Well, this will be the first of the new season. You know the season where I had dedicated myself to letting go of the past and trying to embrace this new team. Stealing from the great Lloyd Bridges "it looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue".
It all started innocently enough. There was the magic of going back to the place where the Pacers ruled back in the day (and in some ways I wish we could take some of the things from there back to the fieldhouse with us, which I will get to later).
I go in and once again, just like the draft party, you can tell that people are actually excited to be there. There was like a giant "group hug" if you will of good will towards the team. People who did not know each other were talking up the team and sharing information about players that others weren't familiar with.
Then there was the player intro and once again, much like the old days, Austin Croshere got the loudest applause of the night for the players.
However Austin would soon be outdone because they introduced Slick Leonard (decked out in some bright colored Pinkish suite) and he certainly recieved the loudest ovation of the evening.
With Slick on the sidelines was David Craig who also recieved an enormous ovation, which was very nice.
There was the pre-game ceramonial tip where Slick threw up the ball.
At this point in time the fans were still excited and ready to go. From there it pretty much went to hell.
Look let's not kid ourselves here on two levels.
1. It was a pre-season game so nobody should take away much from what we saw.
2. It is definately going to be a long process to get us back to being a winning franchise.
Oh, before I get to the game I must add this. Mike Dunleavy must have thought that this was retro night for everyone because he was wearing the most God awful 70's three's company leasure suite that I have seen on a real person in forever.
Ok, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this but at one point in time in the 4th quarter we were down by 40 points. Yes, 40 points.
If it wasn't for Shawne Williams channelling Jalen Rose's ability to score meaningless baskets we would certainly have lost by that much.
Let's face it if you are trying to win back fans, well this certainly probably was not what the management had in mind.
I don't think anybody would have been upset if we would have lost the game, but the fact that not only were we not competative we were actually comical did not help the cause.
I think we scored a whole whopping 7 points in the 3rd quarter.
Again, nobody should take away to much from this but still it was certainly a blown opprotunity.
I'll just give a brief rundown of the players.
I thought T.J. Ford was good. He moved the ball well and at least he hit a shot or two. Defense was just ok, but for God's sake he was playing vs. Chris Paul so I think it is understandable that his defense was only good.
Josh McRoberts. I have no predisposed opinion of him. I could care less about high school or college basketball. But out of all of the big men I thought he had the most impact in the shortest amount of time. His defense was suprisingly good, in fact I was shocked that this guy was defending like he was. He wasn't playing vs. Simms either he got his steal and block off of Hilton Armstrong who had been causing all of our other big men fits all night long. He was active on the boards and he busted his @ss every min. he was on the floor (much like you would expect a player trying to make a team to). I don't care much for him wearing that number (or Rush wearing Billy's number for that matter either) but from tonights game I would keep him.
Rosho. Solid game. Nothing spectacular but he has legitmate size and he played physical enough to bother Tyson Chandler in the first quarter. I have a feeling that barring a trade this will be your center for the year. Not a great thing but not crap either.
Maceo Baston. Solid game. Still suprisingly athletic for a guy his age. Had a series at the end of the game where he blocked 2 shots in a row. Still not an offensive force but in tonights game I don't know that anybody could be considered an offensive threat.
Jeff Foster. Really I would not call him good, just same old same old but in tonights game that would qualify as good compared to others.
Croshers. Again, good is not the proper term because like others he could not hit the ocean from a boat. But he did hit the boards hard and defended well.
The "they didn't suck as bad as the others".
Brandon Rush. My fist time seeing him in person. He has legitimate size and if he can defend at this level will probably be a very good player depending on his shot dropping. I didn't get a feel for his athleticism tonight so I don't know about that. First night gitters for sure, but I am giving him a pass because first game in and all.
Roy Hibbert. Looking past the entire elbow thing because honestly I missed the second that happened trying to explain to the Diamond one why he was called for a defensive foul. I look up and Ely is going crazy, so I can only assume that Roy swung his elbow high and caught Melvin in the face. We got to see a little of both side of Roy tonight. We saw the potential of the size and the fact that if he can develop a shot he will be at least an offensive option. But we also got to see that this is a 7 footer who did not avg. double figures in rebounding in college. I only pray this guy hits the weight room. He does not need to bulk up like Shaq but he needs to get more lean muscle on him. The good news is he doesn't appear to shy away from physical contact. If you didn't see the game Roy had a one handed dunk that rocked the rim and backboard.
Jarret Jack. His ball handling made me long for Andre Owens. Seriously this was the single most dissapointing thing of the night for me I think. I have wanted Jack on the team for a long time so believe me I was rooting for him. But for whatever reason he could not handle the ball at all. I don't know what his final stats were but I know that the guy had to lead us in turnovers. His shooting, like the rest of the team, was abysmal but it was his ability to play the point guard that bothered me the most. He does attack the glass so that is good and it looked like he was pulling in his share of boards but man his dribbling was just scary bad.
Shawne Williams. Don't let his final stats fool you. He hit two meaning less non guarded shots to end the game. Sad, sad, sad. I think Shawne needs a new address because honestly I think it is a two fold problem here. One is certainly Shawne but I also think that O'Brien is not the right type of coach for him.
Marquis Daniels. I have blocked his entire game out of my mind.
Ok, that's enough of the players and the game itself.
It was pre-season so I just pray we forget this and move on. I know I will be paying for therapy to try and forget this.
At halftime they honored some of the old ABA Pacers who were present, which was nice. It was especially nice to see Don Buse in the house and for the entire Collisium to go "Boooooooo" when he was introduced which brought a smile to his face.
I just wish Mel Daniels could have been there for that.
Now some of the things about the overall experiance.
A. First and formost it has been since M.S.A. since I have been to a game where they darkened the fan section during the game. I can not tell you how much of a benefit it is to do this. It puts all of the emphasis on the floor where it should be. I don't know if this is possible at the fieldhouse but I would love for them to do a 5 game trial of dimming the lights.
B. Boomers Dancing Harry routine. My God that was great. The outfit, the music, the moves. He must add this to his gimmicks at the fieldhouse. However if he is putting the "whammy" on someone I want to make sure it is not on us.
It was great to see Pacers basketball again, I just wish it wasn't quite like this.
On to the next game.