After Dark

0-4…baby. Didn’t see what the Pistons did tonight, but for now the Thunder are in sole possession of last place in the thirty team NBA.

But you know what…there were multiple silver linings for the NBA Journal:

  • The Bally Sports telecast went blank for most of the third period so the Thunder fans didn’t have to see their team relinquish their only lead of the season so far beyond 2-0 versus Utah.
  • Poku looked girthier.
  • Little Nick Gallo was especially poignant with his pregame interviews.
  • JRE started in place of Derrick Favors and was good…I thought.
  • Shai had a thirty point something game.
  • Golden State didn’t cover the Vegas spread.
  • So this was really in essence a win of sorts for the Thunder.
  • Next up… Russell and Austin Reaves and the Lakers tomorrow night in OKC.
  • Hope you enjoy the songs. There is life beyond basketball.

Steph, Golden State in OKC Tonight: My NBA Journal

This will easily be a game I watch tonight. Golden State and Memphis are the two teams I’ve adopted in the West this season. OKC is tanking and Golden State appears to be getting its footing again with a 3-0 record and a much better roster than last year’s team.

I have no idea whatsoever why the Thunder fans inside Pay.Com Arena are cheering for their team in that the goal is for the Thunder to lose every game if possible. I mean…I think to myself why as a Thunder fan would you pay to attend a game and then cheer for the team to do the exact opposite of what Sam Presti wants them to do? That makes no sense whatsover.

I’m clearly cheering for the Warriors tonight and later in the week I’ll be cheering for the Lakers when Austin Reaves and Russell come to town. I might even buy me a Lakers shirt and attend that one. Who would have thought one week into the season Austin Reaves could be the best point guard on the Lakers’ roster this season? Let’s go, Austin…I’ve been bragging about you.

Vegas has Golden State as a road nine point favorite tonight. You really have to be a sick person with an addiction to bet on games involving a team which is tanking.

I wouldn’t want either part of this. You have to figure Steve Kerr if he even allows Steph to play against the dumpster fire Thunder…will be quick to get him out of the game and not risk injury.

You also have to figure Sam Presti will have a hardon the rest of his life for Warrior GM Bob Myers stealing Kevin Durant on July 4th of 2016. Thus, sending the Thunder down this dubious dark path they are now traveling as the zenmasters of tanking.

Isn’t it odd Presti’s former Assistant GM Troy Weaver is now the GM for the worst team in the East currently with the Detroit Pistons. The Piston fans have yet to see either Cade Cunningham or Jerami Grant play in a game this season. Sore ankle, dinged elbow… Presti taught him well…didn’t he?

I from time to time watch the video of Game 6. It was the last sporting event my father was able to attend with me before his death later in August. The game has an emotional tie to me even though the Thunder lost.

I mean sure…we were devastated the Thunder choked like that and lost the game, but on the other hand we had to acknoweldge how special Steph and Klay were that night on May 29th, 2016. As in historically special.

LIke watching Gretzky or Bobby Orr or Barry Sanders or Roberto Clemente or Michael Jordan in their primes. Game 6 was/is still clearly the defining game for me as a Thunder/NBA fan.

It bothers me the Oklahoma City fans still boo Kevin Durant. They seem to have no sense for the history and beauty of the game beyond just the Thunder.

Without Kevin Durant the Thunder to date have still not won one single playoff series. I wonder how many of them have taken the time to study the history of those two Seattle teams which made it to the NBA Finals.

I wonder how many know who Downtown Freddie Brown or Dennis Johnson or Jack Sikma were ?

I’m rambling. So I need to close. Never give a sucker an even break and kick him when he’s down. Light’em up, Steph.

LET’S GO WARRIORS!

Alex Grinch…It’s Time For Your Defense To Step Up

There’s way too much analyzing going on in Oklahoma right now in relation to the Sooners’ defense. Let’s cut to the chase…since the opening game versus the Tulane Green Wave the unit has been soft, pedestrian, and a massive underacheiver. Without Ronnie Perkins around to be the energy Alex Grinch’s unit looks lost at times.

OU’s defense has made every QB they’ve played against look like an All-American so far this season.

We’re now approaching the goal achieving portion of the schedule. Either shut up or put up. You’re getting ready to move into a Big Boy league and you’re getting pushed all over the field by Big 12 teams with average at best quarterbacks spread throughout the league.

It’s nauseating.

Start tackling, start hitting, and start putting the other quarterback on the ground and quit relying on Caleb Williams and Kennedy Brooks to bail you out every week.

PULL YOUR LINK ON THE PROVERBIAL CHAIN!

Nik Bonitto, Isaiah Thomas, Perrion Winfrey, et al this is what a football player who can tackle in space looks like.

This is Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year so far… Malcom Rodgriguez from Oklahoma State.

Steph, Steven, & PJ Tucker: My NBA Journal

The Thunder opened their home season last night in Oklahoma City with a respectable 115-103 loss to the Philadelphia Sixers. The bench management by Coach D was much better than it was in the two blowout losses to Utah and Houston.

This was actually a fairly watchable game which had some ebb and flow to it. There was never the feel the Thunder would win, but for what in essense was an NBA tanking exhibition game it by far was the best effort by the Thunder this season.

If I had Coach D’s roster as it now stands… Coach D pretty much did what I would do to keep the games as competitve as possible.

What Coach D basically did was issue Isiah Roby a healthy scratch, limit Poku’s defensive liabilities to the team to six minutes, give Kenny Hustle twenty minutes, actually utilize Mike Muscala’s saavy veteran presence, put the ball in Shai’s hands more, keep Giddy engaged, and turn Lu Dort’s defensive hustle loose to energize his team.

I would never ever allow Roby and Poku to be on the floor at the same time as a gesture of repect for Kenrich, Lu, Mike Muscala, and Shai…who are my four best players. If nothing else I’m not going to insult the integrity of the game to these four guys. They’ve earned their NBA minutes.

So here’s the thing…I can’t get on my blog and bitch at Coach D because he did pretty much what I would have done given the hand dealt.

The one thing I would have done differently is to have given Theo Maledon’s minutes to Aaron Wiggins who was a scratch. If I’m building my team from the ground up I want big guards who aren’t a liability on the defensive end.

Giddy is a big guard. Lu is a physical guard. Shai has enough length. Ty Jerome is 6’5″. Tre Mann as well seems to be fine so far playing at this level…keep feeding him minutes. Aaron Wiggins is going to be one of my key wing players at some point. Let’s start getting him into the games…Coach D. If you need to scratch a guard from game to game then scratch Ty Jerome and Maledon on an alternating basis.

Okay…enough of that. This isn’t a coaching issue in Oklahoma City–it’s a Sam Presti issue in Oklahoma City…as to how to nuance this tank and not lose your fanbase in the process.

Next game up with Steph and the Warriors in town. This is easy for me since I’ve now decided on three teams teams I’m going to adopt this NBA season since we don’t have legit NBA hoops in OKC.

I’m adopting Golden State and Memphis in the West. In the East, I’m going to adopt the Miami Heat….who you should know acquired both PJ Tucker and Kyle Lowery this off season, plus have gotten Tyler Herro back on the right path. To me…the PJ Tucker move was like last year when I saw Jrue Holiday sent to the Milwaukee Bucks. PJ Tucker on that Miami roster is something we have to keep an eye on as this season moves along.

So Steph Curry do me a favor…light the living f–k out of the Thunder on Tuesday night and give the OKC fans a glimpse of what a generational NBA player looks like in the flesh. Seth was just the warmup last night. Nice kid, but he’s not Steph Curry from Davidson.

Steven Adams is lighting it up in Memphis so far with Ja Morant. I mean Ja and Steven on the pick and roll were made for one another. Keep it up, mate. We miss you.

