20 Second Timeout: Bill Schoening Blog
Follow the team all season long with the 20-Second Timeout blog by Bill Schoening, The Radio Voice of the Spurs for the past 13 years. Bill has over 30 years of play-by-play experience including broadcasting Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA. *Timeout Archive: 20 Second Archive | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014| January 2015
Ettore Messina-A Sharp Basketball Mind
Bill Schoening | November 29, 2014
Prior to last Friday's home game with the Sacramento Kings, Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina admitted that there were a few butterflies as he prepared to call the shots with Head Coach Gregg Popovich recovering from a minor medical procedure. Even though Coach Messina's resume' is extremely impressive as a head coach (four Euroleague Championships), he had to adjust from being an assistant to acting head coach with the Spurs. "Now you have to make decisions on play calls and substitutions, so it's definitely different", said the 55 year native of Italy. "You ask yourself if the players will be ready to listen and follow instructions. Will they feel lost without their head coach? But all of the guys, especially the Big Three, have shown that they are big time pros, and that has helped me. It's like Coach Pop likes to say, 'they allowed me to coach them'. The Spurs are a team built on mutual respect with values that you dream to be the values of your life and work."
Coach Messina then went out and guided the Spurs to a 106-100 win over the Kings, gaining even more respect within the organization and around the NBA.
Defense Shows the Defense
Bill Schoening | November 25, 2014
Cleveland Cavs forward LeBron James had the ball on the right wing, isolated against Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. He dribbled to his right but could not turn the corner, then tried to maneuver to his left, but Leoard's long right arm interrupted his dribble. Then with the shot clock winding down, James was forced to take a contested off balance jumper that missed badly. James that evening shot just 6 for 17 from the floor, attempted just one free throw and scored only 15 points, as the Spurs defeated the Cavs 92-90 in what has become a rather typical early season victory for the Silver and Black. As of this writing, the Spurs lead the NBA in points allowed and are in the top five in several key defensive categories. "Usually it takes us 30 or 40 games to get there defensively", says veteran guard Manu Ginobili, "but this season we have had to rely on our defense more and we've been more attentive. Now if we can maintain our defense and improve offensively, that would be a good situation for us." The Spurs have been able to play a tough brand of defense despite the absence of starting center Tiago Splitter, who has been out with a calf injury. So even though the Spurs defense has been among the best in the league through the first four weeks of the season, there is still room for improvement.
Malik Still Fondly Remembered
Bill Schoening | November 18, 2014
Like many former Spurs' players and coaches, Malik Rose now works for another organization in the NBA, and even though Rose is back in his hometown of Philadelphia, providing expert (and often humorous) analysis for Sixers TV, he still has a soft spot for the Spurs. "I was so honored when they invited me to be part of the celebration and River Walk parade", says Rose, who was on a barge with a number of former players after the Spurs captured the 2014 Championship. Rose is still popular here, even though he hasn't worn a Spurs uniform in over nine years. Rose brought a blue collar toughness off the bench for the Silver and Black for parts of eight seasons, and was an important player on the first two title teams ('99 and '03). His grit, determination and work ethic on the court endeared him to Spurs fans. Before I was able to grab him for a three minute pregame radio interview Monday night, Rose was greeted by well wishers - including fans, media members, coaches, players and ushers. It seems like everyone remembers Malik Rose, truly one of the good guys in the NBA.
Kawhi's Quiet Confidence
Bill Schoening | November 12, 2014
We see it firsthand on an almost daily basis. Spurs' development coach Chad Forcier puts small forward Kawhi Leonard through some offensive drills. Ball handling, posting up, shooting off screens, corner 3's, etc. Through it all, Leonard is focused, almost steely-eyed. He is on the same page as Coach Forcier, following the instructions, step by step. Head Coach Greg Popovich told reporters this week, "He really is a Coach's dream. He does everything we ask of him." Leonard then went out and slowed down Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul, while scoring 26 points and coming up with key plays at both ends of the floor in a hard fought road win over the LA Clippers. Following the game, Leonard showed a growing maturity when he said, "We can't get discouraged if we turn the ball over or miss shots- we just have to keep working and good things will happen." With his work ethic, attitude and talent, it's easy to see why Pop calls Kawhi the future of the franchise.
Tears at Epinal
by Bill Schoening | November 3, 2014
I think it's a very cool thing that the NBA is recognizing the military during "Hoops for Troops" week which ends on Veteran's Day, November 11th. If there's an NBA franchise that appreciates the Armed Forces, it's the Spurs. From an iconic star (the Admiral David Robinson) to the longest tenured coach in professional sports (Gregg Popovich) there is a strong military influence. In honor of Hoops for Troops week, I thought I'd share a tribute song I wrote for my uncle-PFC Thomas F. Schoening, who was killed in action on January 19th, 1945 in eastern France. A visit to his grave in the summer of 2013 (with my sister Liz) inspired me. There are 5,000 Americans at Epinal Military Cemetery, most of whom were killed during the Battle of the Bulge.