Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wish List

[Author’s note:  Since I’m now cross-posting much of my content to/from, I guess it’s finally time to abandon my intarwebs-friendly all-low-caps typing style.  What a sad, sad day.]

Today’s post brought to you by Jets to Brazil.  They’re not that punk, but the lead singer was in Jawbreaker, so there’s a tie-in to my normal theme in a long-winded way.

As of this afternoon, December 6, 2012, the Jazz are back to .500 after dropping two in a row on the road, and posting ESA’s first loss.  The loss in Oklahoma City wasn’t terribly surprising.  The loss in Houston might have ended differently if not for some questionable officiating that really killed Utah’s momentum.  And the loss against the Clippers, while also featuring some, ah, interesting whistles, still comes down to the Jazz blowing a 14-point lead.

David Locke has mentioned during some live broadcasts that, despite losing three in a row and still showing a lack of resolve on the road, the Jazz are improving as the season progresses.  The problem, from a fan perspective, is that they’re not improving quickly enough.  After yesterday’s ugly-but-we’ll-take-it win over miserable Orlando, I was reminded that, while the Jazz are improving, most other teams are still improving as well.

After all, we’re still only a quarter of the way through the season.  Teams are still gelling after major personnel shake-ups in most big NBA towns.  You can bet that Tyrone Corbin isn’t the only coach still tinkering with line-ups.  Players are returning from injury or getting injured.  Every team in the league, as far as I can tell, is still making adjustments for the better.

What does this have to do with wishing?  There are two things on my Utah Jazz Wish List right now.  First, I’d like to see a team that can hold onto a lead, a team that simply puts its foot down on the gas in the third quarter until all 48 minutes have been played.  I think a lot of fans really wish we could do that.  I also think we would see a lot of fans give the team a pass for losing to superior squads if we could just crush the games that we’re “supposed” to win.

But, when you lose games to New Orleans and Washington every year, I’m not sure that you can ever have a “supposed to win” game.  Eventually, this team will likely get to that point.  Assuming minor improvements continue throughout this season, Utah should stop losing those head-scratchers.  And once the team begins regularly winning games it’s supposed to win, that boosts confidence and increases effort against teams that you might not normally beat.

So what’s second on my wish list?  I hate to alienate anyone here, but it’s that fans would calm the hell down.  Nearly everyone I follow (Jazz-wise) on Twitter was all fire and brimstone after the Houston and Clippers losses (including, admittedly, me).  This is still a young team, both in average age and in intra-team relationships, with a young coaching staff, a brand-new GM, and a young(ish) owner/CEO.[1]  The team is going to suffer some embarrassing losses, but that’s how you learn.

This applies to both the Trust In Ty faction of online Jazz Fandom and the Core Four Forever folks.  Jefferson has only been to the playoffs one time in his entire career, and he’s having to learn how to be on a team that wins more games than it loses.  Even if you think the sun rises and sets by Favors and Kanter’s future, they are still learning a lot from Big Al and Millsap (arguably more than they’d be learning if they were doing it by themselves for 30 minutes a night, but I digress).

While nobody likes waiting around, the Jazz are going to have to be patient.  But that’s always been the name of the game with this franchise:  steady, reliable soldiers who are willing to do things the hard way because it’s the right way.  Maybe it’s time some of us take a cue from the team we love so much.

[1] I am aware that Gail Miller, and not Greg Miller, is the legal owner of the Utah Jazz.  Don’t miss the forest for the trees here.

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