. Many in Spurs Nation were wondering where Tiago Splitter was in the fourth quarter of the Memphis loss. With Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol imposing their will inside, some figured it was a good time to get the rookie forward some on-the-job learning in a tough situation. I think that Budenholzer — and by extension, Popovich — did the right thing by keeping Splitter on the bench. Nothing could have been as damaging to Splitter’s fragile confidence than too much Z-Bo and Gasol down the stretch. It was a wise move as they prefer Gasol to learn to crawl rather than running and tumbling against a difficult matchup....
Tim Griffin, in the usual rag blog.
I am so sick and tired of the kowtowing San Antonio media worshiping at the altar of Lord Popovich. You guys want to know why the Spurs never get any respect from ESPN and national media outlets? It's because the local media doesn't even have the backbone to respect themselves. Charles Barkley was right. This is a podunk town.
You guys have the best basketball team in the freaking world, and your city acts so minor league, fawning at them like high school cheerleaders, it makes me lose my mind.
This is sports! SPORTS. It's not life and death. Pop loves to say that guys on the team have to "get over themselves" to fit in on the Spurs, but funnily that never applies to him and how his dealings with the media. He glares at them, intimidates them and dares them to ever utter a question a degree more challenging than, "So, how about that Tony Parker today, huh?"
Somehow, Pop has fostered this environment where both he and his players are beyond reproach by the local media. No one is ever seriously criticized, and his coaching moves are never questioned. It's unheard of for people after the games to ever ask him a strategic question. It's just not done.
They used to have one real writer over there in Johnny Ludden, and now that he's gone, they act like scared little cheerleaders. Harvey fluffs Manu almost as much as I do while the rest of them split their time between fawning Tim, Tony and Pop. And Griffin, the new guy, fits in perfectly, a coward like the rest.
First of all, he's even more hacky and mistake-prone than McDonald. I mean look at this in the last sentence... "It was a wise move as they prefer Gasol to crawl rather than running..."
Obviously he meant Tiago, not Gasol.
But what's with this "crawl before running" mixed metaphor nonsense? IT'S GAME 73. This is the time teams get their most serious. Rookies aren't rookies anymore and Splitter never was one to begin with. He's 25 and has played countless more important games in Europe than here.
How long is the media going to follow the company line that Tiago doesn't know what he's doing? He can execute the pick and roll better than Dice and Bonner already and pretty much could from Day 1. On defense he's significantly quicker laterally than Bonner, and he rotates better than Blair. He's far longer - and sturdier - than any big on our team outside of Tim. He doesn't even need to jump. Just by sticking his arms straight in the air he challenges a lot of shots and changes their trajectories.
Not only is he more confident of his assignments on both ends of the floor, but the real improvement I've noticed is he gets himself in better position for defensive rebounds now and he fights harder for them. He's a much better rebounder than Bonner and pretty much on par with Dice in his own end these days. Mostly what he has - and you can't teach - are size, height and athleticism. Tiago is a great athlete. He's not a 3-point specialist like Bonner or a thin jump shooting power forward like Dice.
It's so aggravating for the local media to pretend to not notice the elephant in the room. The Spurs have a glaring size weakness on defense with Bonner and Blair. The all-offense/no-defense approach is cute and works in the regular season and helps save some wear and tear on Tim, but in the playoffs you need to defend and rebound in the half court and that's not gonna happen with those guys on the court. Tiago has to be a real part of the rotation for us to have any shot and that includes the fourth quarter too.
It'd be one thing if he was just an athletic specimen who was soft and clueless like Ian Mahinmi, but Splitter is an experienced Euro League veteran and he's constantly got Manu chirping in his ear every practice filling him in on all the tricks. The only thing Manu can't do is tell Pop to play him, and that has to be where the media has to come in, to put pressure on Pop and to let the fans know that they're paying attention.
All year long we've seen guys demand the ball and go iso on Bonner and Blair. Not just stars either, but regular whodat scrubs. That Arthur guy did it today for Memphis. Everyone licks their lips at the thought of having those guys guard them. People don't demand it as much against Tiago. Did you all see Aldridge on Friday? He tried it a couple times against Tiago and then wanted no part of him. We completely took him out of the game with that matchup. Somehow, Splitter didn't play the final six minutes in the fourth, when we should've been trying to protect a lead.
All this about how Budenholzer was wise not to destroy Tiago's fragile confidence by putting him against Z-Bo. Give me a break. That's akin to saying Pop should've played Steve Smith over Manu in the playoffs in 2003.
You know what's destroying Tiago's confidence? SITTING ON THE BENCH WHILE GUYS HE'S CLEARLY BETTER THAN DEFENSIVELY KEEP PLAYING IN THE 4TH QUARTER.
The media is convinced you Spurs fans are so stupid -- and who knows, maybe they're right -- that you actively believe that Budenholzer was exercising independent thought when he didn't play Splitter in the 4th. As if it ever matters when Pop is ejected from games.
I love how people buy into this fantasy that Pop welcomes input from his coaching staff and it's all one big cuddly democracy. Yeah, so is North Korea. He surrounds himself with yes-men and has for years. He had Mike Brown on his staff for crying out loud and Brown couldn't figure out how to design one offensive play in five years at Cleveland. Pop hires puppets. Always has, always will. The only assistant worth a damn on that staff is the shooting coach, because his department doesn't involve strategy.
I say it every year. The biggest obstacles for the Spurs aren't the Lakers or Celtics. They're injuries and Pop. We've been lucky with both most of the year, but now, at the worst time, they're both conspiring to doom us once more. Pop is gonna doom us in May, either with Bonner/Blair or some other Tinyball bastardization. Tiago will rot on the bench as he openly whines about our poor defense and softness while congratulating the other team on their physicality and toughness. It will always be the players' fault, never HIS fault. Nothing is ever his fault.
And these guys at the SAEN won't ever utter a peep because they're too meek.
To think, Griffin proudly calls you people his "blog brothers."
Thankfully I'm not associated with that tripe. I wouldn't want him as a distant cousin twice removed let alone a brother.