Monthly Archives: March 2011 - Page 2

Emergence of Toney Douglas

Via Basketball Betting

It’s a bloody good thing the New York Knicks’ second-year point guard Toney Douglas wasn’t playing this well a month ago.

It might have predated his being draped in Denver powder blue right about now, as another casualty of the Nuggets’ crop of young Knicks talent residual to New York’s recent acquisition of Western Conference stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Coming off last night’s 20-point performance, everything about Douglas’ game has looked crisp over the past couple weeks.

Turnovers are down, and the drives to the hoop are purposeful. Douglas’ recent three-point shooting spate has been uncanny, and all season long he has been one of the few Knicks to consistently compete on the defensive side of the ball.

Should the emergence of the soon-to-be 25-year-old’s game be something more than an extended mirage, the Knicks suddenly find themselves deep in backcourt riches with the exceeding potential to border on something very special.

Toney Douglas has played great since stepping in for an injured Chauncey Billups. Perhaps due to tutoring from the veteran Billups, Douglas has cut down on his turnovers and has averaged around six assists a game in this stretch.

Toney’s shooting has been great, and on Monday he was lights out from behind-the-arc, but we knew he was a good, albeit streaky, shooter early on. Still his ability to be a field general, while continuing to shoot the ball well and drive to the basket has made him a great weapon for the Knicks.

Let us not forget about his defense either. One of the top defensive players in college, Douglas has brought an intensity to the defensive side of the ball that the Knicks needed. As I mentioned in my recap of the Jazz game, he has shut down opposing guards he faced, which have included Chris Paul and Devin Harris.

For this season he looks to be part of a great three, and possibly four man rotation if Anthony Carter continues to get play time, at guard for the Knicks. With a backcourt like that and a frontcourt with Amare and Carmelo, the Knicks could be a real threat come playoff time.

Looking into the future, it would be great if Douglas can emerge as a starter for us. Next year will probably be Chauncey’s last with New York and if we can have Toney as our point guard of the future we could avoid giving up all our remaining cap space to a guy like Chris Paul or Deron Williams, and instead get a center that we desperately need.

If we could somehow land a guy like Tyson Chandler or Nene, or a player of their caliber the following offseason, we can become the team to beat in the East.

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Pelfrey the Ace

Via The John Delcos New York Mets Report

Pelfrey is pleased with his early mechanics, saying the ball is coming out of his hand with ease and fluidity. He also has a sense of confidence knowing he has a rotation slot sewed up, which is not not to be confused with a sense of complacency.

“I’m confident in my abilities, but I still have things I need to work on,” Pelfrey said before the start of camp. “The thing I need to do is be more consistent.”

Defined, Pelfrey said consistency is for him to not get away from his fastball and lose his focus as he did during a horrid five-game stretch in July in which he gave up 24 runs on a combined 42 hits and 13 walks with only ten strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. He had a dreadful 10.02 ERA and in three starts failed to make it out of the fifth.

That he rebounded in August with a 1.82 ERA was indicative of his growing maturity. Take away July and with a little more offensive support and better bullpen and Pelfrey could have won 20 games in 2010.

“I really think so,’’ Pelfrey said. “I was able to put that month (July) behind me and not let if ruin the entire season. I learned to not get away from my fastball. That was very important.”

I have to say, I completely forgot about the questions about Pelfrey last season. All I remember is Mike was a good pitcher for us, and like the article mentions, if it wasn’t for his performance in July he would have had a great season. Remember, last season a lot of people were wondering if Pelfrey was going to get an All-Star invitation, as many people believed he was having a better season than Johan Santana.

This season we need him as our ace. He is still a young player, and I think his experiences last season coupled with his confidence this year in Spring Training can help him take the next step. I don’t know if he’ll ever be good enough to be considered an ace, but I think the Mets will do fine with him for the start of the season.

I would be lying if I said the pitching staff isn’t the biggest concern of mine heading into the season, but Pelfrey isn’t the reason for that. I truly hope he and Niese can continue their development and give us some nice homegrown talent for years to come.

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Jared Jeffries Knicks New Center

Via ESPN

Jared Jeffries will go down as a footnote: The only member of the New York Knicks who failed to score a single point in their highest scoring game of the season, a 131-109 drubbing of the Utah Jazz.

But Jeffries is more than a footnote.

He will likely remain the starting center for New York for the remainder of the season, a mini-bombshell that coach Mike D’Antoni dropped before watching his superstar duo click together better than they had in any of the eight games since the epic MeloDrama ended with the blockbuster trade that bought Anthony to New York.

“He’s a very good defensive player, he moves the ball, he understands what we want done, he gives us that multiple possessions on the offensive rebounding, tapping balls out. He’s just an energy guy that kind of glues everything together,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a valuable piece for us although he doesn’t score, but he doesn’t have to. This team is a little bit different than a normal team. You don’t have to space the floor as much because you have such good individual players, so I just think it’s a perfect fit for us.”

