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NCAA March Madness: Jazz star Gordon Hayward shares his memories - The Downbeat #1578

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The Jazz are feared in the East, are they likable though? Gordon Hayward's NCAA memories and thoughts. Meeting the new boss in town, and Ante Tomic news!

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Okay, so the Utah Jazz lost last night to the Washington Wizards. Overall the team went 15-15 against the East this season. That's not bad, right? I think it's pretty good. Against the East the Jazz averaged 93.7 ppg, while giving up only 92.7. While some people may poo-poo our epic defense it's fair to say that holding half the teams in the league to under 93 ppg isn't that bad.

The Jazz did sweep the Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers. For the most part these are the teams Utah needs to beat. It was nice to see them also go out there and win games against the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Chicago Bulls. All of this is evidence to me that the team is growing from just being a team that beats worse teams.

Beating the good teams matter. But more than winning? Playing good games is what matters most. The fact that the Wizards felt like puffing their chests and mean mugging after winning by 4 (while the Jazz went 4/22 from downtown and 12/24 from the stripe) . . . that just shows you how far the perception of this team has come.

Playoff teams in the East now feel like they accomplished something by beating the Jazz. It's been a long time coming.

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That sad, not everyone is crazy about us. Maurice Peebles (and other members of his group at Complex Mag) suggest that the Jazz are neither likable or unlikable, but are just not good at basketball.

Check out the full post here.

Objectively I think there are a bunch of teams that are better at basketball than the Jazz. I would only argue that perhaps the Bucks are worse, but a huge part of that is head to head record in my brain. By the same token the Pacers and Celtics, teams the Jazz are ranked ahead of here in quality, should be ahead of the Jazz. Why? Because those two teams swept the Jazz as well. So I guess head to head isn't the "be all, end all" of ranking.

Is the team likable, though? This has always been the issue. Even during the John Stockton / Karl Malone years people didn't feel like the Jazz, a team named after smooth music, wasn't fun to watch or root for. I think that Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Dante Exum, and Trey Burke are all very likable players, and in some cases, marketable.

They do play at a slower pace (well, slowest), so that hurts. They do still shoot a lot of threes and get dunks, but not as many as other teams. And there are less fastbreaks. Meh.

My initial feeling is to be upset about these rankings on the likable/unlikable and good/bad scales. But looking at it a little more closely I don't see the need to be upset about it. Maybe next year . . .

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It's March Madness time! Join our bracket here -- and you still can while the tournament begins! The password is " rudygobrt" to join! There are no prizes this year, but it's still going to be fun! Don't take my word for it, everyone loves March Madness!

Gordon Hayward recently blogged about his memories and experiences. He talks about why Butler was suited to make a long tournament run, their progress through the tournament, and all the other personal feelings that he is willing to share with the internet.

A few weeks ago, I had a moment of déjà vu that brought me back to the final moments of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

That's not a place I revisit that much, to be honest. You might wonder, "How could you not think about that and the way it ended all the time — especially this time of year?"

We were playing in Boston against the Celtics, who are coached by Brad Stevens, my former college coach at Butler. Like in the 2010 NCAA championship game against Duke, the game against Boston went down to the wire, and I had a chance to win the game with the ball in my hands. The way the play unfolded in Boston was pretty much exactly the same as the second-to-last shot in the national championship. I dribbled up, went behind the back, came back right and did a little step back shot.

This time, I made it, but the Celtics went on to win anyway on a great buzzer-beating play drawn up by Coach Stevens. I went up to him afterward and told him about how the shot I made reminded me of my miss in the final. Since we'd lost anyway, I told him, "I wish I could have hit the shot against Duke instead of the shot against you guys."

We had a good laugh about that.

Because we're always in the middle of our season every year when the NCAA tournament comes around, I don't get too much time to watch college basketball, or really think about Butler and the run we had. The only time I really reminisce a little bit is when I'm talking with people about it, or if I see ads for the NCAA tournament on TV. It's just that little reminder that it's almost the end of March, and that time of year is coming.

Another reason I tend not to think about it is because my mind immediately goes to what could have been, and what should have been. That's probably not necessarily what my memories should be. We had a great run despite the way it ended. But I can't help remembering the last few shots, and thinking, ‘Man, I wish I could shoot those over again.'

- Gordon Hayward, his personal blog, 2015

Check it all out here!

Of course, we have to watch this all over again. I bet this doesn't make him feel better about it.

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There's a new boss we all need to get to know, Steve Starks is now the President of the LHM Sports Properties. I'm excited. He seems excited too -- he tweeted this out!

I can't wait to get to know Mr. Starks and see where this new era of Utah Jazz basketball can take us all!

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Okay, we've held the reigns on writing extensively about Ante Tomic of late, but we have to now. Jorge Sierra busts out the straight dope for us all, in English, for HoopsHype. Is Ante Tomic ready for the NBA? Sierra writes:

Jazz draftee Ante Tomic has been more vocal recently about the possibility of moving to the NBA than ever before. This week, he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo that this is probably his "last train to the NBA" at age 28.

Tomic, who was selected by Utah as 44th overall pick in the 2008 draft, is widely recognized as the top center in European basketball these days. At 7-foot-2 and with an impressive array of offensive skills, he's extremely hard to stop when he's into it.

As far as talent, there's no question that he belongs in the NBA. It's the other things that have been suspect - most notably his attitude, competitive fire and love for the game. Euroleague powerhouse Real Madrid gave up on the Croatian big man in 2012 for those reasons... only to see him explode with arch rival FC Barcelona afterwards.

"What you heard when he was with Real Madrid is that he didn't like basketball enough, that this was just a job for him," an Eastern Conference scout told HoopsHype. "Also that in practice he would just put in the minimum effort required, he wouldn't do extra work there. Maybe that was not a good situation for him, but he's adjusted better to Barcelona and I believe he's matured a lot as a player. I think his progress has been more a matter of better attitude that actual skills development."

Tomic has indeed showed improvement over the last three years as a featured big man for FC Barcelona, going from 6.7 ppg and 3.7 rpg in 2011-12 to 11.7 ppg and 7.6 rpg (both career-highs) this season in Euroleague play. He has also delivered in big games, often punishing his former club in the capital of Spain with dominant performances.

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"He would be a good fit in Utah with such big guys," according to the Eastern Conference scout. "Gobert is all energy and hard work, but doesn't possess Tomic's talent. Tomic is just the opposite of him. That's a fantastic and complementary duo to have and I think Quin Snyder is a good coach that can get the best out of him."

Yes. Read it. It's got some good news, some bad news, and some ugly news. He's not a floor spacer (a guy like Mehmet Okur sure wouldn't been great last night), but he's an excellent passer and has a lot of experience in big games -- something NONE of our players have at this point, save for Hayward and Trey Burke, and Rudy Gobert (in National team play). I'd love for him to come over, it's almost now or never.