Monday, November 24, 2008

Really George Karl, What Were You Expecting?

All I'm going to say about Arizona's loss to the Giants is this: They really need to get that running game going. 23 yards on 15 carries? Might be time to get Edge back on the field.

I didn't see much mention of it, but did anybody notice George Karl's comments about Iverson last week? Karl said that since the trade he was seeing fewer bad plays, fewer wasted possessions with Billups running the show. Apparently Karl was frustrated that Iverson didn't act like a "floor general", which I take to mean a Stocktonesque pass first point guard. Iverson too frequently wouldn't run the play Karl desired, instead choosing to go one-on-one and take a possibly ill-advised shot.

First, let's establish that Karl isn't entirely bagging on Iverson. He feels Iverson will do better in Detroit because they are a veteran team, and Iverson will be able to play 2 guard there*. I'm not clear on how Iverson is going to play 2 guard exactly, 'cause where does that leave Rip Hamilton? Is he at point now? I assume Stuckey is getting point minutes, but you still have the Hamilton/Iverson situation, unless you're going small lineup with Rasheed, Tayshaun, Rip, AI, and Stuckey? Looking at ESPN, they're listing Kwame Brown at center (at least until McDyess re-signs with them next month), so maybe they'd be better off going small. I've wandered off the point I wanted to discuss.

Karl's comments strike me as a coach trying to deflect blame from himself. He wants a guy at point who will run the offense, and not just go one-on-one whenever the mood strikes him. Well, correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Nuggets trade Andre Miller for Iverson? Wasn't Miller closer to a pure point guard than AI? Miller never struck me as the sort to freelance, so if you wanted someone to run good possessions, why not stick with what you have? Let us say Miller didn't fit the team's needs. If a "floor general" was what you wanted, why trade for Iverson of all people? That would be like a team wanting to improve its team defense and trading for Steve Nash. It's an acquisition at odds with your stated goal.

Really, it's not as if Iverson taking ill-advised shots and trying to do everything himself is a new development. Hasn't this been his style of play his entire career? Why would you expect him to change? Because you're George Karl? Because you have Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin? I don't see Iverson changing his style until his skills diminish to the point he has to (similar to how Gary Payton had to accept reduced roles with the Heat the year they won a ring because he wasn't the Payton who helped lead the Sonics to the Finals anymore), and that hasn't happened yet. Or if it has, Iverson hasn't realized/accepted it yet, which is essentially the same thing for the team.

It strikes me as self-delusional of Karl to act as though it's some big surprise AI would deviate from the offensive game plan from time to time.

* This was according to a commenter on the article I found about Karl's comments. They mentioned it as evidence of biased reporting by the paper.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These Close Calls Are Tiring

While I'm certain the people at Monday Night Football, and the general viewing public, enjoyed this week's game as it was, I would have preferred Arizona win in a slightly less heart-threatening manner. Say, a nice 40-3 drubbing.

Still, first rule of Arizona Cardinal fandom is accept every win, no matter how narrow or lucky it may have been*. I've even managed to draw some encouraging things from the game, primarily that they won. Consider it: The Cardinals were at home, against an inferior team, with a chance to make other teams sit up and take notice of them. Historically, the Cardinals lose games like this. They lose to teams that appear to be even worse than them all the time. It's maddening. And while they certainly didn't play well - too many stupid penalties**, they did win, and that's a sign of progress.

You know what I didn't need though? Tirico and Kornheiser bringing up that damn Bears game from 2 years ago. Yeah, thanks for reminding me of how badly they cocked that one up. No really, I want to be reminded of that debacle.

* I am stunned that Mike Martz of all people would call for a fullback dive up the middle from the 2 for the final play. No double reverse? No option play? Not even a fake spike? I'm not complaining, but I am surprised.

** I was so worried they would blow this game, I didn't turn it on until there were 5 minutes left in the game, basically three plays before they scored the go ahead touchdown. This is probably for the best. After a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the 49ers a first down when it should have been 4th and 2 or 3, they ran a graphic that said the Cardinals had returned two INTs for TDs, only to have them recalled by penalties. Had I actually seen those, I probably would have thrown a footstool through my TV screen. So yes, best that I didn't start watching sooner.

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