Bees playing smarter hoops
Unquestionably the Hornets are playing harder for Bower and Floyd; it was quite obvious that the team had tuned out Byron Scott and his half-hearted attempt at designing any offense beyond high screen pick’n'roll. Bower is kinda wonky about his emphasis on things, but I believe the team is now into seeing how to convert the data of Bower’s goldmines on info into corrective actions on the hardwood. Thus, not only are the Hornets playing harder, and showing their old signs of “never say die” tenacity; the team is figuring mental angles to improve.
The keys to this resurgence on the floor will be how to best use Emeka. He’s a brainy player, a veteran who has defensive skills to change the sometimes porous nature of the Hornets’ team D. Okafor will also keep improving on the offensive end as he learns to play with West and CP3. Bower is also learning how to gain an edge with Okafor on the court, and unless we’re playing a run & gun team (and maybe even vs smaller lineups, like the Suns), having a wily center with good hands, a shooter’s touch, and shot-blocking capabilities is a genuine court asset. Plus, our bench is more productive this year then in either of the Bees’ playoff runs, and guys seem to be growing into their roles, even as Bower/Floyd tweak the minutes to give time to Mo Pete, Juju, and Marcus Thornton.
Some understandable hand-wringing is going on about attendance at the Arena, despite the Hornets playing so well at home. The biggest part of this is simply that the Saints are holding the city’s breath right now, and the Hornets have needed the space to regroup after cutting loose Coach Scott. I think we are starting to see a much more prepared basketball team, mentally toughened and slowly getting a little swagger together, and once this historic Saints season ends, especially once the Saints unite the city in a run to the Super Bowl, the sports fans of New Orleans will come to appreciate a smarter, tenacious, and clutch team like our emerging 2010 Hornets.
Maybe I’m just a tad geeked about finally beating the Jazz in Utah again, but I am really starting to notice that this team has begun to seize a competitive edge by being more focused and mentally better prepared. Just look at the stars we’ve been limiting below their season totals, in wins or losses. Dirk, Wade, Boozer and others have posted subpar performances vs the Hornets lately, and while other things happen (like JJ Barea going off…) I am finding beaucoup encouragement that the coaches are giving this Hornets team as many pieces of the puzzle for each game, and the team is beginning to find out their potential to be a solid team. Under Coach Scott, frankly, the team was barely competitive early in the season; at least, now other teams expect to have a serious tussle with these Hornets, and our guys are no longer easy to dismiss.
It’s been a controversial, difficult opening to the season for our New Orleans Hornets, but we could be in for some renewed vigor from this team once they learn to win these crucial road games that they should win here in January.