Valentine: 'I knew it was going to be extremely challenging'

728296.jpg

Valentine: 'I knew it was going to be extremely challenging'

BOSTON -- With his team off to a 4-9 start and finding himself involved in a few controversies, the first few weeks of Bobby Valentine's tenure as Red Sox manager have been, to say the least, interesting.

"I had no idea what to expect,'' said Valentine Saturday, when asked about his experience to date. "I mean, I had some idea what to expect. But I didn't have any way to prepare for these things we're talking about -- (injuries to Jacoby) Ellsbury (and Carl) Crawford,
(the demotion of Mark) Melander, (loss of Andrew) Bailey...situations that we've dealt with.

"I knew it was going to be extremely challenging and extremely eventful. And it's been eventfully challenging.''

Some New York reporters and columnists insist that Valentine doesn't have the same energy or spunk he showed while managing the New York Mets, and that he's already been beaten down by Boston.

"I don't know,'' said Valentine smiling at the suggestion. "Maybe instead of a two-hour bike ride (daily), I should cut it down to an hour and 45 minutes and I'll have more energy in the morning.

"They might have known a little younger version.''

Valentine has been booed at Fenway at times and late in the game Friday, a chant went up in the stands, "We want Tito,'' a reference to Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona.

"It's expected,'' he said of the booing. "They like performance. But the fans have been great so far. People I've met out to dinner, on the streets, or on the bike ride or before the game, have been great. And when things haven't worked out during the game, there have been vocal reactions.''

Valentine said some fans have made suggestions about the lineup or pitching changes, "and I think that's great. That they're involved is a good thing. No one's yelled at me when I'm on my bike or tried to run me over or any of that (stuff). That hasn't happened yet.

"I go out every night. It's been kind of neat to feel the heartbeat (of the area).''

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

BOSTON – There were a bunch of numbers from Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday that stood out. 

Among the eye-grabbing stats was the fact that the Celtics had taken 42 3s (with 15 makes), an unusually high number of attempts that we may see matched or even surpassed tonight against the Sacramento Kings. 

Don’t count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised to see the Celtics attempt a lot of three-pointers. 

Last season the Celtics took 26.1 three-pointers per game which ranked 11th in the NBA. 

This season they’re up to 31.2 three-pointers attempted and 11.3 made which both rank fifth in the NBA. 

You can count Kelly Olynyk among the Celtics pleased with the team's increased emphasis on shooting 3s. 

The 7-foot led the NBA in shooting percentage (.405) on 3s taken last season.

"We play a lot of spread offense with four shooters, four perimeter guys," Olynyk, who is shooting 38.1 percent on 3s this season, told CSNNE.com. "We're trying to make teams shrink their defense and spray out and hopefully make shots. You're making extra passes, giving up good ones for great ones. And we have some pretty good shooters on our team. That's the way we're trying to play. It's just a matter of us making shots."

And the Celtics face a Kings team ranks among the NBA’s worst at limiting 3-point attempts with Sacramento opponents averaging 28.4 three-pointers taken per game which ranks 25th in the league. 

One of Stevens’ main points about three-pointers is while it’s an important shot for them, they need to be the right shot, the right basketball play at the right time. 

And when asked about the 42 attempts against the Pistons, he was quick to acknowledge those were for the most part the right shots to be taken. 

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day we want lay-ups. And if we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. If the defense shrinks in, you’re able to touch the paint and kick out. Two of our last three games, maybe three of the last four, two-thirds of our possessions we touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s our objective. We’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot. We’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate. And we haven’t scored in transition. To be able to be sitting where we are offensively, a big reason is because we space the floor.”

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”