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Fragility

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Jeff, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    JVG called the team fragile. He's right. But, in the case of this team, it is fragility born out of inexperience.

    I'm not talking about youth. We're not that young. I'm not talking about time playing together. We've had that. I'm talking about BIG GAME experience.

    Excluding two of our newest arrivals - Padgett and Jackson - and eliminating for the moment Adrian Griffin who has yet to play, this team is devoid of players with experience in games that matter.

    Francis has never seen the playoffs and never even been in a game that really mattered. Games against the Lakers in January, while they may bring notoriety, don't mean anything. Even last season, the team cratered long before they had a chance to play in any games with REAL pressure.

    When you haven't felt the real pressure of the playoffs or knowing you had to win to get there, it is hard to understand how it feels. Those types of games build character and composure, the same things JVG wants when he says the team is mentally unprepared.

    The early part of this season is the first time in four years that anyone has really considered the Rockets a threat. Yes, they were pesky. Yes, they could win games and look amazing but they could also lose games and look pathetic. They were like flies - annoying but mostly harmless.

    With the early season wins and the re-dedication to defense, the Rockets are more like mosquitoes - not really big enough to contend but painful enough to draw the attention of those being stung. This is when it gets tough. This is when a team learns how to win.

    I remember in game 1 against Orlando in the 1995 NBA Finals when the Rockets were struggling. NBC had Jim Gray behind the Orlando bench and Hannah Storm behind the Rockets bench. Gray described Orlando as being pumped up and very talkative in their huddle. Storm, in a surprised tone, called the Rockets calm and almost relaxed. She said no one seemed worried or in a panic at all. That is the mark of experience - the difference between those who have been there and done that and those who have yet to be there OR do that.

    It's the same reason why those championship teams never seemed out of a game. You could sense the other team starting to worry and the Rockets remaining calm and fokassed (as Dream might say). As the opponent began to unravel, the Rockets calmly came back and won almost as if they knew the outcome before it happened.

    That was confidence born out of experience. That's why Robert Horry hit game winners even after going 1-10 for the rest of the night. That's why Elie risked the Kiss of Death when the Rockets didn't really need a three pointer. That's why Kenny Smith calmly drained three after three against the Magic in that same game 1.

    If you want a present-day example, watch the Spurs. They will almost lull you to sleep and make you think they are dead and buried. Then, all of a sudden, WHACK just like a fly swatter.

    Larry Bird, a practiced user of creative visualization, was asked why he spent time before games picturing himself playing. He said that when he was on the floor in a difficult situation, he didn't have to think about what he was going to do because he had already been there in his mind 100 times before. As much as I'm sure creative visualization helped Bird, he failed to mention that he had also been in situations ON THE FLOOR 100 times before.

    Players can be born with an innate sense of winning. The Rockets already have players who can win games on their own and who aren't afraid to take big shots. What they don't have is the experience of that winning under pressure AS A TEAM. The kind of bonding that comes through winning (and losing) in pressure situations - the trust, the calmness, the relaxation - is something this Rockets, as a team, have yet to experience.

    This is the first year they will really have a chance to feel it, to know what it is like to have a target on your back and to play games that really do mean something in March and April. What they learn in this season will help to shape who they are as a team for years to come. It is the next step in their development on the road to playoff success and championship glory.

    As JVG says, there is very little separation between teams in terms of talent. It's how you use that talent that matters and how well you adapt to adversity. This season will bring a lot of ups and downs. There will be big wins and disappointing losses. It's all part of the learning process for a team not necessarily short on age, but seriously short on experience.

    So, before declaring the team hideous when they lose or the greatest franchise in the history of the NBA when they win, try to put it into context. For this team in this season, the journey is more important than the destination.
     
  2. cwaynemiller

    cwaynemiller Member

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    What a great article. Thanks for the insights and the encouragement you give the team and everyone else. I think the new Rockets demonstrate that a few role players can make a world of difference. I would only add this. I think Yo Ming owes it to himself and the rest of the team to learn the language. He must communicate with his coach and team. Im talking about Burger King lingo, thw trash talk of the street. He will be great and learning the language will only bring him there that much sooner.
     
  3. sun12

    sun12 Member

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    I know I have said this many times. Steve played in the NCAA tournament as a maryland player, every game is a big game in the tournament. He just does not know how to play the zone, period! He was the playmaker for that maryland team under Gary Williams. He just lost in front of the zone defense. That was the time when Maryland could not pass the sweet 16. Gary Williams eventually figured out how to beat the zone and win a championship. Steve is still learning.
     
  4. DearRock

    DearRock Contributing Member

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    Great post Jeff and if I was a clutch crew I would put it in that other thread. :)

    I agree about the experience and despite the exterior body language and his talk, for the most part I believe he listens and I believe he is coachable. Having said that he is in good hands with JVG who will make him grow up in a hurry.
     
  5. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    What do you mean they haven't played big games or felt the pressure? Downt he stretch last year was far more important than the early games this year.

    They crumbled. Now that they have the experience they shouldn't be repeating then. No excuses.
     
