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Rudy T not cusring Houston's bad luck....

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by HOOP-T, Dec 18, 2001.

  1. HOOP-T

    HOOP-T Member

    Jan 26, 2000
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    Rudy T isn't cursing Rockets' bad luck
    By Sean Deveney - The Sporting News

    The situation has grown too grim to be glib, too depressing to be droll.

    It might be a nifty way to turn a phrase, to stand back and wax witty at the expense of the hard-luck Rockets. Perhaps there is some kind of curse -- sportswriters have great fun with curses -- caused by the departure of Hakeem Olajuwon, now in Toronto after 17 years with the Rockets. The Hex of Hakeem, that sounds good. Or perhaps this is retribution for having the nerve to win consecutive championships during Michael Jordan's first retirement. How about the Jordan Jinx?

    Such phrases are bouncing around my noggin, at least until Rudy Tomjanovich emerges from the locker room after another disheartening loss and stands silent for a moment, reading the dour tale told by the box score.

    "We have got to do a better job rebounding," he says to the gathered reporters, matter-of-factly, as if a few more rebounds really might be all his team is missing. It's like the captain of the Hindenburg saying, "If only these tail winds would let up a bit..."

    It's not that Tomjanovich is delusional -- he has coached too long for that. It's that he is trying to make the best of what he has. His last five seasons have been governed by Murphy's law, so no misfortune surprises him, shakes him or makes him throw his hands to the sky and demand to know, "Why me?"

    Such a noble attitude takes the fun out of coming up with clever names and wacky premises for the team's hardships.

    "Coach is trying to keep us up, he is always staying positive, but it wears on him," says shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. "He is doing a good job of it. We have to keep plugging away. It's bad, and it is getting worse."

    Here's how bad it has gotten: The Rockets' losing streak hit 13 on Saturday with a 76-73 defeat at the hands of the Heat, and Houston is now 7-18. Power forward Maurice Taylor is out for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon and will miss the first five games of next season after getting suspended last week for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Star point guard Steve Francis, who has been sitting with a ruptured plantar fascia, was charged with driving while intoxicated last weekend.

    Small forward Glen Rice has knee problems. Center Kelvin Cato has a wrist injury. Mobley has been playing, but he is bothered by an ankle injury. Coming into the season, that was the Rockets' expected starting five. At one point last week, Tomjanovich broke the huddle with a lineup of Tierre Brown, Oscar Torres, Eddie Griffin, Terence Morris and Walt Williams. That's four rookies and Williams.

    But Tomjanovich has been here before. Just last season, when the Rockets barely missed the playoffs, the team played without Taylor and Olajuwon for long stretches. The season before that, it was Charles Barkley's knee and Olajuwon's hernia. And before that, it was shoulder problems for Barkley, knee problems for Olajuwon and groin problems for Clyde Drexler.

    Remember 1996, when Tomjanovich used, in a close game, a lineup of Tracy Moore, Tim Breaux, Melvin Booker, Pete Chilcutt and Charles Jones?

    "Every year since the championships has been like this," Tomjanovich says. "I have not had a healthy year in a long time. And that was with the older guys. Now, we got young guys, and it's the same thing. I put lineups out there and I look and think, 'God, we have a lot of young guys out there, don't we?'"

    Tomjanovich has experience with the injuries. That helps him deal with watching his players go down, helps him keep a bold appearance in front of his team, helps him make his players believe that rebounding is the real culprit here, not some devilish designs dreamed up by the fates. He has a sense of perspective, having been with the Rockets as a player, executive and coach for 32 years. His job is not in danger -- he just started a four-year contract extension. That helps him keep the big picture in mind, at least in front of the team. But, privately, the losing has taken its toll.

    "The past has helped me deal with this, but it's hard," he says. "I have had a lot of tough nights, tough mornings. You sit in the hotel room and look at all the things that could have been. The outside forces and all that. And you focus on those things more when you have a team that has to deal with every possession being hard. So I have had a hard time dealing with it.

    "But I don't do my team any good when I am in that (mood) -- that persecuted, self-pitying, whatever the hell it is. That feeling. It doesn't do you any damn good. It does not change anything. I have got to be at my best for these guys, and these things are going to happen."

    Within the Rockets' locker room, there still is talk of making the playoffs, despite the injuries, despite the losing streak. Tomjanovich says, "Sometimes it breaks teams. This is the test. You just have to hang in there and say, 'Don't ease up.'" That's echoed by Mobley, who says, "Everything is going to come together sooner or later. It is hard to see now because we are in a tough position, but we will be there."

    It's easy to believe. If the Rockets can just stay afloat until Francis gets healthy, if they can just get Rice back ... and, hey, before the injury, Cato was not playing too badly, right?

    It's difficult to pick on the Rockets. It's just as difficult not to latch on to the optimism, no matter how ridiculous, that their coach has maintained. Even sitting in his office, with only a few assistant coaches around, Tomjanovich still is talking about his frustration with the latest defeat. "The rebounding," he says. "Where was our rebounding?"

    Maybe he really believes it. At least he does a good job pretending he does.
  2. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

    Feb 18, 1999
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    Fire Rudy! :rolleyes:
  3. Woofer

    Woofer Contributing Member

    Oct 10, 2000
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    Yeah, why the heck did he play Walt? :) I like his attitude. If only he could teach the players to push the ball down court and stay active and pass on offense. Rudy should be the cheerleader and someone else should take charge of X's and O's. How about Clyde the Glide? Could it be any worse?

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