Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A little blurry

These aren't that clear, but I'm combining two things my friend Luke does on his blog:
  1. Using images instead of computer type (even if they're images of writing–it's not computer type).

  2. Posting stuff from my moleskin. This is stuff I realized today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I have to put it in writing

The Nuggets will beat the Lakers.

Reasons? I've got a few:
  1. I hate the Lakers. That shapes everything I think. And I hate hearing my students talk about how good they are. Again, this shapes everything I think about this series.

  2. Denver can play great defense. They did it enough times to be ranked 10th in defensive efficiency for the season, while being the first ranked team in pace. And that's pretty impressive because they're running a lot but still doing a good job of keeping teams from scoring a lot per 100 possessions. That still ends up being a lot of points, but shows some decent defense. The best example was that Seattle game when they won 168-116.

  3. George Karl has been a good coach in the playoffs a few times. Three times, really. In 92-93 and 95-96 with Seattle, and in 2000-2001 with Milwaukee. Those teams were above .500 in the playoffs, but none of them won the finals. Still, if he can get everything together with those crazy guys, maybe it'll work.

  4. While I don't think the Nuggets can do anything to stop Kobe, I think that they have a chance to completely shut down the front court help on that Lakers team. Camby and Martin should easily shut down any combination of big men that LA will trot out there. If that happens, Kobe might give up and try to win it on his own with his offense, instead of focusing on the defensive end shutting down 'Melo, which doesn't bode well for the Lakers – as I've already said – especially since Kobe won't have to put in that much effort to get his points. The extra effort won't get him that many more points, but the points that 'Melo will get with Kobe focusing on the offensive side will be enough. Barely.

  5. The big three question marks for the Nuggets are going to come out and play well. Okay, I have no evidence for this, but the Nuggets will win if these three come to play in every game: J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, and Eduardo Najera.

  6. Did I mention that I hate the Lakers? Yeah, that's important for this, and the one other important thing: I don't think anyone is picking the Nuggets. Didn't they learn from the Warriors last year? This is a team that won 50 games in the west. They showed glimpses of brilliance, and they're pretty tough to beat a mile up. If the Staples Center was some amazing place where the fans brought the ruckus, I'd say that there was no way Denver can steal a game in LA. But this is a stadium filled with celebrities who are there to be noticed.
Denver wins in six.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Henry Abbott on NPR

Here's some audio from an interview I heard on NPR's Marketplace today. Several reasons to post it here:
  1. Henry Abbott from TrueHoop does the interview, and I love that guy.

  2. The woman doing the interview for NPR used to be a big fan of the Blazers, but in the last few years she gave up. Hmm, that sounds like a lot of people. And raise your hand if you're surprised that someone from NPR grew up as a Blazer fan. If you have your hand raised, I haven't been educating you as well as I thought.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The last day of the season? Wow.

Umm, there is no good way for me to set up this clip. Crazy good.

Accreditation stuff ended today. We did well, I think. I did really well, impressing the people that observed my class. They reported stuff to the math coach, who came and asked me for any of my notes for geometry since I won't be around next year. That conversation deteriorated when she asked if I had notes, and I had to tell her that most of my stuff either came from my head, the book, or from the best math teacher I've ever met. Anyway, I feel quite relieved, because just having those people around increased my stress level. I will now proceed to rival Tim Thomas in my level of mailing-it-in.

Hopefully that's not really true. Actually, I know it's not really true. But I can't see myself making sure that I do all of the paperwork stuff. Student stuff? Yes.

I posted this on Blazer's Edge today, but that I'd double up and put it here too.

The Sports Guy included this tidbit in his column today on the NBA MVP.

    39. LaMarcus Aldridge

    Note to Portland fans: You were right, I was wrong. He's a keeper. Even if he reminds me so much of Charles Smith that I wouldn't be surprised if they lost a key playoff game some day because LeBron blocked his layup three straight times at the buzzer.
I thought that was appropriate, especially after he said that we should have tried to trade him at the deadline. But I was a little surprised and disappointed that Roy wasn't in his top 25. Maybe it's the Blazers colored glasses, but isn't Roy one of the 25 most valuable players in the league?

It's a great column, though, and even though I still believe Paul is the MVP, he makes a great case for KG.

By the way, I really like the way that SB Nation has revamped their set-up. Very good stuff.

One last thing from the internet, and another thing that I put on Blazer's Edge. In his Games to pay attention to post on Ball Don't Lie, Kelly Dwyer said this today:
Portland at Phoenix

One last chance to call Portland a "lottery team" before they win 11 championships in 13 years.
I love reading this. Love it. So true.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I just want to be done

It got to 97º today. That's too hot.
I have grades due tomorrow, which I have to submit on paper forms with bubbled in comments and grades.
The accreditation team is probably at school right now, and will be there tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
I have formally applied for the open mathematics position at Roseburg High School for next year.

I just want to get out of California.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tale of the tape: Roy vs. Bryant (it's all about the defense)

Yesterday as I was sitting at It's a Grind with my brother, both of us reading our daily dose of NBA news and blogs, I started talking to him about a specific element of the Blazers win over the Lakers on Tuesday night. Specifically, I was working out an idea that came to me concerning the Roy-Bryant match up. In his Late Wednesday Mini-Bullets, Henry over at TrueHoop quoted Michael Jordan from an article Jack McCallum wrote about him in 1989. Have I mentioned that I love the new SI Vault? The gist of the quote from Jordan was that the best way to defend him was to make him play defense against a guard who had a physical offensive game. This tired him out and kept him from being as physical against them on the other end. When I read the quote it reminded me that Jordan was an exceptional defender who focused on that even more than scoring.

What does that have to do with Kobe? I was shocked as I watched the KCAL 9 broadcast here in LA that Roy could play as well offensively as he did against Bryant. Several times Roy broke Bryant down on the edge, beat another guy, and made an easy layup. Bryant didn't do that to Roy nearly as badly on the other end. By my count, four of Roy's eight field goals were layups.
One of his field goals was a three, one was a wide open 22-footer, one was an eight-foot jump shot early, and the other was a nine-foot runner in the fourth. Of his seven missed shots, five were jumpers from outside the key, including two three point misses. On the other hand, Kobe made 11 of 26 from the field. Twelve of his fifteen misses were jump shots from outside the key, including five failed three point attempts. Of the ones that he made, one was a dunk, two were layups, two were three-pointers, two were four foot running j's, one was an eight-footer, one was a 21-foot jumper, and two of his shots don't have a distance on the ESPN play-by-play. If you aren't already bored by reading what shots were taken, you might be wondering why it matters. I mean, Bryant scored 34 and Roy only had 23 – Kobe was 10-13 from the stripe while Roy was 6-8, showing a good effort by each of them getting inside.

As I thought about the ways Roy scored on Bryant compared with the ways Bryant scored on Roy – and, in fairness, Outlaw – I realized that Kobe was working a lot harder for his shots than Brandon was. Roy was taking the lane when it was given, shooting open jumpers when they presented themselves, and directing the flow of the offense. But Kobe was often taking the time to force his way into the lane, or else use some combination of moves to set up his beautiful turn-around jumper. This is where the difference between Bryant and Jordan (as evidenced in the aforementioned quote) really stuck out to me: Bryant could have shut Roy down. He's that good of a defender. But instead, he spent more energy on making sure he got his points. And yes, he scored more than Roy. But I looked at the assists for each and what those assists led to, and it tells the tale that Roy actually contributed to more offensive production than Bryant did.

Bryant had five assists. Three of them were to Lamar Odom for layups (two) or dunks (one). The other two assists were from hitting Radmanovic outside for the three. That means Bryant scored 34 and was directly responsible for getting his teammates the ball for 12 more. In total, I'll say that Kobe created 46 of the Lakers' 103 points. Roy had a career-high tying 12 assists. Four of those set up three-point field goals, and the other eight went to guys making mid-range jumpers or layups. So Roy scored 23 of his own points, and was directly responsible for getting his teammates the ball for 28 more. In total, I'll say that Brandon created 51 of the Blazers' 112 points. Of course this doesn't take into account the fact that the Blazers might have given up points to the Lakers because of the way they defended Bryant, plays on which he got no statistical credit. I wouldn't suggest that those sorts of plays would be even with the same type for Roy on the Lakers' side, but I don't think they would be too far off, either, and since they are immeasurable I really can't speak to them.

Being the type of defender that Kobe Bryant is, I believe he had the ability not only to stop Roy from scoring 23, but from directly creating as much as he did for teammates. Certainly some of the blame must go to other LA defenders, but when you're as talented and highly regarded as Kobe is, you need to shut down the opposition. If Kobe had decided to make Roy work harder for his offense, he might have scored a few less points. But I really think that the reduction in Roy's contribution would have been far more significant. Yeah, there were many other factors in the game, but for the Lakers to win in the playoffs it's Kobe's defense that needs to be at its best, not his offense. His offense will take care of itself.

One last note: I realize that the Lakers were without any real low-post presence on defense, which also contributed to Roy's ability to drive. But the Blazers have been without their chosen low-post presence – Oden – all season, and were without their next best option – Joel Przybilla, thanks to a broken hand – in this one. That left the über-tough Channing Frye as the center. I love me some Channing, but he is not my first (or second or third or fourth) choice for a tough inside presence on defense.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

From the SI Vault

Alright, this is what I did today. I found that Sports Illustrated's new SI Vault is awesome. I went through and got every article about the Blazers or Blazers players over the years. A few of them I ignored, mainly because the memories were too painful (see: Sam Bowie, the Clyde Drexler trade)otherwise, I think I've collected links to every story here. By headline and date. Browse away. I haven't read any yet, but I'm especially looking forward to the trio of articles from 1988 about Sabonis (twice) and Petrovic. But I also can't wait to read the full text of the Curry Kirkpatrick articles from the championship year. Here they are:

Geoff Who? and Mod Todd 11/02/1970
You might say he arrived in the Rick of time 11/19/1973
Centers of Interest 10/28/1974
Bill Walton won't you please play ball? 01/27/1975
But don't say he beefed up 11/13/1975
Beneficiaries in the Will 08/16/1976
Healthy, Wealthy and Size 12/13/1976
Couple of Babes in the Woods 05/09/1977
L.A. Couldn't Move the Mountain 05/23/1977
There's no place like home court 06/06/1977
All for one sure beats one for all 06/13/1977
A fever called Blazermania 10/31/1977
'Nobody, but nobody, is going to hurt my teammates' 10/31/1977
Going Like Blazers 02/13/1978
Why is This Man Eating Popcorn? 04/17/1978
Down Goes Big Bill, Up Go the Sonics 05/01/1978
Scorecard 08/14/1978
Off on a Wronged Foot 08/21/1978
The Big Push on the Oregon Trail 04/09/1979
They Said It 05/28/1979
Blazing a New Trail 03/23/1981
Everything you will ever want to know about the Blazers–And more 12/07/1981
More Than Meets the Eye 02/09/1987
Courting a Big Red 06/13/1988
The High-Priced Yugo 09/26/1988
So Near, So Far 10/17/1988
Is Anybody Happy Here? 01/16/1989
Rip City returns... with a BANG! 01/15/1990
When You're on Top, Life's a Breeze 03/11/1991
Driving For a Title 05/11/1992
The Salt Lake T Party 06/01/1992
From out of Nowhere 06/08/1992
On The Edge 06/15/1992
Catch This! 04/22/1996
High Points 02/10/1997
No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers 11/10/1997
Egoless Trip 03/22/1999
Around The Rim 04/05/1999
Who's The One? 05/10/1999
Hair-Raising Hero 06/07/1999
No Babe in the Woods 12/13/1999
L.A. Confidential 04/24/2000
Scout's Take 10/30/2000
1 Portland Trail Blazers 10/30/2000
Wells Spring 02/19/2001
Internal Combustion 03/12/2001
Losing Their Grip 12/24/2001
Lousy at a Luxury Price 12/16/2002
Point Taken 03/17/2003
Can This Man Save THE BLAZERS? 01/12/2004
Love and Basketball 11/14/2005
Bittersweet Success 11/13/2006
Dear Greg Oden 04/02/2007
The No. 1 Health Concern 09/24/2007

So there they are. I hope that's helpful, and that you get to read some great stuff. I'm looking forward to reading them all by the end of the summer. The pictures on this post are the only covers SI has run that ever really featured Blazers. There have been covers with Blazers getting run into or dunked on, or covers with future or former Blazers, but based on my search at the SI vault, these are the ones that actually feature Blazers.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

No April Fool

Last night I finished watching Black Magic, the ESPN show about many of the Black players who helped integrate basketball in this country. It was a great show, and today I bought the soundtrack on iTunes because that was such a great part of the show. Actually, I bought the show on iTunes as well. So Apple made some money off of that show, at least from me. I'm thinking about using the show in class, if I can get a projector, as a reward at the end some days. It would be somewhat relevant because it's about history and oppression and making change. It's also just good, and I've reached the point where it seems that I'm mailing it in a little bit.

Speaking of that, my grades for third quarter are due next Monday, and I am not excited about making sure I've represented the progress of each of my students. Ugh. I hate grades. Also, the accreditation committee is visiting beginning next Sunday, and I'm not really excited about that either. Then again, as my roommate Eric said, if the accreditation of the school comes down to how good I'm doing, then the school really is in bad shape and probably doesn't deserve to keep its accreditation. Not that I think the school will lose accreditation, and not that I'm planning on a poor showing by myself, but it was a nice thing to keep me from feeling too much pressure.

I think I might head to a bar or someplace that I could watch the two college games soon, although I could watch fuzzy versions of the game at home. That's a decision to make, although I should make it soon, since the first game will probably start before I finish this post.

Just a little Blazer news: Martell Webster is having some heart issues, which is scary. Jack Brown at Deceptively Quick had a good little post about it, especially the YouTube video he embedded that shows Martell torching the Jazz. Go there to watch the video, if not to read his take.

Rudy is "90% sure" he's coming next year. I think we knew that, but it's still good for him to say it. I found that here (of course that's a link to OregonLive – those guys are great).

Alright, I don't think I have anything else to say. Look at the top of the page for something new I added to the blog. It's great. Oh, and the title of this post had nothing to do with the post except that it's my first entry of April.