The New ROI?

For the second and final time (most likely), I’ve got something besides basketball on my mind. There’s a new trend lately for bloggers and social media geeks.

It’s called “social scoring.”

Mark Schaefer, one of the most highly regarded bloggers in America and an authority in the realm of social media, wrote ROI: Return on Influence to explain the conceptScreen Shot 2014-03-29 at 4.37.03 PM and secondly to support it. I’ve mentioned Schaefer previously for his Twitter handbook, The Tao of Twitter.

I just can’t get enough of this stuff. I think social media is already the most effective advertising for college students and younger, and brands not exploiting it are nuts. As companies and brands look to social media to expand their promotions and connect with consumers, many argue a measurable form of advertising is more beneficial. So, TV, billboard, magazine… basically traditional media. Soooooo original. Well those people are going to have some catching up to do in five years when digital is the new norm. Honestly, isn’t it already?

Klout is my newest obsession. It’s this site that measures your “social influence” across all your accounts: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, FourSquare and Google+. It puts all likes, favorites, retweets, shares, etc. into some fancy algorithm , and bada bing bada bang, you know whether your social media accounts really matter or not. This means that YOU CAN measure the effectiveness of social media advertising. And not to mention, the free perks. Yeah, you can get free stuff from companies just for having a high Klout score. Facebook and Google both have their own super effective analytics tools, but Klout is great for an overall measurement.

So, are you wondering what my Klout score is? (Drumroll, please.) 53. Not too bad for a college student. Not going to lie, I’m wondering if I spend too much time on Twitter and Instagram.

Sorry Grizz Nation for straying from the usual sports fan commentary we usually harp on. I’m just trying to remain a well-read college student after all.

-Casey Black

 

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10 Games

That’s all we’ve got left, and its going to be a doozy.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.49.32 PM

(ESPN.com)

Despite the away game-heavy season ending, I have more than enough confidence in this Grizzlies team’s ability to get it done and secure a spot in the playoffs.

We’re not the same team we were last season. We’re multidimensional now.

We are no longer trapped with boasting just our unique, grind-it-out style. That’s right. We do that big offense thing just fine too. The Grizz are regularly racking up 100+ PPG. Mike Miller is playing some of the best basketball of his career at 34, and I’d say much of the credit goes to Coach Joerger for fashioning plays around his superior shooting. Miller’s 70% FG percentage since the All Star Break is a weapon we haven’t had in years.

Since Marc’s glorious return on January 14, we’ve added a notable amount of wins to our resume.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.23.31 PM

(ESPN.com)

We have a real chance of reaching 50 wins on the season, which would likely put us in the 7th spot in the West, maybe 6th or even 5th.

Big questions on the bench:

Ed Davis – Davis has played 3 games in the last 11- logging 18, 20 and 4.

Jon Leuer – He’s had inconsistent minutes as well. He’s gotten PT in all but one of   the last 10 games, but he’s only broken the 10-minute mark in two of those games. Leuer has proven his worth plenty of times this season, so I’m interested to see what impact (if any) he’ll have in these final 10 games.

James Johnson – I’m a big JJ fan. He brings a level of excitement that is incredibly valuable coming off the bench, but he’s been the most puzzling. Johnson has either been playing a key role off the bench, coming in for “scrub” minutes or not entering the gam at all. My thought is that he is another wing player unable to hit outside shots, so he needs to be paired with an outside shooter or play as an undersized 4. His FG% is unpredictable, but his energy and stellar defense make him worth a risk in my opinion.

The tricky part lies ahead as we are one of five teams battling to stay in the top eight.                                               Here comes another screenshot.

(ESPN.com)

(ESPN.com)

As always, more thoughts will follow shortly. For now, I’ll leave you with the enthusiastic Twitter stylings of Beno Udrih- aka, the most eager new guy ever and my new favorite Twitter account.

 

 

 

LOL, Beno. Do what you gotta do.

 

-Casey Black

Memphis March Madness

March Madness is well underway in Memphis. The Grizzlies head west for a season long 5 game road trip beginning Wednesday with an ESPN televised game against the West worst Utah Jazz. The road trip seems untimely coming so late in the year and the Grizz having won a season high 10 straight games in FedEx Forum. However, the team wouldn’t be in such a good position now were it not for away game success throughout the season. With so many games missed from the likes of Marc Gasol and Tony Allen, combined with an early season home slump, the Grizz have found solace in hitting the road and escaping the pressure of escalating expectations.

The timing of this trip is of course due to the real “March Madness”, the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament which has reached the round of sixteen, also known as the Sweet Sixteen to you plebeians. Overall #1 seed Florida headlines the 4 programs that will descend upon FedEx Forum Thursday night when the tournament continues. UCLA, in addition to double digit seeds Dayton and Brevin Knight’s own Stanford Cardinal, will be present as well. Unfortunately, the hometown Tigers were dispatched by Virginia, who capitalized on the matchup problems many locals feared in facing the Cavaliers. This is the first time since 2009 that Memphis and FedEx Forum have hosted the Sweet Sixteen. Then, eventual champion North Carolina beat Blake Griffin and Oklahoma (so his losing ways in Memphis go deeper than Grizz-Clips) in the Elite 8.

John Branch

John Branch

…but back to the Association. The Grizzlies are continuing their late season push for higher playoff seeding as Dallas has dropped two of four in the midst of a seven game home stretch. The overtime losses to both Brooklyn and Minnesota put Dallas on the outside looking in with Phoenix in 8th and the Grizz in 7th. These standings will be out-dated by tomorrow, as things change on a nightly basis this late in the year.

Last weekend the Grizz flexed their muscles, showing just how capable they are even when facing less familiar East competition. Splitting a back to back at Miami and home against Indiana is nothing to fret over, although one can easily be frustrated that Memphis did not sweep the two. I watched almost all of the Miami game (except when my stream lost connection and the Tigers finish against George Washington became more interesting than necessary) and the Grizzlies, particularly ZBo, controlled the entire game until the fourth quarter began to wind down. The officials got whistle happy and in the Heat’s favor. Zach was mugged multiple times down low, and when he put a finger near Lebron (literally), it was as if “The King” had been hit by a baseball bat. JA Adande had a front row seat to the best “act” in town:

 

Despite the loss, a great moment was shared among Grizz and Heat fans pre-game when Mike Miller was presented with his championship ring from last year’s Finals.

ZBo got wide eyed upon seeing Mike’s newest piece of jewelry, and you know he fancies one for himself:

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While things went south (beach) in Miami, the Grizz responded with a resounding victory against the Pacers. In the consensus “most complete game of the year”, the Pacers were overwhelmed and visibly frustrated against the league’s best 4/5 combo of ZBo and Big Spain. Jon Roser, producer of The Chris Vernon Show, provided the stat of the night, pointing to Roy Hibbert’s complete lack of presence on the boards:

After taking the East’s best 1-2 shot, the Grizz feasted on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has seen its playoff chances all but mathematically eliminated. At one point leading by 22, Minnesota coughed up a game against Phoenix that will likely prove to be their death blow.

The Grizz should be able to handle Utah tomorrow, not to look ahead, although that’s exactly what I’m going to do by eyeing Friday night’s matchup against Golden State. The Warriors will have had 6 full days of rest, last playing against San Antonio Saturday in a loss. Splash Bros Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be locked in to keep their distance from the Grizz as the Warriors become the next team to pass in the West. It is still way too early to think about who the Grizz would “rather play” in a potential first round series, as a mere half game separates Memphis from Phoenix and Dallas. Not until a spot is clinched does creating a favorable matchup even come in to play, and in all honesty, its very possible a spot won’t be clinched until the last game of the season. As you likely know, Memphis’ final two games of the year are in Phoenix, and back home against Dallas. It’s funny how that works out when you screw around and drop games to Cleveland, Charlotte, and other inferior East teams, while also going 3-11 in the division up to this point. Moreover, a final game against the Spurs in San Antonio (NBAtv) looms, as well as a second matchup against the defending champion Heat in Memphis (ESPN).

