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Thread: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

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    RING THE BELL! Sandman21's Avatar
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    Default Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    It's official, we're getting spoiled.


    Access With The Pacers: The Art of Politicking
    Candace Buckner, IndyStar
    http://www.indystar.com/story/inside...y-nba/4294411/

    The NBA just might be the best league in terms of access. Although media availability has slightly scaled back this season - players need only to speak to reporters once before the game - it's still offers a committed amount of time for interviews. Specifically with head coaches, who still talk after the morning shootaround (if the team has one) and an hour or so before the tipoff.

    What this means -- coaches spend a lot of time in front of cameras and voice recorders. So, they could: A. pull a Popovich and mutter one-syllable answers that reveal nothing, B. pull from a drawstring of cliches that reveal nothing or C. wisely use that time to their benefit. I believe on Wednesday night in Toronto, Dwane Casey answered 'C.'

    The night started with the head coaches proving that they could have made great debate team captains in high school, and ended with some politicking from the players. Let me explain.

    I don't view it as a coincidence that Pacers center Roy Hibbert just so happened to foul out during the loss to the Raptors - for only the second time in 31 games - on the same night that Casey focused on his defense and the debate around the verticality rule. There's a reason that Casey, who's in his third year with the Raptors, was just named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December. He's a smart man, and while praising Hibbert during his pregame interview, he also dropped subtle soundbites about whether Hibbert catches a break on those plays.

    "He's the best. He's one of the best in going vertical. He caused a lot of discussion in the coaches' meeting about changing the rules," Casey said, while stressing the word 'discussion.' "But a rule is a rule. If you go vertical, you can go there to infinity to cover the basketball but there was some talk about changing that rule, but in the wisdom of the league, (the NBA) stayed with it."

    When I posed the question about Hibbert's defense, first phrasing it as getting "the benefit of the doubt" then muttering something semi-intelligible about having a "reputation" for playing good defense. Casey shook his head.

    "You had it right. He does," Casey said, honing in on the "benefit of the doubt" part. "He has a reputation and this league is about reputation. He's one of the best at doing it. The question comes is when he follows through and comes over ...

    From behind the podium, Casey then demonstrated by holding up both of his arms and angled down into an imaginary offensive player. (Now, note Casey's next words carefully. He doesn't debate on whether or not Hibbert can go straight up - he absolutely can in his airspace to defend the rim. But in Casey's eyes, it's about those times when an offensive player is attempting a shot and Hibbert may angle in - a natural reaction when there's contact.)

    "...is that legal or not? That's the huge question and that was the question in the coaches' meeting. But again if you have that reputation you can get away with some of those things. I thought he impacted the entire series against Miami with that one defensive move of his, whether he comes over or not, that's the call that officials have to make."

    I believe that Casey gave us reporters a preview of what he shared with the game's officials - he wanted them to watch Hibbert closely for contact. Of course, this isn't new. The "coaches' meeting" that Casey referred to was the summer gathering in Chicago when all 30 NBA head coaches discussed issues of the game. Casey portrayed Hibbert's style of defense as a hot topic in that meeting. Pacers coach Frank Vogel also remembers the discussion and still recalls the explanation that exonerated the art of verticality. (We'll use legal terms here because Vogel spoke like a defense attorney passionately representing Hibbert and his play.)

    "There was just some debate about league wide… was the defender getting more of the benefit of the doubt where it used to be the offensive player (who) got the benefit of the doubt," Vogel said, recalling the coaches' meeting. "What it comes down to, what the officials are trying to say is, every defender's entitled to vertical space no matter where you are on the floor - the restricted arc means nothing to our system because we don't take charges at the rim typically. So you try to get yourself in front of the ball and take advantage of the legality of vertical space. And that was the message that the league was trying to tell everyone, there is no benefit of the doubt entitled to the defender. It's just that defenders are entitled to vertical space."

