Posts Tagged ‘Mike Fratello’

Turkey, Spain, France Roll on Day 2

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They say styles make fights in boxing.

Same goes for basketball, in our opinion. And we can’t think of a better one than what we’ll see when Turkey and host team Lithuania lock up Friday. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing games, along with the Germany-France matchup, of the first phase of EuroBasket 2011.

But before we get a chance to enjoy that one, we have to catch up on all the Day 2 happenings. Our roundup …

Turkey 90, Great Britain 61 (Box Score)

It’s pretty obvious after just two games that Turkey has everything you need to make some serious noise in this competition. They have a strong inside presence, led by Omer Asik, Oguz Savas and bolstered by the likes of Enes Kanter. They have plenty of long-distance firepower, courtesy of Omer Onan and Emir Preldzic. And they have the sort of savvy veteran presence (that would be you, Hedo Turkoglu) necessary to survive a crisis. This one was over before it got started.

  • An early 3-point barrage (4-for-7) was the difference for Turkey as they rushed to a 17-3 lead and never looked back. Onan was 4-for-5 from deep and Preldzic 2-for-3. They led the winners in scoring.
  • Much like Dirk Nowitzki used to do in some of these competitions, Luol Deng will have to settle for being the most talented player on the court most nights. Great Britain isn’t quite deep enough or simply good enough to match a team of Turkey’s caliber.
  • Turkey went off on a 13-0 run in the second quarter, including nine from Kanter, and used a relentless 20-4 run to blow the game open. Kanter did his best work during that stretch, scoring nine of his 11 points. His offensive game is much more advanced than we realized. He was also one of four players to score in double figures for the winners.

France 85, Israel 68 (Box Score)

Watching Joakim Noah do his dirty work never gets old for us. The same fire he displays when playing for the Bulls was on display in France’s rout of Israel. Noah’s nine points and nine rebounds served as a nice tone-setter for a team that looked much better on Day 2 than it did in the opener. With Chris Kaman and Germany up next, followed by games against Italy and Serbia, France will need every bit of energy Noah can muster in the coming days.

  • Tony Parker is a cut above most any other point guard he will face in the competition and the first two days have done nothing to change our minds about that. Parker was knocking down shots from everywhere and his 21 points and eight assists led the way.
  • Mickael Gelabale, you might remember him from his NBA days in Seattle, looked good. He finished with 13 points and made all three of his shots from beyond the 3-point line.
  • France doesn’t have the most physically intimidating frontcourt rotation. That said, a combined 11 points and 16 rebounds from Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin is a luxury plenty of teams would love to have.

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Donuts For Rubio In EuroBasket Opener

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Twelve games in one day is a bit much to chew on when you’ve been away from live game action for nearly two months.

We’re admittedly a little rusty around the hideout.

But we can’t thank the basketball gods enough for delivering us this smorgasbord of hoops when we needed it most. Day 1 of EuroBasket 2011 was filled with action and plenty of surprises, both good and bad.

In case you were worried, Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t lost a step since his triumphant playoff run and Finals MVP showing. Pau Gasol looked good and rested. And the host nation team, Lithuania, didn’t disappoint in their opener.

There was even a Ricky Rubio sighting this morning, although I’m still trying to figure out how he pulled off the performance he did. In fact, Rubio stole the show here at the hideout, posting donuts across the board (save for a couple of steals) in 16 uninspiring minutes in his international debut as a bona fide NBA player.

More on that later in the rundown of games we saw … (some more than others) …

Serbia 80, Italy 68 (Box Score)

You know it’s going to be a good competition when you tip off group play with a game like this one. Italy chewed into an 18-point deficit in time to make Serbia work for this one in the fourth quarter. Serbia made just nine of 26 shots from beyond the 3-point line to Italy’s 2-for-17, another advantage for a team that finished as the silver medalist in this competition in 2009. Having superior depth is what made the difference for Serbia as they got 30 points off the bench in the win.

