A big thanks to Mark Followill for agreeing to take some time and answer a few questions.
Starting off in your area, any changes for the broadcast this season? Am I correct in saying that Laura Green has left for Portland and Bob will be rejoining you as the TV analyst?
Mark: Yes for those who might not have had a chance to see our first two pre-season telecasts, Bob is back as our analyst for his 21st year of Mavs broadcasting. It goes without saying he is thrilled to back and we're looking forward to working together. Laura is in Portland and she will be missed but to fill that void we are using Emily Jones for home games and a handful of road games. Some of you probably know Emily from her work with FSN Southwest. As far as other changes, well you will probably notice some different looking graphics and I am sure there will be other bells and whistles during the season but I will leave that as a surprise.
You've been able to spend some time with the team this preseason. How is the mood of team, and how would you say it compares to last preseason?
Mark: Without a doubt there seems to be a renewed enthusiasm with this team. The players have spoken tremendously well of working and building a relationship with Rick Carlisle in the off-season and that is carrying over to training camp. As far as comparing to last year, well a lot of the talk was about a different, almost San Antonio-style ramping up approach at the start of the season and certainly the talk this year is about focusing on a new style of play and a new system. The implementation of the new style appears to have added a greater sense of urgency. Plus between local focus on the Cowboys and some lack of respect nationally for where the Mavs stand this team is probably a little off the radar and I would bet they dont mind the opportunity to just quietly go about their business at this time of the year. There is also a fresh element since the team has some young faces that we are getting to see glimpses into how they can potentially help the Mavs now and down the road.
It's been almost trendy lately to point fingers at Avery, but what do you think the team will miss about him?
Mark: First of all, Avery is a very good coach and I think everyone associated with the Mavs recognizes his contributions to many great successes in the last three-plus seasons. That being said even Avery felt like it was time for a new voice so it appears everyone is moving forward and they don't look at it in terms of what they will miss about him, so that's a hard one to answer. I would definitely say though that I doubt very few have worked harder, put in more man-hours, or had the passion for it that Avery did.
Dampier has been quoted as saying he is going to be more vocal and play with more emotion this season. Have you seen any of that, and is it realistic to expect that kind of change in on court personality from a veteran?
Mark: Well I have only seen 3 of the 5 games so far in person and he did not play in one of three I did see so I have not necessarily seen that on the court yet, but it is only pre-season. He definitely does appear to be more active in general when Jason Kidd is on the floor because he knows Kidd can get him more involved in things if he plays like that. What I really like is on media day he said to Bob and me in an interview (and this was unsolicited) that the bar for this team is still a championship. That's great to hear and is a sign of leadership I think. As far as that kind of change being realistic, well I would like to think all of us as we mature are changing and evolving positively as a person (or at least wanting and trying to) so that sort of change should be possible. The key is it has to be real, if it is artificial then people will likely see through it.
I'm just going to say a players name and you can go wherever you want with it. Jason Kidd.
Mark: I have been so impressed about how calm and in control he seems to be and the sense of quiet determination you get being around him. He is motivated to win a championship and that should bode well for a great season. I know some might be skeptical that the whole having a camp thing with him is so important, but it seems very reasonable having watched it up close last year that integrating a new guy into the lineup mid-season who will have the ball in his hands alot of the time is challenging to say the least. So being with the team from day one and a coach trying to utilize his strengths to the maximum is a big positive in my book. More than anything I always go back to what Barkley and many other great players have said regarding the respect they have for his leadership skills. Those guys would know better than any of us and I really believe that he will have more of a chance to assert that ability to lead this year which cant be anything but a positive also.
How long would it take you win a cage fight with Josh Lewin? (optional)
Mark: Very funny. Let's just say I'd go into with alot of confidence, after all it was much too long of an off-season so I had a lot of time to work out and get in better shape! Where's a smiley face emoticon when I need one?
If I may here at the end just say to all Mavs fans that I hope they truly have a wonderful time coming to games or watching our broadcasts this season. Who knows at this point how it is going to work in the end, but I genuinely believe in Rick Carlisle's ability and that this is a motivated group of players who feel they have something to prove. It sets up for an exciting and competitive team this year that should be fun to watch!