Monday, February 26, 2007

Wear a vest on my chest

It's late, and I've been really busy over the weekend (more on that if I can stay awake long enough to blog), but here was a quick hit that I read on Wired Blogs:

Bullet Doesn't Stop MacBook Pro

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Raptors midterm report card - Vol 4 - Throw it down, big man!

Chris Bosh: A+
Nuff said.

Andrea Bargnani: B-
When drafted, Il Mago was touted as the player with the most potential in the 2006 draft. He would definitely be a project, but in time could be the next Dirk Nowitzki.

First of all, lets stop with the comparisons. "The next Michael Jordan." "The next Larry Bird." Are you on crack rock?

Alright, now that I have that out of my system ... Bargnani has had an amazing rookie campaign. He shoots the 3 with ease, he can put the ball on the floor and drive, he has excellent court vision -- it seems at times that offensively he can do no wrong. His biggest skill. however, has been his ability to learn and adapt. At the beginning of the year, Andrea was tentative offensively and lost defensively. He didn't get a lot of minutes, half because coach Mitchell didn't trust him, and half because he was in foul trouble. Then there was that infamous game in Golden State, where Chris Bosh ripped into Andrea during a time out. I don't read lips, but I can paraphrase: "Hey stupid, what the fuck is wrong with you?!"

Now, he understands where he needs to be, when he needs to help on D, and on a good night you'll even find him blocking a few shots. That on top of showing from time to time that he can score in the fourth quarter. Don't forget who put in the eventual game winner against Portland, against Portland, in OT.

Still, he doesn't shoot well from the field. Nor does he shoot well from 3 point range. He's soft around the bucket, especially defensively. He's far from a polished NBA player, but everyone seems to agree that we made the right choice with our #1 overall selection. And I no longer agree that he's a "project"

Rasho Nesterovic: B
The veteran big man from Slovenia (Hey Anth, ain't that where you from?) has a particularly interesting stat: Between his time with Minnesota and San Antonio, he has never been on a losing team. Granted, he was playing with KG and TD. But it bodes well that these great players had Rasho backing them up, which led to successful seasons, and this season he's backup up CB4.

But that's in the past, let's talk about the present. Rasho has been Rasho all season. He comes in, grabs rebounds, plays defense, and scores points. He gives you solid minutes. He can't dunk, but he "Lays it up with authority." And when the Raps make the playoffs, he has tasted NBA Championship glory, and can pass that experience on to the youts. Whoops, talking about the past again.

Rasho needs to work on his posterization skills. Maybe that's not how they roll in Slovenia, though.

Up next: the scrubs

Monday, February 19, 2007

Raptors midterm report card - Vol 3 - 3 spot

Morris Peterson: B-
C'mon Mo Pete. How long have you been in the league? Why can't you play consistently? One week, you're dropping 3 balls in the clutch to ice a game, the next week, you're invisible. Smarten up, son! I would have given you a lower grade if didn't show some onions during our January run.

Anthony Parker: A+
Although not statistically impressive (12 ppg, 4 rpg), Anthony "I'm not french and I'm not marrying Eva Longoria" Parker is the crown jewel to Bryan Colangelo's masterpiece rebuild. Why? Because he plays smart, defensively and offensively. He guards the opponent's best offensive player, he stretches the defense with 44% 3-point shooting, He is an excellent help defender, he takes quality shots, oh my!

Joey Graham: C
He is in the same class as Peterson. Flashes of brilliance. Lack of consistency. Carlos Delfino from the Detroit Pistons knows what Graham is capable of if he plays aggressively: Posterized!

Jorge Garbajosa: A-
The lateral quicks, 3-point shooting, and rebounding that Garbo gives the team are among the keys to their success. The Raps haven't had a player with his skillset since Charles Oakley. And he can help translate the Spanish gibberish coming out of Jose Calderon's mouth! Oak wouldn't have been able to do that. He surprises a lot of players with his ability to guard one-on-one, as well as his ability to draw offensive fouls. How do you say "Bravo" en Espanol? Hopefully, he can stay consistent shooting the rock, and the Raps will be in good shape in the second half of the season.

Up next: The bigs

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Raptors midterm report card - Vol 2 - on point

Jose Calderon: A
Last season, Jose had passion and energy. What he didn't have was a jump shot. It's amazing what a campeonato del mundo will do (world championship in spanish, appropriate because of his Spanish heritage). This season, he is playing with the same passion and energy, the same playmaking ability, but 52.7% from the field. And onions! Jose has shown that he can deliver in the fourth quarter. I remember a game against the Hornets, where he capped off a huge rally with a layup.

¡guirigay espaƱol! That's Spanish gibberish, in Spanish

TJ Ford: A+
Of all the offseason acquisitions, TJ Ford's was the most bittersweet. Why? Because I like Charlie Villenueva. The draft pick that shouldn't have been picked so high stuffed it
back in all of the critics faces. Second in rookie of the voting, bitches!

