Thursday, October 31, 2013

W's are nice, but the Jazz needed the experience...

  The Jazz fall to the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98.  The Jazz were in this game despite 22 turnover and 42 pts from Kevin Durrant.  Here are a few thoughts on a hard fought game.

  • Rudy Gobert is really going to push Kanter and will actually make both of them better.  
  • Derrick Favors is playing much better with the contract situation behind him.
  • Defensive rotations were really good tonight.
  • The Jazz moved the ball really well in the first half.  Finished the game with 25 assists
  • Favors and Kanter did not rebound well tonight despite the #'s.  The 2nd half was better.
  • Kanter needs to be more assertive in every aspect of his game.  Needs to use his NASTY!
  • Despite the 22 turnovers and the 2nd best player in the league getting 42 the Jazz were right there.
  • Ty made a great situational coaching call with the Jazz down 2 with 40 seconds left, called a time out and set up a play.  Unfortunately Durrant got a hand on it and forced a turnover.  This is something Ty did not do well last season.  Its good to see progression from him and the staff.  His one mistake was taking Alec Burks out with about 7 minutes left.  But Alec did look gassed.
  • Mike Harris may have sealed his own deal for the year with his all-around play.
  • Everyone play better with rhythm, but this more important for Alec.  He will be a far better shooter overall when he gets rhythm.
  • Could the contract situation be weighing on Gordon?  I think so.....
  • Foul trouble killed the wings, we really need Rush and Williams soon.
  • Lastly, Jazz did lose but Philly I guess that is like a win for the Jazz and the race for #1
  The game was a great game to watch.  Guys battled all the way.  I am not sure if I can handle 81 more close games!  Luckly they won't all be nail bitters but I think the Jazz will be in a lot more of those then people think.  Go Jazz!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Greatest Intro songs!!!

  Alright sports fans, there is not much that gets a
fan more pumped up than a great intro or at bat song.
As a Jazz fan, I get so pumped up when I am at a game and they are doing their intro!  I guess its my "kid in a candy store" moment.  I just get giddy.  Wish I could have had the opportunity to do that just once in my life.  I guess I will just have to live vicariously through the pros....So the question I have is, what are the best intro or at bat songs?  I am a big fan of just about anything AC/DC, specifically Thunderstruck.  I also like Johnny Cash, Gods gonna cut you down.  So what do you guys think?  Post songs in comments and I will compile a list and do an update to this post with the top picks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Games of the week!!!

  Alright sports fans we are going to try something here at Another Level Sports.  I am going to pick a game of the week from all of the major sporting events that people watch.  Should be a fun way to dig in to some sports that we may not watch very often.  If it is popular I will continue to do it every week.  Also feed back and comments are always appreciated.  So lets take a look.....

Brooklyn Nets vs.Miami Heat 10/13/13
Possible that this could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview.  Yeah I know it is only preseason, but both teams will want to come out and establish themselves for what looks to be a hard fought season for these two

                                         Honorable Mention-Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls 10/18/13

Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts 10/20/13
Well come back Peyton.  The Broncos come in to this game 6-0 on a record breaking season for Peyton Manning.  The Colts have been equally as brilliant upsetting the likes of the 49ers and Seahawks.

College Football-
#11 UCLA vs #5 Stanford
Big Pac-12 match-up that should dominate the national spot light for the week.  UCLA has a multifaceted offense and can spread the ball around.  They have a very deep back field with 3 RB that could all see time.  Stanford looks to come in with a no nonsense approach to the game.  They come straight at you both on offense and defense.

                                         Honorable Mention-#6 Florida State vs. #3 Clemson

St.Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blues have started the season hot!  They take on the defending champion Blackhawks.  Its an early match-up for these two teams that look to contend for the top spot in the west.

  These are my picks for the best games of the week!  Hopefully they will do me justice.

Utah Jazz vs. LA Clippers Preview

  The Jazz have their first back to back of the season tonight against the Clippers.  Granted the Jazz get this one at home, but the Jazz get an improved Clipper team.  The Clippers have a number of new additions to their roster but none more important than JJ Reddick and Jared Dudley.  This will be a good chance to see how the Jazz bounce back from a tough road loss.  Lets take a look at some of the keys....

  Ty went with a different starting lineup last night.  He started Burke, Burks, Hayward, Evans and Favors.  The only player that had a solid game was Gordon.  He played 26 minutes, went 5-11 from the field, 8-11 from the line, scoring 20 points.  He was effective getting to the basket and drawing contact.  The rest of his game was not as solid as the first preseason game.  He only had 2 rebounds and 1 assist.  The Jazz will need a better all around effort from their leader if they want to get a win.  This will also be a big bounce back game for Favors.  He had 3 offensive fouls on moving screens.  This really hurt his effectiveness in the game.  He as never able to get into the flow of the game.  It will be interesting to see if Ty goes back to Kanter and Jefferson in the starting lineup with Evans and Burks coming off the bench.

  There are number of them to watch.  The one that I will be watching the closest will be Trey Burke vs. Chris Paul.  Burke struggled from the field last night and was also taken to school by the athletic Damian Lillard.  This is the kind of game that we will have the chance to see what Trey is made of and how he bounces back.  I also look for him to watch Paul closely and attempt to learn some of the leagues best point guards tricks.  Blake Griffin is questionable for tonight's game after suffering a bone bruise.  With Griffin out the Jazz need to focus on getting the ball down low to Favors and Kanter.  DeAndre Jordan is foul prone which can play in the Jazz's favor.

  Early against the Blazers the Jazz executed very well.  They were crisp running their offensive sets, as well as their defensive rotations.  When they fell behind, they started to press a little, causing their play to become sloppy.  They also struggled on the pick and roll defense.  If they had a hard time with the Blazers, it could be a long night as they go against the best pick and roll point guard in the game.  Look for Jazz bigs to hedge hard and get the ball out of Paul's hands.  The Clippers will counter with the addition of the two stretch 4's Antwan Jamison and Byron Mullens.  If Griffin does not play, look for the Clips to run a lot of pick and pop, as both players can shoot the ball from deep.  This will be the first real test for Jazz bigs against some effective stretch bigs.

  In the off-season the Clippers brought in arguably the best coach in the league, Doc Rivers.  He has already changed the atmosphere and attitude of this team.  Less clowning around by the likes of Jordan and Griffin and a lot more leadership with Dudley and Paul.  This team very likely could be the team to come out of the west.

  It will be good for the Jazz to be back home and have the crowd behind them.  Back to backs are always tough be the second of a back to back will be a little easier for this young team having it on their home court.  Look for Jazz to push tempo again and get the crowd in the game early.  No TV again tonight, but you can get David Locke and the radio broadcast at 1280 The Zone AM or 97.5 FM.  Here's to wishing I had some tickets for tonight's game!  Lets go Jazz!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Utah Jazz vs Portland Trailblazers Preview

  Friday night the Utah Jazz are slated to play the Portland Trailblazer in Boise Idaho.  Should be a bit of a home game for the Jazz even though they have Portland scheduled as the home team.  This will be another good test for the young point guard Trey Burke.  He had a successful first game against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.  Trey's line was 26 mins, 5-14 shooting, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.  That was the kind of start he needed coming of a poor summer league and all the questions swirling about him.  Lets take a look at some of the keys to this game....

  The Jazz are going to need to be strong in their pick and roll defense again.  Portland will look to run that set a lot with the likes of Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and new addition Thomas Robinson.  The Jazz will also need to duplicate their work on the boards against the Blazers.  In addition to Robinson, the Blazers added Robin Lopez in the off-season.  Lopez is a work horse on the boards and is a decent offensive rebounder.  The boards will need to be another team effort.  The Jazz should be able to get this win with the likes of Lamarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum being out of the line up.  Its things like that that make this a bit of a trap game.  The Jazz will need to come out focused.

  Look for the Jazz to continue to get out and run.  They did a good job Tuesday night against the Warriors pushing tempo.  Trey Burke has really improved that part of his game since the summer league.  This gave the Jazz opportunities for easy transition buckets.  The Jazz also ran a considerable amount of pick and roll, from both the top of the key and the right wing.  I look for that to continue.  Trey, Gordon and Alec were all effective out of that set.  Also look for Favors to establish early position on his man in the post.  He was effective getting down there early, sealing his man and getting a step to the bucket.  Just another facet of his development.

  Last season the Trailblazers had the worst bench in the league.  This year they have added some piece to their bench so that guys like Lillard won't have to play 38 minutes a game.  Some of those players are former Jazz men Mo Williams and Earl Watson.  I would look for Mo to come out with an "I told you so" attitude and try to take it to the Jazz.  If the Jazz bench performs like they did against the Warriors, they should win the battle of the bench.  I feel this is going to be the key for the entire game.  Will Jeremy Evans continue to be effective from the perimeter?  Can Alec Burks continue his attacking style as well as setting up others?  Will JL3 continue to hit his jumper?  X-factors, Dominic Mcguire and Andris Biedrins?  It will also be interesting to see if the staff changes the rotations much.  I know that they would like to look at a couple of other players, but they need to focus on developing the "Core".

  This will be a fun one, with a number of former Jazz faces.  Unfortunately it will not be on TV but you can pick up David Locke and Ron Boone and the radio broadcast on 1280 The Zone and 97.5.  Look for the Jazz to come out with energy to continue to work hard and develop.  GO JAZZ!!!

Greatest Sports Movies of All Time!

  "You're killing me Smalls"  Great quote, great movie, the Sand lot.  There are a number of great sports movies out there.  Sand lot is just one of many.  So I thought we could do a Top 10 here on Another Level Sports.

  For me this has to be the best sports movie of all time.  As a basketball player there is nothing better than watching Gene Hackman take his team in to the field house and measure the length of the court, height of the hoop etc.  Then telling his team that its no different than their own gym back home.

  The original story/movie of the little guy over coming great odds.  Great movie but every time I watch it now, I see Sean Astin as a Hobbit!  Still a great move about a guy with more heart than an entire team.

3.Talladega Nights: The Ballad for Ricky Bobby
  I have to confess, I am a huge Will Ferrell fan and this is one of his best movies ever!  I have seen this movie countless times and laugh every time I watch it.  John C Reilly as Cal Naughton Jr, Ricky Bobby's childhood friend and racing teammate.  The two of them make a wonderfully entertaining pair.  The story of Ricky Bobby's rise and fall and rise again in NASCAR.

  "Adrian!!!" Not much has to be said about Rocky or the Rocky series.  Stallone at his best.

5.Field Of Dreams
  "If you build it, they will come..."  When I first saw this movie, the first thing I thought was, I want my dad to build a baseball field in our yard.  It was the coolest thing I had seen as a kid.  Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are fantastic.  As baseball movies go, this is the cream of the crop.

  UFC fans love this movie, but so should everyone else.  This movie has some grit to it and hits hard with a families struggles.  Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton are fantastic.  This is one of Nolte best films.  Watch this movie if you haven't!

  This is a very underrated sports movie.  Yeah is another story of a "little guy" and his hard work to make the NFL but I loved it.  Mark Wahlberg is great.  A very good football movie.

8.Remember The Titans
  The story of a African American coaching being hired as a head coach to a high school football team as segregation is being done away with.  Awesome show.  Denzel Washington is fantastic and the high emotion with racial tension is captivating.  Love the way the team over comes the many issues to succeed.

  This movie was very interesting.  I had never paid much attention to the intricacies of statistics.  I have always checked box scores and what not. But this movie brought a whole new dimension to statistics and sports management to me.

  "If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball..."  Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as mortal enemies.  Love it.  The is movie has a great cast and some of the best comedy commentating in and movie.  Gotta love the "Ocho"

  There are so many others out there.  And I think I have seen just about all of them.  We can also add to the list the new movie Rush by Ron Howard.  Looks great, I will wait for it on Blu-ray.  But if you have some time and want to kill it with some good sports movies, these would be my picks.  How about you?

Monday, October 7, 2013

The greatest the game has ever seen?

  Peyton Manning.  Watching what this man has done already this season is unreal.  I have never seen anything like him from the Quarterback position.  Through 5 games he has 20 TD pass and 1 INT!  His QB rating is 92.0 and he is completing and unbelievable 75.8% of his passes.  The man is amazing!  He is on pace to reclaim the single season touchdown record.  As great as all of the stats are, the thing I enjoy the most about watching Peyton play is his command of the offense.  To watch him stand there take a look at the defense, get a read, run a hard count, watch for a tell and the change the play and have success is incredible.  He seems as if he is playing a game with the defense.  There are times, I swear I can see a bit of a smirk on his face because he knows what the defense is going to do and already has his counter in mind.  The question I have, is he the greatest Quarterback ever?  In all my years of watching football I can't remember ever seeing anything like this.  I was a huge fan of the '85 Bears, loved Mcmahon.  Thought he was the best.  Loved the Joe Montana/Steve Young years with the 49ers.  But none of them ever had the mastery Peyton does today.  Now many are going to argue, he has only one Super Bowl.  For me championship just add to a legacy.  Barkley, Stockton, Malone all great players never got their rings.  Same thing can be said for LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders....the lists could go on and on.  If he get another ring or two, I don't see any way he is not the greatest of all time.  As a fan I will enjoy this year with Mr.Manning and how ever many he has left in him.  I will enjoy the precision and greatness he brings to the field.  Because we may not have that many left of the one that I would call the Greatest!  Good luck Peyton and the Broncos!

Jazz vs. Warriors Preview

  Tomorrow night kicks of the preseason for the Utah Jazz!  They are immediately put to the test with the Golden State Warriors.  I will try to highlight a few keys to the game.

  The first thing we need to remember is it will be the first game that our "Core 5" will play together.  There will be bumps for sure.  The coaching staff is will want to see how they react to different situations, all while evaluating everyone they have on the roster.  I do not envy the staff at all right now.

  It will be interesting to see how much pick and roll is run and from what points on the floor.  I believe the Jazz will try to push the ball and let their athletes make plays.  Also look for the corner 3 from the Jazz.  I noticed that they shot a number of them in the scrimmage and they all seemed to come in the context of the offense.

  There are more than a few good match-ups here.  Burke-Curry, Burks-Thompson, Hayward-Iguodala, Favors-Lee and Kanter-Bogut.  In my opinion, the match-ups to watch will be Kanter-Bogut, Burks-Thompson and one that is not on the list, Jefferson-Barnes.  I look for Kanter to try to play "bully ball' with Bogut, who is a solid defender.  If Kanter can be efficient inside it could be a good night for the Jazz. Burks-Thompson match-up needs to be looked at from a defensive stand point.  How does Alec do chasing Klay of screens all game long?  This is one of the things that Alec has struggled with in the past.  Klay has the green light, but if Alec is able to stay with him off the screen and contest shots we should be in good shape.  Lastly, Richard Jefferson has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.  He has been injured the last couple of seasons and wants to prove that he can still be an effective player in the league.  Look for Jefferson to try to teach his young protege Barnes a thing or two.

  This will be what the staff will evaluate the team and each player on the most.  The Jazz have changed their philosophy some, now instead of forcing an offensive player to the middle, they will force the player to the sideline or baseline.  Also, watch the bigs on the pick and roll.  Do they hedge effectively and make Curry give the ball up?  The Jazz rotations and 3 point contests will have to be solid.  Golden State will put up any open 3 they get, transition or half court.  So players will need to identify shooters early in transition.  Lastly, the defensive boards.  Are the wings crashing the boards helping Favors and Kanter out?  Golden State is a good rebounding team and the Jazz will need a team effort here.  Does Gordon get more than 3 boards?  If he has a 5-6 board night I think the Jazz will have a chance.

  Its an early measuring stick and a good one at that.  I look forward to seeing if the Jazz are starting to put it together.  The Jazz will need to play an efficient game, limit turnovers and win the battle of the boards if they look to come out on top in this one.  Good luck and Go Jazz

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Utah Jazz open scrimmage impressions

  Open scrimmage time, Jazz Fans!  I took the opportunity to attend and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Here are a few things that I noticed.

  First, the new video screens are incredible!  The size, clarity, and positioning of those boards are perfect. Not to mention the two large screens in the corners of the arena!  The upper bowl season tickets just became totally worth the cost.  Well done Miller Family!  Second, the fans were great!  The majority of the lower bowl was full.  I have been to a couple of these before and I haven't seen so many people for a scrimmage.  Also in the house was Jerry Sloan, Phil Johnson, and the "Mailman".

The players-
  David Locke started off with a quick Q&A with each player. When David got to Kanter and Favors, he asked both of them how it was to work with Malone. Kanter looked up to where Karl was sitting and kind of laughed, then said that Karl needs to suit up. Derrick said it was an honor to work with Karl, then David asked if it was difficult, he answered, "not that bad."  David started laughing very hard and looked at Malone then told Favors to sit down before he gets himself in any more trouble. Of course, Gobert, Burke, Kanter, Favors, Burks, and Hayward received the biggest response from the crowd. Gordon, Derrick and Alec all looked bigger. Jeremy Evans looked bigger as well, but that is not saying much. Rudy made the 7' Biedrins look small!  He is a monster of a man!  Trey Burke is small, but he does have length. That will help him some with his lack of height.  

The Game-
  It was hard to take away too much from the play. They played two twenty-minute periods. The clock ran the entire time. The white team starters were Gordon, Alec, Trey, Jeremy and Andris. The blue team started Derrick, Enes, Richard Jefferson, John Lucas, and Justin Holiday.  Jeremy matched up with Favs and did a pretty good job fighting him on the block. He is just so much smaller, and Derrick was able to get the shots he wanted. Jeremy did do a good job of contesting those shots. Kanter is a BEAST!  He absolutely abused whoever went against him in the post. He is going to have a good year. I was impressed with Jeremy's confidence. He did a good job setting screens and working on the boards. He also contested shots well. The last play of the first half was amazing. Derrick caught the ball on the right baseline, took one dribble and powered up to throw it down with two hands. Problem was, Rudy was waiting! He came across and ended up fouling Favors. This was a great play from both players.  Favors, for wanting to smash on anyone in his way, and Gobert for not being afraid of a vet and a guy that he is going to battle with all season in practice.   There was a nice play in the second half where Scott Machado came off of a high pick to the left of the key, Jeremy came crashing in from the right wing, Machado threw a perfect alley-oop that Jeremy finished with a nice left hand dunk.  It was hard for the guys to get in to a flow with the set up of the game.  They did run a lot more pick and rolls, which is good news.  They ran it high and they ran it from the wing quite a bit.  There were a number of players involved in the pick and roll also. Gordon, Alec and Trey all ran it fairly well.  The low post game consisted mostly of Kanter on the blocks.  They did try to get Gordon in the post a few times but had a difficult time with the entry pass.  Defensively, they were solid.  No one got beat off the dribble terribly, the rotation was okay, but they did give up a couple of corner 3's.  

