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Recapping Last Night's Games, Where Bob MacKinnon Picked Up Where He Left Off

<a href="http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2008/03/20/amd_razorbacks.jpg">Sundiata Gaines</a> was everywhere for the Stampede.
Sundiata Gaines was everywhere for the Stampede.

Idaho Stampede 137, Reno Bighorns 115

New Idaho coach Bob MacKinnon is apparently taking the "Stampede" name seriously, as the team raced their way to 111 possessions in this came.  For comparison, NBA pace leader Golden State averages a little over 101 per game.  This is nothing new for MacKinnon, whose Colorado 14ers were the fastest team in the league last year, but the front office has done a terrific job of acquiring the right players for that style of play.  Sundiata Gaines had a fantastic D-League debut with 31 points on 15 shots (he went 7-11 from the free throw line), 12 assists and four rebounds.  He also had six turnovers, but did I mention that his team had 111 possessions?  Anthony Tolliver was equally efficient, scoring 26 points off of 14 shots and adding eight rebounds.  Mike Gansey played well off the bench, putting up 12-7-5 with two steals and a block in 22 minutes.  Overall the Stampede made more than 55 percent of its threes.

Reno hung in for awhile, up until the fourth quarter when they were outscored by 15, with many of those points coming either out on the perimeter or at the free throw line.  Desmon Farmer played pretty well, scoring 25 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists, but he also shot 0-4 from downtown.  Marcus Hubbard must have received an ultimatum not to shoot threes because he had zero outside shots yet again (which is a good thing) and he finished with 20 and seven, but he also picked up five fouls, and I would imagine that a fair amount of Tolliver's production came against him.  Rod Benson struggled a bit, picking up three (very) early turnovers (he finished with four overall) and shooting 3-9, though he had five offensive rebounds and six blocks.  Outside of Brian Laing (16 points, eight rebounds) the Bighorns got nothing from their bench, with four players combining for nine points, three rebounds, three assists, two blocks (both Cezary Trybanski's) and six turnovers.  That doesn't even match Gansey's production.  David Noel should play better in the future, and Majic Dorsey is a decent backup point guard, but the Reno starters got next to no help last night.

The rest of the games are after the jump.

Rio Grande Valley Vipers 109, Austin Toros 102

This was a similar story to the other night, but with a different result.  Mike Harris played well from the jump and finished with 28 points on 20 shots and 10 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass.  Frontcourt-mate Joey Dorsey cleaned up as well, scoring 22 points on 9-11 shooting, with seven offensive and 17 total rebounds.  Austin's Dwayne Jones finished with decent numbers, but he struggled a little bit early on and I'd imagine Dorsey's defense was a part of that.  Jonathan Wallace didn't show a whole lot in the first game, but he dished out seven assists in this one to go with 5-8 shooting.  Antonio Anderson came back to earth on offense, shooting 1-9, but he got to the line and made nine of his 11 free throws, and realistically any scoring the Vipers get from him is a bonus anyway.  RGV still couldn't hit threes (6-18, and they needed a few to go in late in the game to even reach that mark), but last night that didn't matter

As for Austin, they're 1-1 and have a lot of positives, but I'm really trying hard not to frown on this team.  Curtis Jerrells was shaky once again, with more turnovers (six) than assists (four) and needing 19 shots to get 18 points.  Marcus Williams used to turn the ball over six times in a game too (occasionally), but he usually had double-digit assists when he did it.  Jerrells had six steals, which is a positive, but he might be more of a project than I thought.  As I mentioned above, Jones did alright, with 17 points on seven shots (and he was perfect from the free throw line, which is great for him), nine rebounds and two blocks, but he was almost non-existent in the first half.  Alonzo Gee is clearly the best player on the team this year, as he had yet another terrific game with 23 points on 12 shots (and went 9-12 from the free-throw line), five rebounds and three steals, but he's not much of an outside shooter.  Luckily he knows it and doesn't attempt many (if any) three-pointers, but as Austin's roster stands now they don't have anyone who can consistently hit from downtown.  No Marcus Williams, no Malik Hairston, no Blake Ahearn.  Other than the ball movement thing (again a problem last night with just 12 assists on 35 field goals), the lack of an outside threat is probably the Toros' biggest concern right now.

