Horrid Grizzlies could be in for long season (Toronto Star)

Horrid Grizzlies could be in for long season

‘We’re not a good basketball team,’ veteran grumbles

Spirit of the West

They may be the worst team in the NBA, but look on the bright side: The Vancouver Grizzlies would be one of the top four teams in the Vancouver women’s league.

Blue Edwards gave a state-of-the-team address after his Grizzlies were declawed in their home opener. And, boy, what a state the team is in.

“Everybody’s talking about how much we’ve improved,” the always talkative veteran said after the Grizz were blown out 114-85 by the Portland Trail Blazers. “We’ve improved on paper. But let me ask you guys a question: Do you think we’ve improved? Didn’t look like it. We did the same thing we did last year. We didn’t play hard, we didn’t get back, we didn’t defend, we didn’t communicate. We don’t look like guys who have been practicing for a month.”

Edwards went so far as to compare the Grizzlies to his wife’s recreational team. “I went and watched my wife play the other night. And there were probably three teams that played better than we did tonight,” he said. “That’s the honest truth. You saw ladies fighting over screens. I mean, it’s gotta be the funniest thing – women actually playing better than we did.”

Edwards isn’t buying into the notion the 0-6 Grizzlies are an improved team. Not yet, anyway. “We didn’t really improve basketball-wise,” he continued. “There’s a lot of things you do basketball-wise. You pass, shoot, rebound, play defence. And we haven’t shown we’ve gotten better in those areas.”

He warns that if things don’t change soon, Vancouver could be in for another dismal season.

“Right now, we’re not a good basketball team,” he said. “We could be the worst team in the NBA. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we don’t have to settle for being the worst team. We gotta prove that we belong and that we’re a good team, (that) we are improved.”

Edwards rolls his eyes at the suggestion the Grizzlies have more talent than last season.

“That’s on paper,” he said. “That’s potential. Potential plus 50 cents can get you a USA Today – at least in the States it could. I don’t know about here. About $1.60 out here.”

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“You play half a team and they still outrebound you. That’s not a good sign.” So said Greg Anthony after the Grizz were beaten in almost every category by a severely understaffed Golden State team.

After a trade the day before the game and an injury to Joe Smith, the Warriors dressed only eight players. At times, Rick Adelman went with a four-guard offence.

Vancouver coach Brian Winters felt forced to match the Warriors size for size, instead of pounding it inside in an attempt to get the smaller Warriors in foul trouble.

“You can’t just roll big guys out there because (Chris Mullin and Latrell Sprewell as forwards) are too good out on the perimeter and too quick,” he said.

Anthony, who averaged 14 points and more than 11 shot attempts a game last year, has seen his production reduced. In four games, the 6-foot-1 point guard has averaged fewer than 10 points and eight shots a game.

“You go out there and try to do what they ask you to do,” he said. “Let the young guys grow and let the new guys get acclimated to the system.”

Showing suprising patience for someone in the final year of his contract, Anthony says, “My time will come. Right now, I think it’s more important for the team that the other guys get their feet wet, get a little more experience.”

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Roy Rogers, the Grizzlies’ second pick in the first round of June’s college draft, continues to impress with his shot-blocking ability. The 6-foot-9 forward, who played centre at Alabama, has led the Grizzlies in swats in limited minutes, drawing comparisons with another undersized intimidator – Bill Russell.

But a guard was his basketball role model.

“I was always a big Magic Johnson fan,” he says.

Spirit of the West will appear regularly throughout the NBA season.