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Step Your Game Up: Jeff Foster

[With expectations lower than the White River this August, the Pacers simply need to play well in order to surpass the pundits prognostications. But just playing well probably won't be enough to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. What the Pacers need is for each player to raise their game a little so that the combined effect will help the team exceed expecations to the point of an exciting, entertaining, dare I say, FUN season. We do remember how to have fun don't we? With this in mind, I'm looking at that little extra a player may add to move the Pacers in the right direction this year.]

During the 2006-07 season Jeff Foster morphed into an aging veteran with easily defined expectations under Rick Carlisle. During Carlisle's reign you could pencil Foster in for around 22 minutes, 4 to 8 points, 8 to 12 rebounds, and 3 or 4 missed put back bunnies per game. He would spill his guts for every second he's on the floor, showing no trepidation in banging with Shaq or challenging Kevin Garnett on the defensive end. This usually garners him 3-5 fouls, of which, at least 2 are "star treatment" calls bailing out the superstar.

Foster has started the past few seasons appearing to have raised his game in the offseason only to gradually slow down throughout the year while battling some nagging injury. Still with the fresh and productive start each of the past 3 or 4 years there was always a feeling that Foster's game matured. But, now, after nine years in the league, any hopes of big time, Dennis Rodman type production from Foster just aren't realistic.

What can we expect from Jeff Foster?
I consider Foster a huge wild card for the Pacers this year under Jim O'Brien. Foster was well suited for Carlisle's half court sets. With O'B's plans to run and gun more this year, I'm having a hard time imagining Foster's role with the team, other than spot post duty off the bench. He will defend and rebound like a motha so for that alone he should earn some burn with O'B. Over the past four years Foster has averaged around 6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, so unless he gets buried on the bench, I expect him to at least match those numbers.

What can Foster do to exceed expectations?
Foster can begin exceeding expecatations by taking full credit for ripping it up on a flight to Vegas this summer. Hey, we're looking for a little Rodmanesque production, you gotta start somewhere. Actually, we're looking for a bump in production. That little bit extra from each player to help the whole team rise to great heights. With his role in limbo, I'd be ecstatic with a healthy Foster averaging 10 rebounds for 82 games. Man, that would go a long way with this team. Also, about the missed bunnies. If he could cash in 4 out of every 5 uncontested putback opportunities, I'd be over the moon. Combine the putbacks alone with the double-digit boards and suddenly, Foster is lethal.

Come on, Jeff! Step your game up!!!

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