Sports Outside the Beltway

Investment Banker Assists Mavericks At The Line

The Mavericks are the only NBA team to use a free throw shooting coach. Gary Boren, an investment banker from Dallas, has helped, with a nod to deceased hoops coach Denny Price, the Mavs maintain a steady success rate at the free throw line. This year, the Mavericks are shooting close to 80 percent from the line.

I thought this quote was telling.

“What’s amazing is, these guys have seen miles of film running up and down the court and the coaches are yelling at them, but not one in a hundred has been filmed standing still shooting a free throw,” Boren said.

I can attest to this as a college player whose coach would fast forward the videotape through the free throw sequences.

We make fun of all of the Mavericks assistant coaches but in this case you cannot argue with the results.


Austin Croshere – Scoring Machine

Poor Bob Hill. The Seattle Supersonics coach draws up a game plan that tries to contain Dirk, force Jason Terry into situations where is uncomfortable and hope that the Sonics could take advantage of Josh Howard’s absence from the team only to get beat by a bench warmer who had only played 27 minutes the entire month of January. I wonder if Austin Croshere, who clocked in nearly 24 minutes against Seattle on Tuesday night, was even mentioned in the pregame meetings.

Croshere, who normally doesn’t get off the bench enough to score more than a basket or maybe some free throws, scored a career high 34 points in an incredible display of scoring prowess. In his first seven minutes of play Croshere scored 11 points. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Croshere went on to have the second highest points-to-minute ratio in Mavericks history.


The Power Debate: Mavs or Suns

The great debate is not who will win the Super Bowl, whether McGwire and Rose belong in the Hall of Fame, or if Beckham will awaken soccer in the U.S. The great debate is who has the better team? Mavs or Suns. I do not have the time or statistical juggling ability to determine objectively, so I will let you check the experts and their power (rankings.) What exactly makes these rankings powerful? Anyways, here is what the experts are saying.

Marc Stein (ESPN) using the force- Mavs

John Hollinger (ESPN) using statistics- Suns

Steve Kerr (Yahoo) using ex player cache - Mavs

Eddie Johnson (Hoops Hype) using the question: what team would I like to play for? – Suns

Tony Meija (Sportsline) using Fonzi’s cool - Mavs

Marty Burns (SI) using mega-media conglomerate strength - Mavs

Knickerblogger (Courtside Times) using OTTER - Mavs

Sam Blake Hofstetter (NBCsports) using the magic of Bud Collins’ ties – Suns

Bill Simmons (ESPN) using Tivo - Suns

What do you say? Be sure to list your power source.


Concerned NBA Fan: No Vote For Shane Battier, others

The NBA All-Star game is less than a month away and the endless debates are starting about who should be an All-Star and who might be an All-Star. Campaigns by teams and fans around the leaugue seek to make a difference in how the vote turns out. I propose a variation of the campaign. Instead of campaigning for potential players to be voted an All-Star why don’t we have campaigns that encourage fans to not vote for a player that is less than deserving. Here is my list of players that should not be voted for under the circumstances of this season:

Yao Ming, Rockets: Unbelievable start to the season does not warrant inclusion in a game that Ming will not be able to participate in because of an injury that has sidelined him for more than a month. Yao is deserving of a vote but his injury means that this is not his year.

Shaquille O’Neal, Heat: See Yao.

Shane Battier, Rockets: Currently, Battier is ahead of Josh Howard, Carlos Boozer, Shawn Marion, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom in the voting for Western Conference forwards. This is a travesty. This has to be a residual effect of the Chinese and foreign voting for Yao. My guess is that the Chinese voters who go to and vote for Yao are filling the rest of the ballot out with fellow Rockets thus explaining the high vote count for Battier and Tracy McGrady.

Any Center in the East: Besides a hurt Shaq and a solid Dwight Howard the rest of the vote getters include an ancient Alonzo Mourning, an ineffective Zaza Pachulia, and a forgettable Nazr Mohammed. If you have to vote for a center vote for Bogut, who is playing very good of late, or Dalembert, whose name is fun to say.

Jerry Stackhouse, Mavericks: I am a Mavericks guy (this is one of the few posts that was not exclusively focused on the Mavs) but how on earth is Stackhouse ahead of Ray Allen in the West voting for guards?


