Thursday, July 21, 2005

Amir Johnson: Player. Al Montoya: Ranger?

The Pistons summer league game against New Orleans was shown on NBATV tonight, and being that we bought the sports pack for our digital cable (mainly to get all the WCHA games), we decided to experience Darko-mania in all its glory.

After missing the first 16 minutes of the game due to NBATV starting the game at 9:30 instead of 10:00, we got to see the rest of the game. Impressions:

Darko Milicic:
Darko was very impatient with his shots. He said in an interview not too long ago that the summer league is a "me-first" league, where everyone is trying to make a name for themselves rather than worry about winning. I can definitely see where he got that from. Guys were pretty reluctant to give him the ball in the post and there was a lot of dribbling around and guys jacking up bad shots. So it seemed like Darko went "The Blog That Yost Built in Parks and Rec Basketball Back in Troy" on the Pistons there....he wasn't going to get the ball that often, so anytime he got it, he was taking the shot by God. He put up a lot of 18-footers, knocked down a couple but they weren't really in the flow of the offense. When he got the ball in the post against a white boy that's worse than he is he fared pretty well (despite getting rejected by the rim one time...he had enough strength to still get that shot to fall though). The kid can run...he steps out on the pick and rolls and is fast enough to get back to guard his man. He's also a great passer. He threw a great bounce pass to set up someone for a dunk. Nash couldn't have put that ball in there any better.

Jason Maxiell: He was touted as having had a great summer league, but he did absolutely nothing in this game. I was trying to watch him, but he was very very quiet. Didn't play a ton in the second half either, which was the main part of the game that we saw. No real first impression of him at all.

Carlos Delfino: Didn't play. See Rogers, Charles. I think he was out with a yeast infection, but that hasn't been confirmed.

Amir Johnson: This kid is going to be a player. It might not be anytime soon, but he's gonna be something. He's big (6'9 or 6'10) but he's very very athletic. The kid needs to get in the weight room because he's really lanky (he looked like he's maybe 210 or so). But he's got hops. Man does he have hops. The kid had 8 points on dunks off missed shots alone. He was crashing the offensive boards, and taking it back up strong (or just dunking it as it came off the rim). He can also run the floor. He's got good speed for a big guy. He also had a couple nice passes. I came away very impressed. One thing about him....kid's got the most jacked up shot I've ever seen. I didn't get to see him take any outside shots, but I can see why the knock on him was that he gets shots blocked by smaller players. His shot starts around his belly button and he releases it by the time it's at eye level. Really really odd shooting motion. They're gonna need to work on that. At the very worst, he'll be an energy guy off the bench who can get the crowd fired up. Worst case he's Ronald Dupree. But I think he's gonna be a player.

Alex Acker: I guess he played very well before we turned it on, and he showed some flashes of being really good. He didn't play a ton in the second half, but he was hittin' shots and finishing around the basket. He had some nice moves in deep. I can see why they like him.

Ricky Paulding: Don't see him making the team. He put up two airballs from outside that were just horrendous. I swear he missed one short by a yard. It was Derreck Whittenburg short. He did have some nice moves around the basket, but his shots that were off were really really off. Don't think he showed enough in the summer league for them to keep him around.

On Al Montoya: The New York Daily News had an article that sounded like he was leaning toward going pro. He admitted that he wasn't focused last year and that he was bored sometimes to the point of distraction during games. His quote at the end made it sound like he might come back---"I know I'm ready for this level - I know that," Montoya said. "But the thing is: Is another year of college going to hurt me? I don't think so."---but the overall impression I got is that he's probably gone. And that's fine. If the kid thinks he's ready to take off and now's the time to do it, then more power to him.

I think this seems a lot like the Jeff Jillson situation a few years ago. Berenson said in an interview later that Jillson should've left after his sophomore year because it was obvious he didn't want to still be in college his junior year. They both had very good freshman and sophomore seasons, and lackluster junior years. It seemed like last year Montoya's head was in the pros, and I feel like it'd be better for him to jet now than come back and be bored again. I'd rather see Sauer or Jakiel in the net than an unmotivated and bored Montoya. We've seen before how goofy he can be in net when he gets bored. And it ain't pretty.

Best case scenario to me is that Al come back committed and ready to prove his critics wrong. In addition, our two verbal commits in net get a ton of much needed experience in the USHL this year (Sauer because he's really young, Jakiel because he hasn't played hockey very long) and they're both ready to come in and battle it out in 2006-07. We'd be better off in the long-term and in the short-term if this is the scenario. If Al leaves, they'll bring in one of the two and I'm sure he'll do fine. They're both highly touted prospects. We might take some lumps early on, but come the stretch run I think they'll be gearing up to have a pretty good season.

The NHL Lottery will be streamed on on Friday at 4 pm. The question is are they going to actually show the drawing, or will it be like the NBA when they just reveal the cards in reverse order. Because I'll have a 15 minute break at work on Friday...gotta decide if I want to go right at 4 or go closer to 4:10ish. Decisions, decisions.

I guess this would be a better thing to post after the lottery (since if they get a top 10 pick there's no way it happens) but I think Cogliano goes to the LA Kings. They seem to like the Italian Wolverines. Tambellini-Cogliano-Cammalleri line anyone? Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, GOAL. Or check, check, check--THUD since they're all kinda small.

The NHL2k5 Wolverines are into the second round. We swept Anaheim in 4 games that were tougher than the scores (4-0, 4-2 with an empty netter, 2-1, 3-1 with an empty netter) and now have a 3 games to 0 lead on the Red Wings after 7-2, 5-2, 4-0 wins. All 3 of those games were close going to the third before the flood gates opened. Comrie and Cammalleri are having stellar playoffs, as is Turco. If we close the Wings out, we'll take on Chris Osgood and the St. Louis Blues, who swept Dallas. The Boston University team is the only NCAA team remaining. They're down 3 games to 2 to Atlanta.

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