Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Catching Up with the Local Sports Collectives

Hawks - Tyronne Lue continued to bolster his status as the Rafael Furcal of the Hawks (with slightly better driving skills in two different ways) by returning to the line-up on Monday night and leading the team to its 11th win of the year. Prior to Lue's return, the Hawks were playing their worst basketball of the year, which really says something. They had lost six of seven, despite the fact that five of those seven games were at home, and had been within single digits in only two of those six losses. The performances against Detroit and Milwaukee were execrable, leading Salim Stoudamire to question how hard the team was playing. Lue upgrades the Hawks point guard play from atrocious to merely below average and with the rest of the lineup being pretty good, they're a 30-win team with him around. That said, they need to get something for Al Harrington before the trade deadline, as this team is obviously not going anywhere close to the playoffs and it makes more sense for them to get something for him, give Marvin Williams some minutes to develop, and tank the rest of the year to multiply their lottery balls. Unfortunately, the upcoming draft class is apparently bereft of quality big men and point guards ($), so it appears that the team really blew it when they didn't take Chris Paul last June. Have I mentioned that before?

And one other repetitious note: Josh Smith continues to regress. He hasn't hit double-digits in points in his last seven games, despite getting at least 29 minutes in all but one of those games. He has the lowest field goal percentage and assist/turnover ratio of any of the nine players on the team who get regular run. Moreso than the record, his craptastic play has to be the most discouraging aspect of the 2005-6 Atlanta Hawks, which is similar to being the least well-adjusted contestant on Flavor of Love.

Thrashers - I was all ready to proclaim that the team had arrived after they won in Dallas last Wednesday night, but since, they have managed to follow up that big win with three straight losses. In the last two games, they've managed a hefty total of two goals against John Grahame and Tim Thomas, neither of whom are going to be confused with Ken Dryden any time soon. I kinda figured that they couldn't sustain the torrid pace they had shown through the Dallas game, which makes this recent regression a natural correction, but this team has shown prolonged streaks of excellent and abysmal play, so the worry is that this three-game losing streak is the beginning of something yucky. The power play, which is the team's source of offense, has gone dry and there's no definitive reason to explain why that is so, other than the natural ebb and flow of a season. So in other words, there's no reason to panic.

Falcons - The big news is that they have hired to Bill Musgrave as the new quarterback coach for Prince Michael. (The picture to the right is the best representation of his storied NFL career. I wanted to find a shot of him at Oregon to highlight his awkward, Kosar-esque throwing delivery, but Google failed me.) What I haven't seen mentioned yet is that Musgrave is a pure West Coast Offense guy. He played in San Francisco and Denver in his relatively short NFL career, both of which were running the WCO (although San Fran was running a purer form, since Denver was in their "toss sweep left, toss sweep right" phase) and then ran the pure WCO at UVA with none other than current Falcons back-up Matt Schaub. On the one hand, if the Falcons are going to run this offense, then it's best for them to totally immerse Vick in it, including his quarterback coach. On the other hand, if the offense isn't the right fit for him, then bringing in Musgrave is a bad idea. This is, however, the perfect coaching staff for Matt Schaub, so if Vick gets hurt, Schaub ought to do really well (and won't that put this town in a tizzy, given the rumblings that Vick might not be a savior that are starting to get louder.)

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