VOL. 132 | NO. 197 | Wednesday, October 4, 2017
A Positive First Step For Grizzlies’ Mario Chalmers
By Don Wade
Veteran point guard Mario Chalmers is on a partially guaranteed contract and that means what it sounds like it means. The Grizzlies wanted to give Chalmers, 31, a long look, but coming off surgery for an Achilles injury they didn’t believe it was automatic he would be ready to serve as Mike Conley’s backup as he did two seasons ago.
So among the encouraging signs from the Grizzlies’ first preseason game at FedExForum Monday, Oct. 2, was the play of Chalmers. He finished with 19 points and two assists in the team’s 92-84 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Chalmers spent several seasons with Grizzlies coach David Fizdale when he was an assistant with the Miami Heat and the two were chasing championships with LeBron James. So Fizdale and Chalmers have a history. And Fizdale, perhaps even more than he does with some other players, speaks candidly to Chalmers.
Mario Chalmers turned in an impressive performance in the Grizzlies’ preseason opener against the Orlando Magic at FedExForum on Monday, Oct. 2. (Daily News File/Houston Cofield)
Said Fizdale: “He started out camp really pressing and trying to outrun all these young bucks, and I just told him, ‘You’re the slowest guard in the gym. What are you doing? You know, you’re going to look bad when you’re trying to run past Kobi (Simmons), cutting you off left and right. You’ve got to be a savvy champ, change speeds, play your game. Take all the knowledge you’ve attained and use that to your advantage. But you’re not going to outrun Wade (Baldwin) and Kobi and all these guys.’
“So (Chalmers) really took that to heart and I saw an immediate change. We had that talk the night before the Blue-White Scrimmage, and the next day he played really well in the scrimmage. Tonight, obviously he carried that into the game. I don’t have to say a lot to him to make him understand what his game is because we’ve had that talk so many times. He’s at an age now and a commitment where it just registers with him.”
Chalmers sported cornrows and a headband Monday night, a look he said drew some inspiration from Allen Iverson.
As for the state of his comeback and his game, Chalmers said: “I feel like it’s coming. Anybody who comes off an injury, you want to go out there and just prove yourself … I just have to keep it in my mind to settle down, make sure I’m teaching the young guys and just be a leader by example.”
BLEAK TIMES AT LSU AND TENNESSEE
While University of Memphis coach Mike Norvell said he and his players were “embarrassed” by their performance in a 40-13 loss at UCF last weekend, the state of the program is borderline euphoric compared to the way Tennessee and LSU fans are feeling right now.
LSU suffered a 24-21 loss to Troy as an encore to the thumping delivered by Mississippi State. How humiliating was this loss to Troy? As Chuck Culpepper of The Washington Post noted, Troy’s football team arrived in Baton Rouge not by plane but after a six-hour bus ride, adding, “That must have been some six-hour bus ride back.”
So, yes, first-year coach Ed Orgeron is in some trouble.
But maybe not as much as UT coach Butch Jones, who was in Memphis Monday night to speak to the Touchdown Club after failing to even muster a field goal in the 41-0 loss to Georgia and barely getting by mighty UMass a week earlier, and before that blowing the game against Florida by not defending a Hail Mary pass and thus snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Culpepper was in Knoxville for the UT-Georgia game and apparently surveyed the city in the aftermath of that 41-0 loss to the Bulldogs, writing, “Maybe the perfect image turned up on a sidewalk Saturday evening, where the streets had gone hushed, and a single orange-and-white pompom lay alone, discarded and exhausted, but not from much use.”
BASEBALL’S NEW SCANDAL
While the college basketball scandal involving recruiting, shoe companies, financial advisers and coaches has been grabbing headlines and has Louisville’s Rick Pitino as the poster boy for bad behavior in the FBI probe, Major League Baseball has an issue, too.
Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella was forced to resign after an MLB investigation found significant rules violations in the international player market. Coppolella had orchestrated the building of baseball’s top farm system.
John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, said in a news conference that he didn’t know if the organization would face sanctions from MLB and there was no bargaining in exchange for Coppolella’s resignation. Hart said it was clear the Braves’ GM had to go.
“It didn’t pass MLB muster,” Hart said, “but at the same time it didn’t pass Atlanta Braves muster.”