Who would have thought back in August that first year O State head coach Mike Boynton would emerge as the coach in Oklahoma this season with the most impressive season to date. Back then, the Lamont Evans FBI probe story was breaking and you might have thought there was no way this young coach could make it through that turmoil, let alone have his Cowboys on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament. But with last night’s road win over Iowa State, and a home game looming this Saturday against Kansas to close out Big 12 regular season play–this O State team is a win or two away from making the Big Dance in Boynton’s first year.
When you looked at that initial situation back before the season began–no one in their right mind would have thought this possible for Boynton and his team…including me.
But I’ll say this–way back at the beginning of the season I heard Boynton do an interview on the Sports Animal and the guy just floored me with the way he carried himself in the interview. He’s just one of these no nonsense guys who himself was a good point guard at South Carolina. A player who had to work his ass for everything he’s gotten to date in basketball. His team plays with his attitude. His personality. 2nd Rule of Coaching— you coach thru your personality and character.
So—with both Billy Donovan and Lon Kruger’s teams massively underachieving this basketball season, first year coach Mike Boynton has emerged as a nice story of sorts for those like myself who love seeing basketball played the right way. Namely, with some heart and passion.
I would say if O State beats Kansas at home this Saturday and then wins their first round game in the Big 12 Tournament they’ll make the NCAA Tournament.
Tough to calibrate the bottom two spots this week, but clearly it was easy to drop the OKC Thunder off my poll this week. They basically played poorly in all three games coming out of the All-Star break. OKC is still a team you keep an eye on because of the Big Four, but right now it’s more of just placing OKC in a position of being a team which is 6-7 since Andre Roberson’s knee injury and has dropped to 28th in the league in defensive efficiency. If OKC wins out this week including a win at Portland, I’ll probably put them back in my poll.
1 Golden State
7 San Antonio
There is a good thing about this Thunder season if you’re the glass half full type. That being, no matter how bad the Thunder opponent is on any given night, you’re probably going to get a competitive game from a standpoint of the score.
Enter the worthless forty something loss Orlando Magic. Putting the game aside for a bit…you know what I kept thinking about as I watched this game…Billy Donovan. I kept thinking back to 2007 when Donovan made a verbal agreement to coach the Magic on a five year deal which would have paid him $27.5 million.
I kept thinking to myself, “Where would Orlando be if Billy Donovan hadn’t changed his mind?”
And the answer I came up with was pretty much they would be the same team we watched tonight. Because like in OKC, his Orlando deal did not include any GM responsibilities. And as we should know at this point…player makes the coach and the NBA is a star/agent driven league, which is what the top tier of college basketball is per what the recent FBI probe of college basketball is revealing right now.
To Billy Donovan’s credit though, he could have taken the Kentucky job and he said no to that mess—and like I’ve said on here multiple times…I respect Billy Donovan as a man. I respect the heck out of Billy Donovan as a good man. I think he’s a great dude. I do. But maybe not the coach to handle this team.
In Billy Donovan’s defense, when he came here, it appeared the template would be for the Thunder to build a team of rookie scale players and low cost, low ego vets, around Durant and Westbrook. With that template, yeah, I get it—Billy Donovan could be a really effective NBA coach.
But then Durant left and this past summer Presti changed the Thunder template, and for the first time in Billy Donovan’s coaching career he finds himself babysitting to a certain extent.
Anyway, that’s my way of saying I really don’t think Billy Donovan is stupid. I just think he’s not the right coach for this team. But we’ll see. Lots of games left in this season. Twenty meaningful games are an eternity.
In this game, both Westbrook and Carmelo struggled. But fortunately, Paul George scored 26 points and finally lit a fire under the Thunder with a sequence of plays late in the third period which propelled OKC to a hard fought 112-105 Orlando Magic.
In all, six Thunder players scored in double figures, but with only Steven Adams joining George as a Thunder starter in double figures. BTW, Steven Adams, has written a book. I’m sure it will be good and I can’t wait. Only so many authors can write what a douchebag Donald Trump truly is.
That Thunder bench was good on this night, but again it was at home and against a really bad team. So…where was that shit on Saturday night in Oakland against a good team when it mattered?
Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Pat Patterson, and cuddly Alex Abrines all had double digit nights. Heck, you might even say Abrines created the spark in that third period run when he found another white European in the league in Mario Hezonja who has less game than him and stuffed Super Mario at the rim. It’s my play of the game. Go fucking figure. Note to Sam Presti…don’t acquire Mario Hezonja.
Anyway, it was a win. At this point, you just hope this team has enough in them to not miss the playoffs completely. That’s the focus right now. Just don’t miss the playoffs. One day at a time. Pray for loving kindness from the basketball gods above.
Another forty something loss team on the horizon Wednesday night in Dallas against Mark Cuban’s beleaguered Dallas Mav organization. Only thing is—OKC has already lost to these chumps twice this season. So.. I’m thinking probably take the Mavs, homecourt, and the points if it’s a six point spread or more.
Vegas must hate this Thunder team. What a nightmare for the pros.
Well, I’ll say this on here after posting the ‘play’ on my blog this morning, maybe he did. With all the shit which goes on in an NBA game in the paint every night in every game though — I’m not sure this is what I would have been talking about in the post game after the pathetic blow out loss to the Warriors.
If I were a juror and this clip were shown to me I’d probably say to myself Pachulia did kind of semi-fall on Westbrook. The question though as a juror I would seek to answer to myself is if it were done to just fuck with Westbrook’s head or if there was specific intent to injure connected to the play? And what if any impact this had on the outcome of the game given the fact OKC’s three stars all played like shit and Billy Donovan isn’t smart enough to calibrate Alex Abrines’ role on this basketball team.
To me, my last sentence of the previous paragraph is what we should be talking about this morning and not the Pachulia faux semi-fall.
Good lord, I had no idea this Thunder team was this soft until Saturday night. I suspected they were mentally lazy and obvious underachievers this season, but I had no idea they were this frilly soft.
I thought Carmelo over-reacted twice to Draymond Green. I thought Paul George did the same with Draymond Green. And though I’ve never questioned Russell Westbrook’s toughness–this isn’t what I would be talking about with 21 games left in the regular season and the Thunder now even to the 9th place Clippers in the loss column.
Since no one else in this college market who covers this Thunder team will write this–I will. Is this Thunder team tough enough or gritty enough to be a contender or is it all just talk?
Right now standing as the obvious winner of the Most Underachieving NBA Team this season–I have to write this team doesn’t appear to walk the walk.
You know, we were all clinging to this notion this Thunder team was holding its inner greatness back just for special teams. Enough of that in that this Thunder team has now lost back to back games against top four teams Cleveland and Golden State by a combined margin of 40 points.
If I’m that juror I’m just kind of shrugging my shoulders and saying to myself, ” But why the fuck did Billy Donovan play Alex Abrines 20 minutes?” Or why didn’t one single Thunder player go after Pachulia like Serge did with Artest way back when.
What would this Thunder team do if they ever had to play a bunch like the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys? Would they just call their mommies and be a scratch on those nights?
If I’m Clay Bennett and I’ve had to watch this bullshit for sixty-one games so far, I can tell you this, I’m not real happy right now because I gave Sam Presti $130 million to spend and all I have is a soft basketball team.
If it was such a dirty play, then ask yourself why one single OKC player or coach didn’t go berserk? Not one single act of retaliation of any kind that I can recall. It’s a four letter word…soft. This Thunder team is jelly roll soft.
I feel kind of silly writing this recap on my blog. Because evidently I missed the game’s biggest storyline somewhere in that disastrous third period in Oakland.
I missed it and I feel bad about it as a blogger.
I missed the part where a black van drove up to the Thunder bench somewhere along the point when Carmelo Anthony barked at Draymond Green for brushing against his headband. Because that’s what I was watching in what up to that point was a tough back and forth grinder of a basketball game.
I missed the part when several hooded men dressed in that black van then leaped out of that van then beat Billy Donovan senseless with multiple blows to the head with a lead pipe. I missed the fact he was then coaching the Thunder in the throes of acute head force trauma. My bad.
I didn’t miss the part though where the Warriors took the Thunder’s lunch money and bullied them like Trump did with Little Marco Rubio in multiple GOP debates. I didn’t miss the part when these men rendered the Thunder heartless and unable to fight any longer or any tougher.
Another part I missed is why Alex Abrines was allowed to set foot on the floor for 20:19 of play against the two time NBA champion Golden State Warriors while scoring only three points and going -30. I also wish I had a better understanding of why the Thunder are the league’s biggest underacheivers this season.
By the same token, I had no idea Nick Young had suddenly transformed himself into the second coming of Ray Allen and could be this pivotal in scoring 16 points in 18 minutes of play and going a +23. I had no idea even though I’d seen him do some goofy things while playing for the Lakers. But I have to admit I didn’t see any of these two things on the horizon as the things to watch in this game because I assumed any NBA level coach could never be stupid enough to allow Alex Abrines this much time on the floor against the offensively explosive Warriors.
I saw some things with Scott Brooks which had me shaking my head a few times, but this one may have ‘trumped’ any of those just for the sake of mind numbing coaching things.
Now, I will admit I didn’t see Zaza Pacuhlia fall on Russell Westbrook with intent to injure. I didn’t see it even though we all know Zaza plays on the edge like he’s a bodyguard for the Russian mafia assigned to protect their boy Donald Trump.
But having admitted I didn’t witness some of the above…I know this. Sam Presti will need a smarter coach and a more mentally tough team if he ever wants to beat these Warriors in post season play. I know that.
Granted, you’re not going to beat these Warriors scoring 80 points and it would be tough, next to almost impossible, to beat the Warriors with Westbrook and Paul George going a combined 5-29 from the field, but I would have at least tried something different than allowing Alex Abrines to play anything beyond three or four minutes in this game. I would have challenged my stars.
I would have played Westbrook and Felton together more. I would have loaded up on more Josh Huestis minutes. I would have even gone more with Jerami Grant even though he had a tough night… but I never would have rolled with Abrines like this in the midst of that third period run by the Warriors…Zaza’s intimidation non-withstanding
But enough of that. Maybe that’s why Kevin Durant is in Oakland and maybe that’s part of why the Warriors are still the odds on favorite to win their third NBA ring in the last four years. Maybe.
Roll the storylines however you like, but what I took out of this game was the Thunder don’t have enough toughness or smarts to win an NBA championship unless they suck it up from a grit, smarts, and coaching standpoint.
That’s it. That’s my recap.
The Thunder drop to 34-27 and host the Orlando Magic on Monday.
Hopefully, none of the Magic players brush up against them or fall on them when the game gets tough.
Beautiful play, beautiful execution. I would think the Thunder will be amped to play the Warriors later today on the ABC Saturday Game of the Week. I’m jacked. I hate the fucking Warriors. I truly do. This is the game I’ve been waiting for since OKC beat their ass on February 6th.
To me, Adams is the key when the Thunder play these guys. Adams not getting that second foul too quickly is something I’m watching closely today. I would think Huestis will start as he did on Feb. 6th and I pray to god Billy Donovan will have a short leash with both Abrines and Ferguson. This is a game you go eight men deep if possible. Anything Donovan gets beyond Felton, Grant, and Patterson coming off the bench are gravy minutes today. I would expect Billy Donovan to coach this like a playoff game and the simple truth is OKC will be for the most part an eight man team in post season.
Let’s go. If you’re not up to play these guys on national television then you’re never going to be up for a game.
Go beat their ass again.
The Thunder banner is already draped prominently in my game day Thunder war cave. Pauli has her Thunder sweater on. My wife already knows she’ll need to be away from me for three hours. I’m assuming it’s either Jeff van Gundy or Hubie doing the color. I’m amped. I hate these fucking guys. Let’s go, boys.
As we meander towards an ending which will be much bumpier than Watergate given the sheer stupidity of the Trump followers and their idiotic leader—I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself from a legal standpoint.
Nixon finally knew when it was time to resign, but Nixon wasn’t a complete empty glove as far as intellect as is Caligula. Nixon knew when to cover his ass and steer the country away from a constitutional crisis this nation hasn’t experienced since the Civil War and the subsequent era of Reconstruction.
One thing we never were allowed as a nation to witness was how if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated by John Wilkes Booth was how he would have steered the Union through the early phases of Reconstruction with more nuance and polish than the rogue outlaw Andrew Johnson.
I don’t see Trump resigning unless Mueller has enough on Ivanka and his dipshit son-in-law to the point where they could serve time. Perhaps, at that point, he might resign. But always remember, Roy Cohn was Trump’s legal mentor and that Cohn DNA is what will probably drive Trump from a legal strategy standpoint unless he fears his beloved Ivanka could go to jail. This almost has an ancient mythic feel to it, no?
If only we had someone with Lincoln’s wisdom driving this bus for the nation as we drift towards the realities of the New Confederacy, the Deplorables, and a rogue president all in place heading into a perfect storm of sorts.
As I’ve written on here before, I don’t think we lock up 20 million or so Deplorables for their actions in this election or more importantly their continued support of the rogue insurgents. I have no idea what we do with these people other than maybe roping off Montana and creating a state of sort for the Deplorables as we’ve done in Utah for the Mormons. I mean, you’ve still got the shell of Trump University—so maybe that’s something to consider. Make Steven Bannon czar of the Montana Wingnut Republic. Be creative. Use your geopolitical imagination. Think on the edge because this bullshit in place isn’t working.
Anyway, a truly fascinating time for historians. Every day brings a revelation even to places like Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia, and other outliers of the New Confederacy where the constitution has been ravaged the past decade by the Koch Brothers, the Mercers, Breitbart, the American Freedom Caucus, and the Citizens United ruling.
You can’t rush history. It will unfold at its own pace and ultimately expose if this country has the character to do the right thing in order to save itself from itself.
Oh, Michael Flynn—what do we do with you, bruh? What a piece of work you are. What would Abe Lincoln do with you? Tough call.
‘As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it all men are created equal , except negroes. When the Know-Nothings ( a party based on antagonism toward immigrants, Catholics, and African Americans) get control , it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty–to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.’
So, even back in 1856 as the Republican Party was emerging, Lincoln had in essence the forerunners of the American Freedom Caucus to deal with. So–if you’re at a family function with some Know Nothings in attendance be patient with them. Suggest they stop watching the swarmy gargoyle Hannity, the Bitch Twins, the Trump Fox Network overall, and tell them to start reading okcthunderground.com. Just saying.
Here’s an illuminating History Channel video on Washington. One would hope, even if you’re a Know-Nothing, this might give you a clue as to why Washington is at the top of historians list and why our own Know-Nothing Caligula is at the bottom of every list.
Learning isn’t a bad thing. Books won’t hurt you. What could it hurt? Fill the little empty tumblers of your mind with substance and you will be amazed at what this does for you. It won’t hurt. Reading will not hurt you.