  • Italy’s 18-10 lead early on didn’t hold up, not with center Andrea Bargnani contributing just two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half (he came off the bench). He warmed up after halftime and finished with a game-high 22 and nine rebounds. Danilo Gallinari turned his right ankle midway through the third quarter and came out of the game a couple of minutes later. He did return in the fourth.
  • Milan Macvan came off of the bench for Serbia and dropped 10 second-quarter points as they erased that early deficit. He chipped in with four more during an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter to help put the game away. He found all the holes in the Italy’s zone defense, making six of his seven shots from the floor. As we learned from the Dallas Mavericks during the playoffs, bench play is often the difference between winning and losing in a tournament setting.
  • Serbia’s starting guards, Milos Teodosic and Milenko Tepic, put on a show of their own. They combined for 30 points and 12 assists and combined to shoot a wicked 6-for-10 from beyond the 3-point line.

Spain 83, Poland 78 (Box Score)

One Gasol is enough to keep defending champion Spain in the hunt for a repeat title. Having two, however, is a luxury that no doubt every other team in the competition would love to have. Pau Gasol scored 12 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter as Spain had to hold on to squeeze past Poland in the final seconds to win their opener. Marc Gasol finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes of action.

  • Rubio was still the one guy we were most eager to look at in this game and something was clearly missing from his game. He missed a wide-open, second-half layup and was not a factor in his limited minutes on the floor. Piling up zeros across the board the way he did after all the hype that has accompanied him the past months (and years) was definitely a disappointment.
  • Seeing Serge Ibaka work as a role player behind the Gasols was interesting, especially after seeing him play such a huge role for a Thunder team that made its way to the Western Conference finals during the NBA playoffs. Ibaka was his usual workmanlike self, though, scoring seven points on 3-for-4 shooting in his 14 minutes.
  • HT-fave and former Hang Time Grizzlies point guard Juan Carlos Navarro is always a welcome sight on the court. We jokingly nicknamed him the “Stockbroker” a few years ago (the logic being that he’d look like a Wall Street-type in street clothes). It’s a term of endearment for a player that always shows up the way he did against Poland (23 points). His free throws and a crucial 3-pointer in the final seconds were the difference in what turned out to be a much tighter game than most expected.

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The (FIBA) Games Must Go On

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Mike Fratello has spent decades making himself comfortable on the basketball court wherever he’s been. But Fratello has always felt especially at ease in the baby blue and gold he wore at Hackensack High back in his native New Jersey.

Those North Jersey roots were on Fratello’s mind as he prepared his latest team for EuroBasket 2011, where Ukraine’s national team will sport the same colors this week as they attempt to chase one of the top spots in the tournament and the spoils that come along with being one of the best teams in European basketball.

“I do feel very comfortable putting the old blue and gold on,” Fratello said with a chuckle. “Plus, this competition is as big as it gets right now in the game of basketball, given the circumstances with the lockout and everything else that’s going on right now in the NBA.”

You’ve read about it all summer, this wave of NBA talent that will hit foreign soil to play ball if the regular season is delayed because of the lockout.

You won’t have to wait around to see NBA talent in action now. With EuroBasket in Lithuania Aug. 31 through Sept. 18 and the FIBA Americas being played in Argentina Aug. 30 through Sept. 11, there will be plenty of familiar faces on display, including reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Clippers center Chris Kaman leading the German team in EuroBasket. Brothers Pau Gasol of the Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Hang Time Grizzlies headline the Spanish team.

Spurs star Manu Ginobili and Rockets star Luis Scola are the biggest names for the host team in Argentina. Mavericks point guard Jose Barea and Celtics point guard Carlos Arroyo will run the show for Puerto Rico while Hawks All-Star center Al Horford will team up with Kings swingman Francisco Garcia and Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva for the Dominican Republic.

Our nearly two month hiatus from basketball as we know it comes to a momentary end this week with the game itself back on the global stage with national teams on both sides of the globe vying for those coveted early invites to the London Olympics. Every game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

Automatic bids to the Olympics are at stake for the top two teams in each competition. Four more teams — the third through sixth place finishers from EuroBasket — will also earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July. Three more teams — the third through fifth place finishers from FIBA Americas — will earn bids to the Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament next July.

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An Upset Winner For DPOY?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – “And the 2010-11 Defensive Player of the Year award goes to …”

It’s April Fool’s day folks.

