Believe it or not, despite being 57 games into the season, Ed Tapscott said after his team’s 106-98 defeat against the 76ers, that he is still trying to get his players to buy into the importance of mental preparation. That missing mental toughness and sharpness was to blame, according to Tap, for the 21 turnovers, which led to 30 Philly points, for the lack of hustle and for the poor execution.
“Just not focused enough, not executing, and so, we’re really going to have to check where our preparation is before games. If that means I have to script a preparation period before the game for the last 20-something odd games, then I’ll check with the team captains and if it means I have to be out there an hour before games in my sweats before I come in and talk to you guys, we’ll do that.”
From being inside the locker room before game, I can tell you aside from Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Darius Songaila and for the most part, Dominic McGuire and Javaris Crittenton, there appears to be very little focus before games. Jamison and Butler and Songaila always have their pre-game rituals they go through, McGuire and Crittenton consistently study the game notes. Even Pecherov, who rarely plays, seems to take a pretty serious approach to the pre-game prep period. But otherwise, most of the guys — even supposed seasoned veterans like Mike James — are joking around.
Said Jamison: “It’s embarrassing for the coach to be saying that now. He’s been saying it pretty much since he took over and still, certain guys think it’s a joke, and you see it out there when they’re on the court. He’s done everything possible to have not only the vets, but everybody ready to play basketball, and there is a time when certain guys have to be professional and treat it as their job and be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared out there on the court and we need guys to step up when they’re out there and keep plugging away. Like I said, Coach is doing everything he needs to do to get us ready for when we’re on the court and we go out and do exact opposite.”