View Full Version : Austin Carr latest blog 11/23

11-23-2009, 03:41 PM
Monday, November 23, 2009, 12:58 PM EST [General]

Hey, Cavs fans! It’s AC – what’s happening?

The Cavaliers wrapped up another nice stretch last week – going 3-1 in their stretch of three-games-in-four-nights. And they did all of that without Shaq and half of it without Andy.

They’re getting back to where they were last year. The movement is really starting to pick up now.

What I took away from the last game was the fact that when LeBron was out of the game, the team ended up taking a two-point lead. And that’s what they played like last year – where, if LeBron was off the floor, the team’s performance actually went up and not down. Or they stayed even. That’s what you want from your bench, and if we get that going now, when you come back and plug Shaq in there – you’re talking about something special.

One good thing is that they’ve already played with Shaq. So they know how to play with him – it won’t be completely foreign when he returns. It’s not like it’ll be new all over again. I’m kind of encouraged by how they’ve played with and without him.

They’re getting back to what they had last season, and the emergence of J.J. Hickson has really helped.

The Cavaliers are 7-1 with J.J. in the starting lineup. He and LeBron are on a string now. And other guys are starting to figure out where to get him the ball. He’s running the floor well.

He’s learning how to space himself; how to be on string when another man has the ball, when it’s time to make his cut. He’s learning all that.

His defense is still a work in progress, and he’s going to be there for a while until he gets more mentally focused on the defensive end. Around the basket, defensively, he’s solid. It’s guarding people where he has a tendency to lose his man. But once he gets used to understanding how to defend – keeping your eye on the ball and contact with the man – he’ll be fine.

The players that give him the hardest time are the aggressive guys – guys that are aggressive offensively, like Antawn Jamison. They give him problems, but he’ll learn. After getting his eye dotted for 25 or 30 points every time, he’ll learn how to combat that and how to deal with it.

The main difference I see in J.J. from last year – and even the beginning of this year – is that he’s starting to get his game face on. He’s a fun kind of guy. But at the same time, you’re starting to see some focus, like he’s got his head in the game. And I think that’s one thing that starting him has really changed.

Now you have to come into the game ready – you don’t want to let those other four guys down. You’re focused on your job. And I think right now he’s caught the league by surprise, and they really don’t know how to handle him. He creates a mismatch for most big forwards, because he’s tall enough and strong enough to deal with them defensively. But he’s quicker than they are. It gives us a distinct advantage.

J.J.’s not a bad rebounder either. He gets used to bodying-up on people. He needs to get used to that personal contact, where he’s always pushing and shoving. Once he gets used to that, he’ll be alright. He’s still learning his craft – he’s a young player.

He doesn’t shoot a lot of 15-footers, but he makes them. And that’s the key. To be a good catch-and-shoot guy in this offense is invaluable. You see what it’s done for Anthony Parker. But right now, J.J.’s thinking about that jumper. When he doesn’t think too much about it, he knocks it down. He’s still a little bit in that mindset that he’ll get pulled, and that comes with the mentality of coming off the bench. He’ll get the starter’s attitude soon.

He needs to go through the league. He hasn’t gone through the league yet and played against every guy at his position. Once you do that – go against every guy at your position – you learn how to assess each player. And you get a mental scouting report built in your mind, and at some point, it just clicks. Even though the team and the coaches reinforce opponent’s tendencies, you already know.

In terms of the “starters mentality” – right now that’s something that Big Z is struggling with. He and I talked about it. And I think it’s basically getting used to the new routine.

Just for starters, you warm up completely differently. When I was a starter, I knew when I get to the arena, I’d get my shoes on, my jersey on, go warm up. You don’t break a big sweat, just a good one just to get loose. You put your warm-ups back on and you get ready to go. And you get used to that routine, especially when you’ve been doing it as long as Z.

Now, after years, you’re doing things differently. You warm up, but you don’t want to break too much of a sweat, because you’ll do that in the layup line. You have to reserve yourself. You don’t want to get yourself into too much of a lather before the game because then you tend to stiffen up on the bench, especially at his age. You just want to get loose.

As a scorer, when I started coming off the bench, I would get a “heat check” in right away. You have to know where you are that evening. If the jumper’s there – great! If it’s not, I know right away that I have to try something else. Because you don’t have time to work yourself into the game – like you do as a starter. Now, you have to have an effect on the game.

It’s a whole different mindset.

Big Z’s doing a good job in the role. And since he’s been starting, his jumper is starting to fall a little bit. He looks a lot more fluid now. He’s getting his rebounds. I think this stretch where he’s been put back into the starting lineup has jump-started him a little bit.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming week. It’s going to be a tough one. John Kuester – now the coach of Detroit – knows our system and he’ll know how to beat our system. But again, the game is played on the floor. He can know how to beat our system, but he’s got to have the talent to beat our system. That’ll be interesting.

Charlotte’s going to be tough. I’ve been watching them and Stephen Jackson makes a huge difference. They’re a different team, offensively. They can score points now. In Charlotte, they play well.

And Dallas – Dallas is always tough. And that’s a good “measuring stick” game. You may have to play them in the Finals. All the top teams right now – Los Angeles, Dallas, San Antonio, Portland – when you play those teams, it is a measuring stick. So you go out there with a playoff mentality and you use all games against good, upper-echelon teams as a measuring stick to find out where you are as a team.

Enjoy this week’s games and – more than anything – have yourselves a safe and blessed Thanksgiving this Thursday. I’m getting hungry for some turkey and stuffing already!

LINK: http://www.cavfanatic.com/austincarr/blog/2009/11/23/growing_up_fast

11-23-2009, 03:50 PM
Good to see AC's opinion on JJ, he seems excited about what he could develop into.