Up Jumps Da Boogie

Once upon a time Timbabland and Magoo – with the help of a few friends – showed us how to party. On Sunday night after the NBA All-Star game had ended – in which Anthony Davis won MVP and set a new record for points scored (52) in the All-Star Game – Dell Demps (New Orleans Pelicans General Manager) and Alvin Gentry (Head Coach) did their own impression of Timb and Magoo. Demps was able to pull off a trade for big man DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. I don’t care much to talk about the trade details because that’s been ran into the ground. What I will tell you is that I was definitely shocked by the move. When say “shocked” I mean I had to pause from playing FIFA 17 on PS4 and digest what was happening. I got a text of “congrats” and “wow” before I knew what had taken place. I’m still a bit shocked by the move BUT I’ll take a move for Boogie over Jahlil Okafor 10 times out of 10. The current landscape of sports has shown me that you have to strike while the iron is hot. I’m well aware of Boogie’s attitude and the stories of his time in Sacramento. Look all I know is that he’s likely to be on the Pelicans’ roster until the summer of 2018 (barring anything major happens before then).

The addition of Boogie means the Pelicans will see some needed space on the offensive end of the court. To take advantage of this open space the shooters will need to be ready. They haven’t been consistent thus far (and they weren’t last night) but hopefully that’ll change the remainder of this season. The tweets below from @NOLAJake show how bad the Pels were on uncontested shots versus the Rockets last night.

New Orleans is currently 2.5 games from the 8th spot in the West with 24 games to play. Before last night’s disaster I’d already put in my head that I’d take a record of 15-10 to end the season. If the Playoffs come with that then cool but I’m fine without it. *I’m well aware that the move for Cousins leads some to believe the team will reach the Playoffs. Davis and Cousins held down their end of the bargain last night against Houston combining for 56 points, 23 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 6 blocks. So it’s clear that those two will be able to bring it. The team will need Jrue Holiday to find his way to help move the team forward.

Another key for New Orleans will be deciding what type of style they want to play. Under Alvin Gentry they’ve tried to play with a faster pace. That hasn’t worked well as they currently rank 27th in Offensive Rating according to http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2017_ratings.html. By contrast the Houston Rockets are 2nd. The Rockets have made it clear as to what they want to do on offense. The goal for Houston is to play at a fast pace, share the ball to get a great shot and ensure that said shot is either a layup, three pointer, or trip to the free throw line. The shot chart in the tweet below from @Rockets_Insider shows how well that game plan worked against New Orleans last night.

The Rockets attempted 51 three-pointers! And made 20 of them. While the Pelicans took 31 and made only SIX! This is the 2nd blowout victory for the Rockets over New Orleans this season and the two teams will play twice in March. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pelicans adjust the next time the teams play. Unfortunately the Pelicans will be without Omri Casspi – who came over from Sacramento with Boogie – due to a broken thumb. That won’t help a team that’s void of confident shooters.

In hoops news closer to home and near my heart…the City of Jackson’s basketball community lost legendary coach Orsmond Jordan. I’ll always remember Coach Jordan for his time at Murrah High School in the 1990s when I was learning about the game. Coach Jordan also came over and gave a pep talk before the 9th Grade JPS Championship Game when I played. He will be missed but his legacy in the history of High School Basketball will live on. Rest easy Coach Jordan.

http://mississippitoday.org/2017/02/19/basketball-pioneer-coach-orsmond-jordan-has-died-at-82/

Stats and info courtesy of:

http://stats.nba.com/

http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2017_ratings.html

 

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Up Jumps Da Boogie

City of Hoops

So last night I got a text about “Top 5 JPS Basketball Players” that I’ve seen play. I’ve been asked this question a few times over the years and as each year passes it gets harder for me to answer. The difficulty isn’t that I don’t remember “players” but it is because I’ve seen so much JPS Basketball. My dive into “Jackson’s HS” basketball circuit started in 1992-1993 when my dad would take me along to see Murrah play in front of standing room crowds. At the time I was wowed by these guys – Othella Harrington, Ronnie Henderson, Jesse Pate – being that I was only in the 3rd grade. I would’ve never imagined that years later I’d walk the same halls as those guys when I reached high school. The dominance by JPS in basketball shows when you look at the string of years (since 1995) that at least one – either Boy’s or Girl’s – team represented the school district in a State Championship basketball game.

The history in basketball for JPS goes a long way. From the times when Lanier High School was winning National Championships in the 1950s and 1960s to the days when no one was able to stop “The Dynasty” that Coach Anna Jackson built at Murrah. We saw Provine & Lanier battle it out on the court so many times. My favorite was in 1997 when a scrappy Provine team made their way to the 5A Championship game and played the favored Bulldogs. The game was an overtime thriller that set the tone for the rivalry that followed year after year. We watched as Jim Hill made a historic run to “The Big House” under late coach Fred Harris. They fell short to Lanier that time but years later we watched as one of Coach Harris’s former players Stanford Speech led the Tigers to the State Championship. We’ve seen Callaway have their taste of success over the last 10 years. We’ve seen Forest Hill come close a few times on the boys side but not be able to finish. While the girls team got there and won. Even Bailey – now only a Middle School for APAC – made a run in the State Tournament in 2006. Wingfield is the only school that I haven’t seen have that moment of glory. It’s not because of a shortage of talent. The Falcons have been subject to some bad luck. I recall Wingfield having the best team in the state about 5 or 6 years ago. They had an undefeated regular season and ended up having to travel to Meridian for an “elimination” game. They ended up losing and finished without making it to the Coliseum. I can tell stories for days about the games I’ve seen and heard about.

There’s NO WAY that I can give a “Top 5”. I don’t like doing it and as I mentioned above there are too many names that race through my mind. At one point it seemed like every school had a standout player to watch for. Speaking of names, I started to list some from each school but stopped because that was too difficult. Also I couldn’t limit it to just “boys”. I saw some of the best HS Girl’s Basketball that the State of Mississippi had to offer many a day at good ole 1400 Murrah Drive. The coaches that have roamed the sidelines at the schools have been top notch.  JPS has produced numerous State Champions, State and Metro Player’s of the Year, McDonald’s All-Americans, All-State and All-Metro recipients and so on… We’ve dreaded going to “Da Dawg Pound” over at “833” (both Old and New Gym). Seen and heard it all from “Westside Al”. Gotten over to Forest Hill for a “big game” only to be told it’s already sold out. Folks have been pepper sprayed, bottles have been thrown on the court, we’ve seen high flying dunks and buzzer beating 3s. Somehow Pepsi is still sponsoring the “Christmas” Tournament and despite being told to “get your hat-your coat-and leeeaaavveee!!!” we still returned. 25 years later I’m still being wowed.

 

 

City of Hoops

Football Interview, Part 2

If you’re from Jackson then it’s likely that you’re familiar with Newell Field. It is currently used by Jackson Public Schools and Belhaven University. Most of my memories of the field center around JPS middle school and high school football games. I even shared a few personal memories on that field while I was in high school. I’m sure the stands will be filled the next 3-4 weeks as JPS Rival Schools meet to see who will have bragging rights in the City.

Today’s interviewee spoke of his time playing as a youngster and his time in college. One thing he mentioned was the transition from high school to college. He mentioned the term – redshirt – which is a common phrase for most incoming college freshmen (it may also be used by players that are sophomores/juniors/seniors). A redshirt is often designated for players that need time to adjust to college life on and off the field. It allows them to sit out a year and still have their remaining year(s) to play.

My interview today is with an individual that is a product of JPS. He used his talents to earn a scholarship to a NCAA “D-1” school and a college degree.

When did you first fall in love with football/earliest memory of the game?

Wow. 1st memory is easily going to a (I hate to admit this) JSU game. Family was/is huge JSU supporters. Well not so much now but more on that later. We traveled to all the games. Never missed a fall Saturday. I fell in love watching Wavy Dave (RIP) perform and hearing the 2nd best SWAC band perform. My mama never wanted me to play football which is why I didn’t play organized ball until 7th grade. I feel like that cheated me somewhat but I turned out ok.

What was your funnest time playing football? And what was your least memorable time?

Man, I’ve always had fun playing ball. Through the 8 straight losses my sophomore year and the 0-11 year the very next season. I always just wanted to ball. The blueprint was laid for me by very few guys and I tried to follow it. All in all, college was by far the most fun I had playing ball.

What was the recruiting process like once you realized you were talented enough to play D-1?

Good question. I had no idea. Lol. My earliest memories of recruiting is witnessing my high school coach hoard letters from schools that were coming to watch guys play. This was in the 9th grade. Let’s just say me and some teammates stumbled upon his desk and saw that scouts/coaches were communicating or trying to communicate with the seniors that season. And these guys didn’t know until AFTER the season had ended and we missed the playoffs by 1 game. This “by 1 game” would define my career actually. All that being said, led me to feel as if I (Mom and Dad) were going to have to do our own recruiting. I didn’t realize schools were actually noticing me. I mean I had been starting since my freshman year, played both sides of the ball. I even made an honorable mention all metro team. Back then, the paper only published the top 3 selections. I didn’t even find this out until I attended a scholar-athlete banquet. Smh. So when schools were recruiting me, I was shocked. Thing is the two schools that had the most weight for me (Miss State and jsu) were going through coaching changes. Miss State had been recruiting me and a teammate until Sherrill was fired. Croom said nope, lol. jsu and Judge were recruiting me also. Bell, said and I quote “I don’t want you, I’m going after junior college guys”. This. This here, rocked me to my core. I literally was shaken. The only SWAC school I ever knew. Ever cheered for.

swac-logo-football

Is it proper to say “college student playing football?” or “football player in college?”

Depending on the person. Both phrases apply. It’s funny because, people that don’t play sports in college don’t understand the sacrifices we make to just graduate. We do more stuff before 6 am than most do for an entire day. Lol. And then, we don’t have any free time unless it’s after the games on Saturdays.

How did you balance football and college life?

I didn’t really do anything special. It was never hard to manage for me. Football is what I did and I did whatever it took to keep playing. School has always been easy so I never really had a problem.

Describe the NCAA through your point of view

NCAA is trash. Too many rules. Too many ways to make money. Not enough help for athletes. Playing a sport in college, you’re held to higher standards. Almost professional in some places. Yet no one gets paid but the coaches. And ADs. And Presidents. But their not busting knees, dislocating body parts to play. Yes. It’s a choice. However everyone that plays a sport, doesn’t always “have” to play. For example, I could went wherever and just been a student but I wanted to play ball. New stadiums. Student enrollment. All can be attributed to athletics. Not the education majors. Not the IT guys. Not the chemistry majors.

What do you miss about playing football?

The locker room. The road trips. The grind. Having somewhere to be. Learning a new defensive scheme. Studying film. I miss everything about playing. The first practice before the first game. The Oklahoma drill (which I never lost). The competition.

Did you ever think about semi-pro or anything like that?

Yes. I did. Didn’t pursue it further. Was tired of playing ball at that point.

What advice would you give young guys playing the game thinking about reaching the college level?

Run. Run. And run some more. Do a bunch of calisthenics. Take your protein. Run some more. Work on your craft. Try not to get a part-time job. Hard to practice and make money. Gotta sacrifice one. And go where you’re wanted. You’ll have a much better experience. Don’t overthink the process. Forget about depth charts. To this day, I wish I had been redshirted.

Explain why you would’ve liked to redshirt.

Well, by the end of high school… I had only played football for six years. Never had a position coach. A strength coach. Nutrition advice was simply “eat ya vegetables”. My growth as a player was basically all me. Yes, I had coaches who pushed me but only to fit what they wanted. Came to high school not being able to lift 185 pounds. Was always a big kid. Worked my tail off to get stronger. Wanted to be the strongest on the team. I achieved that by my senior year. But even this was misguided. I was young and wanted to play. I started every year I ever played football except 7th grade because of weak *** rules but whatever. Part of not being redshirted was my fault too. I refused to be redshirted. I wanted to prove to everyone that I can play and that’s what I did. Being redshirted would have given me an opportunity to grow my body in ways that I hadn’t been able to before. Would have allowed me to develop my footwork, hand speed/strength and possibly allow me to be even stronger than I was. I mean I left college being able to lift 225 lbs – 36 times. And that was without any supplements or guided training. That was all me. Maybe I should add, being redshirted and receiving the proper guidance would have been beneficial for me.  I just feel as if I would have been that much better taking that shirt.

What are your overall thoughts on the “state of football”? (all the rules changes, injuries, etc.)

Football is in a great place. Still exciting to watch. I’ll admit, I haven’t sat in the stands for a college game in years. SWAC ball looks so different. Rule changes are just a reflection of trying to protect the game not the players. Players are meat in a meat market. Always have been and always will be.

Football Interview, Part 2