Fancap: Grizzlies Drop 99-98 Heartbreaker to Clippers


Pregame PhotoCap: Grizzlies Begin Playoffs

MSL Presents ‘Have Grizzlies PA Announcer Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like 2012’

Memphis Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter joined Kevin Cerrito in studio on MSL to play another edition of “Have Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like.”

AUDIO:

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Click here to download MSL Presents “Have Grizzlies PA Announcer Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like” 2012

Click here to listen to “Have Grizzlies PA Announcer Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like” 2011

Click here to listen to the MSL Special “Rick Trotter: The Grizzision” from July 2010.

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.  

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

 

Superfan Clipper Darrell defends his team on MSL

NBA Superfan Clipper Darrell joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to talk about the Grizzlies/Clippers playoff series and more.

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Click here to download the Clipper Darrell interview from the April 28, 2012 MSL

Click here to visit Clipper Darrell’s official website

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.  

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

MSL: 4.28.12

Hour 1:

NBA Superfan Clipper Darrell joins Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to talk about the Grizzlies/Clippers playoff series and more.  Plus, the guys tell listeners how to win playoff tickets.

Hour 2:

Memphis Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter joined Kevin Cerrito in studio on MSL to play another edition of “Have Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like.” Plus, Marcus the Magnificent predicts the 2012 NBA Payoffs.

HOUR 1 AUDIO:

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Click here to download Hour 1 of the 4.28.12 MSL

HOUR 2 AUDIO:

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Click here to download Hour 2 of the 4.28.12 MSL

Click here to visit Clipper Darrell’s official website

Click here to listen to “Have Grizzlies PA Announcer Rick Trotter Say Whatever You Like” 2011

Click here to listen to the MSL Special “Rick Trotter: The Grizzision” from July 2010.

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll. 

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

A League of His Own

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of MemphiSport.

It’s the ninth inning, the game is winding down. The signal has been given to the University of Memphis bullpen to bring in the closer.

“Bad Company” begins to play on the loud speakers and No. 32 Jonathan Van Eaton, makes his way to the mound with an unmistakable look of intensity and purpose on his face.

A few pitches later the inning comes to a close and Jonathan’s job is done.

Van Eaton, a 20-year-old junior interdisciplinary studies major is a Memphis native. He began his baseball career when he was 5 years old. He discovered his passion for the game two years later while playing wiffle ball with his brother one afternoon. It was at this moment he said he realized he wanted baseball to be more than just a game; he wanted it to be his life.

“I had visions of just bunches of fans surrounding my backyard, it was odd it was very odd … I feel like that is my life calling to be a baseball player,” Van Eaton said.

In his youth, Van Eaton played for The Memphis Travelers baseball team. While in high school he played for APAK travel team in addition to playing for his school team, Arlington High School. He was the starting pitcher for Arlington from the end of his sophomore year through his senior year. Van Eaton is the record holder for wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts at Arlington.

Van Eaton came to the U of M with a singular purpose, to make his childhood dream a reality. He made it clear to his athletic academic advisor that baseball came before everything else. As one baseball coach said according to Van Eaton, the players are majoring in “baseballology.”

“I immediately went to my academic counselor and said look, I don’t want to be here very long,” he said. “Put me in the easiest classes possible. I want to study nothing I want to commit a 100 percent of my time to baseball, that’s what I’m here for. That’s what I want to do, if people want to support me while I do it than more power to them.”

In addition to being the closer for the U of M baseball team Van Eaton is also one of the

co-captains. He was elected by his teammates, which he said demonstrates how his fellow Tigers trust him and recognize his ability to lead.

Leadership is not something he says he learned or tries to do, but rather it is an instinctive part of himself.

“The captains aren’t the ones who put down consequences on others, but we are the ones who prevent them from happening,” Van Eaton said. “It is our job to remind and enforce the way the Memphis baseball program is run.”

Practices, travel, games and school consume the majority of his time; however, when he is not on the field Van Eaton said he is usually spending time with his No.1 fan, his girlfriend Jenny Johnston.

Johnston said she understood from day one the role baseball plays in her boyfriend’s life.

“When I first met him baseball is all he talked about, and I know that playing baseball will make him the happiest person in the world,” Johnston said.

While baseball is a huge time commitment Van Eaton said he is confident the hard work he puts in now will pay off in the future.

“It’s a job that I love and I hope to get paid for it one day and support a family on it,” he said. “If I got the opportunity to play baseball professionally, I would be able to live while I make a living. Some people work so hard to make a living and they never get to live.”

Playing on a Division 1 collegiate team has provided Van Eaton a platform to showcase his talent to prospective scouts, which he hopes will lead to him getting drafted by a major league baseball team before he graduates.