Every NBA team hopes to play well into April and the best expect to reach May. For those hopes to become a reality, the Grizz must persevere as their home court is taken over by the collegiate ranks. March is almost over, but the madness is just beginning.

 

-Travis Nauert

 

Spring break and the living’s easy.

It’s always nice returning home to Memphis.

It’s my last Spring Break of college, and I’ll admit, I’m a little sad I’m not sipping a tropical drink on some beach somewhere. I do, however, get to spend it in the second best vacation spot. I’ll be in Memphis, still sipping that tropical drink, of course.

I’ve got all I need here. Good people, good food and my mom giving the refs a piece of her mind while we crowd on the couch for the Grizzlies game. My erratic fandom didn’t develop recently; I bleed blue (to the dismay to many of my Volunteer comrades).

But you already knew that.

Let’s just say I’m relieved I wasn’t in town to witness the aftermath of the Memphis-U Conn game Thursday night. At my house, its all Memphis basketball all the time. I’m the misfit that “ran off to that orange place.”

But really, it’s lovely to be surrounded by people who are just like you. My mom is that Grizz fan that gets motherly instincts: she’s proud of her boys when things are going well and she gets heart broken  when they aren’t. Lately, my dad truly believes that he jinxes the Grizzlies whenever he’s in the TV room. He’s the most cerebral, rational man I know, and he will literally exit the room if we’re losing. I wish I was kidding. My grandma may be the biggest fan I know. She adores Mike Conley; partially because he’s an elite point guard but mostly because he smiles a lot. I’m being serious. For the past four years, her love hasn’t wained a bit because Conley has just grown more charming.

But I digress. Let’s talk some basketball.

Tonight’s game in Philadelphia was a gimme. It was the 76ers 20th loss in a row, and naturally my thought is “phew, glad we weren’t the ones to break that streak.” They tied their franchise record of 20 consecutive losses, proving that breaking records isn’t always such a good thing. Except tonight it was good for the Grizz, of course. 

We’re sitting precariously in the Western Conference neck-and-neck with Dallas. Now, the goal is to make sure Phoenix can’t catch up. Ideally, we want the Grizz to surpass the Mavericks so we can avoid San Antonio in the first round. If my opinion counts, I think we should give Jon Leuer more PT. Grizzlies_Pistons_Basketball.JPEG-03046_t607Every time he gets a shot on the floor he shines, specifically brighter than Ed Davis. Also, Tayshaun Prince has given me some doubts. I read a post on Rant Sports about the horrendous effects of keeping Prince and Tony Allen on the court at the same time. Both can’t shoot the ball, limiting the Grizzlies’ options on offense. This is just one of the many questionable lineup decisions of Dave Joerger.

Another key: keeping the bench efficient on offense. One of the main components of “grit n’ grind” is spreading the points scored across the lineup. We’re not the team to rely on one guy to get it done. What’s more Memphis than that?

 

 

The Grizzlies have a three day break before taking on the 22- 44 Jazz in the FedEx Forum.

So, I guess the Grizz are kind of on Spring Break too. They are heading to Miami on Friday after all.

-Casey Black

Zach Lowe’s Q&A with Mike Conley and the “Marc Gasol All-Stars”

Zach Lowe, a staff writer for Bill Simmons’ Grantland, caught up with Mike Conley while the Grizz were in Brooklyn last Wednesday. Lowe asked Conley a variety of questions, ranging in topic from Conley’s golf game, to fears of Tony Allen injuring fans (touched on later in this post), Marc Gasol getting caught singing “Call Me Maybe” pregame in Orlando, and the Grizzlies outlook for the home stretch. It’s a pretty entertaining read in light of Conley’s composed no non-sense attitude.

Q&A: Mike Conley on Being Tricky and the ‘Why Not Us?’ Grizzlies     < Click that

GRANTLAND

GRANTLAND

Additionally, if you missed it, Lowe composed a post All-Star break team centered around his favorite players to watch in the NBA. His name for the team, the Marc-Gasol All-Stars. His inaugural team from last season actually featured Marc Gasol as the starting Center (and co-captain along with Dirk Nowitzki). This year, Gasol is not on the team, which sounds stupid. How can Marc Gasol not be a member of the Marc Gasol All-Stars? Well, his MCL sprain not only cost him significant game time, but also a spot on his own team. Nonetheless, it’s badass that a well respected writer took the time to write a 4,000+ word article entitled “The Marc Gasol All-Stars”.

