Experiencing the BayHawks Live

Thursday, April 30, 2009

First of all, a disclaimer: I managed to attend only two BayHawks games during their inaugural season. I wish I had seen more, but scheduling conflicts just got in the way. However, you can bet on seeing me in attendance much more regularly. As I try to grow the blog, I certainly plan on being in attendance as much as possible next season. But for now, I have those two experiences to go on.

My first BayHawks game was Dec. 18 vs. the Dakota Wizards. My buddy Colvin and I went along with two of his coworkers, sitting in mid-level seats. The view was great, but I’d rate the crowd as subpar. They seemed disinterested Unfortunately, so did the team. From a basketball standpoint, it was not exactly a pleasant introduction to BayHawks basketball.

After starting the year 3-0 at home, Erie came out looking flat yet managed a 19-19 first quarter tie. From that point onm Erie was dominated. They were outscored by 11 in the second and 14 in the third en route to a 102-79 loss.

My next live BayHawks experience didn’t come until March 13. Incidentally, that game also came against Dakota. For what it’s worth, the Wizards seemed to have Erie’s number all season long. The BayHawks went just 2-5 against the Wizards for the year.

My second experience was much more representative of the BayHawks team that battled its way into the playoffs. Despite giving up 70 first half points, they never stopped fighting. Future Toronto Raptors call-up Quincy Douby suited up for the BayHawks in this one, netting 16 points in just over 16 minutes of playing time. Why he didn’t get more run, I’ll never know. Still, Erie hung in there, even managing to take a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter before eventually falling 123-117.

On the floor, this was obviously the more entertaining of the two games I saw. Dakota’s star Blake Ahearn torched the BayHawks for 35 points on 7-10 from 3-point range and 8-9 from the free throw line. The BayHawks countered by hitting 11 of 26 3-point shots themselves.

And best of all, I got to watch the whole thing from courtside seats directly behind the bench again with my friend Colvin. Thanks to his place of business for providing the tickets!

As Ferris Bueller would say, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking up those tickets.” Being courtside gives you a whole different level of appreciation for how big these guys are and all that they do on the floor. It was also a lot of fun to watch the body language of players on the bench and in the huddle as they took instructions from coach Treloar, who was surprisingly undemonstrative throughout the course of this tight-knit game.

But back to the fan experience. For the December game, I’d probably grade it a C-. Because I’m a basketball fan first, the product on the floor matters most to me, and a 23-point loss just isn’t acceptable. Still I can’t go lower than that. They did do a pretty good job of keeping the fans generally entertained with promotional gimmicks during timeouts and between quarters. And while the piped-in stadium sound was a bit overdone for my taste, it probably does help the more casual fan stay interested.

High marks for the dance team and halftime show at this one as well. I don’t remember who they were, but I think they were an elementary-school-aged hip hop dance crew. My cynical expectations were low, but these kids could move! Very entertaining, and judging from the BayHawks’ effort in this one, I’d say they practiced harder than the team that week.

For the March game, I’d go as high as an B+. Again, losing counts against them for me. But sitting courtside certainly didn’t hurt. You get your own personal waitress who walks around periodically asking if you need anything to eat or drink, and you can even get a copy of the stat sheet at the half from the statistician. Again, for basketball junkies like myself, that’s as important as the Price as Right themed halftime promotion they had that night. Of course, had I won the car, I’d probably have loved that segment most of all.

All in all, though, this was an experience that made me want to come back for more. And the game that really planted the seed in my mind to take this idea of a BayHawks blog and put the wheels in motion to make it happen.

Is there room for improvement? Of course there is. But kudos to the BayHawks for an overall entertain first year. Obviously I’m won over, and I can only hope that others feel similarly to ensure that professional basketball remains in Erie.

I’d love to hear from other fans who went to a game. What did you like or not like? Will you be back next year? Does the fact that the team made the playoffs make you more interested in seeing them? Hit up the comments section below.

