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Archive → March, 2011

Talking Pistons on ESPN’s NBA 411

ESPN was kind enough to ask me to contribute a few seconds to their daily NBA 411 video, talking about John Kuester‘s tenure as Pistons coach. As you can see, I’m not the most camera-friendly dude in the world, but I’ve come a long way since my college days.

Greg Monroe racking up double-doubles like it’s his job (which it sort of is)

Greg Monroe has so many double-doubles this season, the last time a Piston bested his single-season total, Detroit won a franchise-high 64 games. Yeah, those days feel like forever ago.

With 14 points and 12 rebounds against the Heat last night, Greg Monroe posted his 17th double of the season. That gives him the most double-doubles by a Piston since the 2005-06 season, when Chauncey Billups had 27 double-doubles and Ben Wallace had 17.

Monroe was previously tied with Antonio McDyess (16 double-doubles in both 2008-09 and 2007-08) and Chauncey Billups (16 in 2006-07).

The data comes from Basketball-Reference.com, which provides game information only since 1986-87.

In that span, no Pistons rookie has posted more double-doubles than Monroe has this season. Grant Hill held the previous high with 11 in 1994-95.

The Pistons still have 11 games left, so Monroe will likely notch another double-double, which would give him the most point-rebound double-doubles since Rasheed Wallace had 24 in 2004-05. Monroe has an outside chance of passing Sheed, but he won’t top Ben Wallace’s 34 point-rebound double-doubles in 2003-04.

Monroe’s 17 doubles tie him for the 34th most by a Piston in a season since 1986-87. With a double-double in all 11 of Detroit’s remaining games, Monroe would rank 17th. Considering he’s gotten a double-double in about a quarter of his games – albeit, more often recently – Monroe getting three more and ranking 31st probably presents a more realistic scenario.

To see a complete list of how many double-doubles Piston players posted in each of the last 26 years, see below the jump.

Continue reading →

What Tom Gores actually does for a living

The Detroit News continues to own Pistons-sale coverage. Perhaps, you’ve heard Tom Gores runs a private-equity firm called Platinum Equity. But what does a private-equity firm do exactly? I had minimal idea until Brian J. O’ Connor, the paper’s finance, editor explained today:

The term "private equity" sounds complicated, like hedge funds and mergers and acquisitions, but it’s just another term for the age-old practice of investing rich people’s money to make them richer. If you’re good at it, you get rich, too.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the whole article for a clear, in-depth look at Gore’s operation.

Richard Hamilton wants to appear on Nick Jr.’s ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’

Richard Hamilton already shot an episode of Disney Junior’s "Imagination Movers," which airs Friday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. But he hopes his children’s shows days are just beginning. Via Chris Iott of MLive.com:

"That’s what we’re working on now," Hamilton said with a grin. "Trying to get on ‘Yo Gabba Gabba.’"

Also, I jokingly title my post about his “Imagination Movers” experience, “Where Richard Hamilton improved his attitude, earning back his rotation spot.” Maybe I wasn’t that far off. Iott:

"It took me from 7 in the morning till 12 at night," Hamilton said. "The whole day. The whole show. It was fun. The guys were easy to work with. I told them that I’d come back and do it again.

Detroit Pistons play smart, hustle, battle (and lose) against Miami Heat

The Pistons opened the game with a decided matchup advantage, which is rare enough.

And they displayed tremendous early energy, which might be even rarer.

And they kept up that energy well into the second half, which by definition, is even rarer than that.

And they were playing the Miami Heat, which might convince you I’m lying.

But all that happened. Oh, and the Pistons lost, 100-94. You didn’t ever expected them to win this game, did you?

The Heat are 49-22 for a reason – actually, several reasons, and one of the biggest is they beat up on weak teams. The Pistons, if you haven’t been paying attention, are a weak team. But, unlike many other nights, that didn’t stop them from making a positive impression.

To open the game, the Pistons played smart. Detroit built an eight-point lead midway through the first quarter by feeding whoever Mike Bibby guarded – Richard Hamilton, Tracy McGrady and even Chris Wilcox after a switch.

