Dakota jumped out to a hot start and never let up until after half time, leading by 17 going into the intermission. After halftime, though, Idaho put together a 20-4 run to start the third, but surprisingly, Dakota showed some heart and pulled out a 119-111 victory. As usual, check the Bismarck Tribune if you're looking for a play-by-play recap.
Before we get to my in-depth look at the players, though, I'd like to send a big Ridiculous Upside Happy Birthday to Mr. 10-Day Contract himself, Randy Anthony Livingston. Livingston will be heading to Sioux Falls today, so if you're reading this and plan to be in the area tonight (this means you, Fritz) head on out and buy him a drink. Buy one for Joel Abelson as well, just for seeming to be a good dude.
The 40 year-old looking 34-year old Livingston, assistant coach of the Idaho Stampede, takes credit for the Ridiculous Upside Movement in Idaho. Apparently, he started reading when I wrote this story and was disappointed he didn't get the starting nod. The only way I can defend myself is to set up a one-on-one battle with RGV assistant Robert Pack, as I think I better keep Jay Humphries in the starting lineup. Second option? If Coach Pack doesn't get at me by tomorrow and tell me he reads RidiculousUpside, Coach Liv is starting - I gotta support the guys that support the movement. Actually, we'll open this up to all of the coaches/office staff that reads RU but can't comment - Click on my name up top and shoot me an email (no profanity please - am currently accepting job offers, however).
Continue on for my player breakdowns and other random musings from this game.
Richard Hendrix, Dakota - In yesterday's call-up rankings, we omitted Richard Hendrix. To explain my reasoning, Hendrix's points, rebounds, blocks and shooting percentage all went down in March, and he just wasn't showing me he wanted it enough in the past few games . Last night was a different story. Hendrix decided to take over the game from the get go last night, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the first half, including showing some range - on the night, the big fella hit 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Contributing 12 boards, two blocks, and an interception of a big pass to essentially seal the game, I was impressed.
Lance Allred, Idaho - Allred has dominated the Wizards since he came into the D-League in the 2006-07 season. Behind the man, the myth, the Peter John Ramos, he started as one of the last guys off the bench that season, but by March 8th, he broke out against the Wizards. Since then he's dominated Dakota, and this game was no different. Allred showed a mid-range game that would have made Hakeem Olajuwon proud. Scoring 25 points and grabbing seven assists just about made me regret snubbing him from my call-up rankings, but I think I'm going to have to see him do it outside of Dakota to move him back up.
Renaldo Major, Dakota - Major hasn't been getting the credit he deserves this season, as injury woes have limited his production a bit. When he's in his groove though, he brings a lot of heart to Dakota, acts as their defensive stopper, and can score in bunches when needed. Last night, in the last two minutes with a tie ballgame, his scoring was needed, and he put in eight of his 16 to clinch the victory. Major also finished with six boards, six assists, and six fouls - scary.
Jamaal Tatum/Lanny Smith, Idaho - Idaho's back-up point guards are gritty. Both do a lot of things well, showing poise, involving their teammates, and scoring when needed - it's really surprising that Idaho doesn't insert one of the two into the starting lineup, as there was a huge difference when one of these two were running the point rather than starting point (undersized 2) Kevin Burleson. Tatum 18 points, nine assists and a high pitched yelp when called for a call on Blake Ahearn; Smith played huge in the fourth quarter, with seven of his 11 points including a big time 3 in the fourth.
Blake Ahearn, Dakota - I talked to Blake for a bit before the game, letting him know I ranked him at the 3-spot because he just wasn't scoring like I wanted him to score. So, naturally, Ahearn decided to score. The guard that's never been handed anything was handed the ball 10 times at the free-throw line, making all 10 of his freebie attempts to make sure Idaho never took the lead. Ahearn also hit 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, which is once again becoming the norm for the sharp-shooting guard.
Brent Petway, Idaho - I'm including him not because of his stats from the game, but how important he could have been down the stretch for Idaho. However, Petway was in the locker room down the stretch after picking up two quick technical fouls from Kristina Denson for arguing a foul call. (Side note: If I was Denson, I would have called more technicals this game - like five) Petway's defense really could have helped the Stampede out, as there wasn't anybody on the Stampede roster able to defend Renaldo Major down the stretch. Petway, who is widely regarded as the best perimeter defender in the D-League, picked up two quick fouls early in the game defending Blake Ahearn, which limited his playing time to just 17 minutes. Side note: I'd give my D-League defensive player of the year to Othyus Jeffers, but Petway's big enough to defend all of the perimter players in the NBA as well.