[While Jon L was out singing karaoke with the Austin Toros, I began my second stint as a "sports clerk" at the Bismarck Tribune. Thusly, no recap of last night's games and instead, a preview of tonight's games on Versus. If you must know, here's a short recap of last night in the D-League: Idaho sucked, Cezary Trybanski was good, Billy Thomas shut down Mo Almond in the second half, JamesOn Curry isn't a point guard, Ron Howard is out four weeks with a broken finger, Sioux Falls went on a 20-0 run and my friends texted and said the ref's at the Dakota game sucked, but also chimed in to say that Dakota did too, and if Iowa didn't blow some opportunities, it would've been a lot worse.]
Tonight is the first of 16 D-League games to be shown on VERSUS. This is a big deal. It starts at 10pm CT and will include play-by-play from Eric Musselman (apparently this is supposed to be exciting?)!
Original Story: What was potentially going to be a match-up of Fort Wayne's Ron Howard versus Sioux Falls' Reggie Williams was derailed when Howard broke his finger. Howard is one of the better stories, and defenders, in the D-League and without him in the game, it could get ugly.
New Story: I really don't know what the provocative storyline is right now. Maybe it's to see if the Mad Ants can avoid allowing the Skyforce to go on a 20-0 run, as they did in last night's game (Highlights). Maybe it's to make sure that the Mad Ants don't lose another top player to injury since Rob Kurz, Jared Reiner and Ron Howard have all missed, are missing or will miss a considerable amount of games this month. Maybe it's just to see a fairly even coaching match-up between a long-time college coach (Joey Meyer) and NBA playing and coaching veteran (Mike Sanders) for Fort Wayne versus two coaches that have been coaching, and excelling, in the minors almost exclusively (Tony Fritz and Duane Ticknor).
Fort Wayne Prospect To Watch: Rob Kurz is the only NBA prospect on the Mad Ants, but luckily, he's a quality prospect. Kurz, as you know, made the Golden State Warriors last season as a sharp-shooting big man that's not going to help you anywhere else and won't necessarily hurt you, either. On the D-League season, Kurz is averaging 17.4 points, 10.3 boards and 1.4 blocks while shooting 55% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc.
Rounding out the Mad Ant's roster: The Mad Ants tried going local, so you'll probably remember their other two Notre Dame grads - Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers ... Rod Wilmont went to Indiana and Sean Sonderleiterattended Iowa, so the Big Ten is also well represented ... Recently acquired Rashad Anderson made quite a few big shot's while at UConn a few seasons ago ... Oliver Lafayette, out of Houston, has shown flashes of brilliance as of late.
Sioux Falls Prospect To Watch: I've been extolling Reggie Williams' skillset since the first day of the D-League Showcase - now you can see why without squinting at a computer screen. Since Howard isn't playing, Williams should run roughshod on an otherwise offensively-minded Mad Ant team. Last night, he did exactly that, scoring 36 points on 17 shots. Since Williams is averaging an impressive 26 points, 5.7 boards, 3.2 assists and shooting 60% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he'll have another big game tonight.
Rounding out the Skyforce's roster: David Bailey is a favorite in the D-League, mostly due to his diminutive stature and heady play as a veteran minor league point guard ... North Dakota State's Mike Nelson made the Skyforce via a local tryout and then started last night, so that's an interesting story to keep an eye on as well ... Keith Brumbaugh, at one time, was considered a can't miss prospect, but off-the-court issues have him currently playing in the D-League ... Greg Stiemsma is a shot blocking machine out of Wisconsin, but still trying to get healthy after missing a few games over the Showcase ... Raymond Sykes, a rookie out of Clemson, might be my favorite player on their roster, due solely to his Renaldo Balkman-esque hair and hustle.