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Blazers cant afford a selfish Randolph

On Sports

As I talk to people about baseball statistics, I always urge them not to judge players off just a few games. Conclusions about players' ability to perform in the 'clutch' of postseason is often based on stats from three or four games - not enough to reach a valid conclusion.

So I'm mindful of the pitfalls of a small sample size when I offer a few observations off the Trail Blazers' first exhibition game. Exhibitions are meaningless, and my concerns may disappear in no time.

•When Zach Randolph lofts an outside jump shot in heavy traffic with about 17 seconds left on the shot clock in the fourth quarter, shouldn't he immediately be yanked off the floor? He wasn't. And if selfish behavior isn't punished swiftly, is there any hope it can be modified?

I know, he made a few passes. But at this point, I'd have zero tolerance with selfishness. There are young players on this team who need to learn the right way to play.

And, oh, by the way - Randolph showing up late for the first game of the season was a touch selfish, too. I realize they're stuck with this guy, but if you start letting him get away with stuff, what does that teach the team's youngsters?

• The size of the crowd last Wednesday night was probably the puniest I've seen at a Blazer game since the early seasons of the team in Memorial Coliseum. It was depressing and embarrassing.

And then announcing an attendance figure of 14,073 - surely twice what was actually in the arena - is a joke. Obviously, the franchise doesn't seem to understand that ridiculous overstatement does nothing but make the team look foolish and out of touch.

• Coming to a video screen near you, very soon - tape of the Blazers at high school football games, working in concession stands and signing autographs.

It's not that I think that it was a bad idea, getting the players out in the community last week. What comes off so poorly to me is that every time the Blazers do something like that, they shoot endless video of it and then cram it down our throats.

• Brandon Roy needs to have the ball in his hands more often.

• Too many outside jump shots. The Blazers are going to need more offense in the paint if they want to be consistent on offense.

• Martell Webster's enthusiasm is infectious. I like the young kids a lot. If they're allowed to play and grow together, there's a future here. But a lot has to go right, too. They must get enough of a taste for winning early in their careers so that they don't get selfish and worn down by the losing - like some other players we know.

• Dan Dickau and Sergio Rodriguez. Two fun guys to watch. Hope there is enough playing time for both of them.

• Patience. Patience. Patience. This team is too young to play well over an extended period of time. It's going to be an up-and-down season. That's OK, as long as the young ones don't get discouraged.

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