There's Damage to Report

Check out Kyle Lowry's line from tonight: 31 minutes, 17 points, 2/5 FG, 13/14 FT, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 turnovers, 5 fouls.

Sadly, I was away from my television set the entire day and couldn't watch the game. Can someone provide an eyewitness account? I need to know more. I have a general idea of what it looked like given his style and my love for it, but that's no substitute.

At any rate, I submit that this is the Kyle Lowry statline.


New Number Order: Week 2

We have a blog? Who in the what now?

Yeah, sorry about that. Things remain hectic in Plisskenville; it should be telling that we've made more posts on other sites than on this one recently. We are still alive, though, and the doctors tell us we have a good chance of surviving so long as we maintain the will to live.

That should be easier because of one of our newest Blogburgh extracurriculars: involvement in the utterly fantastic NCAA Basketball Blogpoll. Much thanks to everyone involved with that one for allowing us to be involved.

In our minds, one of the responsibilities of getting to vote is having to explain your picks and, as such, we will be writing weekly responses to our poll. Starting now, that is, because we couldn't last week (oops). If you want to check out the final poll for this week, please go here. Previous ranking (our ranking, not the official one) is in parentheses. Let the games begin:

1 (1). Memphis. Like I said way back in July, the Tigers are my favorite team (not my rooting interest, though) in the country. Watching them last Friday against UConn was quite frankly a revelation. Outside of the first ten minutes, they didn't even seem to play that well, but they were able to win convincingly anyway. To make a comparison to the NBA, they remind me a lot of the Warriors in that they're capable of being extremely physical without banging -- everyone is so athletic that high-impact contact occurs just because they play hard. Individually, Derrick Rose is as advertised and Chris Douglas-Roberts might be the most underrated player in the country. I'm not sure this team is the best team in the country -- they do play very sloppily at times -- but I like them too much to put them lower.

2 (2). Kansas. I must confess that I haven't seen them play yet and thus have no idea if they're actually better than UCLA, but they're too stacked to go anywhere else right now. The talent on that roster is just obscene; it's a damn shame that I have no faith in Bill Self to get them to where they should go by the end of the year.

3 (5). UCLA. I don't know why we ever had them 5th. Even without Darren Collison, the ball pressure is just filthy. Howland has to be the best coach in the country. As for Kevin Love, he's clearly a superior college player, but I'm very anxious to see what he can do against an NBA big man. I haven't seen much explosiveness around the rim from Love, and his regular pump fakes will be harder to pull off against superior defenders.

4 (3). Georgetown. There's still no one in the country who can guard Roy Hibbert, and those guards remain underrated. For now, that's enough to keep them this high.

5 (4). UNC. Like Kansas, I'm not convinced they have enough to win the whole thing. Instead of the coach being the problem, though, it remains their lack of a clear go-to guy in crunch time. Wayne Ellington's going to have to step things up if they want to justify the hype.

6 (6). Tennessee. I know they (or maybe just Chris Lofton) haven't been at their best so far this season, but I'm a sucker for any running team that presses. I just love the makeup of this roster.

7 (9). Washington State. Haven't seen them yet this year, so the ranking is mostly an assumption in praise of their performance last year.

8 (8). Indiana. One of the pollsters doesn't even have them ranked, and one of his reasons for said snub was that he doesn't like teams that rely heavily on freshmen. Uh, Eric Gordon is no ordinary freshman.

9 (7). Lousville. The loss of David Padgett has to hurt, but Pitino has enough horses inside to keep them solid in his absence.

10 (11). Oregon. This ranking will change after their loss to St. Mary's (w/out Bryce Taylor, though). I still think they're going to have a lot of trouble in crunch time this year with the absence of Brooks. And the defense will definitely be worse, as they showed in Moraga.

11 (12). Kansas State. Here's where the rankings become really, really hard to figure out. This one is basically a vote for Michael Beasley. We're convinced that he's the 11th best team in the country. I'm also a fan of anything related to Bill Walker and his insatiable hunger for victory.

12 (13). Duke. Shock of all shocks: I fully expect to like watching Duke this year. May they never make a basket on a true post-up.

13 (14). Texas A&M. This is probably too high for them. Big fan of DeAndre Jordan, though.

14 (NR). Michigan State. Seems like they've worked out the kinks after that horrific exhibition loss. Lost in the praise for UCLA's victory without Collison is that Drew Neitzel was sick in that game and didn't perform to his capabilities.

15 (15). Pittsburgh. Haven't seen them, but they've never proven themselves to be a bad team. For the last few years, it's been safe to assume that they'll end up in the Top 3 of the Big East. That earns them #15.

16 (17). Gonzaga. Heytvelt's out, yeah. But they still have Jeremy Pargo, and there are few players in the country that are as exciting as him off the dribble.

17 (24). Texas. I really don't like this team at all, but they had to go somewhere. I think Augustin is wildly overrated and will continue to think so until he joins the Sonics and starts passing to Durant like a sane person.

