Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jell-O and Confidence

What you ask, do Jell-O and confidence have to do with one another? Think about it. Both are tough to get a handle on. The wrong jab and both could come crumbling down like Antonio Daniels driving to the basket on Shaq. It's a very fragile thing, Jell-O. You stir and stir and stir, but when do you stop stirring? Do you make one big Jell-O? Do you make many little Jell-ites? As a coach, what do you do when a player takes a shot not in his arsenal? Posts up down low when his entire game is on the outside? Do you risk hurting their confidence by pulling them right away, do you let the mistake stir to see if they can make up for it? It's been said before (a lot by David Thorpe), but confidence is a big part of every players game. Without the confidence that they can make a shot, they never will. In order to win games, players need that confidence, and it is the job of coaches to take care of that. The players play, the coaches coach. Wow, that was deep. Anyway, this is where Jell-O comes in.

I admit, this post was inspired by Phil Jackson's book, The Last Season (funny, about that...). Even though I don't really even like Phil Jackson, I hate the Lakers and Kobe, it seems that he does sometimes seem to know what he's doing. And I like basketball books. Anyway, it was an ok read but I did take something from it. Most NBA fanatics know that Phil Jackson is more of a people coach than a basketball coach. Sure, he knows his X's and O's, but we all know the Zen Master is about centering the players on his team, not teaching them how to play basketball. So like I said, confidence is a big part of every players game. Every player has some degree of confidence, and that confidence is built up through successful outings on the floor. So yeah, back to the Jell-O...run with it, if you will.....

When you stir your favorite Jell-O flavor (red), how long do you stir? Do you even bother stirring? I mean, it's sugar and water, what's the stirring action for? Do you make multiple colors to see what comes out? These are important questions, and once you've answered them, and you boil, stir and pour your Jell-O into your bowls and stick in the fridge, you wait.

You pick an agile 7 footer in the 1st round of the draft. They are excited, you're excited. They report to camp on time and begin learning the offensive and defensive schemes right away. You see their confidence building in practice, as he jumps to block the layup of your veteran center. The season starts. You put your 1st round draft pick on the floor. And you wait. You've stirred and stirred and your confident that they can handle the pro game. Then your 1st round draft pick, your agile 7 footer, tries to dribble in from the 3 point line against a smaller opponent. Back in the fridge.

But think about it. You're a person. These players are people. Even if after playing big time college ball in front of thousands of people and on national TV you get pulled after 2 minutes in your first pro game, how fast are you going to recover from that. Lots of people says it depends on the player. I agree. Let's get back to the Jell-O, a Bill Cosby joke is waiting.

You sit at the kitchen table, you want your Jell-O to be ready. You check after only 10 minutes and give the Jell-O such a strong wiggle some of it splats of the floor in a pattern very similar to one seen on a Bill Cosby sweater. You clean it up and tell yourself a motivational story to pass the time. As you get around to the part about the little girl overcoming all adversity with just a rubberband and a crayon you realize your Jell-O is done. OH BOY OH BOY! Say it with me now...

J - E - L - L.............O!

So you give your rook a talking to, explaining that they are needed inside. Not dribbling, but getting high percentage buckets close to the rim. In time, the outside game will come. You put them back in to start the 2nd quarter and he starts it off with a jam off an alley-oop but then never really does anything else the rest of the game. He is invisible on offense and does not move his feet on defense. After the game, after you've splattered that Jell-O on the floor, you clean it up and give your player a motivational speech about how your mom made Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people in 30 minutes. The next game works out much better. This 1st rounder plays his game and plays it well.

Good story, right? You might still be a bit confused. You see how I can make comparisons between Jell-O and confidence, but what do they really have to do with one another. Well, basically, it comes down to the fact that Jell-O is a process, and it's fragile. You have to take your time, be patient. Once you get it cold, you don't want to still a spoon in and mash is all up, cause no one wants gross Jell-O like that.

Even though they are professional athletes, their confidence can be shattered, and you don't want to do that. There is a lot of talent in most players that make it to the League, it's up to the coaches to get the best out of them. The example story above could have been a veteran player as well. In which case, the Jell-O may have been a little stale.

To some extent, I don't think I realized how important confidence really was in the NBA game until I read the book. I didn't truly hate Kobe as much as I do now. His lack of confidence in his teammates now was present even then. I didn't truly appreciate what a great locker room presence, like Karl Malone on that Laker team, can have. Confidence is a fragile thing, you don't want to screw it all up and end up with Jell-O in your face.

The Past 10 Days

Ok, this post is a long time coming. I'll start with an apology of sorts. I haven't posted anything in a while. As this is by no means a money making professional blogging operation, when life happens, the blog takes a backseat. Well, life is happening, nothing bad really, but just a lot of stuff. However I have been coming up with great topics for posts so hopefully as stuff slows down I'll be able to really get back to the splediferous quality you have come to expect from The Swog. The first of those topics is the next post. Since I last posted, the Wizards started losing, Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant, the Bulls fired Scott Skiles, and the Blazers won their 11th game in a row (someone needs to keep an eye on Abbott, he might keel over and die from a heart attack). Wow.

The Wizards losing was inevitable. I have been unable to watch the games very closely so I'm going to reserve opinion for a later date. Based on what I've seen and heard, I'm not worried. Yet.

Jamie Lynn Spears. As Simmons would say "I wish there were a way to bet on stuff like this."

Skiles. Also inevitable. Random find of the day: While going through old baseball and basketball cards there were lots of goodies, including a Scott Skiles card from his Magic days. (I also found Isiah Thomas' and Kevin Pritchards' from his days with the Vancouver Grizzlies...CRAZY! Too bad they don't have GM cards, I'm sure the stats would be pretty reversed these days).

Blazers. I got nothin.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Extended Sigh...

Reported by Ivan Carter in the Post, Daniels is out 2-4 weeks.

Who is EJ going to start? Nick Young? Mason? The Wizznutzz?

I'm not even sure what I want to see. You? I have to think about this a little longer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Called It

I called it on Haywood. See?
I'd say he gets a double-double easy.
His stat line from last night:

Minutes: 32
Rebounds: 10
Points: 12

What is there left to say about Stevenson? Except, that he is a (in a deep, booming voice) FLAMETHROWER!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH HA HA HA!!!! I Throw Flames Because I Am the FLAMETHROWER!!!!

(Ok, I'm done now)

I'll be honest, I couldn't watch the game last night. Let's just say a combination of traffic and burritos got in my way. I did get to watch the highlights of DeShawn on Sports Center. Speaking of which. I was thinking, is Sports Center kind of like those people that peak in high school? I feel like it used to be awesome and now it kind of sucks. Like, when they got started, they were cool, then, as they got older, they were simply the shit. You know, Kilbourne was cool and then Stu Scott and Dan Patrick and others brought it to another level. Now look at them. They never went to college, never figured how to keep it awesome and we are left with the SC RunDown and terrible catchphrases. The only thing left are the highlights and those somewhat hilarious Sports Center commercials. But I digress.

The Wizards beat the Heat. In Miami. They now sit at 12-10, 3.5 games out of 1st in the division. 5-1 in the last 6 games, the only loss to the Suns. Without Arenas. Who woulda thunk it? How awesome is that? Though I really wish I could watch a friggin game.

It wasn't the greatest performance, but it was enough this time. I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of that in this next stretch of games, all of which I really think we can win. Sacramento, Chicago and New Jersey are the biggest challenges coming up. If they could go 5-2 in the next 7 games, they would be in an excellent spot to start the new year.

Anyway, I got stuff to do. And I won't be able to watch the Kings game either. Crappy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random Ramblings - 12/12

So, yeah, no posts in a day and a half. I had a thing going there for a while where I posted everyday. Not gonna happen this week. Got lots of stuff to do. But if I may go back to the Nets game for a moment...

When I saw the Stevenson dunk about to happen as he came down the court, his face said he was going to dunk the ball. He knew RJ might catch up with him but dude, when he took that ball strong to the hole....we have this.

Roger Mason Jr actually hit shots in the Nets game, and then goes off for 17 versus Minny. Sweet.

We've got Miami up next, which will not be easy, not without Gil. I think that as long as someone, maybe Stevenson, can stay in front of DWade we'll have a chance.

Look for a big game out of Haywood, he always has big games when people count him out and I'm sure that, being a national game, the talking heads will doubt that he will be able to handle Shaq. But watch out. I'd say he gets a double-double easy.

We broke the Miami losing streak last year, but we had Gil at that time. We need not to underestimate this Miami team. They may be stinkers at 6-15 right now, but anything can happen when Shaq and DWade are on the floor. We should be ok on defense, I think our strategy of switching will work with Miami because I don't think their other scorers will kill us. We should be able to dominate the boards on both ends of the floor as well.

So while I was not blogging, I was missing the Blog Show debut of Domi.Nick (by the way, Dominic seems to be getting into rhythm in the games, which is nice, I was beginning to get frustrated) and more amazing things about the Wizards.

