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Chron: Survey gives Yao edge for ROY

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Free Agent, Mar 16, 2003.

  1. Free Agent

    Free Agent Member

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    Survey gives Yao edge on Suns' Stoudemire in race for rookie award

    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle


    Right there on the Compaq Center court, with spectacular Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire there to see it all, and with appropriate NBA officials and corporate sponsorship representatives on hand, the Rockets will hold a brief ceremony today to present rookie center Yao Ming with his award.

    The occasion is really another chance for another set of suits to pose with the NBA's walking photo op. Yao will be given his February Rookie of the Month award before the Rockets play the Suns in a showdown for the lead in the race for the last Western Conference playoff spot.

    But a Chronicle poll of media members who cover the NBA indicates today's presentation to Yao could serve as a rehearsal for another award ceremony.

    In an informal poll of 28 voters for NBA postseason awards (each category has 125 voters), Yao was named as the choice for Rookie of the Year by 20 voters, with Stoudemire, 6-10, getting the other eight.

    "That shows how much of an impact he has on our team and on the NBA," Rockets forward Glen Rice said. "You've got guys constantly talking about how they want to dunk on him, how they want to try everything to stop him. That there alone pretty much says it all."

    It also says something about both rookies that with a month left in the season, when the Rockets and Suns play today with the lead in the playoff race at stake, Yao and Stoudemire are expected to play key roles.

    It might say as much that as convinced as the Rockets are that the 7-5 Yao deserves to be named the Rookie of the Year, they expect Stoudemire's brilliance has earned similar respect, even awe, from his teammates.

    "Yao's the best rookie in the league," Rockets forward Maurice Taylor said. "Of course they would say it's Amare, but that's because they're biased. I'm not biased. That's an educated vote. But I just think Yao's the best rookie in the league. You can talk about records, what our record was last year (28-54) as opposed to this year.

    "There's just his sheer presence. He has more of a presence on the court. Stoudemire is going to be a great player. But I think now, Yao has more of a presence, more of a feel for the game. Stats-wise, it's close. But statistics don't always say who's the best player."

    Stoudemire and Yao have similar statistics, with Yao getting the edge as a shooter and scorer and Stoudemire an edge as a rebounder.

    Yao has averaged 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. He has made 51.9 percent of his shots and 80.5 percent of his free throws. He has also averaged 1.88 blocked shots and 1.6 assists. Stoudemire has averaged 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds. He has made 46.3 percent of his shots and 67.1 percent of his free throws. And just as statistics don't measure the way Yao's passing and defense help the Rockets, they don't show the way Stoudemire's power and flair have changed the Suns.

    As much as the Rockets are convinced Yao is a rare rookie doing more for them than any rookie has for his team, it might say something that Rice quickly wondered about the wisdom of presenting Yao an award before a game against Stoudemire.

    (Rockets officials said today was chosen for the Rookie of the Month presentation because it was the first home game this month that worked for the NBA and milk industry representatives to be in Houston. The got milk? campaign sponsors the award.)

    Yao lives as a marked big man in the center of the Rockets' offense and defense. With waves of magazine covers, television commercials and media circuses that shine rare spotlights on the target on him, opposing players have said they have been moved to beat him up or show him up.

    A natural tendency might be to question whether the publicity about Yao has aided a Rookie of the Year campaign, but it also has dramatically inspired opponents to test him.

    "Obviously, when a rookie gets the exposure that Yao has gotten, there's going to be a lot of veterans that are going to want to show that exposure is unwarranted," Taylor said. "Then they have 300 pounds leaning on them, and they see he can play the game. There's a lot of people that want to stop him or want to dunk on him.

    "The bottom line is he can play. When you get on that court, you find out it's hard to stop him. It's hard to dunk on him. There is a reason everybody is talking about him."

    Jumping from high school to the NBA is no longer as rare as coming from China. But many teams, the Rockets included, have been talking about Stoudemire, 20, who is certain to have the most productive rookie season of any of the recent wave of players to make the difficult jump.

    "We've already played three games against him and the impression he gives me is he is very aggressive and very strong," Yao, 22, said. "He's a very dangerous player."

    Yao does not consider the game a showdown with Stoudemire. But Stoudemire started at center against the Kings on Thursday, offering the possibility they will match up against one another. Scott Williams, who started against Yao last month in Phoenix, is listed as the starter.

    "I think that's something good for the audience to see, not for me to think about," Yao said. "For our team, every game is the key to opening the door to the playoffs."

    That goal would seem far more important than a pursuit of a postseason award, but in this case, the two could be closely tied. Though no comments were requested of voters, many said they would consider the results of the season's remaining 18 games. No game might mean more for the rookie competition or their team's playoff hopes than today's.

    The Rockets and Suns are tied at 34-30. The Rockets have won two of three meetings with the Suns, giving them the chance to clinch a tiebreaker against the Suns with a home win tonight in the final game of the season series.

    "It's a playoff game really," Suns guard Penny Hardaway said. "Every game from here on out is a playoff game, because it's for positioning, and we are fighting to just be in the playoffs. We are not a top seed; we are a (No. 8) seed right now. Houston has the home court right now. Their fans are going to be pretty fired up, but we are going to try to steal a win."

    Taylor even offered an appeal for fans to treat the game as a playoff game.

    "It should be (a playoff atmosphere)," Taylor said. "We want everybody to come out. We want it to be real loud. When we were playing in Phoenix, it was loud. So we definitely want everybody to come out. We definitely need this win. If we get this win, we'll be 3-1 with the season series and that can help us in the long run."

    It could also go a long way toward determining Rookie of the Year. But if nothing is settled, there is another solution.

    "Give them co-(Rookie of the Year)," Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley said. "Both contribute big time to their teams and their race for the playoffs. You can't deny one for the other."

    But with a month to go, 20 of 28 voters did.
     
  2. heech

    heech Contributing Member

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    I know, there're plenty of reasons to believe Cat's comments are perfectly innocent...

    .. but let's just say, I'm not surprised MoT and Rice are very vocally supportive of Yao as ROY, while Cat's.. less enthusastic.
     
  3. finalsbound

    finalsbound Contributing Member

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    Should we be surprised?
     
  4. Jonhty

    Jonhty Member

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    i have exactly the same feeling. i wonder if any of Stou's teammates would suggest a co-ROY.
     
  5. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

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    March 15, 2003, 10:53PM

    Rockets summary


    He's open

    Rockets forward Glen Rice made four of seven 3-pointers Friday and has made 27 of 55 3-pointers since coming off the injured list Feb. 8.

    He trails Tim Hardaway by eight 3-pointers for third place in career 3-pointers but continues to be left open behind the arc.

    "It does surprise me," Rice said. "Yeah, after all these years? But then, you understand, we have a lot of guys who can score points, and you have to cover them."

    It's slow on defense

    The Rockets' big men worked out with a new training device Saturday, taking jump hooks over an enormous, Gumby-like mock defender that can easily be adjusted to reach several feet above the rim.

    Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich was asked if the Silent Player device was every coach's dream. He said he has a few silent players, no doubt thinking about second-year forwards Terence Morris and Eddie Griffin.

    "You know what, we got a couple silent players on this team, a couple of very quiet guys," he said. "We also got the guys who balance it out."

    Rockets assistant coach Larry Smith said the Silent Player helps players avoid shooting line drives, particularly on jump hooks.

    "It makes guys have to concentrate on getting their shot over the defender by getting an arc on the ball," Smith said. "If it hits the rim, it still has a good chance of going in, because you have an arc. Those shots can get kind of flat. It makes them get used to shooting it with an arc and getting a nice, soft shooting touch."

    Father's day

    The Rockets had a guest power forward draining jumpers after Saturday's practice.

    Yao Ming's father, Yao Zhi Yuan, spent some time shooting and put on a pretty fair exhibition. Yao Ming said he last played against his father six years ago and could not remember who won. But he said he never has blocked his father's shot.

    But Yao Ming said his father's playing days are forever behind him.

    "Maybe he can coach," he said.

    That would make sense given that he has a shooting motion similar to the high-release jump shot Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich still has.

    "That's because they're both old school," Rockets guard Steve Francis said. "I guess that's how they used to shoot in those days."

    Playoff mood

    That playoff feeling was back, but then Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said he always feels that way this time of year. The difference Saturday, when the Rockets prepared for a showdown game against the Suns, was that when Tomjanovich felt the playoffs approaching, he did not have to feel left out of the race.

    "I love that whole part of it," he said. "I'm so into this thing, the change in the weather, when you get days like this, you know that stuff in college (basketball) is going on, you know it's that time of year for us. Just the weather does it for me. I missed that the last couple of years. My juices start going this time of the year. We had many, many years of doing it that way."

    The Rockets have just three players -- Glen Rice, Kelvin Cato and Cuttino Mobley -- who have been in the playoffs. But Tomjanovich said he talked to his team about understanding the importance of the game, rather than to try to ignore it.

    "I said, `Let's embrace that and understand that and take advantage of it,' " Tomjanovich said. "This is a big, big thing for our franchise right now. To understand that and respond, you're just going to get a learning experience that is invaluable."

    Asked if he felt as if he was back in the playoffs, Mobley said: "I really can't remember. It's going to be crazy. We want it to be crazy. We want everybody to get there. It's a big game."

    -- JONATHAN FEIGEN
     
  6. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    Why do I get a feeling Cat won't be here after this season?
     
  7. uac

    uac Contributing Member

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    same here...maybe CAT is heading to pheonix since he like Amre so much.
     
  8. lancet

    lancet Contributing Member

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    Cat for Amare? Not a bad trade.
     
  9. LA's #1 Rocket Fan

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    You know before this all the cat talk about ming having mistakes and needing time to adjust and dadada..., I really didn't think much of it. But now I really think cat doesn't really think ming is a superstar, or he just doesn't like him, or worse he doesn't want him to succeed.

    It seems like Cat would rather Amare win. How can your own teammate in which you should give confidence and support to say that you are not good enough to win an award on your own even though you have the better stats. Cat actaully soulds like he thinks Amare is better and Yao should get Co just to be nice. Does Cat have any confidence in Yao? I mean he said Yao makes mistakes and needs to adjust more on the air. Has he ever said anything great about Yao because it seems like all the other players on other teams have. If I was Yao I'd feel sadden becuse it seems like cat, my own teammate and captain, doesn't believe in me.

    I get the feeling that if Amare was on the team instead of Yao Cat would change his tune to something like I love this guy he's no.1 no doubt ROY instead of he makes mistakes and still needs time.
     
  10. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    I think you might have a problem Cat. Chill out dude
     
  11. carayip

    carayip Member

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    You surprised? Of course Mobley doesn't think that Yao is the star (he thinks he and his friend Francis are) otherwise he would pass the ball to him a lot more. From the start, he wanted our center to be a role playing garbage man (ala Cato) who doesn't take shots away from him (the star) and clean up the mess for him (the star) no?

    Also, I've read somewhere that he nominates Francis as the MVP.
     
    #11 carayip, Mar 16, 2003
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2003
  12. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member

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    Sometimes I think Cat needs to shut his trap.
     
  13. Matador

    Matador Member

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    MOBLEY YOU ARE AN ASS

    Yao is your freakin' teamate. Show him a little support. I'm surprised Cat didn't think Butler or Gooden deserved the award over Yao. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :mad:
     
  14. Sane

    Sane Member

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    You can't deny one for the other? What the hell Cat, if they're both equal, then shouldn't you root for the one who's on YOUR team?


    On a side note, I don't like the idea of giving Rookie of the Month honors to Yao in front of Amare. It might fire him up, and that's not a good idea. It's best to keep Amare out of the game action for long stretches rather than have him being aggressive, going for all the loose balls and putbacks and stuff.
     
  15. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member

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    Agreed.

    Suns Suck!! :)
     
  16. Texas Stoke

    Texas Stoke Contributing Member

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    I want to give Mobley the benefit of the doubt here and think the question ask to him was "does he think Yao and Amare are both deserving of the rookie of the year award" or something like that .... but these Cat quotes -- where we have to give him the benefit of the doubt and wonder what the exact question was and how it was put to him -- are starting to pile up.
     
  17. Apollo Creed

    Apollo Creed Contributing Member

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    Personally, I think Cat is being diplomatic and even almost reasonable. Amare is a hell of a player, and I wouldn't have any problem both he and Yao sharing the ROY award, because they've both had huge impacts on their teams.
     
  18. New Jack

    New Jack Member

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    Would it kill Cat to praise Yao the way Steve, Taylor, and Rice do. I mean, if you were to ask anyone from the Suns roster I'm fairly positive not a single one would say Yao should be the co-rookie of the year.
     
  19. acrophobia98

    acrophobia98 Member

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    You guys are wrong. It was not Cat did not feel Yao deserves ROY. It is just the feeling that he thought he himself deserved an all-star and a second option on the team. So, if Yao is good and a ROY, what happens to him?

    :( :( :(
     
  20. Visagial

    Visagial Contributing Member

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    Weird how everyone got the same impression about Cat. I felt the exact same way when I read his comment too. This might be the first time any player has suggested his teammate should share any award with a player from a different team.
     

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