This sports year began with such promise. My Raiders were showing some signs of recovery. The news out of the Blazer camp was good and the new acquisitions were looking like steals. Oden seemed to be ahead of schedule, and word was that Pryzbilla’s return was imminent. Brandon Roy was calling for the ball more, and all was as it should be to begin another hopeful season. The OSU Beavers stumbled early, as always, but put up a good fight against ranked opponents. They then looked go od against those that they should beat and played strong against better opponents. My sports world seemed secure and fun and ready to carry me joyfully through the bleak and grey months to come.
Today I am sitting and watching the Miami Dolphins do pretty much whatever they want whenever they want in Oakland as the Raiders either stand and watch the dolphins run by them, or the Raiders run past on defense as their arm tackles fall off and the Dolphins make first downs at will. Yesterday I was treated to the worst debacle of the college football season as the Beavers warmed up for the civil war by getting thoroughly trounced by a team that Oregon thoroughly trounced. Good luck next week. Can anyone say 60 to 0?
The Portland Trailblazers need to find out what high priestess of voodoo they have offended, or which ancient curse they have somehow run afoul of. They just keep losing people to injury. What began as a season full of ambition and hope has become one of hoping once again to make the playoffs. Our once young and promising team has become an old one without ever seeing even a glimpse of the potential that once drew thousands to Pioneer Courthouse Square to welcome Greg Oden, the final piece of the puzzle, to town.
I wish that I could see a silver lining somewhere, but the Raiders and the Beavers don’t seem to be able to stop anyone on defense. The Beavers Offensive line is giving no time to their quarterback, and as he is constantly rushed he is making poor decisions which are also fueled by the Beavers inability to stop the other team from scoring. When they are always playing from behind they are unable to maximize the effectiveness of running back Jaquizz Rogers and allowing the opposing defenses to tee off on quarterback Katz.
Due to the nature of the in-state rivalry, I expected that next week’s civil war would be competitive and that the Beavers would have a chance to actually knock the ducks from their lofty perch atop the BCS.
Fat chance. Even with the great game that they had against USC the week before I have no confidence that this inconsistent group can pull together a good enough game to knock off a team as confident and tested as the Ducks.
I am the eternal optimist, though. I am in this for the long haul. I have been following the Raiders since 1968. Raiders vs. Packers in the Super Bowl. Green Bay won, but I loved the Raiders and have enjoyed watching them ever since. I’m in for the long haul. In 1970 I began to follow the Trailblazers the year that they entered the NBA. I went crazy with the rest of the state as they stunned the league in 1977, and have been an avid fan ever since. Due to a long history of family and friends attending Oregon State University I have been a fan of the Beavers for as long as I can remember following sports and so have a deep-set loyalty first through indirect association and now because after so many years it just feels natural.
Even as I write this the Raiders have scored and taken the lead. They still can’t stop Miami, but at least they show glimpses of what they can be, and what they are now is still a big step forward from where they have been for the last seven or eight years. They are moving in the right direction, it is just hard to watch when they take another step back.
The Beavers look like they may have given up, but maybe they were just thinking too much about the civil war. I hope that was it. Maybe they could still be more competitive than they were on Saturday. There is always next year, and that is looking pretty good. Another year os experience and another summer to work on lessons learned should do Ryan Katz and his offensive line a world of good. A healthy set of Rogers brothers will go a long way toward filling the holes that exist today, and the defense can improve with an offseason to work on their many breakdowns. I think next year could be a great year for the Beavers. I just hope that they comport themselves well on the field next week. A good showing against Oregon would make the work they need to do this off-season a lot more palatable.
The Portland Trailblazers need to re-think their strategy on the floor. I love the idea of a healthy Brandon Roy as the focus of our offence, but he is not healthy and probably will not be fully healthy for the rest of his career. The problems with his knees are not going to go away. It has now become a pain and damage management issue. The Blazers need to recognize this and begin to shift the offence to run more through Lamarcus Aldridge and Nicholas Batum. Aldridge has done the work over the last summer and bulked up to spend more time around the basket. He still has our most deadly medium range jumper and has shown himself to have moves to the basket both with and without the ball that scream to be exploited more. He has been getting more double doubles this year and is averaging near enough to 20 and 10 to see that becoming a nightly affair with a little more emphasis on getting Lamarcus the ball late in the game.
Batum has long been one of our best defenders, but has shown more and more this year that he is capable of contributing points and rebounds in a prolific manner night in and night out when emphasized in the offence. He is also one of our better offensive rebounders. There is a very good reason that the Blazers have refused to include Nicholas in any trade proposals that they have considered.
Joel Pryzbilla will be returning in the next couple of games, shoring up a thin center corps, but until they adjust to Brandon Roy’s new and altered role on the team I believe that the Blazers will struggle as Brandon continues to push his body until he can push it no longer. When he goes out to recover, the team has to adjust to a new lineup once again and the resultant loss of continuity will inevitably result in losses to teams that are actually less talented than the Blazers, but better able to utilize their squad in a consistent and fluid manner.
Brandon is still one of the pillars of this team. Even hobbled, he stands as a leader and a playmaker on our team. There is no one better when the game is on the line and the clock is winding down. With the right time management, he can still play at the high level that he has established for himself throughout his career. The Blazers do have to alter their style of play to suit the strengths AND the limitations of their personnel.
If Greg Oden comes back and can get to the level that he played at just before his latest injury it will go a long way toward easing the load on Roy. The kind of presence that he could provide would take a lot of pressure from Brandon’s shoulders to create. With Lamarcus playing a greater role down low, they could shift the focus more to the paint and take away the need for Roy to take such a beating down low.
It is looking like this might be another lost year in sports for me, but as long as the Lord keeps giving me another year to hope, I don’t mind. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of hearing: