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Friday, December 14, 2007
The Elephant in the Room


During the shootaround, the Bobcat coaches kept harping on one particular theme: you big men -- do not front the post. As in, stay between your man and the basket.

In the scramble to blitz, recover, and rotate, it is a very natural thing for a player to deny the ball in the post for an instant or two. Everybody tried it at one time or another: Emeka Okafor, Walter Herrmann, Primoz Brezec. Every time it happened even a little the coaches stopped play. Nope nope nope. They did not want that. Anything but that.

Why?

No one spelled it out too clearly, but it is clear to all: Dwight freaking Howard.

Any time there's an ounce of daylight between Dwight Howard and the hoop, Carlos Arroyo, Hedo Turkoglu, or Jameer Nelson will be lobbing that ball up there, and Dwight Howard will be embarrassing everybody on SportsCenter.

Play after play, the teaching point was the same. And while the coaches had clearly not wanted to get everyone too wound up about one player -- you don't want to psych out your own team -- Howard was looming large all the same.

After a while, Coach Vincent just had to address it. "Let's not spend all the time thinking Dwight Howard is something that's going to kill us on the inside," he said, naming the thing everyone seemed to be worried about. "Just play him solid."

Okafor didn't seem to like the idea of just having to stand between Howard and the basket all night, either. "You're just going to have to move him out as far as you can," said the coach.

And if he catches it in the post? "Everyone is going to have suck in," said assistant coach Paul Mokeski, meaning there would need to be help nearby on all sides.

If that doesn't work? Hey, at least you get to be on SportsCenter.