When the Heat pulled Bibby, the Pistons hustled. Jason Maxiell scrambled all over the court setting screens, and he scored inside a bit, too. Hamilton (27 points and four assists) moved well without the ball. And with all that pressure on the Heat’s defense, passing lanes opened. Detroit capitalized with 28 assists for the game, a majority of them coming in the first half.

When the Heat slowed the game by making shots – opening the fourth quarter on a 15-0 run – which allowed them to tighten their defense on Detroit, the Pistons battled. Thanks in large part to Rodney Stuckey’s aggressiveness, the Heat didn’t pull away until the final 10 seconds.

I don’t know how a Pistons fan could come away unhappy with the team’s performance tonight. For those who want to see Detroit play well, they got that. For those who want better lottery odds, they got that, too.

Why Chris Wilcox didn’t play more

Although his defense on Chris Bosh didn’t exactly impress, Chris Wilcox had a pretty fine game. In 18 minutes, he scored 10 points (5-of-6 shooting), grabbed four rebounds and made two assists, including a backward, no-look scoop to Greg Monroe for a layup after digging up a loose ball.

Most nights when Wilcox performs that well, he’d play more, but other factors kept him on the bench.

His second foul in the first quarter earned him a slightly quicker-than-usual hook, and he didn’t return in the first half. He played the first 9:30 of the second half, a fairly typical stint, but he never returned in the fourth quarter.

His night ended in the third quarter, because the Pistons’ needed an element late in the game he couldn’t provide.

Nine of the Pistons’ final 11 points came from a wing-type player driving to the basket, either via field goal or free throw.

Had Wilcox re-entered, he probably would have done so at the 6:43 mark, when Monroe and Richard Hamilton replaced Jason Maxiell and Ben Gordon. They joined Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince and Greg Monroe on the court.

In that final stretch, the Pistons scored 13 points. Not setting the world on fire, but it certainly beats the zero points Detroit had previously scored in the fourth quarter. Detroit’s offense began clicking, because its four wing-type players spread the floor and created driving lanes for each other. The plan really worked because the Heat (with Mike Bibby and James Jones) didn’t have enough players capable of both defending and helping on drives on the floor to match up with four potential drivers.

Of course, Pistons risked their rebounding and interior defense with this strategy. But during that final stretch, they outrebounded Miami, and Bosh scored just two points.

The Pistons didn’t really miss Wilcox, and they benefited from playing four wing-types.

Detroit lost because the Heat are a better team, not because John Kuester mismanaged his rotation. Quite the contrary, Kuester deserves credit for giving the Pistons a chance down the stretch with an unorthodox lineup.

Charlie Villanueva’s Pistons career might be entering the home stretch

In the first 2:38 of the fourth quarter, Charlie Villanueva committed an illegal-defense violation,* missed a shot and did nothing defensively to slow the Heat’s 11-0 run. So, John Kuester logically pulled the power forward in favor of someone who can make a positive impact on the game.

*At least one, for sure. The Pistons actually committed two in that short span, but the other was credited to Jason Maxiell. Keith Langlois thought Villanueva caused it. I don’t recall.

Villanueva wasn’t pleased. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

CV31 pointing at Q as he was yanked from the game.

I asked Ellis to clarify, and he graciously did:

He didn’t look happy.

To clarify further: CV31 was saying something while pointing. Q was just looking at him.

Just a gut feeling, but I don’t expect Villanueva back with the Pistons next year. By all accounts he’s a good guy and active in the community, but his sense of entitlement must be wearing thin.

Rodney Stuckey dunks harder than I’ve ever seen him dunk before

Rodney Stuckey usually takes the ball hard to the rim, but he doesn’t always (or often) finish hard once he gets there. Not the case tonight. Video via The Hoop Scene:

Another double-double for Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe had 14 points and 12 rebounds. More importantly, he continues to expand his game. Monroe held the ball longer tonight than he typically does, patiently looking for his shot or a pass (he made two assists). He also looked more confident with his spin move in the post, which he’s flashed on occasion in the past.

Pistons studying new uniforms for 2012

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

It’s being studied. RT @PistonsFan31: @Keith_Langlois I heard the Pistons are getting new uniforms in 2012-13, any truth to that?

I think I speak for everyone when I say, they better be red, white and blue.

