20-Second Timeout: March 2012

Follow the team all season long with the 20-Second Timeout blog by Bill Schoening, The Radio Voice of the Spurs for the past 10 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 |
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Deeper Than They've Ever Been?
by Bill Schoening | Mar. 27, 2012

Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson
(D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)
Spurs television analyst Sean Elliott has been around the Spurs organization since his rookie season of 1989, and he makes no qualms about it. He believes the newly retooled 2011-2012 Spurs have the deepest roster in franchise history.

The acquisition of versatile forwards Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw give the Spurs a ton of flexibility at both ends of the floor. If the Spurs can be healthy and whole for the stretch run, their second unit will be perhaps the best in the league.

Since Danny Green has developed chemistry with the first team, head coach Gregg Popovich may opt to keep bringing Manu Ginobili off the bench. It is a strategy that has worked very well in the past. Ginobili and Tiago Splitter would make a good pick and roll duo, and that threat would leave open shots for guys like Matt Bonner and Gary Neal. Boris Diaw has shown a penchant for passing and post defense, and Stephen Jackson's toughness, length and experience make him a difficult matchup. We haven't mentioned Australian point guard Patty Mills. If he can come in and run the offense for brief stretches, that would be an added bonus.

The Spurs recent sweep of a back-to-back-to-back was impressive, but even more so when you consider that one member of the big three missed each game. Splitter missed all three games and Neal sat out for two of them.

This is further proof that the Spurs' depth has been a critical element to the team's success this season.

Bowen Rightfully Honored
by Bill Schoening | Mar. 22, 2012

Bruce Bowen
(D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)
There are many reasons for fans to embrace Bruce Bowen, who was honored Wednesday night at the AT&T Center. The Spurs retired the #12 jersey worn by the defensive stalwart during his eight years with the Silver and Black.

Bowen, in many ways, is a common man. Bruce was not born into a lap of luxury in Fresno, California. He attended a college best known for its baseball program, Cal State Fullerton. Since NBA personnel folks weren't exactly beating down his door, it was off to France. Bowen had brief stopovers in other NBA cities, such as Boston and Philadelphia. It wasn't until he arrived in San Antonio, however, in 2001, that Bowen felt like he was fitting in and contributing to the greater cause.

Bowen's consistency was remarkable. He was constantly asked to guard the best perimeter player for the other team. He accepted the challenge regardless of how difficult it might be. LeBron James, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash all were subject to Bruce's wiry 6’7” frame getting in the way of what they wanted to establish.

Bowen started for a franchise record 500 straight games, and while he will be remembered for his tenacity and ability to irritate opposing teams and players, his community involvement was off the charts. Ribbon cuttings, Chamber of Commerce functions, chats with school kids, Bowen was the go to guy for community involvement. His laid back personality and charm made him easy to like.

On the floor, that personality was transformed into an intense competitor that didn't like surrendering any baskets. It was that type of selfless dedication that gained him popularity with his teammates and with die hard Spurs fans around the NBA.

Seeing Banks Brings Back Memories
by Bill Schoening | Mar. 14, 2012

Gene Banks
(photo courtesy of Bill Schoening)

He is now an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards. He carries a few more pounds than he did back in the day but he is fit and looks like he could still box guys out, rebound and hit baseline jumpers.

When Spurs fans think of Gene Banks, they likely recall the athletic 6'8 power forward who spent four solid seasons with the Silver and Black in the early '80s. A late first round pick in the '81 draft, Banks averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds and shot over 54% from the floor during his time with the Spurs. He was traded to Chicago for Center Steve Johnson and a second round pick in the summer of '85.

My memories of Banks go back further, a lot further. My earliest recollection of Gene Banks is when we were both 15 year old sophomores in high school. I was writing for my school newspaper, covering the basketball team. Banks was gaining lots of attention around the city of Philadelphia for his scoring and rebounding for a high school powerhouse, the Speedboys of West Philly High.

After a stellar high school career, Banks was recruited by nearly every major college in the country, and chose Duke. Along with guard Jim Spanarkel and center Mike Gminski, Banks helped put Duke on the college basketball map. While at Duke, one of his teammates was Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland.

Banks has fond memories of his time in San Antonio and had a chance to visit with Stan Albeck prior to the Spurs-Wizards game on March 12th. Banks embraced his former NBA coach with a warm hug and bright smile. Banks looked like an excited teenager. It brought me back to a time 37 years ago, when Gene was a high school sophomore playing at West Philly High.

UT Tradition Takes Root in NBA
by Bill Schoening | Mar. 8, 2012

T.J. Ford and Cory Joseph
(D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images)

When I first began working for the Texas Longhorn Radio Network in 1989, there were very few Longhorns who had been successful in the NBA. My only recollection of Slater Martin was some grainy black and white footage of him playing for the Minneapolis Lakers in the '50s. Johnny Moore's very promising career with the Spurs was cut short by illness. La Salle Thompson did enjoy a solid professional career that spanned 15 seasons. Lance Blanks and Travis Mays had shorter stints, and of course Lance has been successful in the front office. After that, however, there wasn't much burnt orange in the NBA.

You have probably noticed that things have changed. Prior to last Friday night's game with Charlotte, I saw three generations of UT point guards...TJ Ford, DJ Augustin, and Cory Joseph. Two nights later, Jordan Hamilton is hitting a shot against the Spurs for Denver. Two of the best young players in the NBA, Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, are former Horns. Even during the offseason, we saw lots of Maurice Evans, who served on the players union negotiating team. So these days you can see former Longhorns all over the NBA, playing on high definition screens . No more grainy black and white required.