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Suns Stuff't - A Phoenix Suns Blog | Page 5

Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 28 December 2011

After a heartbreaking home loss that saw the Phoenix Suns go down to defeat 84 - 85 in a nip and tuck game that wasn't decided until the last second of play, this evening finds our intrepid hardwood contenders going up against a Philadelphia 76ers team that shares the disinction of also being 0-1. 

Despite showing real flashes of potential during a third quarter Suns rally in which they outscored the New Orleans Hornets 24 - 15, the Suns are being listed as the underdog in this evenings roundball shoot-out. Chalk it up to Phoenix playing away from home and some lingering uncertainty about an offense that failed to put the points on the board in the usual Suns manner despite a dozen assists from Steve Nash and three Suns scoring in double digits. 

One of the marquee scorers was Marcin Gortat who took to the court despite his fractured thumb and hit for 13 points in just 21 minutes. The Suns other center - Robin Lopez - also provided his own welcome home show as he debuted the 2011-12 seson with 21 points and 7 rebounds in just 27 minutes of court time. 

With more than 40% of the Suns total scoring output - that deadly scoring combo wrecked havoc on the Hornets during much of the game.Cool 

Phoenix newby Markieff Morris also made his mark in a pro ball debut that included 7 points and 9 boards. Sure - he flubbed the Suns last opportunity to pull off a win - but Markieff went above and beyond even the wildest expectations for this University of Kansas product. 

All that strength near the basket augurs well for a Suns victory and we suggest you take the points and put some cash on the line.Money mouth
See ya'    

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 26 December 2011

After a less than impressive pre-season that saw the Phoenix Suns perform in lackluster fashion two games in a row - those of us here at www.sunsstufft.com are bracing for what could be a troubling season opener less than an hour from now.

Taking the court against a New Orleans Hornets club that no longer has its best player - Chris Paul - the Suns have a real opportunity to kick-off this abbreviated season with a 'W'. But before putting a smile on the faces of Phoenix fandom, the Suns will have to overcome the twin trees that the Hornets have at center - Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor. And the Suns will have to do that while last season's most impressive addition to the line-up, dominant center Marcin Gortat, sits on the Phoenix bench waiting for his fractured thumb to heal. 

Gortat's absence will limit the Suns' inside game and take away a low post option for Steve Nash when dishing assists. That will put the onus on the wily veteran Grant Hill to add some spark on the scoring side along with Jared Dudley. As you'll recall - Dudley scored 17 pts. as one of the few offensive bright spots in the Suns 85 - 110 loss to the Denver Nuggets back on Dec. 22nd.

Despite having two of the biggest centers in the NBA - the Hornets have had a history of underachieving even when superstar Chris Paul was in the line-up. Now that he's gone - Vegas is touting tonight's contest as the Suns game to lose. We're hopeful but - as noted above - not overly optimistic about a front court without a quality big man.

And Robin Lopez has been unable to fit that bill for Phoenix despite years of trying. Undecided

So - while we remain loyal to the Suns through even the worst storms - we don't see Phoenix covering a spread that varies from 6 to 7 points depending upon where you place your cash. Instead we are hoping for a narrow win in a hard fought contest. Just don't bet the mortgage money on it.

See ya'             

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 20 December 2011

Talk about looking in vain - and we're not referencing the search for that all elusive 'Girl of Our Dreams'. Nope - nothing so simple.

Instead we have spent the past hour struggling to find some good ol' legally approved odds for the Tennessee Vols game against what looks to be a very challenging North Carolina - Asheville team. 

And we have gotten nowhere. Cry

Apparently the Vols have gone from being a reliable spread-beater to being a a radioactively erratic hardwood squad that scares even the most grizzled gambling pros on the Strip. 

So at this point just find a comfy chair, chill a few brews, recline and get ready for an ESPN3 showing of a Tuesday night b-ball square off that the best in Vegas just don't want to handle. We're sure our loyal readers here at www.sunsstufft.com can down a few between now and the 7:00pm East Coast tip-off so just remember not to drive after all that drinking. 

