Though Coach Gene Cross' Erie BayHawks failed to make the NBA D-League playoffs this season, the team still put forth a valiant effort. Erie competed for a spot in the postseason until the final day of the regular season, keeping hope alive until the very end.
In the coach's first season in Erie, he still managed to lead the squad to a 26-24 as they coped with the early departures of team all-stars D.J. Kennedy and Henry Sims prior to season's end.
Putting forth such an effort as coach, Cross merely begun to put the building blocks for a winning environment in place, and proved to be able to do so while at the same time, being forced to make constant adjustments.
Though the BayHawks can do nothing more at this point than simply sit at home and watch the RGV Vipers and Santa Cruz Warriors go at it in the NBADL Finals this week, Coach Cross is already doing what he can to ensure his offseason doesn't go to waste.
Immediately following Erie's elimination from contention, the coach ventured out to the Big Apple on a more regular-basis to start spending more time with the Knicks, parent affiliate of the BayHawks.
Coach Cross and his staff (assistant coach Ben McDonald and athletic trainer Kyle Creasey) were all featured and could be seen in segments of "The Mike Woodson Show" on MSG Network, during which Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson and his staff discussed strategy in the video room earlier this season.
With New York now in the midst of a heated playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics, Coach Cross has been in town to take part in practices. No confirmation yet as to how much of a role he has (or if he's simply there to observe), but such a presence still proves the commitment of Woodson and the Knicks to integrating the minor league squad into what they do.
Earlier this season, Knicks Assistant General Manager (and acting BayHawks G.M.) Allan Houston spoke exclusively with RidiculousUpside.com, expressing his hope for a strong relationship between Woodson and Cross.
Whether he's simply aiming to learn more from the experience, or whether he's hoping to help guide the Knicks a bit himself, there's no doubt Coach Cross' presence in New York at this time is a positive one.
With regard to potentially building a stronger bond between big league squads and their minor league affiliates, such a seamless integration would be a smart thing for any NBA playoff contenders to execute right now.