And in closing…Austin Reaves the former OU guard who I followed while he was in Norman is doing some really good things for the Lakers right now. Austin is a 6’5″ guard who can play at this level. Keep it up, Austin.

Don’t dwell on the Oklahoma City Thunder would be my advice to Thunder fans. Follow the rest of the league, adopt a team or two, enjoy the NBA, and before you know it these remaining 79 games will be in the rear view mirror.

Have a nice Monday.

Lincoln Riley: Kansas Post Game Presser

So…they had talked about possibly using the Steal-A-Rooski in practice. I’d modify it, use it in Bedlam, then allow all us to flip off Kayse Shrum at that point in the Bedlam game… so as she would have the prerequisite transparency she feels she needs in dealing with Joe C. Mike Boynton seems fine though. He and Porter are buds. Just saying.

I just slowed the replay of the Steal-A-Rooski…the zebras missed the targeting helmet to helmet hit by the KU tackler who originally hit Kennedy Brooks. Lincoln needs to call Bob Bowlsby and show him the film. We can’t have these Big 12 teams taking cheap shots like this on our skill position players just because we decided to join the SEC.

Have a great Sunday with all this incredible autumn weather. Won’t be too much longer before the foliage turns.

We need to get past Texas Tech next week and then get to the off week to heal up the secondary. Turner-Yell, Woodi Washington, Jermiah Cridell, DJ Graham…just basically four out of OU’s top eight in the secondary. Key Lawrence might be a key moving forward though.

Heisman Hopeful Caleb Williams Saves Sooners in Lawrence

This is like Robert Redford in The Natural or something. Bordering and going beyond surreal.

Holy shit. I mean holy you know what shit.

As incredible as the second half was in the Red River Rivalry…this was better. Because the OU defense was pretty much putrid coming down the stretch and twice Lincoln Riley had to have his Heisman hopeful convert two fourth downs just for the reason of not having any confidence whatsoever his injury decimated secondary could cover anybody…let alone DI football players.

If only Mike Gundy would have loosened the reins a bit like this with Spencer Sanders his team could have survived in Ames this afternoon.

His team played good enough to win. But there are those times you have to posess a little river boat gambler in you as a head coach.

I’ve come to a decision on Gundy…he can’t get away from micromanaging his quarterbacks. He can’t turn the reins loose to allow them to be creative in clutch situations. He just can’t do it.

Spencer Sanders was good today. His coach should have more faith in him.

Two helmet stickers for Caleb Williams today. One helmet sticker for Key Lawrence for actually making a couple of plays in the OU secondary. And another helmet sticker for Lincoln Riley for remaining calm and unfazed through it all today in Lawrence.

I wonder to myself do we call this the Steal-A-Rooski? I’m somewhat amazed Switzer never thought of this with all those running Wishbone quarterbacks he had back in the day. He stole the Fumble-Rooski from Tom Osborne, but never ran a Steal-A-Rooski.

I’m surprised Woodward and Bernstein from the OU Daily didn’t catch this while spying on those OU practices from the Book Depository.

Does Lincoln possibly talk to Kennedy Brooks and Caleb about modifying the Steal-A-Rooski and saving it for the Big 12 Championship Game or College Football Playoffs?

Why not… would be my response.

This was the 16th straight win for the Cardiac Sooners. Screw style points at this juncture and just win and survive, baby.

BOOMER!

Game Day — Week #8

Week 8 here we go. The game I’ve been wanting to see for two weeks is here…O State on the road vs. Iowa State. The spread is Iowa State favored by 7.5 which seems odd to me. I don’t pick either O State or Texas A&M games….so no way would I make a pick on that point spread.

But as far as watching the game …I’m very excited about this game because the winner takes a step towards playing in the Big 12 Championship Game at Jerry’s World.

On my preseason Big 12 Poll…I went 1 OU, 2 Iowa State, 3 O State, and 4 Texas. So far those picks of mine are still somewhat in play depending on what happens today in Ames and next week with Texas vs. Baylor.