Players in Review: Tejay Anderson

Anderson played in just 20 games for the BayHawks, averaging 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.2 minutes per game. He saw 10 minutes of action only once in the first four months of the season before bursting through with some big minutes in April.

In three April appearances, Anderson’s minutes increased from 15 to 19 to 22. The 22-minute regular season finale was the best performance of Anderson’s season as he had 7 points and 7 rebounds in Erie’s 123-89 victory.

The 6-5 forward out of Youngstown State also saw 10 minutes of action in the BayHawks’ playoff game against Colorado, suggesting that the coaching staff may have grown to appreciate him more and more late in the season.

It’s tough to judge anyone based on 6.2 minutes per game, and you can bet Anderson won’t want to be back in Erie if they have more bench time in store for him. But if the late season minutes are an indication of his value improving in the minds of the staff, it’s not entirely out of the question to rule Anderson out of returning to Erie next season.

Players in Review: Jarvis Gunter

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gunter did the dirty work for the BayHawks. Despite starting in just 2 games, Gunter played in 38 contests, averaging 3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game.

Gunter recorded a season-high 14 rebounds in Erie’s losing effort at Tulsa on Jan. 6. The 6-10 forward from Arkansas Pine-Bluff also managed to grab 6 boards in the BayHawks’ lone playoff game against Colorado.

Gunter is still more of a raw talent than a developed prospect at this point, but his athleticism makes him someone to watch in the future.

Players in Review: Darian Townes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The 6-10 forward from Arkansas was signed by Erie on Jan. 9. His season stat line: 31 games played, 4 starts, 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Townes gave the BayHawks some much needed size inside. They were a perimeter-based team all season long, so Townes’ ability to score and defend on the low block gave them a needed presence. His 1.19 blocks per game was good for second best on the BayHawks.

Townes played limited minutes with the BayHawks, and it would be interesting to see if he could maintain his production in an increased role. He’ll likely look to play elsewhere in search of those increased minutes.

Players in Review: Tony Bethel

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bethel was added to the Erie roster in February and went on to play in 20 games for the BayHawks, including 14 starts. Bethel was signed when former Pitt guard Mike Cook was released.

Bethel, a former North Carolina State guard, had recently spent time playing overseas in Belgium and Sweden. The transition back to the American game didn’t seem to hinder him too much.

In his shortened season with the BayHawks, he averaged a respectable 9.1 points per game on 44 percent shooting. His biggest issue was turnovers. At 6-2, 188 pounds, Bethel doesn’t have the size to be a two-guard in the NBA, which means he has to assume the ballhandling responsibilities of a point guard. His averages of 1.4 assists and 1.45 turnovers per game show that he’s not there yet.

If Bethel is back in a BayHawks uniform next season, that’s one area of his game coaches will look for improvement. Playmaking ability is not only the ability to make plays for yourself but for your teammates as well. Bethel showed flashes of the former this season, but his long-term prospects will depend on the development of the latter.

Players in Review: Cliff Clinkscales

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The March 25 decision to waive Cliff Clinkscales was not an easy one for the BayHawks, and one they likely regretted soon after making it as Quincy Douby was called up by the Toronto Raptors voiding a roster spot that could’ve been Clinkscales’ for the taking.

The departure likely means Erie fans won’t get to see the talented ballhandler back with the BayHawks in the future, but he contributed too much to the team’s success to ignore in this Players in Review year-end roundup.

Despite starting only nine times, Clinkscales led the BayHawks in assists this season, totaling 229 in his 43 games played. He also averaged 7.3 points per game. But passing the ball was where he made his greatest impact during his tenure with the BayHawks.

He finished the season playing for the Rio Grand Valley Vipers, who claimed him off waivers. In six games with the Vipers, he averaged 6 points and 4.8 assists in 18.8 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s back with the Vipers or any other NBDL team next year. If so, Erie may be left regretting their decision to release him even more.

Players in Review: Jackie Manuel

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every good team needs a defensive stopper on the perimeter. Just ask the 2005 NCAA champion North Carolina Tar Heels. That team, which included four first-round NBA draft picks (Marvin Williams, Sean May, Raymond Felton, and Rashad McCants) also had Jackie Manuel.

He was the man charged with the task of defending the other team’s best wing player, and he played a similar role for the BayHawks this season. Manuel started all 47 games he played in for Erie, averaging better than 9 points and 7 rebound per game.

But defense remains his calling card. His 57 blocked shots led the team, and he was the only BayHawk to average more than one steal (1.34) and one block (1.21) per game. Factor in the intangible benefits of his on-the-ball and help-defense instincts, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to label Manuel as the Defensive MVP of this BayHawks team.

As a defensive stopper in the mold of Bruce Bowen, it’s clear what Manuel needs to do to take his game to the next level. He needs to improve his 3-point shooting. Bowen was a maligned shooter early in his career, but he went on to lead the league in 3-point percentage in 2003 as a member of a Spurs team that won the NBA title.
Manuel converted on just 27.3 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. He has the athleticism and defensive ability to play on the big stage, but it won’t happen if he doesn’t improve his outside shot. If he can do that, perhaps his career will model Bowen’s, who is in his 13th year in the league.

D-League links

While this blog is primarily concerned with all things BayHawks, it will occasionally dip its toe in the water of basketball outside of Erie. What better way to do so than a links post.

On GoErie.com, Duane Rankin interviews coach John Treloar about his first season coaching the BayHawks:

"ETN: Looking back at the year, what did you learn most from this experience?

JT: Well, it was the first year for me in this minor league that is run and managed by the NBA. When I was at this level before (in the CBA), there were a little bit different management situations. Just learning the league and learning the little bit different rules and regulations that they go by, that was a learning thing for me. As far as the other coaches in the league, they're all new. I hadn't competed against most of them before. It was a year of me learning the opposing coaches and the players. A lot of players, it's the first time I've seen a lot of these guys. I didn't cross paths with them while I was in the college game over the last few years. It was a great opportunity for me to learn in a lot of different areas. Lastly, just the chance to come into this community and learn about this community and become a part of this community. Those are the things that jump out for me."
And in non-BayHawks D-League news, the 2009 D-League finals are set. The Utah Flash will host game one of the best-of-three series tonight against the Colorado 14ers (who defeated Erie in round one).

Players in Review: Oliver Lafayette

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lafayette was one of only four BayHawks players to average in double figures for the season, scoring 13.6 points per game. His primary contributions came in December and January when he started 18 games before a broken hand caused him to miss some time. In all, Lafayette started 23 games for Erie during their inaugural season.

The 6-2 guard showed a lot of promise early in the season, but he was never quite the same after the broken hand. At full strength, he gives them another weapon in the backcourt.

He can obviously score the ball, finishing the season as the BayHawks’ fourth leading scorer despite playing in just 36 games. He also rebounds well from the guard position. While his overall assist numbers could be improved, Lafayette does take care of the ball. His 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio was second best on the team.

The bottom line is that Lafayette showed some promise early on, but injuries kept him from reaching his potential in 2009. He’s one of the players that could really benefit from another year of seasoning with the BayHawks, and one who would bring plenty to the table if brought back at 100 percent for the ’09-’10 season.

Players in Review: Ivan Harris

Monday, April 20, 2009

As the only player to start all 50 games for the BayHawks, Harris was a model of consistency. The Ohio State product is known as “The Microwave” for his ability to heat up in a hurry, and he did so often for the BayHawks.

He finished the year third in both scoring and rebounding for Erie, averaging 15.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He also led the team in 3-point percentage, converting on nearly 43 percent of his attempts from distance.

His 3-point stroke really became more of a weapon down the stretch, and it definitely makes the 6-7 forward more marketable as a player. There will always be a place for shooters in the NBA. If you look at recent NBA champions, you’ll find names like Eddie House, Brent Barry, and Jason Kapono as contributing pieces.

That’s what Harris needs to work toward, If he can prove that he can shoot in the mid 40s with more attempts, he could someday fill a vital role for an NBA club as the knockdown shooting wing, ideally paired with an explosive point guard or a big man who demands a double-team in the post.

Perhaps the best vision of Harris’ future would look something like this past. In 2006-07, Harris played alongside Mike Conley and Greg Oden at Ohio State. NBA teams with a similar 1-2 punch may want to give Harris a look this offseason. But if he does find himself back in the D-League, it’d be wise for Harris to continue to focus on his ability to spread the defense and light it up from the outside.

Players in Review: Maureece Rice

Friday, April 17, 2009

The BayHawks playoff performance was mostly forgettable, but Maureece Rice’s performance was one of the few memorable aspects. The 6-1 guard out of George Washington scored a team-high 33 points, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range while dishing out 7 assists in 42 minutes of play.

Rice finished the year second on the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game, second in three-point percentage (minimum of 50 attempts) at 37.9 percent, and second in free throw percentage at 85 percent.

The playoff performance against Colorado certainly highlighted Rice’s strengths. He’s got a knack for getting to the rim, which he complements with a pretty consistent stroke from the outside. He’s powerful with the ball with a physical build somewhere between that of Jameer Nelson and Deron Williams.

Rice will hopefully get a look from an NBA team this offseason. The biggest area of concern has to be his assist-to-turnover ratio, which was just under 2:1 for the year. His ability to score and stretch the defense are strengths, but if he can raise that assist number, he’ll have a legit shot at catching on as a point guard in a regular NBA rotation.

BayHawks fans would selfishly love to bring Mo back to lead the team next year, but if it’s not in the cards, he’ll be remembered fondly as the engine that helped this team battle into the playoffs in its first NBDL season.

Players in Review: Erik Daniels

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No matter how you slice it, Erik Daniels was undoubtedly the MVP of the 2008-09 Erie BayHawks. The former Kentucky Wildcat led the team in minutes played, scoring and rebounding plus he was second in assists.

Most impressively, Daniels averaged a double-double (21.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game) while playing all 50 games. Only three other NBDL players accomplished that feat (minimum of 25 games played). To really put into perspective how impressive it is to average a double-double for a full season, only six NBA players accomplished that feat this year. Players that came close but DID NOT make that list: Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison, David West, Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitski and Lamar Odom.

Daniels was Erie’s lone representative in the D-League all-star game, and he was recently named as an All-NBDL 1st team selection. With all of his success this season, it’s hard to envision Daniels back in Erie next season.

As one of the top players in the NBDL, he’ll likely get an invite to an NBA camp or wind up overseas next season.

While I’m sure coach Treloar would love to have the luxury of building a team around Daniels next year, the nature of the D-League is such that the best players don’t hang around for long. After all, the goal is to get from the D-League to THE league.

Whether Daniels, at age 27, can make that jump is to be determined. But he gave Erie fans plenty to cheer about in the team’s first season, and he’ll go down as the leader of the first bunch of BayHawks to ever lace ‘em up in Erie.

Now What?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The season is officially over. The BayHawks lost their opening round playoff game against the Colorado 14ers last night, bringing Erie’s inaugural NBDL campaign to a sudden close. That’s the danger of a one-and-done playoff system.

So, what’s next for the Erie BayHawks? Honestly, I don’t know. The nature of the D-League suggests that this team may look very differently when they start playing again next season.
As a quick refresher, the players on Erie’s roster (or any D-League player) are not signed to the BayHawks. D-League players don’t sign contracts with teams. They sign with the NBDL. Each D-League roster may consist of a maximum of 12 players, 10 (or fewer) being D-League players and two (or more) NBA players.

Rosters are composed of a combination of the previous years’ players, players taken in the D-league draft, allocation players, NBA team assignments and players from local tryouts.

When you factor in all of those variables, there’s really no telling who—if anyone—will be back playing for the BayHawks in 2009-10.

With that in mind, we’ll spend the next several days looking at the players who played for Erie this year and what they have to offer if they do return next season.

Erie BayHawks Begin D-League Playoffs Tonight

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Erie BayHawks had so much fun during their inaugural NBDL season that they decided to keep playing into the postseason.

As part of the D-League’s innovative playoff system, the seventh-seeded BayHawks were handpicked by the top-seeded Colorado 14ers for a first round playoff battle that takes place tonight in Colorado.

Although the 14ers claim that there was no real motivation for the selection, you have to imagine that coach John Treloar has his BayHawks team believing that they were disrespected by the 14ers. In the D-League’s one-and-done opening round format, that extra motivation could be the difference between playing on and going home.

During the season, the BayHawks lost both meetings with Colorado. Erie lost their January 27 meeting in Colorado 114-110. The BayHawks also lost 119-103 at home on March 27.

With both teams scoring in triple digits in the two regular season games, another high-scoring affair is expected. Having seen the BayHawks twice in person, they certainly have the firepower to score in bunches.

It starts with Erik Daniels, Maureece Rice and Ivan Harris. Together, Daniels, Rice and Harris combine to score more than 55 points per game. Those three players are not only the top scorers on the team, they’re also the only players to play in all 50 regular season games.

BayHawks fans hoping to see the team play again this season, cheer for the upset. Of course, you can catch all of the D-League playoff action online with FutureCast. But the only chance Erie has of playing another home game this season is if they reach the best-of-three championship series.

Hopefully that journey starts tonight in Colorado.

Beginning at the End

I’ve been toying around with the idea of a BayHawks blog for more than a year—before the team was even named the BayHawks. As soon as I heard professional basketball was coming to Erie, I felt the need to document it. And I managed to attend a couple of home games, including courtside behind the bench against the Dakota Wizards.

Still, this URL and design sat here, a blank canvas in waiting. I didn’t want to jump in and fall short. I didn’t want the debut of this blog to be anything less than spectacular. Then I realized I was running out of time. The first season of Erie BayHawks basketball was nearing its end, and I still hadn’t posted an entry.

A few weeks ago, I did some informal Google search research to see if I was too late. Aside from Erie Times-News columnist Duane Rankin’s Give and Go, I found no Erie BayHawks blog to speak of. In this day and age, it seems crazy for any professional team, NBDL or otherwise, not to have a presence in the blogosphere.

And so it is in the spirit of being a basketball fan and a writer that I officially launch Blog Talk BayHawk today, April 14.

To answer your questions: No, I have no official connection to the Erie BayHawks, the D-League or anyone in the organization or their affiliates. I’m just a basketball fan who likes to write.

And yes, I realize that I’m launching on the same day that Erie’s inaugural season could potentially come to an end. However, I’m following the motto that it’s better late than never.

So, with that spirit of optimism in mind, let me wrap up this initial blog post with three simple tenets of hopefulness that I hope to carry as this blog’s mission.

  1. I hope this blog’s journey will coincide with the journey of the Erie BayHawks through the 2009 D-League Playoffs, but if a championship is not in the cards this season, I hope this blog’s journey will continue along with the BayHawks for many seasons to come.
  2. I hope this blog will become a place for fans of the Erie BayHawks, the NBDL and professional basketball in general to read and share information and opinions
  3. I hope this blog will be fun, entertaining and informative but also courteous, respectful and responsible.

About this blog/blogger

Blog Talk BayHawk is an unofficial Erie BayHawks blog covering the NBA D-League. It features opinions and information about the NBADL and the Erie BayHawks. Blog Talk BayHawk is written from a basketball fan’s perspective to fill In the gaps left by professional journalists’ coverage of BayHawks basketball and the Erie professional basketball scene.

Matt Hubert is a 25-year-old writer and basketball fanatic born and raised in Erie, Pa. He graduated from Mercyhurst College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and a dual concentration in writing and creative writing. Matt's not wavering from his stance as a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, but he will cover the BayHawks' NBA affiliates in Cleveland and Toronto when it makes sense to do so throughout the year.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter


    A Proud Erie Blogger