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Quick Update from the Coffee Bean

You guys have heard me complain about my laptop long enough.  When my the power cord ended up in Long Beach while I was in Las Vegas, I decided it was time to switch.  So now you can hear me complain about my teeny tiny netbook.,  About how it's underpowered, about how the screen and keyboard are so cramped.  But, at least it's lightweight, so it'll be a lot easier to carry while I'm complaining.

(I really wanted to buy an iPad, but I was in the Apple Store last week and found out that the SBNation story editor doesn't work on the iPad - when you click on the body of a story, the keyboard doesn't come up.  There's little doubt that will be fixed soon enough, but for now it renders the iPad essentially useless to me, since I spend about 90% of my time in the story editor.  At any rate, I decided to go as cheap as possible on this purchase, and I'll get my new toy after the iPad novelty has worn off and the prices come down a tad.)

One weird thing about Vegas (and really, there are a lot) is that hotels charge you for wireless access.  You can go to any hotel, in any small town, almost anywhere in the country (the world?) and get free wireless access.  But not in Vegas.  They don't give you those ridiculously low room rates to have you sit in your room surfing the web.  That ain't how they make money.  So I'm drinking a latte and tapping at my teeny tiny netbook across the street from UNLV at the Coffee Bean.  It's not unpleasant.

I don't have a whole lot to say at this very instant.  Thanks to Citizen Zhiv for his Shakespearean post.  Two Bard references above the fold - well played, sir.

If you're wondering why NCM played only six minutes, the news is not good.  As someone pointed out on the game thread, he landed hard on his wrist after a first quarter foul.  I saw him after the game with an ice pack on his left wrist (he's a lefty, IIRC) and a depressed look on his face.  I asked him how he felt and whether he was going to be able to play Thursday (today).  He said he just opened it wasn't broken.  Poor kid.  It's hard to say how realistic his chance was of making the squad - but a wrist injury in Summer League is a disastrous set back in his quest.  He asked for prayers; so I'll send that request along to you all.

Although the game was horrifically bad, I did think that Sofo bounced back in the second half.  He rebounded well, as he did in the first game, once again contradicting his European stats.  Impressively, he deomonstrated his surprising athleticism when he went high to reject a James Johnson dunk attempt at the top of Johnson's jump.  He also showed that he's a handful around the rim.  He drew four shooting fouls (though it would have been nice if he'd gotten the and-one on more than one of them).

We've touched on the fact that Vegas is not a big man's environment.  I was courtside near one of the baskets, and I found myself thinking "Get him the ball" on almost every trip; but it didn't happen.  It also doesn't help the bigs that fouls are so cheap here.  A normal NBA game disqualifies a player after 6 fouls in a 48 minute game (one foul per eight minutes of game time).  Summer League allows ten fouls before a player fouls out, in a 40 minute game - one foul per four minutes, twice as many.  Both Sofo and DJ are getting mauled around the basket (and of course, strategically it's a winning formula since both are terrible free throw shooters).  Samardo Samuels used eight fouls in 22 minutes - better than one per three minutes - and Chris Richards used five in 20 minutes.  It is what it is - nothing to be done about it, and the Clipper bigs haven't looked good, even with these things taken into consideration.  But it is certainly not a big-friendly environment.

The first round picks were something of trainwreck on Wednesday.  It wasn't so much the quantity of Eric Bledsoe's turnovers (seven) as the quality (at least five went nowhere near a player on the court, most of those straight into the crowd - if you're planning on being in Cox Pavillion for a Clippers game this summer, please pay attention when Bledsoe has the ball, because it's not a particularly safe environment).  Not all turnovers are created equal - a player might get a charge on an aggressive move to the basket, a defender might make a great play.  But these turnovers were all on Bledsoe.  One of my least favorite basketball cliches is the old saw "Don't leave your feet unless you know what you're going to do with the ball."  Great players do it all the time - they figure out what they're going to do while they're up there, and it usually turns out fine.  Well, Bledsoe must not be a great player yet.  He kept leaving his feet and never figured out the good options.  This is another area where Summer League doesn't help.  He and his teammates aren't on the same page. so he doesn't know where they are.  They fact that he couldn't make a shot (1 for 5) just completely his nightmare game.

Al-Farouq Aminu played about five minutes of terrific basketball.  He made a basket with an and-one, made a three, came up with two steals and two rebounds, and even showed off a decent handle as the Clippers raced to a 10-0 start.  And then he reverted to the tentative 19 year old we saw on Monday.  I was sitting next to David Thorpe, and after 12 straight misses, AFA caught the ball in the short corner and made a three.  I noticed that he caught the ball ready to really shoot that time - it seemed like throughout the game, he'd been catching and upfaking without the courage of his convictions - he never intended to shoot, which was evident in his fake.  Thorpe also pointed out that he snapped his wrist on his follow through,which he had not been doing; in other words, he got the mechanics right, and he made the shot.  The good news there is that it would seem that AFA's issues are correctable with coaching and confidence (alliteration!).

Remember the mantra: it's only Summer League, it's only Summer League.  Yes, the team needs some of these guys to contribute this season in order to provide depth.  Getting blown out in Summer League doesn't prove that they can't do that, any more than winning big in Summer League proves that they can.  Certainly we'd like to be seeing SOMETHING positive (some made shots might be a start). 

We'll see what happens today.  Some baby steps would be nice.  Like maybe the team should have a goal of having more made field goals that turnovers.  It hasn't happened in two games here, which is pretty much all you need to know.