One more time Sonicscentral gets pushed to the brink and is forced to prove that blogs are not the regular media. My own personal frustration boils over with a profane title that I apologize for, but do not regretâ€¦.
I had promised forward/center Danny Fortson that I would not quote him and he would not be the subject of articles until we spoke about it further. Less than a week later I find myself forced to break that promise after the burly and misunderstood player was suspended for opening night for a foul committed in the teamâ€™s final preseason game.
â€œThis is bullsh!t!â€ said Fortson.
Sure the reply was a week ago, and sure it applied to a completely different issue than I am discussing today. In fact the comment did not even come in an interview, but a casual conversation which was not on the record. Still, the sentiment applies and because Danny canâ€™t say it today I want to.
Fortsonâ€™s war with the officials has stretched to the point where it defies logic. Danny often makes his own bed, and in this particular case the suspension likely has more to do with his comments towards referee Violet Palmer after the foul was called than with the foul he committed. The consistently harsh treatment of Fortson by the referees is so blatant, and so inconsistent with their treatment of other players that it in many ways affects the integrity of the game.
I wish, as does team management, that Fortson could adjust his game and attitude to the point where this problem went away. It is clear that somewhere along the line the league, officials, or both made a determination that they needed to target Fortson and force him to give up many of the physical tactics he employs. Instead of enacting change the situation has deteriorated into a contest of wills and attitudes in which Fortson and the Sonics are the biggest losers and the officials the biggest abusers of power. While their goal may not be completely off base the fact that it is pretty much targeted at only one player in the entire league makes it a personal attack rather than a worthwhile objective. Were these same standards and techniques applied evenly and to other players it would make some sense, yet the league has targeted Fortson while players like Bruce Bowen and Ron Artest frequently employ similar methods of physical and borderline cheap defense without the officials stepping in to make any effort to change their game.
Pile on more crapâ€¦
Directing more of this early morning foulness I have to vent my frustrations with New Tribune reporter Frank Hughesâ€™ comments in todayâ€™s article. In this article he stirs the pot with unwarranted comments regarding Robert Swift;
â€œSwift had been having an unreliable preseason, during which Hill and several other members of the staff had to verbally chastise Swift for his lack of focus.â€
While the comment above would seem to convey a ton of negativity about Swiftâ€™s preseason, attitude, and specifically his focus it is not an accurate representation of the young centers standing with the coaches or team. Swift was routinely praised by coaches for his intense work ethic over the summer, and strong play in training camp. Frustrations vented by Hill and the staff revolved around their desire to see him be more assertive and confident to perform in game situations up to the high standards he set in practice where he was often one of the most dominant playes on the court. Each and every player on this team received some level of verbal chastisement as their play fluctuated during a demanding camp. Calling Swift out for a single in-game lecture at this time is adding insult to injury just days after the guy had earned the starting spot on this team.
Here is my latest update on the injury.
I am a little bit happy.
As sympathetic as I find myself for Robert Swift there are always reminders that one manâ€™s loss is anotherâ€™s gain. There has to be some excitement for PF Nick Collison who, along with the aforementioned Danny Fortson will see their opportunities at center increase dramatically with Swiftâ€™s injury. Collisonâ€™s play and devotion this off season deserve a lot of praise and my guess is that he will have an extremely productive season as he moves towards restricted free agency this off season. Perhaps the Sonics will regret not offering him a contract extension this summer.
Tooting his own horn.
This morning just about every Seattle paper has quotes from general manager Rick Sund in which he takes a lot of credit for having the guts to draft yet another center this season. While critics laughed at the selection Sund is quick to point out that his longshot pick Mo Sene will likely be the opening night starter. Expect Sene to struggle a great deal with fouls and decision making, but he has the potential to shine based on physical talent alone. I am dying to see how Sene responds to the added pressure.
Since the first time I saw Sene live I have been an advocate of his. Like Rick Sund I can take some credit in that I have listed him as a dark horse starting candidate in many reviews and radio interviews. The center has such incredible length of both his arms, and fingers that he can affect every shot simply by being in the area with his arms up. What he needs to do is remember that fact and not allow himself to be lured out of position or into making an aggressive swat attempt and drawing a foul. He has very nice hand and body control as demonstrated in Fridayâ€™s win over Sacramento in which he received a low pass while sprinting down the court. In a move demonstrating extreme coordination for a man his size he received the ball and adjusted in mid-stride for a dunk.
In some ways being inserted into the starting lineup will be a good thing for Sene. Big Mo will not be required to score or carry the offensive load and can settle into being the defensive anchor that the team wants him to become eventually. The thought is that neither Luke Ridnour or Ray Allen are defensive oriented enough to keep their man in front of them. Both have quick hands for steals but they need a second line of defense and since the day Sene was drafted coaches have envisioned him filling that role. The big area of concern will be PF Chris Wilcox who needs to step up defensively. Wilcox has a history of being out of position and slow to rotate on defense. Often Seattle centers make what appear to be poor decisions but in fact they are reacting to Wilcox' man being fairly unguarded. If he does this then Sene will be forced to decide between covering the 4 and 5 too often and teams will exploit his inexperience by drawing him out of position or into quick fouls.
Have a nice morning. Iâ€™m going back to sleep.