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November 20, 2009 in Odd tidbits

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Chuck is popping up all over… now he’s weighing in on playing in the NFL on nba.com.

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All I can say is I am glad he decided that the NFL was too rough!
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LeBron James isn’t the only former All-State wide receiver collecting NBA paychecks these days.

Rockets forward Chuck Hayes spent some time lighting up the gridiron in high school as well, as a jumbo receiver at Modesto Christian in California.

But while James has made headlines recently by suggesting that he could have starred as a wide receiver or tight end in the NFL

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, Hayes isn’t nearly as anxious to make those sorts of claims.

“If I’d have stuck with football through school and straight on to college I might have done well,” Hayes said Friday afternoon. “But the transformation from college football to the NFL, that has to be huge. I think if LeBron had stuck with it he would have done well. And we all like to toot our own horn.

“But the demands of the game, the Xs and Os, the blocking schemes and … there’s just so much to it, so much to it. Again, the physical demands of that game are so tough. I think you’d have to have a real passion for that to stick to it.”

Hayes said he simply did not have that passion. After earning All-State honors he gave up football after his junior year of his school.

“I played because all my homeboys played,” Hayes said. “But I hated going across the middle. I made my slant route look like a post route. And by the time my senior year rolled around I had more top notch colleges looking at me for basketball than I did for football. I made my decision right there.”

Interest from the likes of Notre Dame and UCLA couldn’t sway him to football. Not with Kansas and Kentucky, where he starred in college, calling.

These days Hayes is happy in his role starting for the Rockets, 7-5 heading into tonight’s game against the Hawks. He’ll leave all the football talk for James and other dual sport alums like Nate Robinson (who starred as a cornerback in college at Washington before deciding to stick with basketball) and Allen Iverson.

“You can’t imagine the physical pounding they must take,” Hayes said of NFL players. “I give those guys the utmost respect. In that game, every inch counts. They hit hard and they’re so strong. The speed of the game is probably faster than I think, and I don’t mind giving them credit on that.

“You have defensive lineman running around out there with 4.6 speed. That means he’s catching me. It’s such a pounding on your knees and your body. You always see those [NFL] guys at the end of a season having this surgery and that surgery. It’s just not for me. Again, I give those guys the utmost respect because they obviously do their jobs very well.”

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Posted, Nov. 20, 2009, 12:43 a.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou
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Off-season Stress
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June 30, 2008 in Off-Season

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I know I am about the most horrible blogger in the planet (I am working on getting my masters, cut me some slack.) but this is just a quick post.  I love when Jonathon Feigan posts something about his talks with other people and Chuck just “comes up”.  Scroll down the comments until you get about half way down.

link

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(A few weeks ago, I was visiting with Tom Thibodeau, the former Rockes assistant that ran the Celtics defense. I mentioned to him that it was really something to see that defense he and Jeff always ran with the Rockets work with a long and active four like Kevin Garnett, the Defensive Player of the Year. He said a few words about Garnett, particularly about his practice habits and consistent effort and then launched into a long spiel about Chuck Hayes, his style, his strengths, the ways they could defend because they had him. I never mentioned Hayes or the Rockets. We all know there are things Hayes cannot do, but the qualities Tom talked about were very tangible. Clearly, he disagreed with your assessment that Hayes sucks, but what does he know about NBA defense. It’s not as if he will ever win anything as a coach in this league. As for Ridnour, I don’t think they would spend their summer allowance on a backup point guard. — Jonathan)

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Gene Patterson: The Top 10 Reasons…
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March 13, 2008 in NBA 07-08 Season

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…The Rockets Are Red Hot

By Gene Peterson, Radio Play-by-Play, KILT 610 AM
Posted Mar 13 2008 5:59PM

NBA.com caught up with Houston Rockets’ broadcaster Gene Peterson to discuss why and how the Rockets are in the midst of a 20-game win streak. The Rockets expert provided 10 solid reasons that explain the team’s recent success.

1) The team’s adaptation to Rick Adelman’s system
The defense was there a year ago, which was something that Rick obviously was pushing hard to have continue, but they have adapted to his offensive style after taking a couple of months to fully adjust. His is a motion offense that is structured around everyone passing the ball, of everyone being involved. They did it earlier in the season before Yao got hurt and it has just continued. That is the most important factor as to why they’re playing so well right now.

2) A top notch T-Mac
Tracy is playing the best he has ever played in his entire career. I’ve told him that and he’s said other friends have told him the same thing. There is no question about it. He had to do a lot of things in Orlando – mainly scoring – that no one else could do. He even led the league in back to back years (’03 and ’04). Here he hasn’t had to do that. He’s been the consummate team player and very, very unselfish. He scores when he has to score. For example, against New Jersey he scored 19 but he could have scored two and we would have won that ballgame. He has adapted himself to Adelman’s style.

3) The coaching of Rick Adelman
The job that he has done as head coach is absolutely phenomenal. His substitution patterns have been terrific and when Yao Ming went down he was able to get this team to continue to play his style of basketball. Rick makes sure that they take it one game at a time. These guys are not caught up in a 20-game winning streak. How could they be when you see how close it is from No.1 to No.10 in the Western Conference? They are caught up in trying to make the playoffs. He has done a marvelous job of coaching this basketball team and I think he is one of the best in the business. This year he has really proved that.

4) Rafer Alston – no longer just ‘Skip To My Lou’
Rafer has been absolutely superb. A lot of people have maligned him but they don’t realize that he’s averaging double figures in scoring; he hands out six, seven, eight assists a ballgame; and he only turns it over twice a night. This young man is playing the best of any point guard in the league right now. That’s not to say he is the best point guard, but he is playing superb basketball and is a major reason the Rockets are having the success that they are.

5) The adaptation of the Van Gundy defensive style
Jeff Van Gundy instilled a lot of his defensive principles into these guys’ minds that were here last year and it has maintained. They have adapted that philosophy, led by Shane Battier, who is probably the best defensive forward in basketball. Every single night Shane gets the tough scorer. The other night he did a marvelous job on Vince Carter holding him to 5-for-15 shooting. Night after night he does it.

6) Daryl Morey: The Team Architect
Our general manager, Daryl Morey, has done a great job, mainly because he was given carte blanche by our owner, Leslie Alexander, to go get the likes of Luis Scola and Carl Landry. The deals were made and both have been major, major parts in the play of the Rockets this year. Scola had tremendous success while playing in Europe with Spain and with Argentina as a professional. Even though he’s one of the older rookies in the league at 27, this is a new story for him. The NBA is a much different style of basketball. And Carl Landry was just a gold find, having been obtained from the Sonics on draft day. This young man is a terrific young player and he’s got the heart of a lion. We’ll give a little bit of credit to the youngster, Aaron Brookes, too. Despite the arrival of Bobby Jackson recently, he’s had some very good moments with the Rockets.

7) The ageless Dikembe Mutombo
How about the play of this guy at 41 years old? He had to step in with just unbelievable shoes to fill with Yao Ming out for the year and all he did his first game in there was block four shots. The next game he blocked four more. The next game three more. Against New Jersey he blocked five. So in about 130 minutes of play he’s blocked about 15 shots. Dikembe Mutombo is just the consummate professional. He’s not going to score a lot of points for you, but he does the job in the middle. He plays 23-24 minutes a ball game and is extremely effective. His contributions have been a major reason as to how we’ve won eight straight without Yao Ming.

8.) Yao Ming, pre-injury
Yao Ming is just a terrific, terrific professional. He has skills that I don’t think any other 7-6 guy has. Because of his size he has defensive liabilities and he doesn’t have the greatest of hands and leaping ability, but when it comes to offensive skills, he has it all – the jumphook, the fadeaway jumpers. How many guys do you know 7-foot-6 that shoot 86 percent from the free throw line? He was a major part in this run for 12 games who was enjoying his best season to date before the unfortunate season-ending injury.

9) Chuck Hayes, Luther Head and the entire Rockets’ bench
Chuck Hayes is a guy that people say can’t start because he can’t score, but he has been another major factor coming off the bench for this team. He was starting for a long time, but since Scola was inserted in the starting lineup, we haven’t lost a game. Coming off the bench in situations where defense is required, and I’m talking about against the Tyson Chandlers of this league, the seven footers, you can’t say enough about Chuck Hayes and the great hustle that he provides. And as an added bonus he’s even had 12 assists in his last five games. Luther Head has been another guy who, with this outside shooting ability, has affected the game for the Rockets. Overall, whenever anybody has been called on by Adelman, they have gone in and done the job.

