The single toughest thing to do for me during this offseason has been for me to come up with topics to write about. When no games are being played, there is only so much fact that can be talked about. We made roster moves, but no blockbuster moves. We never swung for the fences in our moves. We took solid base hits (thought I’d throw that in there for the baseball fans in the bunch). With those simple moves, we vastly improved our team with the addition of Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, and Brendan Haywood. All 3 give us more depth at varying positions and bring some veteran presence to a team with an average age much younger than the rest of the league. Add Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor to the group, and we create a young core that can grow together. The purpose of this article, however, is to discuss what we are seeing in the preseason. Read on Bobcats brethren and see if you agree or disagree…and by all means, comment all you want. I thrive on feedback.
Preseason – It’s that time of year when fans get to see their favorite team play other teams, and the wins and losses don’t count against them. It is the perfect time for a coach to see what pieces he possesses on a team, and can try varying combinations of players on the court to see which ones work the best. In the case of the Bobcats, it gives Coach Dunlap the opportunity to see what his players do, in various situations in games, and how they handle the pressure. Dunlap is a very analytical guy. If you ask him a question, he’s going to have a very thorough and in depth answer for you. It might even consist of a 2-3 part answer, just so you are certain of what he means. I personally love to hear him answer questions. I know that when he is done, I’m going to have a full grasp on what he is thinking and conveying, and there will be little doubt in my mind as to what his plans are. We have only won one preseason game this year. To that I say, “BIG DEAL!” Why do I shout it? I shout it for the very reason listed above. Did anyone notice that it was our first preseason game, and the rest of the games have been all over the place? Maybe I’m the only person that believes this, but there is method behind the madness. I’d love for Coach Dunlap to jump on the board and correct me if I’m wrong on any of the following analysis, but I feel like this is what we are all seeing:
The first preseason win was one that Coach Dunlap allowed to happen. It was a move where he allowed the team to just play some ball and see that they are not last season’s team. Some players needed that. Players that came from winning programs in college and lost and lost and lost in the pros…they needed that win. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo…everyone from last season’s squad needed that first win. I fully believe that after that win, Coach Dunlap then stated that they got the win and that was great, but for the rest of the preseason, he was planning on seeing who could do what and in what types of in-game situations. After that first game, you saw the Bobcats get blown out one quarter, then play staggering defense and roar back to within a few points…then a cold quarter…then a good quarter. This has gone on up until Saturday. With players that don’t typically start starting, they had a rough 1st quarter. After that first quarter, however, you saw the Bobcats play 3 fairly solid quarters of basketball. You saw Tyrus Thomas, who was invisible for all of the 2011-2012 season finish the night with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Where did this Tyrus guy come from? I’ll tell you where. Coach Dunlap is keeping things simple and building up the players. Tyrus has been here the whole time, but he’s been a bit discouraged and confused. Dunlap will praise the good and correct the bad, but he will always focus on the good and build from it. Was I screaming for Tyrus to be amnestied/traded/waived? Yes, I absolutely was. I believe we all took a beating as last season came to a close. It was hard to watch. Imagine our guys on the floor. It isn’t like they wanted to lose. If you think you took a beating as a fan with all of the losses we suffered, talk to Gerald Henderson. He’ll let you know how bad it sucked last year. He’ll also let you know how hard they have worked this summer. The team is probably in the best shape it has ever been in. Will Dunlap let them win another preseason game? As he figures out his players and their strong points, it won’t become whether or not he lets them win, it will become how did they take command of the game and win it. Coach Dunlap is a brilliant guy, and over the course of this preseason, I believe he’s collected almost enough data to know what players he needs on the floor for certain situations, and which guys work the best together. MKG is struggling, but he’s told Coach that he wants to “fix” his shot. That’s not an easy thing to do, but he will get there. If he can do all of the other things he did in college at this level, the team will shine because of it.
I guess that is my defense of the preseason, and my family known as the Charlotte Bobcats. There are a lot of critics who are looking for wins out of the Bobcats in the preseason. Believe me, I’d love to see them, but I believe that the goal is to get the team ready for the season. I could be completely wrong, but I think we are getting skill sets recorded into a database, and the best possible 5 for any on-court situation can be injected into a game for the expected results. I will say that I’m not hearing a lot of chatter about the Bobcats not winning preseason games. I have seen many fans of other teams not giving us a snowball’s chance in Hawaii of being any better than last year’s squad. That, I do not appreciate. It’s a new squat, a new coach, a new culture, and you’re going to be left scratching your head when the Bobcats come to town. We’ll be a team too hard to scout, and when we get that first win on opening night of the season, the 2011-2012 season can finally fade into…well…last season. We can move forward and set new marks. It’s great to be a Bobcats fan…still. I love my team and you should love them as well.