Sports 56 WHBlog Q

December 30, 2008

The Midnight Rambler

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 10:07 pm

Ok, so I changed the name again, live with it. I thought drop by with some thoughts on some teams that are important to me as either a fan or as a Memphis media member, so here we go.

As a fan of the Cowboys, obviously I am extremely disappointed in their season. By most accounts, they came into the season as the most talented team in the league, and yet, as has been proven by the Yankees and others, the most talent does not always equal the best team, and as a result, the Cowboys will be watching the playoffs from home. I have been asked many times what I think are the problems. Well here are what I see as the biggest issues:

1. Jerry Jones-I would really like to see him hire a GM instead of trying to play the role himself. I think he needs to get a good, solid football guy to work in the front office. Having said that, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t going to happen.

2. Coaching-It’s always easy to blame the coach when a team underachievers, but I think when you look at the problems of this team, i.e. penalties, turnovers, offensive and defensive confusion, I think a lot of that has to fall back on Wade Phillips and the coaching staff. I also think Jason Garrett has to shoulder a lot of blame for the offensive woes. In each of the last two games, Tony Romo talked about how the offensive was confused by blitzes and never really figured out how to pick them up. Also in the last two games, there were numerous times where defensive backs seemed to know the patterns of the Cowboys receivers and jumped the routes. Maybe the receivers run poor routes, but I think it’s the result of an offense that is predictable and poorly schemed.

3. Offensive line-This is an issue that has to be addressed. There are a lot of high-paid guys on the line who have been to pro bowls, but as a unit they are too often ineffective. Flozell Adams continues to lead the league in penalties every year, problems persist at the left guard position, and again, whether it’s the players or coaches, they struggle mightily against blitzing teams.

4. Lack of leadership-With a head coach who tries harder to be liked than respected, you need strong individual leaders in the locker room. This team has none. A leader like Peyton Manning for example could keep Terrell Owens under control. Most of the time, you’d expect the quarterback to be this guy, but Tony Romo isn’t that type of player. Romo is more laid-back and doesn’t seem to want conflict so he’s not going to get in someone’s face. Until the boys get a more respected head coach or a few locker-room leaders, the inmates will continue to run the asylum.

Another topic I’m often asked about is the Memphis Tigers outlook for the year. After watching the Tigers for the past couple months some things are obvious to everyone who has seen them play, they don’t have a quality point guard and they can’t shoot, it doesn’t take a genius to see those issues. I think that the current experiment with Tyreke Evans at the point guard is the best solution to the problem at the point for now. Even though he’s not really a point guard, Evans just seems to be more comfortable with the ball in his hands at all times. He has a lot of work to do in creating opportunities for others, but he does provide a threat that draws defenders and opens up teammates, and best of all, when the offense breaks down, he’s one of only a few Tigers who can just go get a shot for himself.
As for the shooting problems, that’s just something they have to accept and hope it improves somewhat as the season goes on, but while they continue to struggle they need to rely a lot less on the three ball and play the type of defense we saw against Cincinnati Monday night. When you hold teams to 26% from the field and force 20 turnovers, you can get away with poor shooting yourselves.
What you have to remember is that this team lost two All-Americans, including the #1 overall pick in the NBA draft, and their rebounder/enforcer, you can’t expect them to be as good as they were last year. Lucily, except for North Carolina, there aren’t any great teams in the country so they should still dominate CUSA and get a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. Once they’re in the tournament anything can happen. I still think the same as I did before the season, they are a Sweet 16 caliber team that with the right breaks in the tournament could make the Elite 8 or better.

Finally, I’ll move on to the Grizzlies. I have to say, they have been much better than I thought they would be this year. I think their win total will still end up near the 23 I predicted before the year, but they have been much more competitive than I thought on a nightly basis.
Some thoughts on the key components of the team.

OJ Mayo-Mayo is even better than I had imagined and I thought he’d be very good. He’s been raised his whole life to be an NBA player and it’s showing. He still makes some rookie mistakes, but his shooting and playmaking skills are the best on the team, he is willing to work on the defensive end, and he looks like a superstar in the making.

Rudy Gay-After his big step forward last year he has leveled off somewhat this year. Falls in love with the jump shot too much at times and still hasn’t really developed the ability to make those around him better. Has to get better defensively!

Marc Gasol-The other rookie is light years ahead of where I thought he’d be. I didn’t really know what to expect from Gasol, but it wasn’t much. He’s much more physical than just about any European player we’ve seen come into the league, much more so than his brother for sure, and he’s shown the ability to score in the post and with a solid shot from 15-18 feet.

The Negatives: Point guards-Mike Conley has not developed as quickly as you’d like to see, although I’m not nearly ready to give up on him like many others are, and Kyle Lowry’s inability to shoot hurts him. I still think Conley is the guy for the future and his play has improved over the last month, but he still has to be more aggressive and learn to finish better.

Marc Iavaroni-To be honest, I thought he’d probably be fired by now, but the Grizzlies competitiveness has kept him around. He still makes questionable decisions at crucial times that make you doubt him, but hopefully he is learning from his mistakes. I still can’t figure out certain things like why Greg Buckner ever plays, he’s a lot like Casey Jacobsen from last year for me. I also don’t understand what happened to the Phoenix system he was brought in to run. This team needs to run more. He doesn’t have great talent to work with by any means, so I think he’s done a decent job overall this year.

One other holiday thought, what phrase got on your nerves more through constant repitition on tv, “He went to Jared” or “Every kiss begins with Kay”? I’m thinking I’ll never by any jewelry from either place.

Anyway, just a few thoughts before 2008 wraps up. Have a very happy and safe new year.

1 Comment »

  1. How about–“Let me upgrade ya, grade ya?”

    Comment by williamaskew — December 31, 2008 @ 9:51 am

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