregon, even if it is to work on the house.

  3. I might have been a little sad just because it was so early in the morning.

Tomorrow is opening day in the NBA, and I am really excited about the Blazers-Spurs game. I don't want to let myself get too excited, but I do think that a lot of people will be surprised by the Blazers this year. I can't wait for that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

De-Oderant.

Once again, I don't think that preseason really means much. Tonight Portland played a bad team that didn't have it's best – or at least, most hyped – player. But I still take several things from the game, judging by the box score and the play-by-play.
  1. LaMarcus is who we thought he was. This kid is a stud. 31 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, with only one turnover and one foul. He did that on 12-19 shooting from the field, and 7-9 shooting from the line. It doesn't matter that he did it against a terrible team in the preseason, he's been doing it for a while. He's the real deal.

  2. Brandon Roy is still rusty, missing half of his free throws. But he showed all of the things that make me compare his intensity and clutch-ness to his airness. This is what Roy did in the last six minutes:

    1. He made an 8-foot jumper to get the game within four at 92-88.
    2. Then he made a layup to put it at 92-90.
    3. Then he made a layup after a Sonics bucket to put the score at 94-92. After another made shot by Seattle, he hit a 12 footer to make it 96-94.
    4. After the Sonics got one free throw, he made two clutch free throws to bring Portland within one at 97-96.
    5. Then he hit an open Martell Webster to get the assist and tie the game after another Seattle score. That tied the game, and after that happened the Blazers never trailed again.
    6. He got another assist by giving the ball to Aldridge for a dunk, putting Portland ahead 103-101.
    7. He then missed the second of two free throws, missed the shot after Aldridge passed him the ball, rebounded his own miss, and drew another foul. He missed the first one, but made the second. Even when he wasn't clutch, he was still making clutch plays.
    8. He then missed an 11-footer that would have put Portland up by four, got his own rebound, and then passed it out to Webster for another assist as Webster drilled another three.
    9. He then made another layup to keep Portland's lead 110-105. The last point was made by Steve Blake when he made only one free throw.

    I love Brandon Roy.

  3. Martell Webster is still bringing it. He had 19 points, once again shooting over 50% from the field and from downtown, hitting three of five. He only got two rebounds, which is disappointing, but he did have three steals. I like him as the starter at SF this year.

  4. Travis Outlaw did exactly what I want him to do off the bench. He played 25 minutes, had 13 points on only nine shots (which is a much better number than what he usually puts up). He had five rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and no turnovers. If these two guys can man the starter and sixth man roles like this during the season, the team looks good.

  5. The worst note from the game is that only one point guard seemed to do well in the game. That one? Sergio Rodriguez. He had five points on two of four shooting (1-1 from three), three rebounds, two assists, and no turnovers. He did that in only twelve minutes. It's still disappointing that JJ and Steve Blake were less than stellar, but I love Sergio and I'm happy he did well.
Again, I know that this was only preseason. It's still nice to see my guys doing this well, though.

(The title of this post was one I came up with before we won the draft lottery, as I was considering the options that weren't Oden or Durant. De-Oderant. I didn't think I would get to use the term again once we won the draft lottery. Too bad I was able to use it because neither of them played in this preseason game, but I'm glad I got to use it anyway.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

With guns put back away...

Today I had a meeting with the math coach and the principal to talk about my professional development goals for the year. It was a really good chance to tell them how I was feeling. Of course, in the midst of that I found out that the gate to the fields would have gotten me into my room after all, so that I could have gotten all that work done on Saturday morning. Yeah, I wasn't too happy to find that out. Even though that's true, the weekend was still really nice, mainly because I didn't feel guilt about not doing any work over the weekend, since I thought it wasn't my fault.
I've never been more excited for college football than for the NFL. Ever. Not even during seasons when the Ducks were okay and the Seahawks were terrible. But this year, with the combination of Oregon being amazing and Seattle being not-so-amazing and the absolute craziness of the college season, I've found myself much more interested in the college game. It could have a little to do with how poorly my three fantasy teams are performing as well, but I think the competitiveness in college this year has more to do with it. Oh yeah, and cheering for the best offense in the country. I mean, Oregon rushed for 465 rushing yards and 39 first downs against the Huskies in Seattle on Saturday. They ran the ball 62 times, and 25 of those runs were for first downs. They attempted 30 passes, and completed 14 of those for first downs. They averaged 7.5 yards per rush as a team. Even though Washington is bad, that's just amazing. It reminds me of what the Seahawks did in 2005 when the offensive line made defenses give them the entire field. And that's what's been said about Oregon's performance: the line was unstoppable, which means that it doesn't matter what guy is running behind them. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have one of the best running backs in the country and a sneaky Heisman candidate at quarterback behind them. In fact, if Dixon had four more yards passing, one more yard rushing, and not thrown a Hail Mary interception at the end of the first half, he's looking at a game with 200 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, a better than 60% completion rate, and two total touchdowns – one in the air and one on the ground. Those are great numbers. We have USC and ASU at home in the next two weeks, and if we can keep the offense rolling and get the defense back to where it had been the last few weeks, we should be looking at the final three weeks beginning to think about BCS championship plans. Crazy. Oh yeah, and the Oregon basketball team should be coming back stronger this year than they were last year. It's a good time to be a Duck.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

After four pre-season games

As most everyone says, the pre-season means very little. Very little. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't continue to use it to build my ridiculous dreams of what the Blazers might be able to do this season. As much as the pre-season doesn't mean much, there are still quite a few signs of great improvement for the upcoming season.
  1. In four games Martell Webster is averaging 19 ppg, 4.25 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg, 0 bpg, and 1 topg in 32.5 mpg. Those are pretty good numbers, especially because one of the knocks on his game is that he's had a hard time just getting into the flow of the game. A lot of the comments abut his performances have said that he's been doing a great job of getting involved whether he has the ball or not.

  2. In four games Travis Outlaw is averaging 13.25 ppg, 5.25 rpg, 1.25 apg, 1 spg, 1 bpg, and 1 topg in 29.25 mpg. Those numbers aren't too bad either.

  3. Those last two points lead to this one: the SF battle, which was supposed to be a three man battle that many thought would produce no one really good, has turned out to be the best for both young guys. If we can get production even close to that from these two guys in the regular season, things will be fantastic. I mean, between the two, if I adjust for the rigors of the regular season, I suspect that the SF position could give us these numbers: 28 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.5 topg. That's pretty good production from our small forward position, and that's with me adjusting things for declining production. But if things work out the way they should, Roy and Aldridge will actually open the offense up so that the small forward can contribute even more in the offense. So that's encouraging.

  4. The PG battle has also been more than healthy. In four games Jarrett Jack is averaging 10.25 ppg, 1.25 rpg, 4.25 apg, 0.5 spg, and 2.25 topg in 25.25 mpg during four games. In three games Steve Blake is averaging 7.67 ppg, 3.67 rpg, 3.67 apg, 0.33 spg, and 2.67 topg in 23.67 mpg. In four games Sergio Rodriguez is averaging 4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 4.75 apg, 1.25 spg, and 2 topg in 14.5 mpg. And in four games Taurean Green is averaging 7.75 ppg, 1.75 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.25 spg, and 1.5 topg in 16 mpg. I didn't factor the field goal percentages into those stats, but regardless, that's a pretty good point guard battle and line up. Also, as Dave at Blazer's Edge pointed out, there are really two sets of point guards there: the duo of "true" point guards, Blake and Rodriguez, and the duo of "shooting" point guards, Jack and Green.

  5. The two biggest question marks before Oden went down were PG and SF. Those two battles are going really well. But when the number one had surgery, the bigger question became center. Well, Joel Przybilla seems to be filling that nicely. His numbers, in four games, is averaging 2 ppg, 9.75 rpg, 1 bpg, 2 topg, and 3.25 fouls per game in 22.5 mpg. It would be nice if he were contributing more offense, but that's not too bad. His rebounds are fantastic. His blocks will improve with more minutes, his turnover numbers are pretty good, and his foul numbers are also better than they have been. Channing hasn't done too much to make the center situation seem great, but it's encouraging to see how well Przybilla is doing.
All of those things are great signs to me that the regular season will be better than most people think, especially if LaMarcus continues to do a great job and Roy gets back to form when the season starts. The offense has been firing on all cylinders, something no one really expected from a more up-tempo style with a core of young players. Anyway, that is one of the things keeping me going through the tough school year. Nine dears until the regular season starts.

With guns drawn

That's how the police would have approached me, apparently, had I tried to get into school this morning. The title of this post, I mean. That's what my colleague Mariano told me as I was talking with him in front of the school. I asked a secretary as I was leaving yesterday if I could get in this morning, and she said it would be open from eight until noon. Wrong. After she confirmed that, I left a bunch of things in my classroom that I was going to get done today. But instead they're just going to sit there until Monday morning, which is not good. That means I need to try to get to school even earlier on Monday than I normally would. Boo to that. So instead I took care of some car things this morning, specifically a long-overdue oil change. Now I'm catching up with a TV show that I think I'll like, Dirty Sexy Money. I've only seen part of the premiere, but it sounds pretty good.

Speaking of pretty good, last night I went to see The Darjeeling Limited with my roommate Eric and our friend Beau. A review of it in The District – Long Beach's weekly art/entertainment magazine – thought that it fell apart when the brothers got off the train. I disagree with that strongly. Once again it seemed to me that Wes Anderson does his best work when he is focusing on the most painful of human experiences. The rest of the time the movie was funny, but when the brothers were really confronted with tragedy and forced to look at their own lives and actions the movie got that much better. All the acting was really good, but I was especially pleased with Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody. Wilson was better than normal, and I think Brody showed me that he really is that good. I wasn't as happy when I walked out as I was at the end of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I didn't think the whole movie was as insightful as The Royal Tenenbaums, probably my favorite Anderson movie, and I didn't think it was as funny as Rushmore or Bottle Rocket. But it might have done the job of combining those things that a fifth movie from an idiosyncratic director should.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Isn't stress fun?

Monthly. That is now the goal for the updates on this blog, although it will probably be a little better since the NBA season is nearly here. I listened to part of the pre-season game last night between the Blazers and Clippers. It was great to see the final lines, and even fun to hear what was happening for a while. I really don't think the game means much, but it was still nice. There are lots of websites with good coverage of the game, and I don't have the energy to try to do any better. Dave at Blazer's Edge has done a great job of listing these articles, so check that out if you want to read the good coverage. The important little comment I have is that we did a good job of punishing a team missing most of their best players, but we did so while missing our best player and another that most of us think will be one of our best players, if he isn't already. So that's important.

School is rough. I'm still trying to figure out how to be a "disciplinarian," which is getting in the way of trying to figure out how to be a better teacher. The most pressing issues are probably related to making sure that my students understand what's going on despite difficulties with English, since that seems to be one of the main problems. The other problem that consumes me, but that I haven't done much about yet, is still figuring out how to make my lessons much more engaging so that the students who are disruptive will find less reason to act that way. I'm trying a lesson tomorrow that uses ads to teach logic and reasoning. We'll see how that goes. I didn't go today because of feeling pretty bad and needing to catch up with stuff. That's the second straight Thursday I've missed at school, and I don't like that one bit. Hopefully my body starts healing soon, and then I won't feel the need to miss school.
I went in to the doctor last week to get the tingling checked out, and ended up with several x-rays and two different MRIs. Then they called me on Saturday and had me come back in on Monday to take a few more pictures. Since then I haven't heard anything though, so I'm not sure what's going on with my body still. I do need to schedule my physical therapy, which the doctor prescribed before the extra shots were taken on Monday. So that's what's going on right now. More to come in a month probably.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Straight outta Compton

I haven't written anything on this blog in a long time. Wait, let me see that better: I haven't written anything in a long time. I feel like the teaching is taking away some of my mental acumen. I do like my kids, but some of the cultural things are sooo hard to overcome. For instance: it has always been the case, even when teaching, that I need between 33 and 74 apologies per day. I just say things that are wrong or come out wrong or are heard wrong. In many places this is no big deal. But for most of the students I teach, a lot of their identity is wrapped up in not letting anyone say something to them or do something to them to hurt their image. So if they even think that I've done something to insult them, it is really hard to come back. Really hard.

Another thing that seems cultural: understanding what types of questions are appropriate to ask a teacher in class and what types are not. All students everywhere push the boundaries, but a lot of these students haven't learned what those boundaries are supposed to be. Hear me well on this: when I say "cultural" I'm not referring to race or ethnicity, rather the city/street culture that exists in south central LA. As I've said, I really like my students, but being raised in multiple rural towns in Oregon – as much as I don't like to admit that Roseburg is rural – and going to college at Wheaton didn't exactly prepare me to interact daily with kids from Compton.

Because of some of the differences, and because I'm getting walked all over, I'm instituting some new rules and procedures next week. I hate doing it, but it really does have to be done. I also realized that I need to put more effort into my lessons. My professors at Oregon espoused the belief that 99% of class management can be taken care of by having engaging lessons, and I still believe that's true. So it feels a bit like a cop-out to be planning to put in more rules instead of just making sure that my class sessions are engaging for all students. The problem is that so many students are keeping class sessions from happening the way they should that I can't tell yet how engaging my lessons are. And that's why I have to give in and start focusing on classroom management techniques for a little while. I give a hearty "boo" to that, but it's happening nonetheless.



One thing that is always enjoyable is answering questions about the Blazers poster/pennant/figurine in my room. A lot of the students think that Portland is just terrible, and they always have been. It's funny for me to hear that perspective, so I've been sharing with them about the 1977 team and the teams from the early '90s with Clyde and the gang. The figurine I have on my desk is actually Drexler, and I won it last year in the Blazer's Edge contest by scoring exactly 22 in my picks for one of the games. (Thanks Dave.) Most of the students don't really care, with just a few mentioning how good Kobe is or something like that. But a girl in my first period class mentioned the other day how excited she was for training camp to start soon. I couldn't even be mad she meant Lakers training camp, because it was so nice to have someone in the room sharing my excitement for the imminent NBA season.

And I really can't wait for the season. I mentioned this to a few friends already, but after overcoming my grief about Oden's surgery, I'm even more excited about what the Blazers might do this year than I was before. On Mike Barrett's blog today he posted the interviews he did with various players and members of the management last night at the organization's annual company picnic. Listening to all the things the various interviewees had to say made me giddy. James Jones said some things about how talented this team is and how unselfish they are as a group. This from a guy who played in Phoenix with Steve Nash for a few years. Jones knows unselfish, and he knows talent. Sure, his opinion is biased toward his new teammates, but he didn't have to say something so glowing. Players put things in less glowing terms quite often. To hear LaMarcus talk was great too. And Przybilla, with his emphasis on how hard he knew he needed to work this off season, was one of my favorite interviews. It's all really good, so if you have the time and want to join me in some excitement about the upcoming NBA season, give them a listen. Barrett is always good about getting stuff like that up for people to check out. I'm still waiting for Casey to put the up the Quick Chat on Oregonlive, since I couldn't listen to it live the other night. That one is usually really insightful too, since Quick is a great beat writer and keeps his pulse on the team really well. I can't wait to get some sort of hook-up that gets me into a Blazer/Laker game this season at the Staple's Center, just so I can be there when Portland surprises the LA – well, faithful isn't the right word – celebrities by showing how good they are without the best pure center to come into the league since that big guy that used to play down here in purple and gold.



Last note: I had a chance to go with a colleague of mine to the UCLA-Washington game tomorrow night at the Rose Bowl, but I'm going to my friend Michelle's soccer game instead. I'll have other opportunities for UCLA games, and I wanted to see the soccer game pretty badly. But it still took a little while for me to decide to stick with my original plan, since I haven't been to the Rose Bowl since Oregon's loss to Penn State in 1995. Enough for now. I'm going to go get some ice cream from Cold Stone, maybe, and then head back to the house. Hopefully the quantity of words in this post makes up a little for the lack of posts recently.

By the way, if you were wondering who else other than Ki-Jana Carter played for that Penn State team, let me remind you: Kerry Collins was the starting quarterback, Bobby Engram (yes, that Bobby Engram) was the number one receiver, Kyle Brady was the starting tight end, and I'm sure several good linebackers. By the way, Collins won the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards that year, finished fourth in Heisman voting (where Carter finished second to Rashan Salaam), but was not the best quarterback in the game. Danny O'Neil from Oregon was player of the game in a losing effort and set Rose Bowl records with most passes completed (41), most attempts (61), most yardage (465), most plays (74) and total offense (456). I remember how awesome he was live, and that was a big deal for a little kid watching his team face the Nittany Lions in the Granddaddy of them all. Oh yeah, and Joe-Pa won FWAA coach of the year honors that season, but Rich Brooks – yes, that Rich Brooks – won the Bear Bryant award for Oregon in his last season before going to coach the Los Angeles Rams.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A few videos by way of other blogs

This is crazy.


I guess Bargnani is really good. Watch this pass a few times. He's really good. It looks like he might have a little Sabonis to him.

USA basketball is good again, but once they made everyone feel really terrible. Especially a certain Michael Jordan. That guy could play.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A ridiculous comparison

I just read this quote in Mike Barrett's blog. This is the sort of thing that I really love about Brandon Roy.
This weekend the players will start arriving back into town. Greg Oden is expected to get here Sunday, Brandon Roy is already back, and I believe LaMarcus Aldridge is as well. It was Roy who made the request that the team get back into town over a month early, so they could start preparing. It's not likely the entire team will show as early as next week, but it'll be interesting to see who is able to make it. Steve Blake, James Jones, and several others have been here for several weeks.
Reading stuff like that keeps the stupid image in my head of Roy as a player more like Jordan than a lot of others I could name. He worked the entire off season to improve the weakest part of his game, which also improved throughout his injury riddled rookie season. He might have been the guy to push for Zach's trade, not because he didn't like Zach, but because he knew that the team would develop into a better team without him. He took over games during crunch time, which didn't always just mean shooting: he drove, made big shots, and found open teammates for game winners. If his defense continues to improve, and if his outside shooting improves functionally with how much time he's put into it, then my stupid brain will continue to make the connections between him and Jordan. I know he's not the same type of scorer, but so many of the other things about them are similar. And I'm not saying he's "the next" Jordan, just that his intensity and leadership and desire remind me of MJ more than most.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

NFL Season Preview, via Arrested Development (Part 1)

It's been a long time since I wrote about a sports topic that wasn't related in some way to the Blazers. So I'm ripping off a gimmick that the Sports Guy uses and doing an NFL season preview. Instead of just writing a normal preview, though, I'll be using characters, episodes, and quotes from Season one of Arrested Development to set up my lame jokes and comments. To do that will take three parts, which means this first part is the only one that'll happen.

Quotes:
Gob: So what? Lindsay's been staying at the Four Seasons for like a month, and she's probably charging it to the company!
Michael: Lindsay's been in town for a month?
Gob: ...I don't think so.
This goes to the Oakland raiders and Jamarcus Russel. I mean, the draft was in April. He was the first overall pick. I'm trying to imagine how the conversations have been between Russell and his agent, and between the agent and the Raiders.
Agent: When Brady Quinn signed last week he got more money than we thought he would, so we've...
JR: Brady Quinn signed last week?
Agent: ...I don't think so.
Raiders Exec: Well, he should sign soon. I mean, even though he's a veteran, it took Daunte Cullpepper a little while to figure out our offense when he showed up a few months ago...
Agent: You signed Daunte Cullpepper a few months ago?
RE: ...I don't think so.