Jeffries missed his only two shot attempts Monday night, both from point blank range. But he did grab six rebounds, three on each end, blocked a shot, came up with a steal and made two key plays before the game got out of hand that don’t show up in the box score — saving the ball as it was going out of bounds and then firing it off an opponent’s torso to allow the Knicks to retain possession.

So Jeffries is the new starting center. Honestly I don’t think I care that much between him and Ronny Turiaf. Both players are high-energy defensive-first guys that are offensive deficient.

To me Jeffries is six more fouls and another body to log minutes. Still I love what he is doing. Like D’Antoni said, he is a glue guy and with his insertion into the lineup the Knicks have been playing better defense. The one concern I would have with him on the defensive end is his lack of size. When he goes up against Howard, or Noah he is going to get pushed around. Still, he does a lot of other things for the team and I think that should balance out.

On the offensive end I don’t think if matters that he isn’t a good offensive player. Honestly with the amount of shots Carmelo and Stoudemire are going to take I think we can afford to have one position out there that isn’t going to take many shots. Last season it hurt us because we also had Chris Duhon starting, and our best offensive player was David Lee.

What does everyone else think? Do you like Jeffries in the starting spot? Is there anyone else you would rather see there?

Tiki Returns

Via ESPN

“After seeing my brother still have fun at our age, it reignited the fire,” Tiki Barber said, according to FOXSports.com. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the level of where I was. I started working out again recently. It kind of shocked myself. I still had a lot of the strength I had before. I’m really looking forward to making a return.”

Barber went out on top, rushing for 1,662 yards and five touchdowns in 2006. He ran for 10,449 yards with a 4.7 yards per carry average in his career.

He rushed for a career-best 1,860 yards in 2005 when he made one of his three Pro Bowls.

After he retired, he said Tom Coughlin’s coaching style was part of the reason he stopped playing. The Giants won the Super Bowl the year after Barber retired.

Wow just wow. I will admit I am in complete shock over this one. Barber claimed the reason why he retired was so he could go out on top. I don’t see how at age 36 he can be close to the player he was when he retired.

I find it funny that he now says the reason why he retired was because of Coughlin’s coaching style, even though it was that style that made Tiki the great player that he was. Also it was that style that won us the SuperBowl the season after Tiki retired.

Important to note is the Giants still have the rights to Tiki. So one, would Tiki come out of retirement if it meant playing for the coach that caused him to retire, and the team he has badmouthed ever since he left? Two, would the Giants even want him back considering they have Jacobs, Ware, and are planning on re-signing Bradshaw?

I guess If I’m the Giants I take him since I can’t see his salary being that high, and it is never a bad thing to have depth. Who knows, maybe he still has another good year in him.

Still that doesn’t answer if he’d want to come back to the Giants, and more importantly how would he affect the chemistry. Do the players still like him? Would they accept him back? It is a pretty interesting story.

What do people think? Would you want Tiki back? Would the players want Tiki back?

Knicks Dominate Jazz 131-109

For the first time in the Melo era the Knicks have recorded back-to-back wins. Yesterday it was a decisive win against the 5th seed Atlanta Hawks, tonight it was against the new-look Jazz. While the Jazz no longer have the look of a playoff team after the retirement of Jerry Sloan and the trade of Deron Williams, they are still a capable team.

For starters it is looking like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are figuring out how to play together. Both players scored 30+ points on very efficient shooting. Anthony was 12-16 for 34 points, while Stoudemire added 31 on 12-15 shooting. If these guys can continue to dictate things on the offensive end, while shooting efficiently, the Knicks should be able to play with anyone.

Even more impressive for the two superstars was their play on the defensive end. Both players have been known to put up lackluster efforts on that side of the court throughout their careers, but the past couple of nights they have had some great efforts. Perhaps playing in NY was the boost they needed, because their play has me looking forward to a possible upset come playoff time.

Moving past the stars, Toney Douglas had a great night as  he continues to fill in for Chauncey Billups. Since taking over the starting spot, Douglas has had some great scoring performances and has done a good job dominating his opponent on defense. He shut down Chris Paul in New Orleans, and tonight put a number on Devin Harris leaving him 0-7 from the field. More importantly he dished out six assists while only recording one turnover.

With the win in hand early in the game many players on the Knicks bench got some burn. The bench has been playing well for the Knicks, pretty impressive considering they have been without Bill Walker and Ronny Turiaf. Their play should give us some confidence about our depth heading into the postseason.

It was tough to give up so many players in the trade, but right now it is looking like the Knicks made the right move. It is only seven games in, but Carmelo has the team playing on a different level, and with so many players stepping up on the bench the loss of role players doesn’t hurt as much.