All I want for Christmas is a stroke as smooth as Jamar Smith.
The Fighting Illini continue to impress, rolling over Oregon by 30. Dee Brown looked like the same Dee that I saw light-up Purdue for 27 points and lock up Big Ten Player of the Year award last year. The Illini defense has been incredible the past two games, and the offense is coming together. There are a lot of reasons to like this team.
One big reason is the play of freshman Jamar Smith , who has one of the sweetest strokes you'll ever see. He's stepped right in and has confidently been knocking down big 3's at an incredible 57% clip (26-46) in the first 10 games this year.
I love Dee Brown's passion for the game -- he'll probably go down as the most beloved Illini ever. But Jamar Smith quickly became one of my favorites the first time I saw him bury a 3 against South Dakota State. His stroke is so effortless, you're surprised when he misses. And the past few games, he's been stepping it up with the defense and hustle, an easy way to ensure that you'll get minutes.
I'm taking my son, Jordan, to his first game at the Assembly Hall next week to see the Illini play Coppin State (fear the Eagles), and I may have to pick up a #11 jersey for Jordan and a #31 jersey for me.
#31 is the number I wear for the basketball team I play on, Team Wegobomber (hence the yahoo id and name of the blog), in the Geneva (IL) Park District Men's Rec League. The Wegobombers have existed in form or another for the past nine years, and I have played on the team for seven of those. Back in the day, the Bombers were one if the tightest-run organizations, with a dedicated fanbase, stats, a website and newsletter. Unfortunately, none of that led to any league championships, as we perenially roll through the regular season and fall flat on our faces come playoff time. And as the core group of guys get older, the clock is ticking on our chances of getting that elusive championship hardware.
I wish I could say that I have the game to match Jamar, but the #31 on our back is probably the only thing we have in common. In fact, I'd go so far to say that I'm the anti-Jamar Smith. I haven't hit a 3-pointer all year! There's an interesting dynamic on our team that might prove to be very entertaining. Let me explain:
We've got one guy on our team, Mark A., who is easily the Michael Jordan of the league. Our offense is basically 'get the ball to Mark.' The rest of the team is generally made of scrappy 6'2 white guys who all basically play the same position -- point forward. With no set offense other than the one mentioned above, the rest of us try to contribute wherever we can. There exists a long-standing unwritten rule that goes something like: unless your name is Mark, you can only miss one 3-point attempt per game. One 3-point miss is okay, but two will get you banished to the East Side of Geneva (trust me...you don't want to go there).
So let me tell you first hand...that's a lot of pressure.
I generally consider myself to have an above average jump shot -- probably when just shooting around in the gym I'll hit at least 40% of uncontested, wide open three-pointers. In games this season, however, it's a whole different story. We've had 7 games so far, so I'd estimate that I am 0-for-7 on the year. Will I hit a 3-pointer this year? Stay tuned.
There is an outside chance that I may have to hang it up altogether. Being the hustle guy, I've been getting beat up the last two years. Last week, I banged my head on an opponents shoulder and bruised my ear (seriously...who bruises their ear? I should've posted a pic of my purple ear). Later in the game, I got whacked in the nose. It may be broken -- I'm not sure. Nothing tops last year when I bonked heads with a teammate and spinal fluid started coming out of my nose. Very strange. Very frustrating too...I wanted to keep playing but the fluid kept coming out.
So right now, our once-proud organization has struggled to get more than 5 warm bodies to show up and we're riding a 2-game losing streak after winning the first 5 games. I'm beginning to wonder if getting banged up is really worth it.
Back in the day, we used to tape and stat up all of our games. Here are my career stats for those 3 years:
This year's stats are probably roughly similar, other than the 3-point percentage, less blocks, and maybe 1/2 less assist per game. Not exactly the type of stats you'd want on your fantasy team.
I used Lil Penny to determine which NBA players were closest statistically to my career stats, and I'll leave you with the top 10:
Top 10 NBA PLAYERS MOST STATISTICALLY SIMILAR TO JIM COLTON'S CAREER STATS WITH TEAM WEGOBOMBER: