meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2015-01-04

What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

As an Old Warrior, I can't begin to tell you how satisfying and fun it is watching the New Warriors. Taking a page out of the Spurs' book on how to play basketball properly and adding their own postscripts and addendum, the Warriors are showing the rest of the league what sharing the basketball and playing team D means to winning. It is significant that, while Stephen Curry and KlayThompson play crucial roles in terms of point production, the victories have a lot more to do with the rest of the players. This is best exemplified by the enthusiastic reaction of Curry and Thompson when they're resting and their replacements are doing well. For your stars to become the teams' best bench cheerleaders says a great deal about the Warriors' camaraderie. Let me repeat the word, CAMARADERIE - a spirited goodwill among friends and colleagues.
The word Chemistry belongs in a science lab.

I'm compelled to enumerate:

Draymond Green. I haven't seen a more productive undersized player since Adrian Dantley. Talk about mental toughness. Harrison Barnes keeps growing in all aspects of his game, that deadly corner three and lockdown defense for example. Can you imagine superstars like David Lee and Andre Iguodala on any
other NBA team giving up starting rolls to come off the bench for the good of the team? How about the Comeback Kid, Shaun Livingston, taking his comeback to a higher level?  Remember him in his rookie year with the Clippers - pure joy. And how about Mareese Speights, whose anguished facial expressions remind this writer of Job the Afflicted; can this solid defender, rebounder and sharp-shooter be the same Speights that was a less than effective journeyman in Cleveland? I'm particularly excited about the play of Justin Holiday. I remember watching him in the 2014 summer league and thinking, wow, this kid's got talent. Does his jumper remind anyone of KD's? Let's not forget the contribution of the swift defender Leandro Barbosa, ready in practice, ready to come off the bench to contribute a steal or a defensive stop. These are the Warrior Comrades that are winning right now. Waiting on the bench to make a significant contribution is Andrew Bogut, arguably the best passing center in the NBA, whose toughness, paint defense, shot-blocking, and passing may not be missed too much during the regular season, but will be crucial to how deep the Warriors go in the post season. I am not forgetting Festus Ezeli, a man who started playing basketball late, but whose back up role at center can't be overestimated. As he continues to grow and learn from Andrew Bogut, his minutes will increase as will his importance to the team, especially when protecting the paint becomes essential. Hats off to Brandon Rush and Ognjen Kuzmic; I'm guessing their contribution to the team takes place during practices, which does not lessen their importance to the health of the body of the team.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the coaches. Steve Kerr, the head coach and his top two assistants, Alvan Gentry and Ron Adams. I'm not sure how Kerr has managed in such a short time to bring these players into his field of dreams, his vision of teamwork, especially since he followed a charismatic coach and a winning season, but brought them together he has with a quiet verve and unflinching passion. (Loved those T's, Steve) And with the help of two solid assistants, Gentry working on offense and Adams working on defense. It is no cliche to say that a great symphonic orchestra is only as good as its conductor.

Since I'm talking hoops, let's leave the accomplishments of management for another blog. Suffice it to say it will be a complimentary blog. 

WELCOME TO THE NEW WARRIORS a team with glory waiting for them in June.

Here's a poem that comes to mind whenever I watch Stephen Curry shoot a basketball.

When I Got It Right   by  Carl Linder

The ball would lift
light as a wish,
gliding like a blessing
over the rim, pure,
or kissing off glass
into the skirt of net.
Once it began
I couldn't miss.
Even in the falling dark,
the ball, before it left
my hand, was pure.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hurrah for Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant nailed it. AUU basketball for youth stinks. Say Kobe, "Horrible, terrible, AAU basketball stupid. It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all. They (the kids) don't know the fundamentals of the game."

Last night I was witness to what Kobe was talking about. My wife and I drove to a mega-basketball venue called Courtside Palace where we paid ten bucks a person to watch her grandson. His team played four games in one day. We only watched two. The Courtside Palace is one of two huge AAU basketball arena next in the same area containing eight basketball courts, all of them in use. One team off, one team on. It's a supermarket of basketball. Teams come from a hundred mile radius to play against each other. The games have referees and coaches. The refs seem good enough. The coaching? That's another story. I watched horrified at the lack of fundamentals on display. There was plenty of fancy dribbling, (I hear you Kobe) most with little effect, lots of three point shooting, tons of turnovers, virtually no blocking off the boards, and defenses so porous that any player who put his head down and drove made it safely into the paint. Freethrow shooting was abysmal. Weakside defense was non existent.

From what I saw, it's clear that AAU youth basketball stresses playing games over teaching skills. Too bad for the future of American basketball. I'm nut sure parents understand what's happening to their children. They better listen to Kobe Bryant and call for some fundamental changes. But maybe that's unimportant to them. I saw lots of tall dads dreaming of college scholarship. Is that what this is all about?

High school coaches, what do you have to say about the AAU? Or doesn't it matter to you if these young kids come into your programs with zero fundamentals?

I found this strange little poem by Susan Bright about tennis but the message could be about all sports. What it says about young players is important.


            "If I played myself last year,
             I'd beat her."
                          - Martina Navratilova

I let roots pull foot tendons
until I am just about
I know what 
I can get away with.
When I am tired,
I stop.

The young ones
run circles around me,
seem translucent,
They do everything
make mistakes,
lack experience.

That is how I keep up
with them.