The Play That Got Andray Blatche Benched
As a player, Andray Blatche didn’t do anything particularly egregious in his seven minutes of action on Tuesday night, which, for the record, is only about 0.0007 of seven days. But as a person, as a teammate, that’s a different story.
Actually, Blatche didn’t do much of anything, especially rebounding, of which he achieved zero compared to 11 boards by the Charlotte Bobcats, seven offensive, while he was on the floor.
Andray took some shots, five of them, making two. None of them were absolutely terrible, aside from not really following Flip Saunders’ edict to drive to the basket as the Bobcats seemed to be able do with ease. Blatche did drive to the hoop once for a dunk. Ironically, late in the game that basket was displayed on the Verizon Center jumbo-tron as the Volkswagen “Drive of the Game.”
Blatche’s worst shot came right before Flip took him out the game. But Saunders, at least according to him, didn’t intend to call out Andray for taking ill-advised shots.
“He thinks I yell at him because he takes bad shots,” Saunders said after the game. “He’s taken twice as many shots as anybody. You know, I don’t yell at too many guys for taking bad … I might tell them to go to the basket more instead of settling and those type of things, but you know what? That’s my job. If you don’t want to be coached, then you’re in the wrong spot.”
Judging from the coach’s comments, Blatche assumed that he was going to get chastised for his shot selection and immediately shut down his ability to listen. Instead, Saunders said after the game that he wanted to speak with his player about not getting back on defense.
“We wanted to talk to him about not getting back on defense, not cross-checking where Mike [Miller] got handled. He didn’t want to hear it,” said the coach.
Andray’s comments today confirm that he thought he was going to get chastised for shot selection. Blatche told 106.7 The Fan, “I thought it was gonna be about shot selection, and it was too early to be talking about that,” he said. “So I just went over to the bench and sat down.”
I can even begin to account for how horrible this sounds. Blatche also told 106.7 that he never said he didn’t want to go back in the game and that no coaches approached him to talk, etc., etc. … a bunch of “he said, he said” stuff.
Although, for the record, Blatche did tell Mike Wise that Sam Cassell talked to him on the bench and Gene Banks spoke with him in the locker room.
Still, none of that matters. The fact is that Blatche ignored his coaches to start. He has no ground to stand on, especially since he didn’t elect to take the high road when talking to The Mike Wise Show Wednesday afternoon on 106.7 The Fan, transcript via the DC Sports Bog:
“I don’t feel I did nothing wrong.”
False. Looking past Blatche’s double-negative, he did do something wrong by deciding himself, as a player and not a coach, what should and should not be talked about at any point of the game.
“…if anybody was at the game that sits front row, that sits second or third row, they would see I was sitting on the bench, I had a heat pack, getting ready to play.”
Talk about lies. Blatche made a point to sit at the very end of the bench and in no manner ever acted like he wanted to play nor was even involved in the game, aside from giving his buddy Nick Young some love after he performed well.
“To me, I think this will all go away if I receive an apology.”
Um, okay. Again, maybe Flip exaggerated the situation … but I doubt he was lying … and maybe Saunders should not have aired everything out with the media, but this statement from Blatche is not the humble road he should be taking, especially with the guy who controls his playing time.
Moving on …
Let’s take a look at the worst shot Blatche took, which was immediately followed, I believe, by the poor defensive possession for which Saunders wanted to speak with him about.
It’s pretty clear that JaVale has decent post position here. Why not pass him the ball?
Okay sure, having that position is one thing, holding it against Theo Ratliff, a good defender even in his old age that’s about 5,390 days older than McGee’s, is another thing. A third thing is what McGee might have done with the ball … A strong big man move using his length? Or some crazy wild scoop hook thingee? Who knows.
Regardless, Blatche took a tough, off-balanced, fading shot over Boris Diaw and missed. Again, not terrible and not something for which a coach would usually bench his top player for the rest of the game.
It was Blatche’s assumption, his refusal to be coached, which stands as the reason people are writing and talking about his immature actions today. Seems tragic, but what hasn’t been this season?
In any case, what followed Blatche’s shot is his man, Diaw, sprinted down the court while Andray broke out into a light trot … that getting back on defense part. Mike Miller, who as a guard, was back on defense as he was supposed to be. However, that is only supposed to be until Blatche can get back to “check-down.”
You see, Diaw is not completely a post player, but he’s post enough to get position on Miller, which he did. Blatche is kind of milling around the area, but he’s not “checking-down” (at least this is what I’m assuming), and going down to cover Diaw, allowing Miller to get back out to the perimeter before it’s too late.
When it is too late, i.e., when Diaw has the ball under the hoop, Blatche finally goes to help … but falls for a pump fake and goes flying right by.
Diaw ended up passing the ball out to Stephen Jackson who fired, and missed, a wide-open three. Notice how Blatche is probably in one of the worst possible positions to rebound Jackson’s miss. He’s standing straight up, just watching the ball. Seems lackadaisical.
See Dray here? He’s still in a pretty bad position to rebound Jackson’s miss, but now he also seems to be cowering while the decrepit Ratliff is high in the air and rebounding the ball with two hands. Al Thornton tried to block out Ratliff, but he was also trying to block out Gerald Wallace.
And for good measure, Ratliff dunking his rebound while Andray appears to be lending his support.
And then James Singleton checked in.
Dan Steinberg has a post on the DC Sports Bog showing what Blatche looked like afterward on the bench, and he’s some more from Truth About It.net photographer Adam Douglas.
Sure, you’ll notice that Nick Young is gazing up at the jumbo-tron, but he’s also not purposefully disconnected from the huddle/his teammates.
And all of this from a guy who thinks he did nothing wrong. Yeah, right.