Andrew Monaco's M-Blog

Andrew Monaco serves as studio host and sideline reporter, along with play-by-play on select games, on Fox Sports Southwest, KENS and KMYS. He is the TV and radio play-by-play announcer for the Silver Stars, continues to do TV for the Rampage, (where he served as radio voice until the 2007–08 season) and handles TV on Austin Toros' telecasts. Prior to joining the SS&E family spent more than a decade covering a variety of teams.
M-Blog Archive: Nov. 2012 | Dec. 2012 | Jan. 2013 | Feb. 2013 | March 2013

Thoughts From First Playoff Weekend
by Andrew Monaco | April 23, 2013

Matt Bonner
Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty

The first weekend of the 2013 NBA Playoffs and I was in a city with no playoff representative, Dallas. It is always interesting to be in Dallas and listen to DFW-area sports talk radio offer its thoughts on the San Antonio Spurs.

Now it is time to pull the curtain back. The Fox Sports Southwest studios are in Dallas, not in San Antonio, and because Game 1 was on ABC, we originated Spurs Live from the studio.

In response to all your e-mails and tweets, and as you see right here on, every game from here on out in the series is broadcast by Fox Sports Southwest. And for future rounds, we will continue with Spurs Live immediately upon the conclusion of each telecast.

So with the Mavericks missing the postseason for the first time in 12 years, fans in Dallas are watching the two other teams in Texas, the Spurs and Rockets, and their neighbors to the north, the Thunder, all vie for the championship.

On my way to the airport Monday morning, I enjoyed listening to a discussion about the Spurs/Lakers series opener. After dissecting the game, the topic turned to the Spurs alternate jerseys. I was interested to see how they are received, and one host absolutely loved them. The other liked them, but admitted his judgment is clouded because he is partial to the clean, classic Spurs’ white home jerseys.

I don’t harbor any illusions that Mavs fans will suddenly become Spurs fans. The I-35 rivalry is too delicious for that. But one thing allies Mavs and Spurs fans and that is a mutual dislike for the Lakers.

One unsettling thing was the utter laziness to say all the playoff series are over. To me, it is more of a sports talk thing. If a team wins, it is the greatest team in the world. If that same team loses, then it is the worst team ever in the history of sports. Hyperbole put in there for effect.

Sports talk is a snapshot, an instant reaction and it is great to get the fans’ reactions. But seasons – and series – need to be played out. Every season, every series has ebbs and flows to it. The nature of the sports talk business doesn’t always allow for that kind of wait-and-see patience.

One other trend in the sports business I would like to see amended is when sports networks tell me what to expect in a game. Let it play out! My problem is that if the presumed result does not occur, it’s not about the game itself, but how the prognostication was wrong. “That wasn’t supposed to happen,” becomes the sports network’s cry. Then it is not about the team that won, but about what’s wrong with the team that lost. Put whatever team you would like in that category. You have a pretty good idea who I am referring to. I just do not like that trend, and wish it would change.

I have always said that the greatest reality show on television is sports. Unscripted moments. Unbelievable moments. Let’s keep it like that.

No Quit in Danny Green
by Andrew Monaco | April 8, 2013

Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty

What do you do when someone tells you no? If you are the Spurs’ Danny Green, you work hard on your game, get advice from your most-trusted friends and coaches and prove you belong.

Last year, Green blossomed in his first full season with the Spurs, Green played in all 66 games, averaging 9.1 points per game and shooting 44% beyond the arc.

This season, he’s been even better, and just as dependable, perhaps even indispensable. His scoring is up, averaging double figures, and he has consistently been in, or near, the top-5 in three-point shooting.

But it wasn’t always like this. Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning the national championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels, he played just 20 games with the Cavs, and two with the NBA Development League Erie BayHawks.

After the Cavs waived him, he signed with the Spurs and appeared in eight games. Once again, though, he was waived and picked up by Sioux Falls in the D-League player pool. He never played for the Skyforce.  Instead, he was traded to Reno, where he blossomed for the Bighorns and head coach Eric Musselman. Danny averaged over 20 points per game in his 16-game stint with Reno, before receiving a call up by the Spurs.

I’ve known “Muss” since he was an assistant with Chuck Daly and the Orlando Magic, through his tenures as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings.  We’ve even done TV together. And I’ll still get a text or a tweet from him after a big Danny Green game.

Musselman told me Danny is one of the smartest, as well as one of the best players he’s ever coached. Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak were also on that team in Reno, and Musselman claimed that when that trio was on the floor, he stayed out of their way. He joked he didn’t want to mess anything up with his coaching, that they could handle everything.

So Danny was back. But what about in between, when he was no longer an NBA player? When he was trying to get back in to the league? That’s when he turned to someone he trusted, UNC head coach Roy Williams. The same Roy Williams who makes time to visit all his former players (North Carolina and Kansas) and who had seen Danny in Cleveland and in San Antonio.

Danny told Jeff MacDonald of the San Antonio Express-News in an article during the rodeo road trip that his visit with Coach Williams helped.

“Coach Williams, even he had doubts,” Green said in the article. “He had some good things to say, he also had some reality checks. Sugar-coating is only going to hurt some people. Honesty is what’s going to make you a better player and a better person.”

Even though Danny Green won a national title, he never felt entitled. He was not afraid, and perhaps more importantly, was willing to work even harder, to become a valuable member of the Spurs.

Kawhi's Steady Improvement
by Andrew Monaco | April 1, 2013

Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty

For a guy who seems amazingly grounded, the sky seems to be the limit for Kawhi Leonard.

He played two seasons at San Diego State before being drafted by the Spurs in the 2011 NBA Draft.

If at first you said, "Who?" Now you say, "Wow!"

We heard, then watched, the defensive prowess of Kawhi in his rookie season, earning the confidence to guard the other teams' best player every night.
Not only has his defense gotten better, but also his offense.

Should we be surprised? Not at all. As Gregg Popovich told me in a pregame interview when I asked him about Kawhi always wanting to get better. Pop agreed, but added, "He doesn't just want to get better. He wants to be great."

"That" cannot be taught.

Look back to his San Diego State days and recognize how much he has improved his numbers, especially beyond the arc. He shot 21% his freshman year, then 29% as a sophomore. As a Spur, he shot even better, despite the longer three-point distance in the pros. He's at 38% now, and it's not just corner threes, but also from the wing and above the break.

That same trend continues from the free throw line. As a freshman, 73%, sophomore 77%, NBA Rookie 78% and this season 84%.

His scoring and rebounding improved as an Aztec and again as a Spur.

Pop added that Kawhi's entire offensive game is expanding. He said Kawhi is playing more in the middle if the floor and reading what the defense is giving him. As for his defensive ability, we've seen how he converts a steal into a rim-rattling dunk at the other end of the floor.

Kawhi's success, according to Pop, who spoke begore the Spurs win over the Clippers, comes from Kawhi himself, Kawhi's mom and Kawhi's teammates. "His personality was formed before he got here," Pop said. "Kawhi is Kawhi. Seeing the work ethic that Timmy puts forth or Manu or a number of other players is certainly a great way for a young kid to enter the league that’s for sure."

Pop added, "Even if we didn’t have that, his mom did a heck of a job with him. He wants to be great. He is a worker. He is a sponge with information. That is just the way he is.”
And that's the way the Spurs are.