With James struggles, Wolves turn to Foye

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - Marcus Banks didn't work, and neither did Marko Jaric.
Mike James hasn't been the answer either, and the Minnesota Timberwolves couldn't swing a deal for Allen Iverson in December.
Now they turn to Randy Foye as their starting point guard, hoping the heady rookie can be what they've been looking for since Stephon Marbury skipped town nine years ago.
Foye will make his second start in a row at point guard on Wednesday night when the Nuggets come to town sans Iverson, who will miss the game with an ankle injury.
"I'm excited to get out there with guys like KG, Ricky Davis," Foye said after practice Tuesday. "It just makes it a little easier on me as a rookie out there."
Coach Randy Wittman abruptly made the decision on Sunday against Boston, sending the veteran James to the bench in a move that did not sit well with the Wolves' biggest free-agent offseason acquisition.
"It is what it is," James said with a shrug. "He's the boss. Have to listen to what he says."
James' averages this season are down in every category, including an almost 50 percent drop in his scoring average from 20.3 last year in Toronto to 10.8 points a game.
With guys like Kevin Garnett, Mark Blount and Ricky Davis in the starting lineup, shots have been harder to come by this season for James, who parlayed a career year for the woeful Raptors into a four-year, $23 million deal with Minnesota.
He has struggled to fit in with the Timberwolves, a shoot-first point guard in a starting lineup full of guys who like to shoot the ball.
Looking to restore a little balance to the first and second units, Wittman put James on the bench in hopes his scorer's mentality will help a second team that has had trouble putting the ball in the hole.
"I didn't do it really for anything more than to try to see if we can help him," Wittman said of James. "He's been up and down this year in his play.
"When you're playing with Kevin and Ricky and Mark Blount, the way Mark Blount's playing, there's a lot that you have to make sure they're getting their touches and getting in the right spots, which I think took away from his aggression."
Foye recognizes that his approach will change with the new starter's status. He was the primary scorer in college at Villanova, and now he's charged with running the show, distributing the ball and getting everyone involved.
"I pass first with them guys," Foye said. "One of the biggest things is, with them guys, I'm a passer in the beginning, but late in games I'm a scorer."
That sounds a lot like a young Marbury, who worked so well with Garnett early in his career in what initially looked like a souped-up version of Stockton-to-Malone. The two complemented each other very well, with Garnett controlling play for the first three quarters before deferring to Marbury in the fourth period.
But Marbury eventually refused to play second fiddle to Garnett and forced a trade to New Jersey, and the Wolves have been searching for a replacement at the point ever since.
James' bravado and willingness to take the big shot seemed to make him qualified, but he scored in double figures (10) just once in his previous seven starts before coming off the bench on Sunday.
Against the Celtics, he scored just five points on free throws in 14 minutes.
"I didn't anticipate him being happy," Wittman said. "What I do anticipate is him being professional and playing, which he did.
"Nobody likes to have that situation. I was a player once that lost it. You don't like it. But you have to go out and try to fight to get it back and stay aggressive. That's all I'm worried about."
Foye had 10 points and eight assists against the Celtics and made a brilliant pass to Davis off a drive for the winning shot.
"He played under control," Wittman said. "It's a fine line with him because he's an aggressive kid that looks to score and I thought he really handled moving the ball, getting guys involved, as well as attacking the basket at opportune times."