Defining Discontent

I've heard this mentioned in a few places, but maybe it's time to put a finer point on the topic of WHY fans are discontented.

During Portland's first three losses on the road people were worried, but jitters and inexperience could easily be used as excuses for the lapse.

During the four-game home winning streak fans were understandably ecstatic because the team showed outright moxy, poise and a killer instinct. With the cheers of the fans behind them they shocked all of us and showed just how much talent really is waiting to burst forth.

This brings us to the most recent four-game road slide and, I think, the biggest reason for the discontent amongst fans: Effort. Or, more accurately, the complete lack of it.

You can have less talent, be smaller and less experienced, but if you want it more than the other team you're at least going to be competitive. I'm glad to hear Sarge is back a little bit, because this team needs a kick in the butt. I think they've been congratulating themselves far too much on how much work they did in the off-season, forgetting that even MORE effort is required once the season begins.

You can talk about how teams befuddled the Blazers with their full court press, and how our perimeter defense is being exploited by athletic wings and sharp shooters. All of that is true, and it's all stuff that takes time to figure out, but... come on... If a player lacks defensive prowess, fine, but that's not exactly the end of the story. EFFORT, man. Effort. Why do we seem to simply accept that if a player is a sub-par defender that's just the way things are and others need to step up to fill the gap?

Look at Martell. Watch some film of him last year compared to this one. The way he plays defense is light years ahead of where he was a year ago. He's still no Bruce Bowen, but he's no longer a matador with a crimson and black cape, letting the bulls pass by him.

I know defense isn't a sexy part of the game, and most players would rather score 30 points than grab five steals, but defensive stats show effort more than any other.

And for me that's what it comes down to. There were times last year when the team was down big in the last part of the game, but they kept fighting. This year you'd reasonably expect the same, or even more of a fighting spirit, but so far it's been woefully missing, especially after the Philly game.

I'm not saying this is going to continue all year. I fully expect the team to win a game on the road soon. But that's not going to happen until two things take place: First, every player on the team commits to being fearless. They've got to have almost a college team demeanor that looks at adversity as a chance to shock people. Secondly, that energy needs to START at the defensive end. It's amazing how cathartic a few steals leading to fast breaks can be, and how much it can put the other team on its heels.

Sound off now: Which would you rather see, wins or effort? (Not that the two are mutually exclusive)

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