BayHawks Trade Donell Taylor to Idaho Stampede for Mike Gansey

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Erie BayHawks have agreed to trade their leading scorer and 2009 1st-round draft pick Donell Taylor to the Idaho Stampede for Mike Gansey. Ironically, Gansey was Erie's top pick in last year's draft, but he opted to play overseas instead.

The trade is a major shakeup for the BayHawks, who have started this season a disappointing 4-9, including a 1-5 record at home.

Taylor currently leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game, which is good for 17th in the D-League. Taylor also averges 6.2 rebounds and is second on the team in 3-point percentage. The biggest struggle for Taylor has been ball control as he's averaged just 2.8 assists with 3.5 turnovers per game on the year. Most recently, Taylor was benched for the majority of a game Erie won over Bakersfield, playing less than 10 minutes after getting the start.

As for what Erie is getting in return, Gansey is a different player than Taylor. He's more perimeter-oriented and staked his claim as a 3-point marksman during his college years at West Virginia. This season, however, his numbers are negligibly better than Taylor's from behind the arc. He's shot 14-39 (35.9 percent) from 3 compared to Taylor's 35.7 percent. 5-14

I'm a fan of Gansey, and I called for Erie to draft him again this year. I also understand Erie's desire to bring in a shooter—heck, I've been calling for it for weeks now—but with Gansey converting 3s at a rate no better than Taylor, I don't totally understand the thinking behind this deal, unless there's something more to it. Gansey is a good player, but there's a reason he went in the sixth round to Idaho whereas Taylor went in the first round to Erie. Gansey has started just one game for the Stampede; Taylor has started all 13 for the BayHawks.

But it's official. This is a straight-up one-for-one swap. It's definitely a gamble on Erie's side, but at 4-9, I guess they felt they needed to take a chance and mix things up a bit. If Gansey can be the hot hand from outside that they've lacked much of this season (save for Ivan Harris' 5-10 performance on Tuesday), maybe it'll be the spark they've lacked.

The other angle on this trade is the idea that maybe the BayHawks are looking at the possibility of addition by subtraction? Taylor is the leading scorer on the team, but that comes at a price. He's taken 227 shots this season. Jackie Manuel is next on the list at 166 FGA. While Taylor is talented, he's also got something to do with some of Erie's bad offensive habits, namely the contested, pull-up jumpshot from just inside the 3-point line.

Just as the addition of Cliff Clinkscales has helped facilitate ball movement for the Erie offense, the subtraction of Taylor may do the same. He's a skilled scorer, but at what cost? There's no stats to back it up, but just from watching the team, I can see that the ball does tend to stick when he's in there. If Erie can find a way to replace his scoring—and I don't expect that it'll come from Gansey alone—perhaps a new, fluid offense will develop. If not, well, they were only 4-9 with him anyway.

Erie won't play the Stampede until March 13 when they travel to Idaho. In the meantime, good luck to Taylor and welcome Mike Gansey. I'm skeptical of this trade for sure, but I understand why Erie felt compelled to shake things up on the final day of 2009. Here's hoping 2010 has brighter days ahead for the BayHawks.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 91, Bakersfield Jam 78

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Erie BayHawks came through on their win guarantee and won their first home game of the season, defeating the Bakersfield Jam 91-78. They did it with uncharacteristically good outside shooting, unusual player rotations from Coach John Treloar, and uninspired play from the Jam.

But let's start with those unusual player rotations. Starters Alade Aminu and Donell Taylor, who second on the team in minutes per game, played less than 10 minutes apiece. Jackie Manuel, who averages a team-high 43 minutes per game saw less than 29 minutes of action. Unusual, atypical, weird. Whatever you want to say about the lineups and player usage tonight, the bottom line is that it worked, at least for this night.

John Bryant led the team in minutes played with 42, and for good reason. This was by far Bryant's best home outing of the season. He shot 7-13 from the floor, routinely hitting the 15-18 foot jumper off the pick-and-pop, primarily run with Cedric Jackson. He also pulled down a team-high 16 rebounds, all on the defensive end.

Someone must have said something to Ivan Harris about his affection for the long two-point jumpshot. On this night, he limited his college 3-point attempts and hit consistently (5-10) from NBA 3-point range for 15 of his team-high 19 points on the night.

But the player of the game, in my opinion, was backup point guard Cedric Jackson. Cliff Clinkscales got the start on the basis of his hot recent play, but the two point guards split time evenly tonight, and Jackson played well enough that he was the man that closed the game out for the BayHawks. Jackson had 17 points on 6-9 shooting, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. Clinkscales had a quiet night, going 0-2 from the field with just 4 assists.

Jackson was the closer tonight that Erie has lacked this season. There was a moment in the 4th quarter when the BayHawks appeared to be headed toward yet another late-game collapse. What had been a 19-point lead at one point was trimmed to 75-67 early in the 4th. That's when Jackson turned out the lights. He made a driving/floating layup to push the lead back to 10. Following another Bakersfield basket, Jackson found Jackie Manuel for an assist, again pushing the lead to 10. Then, following a Jarvis Gunter block, Jackson found Manuel again, this time on an alley-oop. Finally, Jackson got a steal and finished on the other end with a layup that made it 83-69 Erie. That sequence was when this game was put on ice, and most of the credit goes to Cedric Jackson as the catalyst. Credit him for stepping up in a big way in the wake of Clinkscales' recent success.

Bakersfield falls to 2-12 with the loss. Erie improves to 4-9 (1-5 at home) with the win. Unfortunately, this is the only time they'll play the Jam this season.

Up next for the BayHawks is a New Year's Day date in Maine where they'll meet a Red Claws team that is 3-0 against them, beating the BayHawks by an average of 17 points per game. This season has not started as well as many had hoped, but they ended it with a win at home. If they can start 2010 with a win on the road in Maine, maybe there's hope for this season to turn around yet.

