Now that they've won the championship, I thought I'd take a look back at Colorado's season. Consider it an internet version of those Sports Illustrated videos that come out for whomever wins the Super Bowl. We'll start with the draft, then go month-to-month, highlighting key performances that helped the 14ers achieve victory.
Colorado's draft was...top-heavy. Their first pick (second overall) was James Mays, a 6-9 forward from Clemson who had originally been drafteed by the Denver Nuggets. Mays started 12 games for the 14ers, averaging just under 19 points a game on 46 percent shooting, with eight and a half rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 33 and a half minutes. He tore his ACL in early January, though, and was out for the rest of the year. They followed that up with Trey Gilder in the second round and Dominique Coleman in the fourth, but those are really their only other draftees of note. Unless you're a big fan of Marlon Palmer, John Gilchrist or David Godbold, I suppose. Of course, almost none of the players available in, say, the ninth round of the D-League draft are good bets to be on a roster at the end of the season. Still, players they passed over at one point or another include Kurt Looby, Othyus Jeffers and David Noel.
Retrospective Draft Grade: B+; It's hard to argue with picking up two starters and a guy who probably would've been a sixth man on any other team in the first four rounds. Coleman and Gilder in particular had key roles in Colorado's championship run, which is discussed after the jump.
The 14ers got off to a good start, going 8-4 in the first month (plus three days) of the season. During that stretch they played Albuquerque in a home and home, Rio Grande Valley twice and Tulsa three times. Standout performances from this period include Mays, who had 27 points on 19 shots, 11 rebounds and six steals against Albuquerque and 37 points on 19 shots and 11 rebounds against RGV; Dominique Coleman, who in the second game had 20 points on 14 shots, 10 rebounds, six assists and six steals; and Eddie Gill, who had 23 points on 12 shots, 10 assists, seven rebounds and two blocks against Sioux Falls Mays tore his ACL eight and a half minutes into the December 30 game against Fort Wayne, and wouldn't play again this season.
A new year, same result; the 14ers went 8-4 again in January. They spent a fair amount of time in Texas, facing the Toros three times (twice in Austin) and Rio Grande Valley three more times, all in Hidalgo. Notable performances include Cheik Samb, with 21 points on 12 shots, 10 rebounds and four blocks against Tulsa; forward/center Sean Williams, who had 16 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks and six assists against Austin; and Gill again with 20 points on six shots (he had a lot of free throws), 14 assists and six rebounds against Rio Grande Valley.
Colorado only played seven games in February, going 4-3 while playing Austin two more times. Vernon Hamilton saw some starts here, and while he provided some solid rebounding, he's not a very efficient scorer. Notable 14ers performances included Billy Thomas, who scored 24 points on 13 shots against Bakersfield and 30 points on 18 shots with six rebounds, seven assists and seven steals against Iowa; and Trey Gilder, who had 23 points on 15 shots and nine rebounds against Los Angeles and 19 points on 12 shots against Sioux Falls, all off the bench.
This is where Colorado really started to heat up, going 11-2 over the month of March. Austin was the league and division leader when the month started, but not when it ended. The 14ers played almost everyone in the league this month, playing 11 different teams. Notable player performances included Dominique Coleman, who scored 24 points on 18 shots with nine rebounds and eight assists against Dakota; Josh Davis, who had 29 points on 16 shots with seven rebounds against Austin; and Eddie Gill again, who had 12 points on seven shots and 12 assists against Idaho.
April (regular season)
Colorado finished the regular season 3-3 in April, including getting blown out in each of the last two games. Trey Gilder had a fantastic month, with 32 points on 19 shots and 12 rebounds and 26 points on 14 shots and 10 rebounds in back to back games against Albuquerque, and 25 points on 20 shots and 10 rebounds against Reno. Other standout games included Eddie Gill (he seems to have one big game a month) with 23 points on 15 shots, seven assists and only one turnover against Tulsa; and John Lucas III, who had 22 points on 13 shots and eight assists in the second Albuquerque game.
Colorado went undefeated in the playoffs (they pretty much had to), defeating Erie, Austin and Utah twice in the finals. They ran away with the game against the BayHawks, led by Josh Davis (33 points on 15 shots, eight rebounds and two blocks) and Dominique Coleman (19 points on 13 shots, 13 rebounds, five assists and five steals). Austin gave them a tougher time, but the 14ers won out behind solid performances by Eddie Gill (23 points on 13 shots and seven assists) and Sonny Weems off the bench (27 points). Colorado began the finals thinking they would cruise to a title, racking up 78 points in the first half of the first game against Utah. The Flash came back to make a game of it, even though the 14ers ultimately won that game, and kept it close in the second game until Colorado pulled away to win the title. Game one honors go to Billy Thomas (27 points on 18 shots and seven rebounds), Josh Davis (25 points on 15 shots and eight rebounds) and Sonny Weems (28 points on 13 shots). Game two standouts were Joe Dabbert (21 points on 10-10 shooting, seven rebounds and five blocks), Davis again (21 points on 7-10 shooting and seven rebounds) and Weems again (25 points, seven assists).
That wraps up Colorado's season. They were a contender pretty much from the start, and Eddie Gill provided some steady performances as players like James Mays, Sean Williams and Cheik Samb came and went. The younger players like Gilder, Weems and Coleman started stepping up as the season went along, giving the 14ers the best bench in the league and helping them win the 2009 D-League championship.