Hasseltine

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Although the Memphis Grizzlies find themselves better than .500, they’ve struggled to beat the league’s upper-echelon teams. Grizzlies radio play-by-play announcer Eric Hasseltine joins the show to discuss Memphis’ early struggles, caused primarily by uncharacteristically poor defense and a lack of perimeter shooting. With Zach Randolph really showing his age and Mike Conley Jr. starting slow, Eric believes Marc Gasol needs to consistently be aggressive for this team to succeed. Many other fascinating topics are discussed, including Mario Chalmers’ impact, these juicy bites below and much more:

6:40-8:00: On why the Grizzlies have struggled: “They feel like their defense can get better. They’ve certainly faced some of the elite teams right off the bat. They’ve played Golden State twice, San Antonio twice, Dallas twice, Oklahoma City twice, the Clippers and the Rockets twice. They haven’t faced the teams that you’d think you can pile up wins on. Nonetheless, they’ve got to do a better job against the good teams. They’re not trusting each other the way they used to. Their offensive sets are not crisp…not solid when they’re moving the ball, so they don’t get a bucket, and then they give up a bucket. Next thing you know, you’re down six, eight points. Now you’re gonna press offensively…and that puts a lot of pressure on the defensive end.”

9:45-10:35: On the need for Marc Gasol’s leadership: “Some nights, he is uber-aggressive and wants to be the lead dog…other nights he’s so team-oriented that he feels like he needs to get other guys involved. When Marc catches, turns, and shoots from 17, 18 feet…it’s hard to stop him. When he does that on a regular basis, it makes teams have to come out on him. But Marc is so basketball savvy and team-oriented that he doesn’t want it to be all about him. The problem is (Memphis has) paid him to be one of those guys…He’s learning how to be that guy, because he’s never been in his career. It’s always been a 1-2-3 punch of Randolph, Gasol and Conley sharing those duties. Now it’s a lot more on Marc’s shoulders. I think he’s ready and willing to take that on.”

14:05-15:40: On Mike Conley’s struggles: “Teams are just backing off. Not a lot of guys worried about the perimeter…so teams are just packing it in…so Mike would get by his defender with relative ease because he’s that quick, but when he gets in the lane, there’s a 6-8, 6-11 guy defending the rim. He’s learned a little teardrop runner. He tried to come back bigger and stronger than he needed to be. At times he has been learning to play at the weight he came in with and the muscle he put on. The shots were routinely long, his quickness wasn’t quite what it used to be. And he’s still banged up, but I think he’ll turn the corner and find his game real quick.”

20:40-22:30: On coach Dave Joerger finding a cohesive defensive group: “The rotation has to do with the age factor, with the lack of depth because of the injury to Brandan Wright, and with the emergence of Matt Barnes and the decline of Tony Allen. Allen’s a first-team all-defender, but this year, a lot of times he’s (gotten) caught gambling trying to get steals he has gotten in years past…really leaving his teammates in a tough position. Add in not having a guy who can protect you (there). It used to be Tayshaun Prince. Now it’s Jeff Green. And…he’s never been a lockdown defender…He’s (Joerger) trying to find a group out there that will..cut down the dribble penetration…take away some of the open looks…trying to put together guys that will become a cohesive unit. He feels like he’s found that unit starting Conley and Courtney Lee with Barnes, Green and Gasol in the frontcourt.”

30:05-31:30: On the legendary status of Vince Carter and his impact on the Grizzlies now: “He’d love to play, but he understands the situation…You still, every now and then, see those young legs that had the spring…he was one of the best high-risers the game has ever seen…absolutely (a Hall of Famer), over 20,000 points, an eight-time All-Star, and his teams have won…He changed basketball by the way he played…gave basketball in Canada the biggest shot in the arm. Look at the influx of young talent from Canada in the league…Canada’s got really good basketball right now. The reason is (that) these kids (who) were 12, 13 years old when Vince Carter was playing for the Raptors are now 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and even younger than that…When you do engage him, he’s one of the most humble superstars I’ve ever been around.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod