Thursday, July 3, 2008
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Bearcats fans, but one day this November you will find yourself shouting the following line towards your Samsung television as the Bearcats play Athletes in Action (or whoever): I hate watching this guy play.
And the "this guy" will be former Withrow star Yancy Gates.
If you follow recruiting, you've heard the stories. The stories usually mention laziness and attitude problems. And if you're like me, you choose to ignore them and decide for yourself. Well, I decided to see for myself at the Deveroes League, and the results weren't pretty.
(Before going any further, let's get something straight: Yes, Gates is talented, and blessed with a spectacular body, but he's not the 6'9 superfreak he's made out to be. He's nowhere near as gifted as Dontonio Wingfield, and his raw athleticism isn't in the same galaxy as Kenyon Martin; his on-court movement lacks suddenness. And while he's been billed as a pretty good perimeter shooter, that is dubious. His technique is pretty awful--he's never squared up and his shooting motion is not unlike a Bill Cartwright free throw--and it takes forever for him to release it. This is a bad thing when you consider how much hovering Gates does near the three-point line.)
I've now seen him up close twice and I can tell you the horror stories are true.
Let's do some counting:
1. When he gets a defensive rebound (which is rare), he takes forever to outlet the ball (which stunts the fastbreak, a summer league staple) before jogging up court.
My take: The laziness factor doesn't bother me here nearly as much as the obvious selfishness. As a lover of fastbreak basketball--something Mick Cronin desperately wants--nothing aggravates me more than a big man who slowly outlets the ball because he won't be able to join the fun. This is horrible news for Cashmere Wright, who thrives on pushing the pace.
2. In a game last Tuesday Gates caught the ball about fifteen feet from the basket (between the extended elbow and the baseline) and passed the ball to an area where he expected a cutter. No cutter. Also, no big deal - after all, getting to know your new teammates is part of the equation with summer hoops, right? Wrong. It was a big deal to Gates. He threw up his hands at said non-cutter, as if to say, what's wrong with you?
My take: If you think I'm making a problem where there isn't one you didn't see what I did. His body language was terrible. I've played basketball with people like Gates--you probably have, too--and it's an awful experience. Basketball isn't fun when your teammates don't have your back.
3. Gates continually argued with "coach" D'Juan Baker during a timeout in last Tuesday's game.
My take: Gates was way out of line. Regardless of Baker's current role, he's still closely tied to his alma mater, and there to monitor the big man's growth.
Do I need to continue? Do I need to question his toughness, which is virtually nonexistent? I won't bother; I think you get my point.
(Something that warrants mentioning: I've never wanted to be so wrong about something as this. I'm rooting like hell for Yancy Gates. He plays for the Cincinnati Bearcats, and that happens to be my college basketball team of choice (that actually understates the matter; I throw things when they lose). I hope Mick Cronin can get him to play as hard as Danny Fortson. I hope Mick Cronin will disprove my belief that energy and effort are a matter of DNA. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it is in my dreams. I hope.)
Gates has been (at times) labeled as a savior. That simply isn't the case. I'm considering him a project with considerable upside. That way, I can rejoice if and when he becomes a contributor. As for now, I see myself truly despising his lacking heart and poor attitude. And I'm pretty sure you'll be joining me.
Hey, we've been there before with talented underachievers: Do the names Robert Whaley and Armein Kirkland ring a bell?
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)
Posted by Twin Killing dot Com at 11:04 AM