Bullets Forever had a birthday
. Happy birthday. Beers are on you :)


They figured out why we are better.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Five reasons why some people, and the Wizards, are awesome

I'll probably have a recap/follow-up/post-op of last nights game up later today (including an Agent Steinz sighting). I was at the game last night, and I have some thoughts concerning why some people, and the Wizards, are awesome. Thus...

1. They surprise you when you least expect it.
2. They win (I win! One to nuthin'!).
3. For 2.5 hours during a game, they help you escape from real life.
4. They make me dinner.
5. They don't ask for anything in return, just some lovin'.

I wax poetic because at this time, when I am usually at work, I am at home. Friday was my last day at work as I am going to be attending Graduate School in sunny San Diego in January (don't worry, this internets lets you blog from anywhere). I celebrated this weekend, and as I mentioned above, it was awesome, and it was capped off with a super Wiz win on Sunday. Anyway, when I woke up I just felt like blogging about the good things. That's all. I hope you can all sit back and just enjoy being a Wizards fan, cause as you can see, it has its rewards.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Spank you very much, there's the door, don't let it hit you on the way out

We handled them. No question. Things that were awesome at last nights game...

Nick Young. Man, if he keeps this up he is going to drastically improve this team in the near future. Eddie Jordan puts him in, and he just scores. That's all. The buckets just keep going in. He finished with 14 points on 5-7 shooting and went 4-4 from the stripe. There was a point in the 4th quarter where he was looking to drive the lane from the top of the key, found it and leapt from about 1 step past the free throw line and attempted a sweet jam. It was blocked, but the move motivated him. You could see it the rest of the quarter, he kept looking for that lane. Eventually, he got it, from the corner he drove and finished with a sweet dunk. All I have to say is, the campaign to get Nick Young into the dunk contest has got to get going. This kid can dunk, even his teammates think so.

Brendon "Beast" Haywood took Ilgauskas to the floor last night. He shined his bald head so shiny he saw his own reflection after he came down from every big dunk or grabbed every rebound out of Big Z's hands. That's a shiny head.

Kurtis Evans

Caron Butler. Not enough can be said about his play. I mean, now that he has range, he is simply unstoppable. He is being guarded all the way out past the arc, and is consistently beating defenders to the hole. But everyone is talking about his offense, what about his D? Superb. Yeah, he makes mistakes, but he has been shutting down defenders left and right. He has consistently buckled down his opponent. He hasn't had an opponent score 20 on him in the past 5 games, while scoring 20+ in all those games except vs. San Antonio (he finished with 16). Damn, he's good.

Jamison is fantastic as well, but his fantastic-ness isn't as exciting as the others, because he always does this. He's proven time and time again that he can score in the most unusual ways, get rebounds, run the offense, and be the player the Wizards need him to be. Last night, his turnaround jumpers went in, his crazy down the lane flip shots went in. He finished the game with 17 pts and 12 rebounds. He's been simply amazing (see, amazing DOES happen here!).

AD. 9 assists last night. 10 points. 5 rebounds and only 2 turnovers. Part of me wants to argue with Gil about him being a PG. Put AD on the floor with Gil and let AD run the floor. Gil can create for himself and might work better off the ball. Anything's possible. Antontio Daniels was kinda surprisingly invisible last night. Which is good at times. That means he did his job and let the offense run. When your PG can disappear in the crowd while the rest of the offense does it's thing, it can be a beautiful thing. He always comes through when we need him.

Roger Mason actually hit some shots. He hit a couple vs. Toronto as well, very timely, awesome, 3-pointers. I think he shoots better from the corners though, like Bruce Bowen (if only he could match his D), but I like that they are going in. That's always a plus. He only hit one 3 last night, but finished 3-6 from the field, which is better than the 0'fers he had been putting up.

Not a single player on the Cavs scored more than 20. Big Z was Big Useless. 12 points in 23 minutes. Drew Gooden was outclassed by Jamison and looks like a caveman. Boobie's nickname is Boobie.

I got a free Gilbert home replica jersey for filling out 300 All Star ballots and voting for all 3 Wizards (with help, thanks buddy!) at the game last night. Not sure if they will keep doing it, the table was behind section 401.

Let's review what I blogged about yesterday, see how I did:
  • Assists. If we can break 20, we are golden. This obviously requires a significant contribution from AD.
We finished with 23 assists, 9 of which came from AD. Check.
  • Rebounds. If we could, that would be super (Hey Brendon, wake the F up!)
We out-rebounded the Cavs 45-29 and simply dominated the offensive boards with 13 to their 6. Haywood was a big part, pulling down 9 on the defensive end. Butler and Blatche, the Bed and Breakfast cause they are my Bread and Butter pulled down a combined 7 offensive boards.
  • Steals. We are currently 16th in the League in steals per game, with 7.5. We used to better at that (Jared Jeffries helped a lot, maybe we can get him back too). I would like to see that number up, especially tonight with so few good ball handlers on this Cleveland team.
Seven steals last night. Pretty average. More than the 5 of the Cavs, but I guess that the tighter D may result in less steals, since players aren't cheating as much (as it should be). Come to think of it, I'm going to back off the above statement and say I'm happy if we have tighter D, the steals aren't THAT important.
  • Caron Butler lighting it up behind the 3 point line. It's just awesome to see.
Didn't hit any last night (0-2), but that's ok. He still finished with 27 points on 13-23 shooting. He leads the league in 3 point efficiency, among other things, from the Post:
He's one of only two players in the league averaging more than 12 points and hitting at least 50 percent of his three-point shots (Daniel Gibson is the other), and one of only three players in the league averaging 23 points per game and making 50 percent of his shots (Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer are the others). Butler ranks among the league's top 20 in scoring, shooting percentage, three-point shooting, foul shooting, steals and minutes.
All in all, the game was a complete success. For a complete recap, check out the live blog over at truthaboutit from last nights game. We ran smoothly on offense and defense, and I personally enjoyed kicking the crap out of the Cavs, even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wizards > Cavs

Tonight, we take on the Cavs. A team so lost it was heard they were even asking TomTom for directions. Directions to the Phone Booth. Direction to the NBA Finals. Direction on what to do when their only proven scorer, LBj, is out with a hurt finger (or in more modern sports speak, LBj is out with a finger). Which way do they go from here? I know. DOWN. Down like a clown.

I hope they lose, and lose, and lose some more. I hate their evil-ness. Their reluctance to give a proven ESSENTIAL piece of the puzzle the money he wanted seems a bit ridiculous. At the point where they weren't getting what they wanted anyway, they should have tried a sign and trade. I don't think he's going to come back energized and ready to play. But who cares? I don't like the guy. I think he's a pathetic flopper and at times, an insult to the game. You wanna get a foul call? Take a friggin charge to the FACE Andy! Take it, right in the face. I'm sure 'Sheed could help on that one. But I digress.

I hate the Cavs. Why? Well why not? Exactly. They are a middle of the road team with a superstar. Their role players would be role players on any other team, except, they would suck more because they wouldn't have LBj stringing them along. I also hate LeBron (not necessarily as a person, I don't know the guy, and I am not an irresponsible blogger). I watched on TV as Gil missed those two fateful free throws. I wanted to punch LeBron in the face for what he did (and why did not ONE WIZARD stop LBj from getting to the line???). I was there in person for Game 4 of that series in 2006, when we smacked Cleveland around like our red-headed step child (oh, wait). I also attended last years playoff stinker Game 4, where LBj mailed it in for 3 quarters then turned up the juice on our injury devastated squad. Oh, how I despise thee, Cavs. I won't even call them Cavaliers. Yuck.

Mark Duncan, AP

Lucky for me I have an awesome girlfriend who knows my hatred of the Cavs and my love of the Wizards, and she awesomely bought me tickets to tonight's game. I won't be sitting behind their bench (or anyones for that matter), but you can expect to hear the following things when you tune in to the game tonight:
"LeBron sucks finger!"

"I drink the Tuff Juice, so should you!"

"Hey Larry, you aren't doing them any good. You have been statistically insignificant for years. Please come back and back up AD!!!"


"Hey LeBron, tell Boobie to suck on your non-shooting hand next time!"

"Where's Sideshow, losers?"

and finally...

"[fill in your own witty remark]"
I know, I know. I have the creative juices of a drunk 13 year old. But seriously, I hope the Wizards pound the living S#!T out of the Cavs tonight. Here is what I will be looking for:
  • Assists. If we can break 20, we are golden. This obviously requires a significant contribution from AD.
  • Rebounds. If we could, that would be super (Hey Brendon, wake the F up!)
  • Steals. We are currently 16th in the League in steals per game, with 7.5. We used to better at that (Jared Jeffries helped a lot, maybe we can get him back too). I would like to see that number up, especially tonight with so few good ball handlers on this Cleveland team.
  • Caron Butler lighting it up behind the 3 point line. It's just awesome to see. By the way, go vote for him for the All Star game.
See y'all tonight. Go Wiz!

Nice Guys Finish First

I had actually been pondering doing a "the Wizards are awesome off the court as well as on the court" piece. I thought it would be a nice addition to the early days of this blog. However, after reading this post over at Wizards Insider (by Ivan Carter), I'd say most of the work is pretty much done. I'm not even gonna quote it, go read the whole thing.