(what’s on Nate’s iPod?)

The Oregonian’s Jason Quick
observes the growing pains experienced by the Blazers’ rookie PG tandem of Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez. Of the former, coach Nate McMillan seems to suggest that regardless of how much fun Rodriguez is to watch…you don’t know what you’re missing.

After McMillan said he would give Rodriguez “more rope” for the rest of the season, Rodriguez had a sterling nine-point, nine-assist game Tuesday against Washington. In the next game at New York, he struggled to 1 for 6 shooting in 15 minutes but had four assists and one turnover. The following night in Atlanta, he was benched after a poor pass and played just six minutes.

After the game, McMillan said the coaching staff was convinced that Rodriguez’s left ankle was again bothering him, although Rodriguez said he didn’t want to use that as an excuse. Rodriguez sprained the ankle in January, forcing him to miss 15 games.

“I know there will be times when he is up, or down, but you can’t drop your head and show the team you are down,” McMillan said. “I’m looking more at leadership with him. Is he providing that? Do I sense or feel that he has control of this team? To me, that is more important than his numbers.”

Rodriguez has become the most sensitive subject for McMillan. As more and more fans — and media members — called for the flashy Spanish rookie to receive more playing time, McMillan has at times snapped back, saying Rodriguez lacks the defense and a grasp of English to command more playing time.

“With fans, it’s about entertainment,” McMillan said. “But I say, ‘Does that entertainment win?’ I mean, they have no idea. . . . All they see is what he does offensively. I don’t think they ever watch what he does on the defensive end. They see him pounding the ball, and he has that ball on a string, and his no-look passes. There is so much more to it, though. They don’t see that in calling out plays, nobody hears him or understands his accent.”

Sincere congrats to Billy Donovan (above) and his Florida Gators on today’s 85-77 defeat of Oregon, setting up a rematch of last season’s National Title game with UCLA next Saturday. Who knows what Donovan might accomplish at a basketball school?

Ron Artest is reportedly contemplating retirement.  Sadly, from basketball, as opposed to hip-hop.

In news that should rock the sporting goods industry, Kenyon Martin has petitioned the NBA to have his uniform number changed from 6 to 4 next season.

I’m sure you’re a shocked as I am. Who knew Kenyon Martin was going to play basketball again?