The Marc Gasol All-Stars   < Punch it

GRANTLAND

GRANTLAND

One more thing. The Marc Gasol All-Stars story has a link to the initial team that Lowe created last year, the “All-Fun All-Stars”. Tony Allen is featured on that team along with Marc. The following words come from Lowe’s 2012 article …possibly some of the best Grizz related quotes ever:

The All-Fun All-Stars….super lame name compared to the Marc Gasol All-Stars

FC Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (Co-Captain)

“I’ve covered this enough in anointing Gasol my mid-season Defensive Player of the Year, and my no. 1 choice of teammate in an alternate world in which I could play in the NBA. I love his shoes, with “Marc” in giant white letters on the tongue. I love his subtle anticipation on defense. I love how he’ll hip-check the shit out of you if it will help Memphis — and if the refs aren’t looking. I love his stand-still set shot. I love the sudden back-to-the-basket baseline spin he unleashes when a defender leans too firmly against him. I should probably stop writing about Marc Gasol.”

G Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

“Ginobili is really a token starter, since he needs to rest, anyway. Manu deserves the honor of a lineup intro, but Allen is really the most entertaining player in the league, the anchor of this team’s backcourt rotation.

Allen is especially impressive because he’s almost as entertaining on the bench as on the court. He celebrates every good Memphis deed while he sits, and when a teammate does something really spectacular, Allen is liable to step onto the court in celebration and/or toss his towel into the air with no idea where it might end up. He hit an old lady in the face with a towel once last season.

You know about the on-court stuff. He is so physical on defense you can almost feel it through the television, only he rarely finds himself off balance. An Allen fast break is a suspense movie on Blair Witch levels, with a dozen possible endings. He might air-ball an uncontested layup. Or you might fear such an outcome, conditioned by years of avert-your-eyes misses,1 only to have Allen surprise you with an artful drop pass to a trailing player. The best show in the NBA.”

So thanks, Zach Lowe, for recognizing what ESPN and others refuse to acknowledge. The Grizzlies are not only a high caliber team (analysts reluctantly mention the Western Conference Finals appearance and in a somewhat appalled tone like last May was a bad acid trip for them), but they are an entertaining, League Pass worthy team as well. As Lowe put it, “The best show in the NBA”.

Tip off:

Memphis vs. Portland

FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

8:00 ET / 7:00 CT

-Travis Nauert

Grizz rest on busy Sunday

The Grizzlies cap a short home stand on Tuesday when Lamarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and the Portland Trailblazers come to FedEx Forum.  After that, Memphis hits the road traveling to New Orleans on Wednesday completing a back-to-back, only to start another at Toronto on Friday, and finish up in Philadelphia on Saturday.

While the Grizz are inactive tonight, three games on the Sunday slate, and two in particular, look to shake up the Western Conference standings…for the time being. Over the last couple weeks, playoff seeding has vacillated as teams, the Grizz, Mavs, Suns, and Warriors namely, jockey for position in the bottom half of the pack.

courtesy espn.com

courtesy espn.com

1. Portland @ Houston (7:00 ET)

Both the 3rd seed Rockets and 4th seed Clippers hold a 1 game advantage over Portland.  Any team would love to grab home court advantage in the first round, but the Rose Garden is a particularly formidable arena to play in should Portland seize a top 4 spot.  With Memphis playing Portland on Tuesday, it would be nice if Houston distanced themselves, defeating Portland and sending them to Memphis a little beat up.

2. Indiana @ Dallas (7:30 ET)

associated press

associated press

This one has the most immediate importance to Grizz fans.  If Indiana knocks off the Mavericks in Dallas, Memphis would take the 8th seed for the evening as Dallas would have 27 losses to the Grizz’s 26.  Dallas won the only previous meeting this year 81-73. Going forward in the playoff hunt, the Mavericks have the advantage of experience…and lots of it.  7 players (Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, Shawn Marion, Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Devin Harris) combine for a whopping 70 years in the league (all ≥ 8 years).

3. Phoenix @ Golden State (9:00 ET)

Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports

Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports

The team that has kept me scratching my head, but out of respect, is Phoenix.  Quietly, Jeff Hornacek has lead a young team into playoff contention. He’s done so with Eric Bledsoe sidelined for 31 games.  A tweet from the official Suns account said Bledsoe looks to return Wednesday against Cleveland.  A look at Phoenix’s schedule shows that they are beating teams that a playoff squad should beat, and suffering what a march madness hopeful would call “quality losses”.  Outside of two defeats each to Utah and Sacramento, a majority of the Suns’ losses came against the likes of Memphis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Miami, Chicago, etc… You get the picture.  For weeks, NBA fans have wondered if/when Phoenix will taper out.  Until that actually happens, don’t get your hopes up.

20 Games Remain for Memphis

courtesy ESPN

courtesy ESPN.com

-Travis Nauert

Bench helps the Grizz through the dark

Hate to say I told ya so.

We’re watching the greatest era of Grizzlies basketball. Period. We’ve just had a few speed bumps along the way. This time it was injuries, and they needed some time to get healthy. Things got iffy there for a while. Now, we’re looking at a real chance of not only making the playoffs but giving the rest of the West a run for their money. Here are a few reasons why I think the Grizzlies will remain an elite team as we approach the playoffs.

100 is the magic number

It’s all about offense. In the last nine games, Memphis has broken a score of 100 six times. To my dismay, the Atlanta Hawks took precedence over the Grizzlies game in Knoxville tonight, so I missed yet another stellar Grizz domination. This time it was against the Charlotte Bobcats who, while nursing a sub-par record, did beat us just two weeks ago. We’ll take every win we can get at this point in the season.

Coming off the bench

The past four seasons (including the current one) have collectively been the best in franchise history. One issue we’ve always had: finding a good backup center to relieve big man Marc Gasol. I mean just take a look at Gasol’s backups over recent years: Hamed Haddadi, Hasheem Thabeet and Leon Powe. Let’s just say they left us with much to be desired. Kosta Koufos has been all around solid, which is just what we need in this spot. I’ve been hearing the nickname “Kosta Coast,” and I like it. It’s nice having a back up center to root for. 

(Photo Credit to David Banks/USA Today Sports)

(Photo Credit to David Banks/USA Today Sports)

I don’t like to get negative on this blog, but I vividly remember when Nick Calathes was booed in the FedEx Forum just a months ago. This month, you can call him Mr. Rookie of the Month for February. Calathes averaged 28.6 minutes, 4.6 assists and 10.7 PPG in February. Not too shabby for the new guy, huh?

Jon Leuer is getting playing time again, and he isn’t wasting a moment. Each time Leuer gets significant minutes, he makes a case for the the backup spot. He’s averaging 13 PPG and 2.5 rebounds in March. Ed Davis who? But really, to be blunt, he hasn’t brought much to the table lately. 

I always say we’re the team no one wants to play. Why? Well in part because we’ve got James Johnson and the Grindfather himself, Tony Allen, coming off the bench. These are two guys we can count on to relieve the starters, put up tough defense and attack the basket. Bottom line: they’re intimidating. 

(Photo by Nikki Boertman)

(Photo by Nikki Boertman)

The home stretch

We play Portland in the Grindhouse on Tuesday night before heading off on a relatively easy road trip.

Wedesday, March 12 @ New Orleans Pelicans (25-37)

Friday, March 14 @ Toronto Raptors (34-26)

Saturday, March 15 @ Philadelphia 76ers (15-47)

The real challenge will come when the Grizz fly to South Beach to take on the out-of-conference Heat, and then they return to Memphis to play the Indiana Pacers who are straight up terrifying. We’ll take a look at the rest of the season at a later date.

Enjoy the big win tonight, Grizz Nation.

-Casey Black