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.

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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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