10) The Red Rowdies
The electricity of the fans in Houston over this last series has been terrific and I think the players would agree with that. Sometimes it hasn’t been as volatile and vociferous as you’d like it to be, but lately it has been a big boost. The city of Houston right now is caught up in Houston Rockets basketball, not in the Astros or anything else. Let’s face it, there’re only two championships in the city of Houston as big as it is – the fourth largest city in the United States – and both of those championships belong to the Houston Rockets.

Gene Peterson
“Voice of the Rockets”

Gene Peterson enters his 45th year in broadcasting this fall and his 33rd and final season as the “Voice of the Rockets.” In his career, Peterson has only missed 25 contests out of a possible 2,592 regular season games with the Rockets.

Peterson’s career began as a disc jockey in Brookings, South Dakota, with a dream to one day broadcast professional basketball games. His career took him to WECL in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, KOB in Albuquerque, New Mexico, KCMO in Kansas City, Missouri, and finally to KPRC in Houston, where he took the job of sports director.

In 1975, Peterson’s dream came true as he became the play-by-play announcer for the Rockets. Over three decades later, Peterson has called both NBA Championships for the Rockets, as well as the action of Houston’s greatest players from Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on through the years to the current All-Stars of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

A native of Albert Lea, Minnesota, Peterson became interested in broadcasting while serving his military duty with the United States Air Force. After his tour was over, he returned to Minnesota to study broadcasting at the Brown Institute in Minneapolis.

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An Outside perspective
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January 9, 2008 in NBA 07-08 Season

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Often I wonder what other teams think of our man Chuck and his play… here’s a good clip from a Wizards fan after the 01/08/08 game.

http://www.bulletsforever.com/story/2008/1/9/1472/31779

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I have to admit, it was weird watching that Rockets team last night. They looked like some sort of hybrid between a Jeff Van Gundy team and a Rick Adelman team, which is kind of the ultimate goal for them. When I projected them to be a juggernaut coming into the season, that was the type of team I envisioned. The final score was only an 8-point margin, but it certainly felt like a blowout. Only strong play in the second quarter by the much-maligned reserves kept the Wizards in the game.

I think this was one game where we really missed Gilbert Arenas. The Rockets have two extremely physical forward defenders in Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes. Each completely took Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, respectively, out of the game, with a nice assist from the big fella patrolling the paint. Butler, in particular, never got any open room to shoot a stepback jumper. Oh, he tried, but Shane Battier was right there in his face. Butler did try on occasion to drive to the rim, but Battier was doing a phenomenal job angling him off to Yao, who, at 7’6”, bothered all of his drives. Perhaps Battier and Yao were angry about this play

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from last year.

As for Hayes, he really impressed me with his defense on Jamison. When Jamison was setting up, Hayes pushed him away from the basket, and he didn’t let Jamison spin inside him for his little flip shot. Offensively, he made really good cuts that opened up space for Yao and the Rocket guards. I think we’d benefit a lot having a guy like Hayes on our team, but alas, we don’t.

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[Chron] Hayes likes the Underdog Role
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November 13, 2007 in NBA 07-08 Season

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kyle Lowry, the Memphis Grizzlies’ blur of a point guard, caught Rockets rookie forward Carl Landry in a switch and immediately cleared out his teammates with designs of an unfettered flight to the rim.

On the opposite side of the floor, Rockets forward Chuck Hayes saw the impending trouble and moved into the lane toward Lowry. As expected, Lowry made his move and beat Landry, then saw Hayes coming over to stop him.

But Hayes had no intention of stopping anyone. Instead, he faked toward Lowry, and just as Lowry prepared to dish to a cutting teammate, Hayes backed off into the lane.

As he intercepted Lowry’s pass and the Rockets headed the other way, former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, scouting the preseason game last month for the Lakers, said in that familiar rumble: “That’s Chuck Hayes.”

With that, Hayes had received the greatest of compliments. Not only had he made a slick and heady play, preventing what would have been a rim-bending dunk, but no less an expert than Tomjanovich considered the play typical of him.

The scouts and coaches know. They marvel at the way Hayes is used as a rare power forward who is not only assigned to cover brutes like Emeka Okafor and Carlos Boozer, but to chase Dirk Nowitzki to the 3-point arc, battle Tim Duncan in the low block, and switch off on point guards as they come around screens.

Hayes clinched a playoff win over Utah last season when he stepped in front of Derek Fisher, drawing a charge with the game on the line. In this season’s matchup with the Jazz, Boozer took two shots against Hayes and missed both. When Hayes started on Nowitzki, the Mavericks star missed all four shots he took.

Regularly overlooked

But such moments, like the play on Lowry, are not what Hayes enjoys most. The power forwards he faces have their moments, too. That is inevitable.”It comes with the position,” Hayes said, particularly in a week like this, when he goes up against Okafor, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Duncan and Shawn Marion.

But having been overlooked and underestimated for so long, Hayes has come to cherish those moments when swift guards see that linebacker upper body and those chunky legs and expect to blow past him.

“I’ve always been considered an underdog,” Hayes said. “Even though I have achieved my goal and made it to this professional level, I’m still an underdog. I take it as a challenge.

“I notice when I switch off to a premier ballhandler, he tells everybody to clear out and tries to isolate me. But he finds out it’s a lot harder than he thinks. That’s a lot of fun.”

Hayes said he has accepted that he will always be overlooked.

“When I’m at home watching TV, I tend to watch whoever has the ball, too,” he said. “I don’t tend to watch the weak side and see what’s going on over the there. Basketball is entertainment. What I do sometimes is not the greatest entertainment. At the end of the game, it’s very much appreciated.

“There’s a whole lot of other things in the game of basketball besides scoring.”

His coaches, from Rick Adelman now to Jeff Van Gundy before him, rave about the things fans rarely discuss.

“They’re missing his help defense,” Adelman said. “They’re missing how many times he gets his hands on the ball, steals and strips. He just is always in the right spot. He understands what our game plan is, and he’s very quick.

“With him and Shane (Battier) on the floor, this team has two guys who do all those dirty things for you. They are always taking charges. They are always in position to help. But Chuck is really important.”

Earning floor time

Last season, the Rockets allowed teams an average of more than nine fewer points (per 100 possessions) with Hayes on the floor than when he was off. They actually scored slightly more with Hayes playing. So far this season, they are holding teams to 4.5 fewer points with Hayes playing.”He’s so strong, and he’s quick. You feel good about him,” Adelman said. “You want him on the floor.

“Obviously, he’s not a great offensive player, but he’s a better passer than we anticipated. Defensively and on the boards and with all the little things he does, he’s the real glue for this team.”

Still, when the Rockets traded for Luis Scola, Hayes was assumed certain to be replaced. That could happen eventually if Scola develops more of Hayes’ defensive and rebounding talents. For now, though, it’s just another chance for Hayes to be underestimated.

“I’ve heard that,” Hayes said. “I’ve seen an article or two here and there. That’s the life of an underdog. No matter if I did start in this league, went to the playoffs, did well, it’s not enough. Until I leave this profession, what I do won’t ever be enough. I understand that.”

He almost sounded as if he preferred it that way, even if Tomjanovich made it seem that the secret is out.

I recommend going over to the Chron site

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and posting your comments about this article. 

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Blog update November 9, 2007
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November 10, 2007 in Blog Updates

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Stitch Work

Well, I guess I got in the way of a Hall of Famer. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game against San Antonio, I got elbowed over my right eye by Tim Duncan.

He swung his elbows through to get position on me just as I put my head in front of him. Five stitches later, I’ve got a puffy eye to show for it.

It hurt at the time and threw me into a daze for a minute. But I’m fine now.

The most interesting thing is that I couldn’t open up my eye on Wednesday morning because it was so swollen. It was fat. My son, Dorian, kept wanting to play with it. He noticed something was wrong with it so he kept wanting to grab it and touch my stitches. If he had gotten ahold of my eye, I would have needed a few more stitches.

Honestly, though, I’m used to having these puffy eyes. I’ve got scars over each of my eyes in the same location. It’s normal getting stitches between my eye lashes and eye brow because I play so tight on centers and power forwards and they tend to swing their elbows. This is the fourth time I’ve needed stitches. I’ve had two over each eye. It just happens.

Could I wear a mask to protect myself? No. I can’t play with a mask. If get stitches, so be it.

Gardner Webb?

I can’t believe Kentucky, my alma mater, lost to Gardner Webb. Gardner Webb? I thought that was maybe a children’s book before we laid an egg against them.

It just doesn’t look good when you’re one of the top programs in the country. Even if we do have a successful season, that loss is going to show up on our NCAA Tournament resume. It looks bad.

The guys in the locker room have been letting me have it. Before that upset, none of us even knew where Gardner Webb was at. Now, we all know it’s in North Carolina. The guys are saying that Kentucky might not even be an NCAA Tournament team this year. We might have to go to the NIT. I’m getting it from all angles.

I’m even hearing we’re a football school now. But I don’t believe that. We’re still a basketball school.

more at Rockets.com

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On UK’s loss to Gardner-Webb
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November 9, 2007 in Former Teams

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‘It just looks bad,’ Hayes says of upset
EX-CAT RECALLS LIVING THROUGH LOSS IN LEXINGTON

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The loss to Gardner-Webb surprised former Kentucky star Chuck Hayes. When asked what he knew about Gardner-Webb before Wednesday, he said he would have thought it was a children’s book.

The Associated Press asked Hayes, now in his second season with the Houston Rockets, about the Kentucky loss. Here are highlights:

Question: How big a loss was it for Kentucky?

Answer: It’s really bad, because in March, when they stack up wins and losses and who you lost against, this one is bad. It’s a long season. But it just looks bad, man. If it could’ve been anybody else, I would’ve been fine with it. It just looks bad.

Q: Is it as bad as Appalachian State beating Michigan?

A: The only thing that makes the Michigan game a little bit worse than this one is Michigan was top-5. Still, the programs are the same. I’m going to make a phone call or two down to Lexington.

Q: How do you think the media up there will treat Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie?

A: I’m pretty sure his e-mail is pretty stacked up. I’m pretty sure the guys didn’t want to go to class today. When you lose in Lexington, it’s like the whole world is looking at you and pointing the finger at you like, “How could you? You don’t lose at Rupp.”

Q: What was your worst experience at Kentucky with a loss?

A: We lost to Louisville my junior year at Rupp. Me and a couple of guys went out to eat afterwards. The service was terrible. It went like an hour and a half just for my appetizer. You lose at Rupp — and we lost to Louisville — that was bad.

A couple of guys probably didn’t go to class today. They probably did not want to show their face in that psychology class because people are going to ask them, “What happened? How could you?”


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Starters?
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October 19, 2007 in NBA 07-08 Season

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Two articles contemplating the starting unit remaining the same from last year.

Rockets.com

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Since preseason camp opened almost three weeks ago, Rockets coach Rick Adelman has maintained that there are at least two openings in the team’s starting lineup.

He might be beginning to change his mind.

With all the new faces on Houston’s roster and all the lineup juggling that Adelman has done in the preseason, the Rockets coach could very well end up using the same starting lineup that the team closed the playoffs with last season. Who would have guessed that heading into training camp?

Adelman has opened with the same group of starters from last season in two of the Rockets’ first three preseason games heading into Saturday’s dress rehearsal against the Seattle SuperSonics. The starting five consists of point guard Rafer Alston, shooting guard Tracy McGrady, small forward Shane Battier, power forward Chuck Hayes and center Yao Ming.

The Rockets coach could end up using a different starting lineup against Seattle to evaluate other players, but that doesn’t mean Adelman isn’t warming to the returning group of starters.

“That first group has been really sharp,” Adelman said. The Rockets figured to have two starting jobs open in preseason camp: point guard and power forward.

Since the Rockets acquired Mike James and Steve Francis in the summer, the team entered preseason camp with three veterans capable of being starters. Alston, the returning starter at the point guard, even arrived into camp uncertain about his role. But three weeks later, Alston has started each of the Rockets’ first three preseason games, drawing praise from Adelman for his ability to run the team’s new high-motion, high-tempo offense.

Meanwhile, at power forward, Hayes has been in the starting lineup in two of the first three preseason games. Hayes has been splitting time with Luis Scola, but he has shown that he can play well with McGrady and Yao. Along with that, Scola is still learning the American game since the 27-year old rookie has been overseas prior to this season.

So far, Adelman hasn’t pegged Alston or Hayes as a starter. But the pair do have an advantage in that they’re already comfortable playing with McGrady, Yao and Battier.

“I’m pretty confident with that group,” Alston said. “Now, I want to get my game down with the other guys. That comes with more time. But our starting five has been clicking for a while now and it helps to know where guys like the ball. I know where they’re going to be at and we can play off each other.”

Adelman, though, hasn’t committed himself to that starting lineup because he’s still intrigued by the flexibility of his roster. He eventually went small against Dallas on Thursday night since the Mavs didn’t play most of their big men.

“We have a number of guys that can play the big spot in our offense when we play small,” Adelman said. “That’s a nice mixture to have. We just have a lot of flexibility on this team.”

With that said, Adelman did notice what his first group did in the opening 12 minutes against Dallas. Behind those returning starters, the Rockets bolted to a 26-6 lead, albeit against a Mavericks team that was resting most of their star players. The Rockets’ starting five ended up making 68.4 percent of their shots in the first quarter and had only two turnovers.

Because of that smooth play, Battier could envision seeing the same starting five on the floor that ended last season. But he also noted that last season’s first round playoff exit means that the team will welcome their new additions.

“We had a pretty good unit last year,” Battier said. “We had a great plus-minus ratio with that first group. I like playing on that unit with those guys. But if last year showed anything, that’s not good enough. We feel with the added additions on our bench, it’s really going to enhance our team and make us that much more tough come April.”

Chron.com – Feigan’s Blog

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For starters, will everything old be new again?

In writing about Rafer Alston’s strong start to this preseason on Saturday, a thought occurred to me that I admit I never, ever would have thought possible.

Could the Rockets have the same starting five this season as last?

What kind of reaction would I have gotten to that notion three weeks ago?

There’s plenty of time to work all that out. Much of this could change several times before Oct. 30. I’m not ready to say that’s how it will be Oct. 30 in Los Angeles. I don’t even know if that’s how it would be if the season was starting Thursday. But it is possible that the Rockets could have the same starting five as last season.

Alston really has impressed. The chances that he would be the starter certainly could change before the opener. If his stock could improve dramatically after less than two weeks of practices and two preseason games, it could change – or others’ could similarly escalate – in the two preseason weeks and five games remaining.

Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming are automatic. Shane Battier is close to as certain. That leaves the power forward as the remaining position to consider.

Luis Scola might be a pretty good bet. He’s probably the guess I’d make for the starter at the four, especially after he looked so good on Thursday and I have heard so many good things about practices since the first days in Austin. But Chuck Hayes has impressed, too. We’ve yet to see Scola in a tough defensive assignment. More to the point of the decision to come: If the Rockets are playing a team against which Rick Adelman will want a true center coming off the bench, the rotation might be better served with Hayes starting.

If Dikembe Mutombo comes off the bench for Yao, you probably don’t want Hayes also coming in for Scola. Having Mutombo and Hayes on the floor together is hardly the sort of high-powered offense of Adelman’s past.

If you start Yao and Hayes, when Mutombo comes in, Scola can come with him and stay on the floor when Yao returns. If you start Scola, does he have to stay out there when Yao sits until Yao comes back?

There’s ways to work that out, but one way is to start Hayes. Do that, and you could be looking at the same starting five as last season. And who would have guessed that when the Rockets spent the off-season adding Steve Francis, Mike James, Luis Scola and bringing back Bonzi Wells?

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[Chron]Defense Won’t be Neglected
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October 14, 2007 in NBA 07-08 Season

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For four seasons, the identity of the Rockets was clear.

More than a 7-6 center from China, more than a two-time scoring champion, the Rockets’ image was tied to a defense that squeezed the life from opposing offenses and often, the game itself.

The Rockets put all sorts of new entries on the defensive pages of their record book, always remaining among the league leaders in every key defensive statistical category. And for the past two weeks, since the start of training camp, and really since they brought in Rick Adelman and his historically prolific offense, the talk was of scoring, rather than stopping it.

Instituting changes

Yet, Adelman has some definite ideas about how he wants the defense played, including some changes nearly as significant as those on the offensive end. He and Rockets players also have spoken of using the principles that worked so well.More than anything, the Rockets have insisted that defense will not be forsaken for the allure of a fancy new offense.

“This team is really good,” Adelman said of what he has seen defensively. “We have four or five guys that are really good defenders, and they’ve been a good defensive team. They are pretty good at picking things up and staying with it.

“I know if you’re going to have more possessions offensively, it’s harder to keep your concentration on the other end. That’s something we talk about all the time.”

Talking all the time about defense would seem business as usual, but there are some changes in the ways the Rockets defend.

Jeff Van Gundy was a proponent of trapping the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls. Adelman will never trap with his centers, having Yao Ming or Dikembe Mutombo instead sinking back into the lane. He also will more often have guards try to guide the ball-handler toward the baseline.

Van Gundy insisted on contesting every jump shot, and last season wanted closeouts, even if they meant going for pump fakes, believing that shooting percentages decrease off one- and two-dribble jump shots when compared to spotting up. Adelman will more often let a specific game plan determine whom the Rockets must close out.

But the trick will be incorporating personal preferences without losing too much of what worked. In each of the past four seasons as Rockets coach, the Rockets were first or second in opponents’ field-goal percentage, leading the NBA last season.

“I want to do some of the things they did because they were so solid at it,” Adelman said. “I’ve said before, Jeff did a great job with them. When you start with the guys we have like Rafer (Alston) and Shane (Battier) and Chuck (Hayes), there’s good defenders out there. You’re going to be pretty solid defensively.”

That has been such a point of emphasis that it is not surprising the Rockets would have good habits defensively. The key might be keeping those priorities when the new offense makes it more difficult to switch back to the old devotion to defense.

“I worry more about the transition defense than anything else,” Adelman said. “The way they played before, they always had two or three guys back. That allowed them to protect all the time because they were spotting up. In our offense, guys are in different spots all the time. It’s harder to understand who needs to be back. It’s something we have to keep our concentration on.”

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Hollinger Player Profile
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October 10, 2007 in NBA 07-08 Season

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, Opinions
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, Statistics
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Hollinger’s Player Predictions (link

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)

2006-07 season: Though undersized in the extreme and owning a jumper that makes Dikembe Mutombo’s look gorgeous by comparison, Hayes managed to carve out a niche as a pro power forward by virtue of his tough defense and nose for the ball. The 6-foot-6 Hayes battled his way to the eighth-best rebound rate among power forwards and used his fast hands to rank sixth at the position in steals per minute.

Hayes’ D was a huge factor — he could easily have been an All-Defense pick

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— but he needs to tone down the aggression a bit. He was disposable and knew it, and for that reason he gave fouls freely. He finished third among all power forwards in fouls per minute, making it impossible for him to play extended minutes.

Hayes rarely shot on offense, ranking 68th out of 70 power forwards in usage rate. However, he converted when he did shoot, making 57.3 percent of his shots. He was disciplined enough to let fly only when he was in layup range.

Scouting report: Hayes was one of the league’s best defensive power forwards last season despite his small stature. While that sometimes allowed taller players to shoot right over him, more often it resulted in an opponent running unsuccessful post plays against Hayes because he was able to muscle the guy so far from the basket. Hayes is also an excellent team defender who frequently put himself in position to challenge shots.

Hayes’ shot is one weird bird. He has a hitch in it, almost like he’s double-pumping, and he does this even on free-throw attempts. It’s as though he took shooting lessons from Juwan Howard. At least he knows it — he only attempted one jumper all season.

2007-08 outlook: Hayes signed a four-year deal worth $8 million (if likely bonuses are achieved) to stay in Houston, allowing the Rockets to keep him at a fairly large discount to the market. I’m a little surprised there wasn’t stronger interest. While Hayes can’t score in quantity, he makes his few shots, and his defense and rebounding have real value. Teams have been throwing bigger bills at far lesser players this summer.

Hayes will have to take a back seat, however, as newly arrived Luis Scola figures to take over as the starting power forward. But look for Hayes to play a major role off the bench, backing up Scola and likely finishing games when Houston goes up against tough post players.

Most similar at age: Michael Ansley

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