What's on Sam's mind? Well, maybe I know
Well, it’s pouring rain here, which will ease the guilt of not raking leaves ‘cause I’ve got to go stand around practice in a few hours. Actually, Saturdays at practice aren’t bad, there’s hardly any media around ‘cause two papers don’t publish on Sunday and most of the TV folks take the day off) and we do get the added bonus, if we want, of watching the pucks skatearound. Oh yeah, it’s wildly entertaining.
If I could read Sam’s mind (and what a wonderful trip through literature that would be, wouldn’t it?) I’m betting Jamario’s back in as the opening night starting small forward and Roko Ukic is the backup point guard.
And why, you ask, do I think that’s what the poobah is thinking?
Well, it may mean nothing or it may mean everything but Jamario was wearing the black jerseys that starters wear when we got into watch the end of practice on Friday and it seems Sam’s starting to really like the way Ukic handles himself.
Sayeth the coach:
"Right now, Roko is getting a little bit better every day. One thing I really like about him is he’s like a sponge, man, He asks a lot of questions, he’s trying to learn. And you only really have to tell him something one time before he gets it.
"Right now, Will hasn’t been practicing (sore hamstring) so right now Roko will get those minutes. You can’t give those minutes to a guy who hasn’t been practicing.”
Am sure you saw this in the papers today but in case you didn’t, we know where they’re playing on Wednesday, we know who they’re playing on Wednesday, we just don’t know when they’re playing on Wednesday.
If the Phillies and Rays extend the World Series to six games, and I’m betting they do, they’ll move up the Raptor-Sixer game to 6 p.m. from 7 p.m. so that the zany Philadelphia fans can get in front of their TV sets in time for the first pitch.
And get this: The folks at the basketball game can stick around and watch big screens on the concourse where, according the Sixers press release yesterday, they can enjoy “half-price domestic beer specials.”
Sounds delightful, no?
(Of course, it’s American domestic beer so it doesn’t really count, right?)
You can bet a gaggle of grunts will beating hasty retreat out of the gym and back to the safety of the airport Marriott lobby bar just as quickly as we can.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t a good sign. We’re standing around the concourse waiting to get into practice when out walks Hassan Adams, being guided by trainer Scott McCullough and holding his shoulder.
We were told later he banged up during practice, no word on if, or how long he’ll be out, but a team with only 12 healthy bodies to start with (13 minus Jawai) can’t afford to lose any more.
Not because it’ll be a problem in games but because it’ll be a problem in practice. When they’re scrimmaging – and that’s where they’ll best keep game sharp – not having any subs, or only having one for each team, doesn’t allow them to go for very long without breaks.
Maybe they should suit up a Coaching Team. Put Mike Evans at the point. Alex English and Jay Triano at the wings, Sam can play the four and, yes, they could go outside the staff and grab Wayne Embry to play centre.
Now, that’s a team I’d pay money to watch.
Gotta expand a little bit on a question from the mailbag yesterday about the Hall of Fame. You can find it if you want but the gist of it was whether I thought guys like Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups or Baron Davis were destined to get in.
Here’s my deal on the Hall of Fame: I’m a hard-ass when it comes to enshrinement.
I think it’s become too easy to get it, too many relatively marginal players get the honour, it should be reserved for only the true greats who won titles, led their teams, were great over a long, long period of time or changed something in the way the game is played.
It’s really impossible to tell in the middle of someone’s career whether they should get in, I think a body of work should be examined as a whole.
That said, though, I don’t think there are all that many guys in the league today who are going to the Hall.
Koke, sure. Kevin Garnett’s in. And LeBron. Shaq’s gotta get in, so does Tim Duncan and you can make a solid case for Steve Nash. Allen Iverson? A tough one but I think he makes it. Jason Kidd’s in, too.
But you know what? You get past them and I wonder how many others there are.
Dirk? Yeah, ‘cause of the international aspect of the basketball hall, which is probably how Yao gets in, too.
Action: Minnesota’s Glen Taylor elected chairman of the board.
Reaction: Under-the-table deals with free agents now acceptable behaviour.
Here’s one from an already over-flowing mailbag. Guess I’ll post one a bit later today or tonight and keep with this regular gunk until the season starts. Sound fair to everyone?
Q: I know you're not a big stats guy, but I like them because there's no hype involved. I do try to focus on positive stats, to be fair to the players (giving credit when it's due). My questions are, "What do you consider to be the "hustle" stats, and are they available to the general public?"
Bo K, Mississauga
A: The two I consider more important than any other are charges taken and deflections. The former might be available on the more esoteric stats websites (it’s hard to even get the team to give me the numbers), the latter is a privately held number that, again, is hard to get.
Of the ones easily available, I’d put offensive rebounds at the top of the list.
This has nothing to do with anything but you know what I hate?
Video advertising in the men’s room of your local.
Okay, consider yourself humoured:
Q: With the new season approaching, I think it is time rank the top 8 teams from each conference. I know there are injuries and many other factors to consider, but let's assume it will be a completely injury free season aside from the injuries that have already occurred during the off season. I understand this is still an unreasonable request, but I am going to need you to use your gut feeling on this. Don't worry, we won't hold you to your predictions. Just humor us.
Thank-you. looking forward to the blog during the season!
Edward C, Toronto
A: Of course you’ll hold them over my head, it’s what you do.
But what the heck, here we go. (And there'll be lots more preview stuff here and in the paper over the next few days)
Boston, Orlando, Cleveland, Toronto, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, and (and this is the really, really hard one), Indiana.
Lakers, New Orleans, Utah, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, Portland.