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September 27, 2012

Mike Dunlap expects Charlotte Bobcats to start playing thinking-man's basketball

Tuesday Mike Dunlap opens his first training camp as Charlotte Bobcats head coach. I’ve been watching him interact with players, both individually and in small groups, since he was hired in June. Some thoughts about the vibes Dunlap sends out as the Bobcats’ fifth coach:

                In style he most resembles Larry Brown, in that he’s intensely concerned with precision and detail. Former Bobcats center Tyson Chandler used to call Brown very “particular’’ about how he wanted the game played, and Dunlap is just like that.

    Three examples, at the offensive end, of how that will play out:

    1. Dunlap has watched a lot of video of last season’s games and thinks the spacing was bad, sometimes awful. Spacing is when you spread the five offensive players out in ways that make it hardest for defenses to guard. Dunlap hates it, for instance, when a player passes the ball, then freezes in the spot where he passed, rather than moving to create an advantage. It frustrates him when a big man camps out in the lane for so long no one else gets the chance to create shots near the basket.
    2. He expects players to know not only what a good shot is, but when a shot is good.  For instance, a 20-foot jump shot might be perfectly acceptable with three seconds left on the shot clock, but is foolish with 18 seconds left, when there is still time to explore the opposing defense. NBA players tend to view themselves as open or not, disregarding how much time is left in the possession. Dunlap wants to change that.
    3. He asks players to think before they act, and when they do act, to not be sloppy. For example, he doesn’t want players taking jumpers just inside the 3-point line; either stay behind the line or create a higher-percentage shot. He’s telling big men to shoot whenever their feet are in the lane, rather than trying to pass and commit a turnover. Finally, he hates sloppy passes; he mentioned a play in a pickup game recently when Matt Carroll was alone along the 3-point line, and the pass thrown Carroll's way landed at his feet instead of his hands.

                Sum all that up, and Dunlap is saying think a little more, make defenses work harder and clean up physical mistakes. Those are all reasonable goals for a team that went 7-59 last season.


Posted by Observer Sports on September 27, 2012 at 02:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

September 21, 2012

While flawed, this Charlotte Bobcats draft documentary is worth an hour

I just reviewed an advance copy of “Driven,’’ SportSouth’s documentary on the Charlotte Bobcats’ 2012 draft. They’ll be showing it a lot the next few weeks, and it’s worth an hour of your time if you follow the Bobcats.

The best thing about this work is the Bobcats granted SportSouth massive access behind the scenes. There are segments in the middle of the program that eavesdrop on pre-draft debates about certain prospects.

Two good examples: General manager Rich Cho making the point that Connecticut center Andre Drummond is so raw, it would be hard to play him and Bismack Biyombo together. Or the front office discussing whether drafting Kansas’ Thomas Robinson would cause such a log-jam at power forward, they’d need to seek a trade.

It was also interesting to hear Michael Kidd-Gilchrist say he was “shocked’’ he was drafted second overall. Obviously the Bobcats didn’t tip their hand as they considered trade offers on draft day.

Now the however…If you’re expecting something like “Hard Knocks,’’ HBO’s annual peek inside an NFL team’s preseason, “Driven’’ falls short. In tone it leans toward an infomercial for the Bobcats. Team officials and owner Michael Jordan were given a lot of latitude to make their case for improvement without anyone questioning their perspective.

Almost like that 7-59 record was an aberration, rather than a reality.

 SportSouth holds the television rights to the Bobcats, so promoting the product is understandable. I never expected a 60 Minutes interview, but go in knowing this program isn’t about scrutiny.

I did chuckle a bit when Jordan said, “I want to be as transparent as possible.’’

I get more access to Jordan than any other local journalist, and that’s slim pickings. He gave me an interview late last season and he spoke briefly at a charity golf tournament in July. He didn’t make himself available after the season, after the coaching hire or after the draft.

I hope Jordan speaks before next season starts because he’d do himself and the franchise some good, addressing all that has transpired this off-season.

Upcoming air times for 'Driven'


9/28 @ 5:00pm ET

9/28 @ 11:00pm ET

10/3 @ 5:00pm ET

FOX Sports Carolinas

10/12 @ 9:00pm ET

10/13 @ 12:00pm ET

10/27 @ 10:00pm ET

Posted by Observer Sports on September 21, 2012 at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

September 19, 2012

Charlotte Bobcats roster: Four likely camp additions

With less than two weeks until the Charlotte Bobcats open training camp at UNC Asheville, the team is firming up commitments for some extra players for camp.

                Look for Jeff Adrien (Connecticut), Paris Horne (St. John’s), Josh Owens (Stanford) and DaJuan Summers (Georgetown) to be added to the roster.  The Bobcats plan to bring 17 or more players to new coach Mike Dunlap’s first training camp.

                Horne and Owens were both on the Bobcats’ summer-league team in Las Vegas. Adrien and Summers both have NBA experience. Some background:

    --Adrien, a 6-7 forward, has spent part of the last two seasons in the NBA.  He played 23 games with the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11 and eight games with Houston Rockets last season. He averaged less than nine minutes in both situations, but seems to be a good rebounder per minutes played: Double-digit boards per 36 minutes.

                --Horne, a 6-3 guard, played professionally in Germany last season.  He’s the only backcourt player of the four.

                --Owens, a 6-8 forward, averaged 11.6 points his senior season at Stanford. Over his four college seasons, he shot 57 percent from the field, but just 62 percent from the foul line.

                --Summers, a 6-8 forward, has played 81 total games over the past three seasons – the first two with the Detroit Pistons (who chose him in the second round) and last season with the New Orleans Hornets. He hasn’t shot well in the NBA (39 percent career), but he has some of the rugged qualities the Bobcats need in the frontcourt. 

Posted by Observer Sports on September 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (36)

September 15, 2012

An update (of sorts) on Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Many of you have expressed curiosity about Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's health, after he sat out all but one summer-league game in Las Vegas with a sore knee.

If Saturday is any indication, he's just fine.

After initially indicating he would not play in Kentucky's charity game (it's still unclear why he said that to Kentucky media), Kidd-Gilchrist was pretty impressive Saturday: 32 points on 15-of-32 shooting from the field. A game-high five rebounds.

His only hiccup Saturday was outside shooting range, a known flaw before the Bobcats drafted him second overall in June. Kidd-Gilchrist missed all four of his shots from 3-point range (though he made some 2-point jump shots).

Thanks to longtime friend Jerry Tipton, who covers Kentucky for the Lexington paper, for passing along how MKG did. 

Posted by Observer Sports on September 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

September 12, 2012

Notre Dame got everything they wanted, and more, from ACC

I ’m on vacation, yet if I didn’t write about this monumental day, I’d feel like I cheated y’all…

                For 20-some years I’ve been the Observer’s NBA writer. Before that I covered Syracuse (right out of college at Syracuse through the 1987 title game).  I came to the Observer to cover the ACC at large, spent seven months in Raleigh, then came to Charlotte to start covering pro basketball in Charlotte.

                So I appreciate how the Big East was formed, how the ACC has evolved and how major deals are made.

                 Notre Dame got the better of the ACC today. I suspect it’s still palatable, because at some hypothetical date down the line (not necessarily as soon as the end of the NBC contract), adding the Irish will make great sense.

                Here’s what bothers me – and not a little – about the deal the ACC forged: When the Irish aren’t very good in football (that happens far more often than the “Wake up the echoes’’ guys contend), Notre Dame is part of the ACC bowl pecking order.

                Think about that: If the Irish are 12-0, they don’t have to play a title game in Charlotte to get into a BCS game. They don’t have to share revenue with ACC teams if they win the national championship.

 Yet when they’re bad, they can hopscotch over Wake Forest and N.C. State and Boston College, regardless of whether they’re better.

                That’s wrong. Not a little wrong. Yet all the schools in the ACC were OK with this bargain. Now, it might not matter historically who plays in some bowl named after a weed-whacker. But those things become strangely emphatic when fans can see the diss in December.

                I get why Notre Dame was a great “get’’ for the ACC. But don’t think for a minute this wasn’t a massive concession because the Irish are the Irish.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 12, 2012 at 09:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 05, 2012

Reggie Miller: Never talk trash to Michael Jordan

Former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller goes into the basketball Hall of Fame Friday. Miller was one of the greatest shooting guards ever, but wasn't the best of his generation, thanks to the presence of now-Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.,

    NBA TV did a special on Miller's career, and he talked extensively about his rivalry with then-Chicago Bull Jordan.

    "We weren't friends,'' Miller recalled. "He might have been the one player that I didn't talk (trash) to on the floor because he may have been the one player that could really embarrass you.

    "I wanted what he had. He was the best, he had the championships.

    "Our games were vastly contrast. He was more power and dunking. Mine was more shooting finesse But for some reason, I think my style irritated him because I was in constant motion.''

    NBA TV's Miller special will run several more times before his induction Friday night.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 5, 2012 at 07:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)