Saturday, October 18, 2008

Central Division Previews

chi.gif cle.gif det.gif ind.gif mil.gif

Chicago Bulls
Nels: Give Me The Rock
Matt: Blog-a-Bull

Cleveland Cavaliers
Rock: Waiting For Next Year
FTS: Fear The Sword
David Friedman: 20 Second Timeout
Amar Panchmatia: Cavalier Attitude

Detroit Pistons
Brian Spencer: Empty the Bench
Natalie Sitto:
Matt Watson: Detroit Bad Boys

Indiana Pacers
Tom: Indy Cornrows

Milwaukee Bucks
Jeramey Jannene: The Bratwurst
Frank Madden: BrewHoop

Also see links to all the previews at

Rudy: Jack of all Trades

By Kirk Holland

For those of you who don't know, Rudy will be blogging this upcoming season on the Grizzlies website.

I, for one, am ecstatic if for no other reason than that I no longer have to read Casey Jacobsen blog entries, which were the equivalent of a written colonoscopy.

Should be an interesting year, and hopefully Rudy has not only added blogging to his list of talents, but an improved overall game as well.

Glad to hear that Rudy spent time watching the Summer leaguers this year, that in itself shows me he is passionate about this team, and wants to succeed. Also, I found it interesting about his mentioning Michael Phelps (Lord of the Olympiads), and how he is now the third favorite son of Baltimore behind Phelps and Melo. I truly believe he will soon supplant Carmelo as the 2nd favorite, gold medal or not. And hopefully, when we win our eighth NBA championship (i know, i know) he can take that coveted first spot. Heck, he's already one of Memphis's favorite adopted sons, and continually rising.

Anyways, good luck this year Rudy both on the court and in your blogging endeavors; may you find success in all areas.

Oh, I can still beat you in bowling Rudy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Diary Of A Mad Grizz Fan Part One.

By Zac

I became so intrigued by my own writings about the subject on noone caring that the Grizzlies were here, I decided to conduct an experiment.

I'm a pretty sociable guy, I talk to everyone I come into contact with without crossing the line into invasion of privacy, so I decided that on my lunch break and shopping excursion out in Memphis I was going to eek the Grizzlies into my conversations with people, just to see what they thought about the subject.

Jesus H, what a long sentence.

I knew that my experiment could not be biased, so I planned my day to be in several parts of town. I would have lunch downtown, since I like being downtown on my off days/no class days, I would shop Cooper-Young and East Memphis (two very different demographics) and then I would head out and pick up the fiance for dinner that night, picking over what I had learned.

With the plan set in motion, I was off to lunch. I parked in the garage and set off to South Philly. (Quick pet peeve though: Why in the hell do we use tokens to pay for parking now? Seriously, can't I just give you my money?) I stop in there and decide I don't want a sandwich, so I just had a beer instead. ESPN was on the plasma screen and there was a man probably in his 30s craning his neck to watch the screen. I sit at the table next to him so I could see the television. A few minutes and a new beer later, I said "I wish they'd talk about some preseason, I want to see what they are saying about Mayo." His response: "Yeah, that Mayo kid's something good. Who's he playin for?"


I said "Memphis, man! He plays for us! We traded Miller, drafted Love and traded em both with Cardinal to get him, and Jaric...and Walker..." I trailed off. He legitimately didnt know. To the right of this man in South Philly is a Hello Mayo poster. I told him how Mayo fired off 26 points the other night in preseason, and how Rudy looks good this year, and by the end of the conversation he said he might try to make it to a game. I felt good. I drank the last of my second beer and headed off to Midtown.

My attempt to convert lost Midtowners to the way of the Grizz will be posted in a few days. Until then, spread the good word. Fill the Forum.

Grizzlies at Indiana - 10/17/08

Memphis is basically playing their seasonal rotation right now trying to build something among the team. With three starters in unfamiliar places and none over 24 years old or with more than 2 years experience with the team chemistry is a commodity the Grizzlies are very short on. O J Mayo has started erratic but that is expected of rookies, especially when they are thrust into starting roles. Rudy Gay is taking his time getting going but still is leading the team in scoring. Rebounding is another issue for Rudy but starting the twin towers of Gasol and Milicic may relieve him of some rebounding concerns. This is the beginning of one of the longest road trips of the season for the Grizzlies with their next 5 games on the road.

Indiana needs to find a new medicine man because the team is wracked with injuries right now. Where is Dunleavy (knee)? Where is Troy Murphy (? Where is Marquis Daniels, Travis Deiner and Jamal Tinsley? Oh wait, forget about Tinsley. That is a totally different issue with him. Indiana is getting their starters and key reserves back but until then no one is going to fully appreciate what this team is capable of doing. Coach Jim O'Brian has said that he intends on shortening the lineup in advance of the season opener. This is Indiana's last home game of the pre-season as well so expect the Pacers to put on a show for the increasingly disinterested fans.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs T J Ford
This is no place for slow play. T J Ford and Mike Conley have been compared many times because of the speed they bring to the game and their lack of perimeter shooting. Conley may be putting an end to that rep however. In only his 2nd season Conley has been shredding 3 pt shots to the tune of 50% behind the line. Ford has been leading the Pacers in scoring by beating people to the lane. Should be an interesting match.
Advantage: Indiana

Shooting Guards: O J Mayo vs Mike Dunleavy
When people thought that O J Mayo would be too short to play SG this is what people were thinking about. Mike Dunleavy is 6-10 and that is tall for any SG but he also has a complete game. Mayo will struggle to prevent Dunleavy from getting off his long shot but he should be able to create matchup problems as well on the offensive end. A coach's son Dunleavy won't be caught unprepared but you have to wonder how game ready he will be in his first game of the pre-season. Mayo is in game shape and wants to prove he has an NBA game so he should test the knee early to see how Dunleavy reacts.
Advantage: Indiana

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Danny Granger
Granger came back to the lineup for the first time on Wednesday and didn't show too much rust. A solid all-around player Granger is looking to take a major step forward this season like Rudy Gay did last year. Rudy has been coasting for much of the pre-season looking to find a groove with the new starters but has still led the team in scoring and highlight real plays. Granger and Rudy are going to be major players at the SF position for years to come and this will always be a great matchup. Rudy has the edge right now but Granger has motivation to improve.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Darko Milicic vs Jeff Foster
This is a guess at PF for Indiana. Until Troy Murphy comes back there really isn't a quality player for the Pacers at this position. Foster is a solid rebounder who understands his role on the team. With the promise of Roy Hibbert Foster needs to prove he can back up at the PF position to find playing time however. Darko Milicic has been an enigma since entering the league but has looked sharper in the pre-season back in his natural PF position. Drafted as an offensive PF he developed into a decent defensive C but his confidence issues and repeated injuries held him back in that role. If he can avoid the injury bug Darko may finally make his mark this season and at only 23 he still has time to resurrect his career.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Marc Gasol vs Rasho Nesterovic
Gasol has been impressive at the center position during the pre-season but he is still a rookie and gets fooled by more experienced players. Rasho showed the rookie a few veteran moves in their last matchup exploiting Gasol repeatedly in the first quarter of the game. Gasol responded well however and ended up with a double double. Rasho is being pushed by the strong play of Roy Hibbert so he should look to be aggressive again so Gasol will have to pay attention to Rasho and show he won't fall for the same fakes. Rasho now needs to show if he has any more veteran plays up his sleeve.
Advantage: Indiana

Benches: Memphis vs Indiana
Memphis' starters matchup well with Indiana's but the bench has been a problem for the Grizzlies all pre-season. Kyle Lowry has struggled meshing as the lead PG. Hakim Warrick is supposed to provide offense off the bench but seems unhappy about not starting and hasn't performed well yet in that role. The return of Marco Jaric may help ease the playmaking headaches Lowry has faced. Darrell Arthur is coming on strong right now but it is difficult for rookies to put together consistent performances. Javaris Crittenton needs to find his role off the bench Quinton Ross, from SMU, has been one of the brighter spots off the bench with solid play as the SF. Indiana's bench has been bolstered by the return of Dunleavy, Foster and Granger. Hibbert and Brandon Rush have been two of the best rookies during pre-season. Jarrett Jack should provide quality play at the point.
Advantage: Indiana

Outside Commentary:
Indy Cornrows: Simply the best coverage of the Pacers on the internet and one of the best NBA sites. I highly recommend you check this site out.
Pacers Insider - This is the blog for the IndyStar. Imagine Ron Tillery with a bit more of a cheerleading attitude.
Pacers Pulse - The MVN's Pacers coverage. Not bad but the layout isn't as interesting to read as Indy Cornrows in my opinion.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Must Wonder....

By HPTMatt

Yes, I'm aware that I may be knee jerking, and I'm not afraid to admit such.

But I found myself ruminating (and trust me, that always gets me in trouble...) on the way home from the Grizz/Pacers preseason game on 10/13 about chemistry, the Grizzlies back court, and the coaching and management staff of the Grizzlies.

Sorry Dr. Zack, you know what's coming here...

Kyle Lowry seems not-so-enthralled with his current role on the Grizzlies, which is hard to believe, since he's one of only two cats currently seeing time at PG. It's buried somewhere on the Internet, but I recall with fair distinction an interview with Kyle just after Conley was drafted where the "I just got mildly slapped" connotation was not so hard to perceive through the normal "well, competition will make us all better" platitudes he was spouting....and I think that the drafting of Conley has engendered some negativity in Kyle's attitude. This aspect of his attitude has certainly not been pervasive, but it has been present from time to time, usually manifesting itself in hands-raised-palms-up at the bench after a blown play or a (sometimes not-so-)discreet look over his shoulder at the bench. The "playing favorites" among teammates is not so much rooted in malicious intent by Kyle, IMO, however-Hak and Rudy are almost certainly the two most likely scorers usually playing with Kyle..I'd pass them the ball too.

