Category Archives: Opinions

We have thoughts; we just thought we’d share them.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the following posts are of the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect the views of WRGW District Radio or WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central.

Colonials Shock #11 Wichita State to Win Diamond Head Classic

Jeff Pawling
Co-Director

It was not easy at any point for GW on Christmas Night in Honolulu, but the Colonials rode a gritty team performance on defense and timely shooting to upset #11 Wichita State 60-54 and win the 2014 Diamond Head Classic.

Kethan Savage led the way offensively for the Colonials with 12 points on 5-11 shooting while Kevin Larsen (Diamond Head Classic MVP) and Yuta Watanabe each added 10 points in the shocking victory. The team, as a whole, shot 51 percent from the field, making the fact that the Colonials’ top scorer only finished with 12 points even more surprising. Yet, it is a testament to just how much of a team effort this win was for the Buff and Blue.

Another big factor in the win was GW’s three-point shooting. The Colonials were 9-15 from beyond the arc on Thursday night, their best clip of the season. Furthermore, GW held Wichita State to a 34 percent clip from the field overall, their worst team shooting percentage of the season as Shockers Head Coach Gregg Marshall and his staff had difficulty deciphering the Colonials’ 1-3-1 Zone. The defense was able to contain Wichita State’s leading scorers Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet to a combined 20 points on 8-27 shooting.

But despite all of that, things looked bleak for the Colonials when the Shockers took their largest lead of the night at 45-37 with 9:45 remaining. However, unlike past upset bids at Virginia and Penn State that were derailed in the second half, the Colonials fought back with a vengeance, embarking on a 23-9 run down the stretch to capture their ninth win of the season.

“Stick with this team, stick with these guys,” Head Coach Mike Lonergan said after the game. Rest assured, even despite the turnovers (15 tonight) and the fairly frequent free throw shooting woes (3-6 from the charity stripe tonight), I do not think anyone is jumping ship after that upset tonight. Postgame, the players looked the happiest of any of Lonergan’s GW teams. After enduring some deflating losses early on at Virginia, Seton Hall, and Penn State, the Colonials look like they have finally hit their stride. The only shame is that the Atlantic 10 season is not starting sooner.

The Colonials will pay their respects during a visit to Pearl Harbor tomorrow before making the long flight back to the District to prepare for their next game on December 30th, when they welcome VMI to the Smith Center. WRGW will be back on the air for that one, with tip off scheduled for 7 pm on gwradio.com.

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Cameron Rohde, who covered GW on-site at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Unfortunately, he could not stick around for the title game tonight, but we appreciated his hard work and top-notch coverage this week.

December 12, 2014: (A Belated) Five Things to Know in the NBA

Blake Wessinger
NBA Columnist

#1 – Conference Focus: West

This week, I will summarize in two sentences or less what I think of each team in the West. This is essentially what I would write next to their names in the Power Rankings if I wanted to make my columns too long for anyone to read.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors – This team has been on a tear of late, winners of a league best 14 straight games. Stephen Curry is looking like an early MVP candidate, and new head coach Steve Kerr’s high-motion offense is putting points on the board.

Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers have turned the corner. They are returning to form, and Chris Paul is having an extremely efficient year so far. I have no doubts that they will finish in the top three this season.

Phoenix Suns – The Suns have sputtered a bit after a very hot start. They suffered a demoralizing home overtime loss to the Clippers on an improbable Blake Griffin fadeaway three pointer. Eric Bledsoe is living up to the max contract he scored this summer.

Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins was hospitalized this week suffering from a viral infection. Without him, the Kings have struggled. It’s very clear that he is the key player on this team, and we will have to wait for his return to find out if the Kings can hang around out west.

Los Angeles Lakers – I don’t have much to say here. Byron Scott is doing a poor job coaching, and Kobe is the only competent player on the team. It’s going to be a long year in Lakerland.

Southwest Division

Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies are truly dominant down low. These guys can beat you in a lot of ways, and are one of the best coached squads in the NBA. I see no reason they can’t make it to the NBA Finals if they stay healthy.

Houston Rockets – The Rockets have played outstanding basketball this month, but their main focus is gaining an edge on their two in-state rivals. They currently have the best record in Texas, but I will wait to see all of the head-to-head games before I pick a Texas winner. My money is still on the Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs – Speaking of the Spurs, it’s back to business as usual! The Spurs are back up into the top eight spots, despite suffering two bad losses in the last week. Regardless, they were able to beat the Knicks without all five of their starters, so it seems that Gregg Popovich is still getting it done!

Dallas Mavericks – Dallas is a really good team playing in a really tough division. They have the best offense in the NBA, averaging a league-high 110.5 points per game. Threes, dunks, and stiff defense are the recipe for the Mavs.

New Orleans Pelicans – Before this team can even think about contending, they are going to have to wait for Dirk and Duncan to retire. Then, AD and company will be contending for the Southwest title, if he sticks around. This division is just too tough for them right now.

Northwest Division

Portland Trail Blazers – The Blazers are an awesome team, with an extremely talented starting lineup. The bench is still a problem for this team, and they can hear the Thunder breathing down their necks. The next few months is going to show us a lot about this team.

Denver Nuggets – Denver has turned it around after a dismal 2-7 start. They have a solid cast of players who could surprise people if they catch a few breaks. Ty Lawson is a master of the pick-and-roll, and would be in line for an All-Star bid if the point guard class out west wasn’t so strong.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back earlier than expected. Here they come, Western Conference!

Utah Jazz – The Jazz are a team with a lot of heart, who play hard and take a lot of good teams to the wire. Unfortunately, their core of players is just a few years away from being at full potential. The Hayward contract seems a bit more like an overpay as the days pass.

Minnesota Timberwolves – There is a lot of excitement in Minnesota surrounding their talented young guys. At this point, though, it’s more about the watching and thinking about what is to come for T-Wolves fans, because injuries and a tough conference are setting them up for yet another lottery pick.

#2 – Stat Line of the Week

There are two nominees for the week’s most impressive statlines. The first is Rajon Rondo, for having two triple doubles this week. On Sunday night, he had 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists in a win over the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday night, he had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. It looks like Rondo is out to prove that he isn’t just a trade chip, and can still do it just as well as he always has.

The second nominee is the Dallas Mavericks for the anomaly that was Tuesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. They went 18-40 from three-point range. The fact that a team actually attempted 40 threes in a game has to deserve some credit. Why not, if you can shoot 45 percent?

#3 – Games To Watch

  • Friday, 12/12
    • LA Clippers @ Washington, 7 pm
    • Cleveland @ New Orleans, 8 pm
  • Saturday, 12/13
    • Golden State @ Dallas, 2 pm
    • Denver @ Houston, 8 pm
  • Sunday, 12/14
    • Chicago @ Miami, 6 pm
    • Phoenix @ Oklahoma City, 7 pm
  • Monday, 12/15
    • Charlotte @ Cleveland, 7 pm
    • Chicago @ Atlanta, 7:30 pm
  • Tuesday, 12/16
    • Golden State @ Memphis, 8 pm (ESPN)
    • Oklahoma City @ Sacramento, 10:30 pm (ESPN)

#4 – Start Spreadin’ The News

New York City, our nation’s biggest media market, has two professional basketball teams playing within its city limits, and both are absolutely terrible. The Knicks are off to a 4-20 start; the worst start in franchise history. The Nets are not much better, and all of their draft picks until 2019 are either traded away or are eligible to be swapped by playoff-quality teams. The Big Apple has seen better days, for sure, but is there any hope?

For the Knicks, there really is no hope. The Carmelo deal is going to haunt them for years to come, and though the Phil Jackson hire had people optimistic about the direction of their organization, until James Dolan is out of the front office, they have very little direction. They are a team in desperate need of a rebuild, yet they just signed a top 10 player to a five-year deal, and gave him a rookie head coach and a new system. The idea seems great, but it was never going to work. The personnel out there on the court just isn’t capable of running the triangle offense effectively, and if they ever want to get any winning seasons for Carmelo Anthony, they need to find a way to lure a big free agent to New York. They should be ready to throw all of their money at Marc Gasol when the time comes, because Carmelo will not be part of a rebuild, and neither will James Dolan. Here’s to hoping!

The Nets have even less hope. Joe Johnson is one of the five highest-paid players in the NBA and he certainly doesn’t play like it. Kevin Garnett will retire soon, Deron Williams seems to be officially past his prime, and the team has no optimism for young talent because they traded all their draft picks away for a championship window that ended after two seasons and only one trip past the first round of the playoffs. It is going to be a few years before the Nets can get back on track, but I think that once they do, they have some pieces that could end up working out for them. My advice is to keep Lionel Hollins as the coach, invest in the young guys (Plumlee and Bogdanovic), and never trade that many draft picks ever again.

#5 – Highlights of the Week

Russell Westbrook says, “I’m back in business” with a huge dunk over two Pistons in the lane and a screaming victory lap.

And here is the Blake Griffin step-back three pointer to beat Phoenix that I mentioned earlier. As Suns coach Jeff Hornacek described it later: “It was so off that it went in.”

GW Secures Fourth Win at Expense of UMBC

Jeff Pawling
Co-Director

Patricio Garino finished with a season-high 23 points and Kevin Larsen added 14 as GW secured an 83-60 win over UMBC on Thursday night at the Smith Center.

Garino was 7-13 from the field and added seven rebounds to his final line while Kethan Savage finished just short of scoring in double-digits for the sixth time in as many games with eight points on 3-9 from the field. Joe McDonald, John Kopriva, Yuta Watanabe, and Darian Bryant all finished with seven points apiece in the winning effort.

The Colonials started with a Savage-to-Garino alley-oop (something that is becoming customary at all GW home games) to get off and running and never looked back as the Buff and Blue never trailed in the game. GW shot nearly 45 percent from the field as a team and won the rebounding battle 39-30 while committing only nine turnovers.

UMBC did not look anything like a winless team in this one, even despite losing by 23 points. Malcolm Brent led the way for the Retrievers with 15 points on 4-6 from beyond the arc. Charles Taylor and Will Darley each added 10 points in the loss, which drops UMBC to 0-7.

As for the Colonials, Mike Lonergan’s squad improves to 4-2 and now will get set for a date with former Atlantic 10 foe Charlotte in the BB&T Classic Sunday at the Verizon Center. WRGW’s coverage will begin at 2:15 with tipoff scheduled for 2:30 pm on gwradio.com.

December 3, 2014: Five Things to Know in the NBA

Blake Wessinger
NBA Columnist

#1 – Biweekly NBA Power Rankings

Team [record] (last week’s ranking)

Through 12/3/2014

  1. Memphis Grizzlies [15-2] (1)
  2. Golden State Warriors [15-2] (2)
  3. San Antonio Spurs [13-4] (7)
  4. Dallas Mavericks [14-5] (3)
  5. Toronto Raptors [14-4] (4)
  6. Houston Rockets [13-4] (5)
  7. Portland Trail Blazers [14-4] (9)
  8. Chicago Bulls [11-7] (6)
  9. Washington Wizards [11-5] (10)
  10. Los Angeles Clippers [12-5] (12)
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers [9-7] (14)
  12. Milwaukee Bucks [10-9] (17)
  13. Sacramento Kings [9-9] (11)
  14. Miami Heat [9-8] (8)
  15. Phoenix Suns [11-8] (15)
  16. Atlanta Hawks [10-6] (16)
  17. Denver Nuggets [9-9] (22)
  18. New Orleans Pelicans [8-8] (13)
  19. Orlando Magic [7-13] (20)
  20. Indiana Pacers [7-11] (23)
  21. Brooklyn Nets [7-9] (18)
  22. Oklahoma City Thunder [5-13] (25)
  23. Utah Jazz [5-13] (21)
  24. Los Angeles Lakers [5-13] (29)
  25. Charlotte Hornets [4-14] (19)
  26. Minnesota Timberwolves [4-12] (26)
  27. Boston Celtics [4-11] (24)
  28. New York Knicks [4-15] (27)
  29. Detroit Pistons [3-15] (28)
  30. Philadelphia 76ers [0-17] (30)

Biggest Jumps: Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets (5 places)

Biggest Drops: Miami Heat (6 places), New Orleans Pelicans (5 places)

 

#2 – Kobe Bryant’s Time Machine

Kobe Bryant has been the topic of a lot of discussion all throughout last season and this past offseason, leading up to his return from a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee at the beginning of this year. Everyone knew the Lakers had very little talent outside of the 36 year-old Kobe, but unlike the rest of basketball-watching America, the Lakers had faith that old Kobe could still get it done .They were right. This man has been scoring like it’s 2006 all over again, albeit on an awful 39 percent from the field. I chalk that up to two things: 1.) Kobe being Kobe and taking a high volume of shots, and 2.) Him literally having to take every meaningful shot because when he looks around his starting lineup, he sees Jeremy Lin, Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Carlos Boozer, and Jordan Hill. If Lin isn’t wide open cutting to the basket, and Swaggy P isn’t wide open for three, I’ll take a contested fade away from Kobe as the highest percentage shot on the court, to be perfectly honest.

It isn’t just his lack of help that is forcing him to put up big numbers; Kobe is actually playing some productive minutes for the Lakers. I saw a detailed analysis of a full Lakers game done by an avid Lakers fan on the Internet in which he broke down each play in which Kobe touched the ball. Long story short, he found that Kobe rescues more broken plays put together by the worst coach in the NBA, Byron Scott, than he ruins by being selfish. A lot of times, his teammates just don’t cut when they should, and even at age 36, old man Bryant can put it on the floor, back you down, or shoot the jumper in your face. As soon as a play breaks down, Kobe isolation is the backup plan. The man has been a walking one-on-one mismatch since he came out of Lower Merion H.S. in 1996.

He is leading the league with an average of 26.6 points per game, which I fully expect to be surpassed by LeBron, Healthy KD, Carmelo, after the Knicks give up the triangle, or Anthony Davis by about mid-January. Any way you slice it, 26 points per game is a pretty vicious number for a guy coming off an injury like his. You do see some gradual decline, however, as he has not averaged less than 27 points per game in a full season since the 2010-11 season. His .392 shooting percentage is the worry in Kobe’s game right now. I think if he can do just a bit more to get himself more open looks and involve Jeremy Lin more in the offense, which will come with time, the Lakers could win 35 games and not be a total embarrassment.

Last year, I would have said Kobe should retire after the season, but he won’t because of the money he has left on the table. Another reason: this man can still play. Say what you will about the Lakers, but Kobe Bryant is not quitting, and is one of the greatest competitors of all time. He’s a natural-born winner, and at 36, he’s still Kobe Bryant.

 

#3 – My Way-Too-Early All Star Votes

WEST

G: Stephen Curry (GSW), James Harden (HOU)

F: Kevin Durant (OKC), Anthony Davis (NO)

C: Marc Gasol (MEM)

Reserves: Russell Westbrook (OKC), Chris Paul (LAC), Blake Griffin (LAC), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), Kobe             Bryant (LAL), LaMarcus Aldridge (POR), Dwight Howard (HOU)

EAST

G: John Wall (WAS), Derrick Rose (CHI)

F: LeBron James (CLE), Carmelo Anthony (NYK)

C: Joakim Noah (CHI)

Reserves: Chris Bosh (MIA), Kyrie Irving (CLE), Kyle Lowry (TOR), Paul Millsap (ATL), Al Jefferson (CHA), Kevin Love (CLE), Rajon Rondo (BOS)

#4 – Minor Tidbits to Remember

Oklahoma City’s stars are back! The reigning MVP Kevin Durant and his cohort Russell Westbrook were back in action together Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, as they fell 112-104. Their record through the first 18 games of the season stands at 5-13, needing a finishing record of 44-20 through the last 64 games to equal the record of the 2014 eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks. This team will be the scariest eight-seed in history if they can manage to pull it off. I have my doubts about their playoff push, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have turned a corner. Their big three scored a combined 81 points Tuesday night en route to a home victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, this Cavaliers team does not do a good job of pulling away from teams, and I think it is because of their defensive shortcomings. Whether their soft defense is a result of the skill set of their roster, or the defensive schemes put together by the coaches remains to be seen. Even so, the Cavs are hot right now, having won four games in a row after their 5-7 start. I expect to see them up at the top of the Eastern Conference ladder in a few weeks.

Speaking of the Milwaukee Bucks, I really did not expect them to play this well. As far as surprises go, I have spent so much time watching Sacramento and trying to discern whether or not they are for real that I have completely ignored this young, athletic Milwaukee team. They may not be able to keep it up this year, but I think Milwaukee fans should have faith in their young core. Jabari Parker is so far in the lead for Rookie of the Year and I’m not sure it’s worth it to think about who’s in second. The Bucks are a very fun team to watch, and I think they will be in the running for a playoff spot within a year or two. Jason Kidd is doing a phenomenal job with these guys.

    

#5 – Highlights of the Week – The Greek Freak (with a Touch of Curry)

Giannis Antetokounmpo, a.k.a The Greek Freak, is quite possibly the longest perimeter player in the league. In this highlight, his Euro Step move (or “Gyro Step” as Milwaukee fans have dubbed it) starts at the three point line and ends in a finger roll. I’m not convinced there is a single other player in the NBA who can make this happen.

Here is another Giannis “Gyro Step”, except this one ends in a thunderous jam over his Greek countryman Kostas Papanikolaou.

[Editor’s Addition] Last night’s Steph Curry game-winner to beat Orlando, just because if you don’t like watching Steph play the game, you don’t like fun.