You know it’s Dwight Howard‘s award until further notice. But the Czar, Mike Fratello, brings up some very good points about the five quality candidates he has on his DPOY ballot.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 47)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While everyone else spends all their time discussing all of the problems our friends in Miami are dealing with these days, here at the hideout we’re all about solutions.

We don’t like seeing Chris Bosh in pain. We don’t like hearing Erik Spoelstra clarify his comments from the day before because whatever he said was misinterpreted or blown completely out of context. And we certainly don’t want to pile on the Heat while they’re down, that five-game losing streak is nothing to play with these days.

So we’ve gathered an expert crew to help us sort through the issues facing the Heat, including top professionals in their respective fields that have the knowledge and experience that make Episode 47 of the Hang Time Podcast one of our most diabolical efforts to date.

TNT’s Mike Fratello, the Czar himself, stops by to talk share his perspective as a former coach, noted sports psychologist Dr. Rick Van Haveren also lends his expertise and we wrap up with the analytical perspective from our main man and NBA.com’s numbers guru John Schuhmann. In addition to that star-studded crew, both NBA TV and TNT’s Chris Webber and Lakers star Ron Artest make special guest appearances (you have to listen to fully comprehend) to discuss the Heat’s current state of affairs.

With the Lakers and Heat set to get busy tonight on TNT, you don’t want to miss this one.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Jazz In Need Of A Miracle?

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s a good thing there are a few days between games in this Lakers-Jazz series, per at least one man keeping an eye on things.

Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune has seen enough after two games, two tough wins for the home team.

He’s convinced the Jazz need more than the humans in the uniforms can provide:

It’s been a theme throughout the Jazz’s postseason, a kind of tent-revival, chapter-and-verse call for a little belief, a little faith in the face of untimely injuries, a short roster and long odds. Make that a lot of belief, a lot of faith. Somebody — was it the ’69 Mets? — once said that those two agents are precisely what precedes the miracle. Sometimes, they produce it.

Tuesday night at Staples Center was not one of those times.

The Jazz believed, and believed some more, they huffed and they puffed, and never quit, but, at the end of Game 2, there was only a double-barreled blast of disappointment and defeat, again, at the hands of the Lakers, 111-103.

Hallelujah went to hell.

Alongside Kyrylo Fesenko‘s game.

Ever notice how Mehmet Okur suddenly transforms into a much better player when he doesn’t play?

It was the eighth straight playoff loss for the Jazz here in L.A. in the last three postseasons. It was the 10th playoff loss overall through that span to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

So, how’s everybody doing now? Do the Jazz yet trust that they can beat the Lakers?

“I hope so,” said Deron Williams, “or else we’ll be going home early.”

They’re going home for a bit of hope in Game 3.

Williams said something before Game 2 that sounded even more ominous, that sounded more like concession than confidence, though he wasn’t necessarily intending it that way:

“The better team is going to win this series.”

We all know what that means.

The Lakers were the better team Tuesday night, just like they were Sunday afternoon, by just a few numerical breaths.

Gordon might be on to something.

The gap between the top and bottom in the Western Conference is razor-thin compared to what it is between the top and bottom in the East.

The Lakers keep leaving the door open (same as they did against the Thunder in the first round), but their opponents either can’t seem to take advantage of it or don’t have the tools to take advantage.

Maybe it is time for a higher power to go to work in someone’s favor … or maybe the Jazz just need a trip home for a couple of games.

We shall see!

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Awards season!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Awards season is upon us.

Everyone has their own ideas about who should win what, including many FOHT.

TNT’s David Aldridge nailed his picks, including our favorite Coach of the Year pick in Jazz boss Jerry Sloan, hand-selected from of a crowded field of worthy candidates:

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“This category may have the most number of deserving candidates. A legit case can be made for [Scott] Skiles, who has piloted the Bucks back to the playoffs; for [Mike] Woodson, who has guided the Hawks to their best record in a dozen years despite inexplicably being left to dangle in a lame duck year; for [Scott] Brooks, who has surrounded [Kevin] Durant with defensive principles and responsibilities, and got a young team to almost never play young; for [Nate] McMillan, who has continued to get maximum effort and production from player after player despite a rasher of injuries to every center walking, and a midseason trade for Marcus Camby; and for [Alvin] Gentry, who has coaxed a 50-win season out of a Suns team no one thought would come close to anything like that.