We sure don't want to lose ya' out there between the double yellow lines. Tongue out 

We're also looking forward to your enthusiastic return later tonight for our pre-game take on the Phoenix Suns first pre-season game as they take on a Denver Nuggets roster team led by the All-Star quality Nene. 

See ya'     

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 17 December 2011

In a tight duel on the hardwood against two strikingly equal teams-  the Vols lost their most recent contest 65 - 71 at the hands of the College of Charleston. Tennessee had entered the game as a 2 1/2 point underdog and we touted this showdown as an ideal opportunity for Vols fans to make themselves a few dollars richer so it is time to offer our heartfelt oops (!) to those who took advantage of the often sage betting advice we offer here at www.sunsstufft.com.

The final score doesn't capture just how close the Vols played this game down to the wire and it wasn't decided until the 43.9 second mark when Jordan McRae's 2-pointer was disallowed due to an offensive charge. At that point Tennessee was down 65 - 68 but the momentum had swung our way. The game wasn't always Charleston's to lose and Tennessee started out by jumping to an impressive 13-point lead (28 - 15). But before the first half was over our lead shrank and it was just a 4-point game (37 - 33) as the Vols offense slid into low first gear and the points just stopped falling.

Tennessee continued cold to start the second half they were outscored 16 - 10 and the Vols took nearly four more minutes before hitting their next field goal.
After that cold spell - the Vols reignited their scoring and caught fire for 13 points in the next seven minutes. Ya' that's just how we like 'm!Smile

Down by 5 points at the 1:57 mark, Tennessee became tough as nails with a well-timed 3 and a defense that held Charleston to just 1-point in the next minute. That set the stage for the dramatic showdown that took it down to the wire with an exciting finish. 
Sure we wanted a win but we were impressed with the speed Big Orange nailed their first 28 against Charleston - it was a blinding blur of Vols scoring. Cool

If they had kept up the pace - Tennessee could have broken the 90-point mark and blown away a Charleston team that was ready to contain the onslaught. But instead the Vols became their own worst enemy with multiple scoring droughts of four minutes or more. 

Coach Cuonzo Martin has to reigh in a team that has too often let its high scoring artistry degenerate into bad shot selection and erratic play. The Vols have proven they can crank it on both ends of the court but they remain far from doing it for 40 minutes straight. Until Tennessee masters that skill set - they will continue struggling to close otherwise winnable games like those at Charleston. 

See ya'    


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Written by Patrick Brown | 15 December 2011

I was just checking the NBA.com website for the Broadband League Pass.  I've heard good things and I almost shelled out the $109.95 last year for the early bird special allowing me to follow five teams.  It sounded like a good deal and probably was, but I was working 60-70 hours a week  at the time and knew I'd have no opportunity to watch basketball.  Once the season started the price went up to $119.95.  Still a good deal.  For the record, coverage on all 30 teams, early bird special was $179.95 and after that $189.95.

As the page was loading, it occurred to me that the NBA should make an effort to mend some fences with its fans.  If there were a time that the NBA wanted to give the fans easy access to their sport, now is the time.  This year the NBA wants its fans to be able to see as many games at it possibly can.  The NBA wants their fans to be hyper-connected, hyper-engaged, and just plain hyper about the sport.

So when the page finally loads and I see no early bird special, I think, "Well, the season is 16 games short, I guess no big deal."

What's my second thought?  WTF!  The season price on five teams is $109.

They cut the season by almost 20% because of greed talks over the splitting four billion in revenues, and they offer me the paltry savings of 95 cents over last year's early bird special.  The 30 team price was set at $169, a savings of $10.95 or about 6% for graciously giving us 20% less basketball.

Well, you know what NBA?  Time to kiss my a$$ and make it up to me and the rest of the fans.  If ever there were a time to throw us a bone and suck up a loss leader for one season, now is the time.

You want me to try the NBA league pass this year, try again.  Try something in the range of a dollar a game for my favorite team, say $69.95?  No?  Okay, I'll settle for $79.95.  Oh and don't forget to throw in my four favorite second place teams for free.  Then we'd be talking.  For $109, I expect coverage of all 30 teams.  More basketball than I can handle!  You want my money after complaining about how impossible it is to divide up a number 10 digits long, you better give me a reason to part with my money.

At least for this year.  Impress me with your broadband technology.  Make me a believer so I'll become a lifetime subscriber, but give me a reason to do so!

Throw me and the rest of the fans a bone.

I want you to!

I want to come back into the fold with open arms.

Sell it to me baby!

But at a price I can't resist.

I can resist $109.  I can resist last year's prices.

Watch me.

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 14 December 2011

With five losses already on their season resume as we roll through mid-December, the Tennessee Vols are a team that is in danger of being out of contention for a spot on the NCAA bubble before the year ends. This sad truth comes despite Big Orange having looked truly impressive while playing some incredibly close games against three of the top teams in the country. 
That - dear friends - is the unavoidable bad news.
But we expect it to get better - much better - this evening because they are taking the court against the College of Charleston as narrow 2 1/2 point underdogs and have a good opportunity to not only beat the spread  -  but to grab a much needed 'W'.

We're not just saying that because the editorial staff at www.sunsstufft.com has an overactive imagination. Sure - that much has been said through the years and simply can't be denied. Tongue out

Instead we're optimistic that a bet on the Vols Big Orange will pay off because Charleston's 7-1 record is seriously overblown. What do we mean? Well Charleston has benefited from the early luck of the draw with a weak schedule that has included such heady conquests as a narrow 87 - 85 double OT win against a Chattanooga team that has already lost seven games this season despite playing against their own litany of poor quality 3rd tier teams.  
Through it all, Charleston has struggled from the floor with an offense that ranks 58th in college basketball in scoring production. That's significantly below the Vols who are 32nd in the NCAA in per game scoring. Big Orange also several other notches on its offensive belt for better rebounding (37.4 RPG), more assists (15 APG), and a higher shooting percentage (47%).
There's also reason to believe that a healthy Vols team is ready to step-up to the challenge of playing another game on national TV (ESPN2) and will take advantage of this opportunity to showcase their talents once again. 
We're thinking the Vols team that took Pittsburgh to the wire back on Dec. 3rd will match-up well. That's the game in which - despite a high flying reputation built by early season high scoring contests - Tenessee demonstrated that it can also be a true threat in low scoring hardwood battles in which every point really counts.
In that type of battle the Vols shot blocking acumen - they average 5 per game and are tied for 52nd in the country - will more than equalize Charleston's home court advantage. 

Put some green on the orange and settle in for a fight. Money mouth

See Ya'    

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Written by Patrick Brown | 12 December 2011

I have a friend, who for the purposes of this article I'll call Trevor.  Neither one of us are big phone talkers so we email from time to time, often discussing NBA matters.  Due to the NBA lockout the last email I sent him was during the Lakers-Dallas series just after game two.  I'll sum up that email by saying I made a two-part prediction back then that I referenced in today's email exchange.  I'll let you determine how you feel about that prediction and the quick comments that came in my reply.

Today Trevor asked:  What do you think about Stern putting the kibosh on the CP3 trade?  It looked pretty good for all, despite the Lakers getting more top talent.

My response:  Phew!  Good question.

The trades and signings that have been going on have been really interesting with the Lakers and Dallas both letting a lot of players go for nothing.  But to answer your question, At first, I thought the Lakers were lucky when that deal fell through because I didn't find enough value in it for them.  Giving away 2 seven footers for a short point guard that's a mediocre shooter didn't get me excited for them.  After all, they got Fisher who's old, doesn't bring it every night, and plays better on the road.  What more do they need?  Sorry, Fisher's only as good as the team around him.  He elevates no one.  So CP would have been good for that.

I find Chris Paul a little over-rated.  He's a true point guard, which the league is deficient in as a whole, making him look more valuable as a result.  He gets by because he's young and quick, but as he ages he's going to need to develop an outside shot or he'll never be in the same conversations as Nash, Stockton, Magic, etc.  (Aside:  Feel free to reread this paragraph replacing Chris Paul with Rajan Rondo.)