Another issue that this "coachability" discussion raises is particularly salient in terms of this preseason-where's Javarence Kinseyton? Another way to ask the much must have Critt have unimpressed the staff in summer league and the beginning of camp for him to be seeing so precious little court time, especially if there is a question regarding (HUGE gulp before I utter this term) potential insubordination by your #2 PG? Isn't preseason about working out kinks and trying out options? Wasn't Critt one of the "coveted" pieces in the Pau trade? I'm not a Critt homer, but I do think he deserves a fair shake (and I subjectively think he hasn't gotten such thus far in this preseason despite what Chip wrote yesterday). Right-the question is begged....has JCritt dug himself a hole underneath Iavaroni's doghouse so deep that possible uncoachability (yeah, I just made up that word) by Lowry isn't enough to dig him out?? One must wonder....

UPDATE after the Houston game: Critt plays 27 minutes and leads the team in assists. Sure, he made several TOTAL bonehead maneuvers with the ball, but it was nice to see him get some run and be allowed to make the same mistakes Lowry has been making in rather ubiquitous fashion throughout the preseason. Good thing that OJ got in early foul trouble (a frighteningly familiar occurrence) and that Marko Jaric IS COMPLETELY USELESS and that Buckner got zero mins tonight. Come on Critt, keep workin' on it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Postgame: Grizzlies 97, Rockets 101

by Joshua Coleman

Due to some other things happening in my life over the last couple of weeks, I was unable to attend the other home preseason games, making this the first time that I had seen the home team live since the Open Practice. And what a sight it was!

Waiting outside prior to the Forum opening up, Chip and I chatted with some of the other fans. Then Chip turns and says, "Is that Artest?" Sure enough, there was Crazy Pills himself walking up to us, NY Mets hat atop his head and gametime sneakers in hand. After some small talk, he admitted that he just didn't feel like walking to the other side of the building where the players usually entered, so he decided to go through the main entrance. He was very polite and even a little shy.

We were selected to be MVP's for the night, which meant that we got some free t-shirts, watched warmups from the baseline and then stood in the line when starting lineups were announced, so we were able to slap hands and exchange fist bumps with the starters. (Relevant side note: Marc Gasol has ridiculously large hands.) Talk about a warm welcome to the season beginning. Prior to all of that, we got to watch shootaround, which was much more organized than we had previously realized. Antoine Walker was going through shooting drills with two assistant coaches until he was drenched in sweat. It was fairly impressive. On to the game!

The Good
Marc Gasol - The big Spaniard impressed me at Open Practice, has made believers out of his teammates through training camp and preseason, and did enough to raise quite a few eyebrows tonight. He was active and aggressive in his 19 minutes of play, including a sequence where he exchanged elbows with Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry on successive possessions, which failed to draw a whistle from the officials. The more I see him, the more comfortable I feel about him manning the pivot for this squad.

O.J. Mayo - The much-heralded rookie was the epitome of confidence. He never tried to do too much or force the issue, but had no problem whatsoever taking a few difficult shots with defenders in his face, including one fadeaway from the baseline that appeared to defy gravity as he hung in the air for what seemed like forever. On the occasions that he got the ball out front on the break, he either outran his opponents to the basket or found the open man for the easy bucket. He hasn't played like a rookie in the past two contests, which is very encouraging.

Darrell Arthur - I must admit that my expectations were fairly low for D.A., but he really had a quality performance tonight. He displayed a silky smooth touch on his jumper that just seemed too soft to belong to a PF. He also made several hustle plays, sticking his long arms into passing lanes and making deflections all night long. If he keeps this up, Hakim Warrick might be even more expendable than I had previously thought.

Darko Milicic - The Dark One played sparingly, registering just over 20 minutes, but was very effective while he was in the game. He was a solid defensive presence, but also showed some offensive abilities that hadn't been witnessed since early last season, registering 12 points on 4/5 shooting. He also had the game's highest +/- rating at +14.

The Bad
Kyle Lowry - I don't know if it was the teammates he had on the floor with him, since he played with the bench players most of his 20 minutes, but Lowry was unable to set up anyone for an easy shot all night. His offense was simply off, as his shot wouldn't fall, leading to a 1 for 8 effort from the floor. He just didn't look good at all tonight.

Hakim Warrick - Hak tallied 10 points tonight, but 8 of those came from the free throw line, mostly when he barreled into his defender and got the bailout call from the refs. He also allowed Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry to get easy offensive rebounds on multiple occasions by refusing to fight for position. It was a disappointing effort to witness.

Javaris Crittenton - After seeing Chip's post today, I was hoping that Critt would read it and become inspired. Ok, maybe not really, but I was hoping to see something noteworthy from the young guard tonight. Instead, he was largely invisible, other than one play where he juked two Rockets defenders with a ball fake before banking in the easy layup. That's not a good sign for a young player who needs playing time to improve upon his deficiencies.

The Ugly
Perimeter Defense - The Grizzlies allowed the Rockets to make 18 of their 29 three-point attempts tonight. That's 62.1%, which is simply inexcusable.

Whoever was supposed to be guarding Von Wafer - To piggyback onto the last point, the player responsible for allowing Wafer's 23 point explosion (8/13 FG, 7/9 3PT) needs to be put in Kevin O'Neill's secret dungeon beneath the Forum for the next week. As Chip said tonight, "I thought that Von Wafer was a type of cookie".

Brent Barry's facial hair - Seriously, that growth on his face needs to be surgically removed. It is just hideous.

Luis Scola/Ron Artest - They were pathetic tonight. Now that I survived meeting Artest, I can say that in print.

Overall Thoughts
I saw enough from the probable starters to be excited about what the future holds, although I still believe that they will be maddeningly inconsistent this year as they experience their share of growing pains. Conley and Mayo are both mature beyond their years, Rudy has enough swagger and confidence for two guys, and the Gasol/Milicic frontcourt pairing looks like it could work this season. I have lots of questions about the bench, but I'm not going to base everything on just one very entertaining preseason game.

What Has Happened to the Promise Of Javaris?

By Chip Crain

Memphis played a pre-season game against Indiana's depleted rosted Monday night at the FedEx Forum and for the most part of the 2nd half (and parts of the 1st half) had a comfortable lead. Marc Gasol, one of the key players acquired in the Pau Gasol trade had his first double-double in a Grizz uniform with 14 pts, 10 boards and 4 nice assists. Darrell Arthur, another piece of the trade had 5 pts and 4 rebounds in only 11 minutes and looks very promising as a 20 yr rookie.

Javaris Crittenton, the only remaining piece from that trade and the only player left with actual NBA experience, did not play. That was a coaching decision by the way. He hasn't hardly played at all this pre-season. So far he has logged 21:04 total playing time in 4 pre-season games.

This is the guy Chris Wallace insisted be included in the trade?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing Wallace for making the move. After all Crittenton is still only 19 yrs old and had a lot of potential as a 6-5 swing guard. He plays tough defense. He can get into the lane. He just needs to develop a more consistent outside shot and most importantly start making better decisions with the ball especially when he gets to the lane. This comes with experience. Javaris was the youngest player in the league last season and had to adjust from high school ball to college to Phil Jackson to Marc Iavaroni. Right now he is working with his 4th head coach and his 5th defensive strategy in the last 5 years. That would mess with anyone's development.

Maybe Crittenton is being held out right now to showcase other players for potential trades. Greg Buckner, Marco Jaric and Quinton Ross all would be attractive in the right situation for a possible move. It is possible that the Grizzlies are trying to showcase one of these players while hiding Javaris in the shadows. Who knows what is happening behind the closed doors of the Grizzlies front office? It just doesn't seem likely that Crittenton would be sitting if Iavaroni wanted him in the game. After all, Iavaroni needs to show improvement now even if the owner/GM are thinking about a three year plan. I know I would want to be playing the best I had if I was a coach on the hot seat.

So one has to wonder why Javaris hasn't been getting his minutes. He looked decent in the summer league games in Las Vegas. He turned heads in the pro-am league in Atlanta and got good reviews from the people at the Mark Price Shooting Clinic who said he has dramatically improved his footwork. Still he sits on the bench waiting for an opportunity.

We heard his defense isn't supposed to be an issue, he worked hard on his shooting and he worked hard on his footwork and conditioning this summer. So what did he miss? Why isn't he playing?

It has to be his passing. Last year Javaris proved he was capable of getting into the lane but not capable of dishing out of the lane once he got there. His decision making seemed very immature and without a decent enough outside shot to force anyone to worry about that created problems when he was on the floor. Basically once Javaris got the ball he would either throw up a bad shot from the outside, drive inside where he put up a forced shot or threw the ball away. Not exactly a great reputation to develop as a young PG.

It would appear that despite his hard work this summer, and from all indications he did work hard, he still hasn't overcome the basic problem that he brought to Memphis last season. He is a great talent but he still has a lot to learn about how to play the game. He can't simply out-talent guys at this level. He has to learn how to be a player on a team not in spite of the team.

And with the competition in the backcourt that means he isn't going to get a lot of PT to learn that lesson in game situations.

Grizzlies vs Rockets - 10/15/2008

There will be a pre-game get together at Jack Daniels Old #7 restaurant for those who want to get together.

Memphis is on a pre-season winning streak after beating Charlotte and Indiana consecutively. There were more than a few people suggesting the Grizzlies wouldn't win back to back games all season so the accomplishment shouldn't be understated. Neither should it be over-stated as Charlotte and Indiana are both struggling with new coaches and new systems and experimenting with different lineups. This is the pre-season after all. Teams realizes victories aren't as important as finding the correct 13-15 players to start the season. O J Mayo had a huge game against Indiana hitting 6 three point shots and scoring 26 points with 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. More importantly, he started being the leader on the court the team needs. Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol helped chip in as the youth movement started to show the potential that Memphis fans have waited to see.

Houston Is attempting to round the team into form for a deep playoff run and that means not wasting a lot of effort on the pre-season. Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and the rest of the Rockets main contributors are not playing serious minutes yet as they are veterans who know what is expected of them. What has been interesting is to see how the bench battles have been shaping up. Carl Landry, with a fresh contract in hand, has been the 2nd leading scorer on the Rockets during the pre-season. Of course that is just 13 ppg and in only 21 mpg a night. No one on the Rockets team is averaging over 25 mpg in fact. Houston played in Oklahoma City on Monday night so jet lag won't be an excuse. Despite not playing much of their regulars expect Houston to be competitive. Their bench is that good.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Rafer Alston
Alston has struggled in the pre-season but that should be expected a bit from the veteran. His shooting percentage can't be expected however. Below 30% from the field and the arc has to be distressing a bit to Adelman but that doesn't mean people should expect backup Aaron Brooks to challenge for minutes yet. Conley has been red hot shooting the ball and seems to have won the starting PG role despite a strong challenge from Kyle Lowry. With Alston struggling and Conley still competing it should be a surprise outcome tonight.
Advantage: Memphis

Shooting Guards: O J Mayo vs Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady may not play tonight as Adelman rests his main players a lot during pre-season. Technically it is a knee issue keeping T-Mac down but I hear it is more mental than physical with the knee. T-Mac has never been one to push himself when the need isn't present. O J Mayo had a red-hot shooting night Monday against Indiana and seems to be gaining confidence in his shot as well as his role on the team. If McGrady can't go then expect Von Wafer to start and Mayo to continue to build his confidence.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Ron Artest
With Shane Battier sidelined for at least the pre-season, Artest has been getting the lions minutes at SF and responded well. His shooting is off but he still leads the team in scoring and steals. Artest is truly a two way player excelling offensively and defensively. What is a bit surprising is his lack of rebounding but again it is only pre-season. Rudy Gay seems capable of turning it on at any moment to lead the Grizzlies. What he needs to do is leave it on. Rudy is starting to do that but when you average 28 mpg that should tell you that the team is going to be counting on you a lot in the regular season.
Advantage: Houston

Power Forwards: Darko Milicic vs Luis Scola
Darko started for the 2nd consecutive game and is starting to show a bit more muscle at the PF position than Warrick was able to muster. His 10 pt and 7 boards against Indiana was nice until you consider that he did it against a team without a true PF at the moment. Scola will be a tougher test. Scola is older, more experienced and more grounded mentally than Darko. However Darko can give Scola difficulty matching his size. Should be an interesting test.
Advantage: Houston

Centers: Marc Gasol vs Yao Ming
Gasol has looked a step slow against quicker Rasho Nesterovic! No one is saying Yao Ming is fast but he is starting to round into form (15 pts and 16 boards in the last game) and should give Marc Gasol all he wants. The amazing thing so far is that Gasol, despite his bruising style, hasn't gotten into much foul trouble yet. That is very promising since most rookies struggle to get respect from refs. If Gasol can stay on the court for 30+ minutes and contribute then the prospects for the Grizzlies is looking much brighter.
Advantage: Houston

Benches: Memphis vs Houston
Hakim Warrick is apparently on the bench for a while. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Warrick's always seemed to be a better instant offense type of player than a grind it out big man. Lowry has been struggling but that may have more to do with Quinton Ross and Greg Buckner being on the court than Lowry not playing well. Jaric's return to the lineup should take some of that pressure off of Lowry. Houston's bench has been playing very well lately. Landry, Brooks, Von Wafer, Brent Barry and Luther Head all have looked good at times and softened the blow of not having T-Mac and Shane in the pre-season. Former Tiger Joey Dorsey has been erratic at best but is starting to get some regular minutes.
Advantage: Houston

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grizz back in effect

For those of you who still don't know, Grizz is back in full effect this year after a courageous battle with cancer.

We here at 3SOB are ecstatic that he will be back prowling the sidelines and providing entertainment to the masses at Grizzlies games again this year.

We, by far, have the best mascot in the league, hands down.

Welcome back old friend.

There's A Tear in My Bear...

Our older readers will appreciate the Hank Williams Sr. reference.

I was going to call this "Tears of a Clown," but Geoff Calkins is no clown. He is a good sports writer, an enthusiastic writer with a wry sense of humor in some of his articles, and a friend to the 3 Shades of Blue blog.

That being said...I take issue with this article.

I know, I know. It's from Oct 9. Get with the program, Zac.

The truth is, I am slowly getting back into Grizz news. After taking a vacation with the fiance down to Miami where I *looks around for the government* partook in an illegal cigar despite Cuban embargos, and had too many drinks at Trader Vic's, this was the story that caught my attention.

Meet New Grizz, Same as Old Grizz.

Really? We wear putrid uniforms, start a revolving door of WTF cares players like Batiste, Archibald, Chris Owens and Ike Austin, and our coach has a shinier dome than the Hubert H. Humphrey in Minny?

Nah...They aren't the same old Grizz players. The same old Grizz marketing mentality and the same old Memphis is more like it.

For an article that claims its optimism by saying that the way to look at FedEx Forum on that night as 1/16th filled, this article is not very optimistic. However, he goes on to basically give statements that show why the arena was not very full on that night. The caliber of players, it was a middle of the work week game, etc. The article closes with the statement "All they (fans) need is the team."

Geoff, my friend, we have a team. A much improved one. You're exactly right that noone seems to notice or care. You are also right when you say the city feels alienated from the team. However the tone of your article makes it seem like its the players' problem. It is not. We have more talent, and I will tell you why they are not noticing.


Marketing has been the achilles heel for the Grizzlies ever since they got here. They didn't feel the need to market because it was new and fresh. When that wore off, we had the new arena smell to market the team. Then, it was 3 playoff appearances and 3 straight sweeps in the first round with no wins. There has never been a long standing effort to connect the team to the city other than the great, and I mean great work they do with St. Jude Children's Hospital. When are the talking heads going to realize that 2 panels on MATA buses and a couple of billboards just don't cut it?

Advertising has been a long-standing problem in this city, as long as I have lived here. Unless you see the one billboard (which seems to be the solution in this city, one billboard will do it) for Mednikow or Laurelwood, you will not know where it is, or what is there unless you are a longtime resident. Another fun fact about that: The billboards are located in the part of town Laurelwood is in, the area where yes most of their customers come from, but already know it is there. How about one in Germantown, or Collierville, or downtown? Settling for the status quo will surely win you that area, but how about expansion? The only thing bigger than the usual base is a bigger one. Local real estate experts in the city talk up the South Main district as a burgeoning retail and residential option to be in the city. How many people know that its there due to advertisements? Not everyone reads RSVP magazine, or the Downtowner. They shouldn't have to. It should be advertised. Seemingly, they are happy with the slow growth they get from word of mouth. Speeding up the process by advertising doesn't seem to register. When I was in Miami this week, there was a billboard on every building that they had condominiums for rent or for lease or even sale. True enough, this is most likely due to desperation of moving units in the midst of a home crisis, but the advertising worked. Without fail, people would see the signs on the building, and stop in the sales office. Even I did, because if my condo in Destin doesn't work out, Miami is always a viable option, sans the nose candy trafficking. There were also billboards for the Heat. The Heat, who went 15-67 and had an empty arena on most nights with a legitimate NBA champion star Dwayne Wade. Billboards. Commercials on the television channels. The news media talked them up, talked up Beasley. There were advertisements for public appearances by the players on the daily! This is how you connect with a city. You do all of these things and you do them with frequency.

The block parties are a good start. However, when something has low attendance, the consensus of the marketing department seems to be "Well that didnt work so we shouldnt do it anymore." FALSE. It's working. What doesnt work is for it to be so erratic. You do it once, you dont do it again...thats what creates discord and a sense of ineptitude and not caring about the city and fans. You keep it up, and the numbers will go up eventually.

I'll give you another example.

One Beale is a now-defunct condominium/luxury hotel project that was to be situated on a great piece of real estate on Beale St right by the trolley tracks and pedestrian bridge. If the visual isnt working for you, right across from Waterford Plaza. If you dont know what that is, well, it probably isnt properly advertised. Ba-zing. I digress.

One Beale was the most ambitious residential proposal that came to fruition since I have lived here in Memphis. The sales office operated out of the old Landry's right there on...I believe it is Wagner Place. This was to be a beautiful sight. Expensive luxury condominiums with river and city views, a Hyatt hotel, a spa, and a chef-driven restaurant. No advertisement except for a billboard right above where said property was to be located, a website with renderings, and the occasional one to two page spread in RSVP magazine which was nothing more than what you could see on the website. This was Memphis' legitimacy in the condo market. This was big. Why was this not pushed as a possible destination for retirees in the entire Mid-South market, or America as a whole? To Elvis fanatics and music lovers alike, Memphis IS a viable tourist market, and a place you could plunk down cash for a second home. The project was said to fail due to "a slowing and shrinking market and decreasing demand." The fact is, the project would be in construction today if they had sold enough units to justify starting construction so the building wouldnt be sitting empty. Proper advertising would have made that happen.

Notice the correlation.

Bringing the Grizzlies to Memphis was the most ambitious proposal Ive ever heard of since I have been in Memphis. It was going to be a beautiful sight. Luxury suite boxes, hotels around the corner of the arena, and a private restaurant for game-goers. There is no advertisement sans a few transit buses and a few billboards, but nothing to generate much excitement and especially foster a closeness with the town. Oh, but there was a website with information and the occasional one to two page spread telling you things you already could find on the website. This was Memphis' legitimacy in the sports market. This was big. Why was this, and is this not pushed as a big night out, a great night out on the town, the only professional sports franchise in Memphis? Why is this not the focal point of this city along with college athletics? People say the two cannot co-exist but thats only because one is marketed and the other is not, and yes, winning speaks for itself, I understand that. This project is being said to be failing due to decreasing demand and a dwindling market. The fact is, if they had marketed this thing right from the get-go they wouldnt be saying "Well it doesnt work now if we try" because if done correctly, the whole building wouldn't be sitting empty.

