SportsProf

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Check out the Indiana Pacers' Roster

and tell me if you think that the remaining players can win 10 of the games that Jermaine O'Neal misses.

Because I cannot.

It is time for two players with a ton of promise to step up and take charge, PG Jamaal Tinsley and F Jonathan Bender, who skipped college and entered the league 5 years ago with great but as yet unfulfilled expectations. Scott Pollard will get a charitable reference as a role player, Reggie Miller is 39 years old, and Austin Croshere is an eighth man. Freddie Jones is a short 2G at 6'2", and David Harrison is a raw 7' center out of Colorado.

As Gertrude Stein once said upon visiting Oakland, California, "There is no there there." I still don't totally know what she actually meant, but putting it in a language Casey Stengel would understand, the roster has a bunch of ribbon clerks. (Stengel had said that there are two categories, ballplayers and ribbon clerks). Some of those ribbon clerks might turn into ballplayers, and they'll most certainly get the chance to prove themselves. The able coaching of a strict Rick Carlisle might help this squad steal a few wins, but I'd bet on a less well-coached team with more talent than the remnants of the Pacers in most situations.

So, can they win 10 of the 25 games?

It just doesn't seem likely. Take the first three scoring options off any team, and you can't expect them to contend with even the cellar dwellars.

Tinsley and Bender have a great opportunity to shine here, and how well they play will speak volumes about the future of the Indiana Pacers this season and the future for their careers.

Pressure? To a degree, yes, but, then again, the expectations on this group aren't very high. If somehow they can keep the team afloat until O'Neal and Jackson return, well, their play will be one of the big peacetime stories this season.

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