From Offseason to Preseason
October 6, 2010 -
Kevin O’Connor did his job. Now it’s Jerry Sloan’s turn.
Following one of the busiest offseasons in team history, the Utah Jazz are now officially in preseason mode. Sloan has the not-insignificant task of integrating a plethora (can’t ever use that word without thinking of El Guapo on The Three Amigos) of new faces, most of whom will be expected to contribute in a big way. This was by no stretch of the imagination a typical Jazz summer.
To put things in perspective, it’s entirely possible that Deron Williams will be the only Jazz player to start the first game of both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. That’s big change, especially for a conservative franchise like Utah. You have to go back five years (Deron’s rookie season) to find the last time 3 starters changed from one season to the next. The Jazz have never changed 4 starters over one season in my 20+ years as a fan.
To put it lightly, Sloan has his work cut out for him.
That said, this may end up being one of his easier coaching years in recent history. Why, you ask? Because looking at this roster, I see more toughness and fewer egos. I see guys who are committed to working hard and getting better. I see guys who actually want to be on this team and seem to genuinely like each other. Music to Jerry's ears.
(I also see more size and athleticism than I ever recall seeing on a Utah team, but I’ll save that for another post.)
It can be tough to separate fact from fiction in the world of blogs and internet bulletin boards, but from everything I gather, this team seems to be on the same page. The new guys are all saying the right things, and the “inside” scoop is that all the players are particularly high on Jefferson, Hayward, and 2nd-round pick, Jeremy Evans.
I’m not ready to make my season predictions yet (I’ll wait to watch a few preseason games before doing that), but I’m feeling optimistic. Jerry has a big job to do, but I think he’ll do it well. And I think he’ll enjoy it.