When the Lakers then gave Odom to Dallas for free I realized they were dumping depth for cap space and an opportunity to rebuild this year so as to take advantage of next year's draft, or fish for Howard.  (The college players that had knowledgeable and reputable agents should have been advised to avoid this years draft because of the impending lockout.  That's why this year's draft was so weak, meaning next year's should be flush.)  I'm not convinced this was wise on the Lakers part considering Dallas has no shot of repeating.  I think the Lakers could have competed this season with their old team.  I feel much of their problem leading to last year's early dismissal was a result of battle fatigue coupled with too much recent success.  In short, they lacked the eye of the tiger!  Sometimes it's good to lose badly.  It reminds you that you actually want to win.

I have heard the rumors that Howard wants to go to the Lakers.  I'd be shocked if this happens.  I figure he'll end up on the Nets.

Overall, I stand by my prediction from last year's second round:  Dallas wins it all [last year] and Miami wins it all this year.

Miami just about had the stuff last year to pull it off and they have pretty much the same team this year.  They'll be better integrated, Bosh (who has apparently been working his upper body) will be going to the hole more finding new opportunities for himself, so if Lebron does the smart thing and plays more PG, they'll win easy.  That and I think a lot of teams will be shaking it up major this season.  With the Lakers following that path, I don't see any other team being young enough, while being experienced enough, and cohesive enough to compete with Miami.

Take Care, Patrick

Feel free to discuss my inadequacies as a human being and NBA enthusiast, just make sure you put a couple bucks on Miami at the betting window first.  Because as much as I'll be rooting for my rebuilding Suns, with all the team shake-ups and break-ups in this shortened season, no one's gonna have the legs to run with the Heat.  You may as well earn a few bucks off the deal.

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 10 December 2011

Well - apparently it was payback time. Yell

How else can we explain the Tennessee Volunteers horrendous 74 - 70 loss at home at the hands of Austin Peay a few hours ago. Sure the Vegas oddsmakers were due to get some of their money back but we never expected this. Indeed, this defeat is the worst Vol hardwood setback of the season and a clear indication that the going will be rockier in 2011-12 than we ever expected.
Sure the Vols have taken a few lumps already this season but each of those contests has pitted them against a team that was higher ranked than the guys in orange. We're talking schools with a national presence - clear favorites (Duke, Memphis, Pittsburgh and even the tough Oakland squad) that the Vols took to the wire and often looked good playing.
Austin Peay was supposed to be different - this game was supposed to be different. After all it was a home game, Tennessee had days to rest and the opponent is widely regarded as a subpar minor school that's not even close to being competitive against even the worst in the SEC. 
But we lost.
And it happened after what has become Tennessee's glaring Achilles' Heal once again emerged as the great equalizer. Yep - the Vols' lack of shooting discipline kicked in again as the starters leaned on the 3-point shot like a crutch and the shots just wouldn't fall. Remember the Pitt game and how Tennessee went better than 50% from 2-point range hitting 19 of 37 but lost 61 - 56 because they could only nail 4 of 14 shots from beyond the arc?
Remember Jordan McRae hitting only 1 of 4 from 3-point range against the Panthers and Cameron Tatum losing his poise as he forced several desperate 3-point shots in the last 10 minutes of the game? Yes - few Vol fanatics will soon forget how our hopes for an upset of Pittsburgh faded as McRae and Tatum passed up golden opportunities to add 2-pointers because of their fixation on the long ball. 
Now fast forward to this afternoon's fiasco and take a look at the box score. No - wait - we here at www.sunsstufft.com will save you the time. 
Just close your eyes and remember that it looks strikingly similiar. 
Once again the Vols hit more than half of all 2-pointers but cost themselve the game by leaning heavily on 3-point shots that just wouldn't fall. In the case of the Austin Peay game that means the Vols going just 5 of 19 from beyond the arc (26.3%) while also hitting 23 of 41 from 2-point range. Not surprisingly the best of the Vols 2-point stats come from Jeronne Maymon - a truly deserving All-American team candidate.
In fact, Jeronne's 8 of 10 from the field kept the Vols in the game until the end. 
And - while we have been opimistic about the Vols from the beginning of the season - it is pretty clear that Coach Cuonzo Martin must school his squad in the basics of shot selection and develop a stronger inside offense. 
Without that happening - we never should have taken the Las Vegas Hilton up on this 500 - 1 longshot.     
See ya'.

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 07 December 2011

Having been stung by four early season defeats as they struggle through one of the toughest early schedules in all of college basketball - Tennessee's Big Orange men's hardwood squad has fallen dramatically with the Vegas oddsmakers.
The biggest impact can be seen in the 500 - 1 payoff being offered by the Las Vegas Hilton early today (Dec. 7th). Having personally scouted the available Vegas odds - we here at www.sunsstufft.com know those are far more generous odds than anything that was being offered on the Vegas Strip in the days prior to to Saturday's competitive 56 - 61 Tennessee loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Panthers.
For example - on Nov. 30th the friendly folks at Circus Circus had adjusted their odds to 150 to 1 - that was up quite a bit from the 100 to 1 in the preseason. It was also a bit more generous than the 125 to 1 all MGM properties were offering for Tennessee just the week before.  The trend toward more generous Vegas odds can also be seen at The Venetian which was giving 300 -1 odds to Vols loyalists as recently as Dec. 1st.
What should we make of the newfound opportunities presented by these astronomical odds?? Undecided
Frankly - if you want put a few hard earned bucks on the 2011-12 Vols - this is the time to do it.
We say that because between now and Christmas Tenessee will be buffing the team resume and proving their bona fides as they strive to earn an all important NCAA bid. A quick glimpse of the upcoming schedule will show what we mean:
Dec. 10th    Austin Peay (Home)
Dec. 14th    Charleston (Away)
Dec. 20th    North Carolina-Asheville (Home)
Dec. 23rd    East Tennessee State (Home)
None of these are top flight teams and the Vols should nail four straight W's.
'nuff said.  
So we humbly suggest that now is the time to get onboard the Tennessee Vols train - and give the Vegas economy a shot in the arm by throwing a few bucks down on Big Orange. After all - you gotta' believe that Big Orange are the ones. 
See ya'   

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Written by Jamie D. Gilkey | 05 December 2011

Well - what can we here at www.sunsstuff't.com say??
Sure we wish the Tennessee Volunteers would have won their Dec. 3rd game - and we lost a couple of our own bucks out in Vegas as a result of the Vols 56 - 61 loss at the hands of the #14 Pittsburgh Panthers.
But at least the game was an exciting contest in which Big Orange showed some real home court pride, and the potential to make a strong play for a spot at the top of the SEC when conference tournament time comes or an at-large bid when the NCAA taps teams to be a part of the annual March Madness push for championship.   
Why are we so enthused over a five point Vol loss at the hands of the Panthers?
'cause it marked the first game of the 2011-12 season in which Big Orange showed they could compete against a hardwood powerhouse in a low scoring contest - and do so against a very tough Top 20 Pitt team. They did it in a display of defense that included holding the Panthers to their lowest score of the season.
Tennessee also managed to knock down more than half of their shots from 2-point range (they went 19 for 37) .  
In short - Coach Cuonzo Martin and his Vols proved themselves on a national stage in a game that remained competitive until the last 3 seconds.Smile
Certainly there were stumbles - the biggest coming in the final 4:20 of the first half when the Vols went scoreless and lost their 26 - 20 lead as Pitt hit for seven unanswered points. There was also junior forward Kenny Hall's best performance of the season as he snagged 12 rebounds, blocked two shots and hit for eight points - more than four times the production that he averaged last season.

That makes Hall an impressive weapon in the Vols growing b-ball arsenal - especially on the all important defensive boards. Wink

The only aspect missing in Tennessee's offense - and it proved fatal - was a lack of discipline in shot selection. This can be seen in the Vols excessive use of shots from beyond the arc - of the 14 they threw up from 3-point range only four fell for a mere dozen points.  
The biggest offender was Jordan McRae who appeared off balance much of the game as he hit just two of his eight shots from the field during 30 minutes of on court action.Cry

Despite the poor showing, McRae remains an impressive 6' 5" sophomore who has already wracked-up two 25-point games so far this season - truly an impressive showing for this early in the year. 

So don't despair Vol fans - this season's hardwood adventure have just begun and we're set for an exciting ride.

See ya'

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