Deron Williams does not deal in As, Bs, Cs or Ds.
Neither does Jerry Sloan.
But both know the numbers away from home and what they add up to isn't at all satisfying for either at the 41-game midway point of the Jazz's 2007-08 NBA season.
"We were 20-21 last year. That's not a great road record. But to win 20 games on the road is decent in the NBA," said Williams, Utah's starting point guard. "Right now, we're sitting at 6-15."
In the minds of Jazz movers and shakers, that statement of the facts is downright indecent.
"The expectations, obviously, were very high to start the season. And I think most of our players had those expectations," said Sloan, whose club reached last postseason's Western Conference finals. "But we haven't lived up to those, because of in my opinion our road record."
One more time ...
Six and 15
"I don't think that's anywhere near where this team could be," Sloan said.
So forget letter grades.
Old-school Sloan prefers to go new-school on this one, eschewing traditional report-card methods and instead stating his perception of reality in relative terms: "Below average on the road."
With a home record of 17-3 following Friday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers, whom they also happen to visit on Monday, that would seem to make the Jazz well above average when not on the road.
Do the math, and at 23-18 overall it also would appear to make Utah slightly above average with 41 games still to play.
In the classroom that is the NBA's Western Conference, however, that's simply not good enough.
It's fail, for now not pass.
The Jazz do not currently rank among the West's eight playoff-position qualifiers, which is why the issue of woeful road play seems to be consuming this club lately and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.
"Winning on the road that's going to be our buzz," power forward Carlos Boozer said when asked if defense is going to be the Jazz's so-called buzz word for the season's second half. "We've got to win on the road. If we can win like we do at home on the road, we'll catch up real fast and get where we want to be."
The question, then, is how.
How can the Jazz turn things around when not playing in the comfort zone that is EnergySolutions Arena?
It's not as if the Jazz who just happen to be the NBA's fifth-youngest team this season haven't recently done decently on the road before, after all.
Asked what the difference is this season compared to last, when winning away from home did not prove nearly so problematic, Boozer was largely at a loss.
"If I knew, buddy," he said. "Man, that's the question. If I only knew."
Truth be told, though, Boozer does seem to have some suspicions.
"Every young team is really good at home and really down on the road and, unfortunately for us, we're acting like a young team on the road," he said. "We need to start growing up on the road, so we can start winning some games and get in the playoffs."
Williams, too, has a hunch as to why travel is so trying now.
"We play a little tense, a little laid-back, when we should be playing the other way around," he said. "We should try to be the aggressor on the road, especially as much as we struggle.
"You know, (last Thursday) night we let Denver take it to us. They were throwing the ball ahead and just going right at us. We've got to be the ones that do that.
"It just can't come from just one or two guys, especially on the road," Williams added. "We've got to have everybody kicking in, everybody playing good at the same time."
So it's not a matter of wearing different-colored uniforms, like the Jazz have tried at least a couple of times this season. It's not a matter of altering bus schedules, either, like was tried in Denver a few days back.
Rather, it seems to be a simple matter of mind-set and honest effort.
"They have a responsibility to get themselves ready to compete," said Sloan, who also feels that his club's concentration lags on the road.
"If you like to play, and you like to win, play wherever it is," the Jazz coach added. "Put your heart into it, and hopefully you'll surprise yourself many times with how well you can do."
Sloan also offered an alternative suggestion.
"Maybe I'm playing the wrong guys," he said. "I don't know. I'm not infallible in that situation."
Deep down, though, Sloan seems to believe it's more an issue of heart.
"Somewhere there has to be a passion to play this game on the road," he said. "If it's a job for you, why do it? Get a job where you can get off at 5, and you know you're at home the rest of the evening, and you can prop your feet up and you don't have to worry.
"I know it sounds corny," Sloan added, "but it's really been kind of disheartening to see us play on the road the way we have."
On that point, the Jazz's co-captains concur.
And with that, they prefer looking ahead rather than back.
"So we definitely have to find a way," Williams said.
"I think it should be more 'encouraging' than 'disappointed,"' Boozer added when asked to characterize the current state of the Jazz, "because we could be a lot worse off, the way we play on the road. So thank God we are a very good home team."
Sloan, meanwhile, is usually the one who refuses to peek behind.
Halfway through this season, however, he can't seem to help but turn his head."We just have to keep playing, and see how important it is to us," he said. "To me, you play this game to get in the playoffs and be able to have a chance to win the championship. And last year, to me, was a great example of those things."
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