Game Preview: Bakersfield Jam (2-11) at Erie BayHawks (3-9)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tonight the Erie BayHawks, in search of their first home victory, welcome the 2-11 Bakersfield Jam to town as part of a doubleheader. The BayHawks game follows a local high school game between Cathedral Prep and Warren.

The BayHawks' organization is so disappointed after blowing a 30-point lead Sunday against the Iowa Energy that they've issued a win guarantee to their fans, which states that if the BayHawks lose, all fans in attendance tonight can take their ticket stub to the box office and redeem it for a free ticket to an upcoming game.

More importantly than any box office issues, however, the BayHawks need to be concerned about what's going wrong on the court, especially at home, where they are now 0-5 to start this season.

Game 12 Preview: Bakersfield Jam (2-11) at Erie BayHawks (3-9)

Bakersfield coming in: After starting the season 0-9, Bakersfield has won two of its last four games, including a 115-98 win on the road against Maine on Sunday. Maine is the same team that swept the BayHawks in three games in Erie earlier this month. Bakersfield guard Jeremy Wise led the way in that win over Maine with 24 points, but he had the help of a balanced attack that included three bench players scoring in double figures. The fact that they were able to upset the Red Claws—by 17 points—tells me that the Jam may be more dangerous to the BayHawks than their 2-11 record suggests.

Erie coming in: Disappointing doesn't begin to describe the feeling surrounding this team right now. They blew halftime leads in back-to-back home games against the D-League's top team, Iowa, over the weekend to drop to 0-5 at home this season and a lowly 3-9 overall. The Sunday loss was particularly disheartening. Even after surrendering most of their 25-point halftime lead, Erie still had a chance to ice the victory in the final seconds up three by making just one of their two free throws, but Martin Zeno missed both, Cartier Martin hit the game-tying 3 at the buzzer to send it into overtime, and the rest is history.

BayHawks' keys to success:

  • Remember and forget.
    This one is simply mental. The BayHawks need to put what happened at the end of their last game against the Energy behind them. Yes, blowing a 30-point lead is bad. Really bad. But it's one game. They need to move on and forget about it by the time tonight's game tips off. That said, they also need to remember that they were beating the league's best team handily, up by as many as 30 points at one point late in the first half. Clearly, there's a good deal of talent on this team, but they've been plagued by inconsistency.

  • Play like it's 1979.
    The 1978-79 season was the last year the NBA played without a 3-point line, and that's what the BayHawks need to do. With a quarter of the season already done, it's clear that they are not an outside shooting team (27-100 on 3s this season). So stop shooting them. Check out the box score against Iowa on Sunday. Erie took just two 3-point field goals (missing both), and the no 3s strategy nearly resulted in a win over the league's best team and quite honestly it should have resulted in a win. Stick to what works: lay off the 3-ball.

  • Ride the hot hand.
    Typically that's a saying applied to a shooter, but we've already addressed the fact that shooting is not a BayHawks strong point. In this instance, the hot hand is the ballhandling of newly acquired point guard Cliff Clinkscales. As Steve Weinman over at D-League Digest pointed out, Clinkscales has been on a tear as of late, racking up 35 assists and just 4 turnovers in the past three games. If he can keep distributing the ball at that rate, Clinkscales may make point guard one area of early-season concern that the BayHawks can actually cross off their to-do list.

Iowa Energy 100, Erie BayHawks 95 (OT)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Note: This was the first home game I was unable to attend, so I'm going with a straight reprint of the press release that was sent to me.

The Erie BayHawks (3-9) continued to struggle at home losing to the division leading Iowa Energy (10-1) 100 – 95 in overtime at the Tullio Arena.

Erie led by as many as 30 points before being outscored in the third quarter 29 – 13. The Energy were led by Cartier Martin with 25 points. Martin hit a game tying three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in the game to knot the score at 92. Curtis Stinson chipped in 23 and Earl Barron added a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The BayHawks scoring was led by Donell Taylor with 25 points and 10 rebounds to mark a double-double. John Bryant added his sixth double-double performance of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The BayHawks take on the Bakersfield Jam Tuesday night in a 7 PM tipoff at the Tullio Arena. The game will feature the first in a series of High School Hoops Showcase games, with Cathedral Prep taking on Warren High School in a 5 PM tipoff. Tickets for the game are good for admission to the double header.

Game Review: Iowa Energy 99, Erie BayHawks 90

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The result was almost identical the last time these two teams met. A week ago, Erie lost 95-88 and 99-89 in Iowa. The BayHawks hoped a change of scenery would equal a change of outcome, but he Energy bounced back from a 50-47 halftime deficit to win 99-90 and improve to 9-1 on the year. The BayHawks dropped to 3-8 on the season, including 0-4 at home.

There was a lot to write about from this game. But this is the Internet, it's after 10 p.m., so I'm going with a bullets review for this one, breaking it down into three sections: Erie, Iowa, and General Observations.


  • How do you follow up an 11-assist, 1 turnover game? Cliff Clinkscales followed it with a 11 assists in the first half against the Energy. He finished the game with 16 assists and just 2 turnovers. Surprisingly he also went 7-13 from the field. I say surprising because he has arguably the ugliest jumper on the team. What's important is that he doesn't force many jumpshots, and he finds other ways to score.
  • As per @DLeagueDigest's tweet, the BayHawks missed a plethora of layups/tip-ins, even a dunk attempt by Jackie Manuel. Maybe you can excuse that kind of sloppiness in high school. You have to make those shots if you're going to win at this level.
  • I tweeted about this repeatedly during the game, but Ivan Harris has an uncanny tendency to hit every shot he takes from 20-21 feet out—or just inside 3-point range. As the box score shows he was 1-5 from 3-point range and 7-8 from elsewhere, and I swear at least seven of those eight shots were launched from a spot somewhere between the college 3-point line and the NBA line. That said, Harris gave them a huge spark with 21 points off the bench. It's just frustrating because he could have had 28 if he'd been a foot deeper on each of his attempts.
  • This was not a good night for the Jackie "Marathon" Manuel. He leads the league in minutes per game and played a team-high 41 again tonight, but he was just 4-17 from the field with 3 turnovers.
  • John Bryant's first game back in Erie since being benched against Maine was hit and miss. He started hot, scoring 4 of Erie's first 6 points, but he struggled defending Earl Barron all night, eventually fouling out in just under 22 minutes with 8 points and 5 rebounds.
  • Donnell Taylor is too good off the dribble to settle for his jumpshot as much as he does.
  • Alade Aminu had the highlight of the night for Erie with a thunderous dunk on a would-be Energy defender late in the first half that punctuated a second quarter that saw the BayHawks outscore the Energy 29-16.
  • Earl Barron became the second NBA-experienced big man to give BayHawks center John Bryant fits on the defensive end. Barron scored 25 on 10-17 shooting and added 15 rebounds, including a huge offensive board down the stretch to seal the BayHawks' fate.
  • Iowa's switch to a zone defense to start the second half paid off in a big way. Unfortunately, FutureCast archives are unavailable, but assuming the other teams have other means to access the game footage, they'll no doubt look to replicate what Iowa did to stifle Erie's offense, which scored just 13 points on 6-20 shooting with 6 turnovers in the 3rd quarter.
  • Curtis Stinson was one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double when he was T'd up twice and ejected for arguing with the ref. The 10-9-9 is a pretty solid line for a point guard, but it loses a little luster when you factor in the 5 turnovers.
  • The Energy were held to just 5-17 from 3-point range.
General Observations
  • The biggest ovations at the BayHawks games consistently go to free T-shirts, the halftime dance team, BayHawks #1 Fan Bubba's dance routine with the BayHawks Dance Team, and free T-shirts again. Look, I love free stuff as much as the next guy, but aside from Bubba, who rocks the house every night, it would be nice to hear a peep during the pre-game warm-ups, when the other team is shooting free throws, and maybe even during game action! C'mon, Erie, get loud!
  • Things got a little chippy in this one. A lot of whistles led to two players fouling out for the BayHawks and one player being ejected for the Energy.
  • Erie has two more shots at breaking through with a home victory before the new year: tomorrow at 2 p.m. in a rematch with Iowa and then Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the Bakersfield Jam.

Weekend Games Preview: Iowa Energy (8-1) vs. Erie BayHawks (3-7)

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas. Now it's time to dig into some holiday hoops with the BayHawks, who host the D-League's top team Iowa in back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow. Erie dropped a pair of games in Iowa last weekend, 95-88 and 99-89.

Games 10-11 Preview: Iowa Energy (8-1) vs. Erie BayHawks (3-7)

Erie coming in: The BayHawks snapped a five-game losing streak with a convincing 108-94 on the road against Springfield on Wednesday. Four players scored 19 points or more and Erie's point guards had a combined 24-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. More importantly, Erie limited its 3-point attempts to 9, converting 4 of them, and instead focused on pushing the ball in transition and working it into the paint in halfcourt sets.

Iowa coming in: The Energy sit atop the D-League standings with just one loss so far this season. They haven't played since defeating Erie twice last weekend. Prior to that, they suffered their first lost of the sesaon, a 109-99 defeat on the road in Sioux Falls. The Energy are probably the most balanced team in the league. They have seven players that average between 9 and 17 points per game. But speaking of coming in, the Energy had some trouble coming into Erie. According to Iowa's Twitter account, they ended up flying into Cleveland this morning and busing to Erie.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Push and post
    Whether it's forcing turnovers or dominating the defensive glass (or preferably both), the BayHawks need to push the ball whenever the opportunity is there to get some early offense in transition. When those opportunities are not there, they need to be patient and dump the ball inside to John Bryant and Alade Aminu. This may sound familiar as it's basically keys one and two from the last game, but it worked to perfection in that one, and I think it's a key ingredient in the BayHawk's recipe for success this season.

  • Contain Curtis Stinson
    The Energy point guard controlled both games against the BayHawks last weekend, recording a double-double on consecutive nights, averaging 20.5 points and 11 assists. The pressure is on Cedric Jackson and Cliff Clinkscales on the defensive end to limit Stinson's penetration and limit his impact on the game.

  • Give the crowd something to cheer about
    Erie has only led at the end of the first quarter one time in its first three home games. A fast start would be a big boost for the team and help energize a fanbase that has had little to cheer about so far this season. The BayHawks didn't do themselves any favors winning over new fans with an 0-3 opening homestand against Maine. Iowa won't be any easier, but the BayHawks need to find a way to break through. After this weekend, there is just one home game left this calendar year, and they certainly don't want to extend their home losing streak into 2010.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Blog Talk(Holiday)BayHawk!

Vote for the D-League All-Stars

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The D-League All-Star voting is your chance to give the best players in the D-League the recognition you deserve. Fans can fill out a ballot once every 24 hours if you so choose. So vote early, vote often, and if you think they're worthy, vote BayHawks!

Click here to fill out your official ballot
. You'll need an NBA user account, which is free to sign up for if you don't already have one.

The Erie BayHawks on the ballot are as follows:

John Bryant

Alade Aminu
Kyle Goldcamp
Jarvis Gunter
Ivan Harris

Cedric Jackson
Jackie Manuel
Donell Taylor
Martin Zeno

*Zach Sowers is also on the ballot, but he was recently waived by the BayHawks and replaced on the roster by Cliff Clinkscales.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 108, Springfield Armor 94

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I don't know if the BayHawks were trying to get off of Santa's naughty list or what, but they played with an energy and efficiency unseen thus far this season in a convincing 14-point win over the Armor. Erie scored the game's first basket on a layup by Jackie Manuel, raced out to a 10-2 start and never looked back. The BayHawks never trailed in the game and led by as many as 23.