Intriguing free-agent-to-be Chris Wilcox will start and guard Chris Bosh vs. Heat

Essentials

Teams: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons

Date: March 23,  2011

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Pistons: 25-45

Heat: 48-22

Probable starters

Pistons:

Heat:

  • Mike Bibby
  • Dwyane Wade
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Bosh
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +8.5

Over/under: 198

Score: Heat win, 103.25-94.75

Three things to watch

1. Extended look at Chris Wilcox

Have you heard much about this Chris Wilcox guy lately? It seems every outlet – including this onehas written about him the last few days.

He’s certainly an intriguing player – a free-agent-to-be big man who’s playing well for a team that desperately needs positive contributors, especially inside. He’s also 28 – right on the edge between young and and old, making him all the more perplexing.

We’ll get an excellent chance to evaluate him tonight. He’ll start and guard Chris Bosh, according to Matt Dery of 97.1 The Ticket.

2. Tayshaun Prince’s defense

Very quietly, Tayshaun Prince has nearly reverted to form defensively this season. As the Pistons’ contending run wilted, so did Prince’s defense. But not only has he broken that downward trend, he’s excelling on that end of the floor.

I still don’t think he defends as well as he did in his defensive prime, but he could go a long way toward making the case tonight. Even at his best, he never defended LeBron James or extremely powerful forwards all that well, but he at least held his own. If he can do that tonight, it’d be a huge success.

3. Pride?

The Pistons aren’t making the playoffs. It’s been a painstakingly long year, and the team has given up long ago. John Kuester is a lame duck. The trade deadline has passed. Basically, everyone is just waiting for this season to end.

But last I checked, the Heat are the only team that gets full-time coverage on ESPN. If you beat them, people notice. Winning is more fun than losing – and that’s true of everyone on the winner’s side from the players to the fans. So, maybe the Pistons will muster up some energy and focus, even just for the first few quarters?

Pregame Reading

You can bid on some awesome Pistons items and help the Boys & Girls Club

From a team release:

The 2011 Pistons Care Telethon, which culminated in an 18-hour donation drive and telecast of the team’s game on March 18, raised $351,110 in pledges to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs in Michigan with net proceeds being distributed amongst the 35 Boys & Girls Club locations across the state of Michigan. The pledge total will fund over 7,000 Boys & Girls Club annual memberships as well as support the cost of programming for youth in need.

Although the Telethon took place on March 18, there is still opportunity to support the Boys & Girls Clubs in Michigan. Pistons fans can visit pistons.com and click on the red “Charity Auctions” link through March 29 to donate via an online auction of 10 unique Pistons experiences and memorabilia including two hours of play to host a pick-up game with friends on the official Pistons court; golf for two with Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko and two signed Jerebko jerseys; an opportunity for a group of three to play video games against Greg Monroe in the Pistons locker room; a meet and greet with former Pistons “Bad Boy” Dennis Rodman including four lower-bowl tickets to the April 1 Pistons vs. Chicago game in which Rodman’s jersey will be retired; and a trip for two on the Pistons team plane to a road game which includes two lower-bowl tickets and accommodations at the team hotel.

Additional online auction items include an autographed Joe Dumars basketball; a limited edition autographed Rodney Stuckey jersey; a meet and greet with Tracy McGrady including two press row tickets to a future game; a meet and greet with Joe Dumars including two press row tickets to a future game; and even an opportunity to sit courtside with Greg Kelser and George Blaha during one of their in-game broadcasts including an on-air mention, two lower-level tickets and a George Blaha and Greg Kelser autographed basketball.

“Exemplifying the true spirit of teamwork, our fans and sponsors have rallied together to help raise funds for thousands of children who will be given the mentoring and guidance to succeed.” said Alan Ostfield, President & CEO of the Pistons and PS&E. “The Pistons and Boys & Girls Clubs look forward to teaming up to implement Telethon funds to the 35 Club locations statewide throughout the calendar year.”

“The Pistons players and the entire Pistons Sports & Entertainment family went above and beyond for Boys & Girls Clubs across the state. Their leadership will help provide brighter futures for many children.” said, Len Krichko, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.

