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John Wooden and the Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rileydog, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. Rileydog

    Rileydog Contributing Member

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    I don't recall the exact quote but Wooden believed that a player that made his team great was more valuable than a great player. I thought of that last night as I watched Mark Jackson electrify the team and the fans. However, MJax's performance last night raised more questions than it answered. Here are some observations with this question in mind: what would John Wooden say/do about the current Rockets squad?

    1. Mark Jackson brought an intangible that just cannot be measured. First, the entire Rockets squad was excited to see MJax on the floor. The bench was standing. More importantly, all of the cutters moved with a purpose. Think about it. If you play with M Jax, you know with absolute certainty that if you cut and move, he will hit you with a good pass, at the right freaking time, in a position to score. Yao, Motay, everyone was cutting so well. This is not a coincidence. This is a function of confidence, energy and excitement. And with each time that MJax delivered the ball on the money, the movement and fluidity just grew. Do not misunderstand, it's not like MJax makes THE pass that leads to the bucket. But everyone improves on their own passing, cutting and moving. The spark that he brought to the game simply cannot be measured.

    One particular sequence stands out in my mind and kept me up all last night. MJax had the ball at the right side, moving for the 45% angle. He was dribbling the ball to that angle, looking to create the right passing angle to hit Taylor. Taylor was about to break open, but Yao started to move to the free throw line to give Taylor the lane to operate. In a split second, MJax recognized that he had two choices: pass to Taylor that was open, or pass to a cutting Yao that was getting open. MJax whipped the ball to Yao just as he squared to the basket and Yao turned for a wide open easy free throw. By the time the Rockets were heading back down court, the Knicks still thought that the ball was going to Taylor.

    This is what it's all about. This is beating the defense with your brains. MJax played like Tom Brady last night, smart, efficent, brilliant. And you could tell it from the expression on Mobley, JJ, MoTay and Yao. They were loving it. I HAVE NEVER SEEN YAO THAT ENTHUSIASTIC AS A ROCKET. NEVER. It was the easiest basketball that they have played in 4 years. Flat. out. easy.

    2. Let me bash Steve a little because the contrast is huge. People quit moving when Steve has the ball because (other than Cato for the alleyoop), because there is no confidence that Steve will deliver the ball at the right time or place. Same goes for Mobley. The offense bogs down, cutters stop moving, and before long, we settle for too much dribbling. I daresay that Yao does not fight as hard, or move as crisply. That should not be the case, but it's a natural consequence. In short, there's no trust. JVG has been saying that for months. But now we have seen it. We have finally seen what the Rockets can be on offense and how the lack of trust hurts us.

    3. Francis will not morph into a SuperMJax anymore than MJax will get a 40 inch vertical. For now, MJax will be able to change the tempo and spark the team. Maybe some of what he does will rub off on Francis. I don't think it is a stretch to say that MJax's play will win a few additional ballgames, games that may ultimately be the difference in making the playoffs. JVg can insert MJax when the offense bogs down, or when we are suffering through a rash of turnovers. MJax has earned respect in the league, so Francis will not pout when his minutes decrease.

    What would John Wooden do?

    He would let MJax lead by example and slowly but surely adjust the players roles/playing time based on whether they were following that lead. That's how you get the players attention. The splinters on the pine hurt a lot more than anything else.

    As for our roster - we do not have ideal players at each position, but nor do we have a true gaping hole of incompetence. I was concerned about the SF position, but I like the addition of Boki to the lineup. His defense has been excellent and this limited playing time is giving him confidence. The Yao, Cato, Motay rotation is working well. MoTay and Yao have played inspired ball, and Cato has contributed. To be successful, we need to have 2 of those 3 playing well on a consistent basis.

    The true weakness on our roster was the backup PG position, but we appear to have solved that problem. I know one game does not a season make but MJax is a proven commodity. His role should increase and Francis will hopefully learn from him and also be given the opportunity to be a scoring machine.

    The excitement is back.
     
  2. LooneyToon

    LooneyToon Contributing Member

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    who's John Wooden?
     
  3. Rileydog

    Rileydog Contributing Member

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    Someone kill me. Kill me now.

    LooneyToon, are you Steve Francis?
     
  4. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

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    It's official, Steve is expendable. I'm going to miss him when he gets traded in the offseason. :(
     
  5. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    Excellent post, Rileydog. Just excellent. We'll have to see if this carries over to the Indiana game, which will be a much bigger test. I love it!

    Who's Wooden, Looney? Do a Google and check out the teams who played the "Game of the Century" in the Astrodome back in the day. One of his teams, riding an incredible winning streak, played the Houston Cougars of Guy Lewis and Elvin Hayes in the biggest basketball game, it might be argued, ever. Jan. 20, 1968... the first nationally televised collegiate basketball game, believe it or not. I listened to it at a drive-in theatre, pissing off my girlfriend... she wanted to make out. The place was rockin'... you could hear the cheers from the other cars as well as mine. That John Wooden.
     
  6. pong

    pong Member

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    wow, A-Train...i just noticed that you're "Running With Scissors.":eek:
     
  7. Rileydog

    Rileydog Contributing Member

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    do you really think so or are you just making fun of LooneyToones?
     
  8. Toast

    Toast Member

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    Um, I think Mark Jackson played 12 minutes last night.

    I expect MAYBE that many minutes a game from him. If the offense gets stagnant, now we have to routes: 1 - post presence of MoT and 2 - ball distribution of Mark Jackson.

    In all reality M Jax CANNOT defend most starting PG's in the league. Hell, put SF up against M Jax and SF will burn him every possession.

    Sure it's exciting to watch what M Jax does on the court. Hell yeah, he has the 2nd most assists of ALL TIME. But he's old and he has a little case of the Charles Barkley "backin' it in's." He sees the court EXTREMELY well and it's nice to see him distribute the ball to the right place at the right time.

    Hopefully the good things he does will be infectious on this squad. But don't expect us to dramatically change our team just because M Jax played a good 12 minutes last night.
     
  9. Rileydog

    Rileydog Contributing Member

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    I don't expect or want Mark Jackson to be our starter, or to command more than 12-15 mins a night. If he has to take on a greater load, that would be a symptom of a big problem . . . the offense is running so poorly that we have to have him out there that long.

    I'm just saying that M Jax showed us what the offense is capable of doing and, more pointedly, hilighted the lack of trust in each other. The only question now is what are we going to do about it.
     
  10. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    not saying all this isn't true
    but . . . .
    it *was* the KNICKS . . .did we just whipped them by 30
    with Steve going all the way????

    Rocket River
    one game a savior does not make
     
  11. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

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    That's true. It was just one game, and we did destroy them a week back with our current roster (not including MJ). ....heh that doesn't make much sense does it...:p

    MJ looked good last night and his control of the ball is amazing. It is still evident (all you have to do is see him on tv) that he is not in shape. I do not want him to be our starting PG, atleast not right now. BUT I do want him to see a lot of minutes. i love it when JVG switched them over and SF was our 2 for a while and MJ as the PG. But I don't think MJ can guard the athletic PG's in the NBA today.
     
  12. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

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    I think the point is that Francis isn't the difference maker in us making the playoffs or winning a championship. With Yao's improvement, the need for a scoring point guard with no defensive skills is less important. In other words, the difference between Francis and an average point guard in terms of winning on this current team is very small. Since Francis has the largest trade value on this team besides Yao makes him more expendable since it could allow us to get a well above average foward which we need more and a good point guard in return.
     

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