double ouch

30 03 2009

Ouch! That result hurt, more so for losing Brent Tate for the season than for the 26 – 10 scoreline. It was apparent early on that the Warriors weren’t in it. They were flat and seemingly without inspiration. It seems that last weeks thriller against Manly in 30 degrees heat wiped them out. Next weeks game is on Sunday so they should be refreshed. The main question is who will play in the centres with Jerome Ropati? The most logical player is Simon Mannering but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lance Hohaia there when he comes back from injury. Sure he’s undersized but they need to fit him into the team somewhere.

As for the Blues, for the second week in a row they were dreadful. No direction and no true playmaker. they concede too many tries – for a team with two premium All Blacks in Ali Williams and Kevin Mealamu that’s shocking. They were looking promising for a while there but I doubt they’re going to make the playoffs.

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2009 = Year of the Warriors

23 03 2009

I have been telling people for months that this year is the Warriors year. Of course I have been secretly hoping that for the last decade and a half but other than a couple of notable exceptions (especially 2002 when they made the Grand Final), I never really absolutely believed they had a legitimate chance to win the title. This year I absolutely believe.

We have pace, power, skill and flair with a perfect blend of youth, (Russell Packer, Joel Moon, Manu Vatuvei etc) and experience (most notably the incomparable Steve Price and Stacey Jones). The Warriors also have arguably the best backline in the NRL: the back three of Wade MacKinnon, Vatuvei and Denan Kemp are a match for anyone, both our centres are world class while in Joel Moon we have one of the best offseason buys – especially when he is paired beside Jones and the ever steady Nathan Fien.  The forward pack is direct and strong with some solid defensive stars in Jacob Lillyman, Michael Luck and Simon Mannering. The one thing the forwards lack is a true ball player like Sonny Bill Williams or Ali Lautiti but they compensate in other ways.

The first two games of the season proved the Warriors are going to be a true force this year. They steam rolled the Parramatta Eels last week, only letting the Eels back into it when the first game of the year style mistakes crept in, while yesterday they outlasted the Manly Sea Eagles (the defending champions no less!) in Brookvale. The Manly victory was especially sweet as they beat us 4 times last year.

Despite the fact that it was riddled with mistakes (it seems that the two referee system is meaning a superfast game that all teams are struggling to adjust to – as evidenced by the numerous mistakes on both sides) the game was a true classic. It was only decided when the greatest Warrior of them all, Stacey Jones, took over the game in the final 10 minutes. Until that point he had been drifting, not making any mistakes but when he flicked the switch and set up Brent Tate with a chip and regather it was like the Stacey of old had returned. It was hard to believe he hadn’t played for the Warriors in over three years, even harder to believe that he hadn’t even played in 18 months! And then he provided the perfect bomb for the match winning try.

With Stacey Jones back and able to drift in and out of games until needed (as illustrated yesterday) the Warriors are truly dangerous. In the NBA players like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Dwayne Wade are regarded as clutch because they take over games when they’re on the line. Jones is the Warriors clutch player and they’re going to be hard to stop as a result.

The one problem I see is the effect he will have on two other integral Warriors. It was noticeable to me that when Jones came on Nathan Fien became skittish. It’s understandable really, Jones has returned to take his spot and while Fien is a more than able hooker he had made the halfback jersey his own. It almost seemed that Fien tried too hard to replicate what Jones was doing when it is not his game. I hope he settles down. The other player is the super sub Lance Hohaia. Hohaia is the perfect game changer off the bench but with Jones back is there room for him, Fien and Hohaia? Or does Ian Henderson, the regular hooker, drop out? Hohaia is injured for another couple of weeks but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Bring on the Broncos next week!





Golden State Warriors Season Preview

15 10 2008

My NBA Pacific Division preview continues with the Golden State Warriors: 

Golden State Warriors

2007-08 Standings 48 – 34, 9th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 40 – 42, 3rd Pacific Division, 11th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, Corey Maggette, Monta Ellis, Marcus WIlliams

Sixth Man:  Stephen Jackson

Without his buddy Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson is going to have to work that much harder this year.

Without his buddy Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson is going to have to work that much harder this year.

For the past couple of years the Golden State Warriors have been a brilliant team to support. They played a dazzling, fun loving style of basketball that was more playground magic than hardwood X and Os. They were led by Baron Davis and he was ably supported by Monta Ellis and somewhat crazy Stephen Jackson.

They memorably made the post season two years back where they beat the heavily favoured Dallas Mavericks in the first round, then narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season despite finishing 14 games over .500. If they’d been in the East they would have been the number four seed.

Then the offseason rolled around and they lost Baron Davis almost immediately to the LA Clippers. They tried to recover from the loss by attempting to sign Elton Brand in a tit for tat exchange (you steal our star and we’ll steal yours) but he ultimately signed for the Philadelphia 76ers. They turned their attention to Corey Maggette and while he is a good pickup he very much is the booby prize.

Adding to the offseason turmoil, Monta Ellis, the Warriors rising star and the reason they could afford to let Davis go, suffered a severe injury that’s going to keep him out for months. Then it was revealed that Ellis had lied about how the injury had been incurred and the Warriors suddenly can compete with the NY Knicks for the title of team turmoil.

There is a definite sense that the Warriors have missed their chance. Davis gave them a swagger but with him gone the burden falls to Jackson, especially with Ellis out.

The Golden State Warriors do have some good young talent. If Ellis recovers from his injury he has the potential to develop into an All Star within a couple of years. Brandan Wright has the size and potential, he just needs the playing time while Andris Biedrins needs to prove he was worthy of his recent big contract.

Jackson, Maggette and Al Harrington provide some veteran leadership in the forwards but it is at the point guard position where the Warriors will struggle with Marcus Williams being acquired as the “solution”.

If the Warriors make the playoffs they will have overachieved this year. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening.

Coach:

Don Nelson is one of the most entertaining coaches in the NBA. His teams are renown for their score-at-any-cost-including-defence style of play. He was a perfect fit for the Warriors of the past couple of years but it will be intriguing to see how he adjusts to his team this season.

Bench:

The motto for this crew should be, if you can score, you’ll play. They’re lead by Stephen Jackson, an emotional firebrand who was one of the principal players in the Palace Brawl a few years back.

Star Player:

When he returns from injury Monta Ellis is the star of this team. He’s capable of scoring points in a hurry but is a below average defender. It will be interesting to see how he comes back from his injury and the lies he told to cover up its cause.

Team MVP:

Even when Baron Davis was still around Stephen Jackson was the Warriors MVP, inspiring to two successful seasons. Can he do it one more time?

Final Prognosis:

The Golden State Warriors have a solid team and they’d probably make the playoffs in the East. In the West they are ultimately fodder for the better teams. They’re capable of causing an upset or two but that will be about all.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





NBA Season Preview Index

3 10 2008

Atlantic Division Previews:

Boston Celtics Season Preview

Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Toronto Raptors Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview

New Jersey Nets Season Preview

Northwest Division Previews:

Utah Jazz Season Preview

Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview

Denver Nuggets Season Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

Central Division Previews:

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Detroit Pistons Season Preview

Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Pacific Division Previews:

LA Lakers Season Preview

Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Golden State Warriors Season Preview

LA Clippers Season Preview

Sacramento Kings Season Preview

South East Division Previews:

Orlando Magic Season Preview

Miami Heat Season Preview

Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

Washington Wizards Season Preview

Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

South West Division Previews:

New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Houston Rockets Season Preview

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview