meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2011-06-19

What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Draft

Yesterday, I said I'd have more to say about the 2011 Draft after a little time to think about it. Well, I've thought about it and can't say there's much to get excited about.

I'll start with our Warriors. Klay Thompson is a strong pick, a deadly shooting guard who can, by all accounts, play defense. Add to that second round pick Charles Jenkins a two guard from Hofstra, some pundits have described as having a lethal shooting touch. Looks like the Warriors have created an effective and perhaps powerful guard rotation. Is it possible Thompson can play some at the three? What's left is the same front court: Biedrens, Lee, Udoah. Unless Biedrens can achieve a magical turnaround and Udoah find some offensive and rebounding skills, David Lee is left hanging out there all by his lonesome as the only consistent power player and, as some have suggested, Lee is not as tough from the four as he was playing the 5 with the Knicks. The addition of Jeremy Tyler, a 6'10" 250 19 year old project is what it is - a project. Worth $2 mil? Maybe. Ed Ziti writing for Hoops Daily seems to believe Tyler has an upside worth the risk and the bucks. He cites Tyler's wingspan of 7'5", which sounds highly doubtful to me. He couldn't cut it playing in Israel and quit. His effort was better in Japan. Hmm, what's the average size of Japanese players?
Ah, well, I'm being a bit snarky. We wish for all players the opportunity to reach their potential. Let's remember the history of Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler. Chandler made it, Brown was a bust. That's a 50/50 model. Let's hope Jeremy takes the path of Chandler. When all is said and done, the Warriors still have a huge hole in their power positions, and I don't care what Jeff Van Gundy says about the NBA becoming a perimeter league, no team will win a championship without strength, length, and depth in the paint. So, Warriors, put on your thinking caps. You need a Rudy LaRusso, a Maurice Lucas type player badly.

How did the other teams fare?

I still believe the Cavs screwed up not taking Derrick Williams. I'm convinced they could have landed Kyrie Irving anyway with their fourth pick. Tristan Thompson is a solid player, but they have a few of his kind of the team already.

The Timberwolves helped themselves with Derick Williams. Williams and Love will be a solid 3 and 4 combo. If Rubio pans out, they will be a much better team. I'd still trade Beasely.

Oh, if only Jerry Sloan hadn't quit. I just know about Corbin as a coach. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he and the Jazz (Wouldn't it be nice if the Jazz and Hornets traded names?) improved their team considerably. Enes Kantor could be an instant success, and Alec Burks by all accounts is a guy who can score in bunches.

Charlote has a team leader in Kemba Walker, and if Bismark Biyambo proves to be the shot blocker and rebounder he's purported to be, the Bobcats will be an improved club. Getting rid of a poison guy like Steven Jackson was a smart move. Not they have to light a fire under Diaw.

The Sacramento Kings have a chance of making the playoff if Jimmer Fredette is the NBA caliber player I think he is. (I love gym rats.) The Kings three guard rotations of Thorton, Evans, and Fredette looks lethal to me, especially if Evans can improve his outside shot. As a team a lot hinges on the continued development of DeMarcus Cousins who looked at the end of the season as if he was coming along nicely. Add to that mix a bona fide 3 shooting forward in UCLA's Hunicutt and you have all the positions and backups covered. Isiah Thomas? Another JJ Barea? Probably more a Muggsy Bogues.

Phoenix and Houston are plus on my board because I think the Morris twins will be solid contributors out of the gate. Houston may have a sleeper in Donatas Motiejunas.

I think Philadelphia helped themselves a lot by drafting Nicola Vucevic of USC. I was hoping the Warriors would take a shot at him.

The Washington Wizards will be better defensively with the addition of Chris Singleton and better offensively with Jan Vesely, so they helped themselves.

The pundits were raving about Kenneth Faried as the rebounder of the century. Can't shoot a lick, so he better rebound. I doubt if Denver helped themselves there unless they feel they're going to lose Nene.

That's all folks. The rest of the teams may or may not have helped themselves. Good luck to all. What I love to see are the guys the brain trusts missed who in the summer get a look, make the tryouts and stick. Let's think good thoughts for the underdogs, the forgotten, and leftovers of the draft.

Was it a good draft year? Most of the pundits said only average. I think it will turn out in the end a good one. My hope is that this years incoming NBA players clear out some of the awful deadwood filling out rosters the last few years.

I found this wonderful poem about Moses Malone. Wouldn't teams love to have had a Malone in this draft?
Raise your hand if you remember the Stars of Utah?

In Memory of the Utah Stars   by William Matthews

Each of them must have terrified
his parents by being so big, obsessive
and exact so young, already gone
and leaving, like a big tipper,
that huge changeling's body in his place.
The prince of bone spurs and bad knees.

The year I first saw them play
Malone was a high school freshman,
already too big for any bed,
14, a natural resource.
You have to learn not to
apologize, a form of vanity.
You flare up in the lane, exotic
anywhere else. You roll the ball
off fingers twice as long as your
girlfriend's. Great touch for a big man,
says some jerk. Now they're defunct
and Moses Malone, a boy wonder at 19,
rises at 20 from the St. Louis bench,
his pet of a body grown sullen
as fast as it grew up.