18 (19). Syracuse. This will change after the loss to Ohio State. Love Johnny Flynn, though. (Can you tell that a lot of these picks were based on players we like?)

19 (18). Marquette. Complete lack of an inside presence will hurt them. Plus, if there guards are as good as everyone says, then I would have liked to have seen them beat smallball Duke on Wednesday.

20 (10). Stanford. The #10 ranking was probably on account of homerism. But I refuse to believe that the Siena loss was as bad as everyone says. First, playing against a likely conference champion on the other side of the country at an early start time. Second, no practice that Friday because the airline lost the equipment. Third, Anthony Goods had as bad a game as I've ever seen. Fourth, Lawrence Hill was hurt. Fifth, no Brook Lopez, of course. Definitely not a good performance by any means, and Goods should theoretically play well if he's worthy of his reputation, but there were so many other factors in play that I refuse to believe it was a travesty. I also called it a few months ago, so you can't say no one saw it coming.

21 (25). Virginia. We are both in love with Sean Singletary. Seriously.

22 (NR). Davidson. This ranking is based on their excellent performance against UNC last week, but today's loss to Western Michigan will have us questioning it. Curry's injury doesn't seem to be holding him back at all, so they remain a viable choice for "Best Mid-Major."

23 (16). Southern Illinois. I have no idea why we put them 16th. Reputation, I suppose.

24 (NR). UConn. They played Memphis extremely well last Friday. AJ Price is a new man and the wings are astoundingly good athletes. Hasheem Thabeet, on the other hand, needs about fifteen more years of seasoning before I'd consider using a lottery pick on him.

25 (22). Arizona. Dropped after the Virginia loss, but we're also not sure they're that good to begin with. Budinger is super-talented but didn't assert himself nearly enough last year, Jordan Hill gets a lot of publicity but hasn't done much to earn it, Bayless isn't a natural point, and Radenovic was a matchup nightmare for lots of teams. I can't say I'm crying about any of this stuff.


Darn That Dream

If you haven't seen it yet, my first post at FreeDarko went up Wednesday morning. I link only because it has some bearing on this post.

Tonight's game between the Jazz and Rockets validated everything I said on FD, and I'm both happy (because I was right) and sad (because it makes Utah less interesting). Let's run through this game really quickly.

The Jazz came out of the gates playing as well as they did on Tuesday night, and, oddly enough, they were also playing the same style. Everything moved quickly on offense; Deron shredded the defense via drive, pass, and shot; AK slid in between defenders; Boozer continued to show that he can lock up the paint at any tempo; and Ronnie Brewer finished and slashed like he knows how. The only player who really doesn't fit into this offensive style is Okur, but I suspect that's at least partly because Sloan doesn't really know what to do with him at this speed. The good news there is that Sloan's a smart guy, so any strong consideration of the issue would yield something productive. My guess is that they could very easily put Memo in a Young Dirk-type roving shooter role, but who knows what would come out of Sloan's seasoned brain.

It's also worth noting that the Jazz can play defense at this speed. Time and Jeff Van Gundy seem to have given running a no-defense stigma, but watching old games makes it clear that a potent offense and steadfast defense aren't mutually exclusive. A coach like Sloan can instill those values into a team without sacrificing points.

The good stuff happened for a little more than half of the first quarter. With around five minutes left in the first quarter, Sloan subbed Matt Harpring (death!) and Jason Hart for AK and Deron. The offense instantly slowed down, the plays developed more slowly, Boozer settled into taking jumpers (this isn't entirely fair -- he had a phenomenal statistical game) and the Rockets crept back and ultimately won the game with moderate ease. Now, some of the credit for that comeback has to go to Houston: they tightened up their defense, and Utah couldn't find an answer for McGrady. But Utah also played right into Houston's hands by stepping off the gas.

Deron Williams obviously has to sit at some point, but Jason Hart is not so terrible that he's incapable of dribbling up the court at high speeds. Harpring (death!) is a different story, but he can still shoot and score. My point is this: yes, the Jazz won't run as well when their best players are out. But this shit works for them, and they'd be foolish not to explore it as a legitimate option. In the FD post, I looked at this issue mostly from a long-term perspective, but the short term still matters here. Utah can stay where they are, utilize half of Kirilenko's skills, and hope for another favorable playoff draw. They can also work around their best players' strengths, dominate for long stretches of games, and become a legitimate force. It might take a little extra work and some critical thinking for their coaching staff, but it's the right move for this roster.

Other news:

- Our Warriors and Lakers previews are now up at We Rite Goode. Wishful thinking is here and realistic expectations are here. The entire preview has been fantastic, so I recommend that you check them all out. Thanks again to WRG for bringing us into the fold.

- The season preview is taking shape. Should be ready by early next week, which I think fits within the suitable preview-posting window.