Q&A: Indy Cornrows (Part 1 of 2)

This Sunday's game in Oakland between the Warriors and Pacers is the first time Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and Ike Diogu will be playing at the Roaracle Arena in away jerseys. It will also be the second time the Warriors and Pacers face each other since the blockbuster 8 player deal almost a year ago. With all these big things coming up, we mic'ed up SBN brother Tom from Indiana Pacers blog Indy Cornrows to talk about the aftermatch of the trade and the Pacers.

Click Read More for Tom's report on how former Warriors Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and Ike Diogu are doing in Indiana, plus some insights on why Stephen Jackson didn't work out in Indy.

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Golden State of Mind: In his 6 years with the Warriors Troy Murphy gave the Warriors 3 double-double seasons of points and rebounds. While he put up nice numbers on the offensive end with his shooting, the biggest knock on him was his porous defense and lack of lateral movement. Do you think he will ever get back to those double-double numbers with the Pacers? Has he been the same defensive liability as he was with the Warriors inside or has he improved in that area? Does he fit well with Jermaine O'Neal?

Indy Cornrows: First of all, as a team the Pacers play pretty poor defense and Murph does his part. Jim O'Brien purports to use defensive effort as a primary factor in doling out playing time and at one point Murph was replaced as a starter in favor of Jeff Foster. Injuries forced a second chance for Murph and he has played quite well at times, especially his effort to keep the ball alive and track down rebounds. But the dude remains an enigma. One night he'll grab 15 rebounds or have the 3-balls flowing and appear indispensable, then the next night he's just taking up space. So, no I don't see consistent double-doubles in Murph's future. Jermaine O'Neal has struggled this season through a combo of injuries and a true uptempo system that can leave him behind, so Murph fits in fine with J.O. doesn't make or break O'B's system. Preseason visions of J.O. swinging passes out of the post to an open Murph for a 3-ball have yet to appear in the flesh. Basically, a productive night from Murph is gravy and rarely the difference between a win or loss. Fortunately, Murph does great work in the community offering everyone in town the chance to make it through the winter months without getting too pale.


Golden State of Mind:
One of the biggest knocks on Mike Dunleavy while he was with the Warriors was that he was a supposed shooter who couldn't shoot. Both Monty and Nellie's offenses got him plenty of open looks and his teammates created some good shots for him. However, he had some atrocious shooting percentages, shooting slumps that lasted weeks, and a strange habit of airballing wide open shots. After the midseason trade last year to the Pacers he 3pt percentage actually dipped from 34.6% to an unsightly 28.3%. So far this year he's at a career best from the field (48.6%) and from downtown (43.7%). What explains this big improvement? Given his shooting rate his previous 5 seasons do you expect this hot shooting to continue?

Indy Cornrows: When Dunleavy arrived here last year he was a mess. I swear he had the yips whenever he was open enough to think about his shot. His follow through would jerk his wrist to the left. Sometimes the ball would curve in the air. Crazy. I thought he should just give up on the 3s and stick with the 18-footer because that's where he had success. But this year has been completely different. Jim O'Brien's motion system has been able to generate good shots for Dun and his confidence is obvious. He's squeezing off shots without hesitation and has become reliable even when open behind the arc.

Prior to the current road trip, Dun put up two clunker shooting games in a row which I figured was a sign of things to come. But to his credit, he's put those games behind him and continues to shoot well. Dunleavy moves real well without the ball which often gets him easy shots. Jamaal Tinsley does a good job feeding Dun when he gets out and runs the floor. One Dunleavy staple this year has been the 18-footer curling off a screen from the free throw line extended. I have no numbers to back it up but I'm thinking he makes about 90% of those shots. Yes, that's an exaggeration but it seems like it in my mind. Dunleavy does disappear for long stretches of games and even whole games at a time. He usually does his damage in a couple of 5-8 minute stretches of a game.


Golden State of Mind:
) At the time of the trade a few hoops analysts including ESPN.com's John Hollinger claimed that the Pacers were big winners in last year's trade because they got Ike Diogu who has always managed to put up a gaudy PER. However, much like Warrior coaches Mike Montgomery and Don Nelson, Pacer coaches Rick Carlisle and Jim O'Brien have had Ike cemented to the bench. What does Ike need to do to get playing time with the Pacers? Do you think he will ever be a high impact player in the NBA? Do you think 10 years from now we'll be looking back on this deal as the Ike Diogu trade as Hollinger predicted?

Indy Cornrows: Ike is currently buried on the bench, verified by the fact he didn't play a minute against Phoenix even though Jermaine O'Neal was out injured and David Harrison nearly lost his mind the night before. Ike opened the season quite well, but only played three games before an injury shelved him for 23 games. The Pacers lost six straight games after Ike went down and some people actually pointed to his absence as a factor. A ridiculous thought, but it emphasizes how well he was playing at the time.

Since returning from injury, Ike has been unable to get his game in sync and he's pressing when he does play which doesn't help. You can tell he's thinking way too much. Ike's defensive liabilities will probably keep him anchored to the bench unless he begins to show some improvement in practice. I still think Ike can be a solid option off the bench but developing into a high impact player seem unlikely at this time. Honestly, in ten years the trade as a whole will end up being overrated.


Golden State of Mind:
Stephen Jackson was a controversial figure in Indiana and the Pacers seemed like they really wanted to get rid of him. Since the trade Jack has fit in better than anyone could have possibly imagined with the Warriors. Are you surprised he's become such a popular player with his teammates, the coaching staff, and the fans here in the Bay Area? Is there anything about his on court performance with the Warriors that surprises you?

Indy Cornrows: Stephen Jackson had a few factors working against him in Indiana. We all know about the problems he created himself, but one issue that wasn't his fault was the timing of his arrival as the Pacers' starting shooting guard. He was the man who followed the legend. Reggie Miller used to close out games at the line, Jack missed key free throws late in the games. Reggie made a career taking the big shots down the stretch to win games. He didn't make every game-winner but he made enough to star in most of the franchise's greatest moments. I recall one of the first games after Reggie retired, Jack had the game-winner in his hands. Everyone rose with anticipation out of habit from years of Reggie delivering. The shot bounced and the same thought filled the arena: Reggie is really gone and this guy is no Reggie Miller. So, Jack was playing under unrealistic expectations and even then, produced quite well. In fact, he did hit game winners, as I'm sure you recall prior to the trade last year. But was he Reggie? No.

The other problem Jack encountered was playing under Rick Carlisle. Jack was made for Nellie's system which tolerates freelancing and encourages firing shots early and often. The system combined with the environment at the Roarcle creates excitement and we all know Jack is excitable and thrives on the edge of chaos. With Carlisle calling plays out to a less than inspired Jamaal Tinsley, Jack was shackled. Try as he might, there were nights where he just couldn't get fired up and the apathy oozed from his game.

So, Jack's effort and popularity in Bay Area are not a surprise. One thing that is surprising is his consistency for the Warriors. I'm not saying it's 100%, but it is certainly improved. With the Pacers, Jack would have a solid shooting night, maybe 4 of 6 3-balls and would drive to the hoop causing problems for the opposing defense. But, in another game he'd go 1 for 8 where everyone in the arena would begin to moan as he dialed up the setter. Again, the fired-up mind set is the difference for Jack. He's bringing the effort every night so there are fewer off nights because he's 100% into it. Even if the shot isn't going, I imagine he's contributing in other ways.

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Look out for the second part of our Q&A with Tom sometime before the second and final battle this season between the Warriors and Pacers in Indiana this upcoming Wednesday.

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