When scouts come to observe the talent of the various U of M players, Van Eaton says he treats those games no differently than any other.

“Pressure only falls on the shoulders of the unprepared,” he said. “It’s kind of like OK, let me do what I have done my whole life and you get to watch me do it. I get to show off and pitch my game and if you like it then you like it.”

In the 2011 season Van Eaton made 11 appearances and finished with a 6.48 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16.2 innings of pitching. With the 2012 season now underway, Van Eaton leads the team with eight appearances. He has 1 save and is 2-1 with an ERA of 1.64.

While Van Eaton says at the moment he is putting all of his eggs into one basket he does on occasion find himself doing a reality check.

“I don’t like to admit it but sometimes I think about life after baseball, and I don’t know, I don’t know what it would be like,” he said.

Written by Meaghan Nichols, photos courtesy of the University of Memphis

Lionel Hollins For Coach Of The Year

Photo by Justin Ford

It has been a stellar season for the Memphis Grizzlies.  They have home court in the first round of the playoffs for the first time ever, and they are on the verge of another special run through the playoffs.  For those of you who do not know Memphis plays phenomenal defense, rotates ten players, and is led by one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Hollins is pushing all of the right buttons at the right times and is looking like a leading candidate for the NBA’s Coach of the Year.  With the team on the cusp of another magical playoff run throughout the playoffs I see no reason why Hollins should not be a strong candidate for COY.

Sure the Spur’s Gregg Popovich has led an aging core of players to the best record in the NBA, but three future Hall of Famers certainly helps your roster no matter how old they are (the same thing holds true for Doc Rivers and the big three in Boston).

I hear some of you clamoring for Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau.  After all, he did lead his team to the best record in the Eastern Conference without his best player (Derrick Rose) for a good portion of the year. Yet, the Eastern Conference is a bit easier than the Western Conference, and shouldn’t degree of difficulty count for something?

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that if the two teams switched conferences the Grizzlies would leap to the top of the East while the Bulls would be a middle of the pack team in the West, but their records against the opposite conference makes you wonder.  The Grizzlies are 15-3 against Eastern Conference opponents while the Bulls are just 11-6 against Western Conference foes.

Click here to read our article “Chris Wallace For Executive of the Year”

What about the coach of that team in Oklahoma, Scott Brooks? His young upstart team is the two seed in the Western Conference and poised for a return to the Western Conference Finals.  This comes as a surprise to no one, so how can you reward a coach for getting his team to live up to the expectations set for them at the beginning of the year?

Do not worry Pacers fans I will not leave you out.  I hear you asking for Coach Frank Vogel.  Your team is the third seed in the Eastern Conference after finishing in eighth place last year.  And while that feat is to be commended, the Pacers are not a legitimate contender for a NBA title.

Now that I have given reasons why some of the other candidates should not win the award, here are five reasons why Lionel Hollins should be Coach of the Year:

1.  Hollins has exceeded expectations
Hollins has taken a team that most critics thought would be a seven or eight seed in the very deep Western Conference and made them into a legitimate title contender.  The Grizzlies are the four seed in the Western Conference, which is four spots higher than they finished last season.  We expected teams like the Bulls, Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics to have good years.  But the Grizzlies have taken a lot of the national media by surprise with what they have been able to accomplish this year, especially with Darrel Arthur out the entire season and Zach Randolph missing games due to injuries.

2.  The Grizzlies are a defensive nightmare thanks to Coach Hollins emphasis on defense
The way the Grizzlies dominate opponents on the defensive side of the ball is awe inspiring.  This effort can be attributed to Coach Hollins’ emphasis on the defensive end.  The team is holding opponents to just 44 percent from the field, leads the league in steals and forced turnovers, and is fifth in the league in opponents’ points per game.  On top of that, three Grizzlies (Conley, Allen, and Gay) rank in the top 20 in steals.  Hollins has gotten everybody to by in to the system and it is showing in the success that the team is having.

3.  No Zach… No problem
Last year’s best player was Zach Randolph, so when he went down just four games into the season there were some questions about whether the Grizzlies were good enough without him to make a playoff run.  In fact, most of us were thinking “Hopefully they can keep it close until Zach gets back. Then make a strong playoff push when he gets healthy.”  Yet, Memphis did more than just hold onto a playoff spot.  The team went 23-15 without Z-Bo and remained in playoff contention during his absence.  Coach Hollins is a huge reason for their success during this time.  His ability to find appropriate lineups and utilize a player’s strengths while masking his weaknesses helped to carry the Grizzlies during their 38 game stretch without Zach.

4.  Hollins has incorporated several new pieces throughout the season very well
The projected starting five at the start of the year (Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph) has barely played together this season thanks to injuries.  This lack of continuity can be enough to eliminate most teams from the playoffs, but Hollins has still found ways to coach the team to wins and a consecutive playoff appearance. With the addition of Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham right before the season and Marresse Speights six games into the season, the Grizzlies were in a position where the new players had to learn on the fly.  This issue was only exacerbated with the condensed schedule.  Having to play every other day left little time for practice, but Coach Hollins did a masterful job getting the new players integrated quickly.  And he found ways to use their unique set of skills to help the Grizzlies be effective.

5.  Coach Hollins has done a terrific job developing the players on the roster
For an example of this look at… well everybody.  He has taken a player like Speights, who rarely played in Philadelphia and turned him into a legitimate starter.  Speights is averaging well over his career average in minutes played this season (22.4 this year as opposed to 16.4 for his career) and is posting career highs in almost every category, with numerous double doubles on the year.  This season under Hollins, Conley has emerged as one of the better point guards in the league, and is third in the league in assist to turnover ratio.  Gay struggled early on during the season, but Hollins found ways to get him more active in the offense by giving him more isolation and back door plays.  So now Gay is having a career year scoring the ball (his 19.0 points per game average is good for 17th in the NBA).  OJ Mayo has always been a solid reserve, but this year with Coach Hollins’ help he has developed into a viable option at the backup point guard position.  Everybody’s game has improved this season and it is thanks to the job Hollins has done developing, motivating, and getting the players to buy in to what the team needs to do to win.

CJ Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.

Other recent Grizzlies articles: 

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Magic coach Stan Van Gundy holds no regrets on Gilbert Arenas’ role in Orlando last year

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy described Gilbert Arenas’ brief stint in Orlando last year as a “difficult situation” for the ten-year veteran.

However, he said doesn’t have any regrets on how he utilized the three-time All-Star shooting guard, who signed with the Memphis Grizzlies on March 20.

Despite their stormy relationship last year, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Gilbert Arenas tried all he could to help the team win in his only season in Orlando. Photo by Justin Ford

While speaking with reporters Thursday before the Magic played the Grizzlies at FedExForum, Van Gundy responded to Arenas’ recent comments in which Arenas publicly expressed his displeasure in having played for the Magic because Van Gundy made it virtually difficult for them to co-exist in his only season with the team.

Arenas said that Van Gundy spent a majority of last season disregarding him, going as far as to say that his former coach “basically sat me in a corner.” Additionally, he said he and Van Gundy never engaged in a personal conversation until after Orlando’s opening round playoff loss to Atlanta.

After serving an indefinite suspension the second half of the 2009-2010 season for conduct stemming from a December 24, 2009 incident in which he stored an unloaded handgun in his locker at Verizon Center, Arenas was traded to the Magic nearly a year later in exchange for Rashard Lewis.

During his 49-game stint with the team, Arenas made just two starts, both of which he felt took place when other players suffered injuries. He averaged 21.6 minutes per game, his lowest amount of playing time since his rookie season, and was eventually waived by the Magic 21 games into the 2011-12 campaign.

Van Gundy, meanwhile, said that while he understands Arena’s disappointment in how things played out in Orlando, he said wasn’t aware that Arenas’ role for the Magic affected his productivity in terms of adjusting to the team’s assortment of offensive schemes and his unorthodox style of coaching.

“I don’t think he took offense to it,” Van Gundy said of the Arenas’ role with the team. “I think he tried to do everything he could to help us win. I mean, he wasn’t there very long. It was short. It was on the fly. We didn’t get him until late December. There was no training camp, no offseason. There weren’t a lot of time. It was a tough situation for him, coming off the bench.”

So tough, in fact, that the 30-year-old Arenas, who averaged eight points per game during his brief tenure with the Magic, said he rarely left his apartment to tour the city of Orlando and that most of his best games took place on the road.

Despite Arenas and Van Gundy’s turbulent relationship, the two manage to connect during Thursday’s regular-season finale for the Magic and Grizzlies.

Arenas, who left the Grizzlies locker room without speaking with reporters, embraced several of his former teammates during pregame warm-ups. Then, before checking into the game at the 2:40 mark of the first quarter, Arenas walked over to the Orlando bench and greeted Van Gundy and his staff.

“At the end of the day, he’s still the same good guy he is,” Magic guard Jameer Nelson said of Arenas. “It was just casual conversation. When you play basketball with guys, you develop friendships with guys.”

When asked to assess the relationship between Arenas and Van Gundy last year, Nelson said, “I have no comment on that. I have no place to discuss that.”

Since signing with the Grizzlies, Arenas, who also played seven seasons for the Washington Wizard from 2004-2011, has appeared in 17 games for Memphis, averaging a career low 4.2 points.

The Magic play at the Indiana Pacers Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Grizzlies, who secured homecourt advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with Thursday night’s 88-76 win over Orlando, will host the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday in Game 1.

Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

Fancap: Grizz Secure Home Court, Beat Magic 88-76


Memphian Lester Hudson aims to make a difference versus the Clippers

Kobe Bryant made history.

However, it was Lester Hudson who emerged as the difference maker for the Memphis Grizzlies.

On February 1, 2010, hundreds of purple and gold clad Los Angeles Lakers fans filed into FedExForum and witnessed Bryant erupt for a game-high 44 points to eclipse Jerry West and become the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer with 25,208 points.

“I didn’t know,” said Hudson, unaware of Bryant’s historic performance.

Little did the announced sell-out crowd know, an unproven rookie would produce what he proclaimed his “NBA coming-out-party.”

Grizzlies guard Lester Hudson attempts to dribble past Portland's Luke Babbitt during Saturday's game at FedExForum. The former Memphis Central High star signed April 20 with the team for the remainder of the season. (Photo by Justin Ford)

Hudson, the hometown kid who, weeks after graduating from Tennessee-Martin, joined a local church basketball league, scored 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting off the bench in 12 minutes for the Grizzlies, who overshadowed Bryant’s memorable night with a 95-93 win.

Though Hudson’s stellar performance against Bryant did little in terms of establishing longevity with the Grizzlies — he was waived exactly five months later — Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace always admired his assertiveness, particularly his ability to provide instant offense.

That, as a result, were among the reasons the Grizzlies contacted Hudson’s agent, Keith Glass, last week, inquiring about the former Memphis Central High and Southwest Tennessee Community College star, who recently wrapped up consecutive 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Only this time, the 27-year-old Hudson will have the golden opportunity of helping the Grizzlies stage what many anticipate will be another dramatic playoff run. He signed with Memphis April 20 through the rest of the season.

Since the Grizzlies-Los Angeles Clippers opening round matchup has been determined, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins will likely rest a number of his key players during Thursday night’s regular season finale when the Grizzlies host Orlando.

That means Hudson, who is practically auditioning for a long-term contract after brief stints with three developmental league teams, two teams in China, and the Celtics, Wizards, and Grizzlies, will likely see valuable minutes against the Magic, something he plans to take advantage of.

Just as he did against Bryant and Co. two years ago.

“People always remind me of the Lakers game,” Hudson said. “That showed I could play on this level.”

Luckily for Hudson, the opportunity to return home surfaced after veteran Gilbert Arenas last week sustained a torn ligament to his shooting hand. The Grizzlies acted swiftly in reaching out to Hudson’s agent, largely because of the favorable impression the 6-foot-3 shooting guard left in Cleveland.

Signed by the Cavaliers on March 30, Hudson appeared in 13 games, averaging a career-best 12.7 points. To his credit, he was phenomenal, most notably in April when he scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including three straight 20-plus point outings. He registered a career-high 26 points in an April 8 loss at New Jersey.

So impressive was Hudson in Cleveland that the Cavaliers offered to sign him for the remainder of the season. Glass, however, had other ideas.

“It was my agent’s call,” Hudson said. “He didn’t think it a good idea.”

Glass advised Hudson that returning home to play for a team many believe is a serious threat to reach the NBA Finals was the most logical solution in terms of lobbying for multi-year deal on an NBA roster.

“It’s great being back in Memphis and playing in front of my hometown,” said Hudson, who scored nine points in 12-plus minutes in Monday’s win against the Cavs. “I’m exciting player, aggressive on both ends of the floor. This league is the greatest league in the world and that’s what makes me work harder.”

No one seemed happier to see Hudson rejoin the Grizzlies than his close friend, seven-year veteran Tony Allen. Hudson and Allen routinely spend a great amount of time together in the offseason, hanging out and partaking in regular conditioning sessions.

“When we were in the lockout, we played one on one three or four times out of the week,” Allen said. “His resume speaks for itself. Every opportunity he’s had, he’s taken advantage of it. I didn’t know we had room on the roster. I’m glad the team took advantage of it. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Whether Hudson can continue his late-season surge will depend greatly on how well he adjust to his new team. He doesn’t have much time, however. The playoffs begin this weekend.

“I am going to give him minutes,” Hollins said of Hudson. “Lester can score. We need him to learn our schemes on defense and learn our plays on offense. He’s only been here a couple of days.”

Which is, as far as Hudson is concerned, yet another huge opportunity to become a difference maker.

Only this time, it will be on a much larger stage, against another team from Los Angeles.

Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.