Tulsa 66ers 98, Utah Flash 87

Tulsa got even on the strength of its backcourt, with Mustafa Shakur scoring 23 points on 16 shots (though eight of those came at the free throw line) along with six rebounds and four assists and Moses Ehambe contributing 17 points, including being perfect from three-point range and the free-throw line.  Larry Owens had a pretty good all-around game 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.  I thought Owens was just okay in Summer League (he was on the New Orleans roster), but he could turn out to be a really nice player for the 66ers.  Byron Mullens had 17 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end, and while his shooting improved that just means he went 7-16, and he turned the ball over seven times (a variety of ways; traveling, offensive fouls, bad passes) and fouled out in a little over 33 minutes.  He needs a looooooooot of work.  Speaking of needing work, Latavious Williams!  Mostly on the offensive end, as he missed all four of his field goals and bricked three of four foul shots.  The rebounding skill is definitely there, however, as he grabbed eight boards in about 12 and a half minutes, and another positive are his zero fouls and one turnover.  Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive.

The Flash suffered from yet another okay-but-not great game from Dontell Jefferson, only this time backup Orien Greene played terribly (he shot 2-12 with three assists and five turnovers).  As I say, Jefferson finished with alright numbers, 17 points on 11 shots with six rebounds, four assists and two steals, but it took him awhile to get going and he turned the ball over four times himself.  Luke Nevill played almost the exact opposite of the first game, where he didn't rebound particularly well (three boards in 19 minutes), but he shot 6-9.  Carlos Wheeler had a nice game beside him with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Bennet Davis had six and eight off the bench.  Jason Richards picked up a lot of assists in college, and he had four in 12 and a half minutes for the Flash.  He could do well in a larger role should either Jefferson or Greene get called up

Maine Red Claws 107, Dakota Wizards 97

The Red Claws took a few minutes to get going in this one, missing three of their first four shots, turning the ball over and committing fouls, but they settled down and ended up outscoring the Wizards in the first quarter.  One of the reasons they did so was pulling Bill Walker with about five minutes left in the first, as he was rebounding well but defending pretty poorly and doing silly things like shooting three-pointers.  Tony Bobbitt came in and played well in his stead, and when Walker came back in the game he was clearly more focused, and finished with 18 points on 6-11 shooting and eight rebounds.  Best of all he had just two turnovers, both of which came at the end of the game when the victory was well in hand (and one of them was a palming call, which is sometimes iffy anyway) .  Billy Thomas was on fire again last night, hitting four of his five three-pointers on the way to 18 points of his own.  Maine did a great job closing this game out, particularly since it was the second night of a back-to-back, making 13 of their 18 shots and outscoring Dakota 32-21 in the 4th quarter

Dakota didn't play particularly poorly, as the moved the ball around fairly well and didn't turn it over too much (outside of four apiece from Romel Beck and Curtis Withers), they got out-rebounded a little bit but not on the offensive end, and those 97 points coming on 88 possessions.  Losing your home and season opener to a team playing it's second road game in as many days hurts, though, so I'm sure they're looking for answers.  Beck and Maurice Baker shooting a combined 4-13 on three-pointers isn't great, and looking at the game, three of Beck's six misses from long-range came in the fourth quarter when he was undoubtedly trying to get his team back in the game by himself.  Beck is 27 years old, so if he hasn't learned by now how rarely that works...well, you all can finish that sentence yourself.   Still, there's a fair amount to build on, with Curtis Withers dropping 22 and 10 (including four offensive rebounds) and backup point guard Jason Straight playing pretty well off the bench, and everyone else on the team made 60 percent of their threes.  I wouldn't start worrying if I was Dakota.

Los Angeles D-Fenders 103, Albuquerque Thunderbirds 99

That the Thunderbirds lost this one shouldn't be a huge shock, as they were yet another team playing for the second night in a row, but boy did I overestimate Kevin Pittsnogle.  (And underrate Michael Fey, which I'll get to in a minute.)  Pittsnogle missed his first several shots and finished the game 2-8, including 1-4 from behind the arc.  He also didn't rebound or defend nearly as well as he did in the opener.  Perhaps the guy who's been out of basketball for over a year isn't who you want starting games at the beginning of the season, eh Coach Coffino?  Sticking with Albuquerque, backup center Erek Hansen is a terrific shotblocker (he had two) but still needs work in the other areas (zero points, one rebound, five fouls).  This team has some talent (Carlos Powell had 14-4-5, Keith McLeod had 21 points on 13 shots and five assists), and they're to be commended for coming back after starting the game extremely flat (a large amount of which was Pittsnogle), but the center position is anything but solid at this point

As for the D-Fenders who, you know, actually won, this really was about the terrific game Michael Fey had.  He started out 3-5 with a hook shot, a dunk and a layup and forced Pittsnogle to the bench five minutes into the game.  The rebounding was largely absent (just three in over 27 minutes), but he finished with 22 points on 13 shots and generally caused some problems in the middle.  Michael Fey, I officially apologize for saying Kevin Pittsnogle wouldn't have any serious defensive responsibilities in this game.  As for the rest of the team, Ryan Forehan-Kelly was his usual solid all-around self with 19 points, four assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block.  Deron Washington is still raw offensively (eight points on 11 shots), but he grabbed seven boards and handed out four assists.  Horace Wormely ran the offense pretty well with seven assists and only three turnovers, and Dar Tucker had a nice game off the bench with 14 points on 10 shots, six rebounds and three assists.

Iowa Energy 96, Springfield Armor 84

I was right about a few things in this game (though not about James Cripe getting more playing time, just five minutes for him), most notably that Iowa's shooters would probably miss more of their shots while playing a game less than 20 hours after the last one.  And, in fact, the Energy made just 13.3 percent of their threes and shot 38 percent overall.  So how did they win?  A few things.  First, they did a great job of getting to the free throw line.  There weren't an obscene amount of fouls handed out, and while Iowa had an free throw advantage it wasn't really enough to question the calls.  Neither Curtis Stinson nor Mark Tyndale had a great night from the floor, but Stinson sank nine of his 10 freebies and Tyndale went 8-10 from the line, while Pat Carroll made all five of his free throws and Earl Barron went 5-6.  Stinson had another nice game overall, with 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and only two turnovers in 45 and a half minutes.  That rebounding number isn't an aberration; Stinson is one of the best rebounding point guards in the league, if not the best.  Tyndale also played well overall, adding 10 rebounds (five offensive) to go with 14 points

Meanwhile, the Energy were horrible from the free throw line, shooting 53 percent as a team.  When I say the team shot horribly, I mostly mean Kentrell Gransberry who missed seven of his ten free throws, though he played decently in other areas picking up six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.  JamesOn Curry didn't shoot any free throws at all, which is pretty bad when you need 13 shots to get 13 points.  Even worse for the Armor and for Curry were the turnovers.  Curry coughed it up seven times, and let's break them down.  Four came from bad passes, one came off of a traveling call, and two came from steals by Stinson and Carroll.  Even if you give him the traveling call, a lot of those were likely avoidable.  Tre Whitted had five turnovers and Adam Harrington added four, and that plus the foul shooting is your ballgame.  The Armor have some decent scorers, including Curry, but they desperately need someone who can take care of the ball.  Perrin Johnson got into some early foul trouble which limited his effectiveness, which is too bad for Springfield because he needed only five shots to get eight points, and added nine rebounds and four assists.  At least the Armor get an "A" for effort (and also for "Armor," I assume).