I'll keep this one short because the Stop-n-Pop household is preparing for a move and my honey-do list is growing by the minute. Let's start with an interesting quote from Randy Foye in this morning's Strib:
Roy scored the eventual winning points on a forced shot over, coincidentally enough, Randy Foye with 31. 9 seconds remaining.
"That's why he's a great player," Foye said. "Didn't let him get to the basket, made him take a tough shot. And he made it anyway."
This is a frustrating quote for a couple of reasons. First, it continues a troubling string of quotes from Foye that show him to be somewhat detached from basketball reality. While his earlier quotes dealing with his thoughts on playing the point could also be chalked up to a matter of pride, this quote speaks to...well, I'm not exactly sure. Brandon Roy is a tremendous player. He has all the tools you would like to see in a top-flight end-of-the-game superstar. One of his trademark end-of-game moves--the one he also happens to really, really like--is a mid-range fade away jumper. Against the shorter Foye, I'd be willing to bet that Roy got exactly the shot he wanted. He didn't get to the basket because he didn't want to go there. Nor did he have to with Foye's trademark matador defense.
This observation was shared with the Blazers' TV crew in real time.
Did you know that Corey Brewer did not see the court in the 4th quarter? The best man defender on the squad watched Roy nail his fade away shot from the bench; last seeing the court with under 3 minutes to go in the 3rd. The team's other lengthy wing defender, Rodney Carney, was also on the bench. He received zero burn out in Portland. Both of these gentlemen had to watch Foye and Mike Miller, the team's worst perimeter defenders, try and run down Roy when the clock was winding down.
Getting around to Rashad McCants, I'm pretty sure we're watching his last year in the cold, cold north. During the 2nd period Shaddy quickly showed the world that he was ready to go with his one-against-the-world solo offense and while it didn't look pretty in real-time (with push offs, offensive fouls, and drives to nowhere), he ended the quarter with 13 points on 5-8 shooting while the Wolves played the Blazers even. He did so while being surrounded, for the most part, by Foye, Mark Madsen, Craig Smith, and Ryan Gomes. For reasons that can't quite be explained by the naked eye, Shaddy didn't see the court again until 2:10 left in the 3rd. I'm guessing that his lack of playing time has something to do with defense, but with the defensive performances exhibited by Foye and Miller, there probably is something else.
Speaking of the Wolves' bench, our excellent sister site Blazer's Edge had some interesting things to say about last night's game:
Other than that, it is truly remarkable the number of scrubs that are on Minnesota's roster. That's really a testament to Kevin McHale's diligent effort. Every time Randy Whitman digs deep to get 4 points in 19 minutes from Ryan Gomes or motivates Corey Broomstick Brewer to 5 points in 17 minutes, McHale should be right there next to him, ready to share the standing ovation.
Truer words have never been written. I also think "Broomstick Brewer" is going to stick. I'll flesh it out in a later post but I'm beginning to notice something with this team I'm going to call the Love Effect. The Love Effect is something that happens to losing teams when an honest-to-god good player shows up and proves that your existing players--guys who "thrived" on a 22 win squad--really don't appear to be worth a roster spot. Within the span of 6 games, the Rhino and Ryan Gomes have been rendered nearly meaningless by the rookie from UCLA. Even Mark Madsen's limited burn made these 2 mini-4 reserve forwards look irrelevant.
Blazer's Edge wasn't done with their accute observations
Congratulations Randy Wittman. You are now officially the "coach that most overcoaches a crappy team." Marc Iavaroni is disappointed to give up the title but he understands that you earned it tonight by coming off the bench and onto the court at least 5 feet to literally push Mike Miller towards the hoop for an offensive rebound. Again, congratulations.
Wrapping it up with bullet points:
Jerryd Bayless is off to a Randy Foye-esque start to his career. After winning top honors in the Summer League, Bayless has found himself planted on the bench.
- Heading down the stretch, the Wolves did something amazing: they ran a 2 man game between Miller and Big Al on the same side of the court and it worked like gangbusters. Imagine my surprise when one of the league's dominant post scorers set up on the same side of the court as one of the league's most dominant 3 point shooters. This little revelation took until the 4th quarter of game #6. Even one of the Blazer's announcers expressed shock by saying "With Miller on the same side as Jefferson, why wouldn't you try that every time? It's smart basketball; it took them long enough."
- The Wolves do not need to be running a 10 man rotation. Seriously, they don't have 10 players that belong on the court. If I ruled the world and I was their fantasy coach, I settle the Shaddy/Foye Death Match once and for all and run with Bassy, Miller, Brewer, Love, and Jefferson with McCants, Gomes, and Madsen off the bench. When pressed for 1 or 2 extra bodies, Carney and Smith get the call. And yes, Bassy is the only point on the roster. Shaddy gets to run the 2nd unit.
- I can't imagine how much of a different player Shaddy would be if he had Foye's slack at the lead guard and Miller's slack on defense.
That's about all for today folks. It's time to install some carpet. Until later.