The Mavericks: Great Team, Second Fiddle

Jan Hubbard observes the travesty of the Mavericks lack of attention in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Part of the explanation for a lack of Mavericks Mania is because of the Cowboys. Almost a week after they were eliminated by Seattle, they still dominate sports coverage, particularly the air waves.

“I was listening to the radio [on Wednesday],” said WFAA/Ch. 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen, “and there was a long debate on whether Tony Romo is going to be that good. My God. It’s January, and we’re talking about next season?”

Hansen, however, admits to playing into the obsession with the Cowboys.

“This Mavericks team, I believe, is the best sports team in this city since the 1993 Cowboys,” he said, while watching the Dallas-Portland game from the hockey press box. “This is the best group of guys, and they are exciting to watch. But if Bill Parcells leaves tomorrow, or Tony Romo gets traded, there will not be a word about the Mavericks Sunday night on [Dale Hansen's] Sports Special. That’s the reality of Texas.”

This is what I have to put up with and I am not just complaining because I want more column inches or more late night highlights. This upsets me because the Mavericks are a special team. I mean, special enough to be placed on the list of other special teams like the 2004 Red Sox, the 2006 Boise State football team, and the 2004 Detroit Pistons team. I have no clue if the Mavericks will win the NBA title but I do know that I have never seen a team like this. Winning games they have no business winning (like the last two games), star play from a player whose legacy will carry into the next two decades (Dirk), a coach who somehow makes his team believe that every NBA game is a NCAA Tournament win-or-go home contest, and young players who balance style, pride, and bravado with real effort, hard work, and homework (Terry and Howard). Why should it take a championship for this team to get the appreciation it deserves?


Mavs’ Johnson Tricks Duncan and Spurs

According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Mavericks coach Avery Johnson used deception to throw Spurs star Tim Duncan off his game last Friday night in a 90-85 Mavericks win.

In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks bench would yell “Double” “Double” every time Duncan would get the ball but they would never double team the All-Star. The idea was to get Duncan thinking a double team was coming and slow down his movement with the ball or make him more likely to pass to another player. The tactic seemed to work. The Spurs only scored 16 points in the fourth period. Maybe the Mavericks should not cover him next game and yell “Single” “Single” instead. Here is a list of other words that can be yelled at Spurs’ players.

In homage to Brent Barry’s father’s free throw shooting style the bench could yell “Granny” “Granny” whenever Barry gets the ball.

In the playoffs, when Robert Horry is shooting a three the Mavericks need to yell “Preseason” “Preseason”

To Manu Ginobili – “Bald Spot” “Bald Spot”

To Michael Finley – “Finals” “Finals”

To Oberto – “Shower” “Shower”


Mavs 13 Game Winning Streak – An Analysis

The Lakers ended the Mavericks second longest winning streak in franchise history with a tight win last night in Los Angeles. I did some rudimentary analysis of the Mavericks first big streak of the year (12 games) and the streak that ended yesterday (13 games.) My focus was to determine which streak was more impressive. Here are my observations:

First Streak 12 games (Nov. 9 – Dec 1)
Road Games: 5
Opponents Faced More Than Once: Memphis
Shared Opponents with other streak: Phoenix, Charlotte, NO/OKC, San Antonio, Sacramento
Exclusive Opponents (faced only in this streak): Chicago, Portland, Toronto, Washington, Minnesota
Stinker Teams: Portland, Toronto, NO/OKC, Memphis (2), Charlotte
2006 Playoff Teams: Chicago, Phoenix, San Antonio, Washington, Sacramento, Memphis
Most Impressive Wins: Phoenix on the road, San Antonio at home
Circumstantial: This streak began with the fifth game of the season (at Phoenix) after the team started the year 0-4. The majority of the wins came without Josh Howard or Devean George who were out with injury.

Second Streak 13 games (Dec. 13 – Jan. 7)
Road Games: 5
Opponents Faced More Than Once: NO/OKC, Seattle
Shared Opponents with other streak: Phoenix, Charlotte, NO/OKC, San Antonio, Sacramento
Exclusive Opponents (faced only in this streak): Denver, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Indiana, Seattle, Philadelphia
Stinker Teams: Seattle (2), NO/OKC (2), Charlotte, Philadelphia
Most Impressive Wins: vs. Phoenix at home, San Antonio on the road
2006 Playoff Teams: Phoenix, San Antonio, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Indiana, Denver
Circumstantial: Played nearly two games without Dirk Nowitski and most of the games without Jerry Stackhouse.