    The complaints in the summer coaches' meeting have carried over to the regular season because Hibbert has often overheard rival coaches try to persuade refs against him. After all, Hibbert leads the league in personal fouls while on the road. So clearly, he doesn't get the whole "benefit of the doubt" while wearing the blue uniform. But before you start feeling too sorry for Hibbert, just know that he does a good job making his own case. During every captain's meeting at center court, Hibbert tries to inform the referees that he's about to play some good, legal defense.

    "If you ask any referee before the game – they ask me if I have anything to say, I tell them 'I'm going straight up.' Every time. Every game," Hibbert said. "And they know that and they say I'm one of the best at it."

    But midway through the game in Toronto, the refs did not agree with Hibbert and called him for his first foul as he raised both hands to stop a DeMar DeRozan drive. On that play, it should be noted that Hibbert was also backing up. Then the whistles kept coming: a questionable offensive foul while trying to get position against Jonas Valanciunas, a call while wrestling for a defensive rebound, another personal while jumping into Valanciunas, a loose ball foul on Tyler Hansbrough and finally a charge when Kyle Lowry wisely stepped in front of a drive that Hibbert started at the 3-point arc.


    Hibbert's six fouls came on a night when the Indiana Pacers collected 27 fouls, one shy of the season high that also resulted in a loss in Portland. The Raptors made a big deal about being gritty and tough against Indiana, so after the game when I asked Paul George if the Pacers met their physicality, he used it as an opportunity to slyly get something off his chest about the officiating.

    "I feel like we did and the results of that, almost 30 fouls. I never talk about officiating or anything like that but we've never had that much fouls," George said. "It's never been that difference of fouls where we've had about 30. But I guess we were too physical tonight. We'll continue our style of play, though."

    When given a chance to comment on the fouls, Hibbert gave a great reaction. He smiled at the ground and chuckled in a way that said more than his words ever could. Then, he shrugged and answered.

    - "We didn't get the whistles that we normally would've wanted but it doesn't go your way sometimes," Hibbert said. "We beat ourselves. We turned the ball over. We weren't doing our defensive assignments and they were the better team tonight. I can honestly say that."

    ***

    So, I celebrated New Year's Day as a first-timer in Canada. For anyone familiar with crossing north of the border, this next section might bore you. So feel free to skip over the wide-eyed musings of a rookie beat reporter. But if you haven't been to Canada, let me break some news to you... pack a coat. Maybe two. And wear both of them if you dare to walk outside.

    You know it's frigid when you stroll through the Pacers' locker room, send a common pleasantry George Hill's way by asking him how he's doing, and he blurts out: "Cold!" But I didn't need Hill to tell me. It was minus-15 there and I clumsily learned this cold hard fact while trying to walk to the arena from my hotel - without a hat and gloves. Yes, I left both back in Indiana, clearly under the impression that nobody really needs warm winter clothing in sub zero temperatures. So after the short walk through the freezer of Antarctica, it only took 20 minutes for the feeling in my fingers to return.

    Obviously, I need some tips from native Torontonians - some of whom actually stood in the cold to watch the 2014 Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings on the jumbotron outside of Air Canada Centre. Either that's insanity or devotion. Maybe a little bit of both. And here's some more breaking news: hockey is huge up there. It wasn't just the folks standing outside to watch the game that revealed this to me, it was a radio commercial I heard in the car. I'm not kidding at all here, this is how the commercial goes:

    An actor portraying a sports radio talk show host takes a call and asks the guest: "What did you think of our goalie last night? Should he even be our goalie?" And the caller meekly responds by saying that he doesn't know, and all he feels like doing is crying. Then cue the dramatic music and soothing voiceover for the big reveal. It's a mental health commercial.

    Yes, in Canada, an advertiser actually paid for and produced a commercial about mental health by using the device of a man who's so sad that he can't even talk about hockey. Let that sink in for a bit. And I thought Indiana loved it's basketball - clearly not as much Canada digs hockey
    .
    "Nobody wants to play against Tyler Hansbrough NO BODY!" ~ Frank Vogel

    "And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen. "
    Want your own "Just Say No to Kamen" from @mkroeger pic? http://twitpic.com/a3hmca

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    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Candace is always a good read!

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    Member Downtown Bang!'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Not really relevant to the original post but it is no coincidence that the T-wolves spiral into irrelevance started when they prematurely fired Dwane Casey.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Her game stories are good, but it is her feature and blog articles (like this one) that sets her apart from what we have seen in the past by a wide margin.

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Articles like this one make me want to walk in to the Star office and personally thank Candace and whoever hired her. Top notch!

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    Member Mr.ThunderMakeR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Wow, is anyone else worried that veritcality was such a hot topic in the coaches meeting? This has been one of my biggest fears for awhile now.

    Roy and the Pacers are basically re-writing the way post defense is played in the league by, what I'm sure a lot of people believe is, abusing a rule. I'm not sure how long the verticality rule has been around, but I'm guessing its been awhile. The Pacers just found a new way to interpret the wording of that rule to their advantage. I'm sure a lot of people aren't happy about it (*cough* Heat *cough*). Or for that matter any other star players who's bread and butter is driving to the lane to draw contact. A lot of those star players are taking a beating against Roy, and judging by the article it sounds like they are already seriously considering changing it. I'm afraid all its gonna take is 1 or 2 injuries to happen and we'll see this rule re-written to favor the offensive player again.

    I think this is probably the biggest concern for the Pacers' continued success going forward. Honestly I'm shocked this hasn't been more of a topic of discussion around here over the last couple years considering how this lone rule is one of the biggest reasons for our improvement.

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Well, to "abuse" the rule isn't really the right way to say it. It's a rule. The Pacers are contending that it should be enforced as written. That's all.

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    Yeah, I'm a Pacers fan. MyFavMartin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    I think many of us hated the NBA game with referees always calling a foul when the offensive player with the ball would throw himself into the defenders chest and be rewarded with free throws. It's nice that the pendulum has swung and this politicking reminds me of the Shaq rules and (before my time) Kareem's sky hook which developed out of the ban on dunking. If you don't have a Hibbert, try to change the rules.

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    Running with the Big Boys BillS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Funny that the idea of changing the rules or the interpretation of the rules to STOP a player has come up now that someone is challenging the NBA Hyped Teams. Seems like in recent years the trend has been to interpret the rules to ALLOW a hyped player to do their spectacular things without interference from mere mortals.

    That said, Roy has gotten sloppy with it this season. He has to not take it for granted and continue to work on not automatically moving his arms forward as part of the jump. A play with one arm/hand on the ball is acceptable, throwing the arms forward is a foul.
    BillS

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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    If I recall correctly, a player's entitlement to his established vertical space is one of the oldest rules in basketball. Talk of changing it now is just loser talk to me.

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    Member adamscb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    Even if the verticality rule does get tweaked, Hibbert is still a good post defender. And not to forget, we have the best (if not one of the best), perimeter defender in the game.

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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    What I've seen the last few games are players coming into Roy with the knee raised. As a result, I think we've seen Roy give a little ground by moving backwards while also keeping his hands high but reaching slightly forwards of his vertical position. It's like he's moved back a little while also trying to keep his hands where they were before he gave ground.

    The result is, now matter how you cut it, Roy is no longer vertical, but instead is reaching forward, appearing to come down with his hands on the ball. If the ref is not going to call a foul on the offensive player for leading with his knee, then he has two other choices. Not making a call. Or, calling a foul against Roy when the offensive player contacts Roy's arms on the shot.

    There are a couple of solutions. Roy can hold his ground and possibly sacrifice future children or a lower abdominal injury, or the Pacers can start lobbying just as loudly against the knee thrusts as our opponents are about Roy's wavering verticality.

    The opponents have discovered a weapon against Roy. I can't fully blame them on using what is not being called. But, it's not only gamesmanship on their part; it's also dirty play. From my perspective, we should use the same move against opposing post defenders in retaliation until the league instructs its officials to get it cleaned up.

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    Default Re: Indystar - Candace Buckner - The Art of Politicking

    I haven't been paying attention to raised knees, though it was blatantly obvious when Aldridge was doing it in Portland. If it's been continuing, the league needs to wake up because jumping into a defender knee-first is not acceptable.

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