Monday, 12 October 2015 22:33

Trying to make your opponent uncomfortable

Good story in the Minneapolis paper about 31-year-old veteran Brian Cardinal, who's proving in MIN that he can still contribute.

"After he watched for the season's opening month, he has become a valuable, contributing member of coach Kevin McHale's rotation, playing as many as 35 minutes Friday against New York when his team had about seven healthy bodies."


As evident from this quote, one of Cardinal's strengths is his attitude:

"It's tough to just sit over there and watch, but I knew at some point in time something was going to happen because that's just how this league is," Cardinal said. "It's crazy: Some days, you play. Some days, you don't. Sometimes, your number is called. Sometimes, it's not. You have to be ready at all times. I'm just lucky Mac has had some faith in me."


According to the Star-Tribute article, when they traded for him, "the Wolves... received a veteran who didn't complain when he didn't play and who has contributed with his defense, his ability to make the right play and even with his three-point shooting, whether he plays five minutes or 35. He has made seven three-pointers in the past three games."

"The last game, he had three steals, and he took three charges," [Coach] McHale said. "That's six possessions. That's huge."


Cardinal is one of those rare NBA role players who, as Dr. J said here, understands his role and is happy to be in the league. Cardinal is first to acknowledge that he's "heavy on will and seemingly light on skill."


"I'm not the greatest of athletes, the greatest of jumpers," he said. "The list of things I'm not very good at goes on and on. I try to make up for that with hard work and just knowing the game. I try to make people somewhat uncomfortable. Anytime you're in your comfort zone, you're at your best. So I try to make the other guy uncomfortable."
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Loved how Memphis coach John Calipari turned over practice to forward Robert Dozier the other day in a move designed to force the quiet senior to take more of a leadership role with the team.

As this article describes, "Calipari left the gym, leaving Dozier on his own to coach."

"He thinks I'm too quiet," Dozier says. "He wanted me to be vocal, get on guys and be more of a leader. I was mad at first, because I didn't want to do it. But I had fun with it. The guys enjoyed it. It wasn't a long practice." The usually subdued Dozier said he tried to get as animated as Calipari, a dynamic, demonstrative speechmaker never at a loss for words. "I had to tone it down," Dozier says, laughing. "There were a lot of people in there."


If you're wondering why, at a Memphis practice, "there were a lot of people in there," it's because Coach Cal opens nearly all of the Tigers' practices to the public.

Retired folks stop in with their grandchildren; a postman comes by after finishing his route. For many elite programs, open practices were long abandoned in an Internet age when word can spread fast to rivals about a team's offensive and defensive schemes or a frustrated coach can show up on YouTube for pitching a fit. Calipari shrugs off those possibilities but notes he keeps some practices closed during the NCAA tournament.


Says Coach Cal: "I don't have anything to hide. You've got people, their lives seem to be this basketball program. They come to practice four or five times a week. They're able to get on the phone and talk to friends about what we're working on."

After his team lost the national championship game last season, Coach Cal was criticized for not having his players properly prepared.

"Either you use an experience to help build you and make you better and stronger, or the experience breaks you," he says. "That experience ... it did nothing except good stuff for us. None of it was bad."
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