Erie was extremely effective in two of the three areas I highlighted as keys to success in my preview earlier today: getting out in transition and scoring points in the paint. Unfortunately, I don't have any numbers on fast break points and points in the paint, but having watched the game on FutureCast, I can attest to the fact that Erie ran early and often and made a point to drop it in low when they were forced to operate in the halfcourt setting.

The one area where Erie struggled was the lone bright spot for Springfield. Morris Almond scored 37 of Springfield's 94 points, shooting 14-22 from the field, 2-4 from 3, and 7-7 from the free throw line. JamesOn Curry was the only other Armor in double figures with 14 points on 6-9 from the field.

Of the seven BayHawks that saw more than 10 minutes of playing time, all seven had positive contributions. Here's the lowdown on each of them:

  • Donell Taylor really made an effort to get to the rack and it paid off as he scored a team-high 24 points on 11-19 shooting. He played a good all-around game, adding 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals with 3 turnovers.
  • John Bryant looked like a different player from the one that struggled against Maine last week. Springfield had no answer from him inside. He took a few too many jumpers for my liking, but he was on target most of the night. His final numbers: 19 points on 9-17 shooting, 13 rebounds, 2 turnovers, and 1 blocked shot.
  • Jackie Manuel continues to be the iron man for the BayHawks, playing a team-high 44:39. He had his struggles defending Mo Almond, but that's nothing to hang your head about. On the flipside, he had another good offensive game, which is becoming more and more what is expected from him. He had 20 points on 9-16 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals, and just 1 turnover.
  • Alade Aminu got the start tonight at the power forward spot and made it work. He scored 22 points on 10-17 shooting, including a series of emphatic dunks. Although he had a team-high 5 turnovers, he atoned with 5 steals of his own and 8 rebounds.
  • Ivan Harris played just 17 minutes, and although he struggled shooting overall at 4-14, he did convert a team-high 3-7 from 3-point range, accounting for all but two of Erie's 3-point attempts in the game.
  • And finally, the point guards. If not for a botched lob pass by Cliff Clinkscales in the final seconds of a game that was all but decided, Erie's point guard tandem would've played a full game of mistake-free ball. As it stands, Clinkscales and Cedric Jackson still combined for an astounding 24 assists and just the one lone turnover. Jackson's 13 assists are even more impressive considering he did his damage in less than 20 minutes of game time.
Erie improves to 3-7 with the victory, snapping their five-game losing streak. Springfield falls to 1-8. The BayHawks next return home, where they are 0-3 on the year, to host back-to-back games against the Iowa Energy on Saturday, Dec. 26, and Sunday, Dec. 27. The Energy defeated the BayHawks twice this past weekend and currently sit atop the D-League standings at 8-1.

Christmas-Style Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (2-7) at Springfield Armor (1-7)

'Twas two nights before Christmas, when two teams would meet
with little common between them, except for defeats.
Their heads were hung low in disgust and despair,
hoping that a victory soon would be there.
The players were struggling, all feeling mislead,
while the coaches were scheming new plays in their heads.
And the fans in the stands and on FutureCast streams,
had just about decided to cheer for new teams.
When out on the court there arose such a cheering,
I sprang from the chair to see who was appearing.
Away to the corner, I flew like a BayHawk,
Turned off the TV and opened my laptop.
The glow of the lights on the scoreboard did show,
Erie was winning, two minutes to go!
Then, what to my wondering eyes should I witness,
But a defensive stop and a made 3 from Harris!
With a little more hustle, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment that this lead would stick.
More rapid than eagles, the Armor fou1ght back,
But Erie finally had an offensive attack!
Now Taylor! Now Bryant! Now Jackson and Harris!
On Jackie! On Cedric! On, Martin and Jarvis!
To the final whistle! To the final buzzer sounds!
Play offense, play defense, grab the rebounds!
As the final ticks ticked off the clock on this night,
the players were playing together just right.
So down on the sideline, Coach Treloar knew,
the five-game losing streak was finally through.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on TV
Erie BayHawks 91, Springfield Armor 83.
As I heard the score, I was jumping around,
blogging and Tweeting the good news I'd found.
The BayHawks had won, with strong offense and D,
and the victory meant their holiday'd be a bit more merry.
In a few days, to the court they'd be back,
and playing a team that won't cut them any slack.
But the Iowa Energy, they're a post-Christmas problem.
For now, the Armor's the team in need of solving.
The game likely won't have this rhythm or even a rhyme,
but it's less than four hours until tipoff time.
So, I'll cut off this poem a few lines short of a copy,
with hopes Erie wins, whether clean blowout or sloppy.

Game 10 Preview: Erie BayHawks (2-7) at Springfield Armor (1-7)

Springfield coming in:
The Armor are the only team with a worse record than Erie in the East Conference, but that could change if they win tonight. They have lost all but two of their games by double digits. However, they are coming in after notching their first win of the season, a 112-107 victory over Fort Wayne on Friday. The Armor's JamesOn Curry led the team with 31 points in that game. Morris Almond has also been a force for Springfield, averaging a team-high 28.3 points in his three appearances with the Armor.

Erie coming in:
The BayHawks enter the game carrying the burden of a five-game losing streak. The team has yet to demonstrate consistent play, and Coach Treloar has had a difficult time finding a group of five players with the sustained energy and output he needs and wants. The team has used several different starting lineups already this season and the roster tinkering isn't likely to stop as long as the losses continue to pile up.

BayHawks keys to success:

  1. Get out in transition.
    This may sound like a broken record, but Erie is terrible from 3-point range. They've now been outscored 201-63 from beyond the arc this season, and that stat isn't going to get better with their current roster makeup. So, if they're not going to score from 3, Erie has to find other areas to make up for that weakness. One potential area is getting some easy baskets in transition by running an efficient fastbreak offense. Cedric Jackson is very capable of pushing the ball, and this may be a way for him to seize control of this team at the point guard postition.

