Hello all. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday.
It's in my nature, from a coach's point of view that I come from, to always look at things from a short term perspective. How can I make my business function better TODAY? Or, in the basketball sense, how can we best win the game TONIGHT? What do we have to do to win the VERY NEXT GAME? Since thats how I think Carlisle and most other coaches in the professional level look at it too, usually most decisions they make are based on that way of thinking. Today, I want to hit on a couple of random topics and discuss whether our short term goals of being a better team in the immediate future is getting in the way of what we need to be doing long term, and hopefully spark an intelligent discussion.
Topic number one on my mind is Marquis Daniels, and our backcourt players in general. While it defies my own coaching common sense, its apparent to me and most of us watching with an objective eye that Darrell Armstrong is providing us with a spark, defensive intensity, and even shooting that none of us expected. Even more surprising to me, while inconsistent on an every night basis, clearly the pairing of DA and Sarunas off our bench has been a very good combination for us. For whatever reason, we've played better and had more success when those 2 players have been on the court together than when they've been in apart from one another. Our plays and design of what we are running seems to function better, especially on the nights Sarunas is making shots. RC has clearly discovered this, and DA has become his security blanket in the rotation, and with his play justifiably so. My question is, is this really a good thing for us long term?
I think my answer as a long time Pacer fan craving a championship is no. Most likely, when we are truly a championship level contender again, Armstrong will be gone, and probably Sarunas too. I don't know about the rest of you, but I simultaneously cringe and cheer when I see either of these 2 guys play well, because I know the natural tendency of the coaches will be to play Armstrong and Sarunas more minutes, at the expense of Marquis and Rawle Marshall. On the other hand, those 2 guys when playing well have really helped us win the 7 games we've won this year, and we really have had big time minutes from both of them. It's hard for me to decide what I think is best to do, but I think Im realistic enough to know that in a lot of ways winning games with them now might be counterproductive to our long term goals of being a true elite contender.
I still think, as I said last week, that I believe Id play and even start Daniels at the point, to improve our defense at the point of attack, and to see if he can be a player who can fill that role for us. I think in my own mind Ive decided that Tinsley is a nice player, but is not a championship level point guard with the team currently configured this way. I think we need a starter at that spot as a long term answer, and I want to see if Daniels is it.
I feel this way about David Harrison too. My gut tells me, instead of all evidence, that David would be a better starter than backup. I certainly cant defend a decision to start him based on the merits of how he has played, but I think its important this season to once and for all decide for ourselves if he is going to be part of the next truly great team here. I already know Foster is what he is, starting him doesnt tell me anything I dont already know, although I can see where it makes some short term sense. Can David be a legitimate starting center on a really good team? I dont know, but Id like to play him and find out this season. My original thought in the preseason was to play him at the start of the second quarter every night, play him all 12 minutes, and then play him the second half based on how the game was being played and what we needed to do to win. Obviously, RC isnt that comfortable in doing that, and honestly Harrison hasnt been able to stay on the floor anyway....and now he is semi-hurt and inactive. I think its smarter to play the kid bigger minutes and see what we've got for next year and beyond.
That moves me on to players to really look at hard to acquire in the offseason of 2007. I think most of us would say we need help in the backcourt in some form (depending on how Daniels would do in my proposed idea to start him at PG), we need shooting in the backcourt, and we need an upgrade inside to help JO and Harrington. I challenge all of you to watch not just our own team play but to watch the opponents too, to see who they may have that might become available for us next summer.
As for me, Ill mention 2 players off the top of my head who interest me alot, and would be at least somewhat realistic for us to acquire, and then throw this whole topic open to discussion:
1. Darko Milicec.....the potential exact type big man to ideally pair with JO's skill set in my opinion. Orlando opted to not renew him at the start of the year I think, and unless Im mistaken he will be on the open market.
2. Mo Peterson.....being pushed out of Toronto in a youth movement, I project him to be available around the MLE next summer. I really like his game and ability to shoot from the perimeter, and depending on how we manuever our wing positions might be a good addition. I'd prefer a younger player of course, but Im hoping some of you may have some thoughts on who might be a good fit as a SHOOTER.( Yes, I know Ive had a Mo Pete fetish for us since last summer.)
Ok, now the big question for some of you to answer. Would you rather play DA and Sarunas as much or more than we are playing them now, assuming that they play well enought to squeeze us out another 5 to 7 extra victories for this one season, or would you rather experiment and risk making the playoffs this season to find out more about our young guys?
Its hard to do and admit, but I think Id like to experiment still, just to find out where we stand with Daniels, Harrison, Marshall, and the rest. I dont think with the current cast playing big minutes we are much better than average, and I have higher goals and aspirations than that for our Pacers.
As always, JMO.