The Morning After...Strawberry and Dreams


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Waking up on a Sunday in Vegas with a hangover is a perfectly natural thing. Unfortunately (actually quite fortunately for the sake of my head) this morning's rot gut is related to the lingering feelings that last night I witnessed the end of D.J.'s chances to be the Sun's backup point guard.

It certainly is true that he's played 3 games in 3 days and its equally true that everyone is allowed a bad game. But we are not talking about a poor shooting night or lack of energy. DJ played his usually high energy hustle game and was clearly giving it his all. But the ability to avoid big mistakes at big moments combined with the impact his mistakes had on the rest of his game can not be over looked.

This is a young man that should be thriving on the Vegas competition and instead seems to lose confidence from game to game and from play to play. His jump shot is shaky and he does not show the ability to finish in traffic. Most disturbing was the impact his offensive woes had on is his defense.

I was standing a few feet from him after the game as he graciously signed autograph's for a few kids in the near empty gym and the look on his face was clear devastation. I really felt for him. It was painful to see.

And because I am a fan blogger on a basketball geek's vacation and not a journalist blogger "working" the game, I didn't whip out my camera or digital recorder (which I forgot at home anyway) and ask DJ how he was feeling now about his future or what the hell went wrong in the final few minutes of the game.

Ed Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I unsuccessfully pursued getting media credentials for this event - something several other bloggers were able to secure. I am guessing that had I been wearing the magical plastic tag around my neck I might have indeed approached DJ for his comments.

What I still can't decide is if that's a good thing or not. The idea of having access and being responsible with that access as other bloggers have described doing (in the form of withholding information deemed damaging or embarrassing to the team in order to preserve their access) versus being a straight up fan/observer is something I am still frankly wrestling with.

I get the appeal of access and pass no judgment on those that take it. If you asked me right now, I would say the perfect level would be close enough to ask a few occasional questions but not so close as to become dependent or otherwise influenced. And while other's might be able to walk that line I question whether I would have scribed "Bayless ends DJ's Career" had I been close enough to know the kid or be worried about how the team would respond. I am a professional but not a professional journalist and I do this for fun. I don't need ethical questions about a game haunting my already restless nights.

And finally, the very fine bloggers I have meet here in Vegas with The Creds certainly seem to be working hard while yours truly was in the stands cheering his team in a close game and enjoying myself in the process.

Other thoughts from the game and the day:

  • Tucker is a beast in the paint and plays far above his size. Opposing two guards are really going to struggle with him in the post and on the glass.
  • He also shows solid ball handling skills and creative scoring abilities. His defense and confidence are solid. He clearly is the better of the last year's rookie class.
  • Robin Lopez' success here has been recognized with selection to the Select Team of select Vegas standouts selected for the privilege to scrimmage against the US Men's National Team.
  • Lopez and Kevin Love have been the only players chosen with rumor that Bayless will be announced as well. Think of all the higher draft picks that are here are weren't picked. Randolf. Augustine. Mayo. Alexander.
  • Robin went 2-10 and only had 8 points but that was partly due to very aggressive defense from the bearded Blazer center - Steven Hill - who battle Robin hard for position in the post and picked up 7 fouls in the process.
  • The impact of having 10 fouls cannot be overstated when considering summer league numbers. There's no way a guy like Hill is going to keep Lopez off the block if he has to worry about fouling out.
  • But at the same time, the Suns were rarely able to get Robin the ball in good low post position.
  • Lopez however countered that on one occasion. Catching the ball above the key and seeing all his team mates well covered, he squared up Hill and drove hard down the lane using a 360 degree spinning Amare-move to dunk the ball and get the and 1 call. I can't find the video anywhere but trust me, Brian Skinner does not have those kinds of skills. 
  • Speaking of Joe Alexander, he displayed some of his amazing leaping abilities in warm-ups but during his game was not all that impressive on offense. Defensively he was fun to watch as he battled Love in the post and had a beautiful block. He's another guy that plays bigger then his size but is not going to score without a point guard setting him up. You can read up more on Joe the Pogo at Brew Hoop (Frank is here as well).
  • Love got into a running tussle with a big no-named player on the Bucks squad. After getting knocked down he promptly got up and into the guys face and then proceeded to level him while going for a loose ball on the other end. I wasn't all that keen on Love during the draft after seeing a few times at UCLA but my tune has certainly changed after watching him here. He's tough. Smart. His outlet passes really are amazing to see and he's clearly a class above the other bigs here except Robin who unfortunately didn't get a chance to go head to head with him here.
  • I had the distinct displeasure of being about 15ft from Alexis Ajinca when he feel hard on his knee and writhed in pain. He reportedly sprained the knee but responded to a French reporter as he was helped off (the reporter then translated for everyone else) that his knee cap had slipped to the side and then popped back in. In the few minutes of game I had seen him over the previous few days he looked VERY long and VERY thin and somewhat Shawn Bradley like in his game.
  • I will be at the arena for the first game at 1pm (Knicks/T-Wolves) and then the Suns final game against the Wizards at 3pm. After that I will be driving home to Phoenix.
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