I'm sure you're all looking for a first hand account. What could be seen onsite that wasn't seen from the TV, so let me give you my report!
The cheerleader outfits this year are much improved but still incredibly ugly. They seem to be in love with the one piece look which just looks... ugly. They're also inlove with these white cowboy boots with heals which are... ugly. The plus side is they had some tops that were cute, and their one piece miniskirt outfits are interesting. color patterns should really be used to apply some accentuation though in order to...
Oh, the game.
I'm fairly certain a number of you watched it so I'll give my initial impressions. Realize that I'm no expert and it's just a feel and my thoughts.
"What... we're not playing our starters??? WTF!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO. Hmmm, wait, this means the Jazz won't know our team. Sweet. Trying to work advantages now to eek out those early wins! I like it Nate, but you screwed me on watching Greg play... AGAIN!!!" (I missed seeing Oden play in summer league because I came down at the end instead of the beginning).
The lack of playing the starters tells me we've arrived. last year we played to win. We had to learn to win. This year, it's really been about seeing what we have. That means Nate expects us to win and it's all about the little fine tunings that need to happen to do the most winning. Preseason finally doesn't matter for this team. Sucked for me watching the game, but an awesome sign for this year.
My gf called the Jazz mascott a "Wookie" Personally I think he looks like teenwolf. He rode in on a motorcycle and reved it up high. No one was clapping but you couldn't tell because it was too noisy. Canned noise came in and it sounded like the place was full. People trickled in at half time and by the end of the game, the noise was real and the place WAS almost full.
There were misc. blazer fans in the crowd and at one point a kid cried out "where's oden??? I want oden!!!"
I had some kids razzing me about the blazers and how they sucked. I just laughed. The Blazer's ten plus point lead grew and they quieted down. Can't call a team that clearly isn't sucking a sucky team. At the end of the game they were noisy again, and i still laughed. After they again told me the blazers sucked, I just looked at them smiling and said "yeah, but those weren't our starters!" They shut up again. While they processed that, we left.
Blake: Looked good. Looked REALLY good. He hit shots he needed to make. he made some NICE passes through traffic and to a guy under the basket who would sometimes finish and sometimes not. Blake is, without a doubt, our starter. He deserves to be a starter on just about every team in the league. He was calm, focused, collected, and deadly.
Randolph: We kept him instead of hill??? Seriously? the guy is slow. Molasses slow. We're talking heinz ketchup on top of the building, running down and sticking out your dog so that ketchup drop can land on your bun slow. His stat sheet was impressive, but every time he got the ball it was a bobble fest until the ball miraculously dropped into the basket. He seemed to pause for a second going "what do I, what do i do, what do i do george? OH! Ball! Score!" His scoring had more to do with some excellent passing than it did with randolph. He'd have a steal at one end and turn it over at the other end. I was ticked whenever he got the ball. When he fouled out I said "YES!!!" then diogu ran in and i said " NOOOOOO!!! NOT BETTER!!!" If Randolph were a 19 year old rookie, I'd have more patience, but he has a few years, and he's SLOW!
Diogu: I don't have much to say on this guy, but he's a 15th player on the bench and we already have one in randolph. Actually we have three. This far down should be reserved for projects, not scrubs. I expect Randolph and diogu to be cleared out by year end to make way for second round high reward low risk talents that can simmer.
Bayless looked good out there the first half. I yelled at him for his showboat move. Don't showboat if you can't finish! He was clearly off balance. He made some nice three's. The second half he attacked the basket and just ran into a wall of guys. He didn't have a plan B to pass out and he didn't have a prayer of making the shot. Also, as a rookie, he didn't have a prayer for that foul call. The kid will be all right because I saw glimmers of tools that he'll be able to use, but he's not ready. He needs to simmer on the bench and make use of the scrap minutes he'll get during blow-outs. Side note: I saw him talking to Batum at one point who looked upset. I believe it was on a blown play. Batum walked away and Bayless must have recognized that he ticked Batum off or something and he talked to Batum again either to encourage or to try to make nice. Obviously I don't know the conversation that took place, but Bayless was either encouraging Batum, or Bayless was too blunt and was trying to fix that. Either way it means he's paying attention to the mood of his team mates, and i think that's a good thing. he'll learn.
Rudy: Love this guy! he's all over the place getting steals, disrupting. Watching him in practice, he's VERY deliberate in his shot. He's generally practicing a short step/serious of moves before each shot. He's checking to make sure his form is perfect before he shot. It was cool to watch. His shot didn't feel on tonight and I as disappointed that he didn't take over the game at the end. He seemed to be watching the team and the other team. he's moving, but it also seems like he's observing and learning. I have a feeling that once he feels like he pretty much gets it, he'll explode. I think he's holding back some right now.
Sergio: He didn't take many shots, and I didn't need him too. He made efforts on defense, made some good passes, and was constantly communicating and direction. Blake also did this and it's good to see. He looked comfortable and confident. his shot still needs work, but I think he's going to get there and maybe he will be able to make it on our team.
Overall: I feel there should have been more movement in this game. more cutters. The ball would be passed along the outside but it didn't seem to go down low a whole lot. In the first half I noticed that the jazz had a tougher time scoring and the blazers scored at will. We couldn't miss and we always managed to get open. In the second half they clamped down on defense and Blake wasn't in it. We had a number of shot clock violations. The Jazz moved the ball well, and we left nice gaps for them to find the man. The crowd was LOUD and the building was pretty full. Much more impressive than the regular season game I went to last year where most of the sound was canned sound. The echo of the place really exaggerates the sound.
I'm happy with what I saw. Diogu and Randolph should never play and we have a nice team. I'm still bitter about hill.
Cheerleaders: As for the cheerleaders... get rid of that white trash green god awful eye shadow. Seriously! They had a contest to give a date away with a cheerleader. It was either that or signed basketball shoes by Deron Williams. I'm not a jazz fan, but I'd definitely take the freaking shoes!!! Yuck. Blazer dancers are a cut above. They're still toothpicks, but at least they're attractive toothpicks and look like they have class. Ironically, one of the most attractive Jazz dancers couldn't do the splits. What's up with that?
Apparently people didn't see the game?
Frye: My impression of Frye is that he did well. I would guess he was about 50% from the field by watching him. He made some nice open shots, to the point if he was open it almost felt automatic. He hurt his shooting a little on a rebound, put back miss, rebound again. I thought he should have kicked it back out, but I know that feeling when you're down there. "the basket is just... right... there..." He had aquired a quiet scoring that was pretty impressive by half. He looks good but I think he can play a little bit better and be more explosive. My guess is he's shaking off a little rust again and also... it's just preaseason.
Overall redone to take into account people didn't see:
Blake was pushing hard. Is was quick up and down the court and had some nice passes around the defense that pretty much put it in the hands of the people in the post. Randolph capitalized on this in the first half. He really seemed to hurt with Blake out.
The feel of the game was that the blazers were in complete control during the first half. As I stated above the jazz had a difficult time scoring. The blazers, even when they missed, seemed to have much easier shots.
The shot that bayless made that frustrated me was he received an allyhoop type pass and did some fancy moves with the legs and didn't have as much control as he should have had, so he missed the dunk as he flew past the basket. Showman ship is awesome, but he didn't have enough control to show off.
The second half and fourth quarter the Jazz really seemed to tighten down. There was more energy and cutting, as noted above, but the difference was on the defensive end. The Blazers didn't make passes fast enough to open up the defense, and it felt like the majority of players (randolph, diogu, outlaw, bayless) didn't know what to do with the ball out there. Offense stalled and it breathed life into the crowd and into the jazz team. The passing was also mostly on the perimeter. You'd go around the outside of the three point line and then someone might attempt to drive. The lack of a good post player really hurt the offense. That may also have been part of players not knowing what to do.
Even rudy seemed more passive than active in this game. Again though, i felt he was reading the players and the game. It feels like he'll continue to do that because the games don't matter yet, they matter when you start to make the push and THAT's when we'll see him explode. His inaction feels VERY active, if that makes sense. Also, he had a few turnovers. One he was about to attack the basket and did a fake right, left, then right... the problem is he lifted his right, left, right foot up and was then called for the travel. He also made a pass STRAIGHT to the Jazz player who was in front of travis. It wasn't a no look pass, so I'm not sure what was up with that. Rudy also seemed very serious. I left wondering if he's feeling the pressure too.
Outlaw had a play where he was open on the fast break. He had the right side and was dribbling in. The thing was, you could tell he wasn't comfortable with that dribble and wanted to pass off, but there wasn't an open passer. He had a deffender in front and so he lifted off a little to early to dunk it. Probably to avoid the charge, but he was completely off balance and ended up missing it. I think outlaw needs to work a little more all ball handling and being comfortable on the fast break like that.
The team was communicating a lot and it's mostly coming from the guards. Blake was constantly directing traffic and signaling for people to move. I feel this is a large part of why the team worked so well with Blake in it. Sergio was doing that to some extent too. I didn't see Bayless signalling at all.
Bayless brought the ball up a few times, but would then give to Blake or sergio, which was a much better call. Sergio, despite his stats looked good.
Okay, I think I blahed out everything in my head right now. I should have written this last night, but hopefully it added a little something.