Last season at this time, Sonic fans were in the midst of a wild 17-3 ride to start an improbable season. We collectively held our breath waiting for the bubble to burst and the Sonics to return to the season the prognosticators predicted for them.
Well, itâ€™ here.
Itâ€™s hard to say the bubble has burst; rather, the air seemed to be slowly let out of it this summer. As this 6-8 start has unfolded, it's been clear the call for continuity this summerâ€”hence, the hiring of Bob Weissâ€”is still in its infant stages, but the baby steps have been like cutting teeth for fans.
We heard they were going to focus on defense. That seemed reasonable. Add defense to the team they put on the floor last year and weâ€™re talking about a championship type team. Theyâ€™ve clearly added defense, but itâ€™s been the wrong kind. The 108 ppg or whatever astronomical number it is means the only defense weâ€™ve had so far is the Bob Weiss post-game comments.
Whatâ€™s been the difference? Why was last seasonâ€™s defensive effort adequate enough for 52 wins, and this teamâ€™s defensive offering seemingly headed south of 52 wins? We saw it last night in the third quarter.
Brevin Knight was steaming up the floor hoping to cut into a measly three point deficit for Bobâ€™s Cats. Ray and Luke collided with him at mid-court jarring the ball loose and Ray headed the other way for a lay up. Fast forward about 2-3 minutes and the 5 point lead was 12 and Bernie was having to call another timeout to try and keep control of the game.
Knightâ€™s contesting wasnâ€™t the lack of a foul being called, but that he had not seen anything that remotely looked as tough in all the hours of game tape he had watched on this teamâ€”and he let the refs know!
Actually, the hit momentarily caused him to forget last seasonâ€™s team which led the league in dislodging players from the ball.
Oh, one other factoid from last nightâ€™s game that was part of the â€œimproved defenseâ€ is found in the box score under rebounds. Reggie didnâ€™t have 13 rebounds, he had 13 times he ripped the ball off the rim and everyone else aroundâ€”including his own teammates.
I know some of the stat-chasers here on this site have been looking at the defensive numbers to see whatâ€™s wrong with this team in comparison with last season. Well, look at fouls committed. Now add to each foul the brutal attack that went into each of those hits.
Iâ€™d venture to say what would be determined is that we werenâ€™t really a better defensive team last year in terms of stopping opponents from scoring, itâ€™s just that we clobbered and pounded opponents so hard all game that by the late third and fourth quarters (when the Sonics would typically make their â€œrunâ€), the other team was tired and bordering on losing their will to compete against the pounding.
The problem many of us are having thus far is that last seasonâ€™s play seemed to be an extension of Nateâ€™s surly demeanor. Maybe the few days of Weiss having to stew on the Hornet loss combined with some practices where he could let his displeasure and embarrassment be known to the team helped with last nightâ€™s play, or more specifically, The Play.
Itâ€™s hard to say, but maybe thatâ€™s the effort weâ€™ll be seeing in upcoming days as the schedule gets a bit tougher.