Something in you remembers every
time the ball left your fingertips
wrong and nothing the ball
can do in the air will change that.
You watch it set, stupid moon,
the way you watch yourself
in a recurring dream.
You never lose your touch
or forget how taxed bodies
go at the same pace they owe,
how brutally well the universe
works to be beautiful,
how we metabolize loss
as fast as we have to.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Draft Day

I just finished watching the first round of the 2011 draft. Tomorrow, after I have time to think it all through, I'll probably have a lot more to say. However, I have one question about the Cleveland Cavaliers' selections.

Why didn't the Cavs select Derrick Williams of Arizona first and take the chance that Kyrie Irving would be there for them in the fourth pick? The Timberwolves just signed Ricky Rubio, so clearly they would not select Kyrie. The third team picking was the Utah Jazz, a team that was high on Enes Kantor, the 7 ft center from Turkey. Perhaps the Jazz would have taken Irving, but there was a high probability that they wouldn't. It might have been worth the gamble for the Cavs to toss the dice and perhaps wind up with both Williams and Irving. Maybe the Cavaliers had inside info that Utah liked Kyrie, but over the last couple of weeks coming into the draft, I hadn't heard about it being discussed by the pundits. Any thoughts on the subject out there?

For me, basketball season officially ends with the NBA draft. My wife, who loves basketball, is nonetheless delighted for a little respite between seasons. Now come the outdoor summer sports: baseball, tennis, and golf, and the great outdoors for fishermen and hunters. Here's a poem about fishing by the great American short story writer, Raymond Carver

The Catch    by Raymond Carver

Happy to have these fish!
In spite of the rain, they came
to the surface and took
the No. 14 Black Mosquito.
He had to concentrate,
close everything else out
for a change. His old life,
which he carried around
like a pack. And the new one,
that one too. Time and again
he made what he felt were the most
 intimate of human movements.
Strained his heart to see
the difference between a raindrop
and a brook trout. Later,
walking across the wet field
to the car. Watching
the wind change the aspen trees.
He abandoned everyone
he once loved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Couldn't Resist

With all the hoopla that surrounds the NBA draft, I figured there was enough being said, and what the hell does an old jock like me know about these young players anyway? I managed to see a few during the NCAA Tournament, but the vast majority are question marks to me. But I have been poking around on the Internet lately and listening to some of the sports pundits, and I'm getting an itch to weigh in. So, finally, I couldn't resist.

Here are a few predications and comments:

1. Jimmer Fredette will be a strong player in the NBA. I like his quick moves to get into the paint and lateral
    quickness once in there. Pay attention, I didn't say speed. Fredette has a quick release, great eye, and
    shoots from downtown. I don't think he'll back down from anybody on defense.

2. Chris Singleton will make the team that drafts him happy.

3. Kyrie Irving will NOT make the team who drafts him happy.

4. Neither will the team who drafts Brandon Knight be happy. Plays too straight up and down for me. What
    do I mean? Body is not loose. And he has no left hand.

5. The team who lands Nicola Vucevic is going to be jumping up and down with joy. Warriors, please,
    consider him! V is a legit 7 footer with a huge wing span. He likes to mix it up, and he has a soft touch.
    Perhaps Beidrens can be salvaged. It's not that I think the Warriors should give up on the young man, but
    why not be on the safe side in case Andres finds his skills are more suited to a less physically demanding

6. The Timberwolves will regret it if they don't select Derrick Williams. He's the only player in the draft this
    year who is going to make an impact from the start. At the end of the season he'll be averaging 20 points
    a game and be select Rookie of the Year.

Speaking of the Timberwolves. If they select Williams, and IF  Ricky Rubio becomes the point guard he's supposed to be, I predict the Wolves to be a playoff team next year. Beasley needs to be traded. He's talented but has a low basketball IQ. Martell Webster is solid and Westley Johnson will be a fine shooting guard or small forward. Of course the Wolves need a center, (who doesn't) but in the meantime Milicic and Pavovic can fill up the paint and knock a few people down. Love can play the post if the team decides to play small. And they have some decent folks on the bench at all positions.

I read where Dwanye Casey got the job at Toronto. I googgled his resume. Lot's of successful assistant coaching jobs with successful teams and successful coaches. 50/50 with the Timberwolves as a head coach, before they fired him. Successful in coaching internationally in Japan. I wonder why the Warriors didn't interview him?

Any other predication about the draft:

1. Enes Kanter. Now that he says he's the best in the draft, he better walk his talk. I predict baby steps.
    Maybe down the line.

2. Nolan Smith and Shelvin Mack might surprise teams as second round choices.

3. Kawhi Leonard never impressed me.

4. Klay Thompson could turn into one hell of a small forward.

Here's a poem for the University of California Bears baseball team doing the Bay Area proud in Omaha at the college World Series. I loved to play the game when I was young before I got hooked on hoop.

How to Play Night Baseball    by Jonathan Holden

A pasture is best, freshly
mown so that by the time a grounder's
plowed through all that chewed, spit-out
grass to reach you, the ball
will be bruised with green kisses. Start
in the evening. Come
with a bad sunburn and smelling of chlorine,
water still crackling in your ears.
Play until the ball is khaki -
a movable piece of the twilight -
the girls' bare arms in the bleachers are pale,
and heat lightning jumps in the west. Play
until you can only see pop-ups,
and routine grounders get lost in
the sweet grass for extra bases.