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HRABE: Thursday Morning Mailbag

Chris Hrabe (@chrabe)
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Chris Hrabe

Chris Hrabe

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Opened up the Twitter mailbag last night during the Cardinals game for this morning’s column. Got some good questions, and decided to take three and really dive into them. Away we go!

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@Querb: Hrabe, curious on your take on this Mike Dixon/Memphis marriage?

Love the move for Memphis, and love the move for Dixon. Dixon is a phenomenal player, and Mizzou’s season would have been a lot different if he had been on the court last year. Defensively, the team would have been a whole lot better. Phil Pressey would have been better, and Haith could have had more of a leash on “bad Phil” when things started to go haywire.

But we all know what happened. So Dixon had to go somewhere. When I first heard Dixon was looking around and Memphis was on his short list (I think Jeff Goodman of CBS was first to report it last year) I remember talking to Memphis head coach Josh Pastner about Dixon, and the type of player that he is. It just seemed pretty obvious that the process would take a while, but that he would appeal to Memphis.

The reason that Memphis is such a perfect fit for Dixon goes beyond the court, and has to do with another transfer. Sure, it helps that Memphis is stacked now, and can play a perfect style for his strengths. The team will heavily showcase guards, will get up and down the court, and will score a lot of points. But again, that’s not where it ends.

Dixon is a guy who is out of chances and can’t slip up again. That’s where Josh Pastner comes in.

During his time as head coach, Pastner hasn’t had a guy on his roster involved in a single off-the-court incident. That includes Geron Johnson, who transferred to Memphis last year after being kicked out of two junior colleges, which is VERY tough to do. Pastner and his staff laid out a distinct plan for Johnson, including a curfew, check-ins and early workouts. It worked in spades, and Johnson was one of the most important guys on the team last year, and will again be this year.

Pastner’s track record with his team has earned him the benefit of the doubt from me in these situations, and I expect the same for and from Dixon.

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@AndrewBarber6: What are your least favorite phrases from commentators?

I have written about this before. So for just a moment, let me vent for a moment about football clichés.

We’ll start with the one that I notice every single time. After a fumble, you’ll hear, “The (insert team) say they have it!”  What a groundbreaking piece of analysis.  Just because every player on both teams, both on the playing field and sideline, are pointing that they have the ball, I guess compels you to say something.  We know “they” say they have it. Everyone knows “they” say they have it. Can we talk about something else while the officials sort it all out? How’s the weather up there? Did “they” say it might rain?

“(Insert player name) is just a FOOTBALL PLAYER!”  Are we sure about that?  Yes.  We are.  Thanks for nothing. This is mostly Jon Gruden. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but let’s set the bar a little higher.

Another Gruden alert! “This is some real old-school, grind it out, hard-nosed football.” Listen, no need to bring out the ‘ol leather helmets and stockings. Football was never as hard-hitting as it was today. If a team runs the ball, it doesn’t make them “old school.” No one is bringing a “lunch pail” to the practice facility. What is the obsession with comparing the game of today (especially in the NFL) to the 1960’s? It’s 2013. Embrace it.

More on this at some point, probably closer to football season. I love Gruden, but he is so easy to laugh at. But that’s part of his schtick, right?

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@JimmyZuercher29: Heat’s athletic & aggressive double teams vs Spurs’ precise, calculated ball movement. Who has the edge?

I’ll say this to start- I am really, really excited about this matchup. Everyone should be excited about this matchup. Everyone should be really, really excited about this matchup. So before I answer the question and make a pick, let me get on my NBA soapbox for a moment.

I don’t know why people consider the Spurs “boring.” They are an up-tempo team that can throw a lot of looks at you. For my money, Tony Parker is one of the most exciting players in the league, and has put on an absolute show in the postseason, including driving the defensively elite Grizzlies insane.

So this should be a great series.

The problem for the Spurs is LeBron James. And he might be the one guy in the league who I think can neutralize Tony Parker right now. We have seen James guard everyone on just about every team over the last few years. He berated Derrick Rose into the worst stretch of his career while guarding the MVP point guard two years ago. And I think he can do it to Parker.

Last year the Heat had no real issues with the Thunder, and I think there will be a similar storyline here. The Heat can force a ton of mistakes, and use those turnovers to create easy transition opportunities. I hope the series is hyper-competitive, but I think the Heat win in six.

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There we go, the first edition of the Sports Hub mailbag. Thanks for the questions, and we’ll do it again soon!

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