As promised, it is time for a mailbag. I usually don't get any questions unless I ask for them on Twitter, but if you have any between mailbags (or complaints, general rants, and manifestos) just e-mail the blog at HammerAndRails@gmail.com.
@HammerAndRails what are the chances JJ makes the Bucks?— Andrew Hart (@planetanartha) July 12, 2014
This one was one left over from the last mailbag, so I am glad I found it. JaJuan Johnson has been quite the vagabond since leaving the Boston Celtics. He was traded to Houston, cut, and played in the D-League for the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants, Canton Charge, and Idaho Stampede. He played this past year for Giorgio Tesi Pistoia in Italy and Guangdong Changsha Bank in China. He has since signed with Beşiktaş Integral Forex in Turkey for the coming and played in the NBA summer league for the Milwaukee Bucks.
At least he is getting use from his passport.
Obviously, he is off to Turkey and can still have a very good career in Europe if he doesn't make the Bucks, but Milwaukee was terrible last year. You have to hope that as a former first round pick he at least gets a look. Unfortunately, the Bucks currently have 19 players listed on their official roster and none of them are JJ. He averaged only 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in four games with one start, so it does not bode well.
@HammerAndRails Painter visiting Mawbey for 2-3 zone tips ... on a scale of 1-10 in terms of your excitment, can I pencil you in at 100?— KokomoTribune sports (@SportsKT) July 25, 2014
Pencil me in for somewhere around 10,000. People may mock the 2-3 zone, but Jim Boeheim has won a metric shit-ton of games at the collegiate level with it and Basil Mawbey, my old high school coach, has won 675 games (and counting since he is back on the bench this winter!) and two state championships in Indiana with it. That's good enough for ninth all-time among Indiana HS coaches. Sure, he has won some downright ugly games in the low 20's (and even a sectional game 24-22 in double overtime), but wins are wins.
I'd imagine he would reach out to coach Mawbey because Purdue is in the unique position of having two monsters in the paint to protect anything within 7 feet of the rim. A proper 2-3 zone closes off driving lanes and dares teams to shoot over it. It can flummox a team loaded with talent but led by an inferior coach even with a roster perfectly built to beat it, as demonstrated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The best way to beat it is with an excellent center that can make space for entry passes and take on the middle player well one-on-one, an excellent point guard that can push and before it sets up and penetrate gaps, and three shooters that can hit from deep over it when given a sliver of space. Few teams have that, and to play the zone a tough defensive center as the anchor is critical.
I don't expect Purdue to become Syracuse west, but if the players buy in the 2-3 can become an effective and stifling defense because most players aren't used to seeing it and when run to perfection it can be downright disruptive. I should know. I have seen enough of it and learned it from one of the best.
@HammerAndRails 5v5 freshman vs upper classmen who wins?— Troy Jones (@Troyjones14) July 25, 2014
This one is quite delicious, isn't it? Let's break it down. First, the freshmen have a player at every slot 1-5:
SG: Dakota Mathias
SF: Vince Edwards
PF: Jacquil Taylor
C: Isaac Haas
The upperclassmen need some stretching to fill a starting five:
PG: Bryson Scott
SG: Kendall Stephens
SF: Rapheal Davis
PF: Basil SMotherman
C: A.J. Hammons
Thompson is more of a true point than Bryson and a better shooter, but Bryson is better at driving and scoring. I am hoping Dakota and Kendall can both be sharpshooters and this is a wash (more on this later). I am very high on Vince, but Ray D. is the leading candidate on who is going to take this team by the throat and lead it.
The interesting battle is at the PF spot. Taylor has the size, but I think Smotherman's athleticism can make a difference. At center I ask for only one thing: That Haas and Hammons kick each other's butts up and down the floor in every practice.
It is a tough call. I am high on the freshmen, but the five remaining upperclassmen are the five that return are the ones that had the best attitudes of those that could be here. Let's put them in a cage match repeatedly and have them toughen each other up before basketball season starts.
@HammerAndRails Kendall is obviously our #1 shooting threat. Where do you see his 3pt% ending up, and who will be the #2 shooting threat?— Smitty (@thealexsmith) July 25, 2014
Kendall needs to shoot at least 35% from long range if not 40%. That is where Dakota comes in. Dakota needs to be able to shoot 35% as well so we can free up more open looks for Kendall. Part of the problem the last two seasons is that Purdue has had only one reliable three-point weapon. In Purdue's best season, 2010, it has Robbie, E'Twaun, KG, and Byrd as possible weapons along with Kramer, Hart, and LewJack as guys who could occasionally knock it down. In 2013 we had Byrd and... nothing. Last year it was Kendall and... nothing. If we needed a three, you knew who it was coming from.
To be effective you need multiple weapons, so the better each guy does, the more looks it gives the other when both are on the floor. That's why Thompson, Scott, Davis, and Edwards need to emerge as threats too.
.@HammerAndRails I've got one. Has anyone (besides you) ever ACTUALLY referred to you as "T-Mill"? How bout your wife "Mrs. T-Mill"?— Grand Prix Problems (@GrandPrixProbs) July 25, 2014
The truth behind the name is that one time I got a prescription filled at my dad's pharmacy as a teenager and I noticed that the abbreviated name on the bottle had my first initial, then the first four letters of my last name. I liked it, so I started using it as a joke.
Over time it stuck. I began using it as an internet persona as everyone was getting used to social media (remember AOL instant messanger?) and it evolved from there. In fact, my wife calls me T-Mill more than my own name. It really took off with this site, however, and I have had random readers call me that in public. After close to 20 years I am kind of used to it now.