Observations: These streaks are very similar but I may have to give the edge of impressiveness to the first streak based on the circumstances coming after an 0-4 start to the season and playing 9 games without Josh Howard. The second streak loses notoriety because of four games against patsies Seattle and NO/OKC and the benefit of playing Phoenix, LA Lakers, Indiana, and LA Clippers all at home. If the Mavericks would have won last night and made it two in a row on the road against the Spurs and Lakers then the second streak would have been the most impressive.


Boise State Ends My Pre-New Year’s Resolution In Style

Back in August I made an early New Year’s Resolution to ignore football and baseball. Being from Texas and a Rangers’ fan ignoring baseball wasn’t so hard but being from Texas and ignoring football can get you booked for the state hospital. I have largely succeeded and freed up a lot of newspaper time for basketball and a sudden interest in soccer. But sometimes an event happens that transcends personal prejudices and last night’s bowl game between Boise State and Oklahoma was one of those times. No one needed to understand the history, rules, or context of that game to fully appreciate it. It was as simple as all good stories dating back to the original David versus Goliath story. Here are a few of my thoughts from the game:

All Hail BCS: If it was not for the BCS, despite all of its silliness and criticism, this game would have never happened. So last year the BCS gave us a winner of a Championship Game and this year’s bowl game to remember. Not bad.

An early March Madness: The joy of every March is watching a number 1-3 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament fall to a Wichita State or a George Mason. College bowl games never give us those warm and fuzzy underdog moments. Finally, we got our March Madness moment in a bowl game. I will not belittle the quality of Boise State but the reality is that the Boise State’s of the world do not beat Oklahoma on New Year’s Day.

Ridiculous to Reality: One of these days I plan to write a series of books based on ridiculous statements I have heard at sporting events, concerts, church services, etc. The premise is that no lack of experience or information will stop people from spouting their opinion or asking a ludicrous question. (Kind of like this blog). In light of this, I guarantee you that their were thousands of people in the stands and at home telling their TV screens or whoever was eavesdropping that the “Statue of Liberty” play would work for that two point conversion. Lo and behold, someone actually ran the play. I don’t think I have ever seen that play in a college game much less in the biggest play in Boise State football history. Boise State just became America’s team because they used that play, the same one that millions have suggested to no avail over the years.

America’s Team: The beauty of the Boise State win was through their liberal use of trick plays. 98% of college programs would have run a fade pattern or a run up the middle for the two point conversion. Few teams have the guts to gamble their coaching career, their booster money, and their legacy on a trick play. Great job Coach Peterson (I don’t even know his first name).

Short list of available coaches: Every year, college or pro, Bob Stoops gets mentioned for job openings, especially at high profile jobs. His assistant coaches have taken head jobs at Texas Tech and Kansas. But, from top to bottom, the Oklahoma staff was out-coached by the Boise State staff.

Five Star Recruits: The announcers (see below) kept talking about the Five Star recruits of Oklahoma versus the cast offs of Boise State. Oklahoma, probably more than any other team in the nation, recruits for speed at virtually every position. The profile of an OU player is fairly consistent – good size and speed. When you treat players like pieces of meat or race horses you may get left with players who are deficient in other areas of football ability. Though possessing fine athletes themselves, Boise may have an advantage in recruiting talented football players rather than track stars and sometimes that can make a difference.

Fox: Everything Fox does is over the top. That is a given. But one thing that Fox does that I appreciate is their obsession with showing crowd reaction. If we were watching last night’s game on ABC we would see the same five fans on each side the entire game. Fox consistently finds the best anguished, shocked, and elated faces. The rollercoaster of emotions showed in last night’s game was exhausting but essential to the larger story.

Three’s A Nightmare: Ever since Howard Cosell donned his yellow Wild World of Sports jacket, TV sports executives have been trying to recreate 1975 by using three announcers in the booth. It does not work. The list of the best three man announcing teams starts with Cosell, Meredith, and Gifford and ends with Marv Albert, Steve Jones, and Bill Walton with only Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and Al Leiter in between. Last night, Tom Brennaman, Barry Alvarez , and some guy named Charles Davis teamed up for the broadcast and it stunk. Brennaman tries too hard to make bold, definitive statements and Charles Davis was talking incessantly and performed the ultimate sports cliché by apologizing for using a sports cliché. Coach Alvarez had some insightful things to say, especially about the coaching decisions in the last five minutes of the game but he had to blurt them our or repeat them in order for it to be considered in between Davis’ chuckling rah-rah. Fox, dump Davis and give us more coach.

The Prestige: If you are going to have sideline reporters make him or her have some legitimacy. It seems that ESPN and CBS pick five new pretty faces each year to stick in front of their cameras. Is this a reality series we are missing on Bravo? I mean I hate Jim Grey but at least when he is making up crap I pay attention. Much kudos to Fox for using the veteran Chris Myers instead of the Maxim Girl of the Month.


Less Than Five Minutes with Cuban, Johnson, and Nelson

Just about every team in the NBA was rumored to be interested in Allen Iverson before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets last week. The Mavericks got mentioned a few times simply because the Mavericks, based on their high profile owner and national cache, are becoming the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees of the NBA (“being mentioned in big deals is almost as important as being in the middle of big deals”). According to local reports, the Mavericks brain trust of Mark Cuban, Anthony Johnson, and Donnie Nelson spent less than five minutes discussing whether or not Iverson would be a good fit for the team. Their decision, obviously, was to not pursue any deal for the Sixers, now Nugget, guard.

This got me thinking of other decisions concerning the Mavericks that took less than five minutes to discuss. Here is the list:

Whether the team should send Bennett Salvatore a Christmas card?

After the retirement of Shawn Bradley and Keith Van Horn back to back, should the team be more tolerant of people from Utah.

Just how many assistant coaches do we have?

Whether the purchase of YouTube by Google was a wise deal? (Cuban wanted to discuss but Nelson and Johnson were not interested)

Extending the contract of MavsMan

If anyone would notice if the team tried to sell printed but never worn “NBA Champions” shirts in the gift shop?

Piping lost episodes of the The Benefactor into the visiting locker room.

Developing a new stat that correlates the number of head shots of Cuban during games with the success on the court. (Does Cuban get more airtime when the Mavs are winning or when they are losing?)

Determining how to start 0-4 in the playoffs and then win the next 12 games. Just like they started the season.

Making a trade of George (Devean)-Washington (Darius, preseason free agent) for Thomas (Tim) and Jefferson (Richard).

Letting Terrell Owens try out for the team after the NFL season.


Mavericks and NBA Christmas Wish List

I wish:

That Avery Johnson would mumble just once. He has the best enunciation known to man.

That the NBA would start an assistant coaches league where at halftime three coaches from one team play three coaches from another in half court three-on-three. The Mavericks have enough coaches that they could wear down teams over the course of the year. The winner gets to throttle the Duke assistant coaches. I want to see Chris Collins get dunked on by Jack Sikma.

That the Harlem Globetrotters would be named the official national team to play in all international competitions. And also provide halftime entertainment.

That the NBA would have an age ceiling on referees. It was interesting to note that there was no referees above 50 officiating the Soccer World Cup games this year.

That Devin Harris would no longer be refered to as “The Up and Coming Devon Harris”. The boy has arrived.

That the Dallas media would realize that all the time they spend sniffing Terrell Owens jock could be spent on the only story that will matter come the middle of January – the Mavericks’ quest for a title.

That Mark Cuban would stop his sarcastic approval act when commenting on the actions of the league office. Surprisingly, the Dallas media never comments on this. Do they really believe his mock glowing accolades for Stern and company?

That Shaq will show at least a passing interest in the regular season. This is purely for my selfish fantasy hoop purposes.

That the Clippers dream run of last year wouldn’t be a fluke.

That all true hoop fans would take on the Nash/Dirk hairstyle philosphy of shaving your hair in the offseason and not cutting it again until the season is over.

That Austin Croshere find a contributive role other than bench cheerleader.

That no assistant coach ever has plastic surgery. Tex Winter is like 80 years old but he looks 35 years younger than that.

That the injury bug going around the league does not reach the Mavericks.

That the Mavericks are hoisting a championship trophy in June.


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