Gob: You know, I sort of thought my contribution could be a magic show.
Michael: Oh, that's perfect, Gob.
Gob: Thank you.
Michael: Or, wait a minute. I just remembered something — Dad's retiring, not turning six.
This goes to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Who didn't like Favre in the '90s? I mean, besides fans of all the other teams in the NFC north? But now it's just sad. Like a grown man having a magic show at his retirement. Speaking of, maybe Gob could convince Favre that his it would be wroth retiring just to see the illusions performed at his retirement party.
George Sr.: I don't have time for your magic tricks.
Gob: Illusions, Dad! You don't have time for my illusions!
This goes to Matt Millen and the Lions. How does he still have a job in Detroit? It's the illusion. Or maybe he's turning tricks. Doing tricks, I meant doing magic tricks.
Michael: Okay, guys, um... they are going to keep Dad in prison at least until this gets all sorted out. Also, the attorney said that they’re going to have to put a halt on the company’s expense account.
[All gasping.]
Michael: Interesting. I would’ve expected that after “They’re keeping Dad in jail.”
This goes to the Falcons. I really wouldn't have expected Vick's teammates to be so quick to embrace Joey Harrington as The Man in Atlanta. Wow, they haven't exactly thrown Vick under the bus, but there hasn't really been much support for him.
Lindsay: You’ve had $80,000 worth of cartography lessons. Get us a channel to the ocean.
Buster: Okay, okay, okay.
(Pauses)
Buster: Obviously this blue part here is the land
This goes to Eli Manning. Let's see:
  1. Great bloodline? Check.