Pistons partners Amway, Fathead, Marathon Oil Corporation, Powers Distributing, POH Regional Medical Center, Allstate, and Belle Tire all contributed to the cause, as did the team’s television partner Fox Sports Detroit. Numerous television sponsors donated their spots during the telecast to share the message about Boys & Girls Club and various sponsors contributed to the radio telecast on 97.1 The Ticket as well as in-arena throughout the March 18 game.

Area media also stepped up to support the Pistons Care Telethon including WDVD-FM, WXYT-FM, WYCD-FM, WWJ-AM, WNIC-FM, CIDR-FM, WDFN-AM, WCSX-FM, WRIF-FM, WMGC-FM, WJLB-FM, AMP Radio, WOMC-FM, CIMX-FM and WKQI-FM who broadcast live from The Palace throughout the day. WJBK-TV Fox 2, WDIV-TV 4 and WXYZ-TV 7 aired segments to support the event. The Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, The Oakland Press, Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune, Observer & Eccentric, Metro Times and Real Detroit supported the event by donating space for promotional ads. Fox2, WXYZ TV7, WWJ-TV62, CW50, Comcast and WDIV TV4 provided coverage of the telethon. CBS Outdoor donated multiple billboards to promote the telethon.

Entertainers including Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Eminem, Rihanna, Usher and Jimmy Buffett supported the event.

For more information on the Pistons Care Telethon, please contact Vice President of Community Relations Dennis Sampier at (248) 371-2034 or visit Pistons.com.

Tayshaun Prince has no idea (or maybe two conflicting ideas) how to successfully coach a team

Tayshaun Prince has more advice for John Kuester. Via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"I think no matter what team you have, in my sense, I think you have to find out who your starting five is and roll with it," Prince said.

I completely disagree. Ideally, it would be great to have a clear-cut five players who are better than their teammates and play well together. But when that’s not the case, not only is changing the starting lineup tolerable, it’s often logical.

What about players who improve during the season? Shouldn’t they have a chance to earn a starting spot? And what about players who don’t live up to expectations? Shouldn’t they risk losing their starting job?

Let’s keep in mind the Pistons’ first starting lineup this season was Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Prince, Austin Daye and Ben Wallace. Kuester’s first attempt to improve the lineup was replacing Daye with Jason Maxiell. Neither lineup includes Detroit’s best player this season, Greg Monroe, who didn’t even crack the initial rotation.

Identifying your starting five and blindly rolling with it, to me, seems disadvantageous. What do you think, Tayshaun?

Prince feels for the players not as fortunate as him, especially Chris Wilcox, who’s play has improved dramatically in recent games.

"I always tell people, when you come off that bench and you’re not playing consistent minutes, it’s hard to stay in a rhythm," Prince said. "He was in a bad situation last year. He didn’t get good minutes."

So, Prince wants to keep the same starting lineup, even though he realizes it adversely affects the bench players. Chris Wilcox already faced a steep hill to starting, because he began the season on the bench. What if he had been told he had no chance at starting this season, because the Pistons were just rolling with their original starters? How hard do you think he would have worked?

Players need incentives, and they need roles. For coaches, balancing those two sometimes-conflicting ideas is a challenge. Prince seems to understand and ignore that simultaneously, which is pretty fitting considering how the Pistons fanbase feels about Kuester.

The Kuester divide

Some advice:

Pistons fans who think Kuester haphazardly changes his rotation too often, keep in mind a sizable number of fans think he stubbornly refuses to change his rotation often enough.

Pistons fans who think Kuester stubbornly refuses to change his rotation often enough, keep in mind a sizable number of fans think he haphazardly changes his rotation too often.

Tayshaun, uh, I guess keep both in mind.

Prince’s statement wrong on content, not intent

I don’t fault Prince for saying this. I’m 100 percent for athletes speaking their minds. If Prince feels this way, and I give him a ton of credit for saying it. He shouldn’t have to subjugated his thoughts at the feet of an almighty head coach.

But Prince also must understand his role. Who starts, even in the NBA, is the coach’s decision. Players are entitled to disagree, and I wish more would publicly when they do privately. I think Prince is wrong, but I’ll stick up for his right to be wrong.

My problem in this regard comes when players let what they can’t control – like starting lineups – control what they can – like showing up to practice.

Pistons-Heat tickets winner

Congratulations to Tim McGorisk for winning the tickets to tonight’s game.