Proper advertising is what will make that happen.

It's not the team, Geoff. It isn't even the fans to a certain degree. The fans have nothing to pull them back in because the team's management wont throw them a line.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Grizzlies/Pacers Postgame Thoughts

Well, tonight was my first in-person experience with the Grizzlies so far this season.

Parking garage, enter the game, see the same ticket check attendant (a super nice and very cool lady, by the way) from last season at the entrance to my section. season.

The Grizz started with Darko/Marc G./RU-DEE/OJ/Conley. Pretty good lineup to start. Shot 67% for about the first seven or so minutes....the Grizz ended Q1 shooting around 38%. Thanks, bench. I'm going to preemptively apologize to Dr. Zack...but Lowry just stunk up the joint running the offense for several stretches tonight. It wasn't just what he did or didn't do, it was that no one seemed to anticipate teammates' positions or be able to get HQ shots while Kyle was running the offense. He was much better in the second half (when, by the way, he played with many of the same guys with whom he played in the first half), but Conley does seem to have a better cohesive effect on the offense. When Lowry came in, IIRC, it was 18-10 Grizz; at the end of Q1, it was 23-21 Pacers. On the plus side, all five Grizz starters scored in the first five minutes, with Rudy actually being the last of them to score. Three turns in the first 2.5 minutes, but only six the rest of the first half, and only four in the second half.

Now, on to the important part. This Mayo character. Saw him put his arm on Kyle's shoulder when Ivy said something Kyle didn't like (which seems to happen quite a bit.......), saw him do the same to Marc G. when he fumbled one. He's very, very unafraid to lead, and as much as Rudy and Conley are expected to lead the team...Mayo is going to move into that role as much as a rookie can.


Nothing we won't see again, but goodness gracious, he was sure of himself. He had the green light and knew it, and it was awesome to watch. 10-17, 6-8 for three. Couple dumb mistakes with the ball, but overall his assets tonight FAR outweighed any liabilities.

Darko seemed to have his head in the game mostly, which was nice to see, but he and Gasol still made some concrete-handed messes on the inside tonight.


One should NEVER use that phrase, but it was that way tonight. He abused Marc Gasol in the first half, and had ten of the Pacers' first twelve points. That does NOT bode well for when the Grizzlies play against quick athletic centers (and oh, yes, there are a few of those, now aren't there).

And TJ Ford had his way with the Grizzlies' PG's in the first half as well, to the tune of 14 points in the half. Sure, he's quick, but not on an elite level. Again, that tells me that Tony Parker and the like can go ahead and pencil in about 30 against the Grizz.

I was surprised by how bad Hibbert wasn't-he has fair hands and is quick for a guy who is just huge.

Ok, enough about the enemy. Back to the Grizz. Hak had his first off game, but he had a HUGE three with the shot clock WAY down when the Pacers had begun to make inroads into the Grizzlies' lead. Quentin "I went 0-3 on a 3pt attempt freethrow trip" Ross made two really big buckets in Q4 also...nice that he made a couple when they really counted.

Rudy made several really nice shots, but I, like some others (right X??), am somewhat concerned that he seems to be able to "turn it on and off" at will. A player with his ability and talent should be unconsciously "on" ALL THE TIME. He had the highlight of the night on a one-armed drawback THROWDOWN on a putback. Amazing stuff.

One thought for the coaching staff:

DO NOT PLAY BUCKNER AND ROSS AT THE SAME TIME. PLEASE. It's as ugly as ugly can be on offense, and the Grizz can be ugly enough even with our offensive principals on the floor.

Oh, by the way, the Pacers didn't play Granger, Murphy, Daniels, or Dunleavy. Nice of them to give us this one.

Still a nice win, and a crowd that seemed much more into it than I thought they'd be. A nice surprise.

The above is the most sense I could make out of my completely scrambled chickenscratch of notes I took during the game..thanks Grizzlies for giving us a W tonight, preseason or not.

For the other side of things, check out the postgame comments from Indy Cornrows.

Indiana vs Memphis - 10/13/08

Memphis finally secured their first victory of the pre-season with a big win against the Charlotte Bobcats but now face a more veteran team in the Pacers. The biggest surprise of the pre-season has been the production from PF Hakim Warrick. The 4th year player is averaging 15 ppg (2nd on the team) and 9 boards a night. Team defense has been greatly improved holding teams to a mere 41.9% from the field and only 88 points per game. Rudy Gay is leading the team in scoring at 17 ppg and rookie O J Mayo is third despite shooting only 34.1% from the field.

