Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Kander, love guru
Dave Pemberton reports that Arnie Kander had an unusual suggestion for the injured Rip Hamilton. “Today, Arnie told me I had to take a cold shower, but I don’t know if I can do that," Rip told Pemberton.
Rumor has it, Tiger Woods also rejected Kander's advice.
HEY OH!!! I'll be here all week - please be kind to your waitress.
~ Matt Penridge
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Pistons' revenue down
Ken Berger, CBS Sports, posted an article about the declining ticket revenue in the NBA. He writes,
"The hardest-hit franchise so far is the Detroit Pistons, whose net average gate receipts are down a staggering 42.8 percent year-over-year, according to the figures reported by teams to the league office. The Pistons made an average of $537,263 per game on ticket sales through their first eight home games, down from $938,833 at the same point last season. The Pistons, located in the epicenter of joblessness, have seen paid attendance slip 22 percent, to 14,821 from 18,993 in the first month of 2008-09."
According to those numbers the Pistons' ticket sales are going to take quite a hit if the trend continues. It's hard to say what implications this might have. Obviously Michigan has been hit pretty hard recently. If the Pistons get back over .500, and continue to play well, maybe revenue will increase. However, shedding some payroll - a la 'The Big Dombrowski' - may be more likely. If this story makes its way to Dumars you can expect the standard "we're not going to make decisions based on ticket sales" GM rhetoric.
~ Matt Penridge
Monday, December 07, 2009
On October 28, at 8 pm, the Pistons officially began their 2009 regular-season campaign. I was in Charlottesville, VA, visiting my cousin, Jeff. Leading up to my visit we had spent hours emailing and talking on the phone about the Pistons - and the NBA in general. The Pistons could have swapped rosters with the Canadian Olympic curling team and we would have still been excited for the season. And, why not? There were new names up and down the roster, and plenty of questions to be answered. How would CV31 and Gordon work out? Will Rip and Gordon be able to coexist? Does Big Ben have anything left in the tank? Are any of these rookies worth five Kroner?
Yes, we were a couple of NBA junkies in desperate need of a fix.
In the season opener the Pistons dominated the Memphis Grizzlies in a 96-74 route. Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon combined for 47 points on 31 shots. Afterwards I wrote, "any game that Rip and Gordon combine for an efficient 45+ points is one the Pistons should have a good chance to win." Little did I know that would be Rip's last game for a long time.
Earlier in the day I was driving back to Jeff’s apartment from Shenandoah National Park. A lone adventure in the forest had my mind all over the place. For some reason it popped into my head that the Pistons had not endured a true season-changing injury in quite some time. I quickly repressed the thought deep into my psyche.
Then it all happened
First, it was Rip (played one game this season) and then Prince (played three games). Next was Gordon who played well in the first 15 games, missed two (ankle) and has not been healthy for the last three. Charlie Villanueva - who came into the season with a hamstring injury – recently missed time with a broken nose, and is now playing with a mask. The worst part - it was all my fault. If I could surgically remove the part of my brain that makes me think things like "man the Pistons have been healthy for a long time," I would surely find out if the operation is covered by my insurance.
Still in the hunt
In my recap of that first game I also wrote that we'd have a better sense of the season after the first 20 games. Well, after 20, the Pistons are 8-12. All things considered – not too bad. They are only 1.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. That is more of a sign of how weak the bottom half of the East is - and not how good the Pistons are - but, I'll take it. Entering the season the Pistons were not "contenders". In fact, there were a lot of national pundits who thought they wouldn't make the playoffs. So battling through all of the injuries, and still having a viable chance to finish in the middle of the pack, is about all you could ask for at this point in the season.
It has been written ad nauseam, but the play of Ben Wallace and Jonas Jerebko has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise of the season. In the last four games Jerebko has averaged 13 points and 7.1 rebounds (detnews.com). He's played well defensively all year, and is gaining confidence on the offensive end. At 6-10 he handles the ball well and isn't afraid to take an open shot. Without the play of Wallace and Jerebko there is no telling how bad these first 20 games could have gone.
Defeating the Wizards
On Sunday the Pistons defeated the Washington Wizards 98-94 at the Palace, and have won three of their last four games. Rip and Prince were still in street clothes (no telling when they'll be back), while Ben Gordon was limited to 11 minutes and change due to his ankle injury. The Wizards came into the game with a 7-11 record, but had won five of their last nine games. This was a game I felt the Pistons needed to win, but not necessarily one they should – considering all of the injuries.
Late in the first quarter Will Bynum hit a three pointer and the camera cut to the bench. The Pistons were standing together with their hands in the air. They looked genuinely excited. From the angle they showed I couldn’t see any Pistons not in the huddle. I think the team really gets along, and in the NBA good chemistry can lead to good things. It can overcome a lack of skill and allow a team to overachieve. The Wizards probably should have won that game, but they didn’t. Why?
The Pistons wanted it more.
Coming into the season there was a lot of talk about the Pistons playing “small ball”, and once the season started there was a steady diet of the three-guard lineup (before Gordon went down). Well, at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter, against the Wizards, John Kuester introduced the world to “big ball”. That is when Charlie Villanueva replaced Ben Gordon in a lineup that already featured Wallace, Jerebko, Daye and Bynum as the lone true guard. At the time of the substitution the score was tied at 58. At the 3:31 mark Kwame Brown replaced Big Ben, and the Pistons’ one-guard lineup finished the third quarter ahead by two points, 71-69.
With 62 games left in the season there are still plenty of questions to be answered. When, and if the Pistons will have a healthy roster is the biggest. But, until then, the Pistons should be able to beat crappy teams - and in the East - there are plenty.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Just like that
When karma turns in the Pistons’ favor you may very well be the recipient of a George Blaha “don’t look now.” On Sunday karma was headed in the opposite direction after Atlanta erased an early deficit “just like that,” according to George. The Pistons went on to defeat Atlanta 94-88.
During the most recent “dark years” – after the Bad Boys and before 2003 – my dad and I were convinced that a “don’t look now” was a jinx. That if Blaha pulled it out of his repertoire it meant certain doom for the Pistons. Of course, that’s because the Pistons were a bad team, and the outcome of the majority of games was never good – no matter what Blaha said (OK, neither of us believe that, Blaha cost the Pistons at least 36 wins between ’93 and ’03)…
Well, don’t look now, but the Pistons (6-11) are at a crossroad. After 6-straight appearances in the Eastern Conference finals - including an NBA championship - the team was blown up two games into last season – just like that.
So where do they go from here? Will they trade Prince and/or Rip for the coveted big man that eludes half of the teams in the league? Is that trade even available? If Rip and Prince had stayed healthy this entire season would the Pistons be sitting at .500 or better? Where is Ben Wallace hiding his flux capacitor? Unfortunately, we aren’t going to know the answers to any of those questions for a while.
That’s perfectly fine by me. I knew this season was going to be a roller coaster ride and harnessed myself in months ago. That’s the beauty of sports. That’s why my parent’s house was redecorated – in an attempt to appease the football gods - for the Michigan-Ohio State game a few weeks back (I am prohibited from divulging further details). That’s why after a Buckeye victory my dad begrudgingly kept the Ohio State magnet above the Michigan one on the fridge (a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s.) Sports are great because every game and every year is different and exciting in its own way.
Yes, Joe Dumars has pulled the trigger and misfired on a few moves. In some cases the gun blew up in his hand. In one case a little pole came out, and a flag unrolled with the word “Darko” printed on it. But you know what? It could be worse. In fact, it could be a whole lot worse. Remember who was on top of the Eastern Conference before the Pistons’ made their move in 2004? It was the New Jersey Nets – who did NOT win a championship during that time – repeat, did NOT WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. Over the last few years they too blew up their team. This year? Well, they just tied the record for the worst start in NBA history by losing their first 17 games. Oh yes, my loyal readers, it could be a whole lot worse.
Bulls up next
Wednesday night’s game in Chicago (6-8) is an important one for the injury-plagued Pistons. The Bulls currently own the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference – the lowest spot the Pistons would like to finish the season in. The Bulls are heading into Wednesday's game against the Pistons with some injuries of their own - Kirk Hinrich (thumb) and Tyrus Thomas (arm) are both out.
Ben Gordon is questionable for the Pistons for what would be his first regular-season game against his former team. From what I read the Bulls are missing Gordon’s offense, and so are the Pistons while he’s sidelined.
Bulls’ big 3
- Luol Deng is putting together a nice season. He’s averaging a team-high 18.1 points while shooting nearly 46% from the field. Over the last 3 games he’s averaged 24.3 points (26-53 from the field).
- Derrick Rose has not taken the leap that Chicago fans were hoping for this season. His statistics are slightly lower than last year, but they aren’t bad at 15.4 points and 5.1 assists per game.
- Joakim Noah is leading the Bulls (4th in the NBA) with 11.7 rebounds per game. There were rumors that Noah and Ben Wallace didn’t always see eye-to-eye when they played together in Chicago – so this could be an interesting matchup.
The Pistons just ended a 7-game skid on Sunday night. The Bulls will either end a 4-game skid tonight against the Bucks or enter Wednesday’s game on a 5-game losing streak. Obviously both teams are looking to gain a little momentum and this should be a hard-fought game.
Did anyone notice that Ben Wallace didn’t flinch when Charlie Villanueva’s face slammed into his hip hard enough to break CV31’s nose?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
'zona cat great, three-peat champ
Friday, November 27, 2009
En fuego del porte el miserablo
"I was the first woman to burn my bra - it took the fire department four days to put it out." ~ Dolly Parton
The Pistons are still trying to figure out how to put the fire out after dropping their last 37 games - something like that, anyway. Joe Dumars is attempting to secure access to Ben Wallace's time machine in order to go back and not trade Chauncey Billups, however, Wallace insists those rumors are not true, and that his resurgence has "absolutely nothing" to do with a time machine.
Well, at least things can't get worse - - what, Ben Gordon is out with a twisted ankle??? A four-letter word would be completely appropriate, but I'll let you imagine which one I'm thinking of.
Ok, ok, the Billups trade is behind us. There's no reason to bring it up, and in fact, I like the team we have. That's not to say I think they're a lock to turn it around this year, but not having Rip and Prince for almost the entire season is really what has caused the train to derail (as badly as it has). Now, without their three best players (Gordon day-to-day), it is going to take a gutsy performance to get a win tonight at the Palace against the Clippers.
The big problem for the Pistons will be keeping Chris Kaman from going off. Easier said than done, however, after a hot start Kaman has been unproductive (offensively) in his last three games - scoring 38 points while going 10-48 from the field. For him this is a bit of a homecoming (he went to Central Michigan University) so let's hope he doesn't have some kind of 'eff the Pistons' grudge that makes him blow up for 30 points...
The second problem is that Kaman and Marcus Camby are averaging nearly 20 rebounds between them. This doesn't bode well for the Pistons as they will very likely be dominated on the boards tonight. The best solution would be to hit a high percentage of shots... we'll see how that goes.
The Pistons desperately need a win, but they are rolling into this game without Rip, Prince and Gordon. A lot of things will have to go their way if they want to right the ship tonight at the Palace.
As always, I have hope.
(Special thanks to Aunt Janet. If I hadn't consumed 4 pounds of her legendary stuffing on Thanks Giving, and she not kept the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader in the appropriate room, I would have never saw the Dolly Parton quote.)