I've been out of touch for a few days after travelling home from the Bay Area and getting reacquainted with my family. Did I miss anything? Uhh, no. I did catch up on some podcasts while flying home and a Daily Dish podcast from early August with Henry Abbott (True Hoop) and David Thorpe really stuck out. They discussed the then recent Kevin Garnett trade. At one point in their discussion they analyzed the East. Now, we all know the Pacers aren't in anyone's plans for post-season play, but they weren't even mentioned. Even when talk turned to the Sixers and Charlotte and other teams that should be improved but not playoff caliber. Maybe I was distracted by the drink cart and missed it, but it would've had to be a pretty quick mention. I at least expected a demoralizing comment or two about the Pacers fall out of the playoff discussion. Instead, nothing.
Then I see this SI interview with Donnie Walsh stating they're counting on Jermaine O'Neal and no teams are even calling about him anymore. DW is happy with the small moves they've made this summer. He then threw in this comment toward the end.
Walsh knows the team's new players aren't big names, but he said they are the right pieces. He said he's getting excited about what the team could do.
"We're going to enjoy flying under the radar screen," he said.
That's exactly what I wanted to hear. I feel the same way. When I hear about the new approach from the coaching staff and the tweaks in the way the team will play that should accentuate the positives of several players' games, I'm fully willing and excited to see how this thing plays out. I understand the lack of respect for the team and beginning tonight embrace it. It's time to use the slights and apathy as fuel. Each player needs to dig deep and find a way to exceed expectations for their play. If they all surpass expectations a little bit it will add up to a big difference in the won/loss record. If two or three players really step up their game, like say, Ike Diogu, Danny Granger, and Shawne Williams, then we'll really be on to something. As we dig through the end of summer waiting for camps to open up, I'll take a look at the roster and see what contributions each player can bring that would raise their game and the Pacers season above MY expecations, since topping other's expectations shouldn't be too hard.