  2. Score in the paint.
    John Bryant seemed to respond well after being benched, going for 28 points and 17 rebounds over the two-game series on the road against Iowa. But points in the paint is not limited to Bryant—nor fellow big men Alade Aminu, Jarvis Gunter, and Kyle Goldcamp. Points in the paint is also about penetration from the guards. This is where Donell Taylor has to make things happen. He's not consistent enough from outside to be settling for as many jump shots as he's taking. As a team, Erie needs to be more aggressive. Force the issue, drive the ball inside, and score or get to the free throw line.

  3. Limit Springfield's stars.
    Morris Almond and JamesOn Curry account for the bulk of the offense for Springfield. I assume Jackie Manuel will take responsibility for one of them. If that is the case, whoever is matched up on the other one is going to need to pay extra attention to detail on the defensive end. Help defense is also going to be very important defending against this dangerous combination. Like Erie, the Armor are desperate for wins at this point, so there's no doubt that their top stars will be gunning for a team that's won just two games. If Erie can limit the production of Almond and Curry, I don't think the Armor will have enough firepower to match buckets with the BayHawks.

BayHawks' Losing Streak Grows to Five Games

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Over the weekend, the Erie BayHawks lost two games against the Iowa Energy. They lost 95-88 on Saturday and 99-89 on Sunday. Erie has now lost five in a row to fall to 2-7, which puts them in sixth place (out of seven teams) in East conference. Iowa is now 8-1, which is the best record in the league.

Ivan Harris had his best game of the season on Saturday, scoring a team-high 28 points on 12-22 shooting (2-6 from 3) and Jackie Manuel added 10 points and 10 rebounds. But it was not enough

Then on Sunday, Donell Taylor responded with 21 points on 8-16 shooting, and John Bryant added 16 points on 7-10 shooting to go with 9 rebounds. But again, it was not enough to win.

The trend that is quickly becoming a fatal flaw was once again the 3-point line. For the two-game trip to Iowa, Erie shot 3-15 from 3 while Iowa converted on 16-37 from beyond the arc. That's 48-9 in favor of Iowa for points scored off of 3-point attempts. It's been the Achille's heel for Erie through seven games, and there are no signs that it's going to change unless they make some more roster moves.

Game Review: Maine Red Claws 96, Erie BayHawks 75

Friday, December 18, 2009

The third time was definitely not the charm for the Erie BayHawks, who dropped their third straight game against the Maine Red Claws last night by a final score of 96-75. The 75 points were a season low for the BayHawks, breaking the mark they set just one night earlier. Now 2-5 (0-3 at home), the BayHawks have a lot of questions to answer as they try to bounce back from a disappointing opening homestand. I'll try to answer five of the most pertinent ones.

Are the BayHawks done with Maine yet?
The good news is the fans of Erie won't have to see the Red Claws anymore after Maine spoiled each of the home fans' first three experiences in Erie. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the players. They've got a lot of unfinished business with the Red Claws. Erie has four separate trips to Maine left on the schedule, starting with a game on New Year's Day. It's unlikely that Maine will still have all three of its NBA assigned players the rest of the season, but the Red Claws are loaded with NBA experience and will be a tough matchup for anyone this season. Trey Gilder is one of the smoothest players in the D-League, and he's coming off their bench right now!

Things don't get any easier for the BayHawks either. Up next they play two games against the 6-1 Iowa Energy on the road.

Does our team have an offensive identity?
No. If they did, they lost it against Maine. I expected Erie to rely on their size and run the offense through the post via John Bryant and Alade Aminu, but neither player looked capable of being a featured player in these last three games. Add to that the team's poor perimeter shooting (27.3% from 3) and the offense becomes very limited. They had some success with pick and roll, but for the most part, their offense was stagnant with a lot of isolation consisting of excessive dribbling and contested two-point jumpshots. That might work if you're Kobe Bryant and you make difficult shots look routine. Otherwise, that is not a formula for success (see: 3-game losing streak).

Who is the real John Bryant?
Admittedly, I've only seen Bryant's two worst games as a pro. But they were really bad, bad enough to warrant a one-game benching from Coach Treloar. So, to borrow a phrase from Eminem (how many times have I written that sentence?), will the real John Bryant please stand up. Is it the 2008-09 WCC Player of the Year who started the season as a double-double machine, averaging 17.8 points (on 60.7 percent shooting) and 14.5 rebounds? Or is it the plodding player that looked timid and out of sync against the taller, quicker Alexis Ajinca? His next opponent features only one legitimate big man, Earl Barron. The next few games will say a lot about Bryant and role with the BayHawks the rest of this season.

Will the Cavaliers send us Danny Green for Christmas?
Erie's shooting woes are serious. You can have an off night or a short slump, but when the whole team shoots poorly from the perimeter, game after game—with rare exceptions—it's clear that help is needed. Watching Boston Celtics rookie Lester Hudson hit a clutch 3 Wednesday night to tie the game in the fourth quarter, it donned on me. The BayHawks could really benefit from a Green Christmas. Danny Green to be exact.

The rookie swingman out of North Carolina is currently sitting on the Cavaliers bench. He's played all of 14 minutes this season. His biggest moment of the year so far was serving as LeBron James' dance partner during a recent game against the Chicago Bulls. Green could use the playing time. The BayHawks could use a perimeter player with a shooting touch. It seems like a win-win situation. Is there any reason not to make this move?

Why did we cut Rod Wilmont and Oliver Lafayette?
Of course, one of the biggest reasons we need someone like Green is the decision the team made to cut Rod Wilmont and Oliver Lafayette before the season started. They were the teams top two scorers in the preseason and would have provided Erie with exactly what they are lacking right now—offensive firepower and the ability to stretch the defense with the threat of the outside shot. Credit Fort Wayne for jumping at the opportunity and adding both players to their roster.

