Posted by: Jeff Winget on January 7th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
A couple of weeks ago, I taught sentence diagramming to my 11th grade students. After struggling for a few days with the concepts, students started to get the concepts that I had presented and were performing well on their assignments. One student even wrote at the bottom of her finished assignment, “I’m freaking good at this!” Then, below her exclamation, she diagrammed it as well, so it wouldn’t feel left out from the other sentences on the page.
My students had an “Aha Moment” that day. The Jazz had an “Aha Moment” last night against Memphis.
A lot of people have discounted the Jazz as being too young to make noise this year in the league. Most analysts see them as inexperienced and lacking an identity even though they are talented and full of potential for the years to come. For the first few games of the season, the Jazz looked like the analysts said they would. They bumbled around in LA and Denver to start the season, and after squeaking out a win against Philly, the fell flat again in San Antonio to start off 1-3.
After the rocky start, the Jazz went on a 3-game winning streak at home, getting them above .500 for the first time this year and culminating in a quality win last night against Memphis. During that game last night, I saw the Jazz as a team start to understand how to play and win.
They had an “Aha Moment” about how to use their youth as an advantage. They can’t out execute teams with a lot of experience like the Spurs and the Lakers. They probably can’t out athlete teams (yet!) like the Thunder. And, they can’t out talent a team like the Heat. What they can do, however, is out hustle every team they play against, using their youth and their depth as an advantage instead of as a weakness. Hustle leads to good defense and team work, which in the end, will lead to more wins and success.
The other thing I saw last night that I kept waiting to see last year from the team is that the players bought into the system of Coach Corbin. Corbin has been preaching defense to them and working on getting them to buy into the new system of pushing opponents to the baseline and helping the helper. Last night, their rotations looked good on defense, and they did a great job defending the paint, something that was a huge problem last year.
This intensity and teamwork on defense translates over to the offensive end in the form of transition baskets and trust and teamwork in the half court offense. The team looked a lot better on both ends of the court, and they all bought in to what each other was doing and in to the team concept that Coach Corbin seems to be preaching to them.
My favorite part of last night’s game was the swagger that the team had after their “Aha Moment.” They looked confident in themselves and in the team. The culminating moment for me was in the final minute when Devin Harris locked down Mike Conley on defense as he drove to the basket and stripped the ball from him. After Harris was fouled, the whole team celebrated with him, and they walked up the court for the free throws with a “We’re freaking good at this” look.
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