I may take some heat for this, but can I say that if you take all the off-court stuff out of the equation I really like the stamp Clay Bennett has put on this team.
I listened to the radio broadcast yesterday and found it significantly more polished than a year ago. Everything from their ads, to their bumpers, to Matt Pinto who I enjoyed immensly. I hope this is not percieved as a shot at Locke who I really like personally, but it seemed like a better funded product to me.
If so the radio broadcast is not alone. I find myself noting that the open practice was more polished, the season ticket packages (not that mine have arrived) reportedly very well done, I know that the media has commented that the new Furtado Center improvements have really made things seem first class.
Add to that I think last night we saw why adding a couple of veterans like Wally Z and Kurt Thomas can pay big dividends.
I know that it was only a preseason game. I've spent the last 2 years saying "the preseason doesn't matter. It is completely irrelevant", etc. but I made those claims 90% based on truth and 10% based on the fact that we were losing. I'm going to be honest and say that when we win I want it to matter a little bit. I want it to set a good tone for the guys and get them into the winning mentality. It is seriously MUCH, MUCH better to win whether it is an open practice or the NBA Finals.
Wally showed that he can still score last night and we may have found something of a gem. His diminished value over the last two years is based largely on his reputation as a terrible team player but everything I have heard from the players indicates that he has been a really nice guy and a solid addition to the locker room. Somehow, in two seperate deals we managed to get "throwins" who are respectively a 15ppg scorer and a 9rpg guy. That is not a terrible throw in.
So the rookies may struggle and the arena issue may loom, but I am going to try to enjoy the season as much as I can. My biggest concern right now is that the powers that be will figure out that too much success will get this community behind them and force a stay. They'll wind up trading Wally for a truly cancerous player, cutting Kurt Thomas, and replacing Matt Pinto with a High School gym teacher. Until then things feel oddly first class. As I watch Marquez Johnsons first televised game I am going to be asking myself "How come we've wanted this guy back for so long and Clay Bennett was the guy who found a way?" Maybe there is something to these Okie owners?
Sorry for the rambling post.