Iowa Energy 111, Utah Flash 92 (Box Score)
This game was close in the first half - Utah actually led 54-51 - but the Flash couldn't keep up in the second half with the Energy's, well, energy. It also doesn't help that they couldn't shoot, being held scoreless for the final 4:39 of the third quarter while Iowa went on an 11-0 run to open up a 76-64 lead they'd never relinquish heading into the final stanza.
I'm really impressed that Iowa made it out of the first round considering they lost four of their top five players in the past two months (two in the past two weeks), Curtis Stinson had an off game and Utah didn't exactly pose an easy match-up for them.
Basically, credit coach Nick Nurse (and his staff). If Nurse gets the Iowa State assistant job he's apparently interviewing for after the season, the Energy are going to have a tough time replacing him.
Anyway, enough of the game recapping - let's get into the Monstars and Nonstars!
First, as always, the Monstars:
- Connor Atchley had 19 points, 11 rebounds (five on the offensive end) and swatted three shots while shooting 8-of-10 from the field in his 35+ minutes of action. To put that into perspective, the rookie averaged 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 41 games (13 starts) split between the Energy and the Dakota Wizards during the regular season. While he's never really been highly regarded, it's hard to pass on a 6-foot-10 kid who is so scrappy on defense and has a nice stroke - which is exactly how he put up the stats that he did today. Even though he didn't attempt a 3-pointer, I think he made four 20-foot jumpers - that's a tough match-up for most big men in the D-League and something I fully expect Nurse to take advantage of against the Tulsa 66ers next round.
- Mark Tyndale contributed a lot of energy off of the bench for the Energy, which is exactly what they needed with the starting swingmen struggling once again. Tyndale had 24 points, slashed to the bucket with reckless abandon to get 14 free-throw attempts (he made 12) and added seven rebounds to go with three assists (two fancy ones in the first quarter). I'm assuming the former Temple stud will make a Summer League team and then get a random training camp invite like last season with the Bucks, but I don't know if he'll ever actually stick until he gets consistent.
- Orien Greene can get my third star just because I feel bad leaving Utah off. In my notes I had that he is good at hustling and that the Iowa announce team said he'll be on an NBA roster next year - and I guarantee at least one of those things is true. In this game he shot just 9-of-23 from the field and and had six turnovers, but his overall line probably offsets that to a degree - 22 points, 10 boards, five assists, three steals and a block. If nothing else, it's apparent that he definitely has a lot of heart.
And now for the Nonstars:
- Luke Nevill, what is up my dude? I had some faith in you earlier this season, but after going 1-for-5 with two fouls and a turnover in less than 12 minutes before taking a seat on the bench for the entire second and fourth quarter (and most of the third), I don't think I have as much hope in your NBA prospects. You were supposed to be the big man that took over this series with Earl Barron in the NBA, not Atchley.
Andre Ingram was pretty solid all season, but he laid an egg in the second half of this game going 2-for-9 to complete an abysmal 4-for-16 day from the field. Some of the credit has to go to Iowa's defense, including Stinson, but for as highly-regarded as a shooter that Ingram is, hitting 4-of-16 isn't going to cut it. He also had three assists, three steals and three turnovers in 31+ minutes of action.
I usually go with three Nonstars, but I'm tired of calling the Phoenix Suns' Taylor Griffin out for not playing like an NBA player in a D-League game, so he'll get a pass until next series.