In five games with the Mad Ants, both Wilmont and Lafayette are averaging in double figures with Wilmont second on the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game. The duo has also combined to shoot 13-33 from 3-point range. The entire BayHawks team has hit just 18 of 66. There's still a lot of season left, but the decision to cut Wilmont and Lafayette remains the biggest head-scratcher to me.

Game Review: Maine Red Claws 81, Erie BayHawks 77

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After a blowout loss Saturday night in their home opener, the Erie BayHawks had a chance at revenge tonight against the Maine Red Claws. As it turned out, they had a great chance at revenge, and they squandered it, losing 81-77 despite leading most of the way. Maine improves to 6-1 while Erie falls to 2-4.

Erie outscored Maine in each of the first three quarters, holding Maine to 16, 20, and 16 points, respectively, before the Red Claws broke through with a 29-point fourth quarter to to win the quarter and the game.

When Bill Walker hit an awkward runner off the glass to give Maine a 77-75 lead with 1:05 to play, he gave Maine their first lead since the score was 19-18 in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Ivan Harris answered back with a long jumpshot to tie it. Then, on the other end of the court, Lester Hudson drew a foul call that looked questionable and sank the two free throws to put Maine back in front by 2. Donell Taylor missed Erie's last best chance to tie. And Will Blalock hit two more free throws to put the game on ice for the Red Claws.

By all accounts, Maine stole this game that belonged to Erie for most of the night. I'd like to see the replay of the foul call that sent Hudson to the line in the final minute, but even if it wasn't a legitimate foul, Erie allowed Maine to hang around and claw (yes, I like using that term for Maine) their way back into this one late.

Lester Hudson played well for Maine, but he wasn't the difference in this one. Poor execution down the stretch was the issue. Erie didn't seem to know what to do or who to turn to when things got tight. Last year they had Erik Daniels as a go-to guy. This year, I don't think anyone's established themselves as a consistent crunch-time performer, and it really cost them tonight.

Erie now sits at 2-4 with another home game against Maine on the schedule tomorrow. With their disappointing record in mind, here's 2 pros and 4 cons that I took away from watching tonight's game.


  1. Jackie Manuel
    Taylor and Bryant garnered early headlines with their numbers, but Manuel is my early pick for BayHawks MVP. He's just a consistent all-around performer. Whenever Manuel makes a key play, the crowd at Tullio Arena is treated to a sound clip of Ozark Mountain Daredevils' "Jackie Blue" (roughly from about :11 to :15 of this clip). Point is, we heard it often tonight. Manuel dominated the third quarter offensively for the BayHawks, scoring the team's first 8 points. For the game, he scored 15 on 7-15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocked shots. Not surprisingly, he also led the team in minutes played with 46:25. Manuel has led the team in minutes played in all but one game so far this season.

  2. Team defense and rebounding
    The team bounced back in a big way from Saturday night in the areas of defense and rebounding. The numbers speak volumes. Tonight, Maine shot 35 percent from the field (31.3 from 3-point range) compared to 47.7 percent from the field (and 59.3 from 3-point range) on Saturday. Yet even with all those extra missed shots, Maine's offensive rebounds dropped from 17 to 8. Overall, Erie won the rebounding battle tonight 54-39.
  • Shooting woes
    Pick a spot on the floor, the BayHawks have struggled there against Maine. They were 1-8 from 3, 14-23 from the free throw line, and just 31-78 from the field. Needless to say, this was not exactly a pretty game to watch even though it was competitive throughout. Of particular concern is the 3-ball, one of the most dangerous weapons in basketball. It has simply been lacking from Erie's arsenal this season. Including tonight's performance, the team is now just 16-57 from 3 this season (28 percent). Last year's team leader from beyond the arc, Ivan Harris, is struggling as well, converting just 2-13 3s through six games.

  • Shot selection
    Obviously, this ties into the point above, but the fact of the matter is that the BayHawks are wasting two many possessions by finishing them with a long, contested 2-point jumpshot off the dribble. That's not the way to play efficient basketball. And I can't even pinpoint just one guy. Donnell Taylor, Cedric Jackson, Ivan Harris, they're all guilty of it.

  • John Bryant
    In his defense, maybe Maine is just a bad matchup for him. After all, that's the only team I've actually seen him play against in person. But after hearing him touted as a potential all-star and watching him fill out the box score to start the season, I'm concerned. Coach Treloar took my advice (wink) and played Bryant just over 17 minutes tonight with Aminu and Gunter seeing increased roles. To Bryant's credit, he pulled down 10 rebounds while he was in there. But he also looked out of sync on offense (1-5 shooting, 4 turnovers) and overmatched on defense (5 personal fouls).

  • Lack of a closer
    Tonight marked the second time that Erie blew a fourth quarter lead this season. They also blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead against Sioux Falls. They nearly lost another game after leading by 17, needing overtime to secure a victory in another game against Sioux Falls. There are a number of important factors that play into maintaining a lead: limiting turnovers, rebounding to prevent second opportunities for the opponent, not sending the opponent to the free throw line. But the one aspect that stands out to me is that Erie is unsure who to go to on offense.

    There is no alpha dog at this point in time. Donell Taylor seems to be the default choice because of his experience. John Bryant had a play run for him late because of his size and post moved, but I'm not sold on anyone as THE MAN on this team just yet, and I don't think the players or coaches are either. The difference was clear tonight. Bill Walker wanted the ball down the stretch and made a play. Same with Lester Hudson. Both of those guys are on assignment from the NBA and it shows. Well, Erie doesn't have any NBA players assignd to its roster right now, so they need to figure out a go-to guy or else these late-game disappointments may becoming a recurring problem.

Game Preview: Maine Red Claws (5-1) at Erie BayHawks (2-3)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The scheduling gods have not been kind to the Erie BayHawks so far this season. After starting the season with four games on the road, the team returned to Erie for its home opener where they were met by the red hot Maine Red Claws. Erie hosts Maine again Wednesday and Thursday in back-to-back games at Tullio Arena, and if the result is anything like Saturday, the BayHawks won't be seeing 5,000+ in the stands for long.

Game 6 Preview: Maine Red Claws (5-1) at (2-3) Erie BayHawks

Maine coming in: The expansion franchise can seemingly do no wrong these days. Loaded with a roster featuring seven players with NBA experience, including currently assigned players Bill Walker of the Celtics and Alexis Ajinca of the Bobcats, the Red Claws have won five straight games, including the 116-90 thrashing of the BayHawks on Saturday. Following that game in Erie, they went back to Maine where they hosted Tulsa on Sunday. At one point, Tulsa led by 22 points, but Maine clawed their way back and won it 87-82. Not that they need it, but more help is on the way. According to the Boston Herald, rookie point guard Lester Hudson will join the Red Claws for both games against the BayHawks this week (as well as a game against Fort Wayne).

Erie coming in: The BayHawks have to be disappointed with the result of their home opener. After splitting a pair of games against both Fort Wayne and Sioux Falls on the road, they have experience adjusting to an opponent, but Maine has an offensive arsenal that makes it tough for Erie. Against the Red Claws, John Bryant had his first bad game as a pro. Donell Taylor also struggled mightily shooting the ball. The BayHawks will need better performances from its two top offensive options if they're going to have a shot at enacting revenge Wednesday night.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Defend the pick and roll with Gunter
    The BayHawks will need to be better at defending the pick and roll, especially with Hudson figuring to step in and see significant minutes at the point guard position. The high pick and roll was devastating to Erie on Saturday, leaving John Bryant scrambling and out of position, freeing the paint for the Red Claws to operate. If Ajinca is still on the roster for this game, Coach Treloar may want to think about using Jarvis Gunter more often when Ajinca is on the floor. His speed/quickness matches up better with Ajinca on the defensive end.
  • Move the ball on offense
    Erie's offensive was painful to watch on Saturday. A lot of standing. Too much purposeless dribbling. Minimal movement of both the players and the ball. They can't become stagnant, and they haven't shown enough consistency to think that they can rely on hitting outside shots, especially jumpers that are forced late in the shot clock. Whether it's a post presence from Bryant or Aminu or penetration from Taylor or Jackson, they need to find a way to get some easy buckets.
  • Win the hustle battle
    And finally, let's see some hustle. The stat sheet wasn't favorable for Erie in their last matchup but more disappointing was the way they let this game get out of hand in the second half. All teams have off nights. The good teams find ways to stay close by forcing turnovers, getting to the free throw line, or simply finding a way to get all the loose balls and deflections. Those hustle points don't show on the box score, but they make a difference on the scoreboard.
Tipoff for the game is 7 p.m. As always, you can stream the game live online for free at NBA FutureCast. Also, the game will be broadcast on local radio WFNN 1330 AM.

Game Review: Maine Red Claws 116, Erie BayHawks 90

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The home opener was not pretty. After an entertaining first quarter that finished with Maine ahead 31-29, the BayHawks became stagnant on offense and watched Maine light them up from downtown on the other end.

Sometimes, numbers really do tell the story. Take, for example, the 3-point shooting numbers from this game. Erie shot 1-6 from distance. Maine was 16-27, including 6 makes from Billy Thomas (he had 5 in the first half alone) and 5 from Tony Bobbitt.

Alexis Ajinca, on assignment from Charlotte, didn't have a major statistical impact, but anyone watching the game saw that his athleticism and quickness left John Bryant out of position time and time again, scrambling to find his man after hedging on the high pick 'n roll. Jarvis Gunter was much more effective defensively against the quicker opposing front line that Maine had.

A 2-point deficit at the end of the first quarter was up to 7 by half and 14 at the end of three. Early in the fourth, the Red Claws put it permanently out of reach with their relentless barrage of 3s. Offensively, the BayHawks struggles seemed to mount as time went on.

Aside from Jackie Manuel and Ivan Harris, no one shot the ball particularly well for Erie. Donell Taylor was a woeful 3-18. Alade Aminu and John Bryant struggled mightily up front as well, combining to shoot just 6-18 from the field. Jarvis Gunter had an efficient 14 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds in 22 minutes, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Erie couldn't have picked a worse night to suffer their first blowout of the season. More than 5,000 fans were on hand to witness the BayHawks' beatdown at the hands of the expansion Red Claws. The BayHawks will have a chance at revenge on Wednesday when they once again host the Red Claws. But it will take some major adjustments in both the scheme and execution if the next encounter is to finish any differently. In the meantime, the BayHawks have a lot of work to do. With the loss, Erie drops to 2-3 on the year, and Maine improves to 4-1.

Fire at My Apartment

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I had planned to spend today writing about the BayHawks' overtime win against Sioux Falls last night. But I was awakened around 3:30 a.m. to the sounds of smoke alarms and screaming. My apartment complex was on fire. I'm happy to report that I made it out safe, and it's my understanding that everyone made it out safely, and that's the most important thing. That said, the damage was extensive, and I don't think much of anything will be salvaged.

With that in mind, I don't know how much blogging I'll be able to do in the immediate future. I just wanted to let everyone know.

Below is a video I took of the flames around 4:15 a.m.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 101, Sioux Falls Skyforce 110

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Erie BayHawks were defeated by the Sioux Falls Skyforce 110-101 last night. With the loss, Erie drops to 1-2 on the season. Sioux Falls improves to 2-1.

The BayHawks have to be disappointed with this performance. They jumped out to a 31-18 first quarter led by as many as 17 points with just 3:49 left in the third. But Sioux Falls dominated down the stretch, outscoring Erie 40-20 in the fourth quarter. To put that into perspective, Erie had only surrendered one 30-point quarter all season up until that eruption by the Skyforce.

On the positive side for the BayHawks, Jackie Manuel had another strong offensive game, scoring 20 points on 8-13 shooting. He also added three steals and a blocked shot on the defensive end. Cedric Jackson also had a fine game. He came off the bench to score 15 points on 7-8 shooting with 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. Still, there is a lot to fix for the BayHawks with a rematch against Sioux Falls looming tonight.

They can start by improving in the three areas I highlighted as the keys to success in last night's game:

  • Slow the pace.
    Heading into this game, Erie was hoping to play it in the 80s or 90s. Sioux Falls is now 2-0 when they eclipse the century mark. That 40-point fourth quarter was an absolute killer. Perhaps the BayHawks wore down as the game went on, considering how Sioux Falls plays a more balanced rotation whereas Erie really had just six players who played significant minutes.

  • Play more efficiently on offense.
    I talked about this being a two-part step. Erie was fairly successful in one aspect, scoring 101 points on 80 shots. In fact, they shot an impressive 52.5 percent from the field. There numbers from 3-point range (3-10) and the free throw line (14-23) were much less impressive. Nonetheless, I'll give them a passing mark for shooting. Their ball control, however, cost them significantly. They had 19 turnovers with just 15 assists. In fact, Cedric Jackson was the only player with an assist-to-turnover ratio greater than 1.

  • Control the boards.
    This was another disappointing area for the BayHawks. Sioux Falls grabbed a whopping 18 offensive rebounds, including 6 from Greg Stiemsma, who also added 6 blocked shots in helping the Skyforce fare much better in the paint than Erie had hoped. John Bryant had 14 boards for the BayHawks, but the next highest total came from point guard Cedric Jackson—good for him, but not good for a team that is built to be overpowering in the paint.
The bad news is that there's a lot of adjustments Erie needs to make to defeat the Skyforce. The good news is that they get the opportunity to bounce back and redeem themselves tonight at 8 p.m. They let last night's contest slip away in the fourth quarter and now sit below .500 for the first time this season, so there's some pressure to even their record up at 2-2 before heading back home for their season opener a week from tonight.

Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (1-1) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (1-1)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The BayHawks return to action tonight on the road against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Both teams enter the game 1-1, having lost their last game. Erie split a pair with Fort Wayne. Sioux Falls defeated Maine by 17 and lost to Dakota by 17.

Game 3 Preview: Erie BayHawks (1-1) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (1-1)

Erie coming in: The BayHawks have had almost a week to prepare for Sioux Falls and work out the kinks from a disappointing performance against Fort Wayne on Saturday. This will be Erie's third consecutive road game to start the season. After putting up 106 points in their preseason game, Erie's averaged just 83.5 points per game so far this season. It'll be interesting to see if their offensive attack can get on track tonight after an additional week of practice time.

Sioux Falls coming in: The Skyforce are led by Reggie Williams, a 6'6" forward who leads the team in scoring and assists. They rely heavily on the 3-ball, launching 56 attempts in two games. They shot just 6-27 from 3 in their loss but hit 11-29 in their win. Unlike Erie, Sioux Falls plays all 10 of its players. They balance the minutes pretty evenly with seven players averaging between 18-27 minutes per game, so they could try to wear down the BayHawks, whose starters each average more than 34 minutes per game.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Slow the pace.
    When Erie decided to cut Rod Wilmont and Oliver Lafayette, the top two scorers in their preseason game, it was clear the direction the team was taking. This team is built with size, defense, and rebounding in mind. Along with that comes a mindset to slow the pace of the game. As their first two results showed, Erie may be best-suited to win games in the 80s and low 90s. On the flipside, Sioux Falls won by scoring 112 and lost by scoring 74. Keep this game low-scoring and it should favor Erie.
  • Play more efficiently on offense.
    One way to keep the game at your pace is not to commit turnovers. In their opening night win, the BayHawks scored pretty efficiently with (85 points on 66 shots), but they had more turnovers (22) than assists (18). Then the BayHawks scored just 82 points on 86 shots in their loss to Fort Wayne, a performance that included a woeful 6-15 from the free throw line. If they can find a way to combine game one's shooting with game two's ballhandling, they'll be in good shape to improve to 2-1.
  • Control the boards.
    This should be the case in most games this season, but it's important in this matchup because it's another crucial element to controlling the pace. Controlling the offensive glass will limit Sioux Falls' ability to push the pace. Defensively, Erie needs to be able to rebound the long misses bound to come with the Skyforce's 3-point barrage. If BayHawks bigs John Bryant, Alade Aminu, and Jarvis Gunter can rebound well against the likes of Keith Brumbaugh and Greg Stiemsma for Sioux Falls, look for the BayHawks to roll in this one.

The game tips off tonight at 8 p.m. in Sioux Falls. Catch the action live via NBA FutureCast or listen locally on WJET 1400 AM radio.

BayHawks-Mad Ants: Rivalry?

Erie and Fort Wayne have traded players, wins, and more in the early going of this D-League season. For more on the budding rivalry, check out my guest post over at Here's an excerpt:

Rivalries are hard to form in the D-League. The league hasn’t even been around 10 years, so fan bases don’t have much history to draw on, and player movement from year to year (and even within season) makes it challenging to develop any lasting antipathy for a particular opponent. Besides, Erie and Fort Wayne don’t have the proximity of Chapel Hill and Durham, N.C., nor the decades of championship history of the Lakers and Celtics. But the BayHawks and Mad Ants were pushed on the D-League fans as “regional rivals” to start the 2009-10 season as part of a new scheduling system. Just a week into the season, there are already reasons to believe that—if not a rivalry—a feud is developing between these two teams. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL POST.

Poll: New Jersey Nets vs. D-League All-Stars

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I hate to keep poking fun at the New Jersey Nets, but they just lost their 18th straight to start the season, putting them in the record books for the worst start in NBA history. But now that their start has reached a historic level (I refuse to write "an historic" and hate reading it), I feel that this question is actually relevant.

I know we're only a couple games into the season, so it's a bit difficult to say who the D-League All-Star team would include, but feel free to leave your hypothetical 10-or-12-man roster in the comments section below after you vote.

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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