The new guys-
  Trey has learned already from his struggles during summer league.  He played with pace and pushed the ball ahead.  He made some plays to push it ahead to Alec and Gordon.  He was a little tenative on his shot.  I have noticed that his release point is alright, but the ball is coming out a little flat.  He also made plays where he got to the basket, took the contact, and had a chance to finish.  Trey is going to be just fine.
I was really surprise by Rudy Gobert.  I have a feeling by the end of the year, he is going to be in the rotation.  He is not intimidated by anyone on the court.  He moves his feet really well, and contests everything.  Ian Clark can handle the ball a lot better than I expected.  He came off a few screens and had opportunities to create but seemed to pull back a bit.  He will need to be a little more assertive if he wants to get minutes on the court.  Richard Jefferson is a consummate pro.  He is going to be valuable off the bench.  He can spread the floor and hit the corner 3.  Beidrins didn't get a lot of run.  He was most effective on the boards.  Brandon Rush did not play.  I think it will be a while before we see him or Marvin on the court.  That leads me to the most interesting part of the scrimmage, the guys that have a shot to make this team.  I think there are three guys that have a legit shot.  Dominic Mcquire, Scott Machado, and Justin Holiday.  Mcquire reminds me of Demarre Carrol, but with a lot better handle.  He has clearly been working on his jumper and knocked down a couple of 18 footers.  He was defending the 2-3 and switched a couple of times to the 4.  Machado's court vision is great.  He sees plays develop and makes the correct pass.  He did a pretty good job staying in front of his man as well.  Justin Holiday is a player that has really been working on his game as well.  He has incredible length.  He was matched up against Gordon a few times.  Gordon tried to take him to the post, but Holiday could play behind him with his length and contested every entry pass. He made it very hard for Gordon to get the ball where he wanted it.  Holiday also has a couple of corner 3's.  The Jazz have 13 players currently under contract so its likely that two of these guys will stick.  With the likes of Marvin and Brandon being out for a while, the Jazz may take three of them.  

  It was a great opportunity to see a small piece of the future of the Utah Jazz and some of the things these kids have to offer.  I feel like the organization is right where is needs to be and will continue to improve.  As a Jazz fan I am stoked, and can't wait for Tuesday night vs. The Warriors.  Go Jazz!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Keys to the season....

  With the preseason kicking off next week I thought I would go over some things that I believe will be key for the Jazz to be successful this season.  In doing so, the first thing we need to do is define "successful".  In my opinion we can throw wins and losses right out the window.  This season is not going to be defined on wins and losses.  But if your were asking me, I am going to say somewhere between 28-34 wins.  That may be a stretch, but I think guys are better than people think.  I think early on they will sneak up on a few teams and steal some wins.  But back to "success", I think its all about development.  Not just on the players level but on the coaching staffs level as well.  We need to see the staff handle game management and situationals better this year.  The staff really missed on a few opportunities last year.  Lets take a look at some of those keys....

  The Jazz need to develop an defensive identity.  Are they going to concede buckets and not foul players?  The philosophy of the San Antonio Spurs?  Are they going to be the Jazz of old and contest and foul at every easy bucket?  I personally don't like giving up easy buckets, but at the same time I don't want to see a bunch of useless fouls.  We need to see individual defensive improvement from the likes, of Burks, Evans, Burke.  Can Alec stay with his man as he is running off baseline screens?  Is Trey getting picked off on the high pick and roll?  Are the bigs showing on the high pick and roll?  Can Jeremy play similar post defense to that of Andre Kirilenko, use his length and athletic ability to substitute for a lack of strength?  We also need to see a vast improvement in the team defense.  Are guys running out at the spot up shooters?  We gave up 42% and 43% respectively to the corner 3's!  That is a killer!  We need to make sure we have solid rotation also as guys run out.

  This team is full of tremendous athletes!  They need to play to that strength.  Get up and down the floor, run after made buckets.  I can remember watching Favors and Kanter last year beat the other teams big down the floor constantly.  If that happens this year  Trey, Alec and Gordon have to push it,take advantage of the situation.  They will be the recipients of a number of and 1's.  This is where the "Mailman" made his money, constantly beating the opposing team down the floor.  There is also the talk that Trey is small and an average athlete.  I think people are forgetting the chase down block he had in the Championship game against Peyton Siva.  And before anyone says it was Peyton Siva remember, he had the second best athletic testing at the combine only behind Shane Larkin.  Trey is a good athlete and will need to use that to push and create early opportunities for himself and the team.

  I feel these two go hand in hand.  Can Gordon and Derrick lead these guys?  What type of leaders will they be? Vocal by example?  How are their teammates going to react when they have to get after someone?  I get the sense that these guys all like each other.   They have a good time together on and off the court.  So when things don't go well, and there is frustration in the locker room hopefully they will be able to stick together.  I believe in the early days of camp we see that Gordon is far more serious than he has ever been.  He is pushing himself to the max and in turn the other guys are seeing this and seem to be pushing themselves as well.