O State and Iowa State seem like mirrors of each other to me. Inconsistent QB play from both both Spencer Sanders and Brock Purdy, both have stellar running backs in Jaylen Warren and Bryce Hall, and both have defenses which can confuse the other team’s schemes.

For me this is the national game of the week…and besides the things I just listed you have to think once OU and Texas leave for the SEC that these two programs plus Cincy will be the three best football programs in Bob Bowlsby’s new Big 12.

As far as Bob Bowlsby…he needs to tap the brakes and stop commenting on OU and Texas leaving the Big 12. If he’d done his job as commish this wouldn’t have happened in the first place or maybe it would given the overall college football landscape. I do agree with Bowlsby on one thing though, that being, Texas is delusional about what their football program has been the past decade.

The second best program in the Big 12 the past decade has been O State. My main criticism of O State the past decade is that they didn’t beat OU more often and they didn’t schedule marquee national nonconference games to enhance their football brand.

If O State wins this game today in Ames…I’ll put Mike Gundy on my list for National Coach of the Year candidates. That would give O State road wins at Boise, at Texas, and at Iowa State. Quite frankly…that would give O State a better body of work resume than what OU has done so far this college football season.

At the end of the day you should always remember two things about me..1 I’m a Libra, and 2 Libras are always fair at the end of the day.

So what I’m saying there is Mike Gundy has nothing to worry about as far as my book…’Mullet King: The Boone Pickens-Mike Gundy Saga.’

Hell…if he beats Iowa State and OU this season he would be perceived like a cult hero of sorts in my story….kind of like a Mike Leach with a mullet. BTW…you’ll notice that mullet went adios when Kayse Shrum took over the school.

Almost forgot…on my picks today–I’m taking Penn State at home vs. Illinois and giving the points and I think I’ll take Cincy and give the points versus Navy. I’m taking a break from a very pedestrian Week #8 SEC schedule.

Mike Boynton Big 12 Media Day Presser

If you read my blog you know how I feel about Eddie Sutton. Even though I’m an OU fan…Eddie Sutton connected with me as someone who loves seeing basketball played the right way.

I’m not on here saying Mike Boynton at this juncture is going to be the next Eddie Sutton, but what I’m saying is he made an immediate connection with me when I started following his pressers. Much like Chris Beard did when he took the Texas Tech job.

Add to that fact…I have two friends who are close to everything O State athletic related and one of them told me after Brad Underwood left O State to take the Illinois job… the search process for a new coach did not go beyond Mike Boynton’s interview for one simple reason.

The reason being Mike Boynton knocked it out of the ballpark with his interview. Search over.

I thought to myself maybe that was hyperbole of some sort, but after taking the time to observe and follow Mike Boynton…I pretty much agree.

In case you haven’t noticed…I’m not into tanking. I think what Sam Presti is doing to his own basketball players right now is demeaning and a complete put down to them and an insult to the game of basketball on every imagineable level of what sport and competition are supposed to represent.

But to be objective… Presti did the same exact same thing in Seattle before the Thunder came to Oklahoma and he did it for a year in Oklahoma in that inaugural 23-59 season. That 23-59 season was the season in fact is when I sat next to Coach Sutton and his wife and grandchildren during the Detroit Piston game. We were sitting right behind the Piston bench in fact.

That was when I told him what Abe Lemons once told me about Coach Sutton as a coach. As in…”If had a son and wanted him to learn to play basketball the right way…I’d send him to that son of a bitch Eddie Sutton.”

Mike Boynton is an old school players coach. A guy who played point guard at South Carolina and expects his players to show him the same degree of respect he shows to them.

O State may not be as good as they were last season with Cade Cunningham, but with the way Coach Boynton coaches..I expect O State to be one of those teams just after Kansas, Texas, and maybe Baylor to be in the top half of the Big 12 this season.

As far as OU with Porter Moser..who could really know because they’ve never played together as a team. But I know they’ll play hard on the defensive end of the floor. I know that much.

