Friday, April 30, 2010

100 Free Throws - Calvin Murphy Edition

So, you mean to say I'm left-handed? What?!? Well, well, well...it's about damn time!

Yep - I've finally made the change. The change to shooting like a REAL basketball player. I mean, I've been left-handed all my life, and it's about time I utilized that hand to make some shots. Let me explain...

As a kid, I was puny. Not too much different now, but I did grow a little bit. But when I was younger, I wanted more range, so I developed a two-hand shot from my chest. As I got older, that shot evolved into a two-hand shot from my head/shoulder area, as I simply just raised my release point. I've been doing that since middle school or so, and I never changed. My shot resembles something between Reggie Miller's slight two-hand release and a pile of dung. And I have become incredibly more streaky in the last few years. Not to mention, I can't hit a free throw in games. Currently 1 for 10 on the year.

I know I have the strength, and now I'm finally realizing I can trust that strength. The technique is actually already there, as I've shot that way in Nerf ball all my life, believe it or not. And I have been taught the correct way in places like Rollie Massimino's Day Camp and high school ball. I just never applied it. Until now.

Here are my makes per 10 below:

4,4,4,5,7,4,5,4,6,8 = 51

I'm on the other side of 50! And look how strong I finished, too. If that doesn't scream upside, I don't know what does. Feels damn good. And my misses were easy to diagnose, too. This feels like such a breakthrough. I knew I had it in me, but I was just too stubborn to make the change. Now, it'll take a lot of practice to get this going during games when I'm not on the free throw line. I can accept that, as I didn't attempt a 3 in my last game and I'm not confident at all right now. But now I can go to the basket even stronger knowing I have a good shot at making my free throws if I get fouled. My range will come in time. But now I can take that step or two in from the 3-pt line and nail a 15-footer. It's like a new lease on my career. I'll take it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League - Game 7

This game was as much of a must win in the regular season as you can have for our confidence, if nothing else. And we stepped it up when we needed to. The first half tonight was definitely a feeling out process, as the other team didn't have their star player in many opinions. I hadn't played against a few of these guys, so I know I was seeing who could do what. We played pretty even and were down 25-23 at the half.

I made a couple moves to the basket, but the ball got deflected once and the other team got away with a no-call as well. I was not looking to shoot at all and was focussed more on defense and being aggressive when I could. I was guarding one of their better players and he scored 3 or 4 times on me, so that wasn't working. I did have a couple blocked shots though! One looked really sexy, too, as I deflected it cleanly out of bounds. I mumbled to myself "Get that shot out of here!" Pumped me up a little bit.

In the second half we switched to a zone and actually got more aggressive. We went on a pretty solid run all half and took control for good around the 8 minute mark. I had a few steals and asserted myself completely on the defensive end. Made a strong move right to the basket but couldn't finish. Argh! But I'll take those shots any day. We won 53-40. Glad to be back in the win column!

Free throw update: 0-0. 10.0% on the season.

Stat line: 0 pts, ~5 assists, ~3 rebounds, ~3 steals, 2 blocks.

Uni-tracker: White jersey, Blue Nike Dri-Fit shorts, "Collaborative" undershirt.

Team record: 5-2.

PPG: 48.3
Opp PPG: 44.6

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League - Game 6

Be aggressive. Gotta be aggressive. Remember that high school cheer? Yeah, that was the theme in this game - or rather, the moral. I came in off the bench and immediately scored a bucket off an inbound pass. Later in the first half, I stole the ball and ended up going coast to coast for a layup. As time went on, though, I became more tentative.

Due to a scheduling glitch, we played the same team we played in the previous game, so redemption was on our minds. We started off strong, but fell behind, 26-22, at the half. The other team slowed it down on us and showed great patience on offense, making sure they got the best shot possible. We weren't able to run on them and we couldn't hit our shots when we had the ball. As for me, they backed off of me and it was hard for me to attack. When I did, I missed a layup, got fouled, and missed my free throws. Are you surprised anymore? We lost, 45-35, in a pretty similar outcome to the previous game. The only positive from this game is we won't see them again til the playoffs. Let's hope it's in the finals. I'd love another shot.

Free throw update: 0-2. 10.0% on the season. Time for another "100 Free Throws" session, eh?

Stat line: 4 pts, ~1 assists, ~3 rebounds, ~2 steals.

Uni-tracker: Blue jersey, Blue Nike Dri-Fit shorts, "Juniper" undershirt.

Team record: 4-2.

PPG: 47.5
Opp PPG: 45.3

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League - Game 5

Wait, what happened to Game 4? A little thing I like to call "I had too much fun the night before." Well, we won 55-42 to get to 4-0, so my teammates can't complain too much. I got a little grief when I showed up tonight, but it wasn't too bad at all. If I didn't mention it before, I really enjoy playing with these guys (and gal).

So tonight couldn't have been a worse game for me personally. For starters, in the first couple minutes of the game, I went for a wide open rebound and somehow managed to push the ball up and in for an "own goal." How impressive. I shot 1-1 for them. I shot about 1-8 for us.

Overall, the team was off rhythm on offense and when we got good shots, they didn't fall. The other team only had 5 guys, so we thought we could run with them but we weren't finishing. I tried to get to the basket but was awful at finishing. Wasn't comfortable out there. Maybe this was my punishment for missing the last game. Or maybe it was the fact I didn't allow myself time to warm up and get some shots up. The value of practice, kids. It really makes a difference!

We were down 27-20 at half and allowed the other team to go on a 15-1 run in the first half. Ouch. We didn't fair any better in the second half, even after a player from the other team left the game due to injury and they used a guy from the game before. He was of equal talent if not more.

My defense was solid, although I started going for fakes late in the game. Probably wouldn't have mattered. We were out of it tonight. Lost 49-36.

Other teams have figured me out. I'm not shooting from the outside. And when I go inside, they can D me up good and not be afraid to foul me. See FT stat line below. FML, once again.

Free throw update: 0-2. 12.5% on the season. ARRRGGGGHHHH.

Stat line: 2 pts, ~5 assists, ~6 rebounds, ~1 steals.

Uni-tracker: White jersey, Blue Nike Dri-Fit shorts, "Milwaukee" undershirt.

Team record: 4-1.

PPG: 50.0
Opp PPG: 45.4

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League - Game 3

Makes sense that I'd pick it up a little in Game 3 of the season and things would start to come together for me. Starting to get my wind a little bit, although I'm still happy when I'm spelled on the court.

The other team only had 5 players, so it made it easier to control this game. Our speed was just too much. I got out to a solid start, making a lay-up early on and grabbing a couple steals and a few assists. It was easy to get into the flow.

I picked up 4 fouls in this game, so I'm starting to get a little more aggressive. I made a stupid decision to try and block a long jumpshot at the end of the first half, and it led to 2 made FTs by the other team. I had him, too, but let my hand come down on the ball when I followed through on trying to block it. Such is life.

We had a strong 34-25 lead at the break and sustained at least that margin throughout the second half. We wore them down and it showed. I ran the point for about 4 minutes and made a couple good plays, including a strong dribble drive left to the basket. This is looking like my signature move now. I hope the rest of the league isn't reading this.

Team played well and it was a lot of fun out there - the best possible outcome from tonight or any game, really. Final score, 65-46.

Free throw update: 0-2. 16.7% on the season. Yikes. I airballed another one, too. FML.

Stat line: 9 pts, ~5 assists, ~3 rebounds, ~3 steals.

Uni-tracker: Blue jersey, White AND1 shorts, gray "Collaborative" undershirt.

Team record: 3-0.

PPG: 53.0
Opp PPG: 45.3

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

100 Free Throws

Today I got out in this wonderful 60+ degree weather and shot around some more. 100 free throws were shot. Here are my makes per 10 below:

3,2,4,4,3,5,1,6,3,4 = 35

Improvement! Hey, I'll take a +4 any day of the week, especially if this is only 6 days after my first 100. Of note: I shot my best round out of 50 so far, making 19 of my last 50. BOO YA.

Without that lame 1-for in the 7th group, I'd have hit closer to 40. No excuses there. Just didn't concentrate, I suppose. I was all giddy after making 5 out of 10.

Anyways, here's to making 40 the next time out. Aim high, Forbesy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why does Philly hate Kobe?

Last night I saw a snippet of an E:60 story on why Philly hates Kobe. They were saying it's because he didn't play for the Sixers or because he left the city for Los Angeles. With all due respect, Sonny Hill, I don't believe the glitz and glamor of L.A. has anything to do with it. Here's my take:

First off, Kobe isn't even from Philadelphia. He's from the Main Line, an affluent suburban area due west of the city. Specifically, he went to Lower Merion High School, which lays in a predominantly white neighborhood. Sure it's no prep or Catholic school that may tend to recruit, but it's one of the wealthier public schools you'll see.

On top of that, he lived in Italy for a few years before moving back to the Philadelphia area. The son of Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, a pro basketball player (and former Sixer), one could say Kobe didn't exactly come from the hood. And one would be right. Kobe was a cultured kid, fluent in Italian. Definitely not your typical city kid, let alone suburban one.

So there's that. One might demand, name me a high school star that Philly DOES love. Here are three that Philly definitely has welcomed home with a standing "O" and a warm embrace.

1. Rasheed Wallace
'Sheed went to Simon Gratz, a city school, for one. Sure, he left the area for North Carolina when he graduated and then went on to the NBA and played for a few teams that weren't the Sixers. And, sure, he's currently on the Celtics. Well, Philly doesn't have a problem with 'Sheed. He's a Philly kid. Not much argument here. Do we absolutely drool over this guy when he returns? No. But we do show respect, because he grew up here.

2. Bo Kimble
Bo went out to California with Hank Gathers (R.I.P.) for college. But Bo was from Dobbins Tech, a city school. The team came back to the area to play the likes of St. Joe's and LaSalle. People came out in droves to see Kimble (and Gathers and Paul Westhead, a Cheltenham guy) when he came back to play. He went on to the NBA and played for the Clippers. But, again, he was a Philly kid. Philly embraced him upon his return.

3. Jameer Nelson
Classic example of a kid staying in the area for college. Jameer was a Chester kid, a blue collar city just south of Philly, but may as well be included when you talk about Philadelphia. Even more, he went to St. Joe's, so people loved him even more. Hard to argue with Jameer being loved by Philly.

These might be unfair comparisons, but they're ones that need to be made. But there's more. Kobe didn't even go to college, so considering staying in Philly for school never crossed his mind in the eyes of Philly fans. On top of that, Kobe had a swagger about him. He was good, but didn't fully let his game do the talking. He dominated the suburban leagues, and I'm sure he did some damage against some city schools that were scheduled out-of-conference. But at the end of the day, Kobe went home to his mansion in the 'burbs, not the streets of Philadelphia.

Leaving for the NBA was a case of the rich getting richer. No rags in this story. How can Philly fans relate to that? Very few can.

When Kobe is interviewed about Philadelphia, his "hometown", it seems Kobe still doesn't get it. He says - per the E:60 story - and I'm paraphrasing here - that he gets his personality from this city. Sure, he probably hung out in the city and even played in some city summer leagues and on the playgrounds there. To his credit, he gained the respect from other Philly basketball players. But we're not talking about the few talented kids that come out of this area. We're talking about the fans of the entire area. His personality comes from a loving, functional family that never had to struggle like many families do in the city or surrounding, less affluent areas. Again, at the end of the day, Kobe wasn't hustling or worrying about much.

Not all of the Philly area hates Kobe. Just walk into the Pub of Penn Valley in Lower Merion Township and you'll find a sweet Nike Lower Merion Kobe jersey framed on the wall. They're proud to call him their own in Lower Merion. I doubt you'll see many framed jerseys in North or South Philly bars. I challenge you to find them for me.

This is why Philly hates Kobe. And barring a return to Philly to play for the Sixers - and leading them to a championship, too! - I'm not sure there was ever a chance all of Philly would have truly been on his side.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League - Game 2

Game 2 of our season took place in the Perelman Gym, a gym I used to play all of my Junior Jewish Basketball League (JJBL - see a pattern here?) games when I was a wee lad. We were up against a solid team, and I knew this would be a nailbiter.

My shooting in this game was horrendous - par for me. I took a 3 from the corner trying to mimic what I did to start the season. Clank. I also tried another three from just off the top of the key and a runner in the lane. Those aren't my shots unless I'm in rhythm. My rhythm was off today. I am realizing that I'm very much a lefty on the floor, even though my shot ends up rolling more off my right hand. (Video would be good here, but it also might blind you. I have an awful shot.)

To my credit, I did follow my shot and turned that into a couple rebounds and second chance opportunities. Had a point blank follow up that I somehow missed. Ugh.

We were down 24-21 at halftime, but had gone on a 12-2 run earlier in the first half that gave us some confidence. I took myself out for 5 minute spans in both halves, which really served me well at the end of the game. Foreshadowing?

With a couple minutes left, I hustled down the court to steal the ball from behind their leading scorer. Crucial swing for our team, although I'm not sure we scored on that possession I gained for us. My best defensive play of the year so far. I still haven't had a foul called on me yet. Gotta get more aggressive.

Game was tied at 41 and we had the ball. The other team fouled us twice, as they had two to give. I found myself with the ball and 7 seconds left, so I drove left on one of their slower defenders and got hacked on the left wrist with 2.9 seconds to go to send me to the line. UH OH!!!!

I didn't give myself too much time to think. Concentrated on bending my knees and getting a little hop in my legs. Swished the first one!!! We're up 42-41. Other team calls time to "ice" me, as if I didn't have enough "mental ice" of my own, thank you very much. We discussed if I should make or miss, a la Duke-Butler just 6 days ago. I'm no Brian Zoubek. We decided I should "try" to make it. Well, what's worse than a make and a miss off the rim? An airball. Yep, I found a new way to miss a free throw.

The other team got the ball on the baseline and inbounded it, but they came up short from about 30 feet. We won, 42-41.

"Forbesy wins it on a FT" didn't deserve the headline here. Nothing like backing my way into a winning shot. But I will say it was good that I had my legs at the end of this one. Might be my M.O. until I can get in shape. I'm OK with that.

Free throw update: 1-2. 25% on the season.

Stat line: 3 pts, ~1 assists, ~2 rebounds, ~1 steal.

Uni-tracker: White jersey, Blue Nike Dri-Fit shorts, "Juniper" undershirt.

Team record: 2-0.

PPG: 47.0
Opp PPG: 45.0

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm an Adult. I'm Jewish. I play in the Adult Jewish Basketball League.

Tonight I played in my first game of the 2010 Spring Adult Jewish Basketball League (AJBL) season. We won, 52-49. It was tied at halftime, 30-30.

My primary concern was how out of shape I am. Well, I made it through the game alive, although I was feeling it about 5 minutes in. I managed to survive, calling for subs when I was winded. I could feel my brain turning to mush in the second half and I took a few dumb shots. All in all, though, I played pretty well. Defense was average. I got beat on a backdoor cut. No steals. No fouls. Gotta work on my aggressiveness.

I started the scoring off for both teams with a 3-pointer from the left corner. What's with me and starting off my season with a made 3??? I seriously have done this 3 times now. Twice in the AJBL and once in the Alumni League about 6 years ago. And usually, my shooting is all downhill from there. Sort of true tonight, but I actually shot better than usual, going about 3 of 8 from the field. Missed a lay-up off a beautiful drive left from the top of the key. Wish I could have that one back.

This team has some size and good speed. I look forward to a fun season. Our team name is "My Generation". No clue why. All the team names are pretty random and terrible. But what do you expect from old men over 30?

Free throw update: 0-2. Didn't I shoot 100 free throws today? WTF?

Stat line: 7 pts, ~3 assists, ~1 rebound.

Uni-tracker: Blue jersey, Blue Nike Dri-Fit shorts, "Milwaukee" undershirt.

Team record: 1-0.

100 Free Throws

I hit the basketball court for about an hour today to work on my shot. Specifically, my free throw shooting, which has been atrocious. I play in an over-30 league (many blog postings to follow) and my free throw percentage has been around the 30% mark over the span of three seasons. So, after a season off, I'm back at it tonight for Game 1 of the 2010 Spring season.

I shot 100 free throws today. My goal is to do this throughout the season and chart my progress. Check out my makes per 10 below. I can only get better, right? Right?

3,2,2,7,3,3,2,3,4,2 = 31

31??? THIRTY-ONE??? That's worse than Shaq! That's worse than Shaq blind-folded! At least I'm consistent with my performance over the last 3 seasons, eh? Yeah, shooting by myself with no pressure is a lot like real game situations. FML.

