Thunder Blowout: What Changed?

1. More Ball Movement


I’ve previously been critical of the Thunder for going to spots on the floor and standing around while watching someone play 1 on 1.  These kind of plays were usually isolations for Durant or Westbrook or an alignment where someone posted up and kicked out for an outside shot when the double team came. On the play above, Westbrook dives in to the hoop. I like these aggressive, attack-the-hoop, kind of plays for the Thunder.

2. Better Defense in Screen Situations


Watch Westbrook above. He’s in the middle of the lane to start, and he’s chasing Curry. Thompson is setting a down screen for Curry, and Westbrook reads the pass and makes an incredible steal.

Go ahead and say it, Russell: “Eat it, Torg!” I’ve written previously that Westbrook so frantically chases the ball that he can’t keep track of his man. On the play above, Westbrook shows a lot of awareness of a lot of different things going on. He keeps track of the ball, the screener, and his man.

If I had ten seconds with the Warriors, I’d encourage the players to use ball fakes, especially when Westbrook is guarding a screener or cutter. A hard ball fake to Thompson here leaves Curry wide open for a three.

3. Intensity (duh, but check out this rebound)


Westbrook’s offensive rebound here exemplifies the intensity the Thunder brought to Sunday night’s game.

4. Props to Steven Adams


Adams gets a piece of Curry’s shot

Adams usually does a good job of getting out on shooters, and he has been the victim of shots he has contested well but Curry or Thompson still manages to make. This time, he blocks Curry’s shot.



Home Till January: Plans for Research Leave

When I’m looking to give my friends who work 9-5 jobs a hard time, I send them texts like this one:


Before texting my buddy, the plan for this post was to go on to explain that even though I technically don’t have to be back on campus for another 238 days, there’s actually a lot of work to be done. That thought was inspired by those who say to my wife, “Since Bill’s not working…”

There is an online course to teach this summer that involves a lot of preparation before it begins, and once it starts a lot of reading and responding to online texts and emails. I always say I like to read student writing, but sometimes there is just too much of it. However, nothing like a glimpse into my friend’s Office Space work life to spur me on to try and make the most of this opportunity I have to be away from campus.


one of my fav scenes from 1999 film Office Space

At St. John’s University where I teach, we faculty are fortunate enough that we still have the opportunity to be granted research leave. I was granted leave for the fall semester, and I’m feeling pressure to get myself organized to make sure I don’t misuse my opportunity. I know that I can be productive, but I want to be the right kind of productive. Below are some of the lists I’ve been working on so far.

Three Big Points of Emphasis:

  1. Family time including coaching lots of girls basketball
  2. Build Asheville creative connections: writing, film, comedy, performance
  3. Write or edit film first thing each morning
  4. Professional development
  5. Experiments in building online conversations around this website and the Torg Stories podcast

Projects to Work On:

  1. Short documentary film about students who come to the United States to study
  2. Article based on interviews done with students who are studying abroad in the United States
  3. Essays for a collection perhaps titled A Yankee in the South: Tales of a Native Hoosier… I don’t know what the end of that title is. When I first started dating my wife Megan, her mother used to tell people her daughter was “dating a Yankee.”  I’ve since learned that if you’re from places like Alabama, then the folks in Tennessee might be thought of as Northerners.
  4. Pitching films to friends that might involve juice cleanses and lawn mower races.

Items for the Daily Schedule:

  1. Write new stuff or edit film
  2. Work the girls out
  3. Teaching prep and reading student work (for summer)
  4. work out
  5. Read
  6. Write reflections on reading
  7. Podcast/blog work
  8. Professional development (Final Cut Pro X, sound mixing to start)
  9. look for publishing opportunities for written not published work
  10. Go out and about and meet people in Asheville
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the master plan for research leave is still evolving





OKC Can Play Better versus Warriors

All of the sudden, it’s hard to imagine how Golden State can stop Russell Westbrook or keep the Thunder off the boards. I think they can play even better tonight…

1. Westbrook could be more focused on keeping track of where Curry is on the floor.


With his frenetic energy and all-over-the-court presence, sometimes Westbrook can lose track of Curry. Here he lunges and gives Curry an easy one.

2. Don’t give away the switch so easily.


In a lot of the games I watch, it’s as if there is a rule in the NBA that teams have to switch ball screens. Many times, going under the screen is an option. With Curry and Thompson, a strong hedge or double team would be the best strategy.

3. When the double team comes, have a plan for where the ball will go.


I see Durant and Westbrook get in a hurry attacking an advantageous match up. Sometimes they back out when a double team comes or they kick out to a shooter for a corner three. I like Adams on the block as a place to go when the double team comes. Rather than trying to go fast, I like Durant using his height and Westbrook using his power.

4. You have sets OKC. Run them.


OKC can get in a rut spreading out and working isolation plays. It’s not so much to ask to get into one of their simple sets. This is one of OKC’s worst plays of the game. Of course, I make this pass plenty when I play. How can Kevin Durant?

This post doesn’t mean I think the Thunder are the favorites. Golden State can be much, much better if they get their shots out of their motion offense. When Curry and Thompson are coming off down screens, the screeners tend to get open a lot.

I’m writing for conversation. Love to hear what you think in the comments section!