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Craig Ackerman, Rockets Radio Studio Host, begins his fifth season as the studio host and substitute play-by-play announcer for the Rockets radio broadcasts. He also serves as the Houston Comets radio and television play-by-play announcer.

November 8, 2007
Plenty in Reserve

Ohhhh the luxury of having a bench!!!! Few teams have it, all want it and when they get it, they don’t want to let it go!!! It’s like knowing that you have a solid bullpen or you have Michael Turner backing-up LaDainian Tomlinson…oh wait…Norv Turner would probably destroy him too…as he’s done to LT this year…but, that’s a conversation for a different forum…BUT, seriously…leave it to Norv Turner to be the only man in the NFL to single-handedly stop the best player in the league!!!!!

Ok…that feels good…I had to get that off my chest….anyhow, back to basketball…

How good has the Rockets bench been? We all knew going in that this was going to be a deep team, but to witness it first hand has been even better. Your bench needs to be all about energy…see why Gregg Popovich has Ginobili coming off of the bench, when everyone in the world knows that he’s starting material…or Jason Terry for the Mavericks…Avery Johnson, after winning 67 games last year with Terry in the starting lineup decided that his speed and energy were better served as a shot in the arm as a reserve…unfortunately, it worked to the tune of 31 points against the Rockets!

Rick Adelman had Bobby Jackson in Sacramento…a perennial Sixth Man of the year Candidate…Rick Adelman has Mike James in Houston…same thing…tenacity, energy, toughness and a shot in the arm…

Luis Scola…true…he’s going to have his ups and downs, considering he’s a rookie and is not only adjusting to life in the NBA, but life in the United States…Scola hustles, plays with passion and gives the team the flexibility to play smaller and quicker when Yao is resting…

Bonzi Wells…no one on this team knows the staff and system better than Bonzi…he’s in shape…he’s determined and he owns the Spurs…

Dikembe Mutombo…he’ll play spot minutes, but his experience is invaluable…plus, if Chuck Hayes ever takes another elbow to his face and Scola is in foul trouble, then we can all be entertained with probably the tallest Twin Tower combination in NBA history with Deke in the middle and Yao playing the Four…

Luther Head…youth…quickness…confident 3-point Stroke…

Steve Francis…I had to include Steve in this conversation…and, yes…I realize he has yet to play, but that’s the beauty of the depth of this team…believe me…Steve is going to help the Rockets this year!

Big Chair…much like Big Chief Triangle…Rockets Assistant Coach Jack Sikma sits on the ultra-large, ultra-comfortable chair located on the Rockets bench…every good team needs an oversized chair…

Good bench play nets you approximately 25-35 points per night and all of the intangibles that come along with it…if you can get that every night, then you are going to be in good shape…presently, Rockets reserves are averaging 27 points per and at times, have out played the starters…ohhh the luxury of having a bench!!!

October 19, 2007
How about the Big Fella?

How ‘bout them apples! There have been many positive twists, turns and stories to discuss stemming from Rockets training camp and preseason play, and in my first handful of blogs this season, I’ll touch upon a couple beginning with Yao Ming.

Is it just me or do you get the feeling that he could be headed for an MVP type of season?! Initially, there was some concern or maybe more appropriately curiosity on how he would fit into Rick Adelman’s “Motion-Read and React” offense. Physically, could he keep-up with the Joneses’ and get up and down the floor quicker than he has ever been asked to do in his basketball-playing lifetime? Would working out of the high-post be counter-productive? Would he turn into Brad Miller…minus the corn-rows, or Vlade Divac, sans the smokes or Kevin Duckworth without the spare lbs?

Well, all of the above and then some have quickly and emphatically been answered and the ball has yet to be thrown into the air for REAL!!!! And, believe me…I realize you can’t put any stock into preseason #’s, so I won’t waste the time nor space discussing, but have you seen this guy? The proof is in the pudding…Unbelievable!!!! He appears as comfortable as he ever as during his time in Houston.

Yao still posses an ever improving and dominating, back-to-the-basket, low-block game. When in the high post he’s draining jumpers left and right. Plus, working further away from the basket as a serious offensive threat rather than a screen-setter takes full advantage of his size and feathery smooth passing ability (not to mention it opens driving and cutting lanes for everyone else)…and, to push the giddiness meter off of the charts, he’s rolling to the bucket and finishing with AUTHORITY!!!!

For whatever reason, Yao does not get the love nationally that I think he deserves and only time and 82 games will tell...BUT…I do think this is going to be the “Year of Yao” where he takes his game to another stratosphere and will garner serious consideration for NBA MVP!

That is all!