Game Preview: Erie BayHawks at Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Friday, November 27, 2009

Put away those Thanksgiving leftovers, stash away the bags from Black Friday shopping, and tune into FutureCast. The Erie BayHawks tip off the 2009-10 NBA Development League season tonight on the road against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Locally, fans can also listen to the radio broadcast of the game on WFFN 1330 AM.

Erie plays at Fort Wayne again tomorrow night and then travels to play two games against Sioux Falls next weekend before returning to Erie for its home opener Dec. 12.

The BayHawks defeated Fort Wayne last Friday in preseason action, 106-100, so these teams have some familiarity with each other.

Erie BayHawks at Fort Wayne Mad Ants Game Preview

Erie coming in: The BayHawks made two surprising cuts to set its final 10-man roster, waiving guards Rod Wilmont and Oliver Lafayette. Both players had D-League experience and they were first and second on the team in scoring in Erie's preseason win over Fort Wayne. Obviously that begs the question, who's going to pick up the scoring slack for the BayHawks? Ivan Harris is the team's leading returning scorer, having averaged 15.7 points per game last season. Also look for top draft choice Donell Taylor to be heavily involved.

Fort Wayne coming in: Just prior to the preseason game, the Mad Ants saw Chris Hunter get called up to the Golden State Warriors. With that void up front, Fort Wayne turned to third-year forward Ron Howard to lead the charges, and he did not disappoint. He led all scorers in the preseason game with 24 points. Fort Wayne also boasts a trio of former Fighting Irish in Rob Kurz, Kyle McAlarney, and Ryan Ayers. Kurz, who was traded from Erie to Fort Wayne for Alade Aminu, will no doubt be up for this game after he struggled to find the touch shooting the ball in their preseason meeting.

BayHawks keys to success:

  1. Dominate the paint.
    Look for the BayHawks to try to establish a low post game with Alade Aminu and/or John Bryant. This year's BayHawks are considerably bigger than last year's squad and dominating the paint may be their best course of action, especially with some questions at the point guard spot.

  2. Defend against the 3.
    Almost 1/3 of Fort Wayne's shots (23 of their 78 attempts) came from beyond the arc when these teams played last week. The Notre Dame crew was especially lethal from distance as McAlarney and Ayers each hit three from distance. Kurz didn't make a 3, but he launched 5, so he's another long-range gunner to watch.

  3. Depend on experience.
    Before this season is over, Erie will need contributions from everyone, but with five players making their professional debut tonight in a hostile environment, it's a good time to look to players who have been here before like Ivan Harris and Jackie Manuel.
The game begins at 7:30 tonight. And if their preseason matchup was any indication of what's to come, this will be a high-intensity, back-and-forth game that will come to down fourth quarter execution and free throw shooting. The season is finally here. Let the games begin!

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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.

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