Know Thyself, Erie: Feed the Post

Monday, January 25, 2010

The BayHawks have reached the midpoint of the season. After three cuts, three signings, a trade, an injury, and an NBA call-up, their roster is out of sync and out of sorts, and the team is just 10-15.

They essentially played Saturday night's game against Rio Grande Valley with six players. (The seventh man to play, Kyle Goldcamp, played less than four minutes.) What they're left with is a small roster but a big team. Alade Aminu, John Bryant, Jarvis Gunter, and Kyle Goldcamp are all 6'10" or bigger. Throw in forwards Ivan Harris and Jackie Manuel, and and they're basically down to two guards, three if you count Manuel. And as the team found out when Cliff Clinkscales had to sit because of a minor injury down the stretch on Saturday, Frank Tolbert is not comfortable playing point guard.

Mike Gansey has missed the past five games with a bruised calf. Cedric Jackson is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And the BayHawks are hurting as a result.

They've now dropped three in a row, erasing whatever positive energy they had going last week when they were riding a four game winning streak and relying heavily on Jackson. The good news is that after a forgettable 110-88 drubbing at the hands of the Vipers Friday night, Erie put up a fight in the game Saturday before RGV finally put them away 100-94. If there's a chance that the second half of the season is going to be any different than the first, they'll need to replicate the gameplan they displayed Saturday, only with near flawless execution. It's a tall order, both literally and figuratively. The plan is as follows:

Plan A: Alade Aminu (31 points on 14-22 shooting, 7 rebounds Saturday)
Plan B: John Bryant (22 points on 8-13 shooting, 19 rebounds Saturday)

As Tony Kornheiser would say, "That's it, that's the list."

Ivan Harris, Jackie Manuel, Frank Tolbert, and Cliff Clinkscales should all be thinking feed the post every time down the court. That's the way they can be most effective. Aminu and Bryant need to be the primary focus. Without Gansey, Erie doesn't have much of a threat from downtown besides Harris. Without Jackson, they don't have an every-play threat to drive and score, although the Jackie Manuel at 1:29 in this clip begs to differ. Down low is where they will consistently have an advantage at center, power forward, or both positions.

It may be simplistic and predictable, but it's necessary. Force feed Aminu. And Bryant. All game long. Until Gansey recovers or Jackson returns, they need to dominate teams down low and win the battle in the paint to have a chance to be successful. Even if they add another free agent, he's unlikely going to be a go-to scorer. It's hard to find those type of players this time of year.

At 10-15, the BayHawks are 10 games out of first place, but only 3.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. It's not an impossible idea to suggest that Erie could make the playoffs, but it definitely won't happen unless they find a way to get Aminu and Bryant involved on almost every trip down the court.


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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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