Everybody wants to talk about Ben Howland and his job security, but there really is no point until the end of the season. Ben isn't getting a meeting with Dan Guerrero until after the tourney. As for this team, there are many issues.
Rebounding doesn't seem to be an issue that is getting corrected any time soon. And while the attention this week is on Arizona featured by game day, ASU could prove to be the tougher of the two games. The height of the Sun Devils was just too much last time around, and this meeting should prove to be no exception. UCLA is still very poor in simple fundementals such as box-outs, crashing the boards, etc. It's just sad because its the one thing holding this group back. When UCLA gets the rebounds and are off in transition, few teams are capable of stopping them. Of course, last time against ASU would have been dismissed as a loss based on fatigue, but the Bruins followed it up with a stinker against USC. So basically, this looks to be a very Steve Lavin type team: high on talent, high on potential, iffy on execution, and spotty as to which team is going to show up.
To put in perspective where this team could be, if the Bruins won the Cal Poly and USC games by the combined 50 points they should have won by, they'd be 21-5, hovering around the top 15, and in the conversation for a west regional 3-4 seeding.
I guess we'll talk about Howland now. This week could be a boom/bust week. Two losses, and its just about over. Two wins, and the pendulum swings right... for a week. A split, and its a must two-win trip in Washington. My guess as to what brings Howland back (based on Guerrero's history/expectations) is some combination of the following:
1. Win the PAC 12 regular season title
2. Win the PAC 12 tournament
3. Make the Sweet 16 and lose very close
4. Make the Elite 8.
If its some combo of 1, 2, and 3, I think Howland is back. If its 1 or 2, and a second round exit, it'll be close. And 4 is the absolute safe zone. Any bad loss before the Elite 8, and he's gone. And if its none of the above, its over. If I were Guerrero, it would be 4 or bust, with 3 being a very close evaluation based on who I could bring in, recruiting, current players, etc.
The season could easily be 1-3 and a first/second round conference tourney exit with no dancing, or 4-0 with a PAC 12 tourney title and a top 4 seed in the west. The likely outcome is somewhere in-between. Or is it?
It's just been a rough sports year for me.
For everybody out there with the rhetoric of "money isn't everything," how much will your check to Clowney be should he get hurt next season? How much did your thoughts and prayers contribute to Marcus Lattimore this season?
If your a professional, you want to be in the league as soon as humanly possible. For Clowney, there's a good chance that he'd be the top selection in this years draft. And I'm not quite sure how much GM's really want to see him this year. GM's already know what this kid can do. They'd probably rather he not play and get him with another year of life. He's that special. So why should any of us ask him to risk that? And that includes Steve Spurier.
I've always thought that it's mostly on the coaches to be the adults in the room and advise these kids of what's really best for them. And after they do that, they live with whatever final decision the kid makes. There is nothing that Steve Spurier gains if Clowney decides not to play. So why should he support it? Because he sat in Jadaveon Clowney's living room and told Jadaveon's mom that he'd look after her childs best interests. And if thats really true, he will support Clowney in whatever path he takes.
Personaly, what do I think Clowney should do? Same thing Lattimore should have done last season. First, try and fight the courts to see what can come of that; its not going to work, but no harm in trying. Then, you play this season, but at any point, if the national title is out of the picture, and especially if the SEC title is out of the equation, he needs to pack his bags and leave. At that point, he would have truly given everything for the school, but there's no point in playing for what would be a meaningless exhibition bowl game.
And it's time for Steve to wake up and tell him just that if the time does come to do so.
The One and Done Rule
It kind of goes back to the Clowney thing. If a kid is good enough, he's good enough. At least with the NFL though, their 3 years in college rule makes sense as a whole for the sport. Clowney is a special case. But when it comes to the NBA, there really truly is nothing that a kid gains in one year of college.
Nerlens Noel would have been a top selection in this years draft. And there is nothing that the one and done rule does to help him. There is nothing Nerlens Noel is learning in his lone year at Kentucky that is going to help him. Making kids stay three years makes a lot more sense than staying one. At least then they might actually get more mature.
And the other problem is not all these kids are from difficult backgrounds. The rule is mainly in place so that kids dont take their first paycheck and buy three ferraris and a mansion. But guys like Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Shabazz Muhammad were not from such backgrounds; they wouldn't have wasted their money away as such.
Therefore, here is my plea to the NBA. Allow kids to enter out of high school. But if they go to college, it must be three years. That way, the kids who really want to play college ball play college ball. It helps the kids, and it helps basketball. Whatever the case is, at least open up the high school pipeline again, so we don't have to hear more twitter shout outs for kids who shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place.
Where do I even begin?
The Lakers were never going to trade Dwight Howard. Even with all the things that have gone on this season, the Lakers have the inside track to sign Howard this offseason. They have $30 million more that they can offer with bird rights. They have the advantage of being in Los Angeles, where Dwight's marketability in terms of endorsements would be off the charts. His sneaker deal would be worth a whole lot more than it would be anywhere else. He would be the true king of LA in a short while, after Kobe Bryant retires. And more than anything else, its the Lakers; their never going to be bad for a long stretch of time.
Dwight's options after this season if he were to walk as a free agent look something like this: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Charlotte, and... well you get the picture. So while Dwight can hold the Lakers hostage in some sort of sign and trade deal, the Lakers can every bit as much hold him hostage by daring him to go to Atlanta and lose in the second round for years to come.
Quietly however, Howard has been spiking in terms of production, as have the Lakers. He stated the obvious, admitting to poor conditioning due to his injury. D'Antoni seems to have finally come around to the idea of the post entry, and to the idea of hedging over switching. The Lakers really haven't proven anything however. If the goal is to simply make the playoffs, then yes, the Lakers at this point in time look like they deserve to be a 7-8 seed. But these are the Lakers, and no matter the seed, if the last game of the season ends in a loss, it makes for a long offseason. So will the Lakers make the playoffs? They sure dug themselves quite a hole, but they are capable. But lets not act as if thats going to salvage the season.