In case you haven't heard, the D-League finals start tomorrow, with #1 seed Colorado facing the #2 Utah Flash. I'm going to have a preview of the game tomorrow, but to keep it from being too long (and because I needed to post something this afternoon) I thought we'd start by looking at this year's regular-season meetings between the two teams.
December 26: Utah 104, Colorado 102
Let's take you back, back to the days of Dontell Jefferson and Cheikh Samb. The 14ers came into this game 6-3, having just split a home-and-home with Tulsa. Utah, for their part, was 5-5, though the Flash was riding a three-game win streak at that point.
The first quarter was all Samb and Sonny Weems for Colorado, as no other 14er made a shot until Josh Davis hit a jumper five minutes into the game, and even then it was another four minutes before a non-Weems/Samb player scored. It looks like Utah shot a lot of free throws early on, and let's see...Josh Davis ended up fouling out of this game, and fellow 14ers Samb, Eddie Gill, James Mays and Joe Dabbert each finished with five fouls. Wow. No one fouled out for Utah, though Jefferson and Bill Walker each finished with five. The Flash used the slight free throw disparity to their advantage, shooting 78.3 percent from the charity stripe. Colorado, for its part, made 61.5 percent of its free throws, including 8-14 from Mays, who had a rough night overall, shooting 4-16 with five turnovers.
The other story of the game was missed threes. Colorado shot 31 three-pointers to Utah's seven (!), but only made 25.8 percent of them. Mays was 0-6, Gill 1-7, Weems 0-2 and Dominique Coleman 1-4 from beyond the arc.
What's that you say? That date sounds familiar? Oh riiiiiight, this is the game they had to replay the final 25.2 seconds of the game due to a scoring error. Scoring error? A lot of fouls, including a technical on Brad Jones? Why yes it's Marat Kogut, ladies and gentlemen! Utah took advantage of the services of Ronald Dupree, who wasn't with the Flash in December, and who scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer.
April 10: Utah 124, Colorado 112
Almost completely different rosters, same result. But hey, there's this:
Colorado at Utah: This could be a playoff matchup, given the strength of the two systems.
Scott should win something for that, no? Utah was on some shaky ground coming into this game, having gone 2-3 to start the month after finishing March on a five-game winning streak. Colorado, on the other hand, had been 9-1 over their previous ten games.
Morris Almond sat this game out due to back trouble, and Colorado used the fact that it had locked up the division lead by resting some of their players a little more than usual. There was an even larger foul shot disparity in this one, as Utah got 38 attempts to Colorado's 26, though at least the 14ers shot a respectable percentage this time. There were also two technicals, so let's check the referees...there you are, Brent Barnaky! It was the threes that did Colorado in again, as they only made 22.2 percent of their 18 attempts. That dragged their overall field goal percentage down to 46.8 percent, which isn't awful, but Utah was firing on all cylinders, hitting 62.9 percent of their shots.
JR Giddens led the way with 21 points on 14 shots and 11 rebounds, and Ronald Dupree added 18 points on seven shots, including making nine of his 10 free throw attempts. Kevin Kruger had a decent game with 21 points on nine shots, though he also had seven turnovers in 33 and a half minutes. I could keep naming guys (Kosta Koufos), but you should see that they made 63 percent of their shots and assume most of the Flash did well.
On Colorado's side, this was one of those Billy Thomas games where he shot 1-8, and didn't so much else with only one rebound, one assist and one block. Josh Davis shot 4-10 (say it ain't so!), and Kentrell Gransberry was his reliable fouling self with three in less than six minutes. On the plus side, Trey Gilder made all five of his shots, three dunks, a jumper and a runner.
So there you have it, the only two regular season meetings between these two teams. Both games saw some terrible shooting by the 14ers from behind the arc, both games saw some questionable officiating, both games...uh...I need a third thing. I'd know how to wrap this up if I was a better writer. Let's see...both games offered a good preview of what to expect in this year's D-League Finals. How's that?