But the pick here, again, is Sloan. It has been Sloan many times over the years, for he has, incredibly and ridiculously, never been given the award. It is Sloan this year because, dealt an incredibly difficult hand — like coaching Carlos Boozer, who didn’t especially want to be in Utah playing for the Jazz, who didn’t especially want him — did what may be his best job in 22 seasons. He told Boozer, I’ll coach, you play. We’ll have no problems.

They’ve had no problems — not that we’d know about it, anyway, such is the juice that Sloan still has, with general manager Kevin O’Connor solidly behind him, just as Utah’s ownership is solidly behind O’Connor. Sloan-O’Connor-Greg Miller, no space between them. That allows Sloan to coach his team. It allows him to continue to seek a simple truth for his players: compete to the best of your ability. If you win, that’s great. If you lose, that’s acceptable, if the other team is better and you did your best. The Jazz always seem to compete against the game of basketball as much as their opponents. And so Sloan overcomes injuries, and trades, and Andrei Kirilenko figures out a way to play for him again, and the Jazz win 50 again, like that happens every season.”

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3-D AND KAMLA, TOO!

The Game Time crew chimed in as well:

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YEARBOOK STYLE

NBA.com’s Adena Andrews went yearbook on us with her picks, including this treat:

Most Team Spirit: Cavs Bench

“I heard you got to go to training camp three weeks early just to learn the handshakes.” That line from the Nike MVPuppets commercial sums it all up. There is no team that has bonded over pregame rituals more than the Cleveland Cavaliers. From saluting the general to the Shogun bows, the Cavs have brought the pregame handshake to a whole new level. Also the enthusiasm they show on the bench during the game is almost just as good as their play. Standing up, holding each other back and giving “The Stink Face” on a dunk, it’s perfect NBA theatre courtesy of the bench.

Worst Case of Senioritis: Boston Celtics

Put three aging veterans on your team and they grab a championship their first year. For the rest of their days they will be sitting on the porch, smelling of Ben Gay telling stories of the days they won it all. Then they will slowly go to the big hardwood court in the sky. The C’s record has been on a steady decline since the championship season. They have also dropped one spot in the East postseason standing since last season. They still have an occasional showing of old-man strength, like last week’s game where Ray Allen put away the Cavaliers with six 3-pointers. But on a whole, the Celtics are past their expiration date and may very well be spoiled after a first-round exit this postseason.
Runner up: San Antonio Spurs

Best Hair: Brandon Jennings

The rook brought back the Gumby and the Bobby Brown fade. Enough said. He is giving kids an education in music and styles that were cool before they were born. When your hair is capable of educating the youth, you earn a spot in the golden barbershop chair. Respectful bow to you Mr. Jennings. Respectful bow.
Runner up: Ron Artest

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AND THE VINNY GOES TO …

And we can’t forget my main man and Hang Time Podcast partner Vince Thomas and his “Vinny” awards, which mirror most everything else you’ll see. Vince did, however, offer up something of a surprising pick for Rookie of the Year (if you consider not picking Tyreke Evans a surprise):

“Nominees: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee; Tyreke Evans, Sacramento; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Darren Collison, New Orleans; DeJuan Blair, San Antonio

And The Vinny goes to: Stephen Curry

Right before All-Star break, I wrote that Evans was my pick for ROY, although I said he wasn’t the runaway pick. The catch is, Jennings was the dude I had on his heels. Fast forward to mid-March and I had switched up. Curry was my new pick. This is what I wrote: “There’s a slew of talent in the NBA, but not all of the talented guys are red-blooded, “to the core” ball players. Steph’s a ball player. He plays it well. He plays it with style and drama and panache. He plays it better than any other rookie. That’s why he’s my Rookie of the Year.” I’m sticking with this.”

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COACH FRATELLO’S MOST IMPROVED, TOO

The old coach, Mike Fratello, breaks down his pick for most improved, and it might be someone you hadn’t thought of:

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IN DUE TIME

Here at Hang Time, we realize that as one season closes another one begins. We don’t believe in handing out hardware before it’s time. So we’ll allow everyone else to float these so-called winners your way for now, and believe us, there is more on the way.

But when the regular season is officially done, and only then, we’ll deliver the real goods.