  6. sun12

    sun12 Member

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    Steve is still the best on this team, no doubt about it. Check Francis's draft analysis by ESPN:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/draft99/players/profiles/francis_steve.html


    "He passes well in the open court and has the ability to find people. Francis is an outstanding transition player, but sometimes makes poor decisions in the halfcourt. He showed frustration by forcing things at times against Duke and North Carolina, when experienced team defenses would key on him and take his tendencies away. The questions: Francis can play the point position, but can he truly run a team? Will he be an Iverson scoring talent, or will he get others involved?" "
     
  7. verse

    verse Contributing Member

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    how do you know that he doesn't know it?
     
  8. ivanyy2000

    ivanyy2000 Contributing Member

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    I thought when JVG talked about "fragile", he was talking about SF3 and Cat. Don't get me wrong, I am not meant to start bash them. I just want to point out our guards are "fragile" under pressure and frustrated.

    They play great when games coming to their way, they can take over the whole offense, but if it isn't the case, they lose control easily, make bad pass, jack up bad shot and hand the game over to their oppenents.

    I think no playoff experience do hurt them, but yesterday is just a regular season game.

    My suggestion to them is: when you down by 10, all you have to do is to worry about next possession, just make or create a easy shot then try to make a stop next time. Don't think too much and try to cartch up within 1 mins.
     
  9. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Like I said in the other thread, I think JVG is just challenging his team knowing that we have another game tonight. You never saw Rudy come close to calling out a player in public like that.

    Maybe it's the ol' tear them down, then build them up philosophy. If this team has any balls whatsoever, they'll respond...

    Heck, maybe JVG knows our guys have never played (well) in a pressure packed situation as a team and he's trying to give them a taste of what it's like.
     
  10. michecon

    michecon Contributing Member

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    I'm suprised how predictive those draft analysis are.
     
  11. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    With all due respect to the NCAA, if pressure there equated to pressure in the NBA, guys like Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner would be headed to the hall of fame.
     
  12. sun12

    sun12 Member

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    Hahaha, it is a good logical question.


    I do think Hurley and Laettner can play well under pressure, but they are just not good enough at the NBA level.

    But if you can't play well in the NCAA level under pressure, how can you play well under the NBA pressure? I guess you have to become mature fast.
     
  13. Rocketeer

    Rocketeer Contributing Member

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    I think the only player who has this kind of experience is Jim Jackson. I kind of saw that last night. He played calm and under control. The only rocket that stood out last night.
     
  14. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Crumble like they did against the Nets?
     
  15. daoshi

    daoshi Contributing Member

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    Well, those guys are just not talent enough. Duck has always produced system type players, (except G. Hill), just like Knight's Indiana. Those guys will shine in a right system, unfortunitely, not many teams have a good & stable system in this league.

    About the pressure, I believe the pressure in NCAA tournement is much higher than the NBA playoff. In NCAA, you probably only get one shot in your whole college career, you lose one game, you are done!


    BTW, I generally agree with Jeff's point on the Rockets' fragility, but the lack of a floor leader, someone who can run the offense really hilighted the Rockets' problem when they play against a quality team. We are desperately need a good ball handler, that's why Moochie has been playing more minutes than he dreamed of.

    You don't need a traditional PG if you have other good ball handler/distributers on your team, like the old Bulls, but the Rockets don't have those kind of players.



    --daoshi






    --daoshi
     
  16. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    No, like they did when Larry Smith came into coach. Like they did when a berth to the playoffs was on the line. This Dallas game was not a big time game.

    They are already a lot better than last year. Let's not make yet another excuse for them.
     
  17. daoshi

    daoshi Contributing Member

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    Hoops, I mean "Duke".
     
  18. Hippieloser

    Hippieloser Contributing Member

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    I agree that this is the case. The Rockets were hanging in there right up until the third quarter when the Mavs went on a nice little run. It's going to take a few years (five minimum, I think) for this team to really begin to trust their coach and their system enough to be able to stay in control of their game enough to hang in there and make real comebacks.

    That's why I don't like all the endless trade threads. I'd rather see this group of players come to know one another inside out (so to speak) in order to gell as a legitimate team. It will take years. This team is not near their peak. I think they'll get there, but probably not soon. More experience in tough but winnable games like the one against Dallas will help to develop this mentality in the Rockets. Panic is an ugly thing to watch on the basketball floor, and we've seen a lot in the last couple years. The only thing we can do as fans is that same thing we demand of the players in pressure situations: be patient. I know we're all out of patience for another awesome team, but sticking with what we've got and practicing everything over and over and over again is really our best option at this point.
     
  19. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    How many of our guys are playing video games in the hours leading up to gametime? This is a serious question. Does anybody know?
     
  20. reptilexcq

    reptilexcq Member

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    I don't think they're fragile...they were determined to win that game. They were talking to each other and even regrouping...that's what i like to see. They were focus alright, but just didn't go to Yao enough (to take advantage of double team) in my opinion. That's when the game got out of hand. And then some suspicious substitutions by Van Gundy which i don't understand. Like why did he keeps playing Moochie out there...and only when the Rockets are really behind did he put Mobley back and also why sit Yao when we're behind....that's like giving up the ball right there. You're supposed to go back to the post when you're behind. I don't think Yao is that tired.
     

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