  2. Successful college career? Check.

  3. Cocky attitude that kept him from staying in San Diego? Check.

  4. Numerous weapons on offense? Check.
Maybe it's too much to ask him not to buckle under pressure. Or maybe he should be able to tell that the blue part is water, not land.
Lucille: I'd rather be dead in California than alive in Arizona.
I don't think I even need to explain why this one goes to Matt Leinart.
Michael: Hey mom, I was wondering if you knew anything about these....
Lucille: [interrupting] I don't know where they are.
Michael: ...flight records. You know, it's really more believable if you let me finish first.
The first one I'm awarding to Michael Vick.
George Sr.: ...this is my vacation, Michael.
Michael: You're doing time, dad.
George Sr.: I'm doing the time... of my life!
This goes to Pacman Jones. It's too bad the NFL won't let him wrestle. They probably won't let him follow the example set by Joey Galloway in 1999 of playing flag football. We could see Pacman competing in all sorts of reality show events. It really could be the time of his life.
Narrator: Tobias had gotten the directing job by meeting with the school principal.
Tobias: ... and you tell me you've got some P.E. teacher directing? That just makes me want to puke all over your head, sir! [gets on one knee] Give me a chance to tell the bard's tale and I give you my word on humble knee whence you shall not say it wasn't e'r to be.
Principal: ... Jerry, you cool with this?
Jerry/P.E. Teacher: Sure, let the little fruit do it.
Tobias: Huzzah!
This one goes to any team that's just trying to fill holes.
Buster: It's like she gets off by being withholding.
Gob: Look who's got something to say.
Buster: I'm Mom and I want to shoot down everything you say so I can feel good about myself. 'Cause I'm an uptight -- [Incredibly extended BLEEP] -- Buster! -- [Extended BLEEP] -- You old horny slut!
Michael: [pause] Well, no one's gonna top that.
This one goes to the New York Giants and whichever of their players goes crazy this season about how controlling Tom Coughlin is and how much everyone hates him. I'm guessing around week five, depending on if Strahan comes back.
Michael: Listen, after we get that lot cleared, we're going to have enough money for you to neuter thousands of animals. You can make dogs and cats a complete thing of the past. No more dogs and cats.
This one goes to Vick too.
Kitty: Your wife's on line one.
Narrator: Michael's wife had been dead for two years.
Michael: My what?
Narrator: Kitty realized her mistake.
Kitty: I said, "your wife is on line one."
Narrator: But not immediately.
This goes to the Cheifs. Three weeks into the season, after signing Larry Johnson to a huge deal ending his holdout, the Cheifs are going to really wish Priest Holmes' comeback had worked out better when Johnson's knees explode. Running backs can only handle so many carries per year, and I think LJ has fit 8 seasons worth of carries into two and a half seasons.
Gob: Take off your glasses. Oh ... wait, wait. Let down your hair. No, glasses on, hair back up. Let's just get that hair right back up.
Kitty: Let me turn the lights off.
Gob: Yes, yes, please.
Kitty: How's that? Is that better?
Gob: It just seems like there's still light coming in from under the door.
This goes to the Oakland Raiders offense. No matter what you do or how you look at it, this offense is really ugly.
Lindsay: It's all I've ever wanted from you, Daddy - for you to spend money on me.
This goes to Tom Brady. The Patriots finally spent money this off season to help him out, and I think he's going to show his gratitude by playing even better this season than he has so far in his career.
Lucille: It's an idiot on a scooter at night. It's got to be Gob.
To LaVar Arrington. I thought that after Kellen Winslow and Ben Roethlesberger crashed their motorcycles NFL players would be more careful. I thought wrong.
Lindsay: Oh you'll never be able to do it. You're too good. You're the noble one.
Michael: Thank you.
Lindsay: The one who never wins.
Michael: I don't know about that.
Lindsay: The loser. The fool.
I'm going to go ahead and give this to the Bears. They've been pretty good the last few years. They're supposed to be good again this year. And yet, I just don't think they'll be able to even match last year's success.
Michael: Your Uncle Gob seems to think that he saw you down at the docks today. Was that you?
George Michael: No. Maybe it was the other George Michael. You know, the singer-songwriter.
Michael: Yeah, that makes sense.
This one goes to Adrian Peterson, the rookie for Minnesota. When Cedric Benson gets hurt a week and a half into the season, the other Adrian Peterson will take over the running back chores in Chicago, and he'll end up having more touchdowns than his Viking-rookie counterpart.
Reporter: Where's Earl Milford?
Gob: I-I don't know. I put him in a box. I didn't kill him, alright? And don't edit this for your broadcast so it looks like I'm screaming, "I killed Earl Milford!"
[Cut to Fox6 News]
John Beard: Startling confession tonight at 11:00.
This goes to the Cincinnati Bengals. At this point, even when players don't do anything wrong they get a bad rap. Then again, they did bring it upon themselves.
Lindsay: I'll tell you what. I'll take you down to see Nana if you split the money with me 60-40.
Maeby: 55-55.
Lindsay: Deal.
Michael: Sounds like you guys are getting more than you think.
Lindsay: We should go now before your Dad gets back. No need going halfsies with him, too.
This goes to the Houston Texans. I don't know how much they think Matt Schaub is worth, but my guess is that he's not worth as much as they think. Honorable mention on this goes to the Raiders for every QB they have, the Dolphins for Trent Green, and the Buccaneers for Garcia and the still-retired Jake Plummer.
Gob: And now you love the ten commandments. And yet you're the one who so conveniently forgot "Thou shalt protect thy father and honor no one above him unless it be-ith me, thy sweet Lord."
Michael: I'm not sure that one made it down the mountain, Gob.
This goes to everyone who's making up things about how good some bad team will be this year. I guess it's mainly for anyone suggesting that the Cardinals will be good. You're just faking it if you say that.
Tobias: Well, I've always wanted to remake Annie Hall. Except, I wouldn't want to get in bed with a green producer like a Sofia Coppola, though. Oh, but give me an old pro like a Robert Redford. Oh, I'd jump into bed with him in a second. And I wouldn't just lie there, Michael Bluth, if that's what you're thinking.
Michael: Actually, that time, that was what I was thinking.
This goes to the New England Patriots, who just signed "an old pro" to go with Tom Brady. Why would any team need Vinny Testaverde at this point?
Michael: Lindsay, new outfit?
Lindsay: This? No, I've had this for years. I think it's a hand-me-down from Mom.
Michael: You got a price tag. Right there.
Lindsay: Is there? I guess she wanted me to have something new. Sweet old thing.
Michael: Only two of those words describe Mom, so I know you're lying to me.
This goes to the Cleveland Browns, who acquired Jamal Lewis during the off season. I mean, how is that old thing going to help they're running game when he couldn't even run behind a better than average line in Baltimore?

That's everything I have for now. I hope to do the other parts, but we'll see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here's another one

Alright, this was on there too. Number six is my favorite, but the one in which he posterizes Rasheed Wallace is pretty unbelievable too. And number one is definitely incredible.

Try this if the video doesn't load.

Not what I expected

I was looking on Peekvid for something to do while I'm not doing anything in my hotel room, and I came across what appeared to be Michael Jordan's "ten greatest plays." It appeared to be that because it was titled as such. It turned out, instead, to be ten great plays against the Blazers. Yeah, fantastic. But it's still pretty amazing, and this goes out to my friend Ek. If the video doesn't load on the page then click on the link below or in the title.Try this if that didn't work.

Old-school Bill Walton at home

I saw this video just a few seconds ago. It's fun to see a young Walton, and I think the similarities between Oden's soft-spoken-ness and Walton's are great. Then again, I'm a little scared to hear about Walton's foot problems, since Roy and Aldridge have both already had their own foot problems. Just coincidence, but still a little scary.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nice timing

I just cashed my reimbursement check from Compton for the U-Haul. I feel kind of bad about that, since my parents actually paid for the truck and auto transport, but my dad told me that was what I should do. And since I have less than $20 in my bank account right now, the $1000+ reimbursement came when I needed it really badly. Now I just get to look forward to kicking part of my paycheck to my parents for the first couple months of employment. Knowing that I have a little bit of money now allowed me to escape to the beach again. I'm sitting in a little coffee shop called Java Man in Hermosa Beach, and I'm going to walk down to the ocean pretty soon. I just updated my facebook profile for the first time in a while, and all the quotes I chose are from a packet my friend Luke put together for his high school students called A Few Things to Keep You Entertained.... Most of the quotes are not only good, but also timely for me as I'm getting ready to head into the classroom soon.



Since this is already pretty newsy, I might as well just include a general update on what's going on for me right now. I found a townhouse in Long Beach that I really like, and that I think Stephen and Eric will both like too. I got a letter today from Compton as proof of the salary I'll be making so I can apply to rent this place. I need to find my social security card too, but I'm fairly certain I know where it is, even if that means going to my storage unit tomorrow morning. I've looked at some other places too, and need to try to go by to see them or call tomorrow. But after looking at what else is out there, this place seems like the tops to me. It doesn't have appliances, so I'd have to go in for that, but there are cheap ones all over craigslist. That leaves me with getting a California driver's license and registering my car here as two of the most pressing things I have left, and I don't plan on doing either of those before I have an actual address. I still need to get in touch with a few of the doctors who have bills I need to pay, but I did set something up with the ambulance company yesterday. I've also worked on a parent letter/syllabus and self-introductory flyer for my students. To top it all off, I actually went for a bit of a run today. So that's it. This post has been pretty lame, but I wanted to make myself feel better about what I've accomplished down here, and that did it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mike Bacsik

He threw the pitch. The at-bat was actually pretty good for the pitcher, going up 2-2, throwing a ball after that, Bonds hitting one foul to keep the count full, and then going after him as Barry lifted it to the deepest part of AT&T Park. I just happened to be watching when Barry Bonds broke the record. It was pretty incredible. I think I actually heard the city of of San Francisco cheering through my window, not over the TV. It was way cooler to watch than I would have expected.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Once again it just goes to show: I'm an idiot

One would think that being in a licensure program would insure my ability to do everything needed to get my teaching license in a timely manner. But one might be forgetting that I'm a moron. It turns out that I didn't submit some paperwork--and money--that I was supposed to send in order for my license to be processed. Yup, nice job on that one. I'm on my way to do that now, and it should end up alright. The turnaround time is two weeks. But still, I am ridiculously unorganized.


Some happier things are right here: Kevin Garnett likes to wear Blazers stuff. The money quote, from Mark Madsen's blog:
Kevin told us how he had gotten up that morning and tried on the Portland shoes and that they had looked good. So he asked his wife “What do you think? Can I wear these in to practice?”

“Well Kevin, I don’t think so. I mean, the Trailblazers are in your conference and you play against them, right?....” she said.

Kevin decided to wear the shoes in anyway...
I really enjoyed reading that post, and it's a nice tribute from one of KG's teammates.

People might have seen this on TrueHoop, but I had to link to it anyway. The guy who started ProTrade and was part of a group of MIT students who won a lot of money in Vegas, Jeffrey Ma, is a consultant for the Blazers and had this to say about how the Spurs built a champion (three times over) and apparently how the Blazers are trying to do the same thing.
I remember sitting with Kevin Pritchard before he was KP, the GM of the Trail Blazers, and he explained the Spurs' mantra to me: Get three superstars and then fill the roster with guys willing to go through a wall to win.
This is actually just one more reason I wish we could retain Ime Udoka. I think he's one of the guys that will go through a wall to win.