Wednesday, 14 July 2021 10:59

Portland Follies

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Portland, OR (AP) - Tensions for the Lumberjacks seem to be coming to a head.  Currently riding an 8 game losing streak fans have started to show up with bags on their heads and bringing cardboard cutouts to sit in the seats next to them.  The organization has taken to pumping in fan noise and doing nightly promotions like giving all fans a free corn dogs when the team passes 125 points.  The promotion has failed to bolster fan attendance above the 30% line on the season as it was thought would happen and only the Sting have given up that mark in a Portland home game and some eight thousand fans went home with an extra corndog that day.


But all is not a beaver big smile in Portland.  Tensons flared after a recent game in when a live mic caught All Star Kendall Melanson calling his teammate Roger Desfontaines a vulgar term in the huddle.  When asked about it after the 86-116 loss, Melanson's temper flared a bit saying, "Yeah, I called him a punk b***h because that what I saw.  I mean, what would you say?  'Oh, Roger, let's give it a more concentrated effort'... naw, he was being punked by Culbertson and he was whining like a b***h about it... put the two together and there you go.  Punk b***h!"  Melaonson was, in truth, the second leading scorer as Herman Winslow scored 18 in relief of Desfontaines that game - a performance which was one of many and causing has fans to question the need for Desfontaines at all.


Desfontaines, when asked about it said, "Kendall runs hot a lot.  He just says whatever comes to mind no matter how hurtful."  Rumors from within the organization say that Melanson's abuse of the seven foot center go well beyond what was seen on air in the Los Angeles game.  Names like Lurch, mountie, or bender (a uniquely Canadian jeer meaning bad hockey player).  The most common, however, is "Casper" and, in a recent interview for Break the Press Magazine, Melanson was asked about that.  "Look.  Speaking our minds here going all the way back to Joel Grey," said Melanson, "I'm no different.  If I see a giant white thing that plays like he isn't even there - a.k.a. a ghost - it just seems to fit, right?  If what I say motivates him to show me up and he plays better, am I wrong to say it?"


In truth, Desfontaines has served up a bit of a resurgent season scoring 14.6 points per game (a high mark since his '26 season) on 57% shooting but he has only managed to post 27 minutes per game due to extensive foul troubles.  This has resulted in widly inconsistent minutes (he only played 9 min in the LA game) and a lack of continuity on the floor.  Of his foul troubles, Desfontaines says, "I don't knoo. They have ooot for me, ya know?  Like, it's not that I'm taking people oot in the game, they are the one running over me but, every time, it's foul on me.  I think they have it ooot for me but I couldn't tell ya why."  Experts disagree with the notion that referees have a vendetta against Desfontaines and one even noted, "He - for lack of a better term - prances.  Most players, when they look to set their feet and draw a call do just that... set their feet.  Roger does these little shuffles though so his feet are never really set.  That's why he doesn't get the calls.  He's not set.  I can't imagine that the staff there hasn't noticed that and, if not, they need to have it pointed out to them."


Coach Oquendo has been widely referred to as an offensive genius but his distaste for defense (finding it "inelegant and brutish") means that much of the defensive workload is left to assistant coach Theron Rayburn.  Rayburn's background lies primarily with guards and perimeter defenders so the Lumberjacks made the decision to bring in untested coach Scot Haigh to shore that up.  Haigh has never coached at the professional (or developmental level) before so this season has been a trial by fire that has only resulted in the Lumberjacks being burnt.


So the catastrophic collapse of the once proud Portland franchise seems to be systemic and on multiple fronts.  Players at each other's throats... an unhappy star player... organizational chaos... ill suited staff.  It all seems more like the plot of a baseball movie franchise than the ongoing attempts of a serious professional basketball team.  Every day is another entry in what has now become the Portland Follies (*queue ragtime music*).

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