Lastly, the coaching staff-
  What effect will having Jerry around have on the staff and more specifically Ty?  Will the young bigs develop more efficiently with the tutelage of Malone?  What kind of leash will they give these young players?  Have they put in the time to bettering themselves as a staff?  I think Jerry's presence for Ty will be a great strength for him.  Ty will have the opportunity to bounce ideas off one of the greatest coaches of all time on a daily basis.  Ty has so much trust and respect for Jerry, to the point where I don't think he wants let Jerry down.

  I think if the Jazz are able to develop and hold on to these "keys" that this season will be deemed a success regardless of record.  Ty will keep his job, Derrick and Gordon will get their extensions and the Jazz will draft Andrew Wiggins!.....Wishful thinking right?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Utah Jazz Season Awards....

  There has been a lot of talk about this season for the Utah Jazz being a season of discovery.  We have seen flashes from all the guys in our young core.  Now they have to show us what they can do.  I have been doing a lot of thinking and while many of our player will not win and league awards, I thought I would give them team awards based on the same awards the league gives.  So here we go....

MVP-Gordon Hayward

  I look for Gordon to have a big year.  He is going to have the opportunity to do what he does best, make plays.  When I look back at his career at Butler and the run they made in the NCAA tournament, it wasn't always him scoring the ball.  He was setting up his teammates, making plays and scoring when needed.  I believe we will see plenty of that from Gordon this year.  He will make his teammates better and give them opportunities to get easy buckets, because other teams defense will be keying on him

Rookie of the Year-Trey Burke

  This is a bit of a no brainer, but to added to it, I have a feeling he is going to with ROY for the entire league!  Trey has a chip on his shoulder, he knows that everyone is doubting him.  That's when he THRIVES!  I remember watching him as a freshman at Michigan.  He was not highly touted, but he came out and has some great games as a freshman.  Keep doubting, hating on him.  It fuels the kid!  He is a student of the game and works at his craft.  I look for this kid to surprise a lot of people.

Most Improved Player-Jeremy Evans

  Jeremy had a couple really good summer league games.  Yeah I know, its summer league.  But Jeremy has put in work and has expanded his game.  I think his strength may come from playing with Kanter or Favors where he can be a weak side defender.  He has also worked very hard on the pick and pop aspect of his game.  I feel that the one thing that has held Jeremy back is the same thing that plagues Andris....confidence.  I think Jeremy now knows that he belongs and can be a valuable role player.

6th Man of the Year- Andris Biedrins

  Shocker!  Yeah I said it!  I think that Andris will have a bit of a resurgence here with the Jazz.  I feel the key to this happening is the Jazz offense.  If they run a lot of pick and roll like we expect, this will be to his advantage.  He is mobile big that does a good job crashing to the hoop for boards and buckets.  The flex offense won't do him any favors.  So if we stay flex heavy that could really hurt him.  The other thing to remember is Andris is a good defender.  Again, playing along side another long athletic big will make the Jazz very strong down low.  Oh by the way, we have a lot of long athletic bigs now!

Defensive Player of the Year-Derrick Favors

  Ok if the last was a shocker, this is a no brainer.  I watched the USA Basketball summer camp and scrimmage.  Yeah Favs was hurt pretty early on, but he was active, vocal leader on the defensive end of the court.  The trait that I have picked up on early in camp though, is his nastiness or demeanor.  He is tired of the talk and wants to show what he can do.  He wants to lead.  He wants to win!  I look for Derrick to have a big year and be a big presence on the defensive end of the court.

  These picks are difficult with so many unknowns.  There are other guys that could come out and surprise us.  Alec Burks, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush could all have big years and I hope they do.  27 days to the start of the regular season and less than a week to the first preseason game!  Let's go get it Jazz!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where does your allegiance lie?

NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, College Football, College Basketball.  Sporting events, as a fan, I enjoy all of these things.  In a calendar year, each has a time and a place in my sports viewing lifestyle.  Is there a favorite?  A league, game or event that is more enjoyable or exciting to watch?

  When it comes to sports, I feel like I have watched it all at one time or another.  I have watched all of the mainstream sports or events.  I have also watched others that may not be considered mainstream, such as, Indy car racing, Nascar, UFC, X-games and many others.  All these events are exciting and have their own following.  I love the excitement, pressure and adrenalin that all these events provide.

Where do you, as a sports fan invest the majority of time?

My rank looks something like this....

  For me this is an 11 calendar month sport.  I love the draft, free-agency, summer league, preseason, regular season and playoffs.  I watch it all.  I DVR the summer league games for pete-sake!  I can not get enough basketball.  But this is the sport I played the most growing up.  Being 6'6" tall would seem to make a little sense that this is where my heart was at.

2.College Basketball
  I enjoy college basketball a great deal.  One of my favorite times of the year is March Madness.  I am known to take a week off just to watch the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament.  There is nothing like it!  Win or go home and the kids give it everything they've got.

3.College Football
  Even with the BCS, NCAA and rampant corruption issues in college football, it is still something to behold. I lived in Austin Texas, Longhorn country!  These people start tailgating on Thursday night before a game on Saturday!  I also have the pleasure of living in Utah and there is nothing like the "Holy War" BYU vs. UTAH!  Yeah its sad to see that game go away for a couple of years.  But in the long run, I think it will make that game even more special.

  Right now, watching Peyton Manning do what he is with the Denver Broncos is amazing!  I have never seen a football player more intelligent!  Its like he is playing a game with the defense at times.  This league is full of monsters.  Guys like JJ Watt, Adrian Peterson, Vernon Davis.  They do things that just don't seem humanly possible.

The rest of the sports or events are all kind of equal for me.  Last year I watched more Stanley Cup playoffs then I had ever watched.  They were fantastic!  I also love October, and the MLB playoffs.  There isn't a day or night in my week that I am not looking for some sort of sport or event to watch.  So I ask the question again, Where do your allegiances lie?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#47 should go up there....

  Andrei Kirilenko.  For many Jazz fans he was an enigma,  6'9" tall with a 7'4" wingspan, great athleticism, speed, ball skills and passing ability.  All the attributes could have and should have made "AK 47" one of the greatest Jazz men of all time.  But for many, he falls short of that lofty accolade.

  I remember the summer that Andrei came to the United States and played for the Utah Jazz's summer league team in the Rocky Mountain Review.  I remember seeing and extremely skinny, blonde haired player with his shorts pulled up too high.  I remember saying to a friend of mine "someone needs to tell him to pull his shorts down."  Then the game the shorts and the visual image that Andrei presented was far from the player that he was.  I was amazed at his ball handling for such a long lanky player.  He moved with such fluidity.  But most impressive was his athletic ability.  I had not seen a European player move and jump the way he could.  This was something new, something we had not seen from the other side of the pond.

  As a player, Andrei continued to develop.  His first 2 years in the league he had the opportunity to learn from Hall of Famers, John Stockton and Karl Malone.  In 2003 Stockton retired and Malone signed with the LA Lakers.  The team was now Andrei's, and he flourished.  The team ended up with a much better record than expected and Kirilenko benefited greatly from this.

  Andrei signed a max deal with the Utah Jazz and I feel that is where his down fall came.  People expected a person getting paid that kind of money to take them to the Conference Finals every year.  They expected multiple All-Star appearance.  Things that unfortunately Andrei only delivered once.

  I don't blame AK for his contract, his injuries or his short comings.  As a fan, I knew when he stepped on the court he was going to give it all he had.  He did not take plays off.  He played with grit and toughness.  He wanted to win!  He was one of only a handful of players to ever have a 5x5 (5 points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists)  For his career, he averaged 14 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks.

  Those numbers and the precedence he set as a European player and the first European player for the Jazz, in my opinion, should put him in the rafters at Energy Solutions Arena.  So when the day comes that AK decides to hang them up, I hope the Jazz organization can look back at his contributions and give him that honor.