But we needed a point guard that could distribute, and TJ Ford can distribute. We needed to give up talent to score Ford, and Villenueva is talent. Sigh. Let's hope this was a right decision, right?

In the first half, Ford has been sick. We knew he could run the floor, we knew he could distribute, but did you know he could lead this team in Chris Bosh's absence? Did you know that you can give him the rock at the end of the game against the Clippers, and he can give you a win?

Charlie who?

Darrick Martin: C
The Raptors propoganda machine will tell you that Darrick Martin has been a veteran presence, mentoring the young point guards. He's been a locker room leader, and almost like another assistant coach.

I don't care! When he's on the floor, this guy is garbage.

Up next: The swingmen

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Raptors midterm report card - Vol 1 - the team

I have been a loyal Raptors fan ever since their first season in 1995. I've watched them through all of their ups and downs. From the silly contest to name the team, to ownership woes, all the way to rookie of the year awards and playoff success.

This year's squad has given Raptor fans like myself something to hope for. It's been 4 years since we tasted the playoffs, and a bit longer since our most successful playoff run, a second round appearance that ended a mere 2 points from the Eastern conference finals. Although most people (myself included) know that it is unlikely that this team can go deep into the playoffs with teams like Detroit, Miami, Cleveland and Chicago in the mix, it is quite likely that we will (a) make the playoffs, and (b) make some noise.

The first half of the 2006-2007 season is a tale in 3 acts. In the preseason, coach Sam Mitchell went 12 players deep, and the team flexed its depth. They went 7-1, the most impressive preseason ever for the Raps. But whatever, right? It's preseason!

Then, almost reminiscent to last year's start, we lose. And lose. And lose. An 0-5 west coast road trip and 5-10 for the month of November brought me back down to Earth.

But then, in December, things started to click. The team stop trying to run-and gun their way to victory (an approach that ended up being more run-and-done or run-and-dumb), and instead played smarter ball. More movement, more penetration, more trust in each other -- All of these things combined to form Raptor victories. On top of that, players that needed to step up in the absence of Chris Bosh (due to injury) did just that. Players that I will be grading over the next few days, like Andrea Bargnani, TJ Ford, Anthony "Don't call me Tony" Parker, and even Mo "herpes" Peterson improved their game.

And that brings us to today. The Raptors are one of the hottest teams in the East. We look poised and confident in the 4th quarters of games. We have players with "onions" that we can give the ball to at crunch time. Players are settling into their roles, getting consistent minutes, and in return are giving consistent effort.

In close games, instead of choking like last year, we can actually finish them and come out with victories. Remember the buzzer beater in LA against the Clippers? Or the overtime win in Portland? Even recently, sneaking out of the United Center with a win against the Bulls -- we are clutch.

The team gets a B+. Here's hoping that they get their grades up in the remaining 29 games. I can smell the playoffs. Let's have another taste!

Up next: The point guards

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Things Change

When Cathy and I got married, we were only 25. Neither of us had lived away from our parents. We didn't do a lot of traveling abroad. There was so much of life yet to be experienced, but we were (and still are) committed to experiencing those things together.

But everyone was asking us to start a family. The church, the aunts, even some of our friends. Babies? No way! I gotta see Europe first. Maybe buy a sports car. Or go out to dinner and a movie on a Thursday night. How would I do that with a baby? We agreed that we wouldn't even consider a family until we turned 30.

That was then. But now, at 28, I'm already itching. This condo is too small, and it's too quiet. I shrug off plans to visit Spain. "Sure, that might be fun..." I used to be scared of holding a baby. "I might hurt her", or "he might start crying." Now, I look forward to going to a family party and being around children. And I dream of being at a family party one day with my brother's kids, my sister-in-law's kids, my friend's kids, and CathyAl's bundle(s) of joy.

What seemed so distant, so blurry, so very absurd, is now as clear as day. Life's experiences, those I want to share with my wife, need not come from material things or expensive trips.

Cheers to change!

Disclaimer: No, Cathy is not pregnant. And no, we're not trying to start a family. Yet.

Addicted aka What a nerd

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my cousins Ronn and Richyll (aka the Twins). They apparently broke their laptops again, so I came by to try and fix things.

After figuring the only problem was that Windows was installed (sorry, a cheap shot, I'll continue), I spent the rest of the night just hanging out. In Ronn's room, I found something I haven't seen since I was 8 years old: A Rubik's cube.

Now, ever since I read an article in Wired about speed cubing competitions, and watching video's on YouTube, I've always thought it would be cool to go back and try to solve the damn thing. My perception as a youth was that it was impossible. But after reading that it is just a matter of understanding the algorithm, I told myself, "self, go out and buy a Rubik's Cube".

That article in Wired? The date I posted to my blog? August 2006! Fuck! But after seeing Ronn's cube, I went out the next day and bought one. Now ... I can't put the fucking thing down! I scour the net looking for websites teaching me ways to solve it. I spend time in the morning trying to get pieces to line up. I watch Prison Break with my head down.

Pathetic? yes. Now, leave me alone, I've got some solving to do.