In the wake of the Jazz's home win over the Knicks Wednesday night, coach Jerry Sloan, the off-season farmer and amateur psychologist, still doesn't know what to expect of his team after eight games (and, by the way, welcome to the club, Jer). But he sure would like to know.

"I'm anxious to see who we are this season," he says. "I'm anxious to see who we turn out to be."Unfortunately, he'll have to wait like everybody else, but it certainly would be helpful to get some answers, yes?

For instance, should Jerry plan to do the spring plowing himself, or will he need to hire somebody?

Will the Jazz live down to the expectations of, oh, about everyone in the country, and play like old men playing out the string and resting on their laurels? (Oops, what laurels?)

Should fans take a wait-and-see attitude and stay away, as they did in droves Wednesday night or jump on the bandwagon now and beat the spring rush?

Should Jerry, in his own words, lower his expectations and save his sanity?

"If I'm wrong to expect too much, I've got to back off, so I don't jump off a tall building," he said. "I've got to do something to help myself."

Translation: There's no sense in the captain going down with the ship. This isn't the Navy. On the other hand, Sloan might want to consider a hobby. We've still got 74 games to go.

After losing to Sacramento last weekend, the Jazz beat the world-champion Spurs on Monday and then did the same to the Knicks (score it 98-90) on Wednesday. Ho-hum, in the space of 48 hours, the Jazz defeated last year's two NBA finalists, and suddenly yesterday's woe has turned to oh!

Maybe Sloan just pushed the right buttons finally. After the loss to the Kings, Sloan told his players he was finished with them for a while. It was up to them to get themselves ready, and, by the way, practice was voluntary. They could hold it, or they could skip it, but either way he wouldn't be there. He'd see them next time there was a game.

"I didn't want to see them, and they didn't want to see me," says Sloan.

Sloan stayed home for two days, but his players weren't fooled. They passed the word on the plane ride home from Sacramento: There would be a players-only practice Saturday and Sunday, complete with sideline sprints.

"It was a normal practice," says rookie Scott Padgett.

"When Jerry did that, I'm guessing he knew how we'd react," says veteran Jeff Hornacek.

The Jazz then went out and beat the Spurs and Knicks, but Sloan said his ploy had nothing to do with it. He's skipped practice before, he noted, although never this early in the season.

"It's not an exact science," says Sloan. "I'm not a psychologist. I'm flying by the seat of my pants here. I wanted them to decide if they wanted to play. I want to find out what to expect. We could just come out and be what people expected us to be. Well, that's not what I expected. Maybe I'm stupid or crazy, but I still think this team should win games. I told them (after the Kings loss), 'I don't care what age you are. If you concentrate on playing as a team and play hard, you'll win.' "

The Jazz returned to form this week, which is to say Karl Malone and John Stockton were racing up and down the floor like kids, and Jeff Hornacek, if he wasn't exactly racing, was stroking the purest shot in the league. And by the way, what's gotten into Greg Ostertag lately? Has anybody taken fingerprints? Is this really Ostertag, rebounding, swatting shots and putting the wood to Chris Childs?

"Everyone needed to rethink how we approach the season," said Hornacek.

By Wednesday night, Sloan had seen enough and was looking ahead for more insights into his team. "We haven't done anything," he said. "We've been here at home. Let's see how we play on the road."

Next stop: Minnesota.