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Hoopaholics Anonymous

My name is Mark, and I’m a Hoopaholic. Big time. I love basketball, both collegiate and professional, but these are bad times for folks like me. To quote my friend, the wonderful c.d. kaplan, “it’s a fallow period in sports.” (Unless you think Bill James is a demigod. Nothing against baseball, other than I am not much of a fan.) No hoops on TV is killing me. I love (the real) football, or what you call soccer in this country, and the World Cup was manna. But it’s over. And Brasil was upset. sigh.

What to do about cage action, and why me? I do this webcast during the season for WFPL and WFPK with the great Matt Anthony, called Nothing But Net. Months away from that. And I pour over every syllable of the aforementioned Mr. kaplan’s brilliant blog, Score. But chuck’s been kinda quiet about hoops these last few weeks.

There was a scintilla of cage action last week. The NBA Summer League in Vegas. I saw some of it, too. Parked myself in front of a TV at an eaterie downtown, and reveled in the glory of basketball, NBA Summer League style. By the way, I think Mr. c.d. finds the NBA Summer Leagues devoid of calories. That’s cool, I got his proxy.

For UK cage fans, these were salad days. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins made lots of impact.

John Wall: CBS Sports online referred to him as “John freaking Wall,” and declared him the best of the bunch last week. He was MVP of the Vegas League. And made the woeful Wizards look pretty decent, leading them to a 4-1 record. The game they lost? Overtime loss to the awful Knicks. John sat out. Here are some quotes:

David Aldridge wrote on NBA.com: “John Wall has got It … It is hope. And excitement. And charisma. And leadership. And talent. John Wall has all of those things, so he has It, and It can take a team places if It’s harnessed and focused and driven. Or It can’t, if hubris and recklessness and sloth replace those former qualities. It’s up to the guy.”

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports wrote, “He displayed leadership and accepted coaching – both important traits for someone who will be the centerpiece of the Wizards’ rebuilding.”

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix wrote, “All week the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft has been a man among boys, a cliché, sure, but one that rings true when you break down Wall’s game to individual plays. For instance, there are the coast-to-coast drives that take less time than most need to unlock their BlackBerry (four seconds are the unofficial average).”

Kevin Arnovitz wrote for ESPN.com, “The superlatives and comps were flowing freely: Derrick Rose with defense and charisma. Chris Paul with better size. Rajon Rondo with more upside on his jump shot.”

Turnovers were an expected issue with the wünder-rook, but if Wall can get his turnover issues under control between now and opening night, the Wizards’ resurrection could start earlier than previously thought.

DeMarcus Cousins: The massive DeMarcus was more a Jekyll and Hyde. Started out great. Then, a meltdown which is drawing attention to the worst rap on the man, his emotions ran away with him. A meltdown, culminating in his worst performance in his last game. A 1-12 shooting performance that produced more bricks than a Chinese labor camp. CBS Sports said it best:

Bright Light: DeMarcus Cousins‘ first three games. Cousins was the player who looked like he simply couldn’t be handled physically. He was dominant on the glass, finished off of offensive rebounds, and showed the most versatile set of post moves of any big in the SL. He had his emotions in check and played to his potential. He managed this against good young bigs, including Greg Monroe (who was a bright light in his own right). It would have been a great week for Cousins if it weren’t for…

Black Hole: DeMarcus Cousins’ last two games . And then everything came crashing back down. Cousins’ final two games were a combination of emotional implosion and inefficient play. He got into it with the refs, pouted, moped, and could not buy a bucket. It certainly seemed like Cousins’ hit the wall. Which is not a good sign after a handful of games, with the grind of the NBA regular season coming. Cousins may end up becoming one of those polarizing players in the league if this trend continues.

Something to ponder in the way-too-many-weeks until some kind of basketball is front and center again. Hey wait, do you think someone will broadcast the Worlds? Kevin Durant should take front and center on that. Until then, here’s some more John Wall action: