Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Process or Result: What's more important at this point?

by Radoslav Komljenovic

It's clear to those paying attention that the Spurs aren't exactly playing as well as their record indicates. Their 5-1 record is mostly a product of their talent and a favorable early schedule rather than their overall level of play.

Offensively, they're more than fine, as they currently sit 6th in efficiency, including 3rd in points per game, 4th in field goal percentage, 8th in 3-point percentage and 2nd in assists.

Defensively, it's a different story, as they currently sit 17th in efficiency. Granted, the points per game can somewhat be attributed to the positively un-Spurs like blistering pace -- 7th in the league. Nonetheless, the Spurs currently sit 23rd in opponents points per game, in addition to 25th in opponents field goal percentage and 29th in opponents 3-point percentage.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Missing? It's Fundamental

by G. Scott

Jacob Riis (1849-1914)
Gregg Popovich has famously posted a quote about a stonecutter in the Spurs' locker room, in the native language of each team member. The gist is that when a stone cracks after 101 blows, it is the work of the first 100 blows that made it happen. It is an inspirational message, and a part of Spurs culture. What most people don't know is that Popovich has another sign in his own office that reads, "The stonecutter needs to play better defense." 

He doesn't really, but he should. It's a mantra that every Spurs player and fan has heard ever since the day Gregg Popovich arrived in San Antonio. So, four games into the young season, it is not surprising that the most commonly-heard critique of this year's version of the Spurs is that they need to improve their defense.

Unfortunately, that term gets thrown around in much the same way that car dealers use the word service. Ask any car dealer what makes them different, and they will say, "Better service". Ask any Spurs' player, or fan, what the team needs to do to improve, and they will say, "Play better defense". Move along - nothing to see here. 

That's okay. There are plenty of other clichés to discuss: They need to take care of the ball. They need to hit the boards, and hustle for loose balls. They need to execute better. They need better ball movement. They need to take better shots. Those may all be clichés, but they are still applicable. And if you memorize them, you're a candidate for any job ever held by Jeff Van Gundy.