In closing…if I were a father who had a son who was an elite basketball player right now…I’d very much be comfortable with sending my son to either Coach Boynton or Coach Moser.

I feel confident with these two guys at the helm at OU and O State they will continue playing Bedlam basketball even after OU leaves to join the SEC. Which I think will be the adult way to handle it.

Good luck with your basketball season, Coach Boynton.

My NBA Journal

With the Thunder in full tank mode… I find myself like a little kid in a candy store picking other games from the rest of the league to satiate my NBA fix.

The late game last night with Golden State hosting the LA Clippers was excellent and had the intensity and finish of a second round playoff game.

I love the manner in which Terrance Mann is evolving on the NBA scene. He brings instant electricty to the court for the Clippers. Plus…Steph and Paul George were both excellent last night. I’m happy Reggie has found his place with the Clippers.

Kind of like Tyler Herro for Miami who had an excellent game last night as the Heat routed Milwaukee. In 24 minutes…Tyler scored 27 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 5 assists. This was a nice way for Tyler to start bouncing back from last year’s disappointing finish. Giannis didn’t play, but still a nice night for Tyler. Tyler is too good of a player to not learn from last season.

The league should be absolutely lit this season with no real favorite to win the West or the East. The parity party which was last year’s NBA Playoffs has left us with a slew of entertaining teams to watch this season.

In the East… I’d probably go Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Miami, and Atlanta as my top four picks. In the West…I’d probably go one team deeper with Utah, Denver, Lakers, Golden State, and Phoenix in no real specific order.

If Klay Thompson comes back in January and can be 80% of what he was previously … I think Golden State would be my pick considering what a good job they did this off season in upgrading their roster.

If Jamal Murray comes back for Denver… I’d have the Nugetts second on my list heading into the playoffs.

As far as the current Lakers with four players on their roster who just made the NBA’s 75 Greatest Players of All-Time List…color me nervous with the Lakers having Russell and Rondo on the same team, let alone on the floor together. If LeBron can pull this off and win another ring then I’d move him in front of Michael as the greatest of all-time.

Congrats to Kevin, James, and Russell for making the 75 Greatest List. Looking back with a bit of sadness from an NBA historical perspective…one certainly would have liked to have seen one more season wth Harden in Oklahoma City.

It almost makes this notion that OKC would tank for three seasons again like they did previously somewhat comical when you think about it. OKC back starting in Seattle when they began tanking drafted Durant and Jeff Green in Tank Year 1. Then drafted Westbrook and Serge in Tank Year 2. Then in Year 3 of the master plan Presti drafted Harden.

So explain to me as a fan/blogger/ or whatever what good does it do to follow this path again when after it went almost perfectly the first time the Thunder then went cheap and basically traded away a player who just made the NBA’s list of the 75 Greatest Players of All-Time.

I sit here thinking of the Sam Anderson’s book specificlly remembering the part where OKC voluntarily became the guinea pig city for the effect of sonic booms back in the 60’s with Operation Bongo.

What good does it do to tank and line up three stars if you’re not going to pay the money to keep them?

Maybe you try a slightly different model. Maybe it’s a two star model. Maybe you already have your two stars in Shai and Josh Giddy.

Bottomline is Darius Bazely and Poku need to turn themselves into some form of functional rotation players. You should never go whiff in back to back years wherever you’re picking in the draft.

You know, actually…I’m starting to feel as if this year’s draft wasn’t bad given what we’ve seen so far from Josh, Tre, JRE, and Aaron. A possible star in Giddy and three nice role players filling three different roles which won’t overlap skill set wise. Aaron Wiggins is a real sleeper is my feel right now. A possible two way Sixth Man who embraced this role at Maryland. But of course…he didn’t have an agent when he was a Terp.

Thunder at Houston tonight to play a team in the Rockets who are almost as bad as the Thunder. Vegas has the Rockets at -4 as a home favorite.

This is where the Thunder could actually win a game if they’re not careful.

We’ll see if Coach D learned anything from the Boston and Clipper games last spring.