Indiana enters the game with a little momentum led by T J Ford at the point. The veteran acquired from Toronto over the summer for Jermaine O'Neal is averaging 16.5 ppg and has the speed to stay in front of either point guard the Grizzlies have on the court. Former Tiger Shawne Williams was traded last week and is now in Dallas despite the 3rd yr player averaging 9 ppg and 5 rpg. This leaves Indiana thin at the PF position. with only Jeff Foster, Austin Croshere and Josh McRoberts as legitimate PF's on the team. Newly acquired Jarrett Jack has also proved a spark combining with TJ Ford for a speedy small guard backcourt.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs T J Ford-
Mike Conley has taken a stranglehold on the starting PG position this pre-season with some solid play. He is averaging over 10 ppg, 4 apg and 6.7 rpg while shooting over 50% from the field and an amazing 62% from the arc while only getting 27 mpg. T J Ford is attempting to do the same thing in Indiana with 16.5 ppg, 3.5 apg and 4.0 rpg in only 23.5 mpg. Both players are fast and yet both players are lithe and susceptible to injury. Conley has beefed up somewhat in the off-season to try and contain the injury bug that bothered him last season. Ford hasn't done the same but when healthy he can get past almost anyone. Conley will need to use his speed to keep Ford out of the lane because T J never has developed an outside shot.
Advantage: Indiana

Shooting Guards: O J Mayo vs Marquis Daniels -
Neither player is a pure SG but Daniels has size which Mayo may struggle against. Marquis had better improve his play however since rookie Brandon Rush is breathing down his neck to get into the starting lineup. Daniels was an up and coming star in Dallas before running into trouble and has never fully reached the potential people saw early in his career. Mayo is struggling with his shot like most rookies do but he isn't getting intimidated and still looking to make his mark on the game. That mental toughness should pay rewards as he gets more comfortable with the pace of the NBA game. FT shooting has been a problem so far but he hasn't had trouble in that regard in the past. If he continues to get to the line that should help all aspects of his game.
Advantage: Indiana

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Danny Granger -

This matchup is worth the price of admission all by itself. Granger and Gay are two of the most exciting young SF's in the league and should have great battles for years to come. Neither player is in peak form yet however. Rudy has struggled a bit with his shot (39.1 FG% and 23.1 3 pt%) and hasn't been able to make much of an impact on the boards or in the passing game. He also has more turnovers than blocks or steals. That is great when compared to Granger who is shooting a measley 11.8% from the field so far! Granger is too talented to stay cold for long and adjusting to a new coach and a new system is obviously throwing him off right now but this is only pre-season and both players will catch on soon. This could be the game in fact.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Austin Croshere
Yes. I know Darko started over Hakim in the last game but I think that was more an attempt to get Darko some playing time than a permanent switch. Hakim has earned the starting role so far and besides, Croshere is a perimeter big man and Hak matches up better defensively against him than Darko. The fact that Croshere is starting should tell you all you need to know about Indiana's weakness at PF. Croshere is a hustle guy ala Brian Cardinal with an even larger contract but he isn't someone a coach feels good about starting. If Hakim can prove he can stay with Croshere on the perimeter he could lock down his starting role for the season.
Advantage: Memphis

Center: Darko Milicic vs Rasho Nesterovic -

Marc Gasol will probably get the becnh seat this time to allow Darko more time to condition himself. Darko is going to have to be in tip top shape this season to earn his large paycheck so there is no reason to not start him at Center against Nesterovic. Darko had a nice game on the boards against Charlotte grabbing 7 in just 31 minutes. Memphis needs more efforts like that from the center position. Rasho came over with T J Ford in the Jermaine O'Neal trade but isn't considered anything more than a caretaker for the Center position as Roy Hibbert gets experience. Hibbert has actually been more impressive than Rasho in the box scores so he may get a surprise start in this game.
Advantage: Memphis

Benches: Indiana vs Memphis
BOth teams are rebuilding this season but Indiana is doing it with a lot of older players than the Grizzlies. Who knows which strategy will be the best in the long run. Right now with Marc Gasol, Quinton Ross, Antoine Walker, Marco Jaric (who could be back for this game) and Kyle Lowry coming off the bench Memphis is a deep and talented team. Indiana has Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack, Greg Foster, Josh McRoberts, Maceo Baston, Roy Hibbert and Stephen Graham which makes for a disjointed group of has beens or never will be types. Larry Bird is definately facing a rebuilding job. The question is how long will it take?
Advantage: Memphis

Southwest Division Previews

dal.gif hou.gif mem.gif noh.gif sas.gif

Dallas Mavericks
Jake Kerr: Mavs Moneyball

Houston Rockets
grungedave and UofTOrange: The Dream Shake

Memphis Grizzlies
Joshua Coleman: 3 Shades of Blue

New Orleans Hornets
Rohan: At the Hive

ticktock6 & mW: Hornets Hype

Ryan Schwan & Ron Hitley:

San Antonio Spurs
Graydon Gordian: 48 Minutes of Hell

Also see links to all the previews at