Since the Wizards denied me the opportunity to do color commentary for the Vipers-Wizards game (don't ask) with my main man Alex Del Barrio and their futurecast feed went out for a decent portion of the end-game, I'm forced to put the Dakota-RGV tilt after the fold. Still, as the headline indicates, Mike Harris was a stud. Lucky for you, I also spent a considerable amount of my afternoon watching two teams I haven't watched enough, the Tulsa 66ers and Erie Bayhawks!
Erie Bayhawks 102, Tulsa 66ers 97 (Box Score)
- Cleveland State's Cedric Jackson (my second favorite Cleveland State point guard behind Carlos English, by the way) has long been my favorite Erie player, despite the Cliff Clinkscales love from some of the other D-League blogs. Yesterday afternoon, he proved why. While not having an especially proficient box score (20 points on 15 shots, eight assists to six turnovers), he consistently got to the bucket and made the big shot when it mattered. He also did a decent-enough job on defense, limiting the effect of Tulsa's best offensive player.
- Frank Tolbert, who would have been called "Six Fingers" if this was the 1960's, was especially efficient for the Bayhawks. While I'm not sure why the Mad Ants ever cut him, he at least makes up for the Bayhawks cutting Rod Wilmont, and maybe even Oliver Lafayette. Tolbert went 8-of-10 from the field, 8-of-8 from the line and added five rebounds while contributing a game-high-tying 25 points. That's the most points in the D-League record for a player with more than five fingers.
- Alade Aminu is probably going to get a call-up in April. Not necessarily because he's ready, but because he has what some in the business call 'ridiculous upside.' If there was a stat that combined youth+athleticism+length+untapped potential, Aminu would lead the D-League. Honestly, he's just hard to guard when his head is in the game. Yesterday, he put up 22 points and 10 boards, which is about what he should average. In reality, he averages a disappointing 13.3 points and seven boards.
- Mike Gansey didn't play. For some odd reason, there was no recap, so I'm forced to say he was out with a bout of being too pretty. That, or there should be a freaking real box score or recap that says why players miss a game.
Mustafa Shakur is the real reason I watched this game, but his team lost, so I couldn't lead off with him (sorry, Mustafa). He played about how I wanted him to play, which was very good. He runs his offense well, he takes over when he needs to and he plays above the rim, which is my favorite part about him from the point guard position. Honestly, you should have seen the dunk he had over some poor Erie soul. His 3-point shot was off, however, which is probably what's going to need to improve if he's going to be called-up - while he's a good offensive player, his long distance shooting is too sketchy (13-of-38) to warrant a call-up as a third string point guard. Still, his other numbers - 18 points, 10 boards and six assists - are exactly what I'd look for if I was in the business of calling up D-League point guards*.
- Moses Ehambe is a flat-out shooter. At the Showcase, I was told that he might be the best 3-point shooter in the D-League; after watching the second half of this game, I'm closer to believing it. All Shakur has to do is drive a bit, draw the double-team and find Ehambe from beyond the arc and, like Young Joc says, it's going down. Ehambe shot 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and I'm willing to bet he was 4-of-4 in the second half (I'm too lazy to look through the play-by-play, but it seemed like he couldn't miss in the second half). He's not going to contribute much else, but a knock-down shooter is always nice to have when a team has a point guard who likes to drive to the bucket.
- 66er Nation's Kevin Henry told Blog Talk Bayhawk that Larry Owens is the most underrated player on the 66ers. He apparently doesn't read Ridiculous Upside, or I don't rave about Larry Owens as much as I'd like to rave about him. Owens, as Henry notes, can play both the 3 and the 4 in the D-League, though he's a 3 at the NBA level (not that I like him at the NBA level, just that he's not a post-up guy if he were to play in the NBA). Anyway, Owens abused Jackie Manuel yesterday to the tune of 17 points and five assists. I know, that's not that impressive, but I always have fun watching Owens play because he's a big, physical, crafty 3 that knows what it takes to play at this level.
*Note: I have no business calling-up D-League point guards.Rio Grande Valley Vipers 126, Dakota Wizards 116 (OVERTIME) (Box Score)
- Mike Harris deserves a call-up. Seriously, I don't know what else he can do. He's a strong, physical freak that Dakota had no answer for on defense (or offense, for that matter). I can't say much else about him, so I'm just going to let his numbers speak for themselves: 48 points on 25 shots, 24 rebounds (10 offensive). I mean, he's obviously better than anyone else at whatever position you want to put him at in the D-League.
- I still don't have much love for Will Conroy, but I can't knock his 18 point, 15 assist, four steal performance yesterday. If your point guard has more assists than field goal attempts (14), he's doing something right. Nonetheless, I had the following text echange while watching the game:
Anonymous: If you were an NBA GM and your team needed a point guard and you had to choose between Moe Baker or Will Conroy... Who would you choose?
Me: If I had to choose, Will. Why?
Anonymous: Just trying to decide why teams like him ... I have trouble finding a reason to like him.
- Antonio Anderson had 12 points and eight boards, but also turned it over five times, including a crucial turnover when Renaldo Major stole the ball with :37 seconds left in the game. As far as I can tell, he's going to do amazing things every game, but he'll even that out by making a rookie mistake every game. Either way, if I'm in a fox hole, I wouldn't mind Anderson in there with me.
- Ernest Scott will never be an NBA player. He will be a guy that will come off the bench in the D-League, play hard and pretend he's a big while hitting some clutch shots. By clutch shots, I mean the SIX of ELEVEN 3-pointer's he made from beyond the arc. While I'm not excited about this, it definitely doesn't hurt.
- Renaldo Major was good for Dakota. I still can't figure why he's not in the starting lineup, but I guess that's why I'm writing this blog and there's 40ish coaches getting paid as part of a coaching staff in the D-League. Major had 23 points, 7 boards, five assists, a steal and a block. He's certainly Dakota's best defensive player (and scored the most for them offensively), but still, he had issues with Harris when they were matched-up.
- Cheyne Gadson is an isolation powerhouse. He tied the game with a reverse lay-up to force overtime and finished with 17 points and seven assists in 30 minutes off the bench. While I don't love him, he's a player I want on the floor when I need a basket.
- Marcus Dove is not a player I'd want on the court when I need a basket, yet Dakota coach Rory White drew up the final play of regulation for him: a turn-around jumper from the baseline. He obviously missed it. Dove is active defensively, but he's the last player I'd draw up a play for on the Wizards if I was interested in winning the game.
- David Bell shot 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and finished with 19 points. Unfortunately, this is really good for Bell this year. I say unfortunately because he's not been able to hit from deep consistently all season.
- Maurice Baker had his typical all-around game with 15 points, eight boards, four assists and zero turnovers. Again, I'm too lazy to look, but it seems his assist numbers are down quite a bit as of late.
Iowa Enegy 100, Albuquerque Thunderbirds 85 (Box Score)
- The beginning of this game was a disaster. It had a high school game before that went to double overtime, leading to the teams not getting their allotted 45 minutes to warm-up and the game not starting until 4:25 (4:00 start planned, according to the website). Apparently, this affected Albuquerque a bit more, as they came out extremely flat.
- Jeff Trepagnier has been a lot more productive for the Energy than I expected. 27 points and six steals in 25 minutes is exactly what I'd want out of my 29 year old gunner. I wouldn't necessarily like the 3-for-10 from beyond the arc, but hey, you take what you can get.
- Curtis Stinson had 16 points, seven assists, four turnovers and zero technical fouls. I consider this a success.
- Kevin Pittsnogle had a double-double: 23 points and 11 rebounds. Impressively, two of those rebounds were on the offensive end. More impressively, he contributed three blocks. If Pittsnogle has somehow decided he's not scared of going inside the 3-point line, I won't hate him as much. And not just because I'm jealous of his tat's.
- Carlos Powell had 24 points and five assists, but counteracted that a bit with six turnovers.
- I didn't watch much of this game. Therefore, nothing else stood out to me.
Utah Flash 97, Bakersfield Jam 93 (Box Score)
- Former Wizard Blake Ahearn came off the bench and shot 2-of-9 from the field in 26 minutes. I can't imagine this was the plan when he asked to be traded from Dakota so he "could get point guard minutes".
- Former Wizard Dontell Jefferson played much better than he has of late, according to the box score, finishing with 17 points and 13 assists with just three turnovers.
- Fort Wayne's Jeff Potter apparently was interviewed at halftime. I don't know why.
- Bennet Davis had 15 boards off the bench.
- I didn't watch this game at all, so here's highlights: