20 Second Timeout: January 2013

Follow the team all season long with the 20-Second Timeout blog by Bill Schoening, The Radio Voice of the Spurs for the past 12 years. Bill has over 30 years of play-by-play experience including broadcasting Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA. *Timeout Archive: October 10 | November 10 | December 10 | January 11 | February 11 | March 11 | April 11 | December 11 | January 12 | February 12 | March 12 | April 12 | May 12 | October 12 | November 12 | December 12

Under the Radar... Again!
by Bill Schoening | Jan. 31, 2013

(D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty)

Ok, it's time for my annual column about the Spurs "flying under the radar". I actually think that catch phrase was designed specifically for the Spurs. When I first started broadcasting for the Spurs in 2001 it used to irritate me that the Spurs would routinely be dismissed by the national media as a mere afterthought. Now I just find it humorous.

Even though the Spurs are consistently among the teams with the best records in the NBA, the Spurs never are the top story on SportsCenter, unless they are playing the Heat or Lakers.

I appear regularly as a guest on radio talk shows around the country, and the hosts are often shocked or surprised that the Spurs are at or near the top of the standings. Guys, they have been there for years...just pay attention! This preseason, most of the NBA chatter centered around the Lakers putting together an all star team to challenge the Thunder for the right to play Miami in the Finals, nary a mention of the Silver and Black.

When the Lakers struggled early , fired Coach Mike Brown, hired Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson, then continued to struggle they were still the top NBA story. I just heard a national commentator proclaim the Lakers are "back", thanks to their current three game winning streak. As of this writing, the Spurs have won nine straight (and seventeen in a row at home) but they didn't make the discussion.

In fact, another national show host said LA is fine, they just have to avoid top seed Oklahoma City in the first round. The Thunder may very well earn the top seed in the West, but there's a team in SA that is currently the number one team in the west. That's why I laugh it off now.

There's really no need to get upset about the lack of national coverage. If the Spurs keep playing well and have another deep playoff run, everyone will take notice, and the Spurs may even make the lead story on Sportscenter.

Until then, enjoy the most consistent professional sports franchise in the past 15 years. I know I will.

Bonner's Love of Music
by Bill Schoening | Jan. 23, 2013

(photo courtesy of Bill Schoening)

I will never forget the day the Spurs acquired Matt Bonner in the summer of 2006. I was having a late lunch with my son Karl when I got a call from Raptors' television voice Chuck Swirsky (now the radio voice of the Chicago Bulls). Swirsky and I had known each other since the early '90s, when he was broadcasting DePaul basketball and I was on the Texas Longhorn Radio Network. Anyway, Swirsky called to tell me the redheaded forward the Spurs had just picked up in a trade (for Rasho Neterovic) would immediately become one of my favorite guys to work with.

Chuck talked of Matt's easy going nature, sense of humor, and most importantly, his love of music. It turns out Swirsky was right. Bonner really is a blue collar, regular guy next door who just happens to rank twelth all time in three point field goal percentage for a career. He not only loves music, he is close friends with a number of musicians, including members from bands like War on Drugs and Arcade Fire.

When I invited Matt to attend a show by my good friend Kenn Kweder (a Philly singer/songwriter/entertainer/troubadour) I had no idea that he would make it a point to attend Kweder shows whenever we were back in my hometown. Kenn had a matinee gig on the University of Pennsylvania campus on Sunday, and not only did the Red Rocket attend, he brought along his brother Luke, who played hoops at UMass and then overseas). Bonner's favorite Kweder song is the "Ballad of Manute Bol", a tune about the late 7'7 Sudanese center, who played for Washington, Philly and Golden State. The worlds of music and sports collide quite often, and it's good to know guys like Matt Bonner have a passion for both.

Student of the Game
by Bill Schoening | Jan. 16, 2013

(photo courtesy of Bill Schoening)

Most of you who read this blog (I'm old school...I call it a column) know that I try to be in tune to the history of the game. It's why I enjoy writing a daily feature on WOAI and The Ticket called "Spurs Playback," where I look back at an event or a game that happened on that particular date.

My 21 year old son Karl, however, is much more of a basketball historian that I am. He has read lots of books on the old ABA and even has a collection of ABA jerseys that includes Connie Hawkins, Marvin "Bad News" Barnes, and George "The Iceman" Gervin.

When he learned that Hubie Brown was the analyst for ESPN Radio last season during the Western Conference Finals, he wanted to show off his 1975 Artis Gilmore jersey from the Kentucky Colonels.

Hubie coached that Colonels team to the ABA title and he still wears his championship ring. Coach Brown thought it was cool that a young fellow who was born 15 years after the ABA folded knew all about Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, and Artis Gilmore.

Now if I can just get him to focus on his Biology Class at Texas State!

Malik's Homecoming
by Bill Schoening | Jan. 8, 2013
Malik Rose
(Lisa Blumenfeld/NBAE/Getty)

When former Spurs forward Malik Rose accepted the 76ers' offer to be their full time television analyst, it was a homecoming for Rose, who was born and raised and played college ball in the City of Brotherly Love.

As much as Rose loves his hometown and enjoys his gig (he's now in his second season) Rose makes no bones about it: he misses San Antonio.

When the Sixers came to town last week for a game with the Spurs, Malik's schedule was hectic. "Even though I was born in Philly, this is home too", says Rose, who played eight seasons with the Silver and Black. "Everyone has always been great here. I am just always upset that I don't have enough time to spend with everybody. My TV producers (with the Sixers) are awesome. They allowed me to skip our pregame production meeting because they knew I had so many people to greet and say hello to. It's always that way here."

As soon as I completed my pregame radio interview, Rose was whisked off to do another interview, and then it was time to sign a few autographs and shake a few more hands.

For Malik Rose, Philadelphia is not the only city for brotherly love. There is plenty of that in San Antonio as well.

Spurs Get Offensive
by Bill Schoening | Jan. 2, 2013
Tony Parker
(D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty)

As the calendar year of 2012 came to a close, the Spurs were riding a six game winning streak and most players and coaches wanted to talk about their steady improvement on defense. That is completely understandable since defense has been a point of emphasis for the Spurs since they convened for training camp three months ago.

During that 6 game stretch at the end of December, opposing teams averaged just 90 points per game.

The eye popping numbers, however, have come from the Spurs' offense, where they rank in the top five in the NBA in virtually ever important category.

As of this writing, the Spurs rank 1st in assists, 2nd in field goal percentage, 3rd in 3 point field goal percentage and 3rd in scoring. They are hitting free throws at a 79% clip, good for 5th in the league. Former Spurs assistant PJ Carlesimo, now the interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, said trying to defend the Spurs is extremely difficult.

Carlesimo told me last week,"It starts with trying to keep Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili) out of the paint, then you have to worry about Timmy (Duncan) and Tiago (Splitter) inside, then they've got all these shooters who space the floor. Some of these guys deserve to be double teamed, but then they pass so well, they consistently find the open man."

PJ was prophetic. An hour after our visit, the Spurs shot 59% from the floor in a 104-73 Spurs win.