That 7 looks promising. We need that to be a rule more than a blatant exception.

Nap time. Gotta rest up to fail miserably tonight!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My NFL Proposal

So a lot has been discussed about this silly OT proposal, where a team that kicks a field goal in their first possession would then allow the other team to get the ball and an attempt to score.

Fine. I'm not too concerned about this, seeing as this would only show up in the playoffs and the odds of seeing OT games are slim as it is.

What I'm more interested in are the discussions about moving to a 17-game season. Where is all that chatter? Well, I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd provide a proposal that I think would work very well and add even more intensity to this league. Who doesn't want more intensity? Check it out...

There are 32 teams in the league, so I say split them up into 4 total divisions based on regions. Each team would then play the other 7 teams in their division twice - totaling 14 divisional games - and then one team from each other division - totaling the remaining 3 games.

This would create additional rivalries. For instance, what could be called the Northeast division would essentially combine the current NFC and AFC East, with a few exceptions. You'd have Philly, Washington, NY Giants, NY Jets, New England, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Carolina.

Other divisions would be:
South: NO,TB,MIA,ATL,JAX,HOU,TEN,DAL
West: SF,SEA,ARI,DEN,SD,OAK,STL,KC
Midwest: MIN,GB,DET,CHI,IND,CIN,CLE,PIT

Some classic rivalries would be broken, but I don't think this would kill the league. Dallas moving to the "Southern" Division might have an effect, but I would think playing teams closer to home over the years would help develop better, fiercer rivalries.

Anyways, this plays into the NFL wanting a 17-game season. All teams essentially play the same strength of schedule with this equal round robin format. Also, travel costs are cut substantially. Fans are able to go to more games, instead of having to fly out west for multiple games, for instance, in the current format. And ultimately, true regional champions are determined before the Super Bowl is played for league bragging rights.

I mean, who really cares about the Cleveland vs. San Francisco game if it doesn't involve two great teams? Not to mention, attendance doesn't reflect this. And most people aren't watching these types of games (San Diego vs. Buffalo? Detroit vs. Oakland? Washington vs. Seattle? Huh???) unless they have fantasy implications.

Sure, it's nice to see your team play someone out of their division and region, but let's limit that to 3 times per year. When you're playing 14 games of true divisional meaning, fans and players are more likely to show up and get up for these. Why wouldn't a Washington vs. Carolina rivalry work? Dallas playing Houston twice a year makes much more sense to fans in the Lone Star state. Who wouldn't want to discuss that rivalry going forward?

There's plenty of room to play with the inter-divisional schedules, too. If Dallas still came out East to play Washington every year, there's room for that in the 3-game out of conference schedule. And the playoff schedule could see the North play the South one year and then the North play the Midwest the next. Maybe the top 3 teams in each league make the playoffs, with the bottom two fighting it out for a guaranteed third matchup that year to play the top team who has earned a bye week.

Personally, as an Eagles fan, this allows me for more chances to see my team play. A schedule with both New York teams twice lowers my travel costs over the season if I'm a die hard and raises the likelihood I could show up to more games. East Coast bias? Perhaps, although a Denver vs Arizona match-up twice a year isn't exactly a worse situation for Broncos fans than they currently experience. Denver vs. Oakland? Who goes to those games anyways?

I think the most fitting argument is that this would put more fans in stadiums. If you're only relying on Jacksonville's fans, for instance, to fill the stadium when San Francisco comes to town, well, you see how that goes. But when JAX plays Tampa, Miami, and even Atlanta every year, you're more likely to see those fans show up from the short distances from JAX to fill the seats. I know certain teams travel well, but I also know this isn't saving the NFL in that regard, as Pittsburgh fans aren't selling out the Oakland stadium when they travel out west to play the Raiders.

So, there you have it. Sure, this may kill a few historical rivalries like the Cowboys vs. the NFC East, Indy's current rivalries with the AFC South (not really that strong anyways, except over the last 10 years maybe?), and the Dolphins vs. the AFC East, but I think the new regional rivalries would have a chance to grow very quickly. Heck, if Miami came out of the South to play the Jets in the playoffs, I'm sure that would create an even more dynamic match-up. Or Dallas vs. Philly in the Super Bowl? I'm sure the football gods would work their magic.