Cedric Jackson to the NBA, Version 3.0

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yesterday, Scott Schroeder broke the news at Ridiculous Upside that Cedric Jackson is headed back to the NBA for the third time this season. His newest team is the Washington Wizards.

After playing out two 10-day contracts after a call-up by Erie's affiliate, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jackson was more recently called up by the San Antonio Spurs where he spent another 10-day contract. He didn't receive a whole lot of playing time in either stop, but he did have the opportunity to team with the likes of LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tim Ducan, not to mention learn from the coaching staffs of two of the league's premiere franchises.

Unlike Cleveland and San Antonio, Washington is not a championship contender. Heck, they're not even sniffing the playoffs. They spent this season breaking up the core of their team after the Gilbert Arenas incident. That's good and bad for Jackson. The bad is that there aren't as many people in place to learn from with the Wizards. The good news is, Washington is a place where he could actually play this season or, at least, a place where he could latch on for a longer-than-10-day future.

I spoke at length with ProjectSpurs.com when Jackson was brought in by San Antonio, and not much has changed about his game or my opinion of him since then. Listen to part one and part two of my interview for more on what Jackson brings to the table.

There are only two weeks left in the NBA season, so I'm not sure how great of an impact Jackson can make now, but if Washington holds onto his rights, they can get a better look at him over the summer, bring him into camp, and maybe find him a spot on the roster at the start of next season.

Weekend Games Review: Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Erie BayHawks

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants and Erie BayHawks finished their 10-game season series this weekend. Erie won Friday's meeting 95-82, but Fort Wayne claimed the series finale on Sunday, 114-110, to win the season series 6-4.

Highlights from Friday:

Highlights from Sunday:

Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention and currently sit fifth and sixth in the East Conference, respectively. Fort Wayne is 19-28. Next they have two games at Springfield before finishing the season at Maine on Friday. Erie hosts Springfield on Friday before also finishing the season out at Maine on Saturday, a game that will also be shown on Versus.

There's not a whole lot to take from this weekend other than the fact that the BayHawks continue to be plagued by inconsistency.

Jackie Manuel looked good, scoring 22 and 20 points, respectively, but the team missed the shooting presence of Mike Gansey.

Neither Michael Sweetney nor John Bryant had much of an impact on the two games.

Blake Ahearn thrived with 29 points in Friday's win, and Cedric Jackson starred with 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in Sunday's loss. Unfortunately, both players seem more comfortable playing with the ball in their hand, which neutralizes their effectiveness when they play together in the backcourt.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the performances of the former BayHawks in Friday's win for Fort Wayne. Oliver Lafayette torched Erie for 33 points and 8 assists (with 4 turnovers). He also hit a clutch jumper over the outstretched arms of Jackie Manuel with 44 seconds left to put the Mad Ants up 3 after Cedric Jackson had cut the lead to 1.

After Jackson scored again to cut it to one, Erie nearly stole the ball. But after a scramble for the loose ball, Rod Wilmont drained a 3 with 8.3 seconds left to put Fort Wayne up 4. Wilmont, who was one of the final preseason cuts by the BayHawks along with Wilmont, scored 16 points and added 8 rebounds for the Mad Ants. After Wilmont's 3, Michael Sweetney scored a quick bucket to trim the deficit back to 2. Erie fouled Lafayette, and he responded by calmly sinking two free throws to ice the game for Fort Wayne.

Short of a playoff berth, this had to be a great feeling for Lafayette and Wilmont to finish out the season with clutch performances against the team that let them loose to start the season.

For Erie, it was another in a long line of tough/disappointing losses on the season. The BayHawks are now just 9-15 at home this season with one home game remaining. That game comes against Springfield, the team with the worst record in the D-League. However, before Erie starts chalking up a victory, they should remember that the Armor did claim one of their seven wins against the BayHawks earlier this season.

Game Review: Fort Wayne Mad Ants 90, Erie BayHawks 86

Thursday, March 25, 2010

OK, so this is pretty skimpy as far as my reviews go, but I'm pressed for time, I didn't get to watch any of the game, and the BayHawks lost (again). Still, it's better than nothing.

Five sentence recap: Fort Wayne scored only 10 points in the first quarter. Following a Mad Ants comeback, the BayHawks rebuilt their lead to as much as 10 with just eight minutes left. The Mad Ants won the star player battle. Rob Kurz scored a team-high 23 points and added 15 rebounds to lead Fort Wayne. Cedric Jackson had 23 points for Erie, but he missed two shots in the final minute that would've given Erie the lead, and had 6 turnovers to go along with just 6 assists.

Player notes

  • Jackie Manuel started at small forward after missing the past three games for family reasons. He scored 8 points on 3-8 shooting in 39 minutes.
  • Mike Gansey missed the game with an illness and remains questionable for this weekend's games against Fort Wayne.
  • Aside from Jackson, Blake Ahearn and Ivan Harris were the only other BayHawks in double figures.
Erie's 86 points were the lowest the team had scored in more than a month and the first time the team hadn't eclipsed the 100-point mark in March. With the loss, the BayHawks fall to 18-28, half a game behind the Mad Ants (18-27). Fort Wayne now leads the season series 5-3 with two games remaining. Those games are the next two on the schedule with the Mad Ants and BayHawks meeting in Erie again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2.

Game Preview: Fort Wayne Mad Ants (17-27) vs. Erie BayHawks (18-27)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tonight's game is a makeup of a game that was canceled back on February 10 due to weather/travel difficulties. A quick glance at the standings tells you that this game doesn't matter as much as it would have then as neither team is competing for a playoff berth.

However, with their next three games are against each other, Fort Wayne and Erie will be battling for fifth place in the East Conference and to avoid finishing second to last, ahead of lowly Springfield.

Tonight's matchup is the eighth of 10 games these teams will play this season. Fort Wayne currently leads the series 4-3 and has won the past two meetings. The Mad Ants roster includes former BayHawks Oliver Lafayette, who played for the team last season, and Rod Wilmont, who was cut by Erie in the preseason this year.

Game 46 Preview: Fort Wayne Mad Ants (17-27) vs. Erie BayHawks (18-27)

Fort Wayne coming in: The Mad Ants come to Erie riding a three-game winning streak. They have not won more than three games in a row all season, so they'll have that as an additional motivating factor for tonight's game. Starting tonight, each of the Mad Ants' final six games is on the road, so they have their work cut out for them.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks lost two critical games in devastating fashion over the weekend against the Dakota Wizards, ending their playoff dreams and snapping what was a season-high five-game winning streak. Erie is just 8-13 at home this season, but they have a chance to improve on that mark with four of their final five games at home.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Get the shooters involved.
    The month of March was a great one for the BayHawks until this past weekend when they squandered away back-to-back games down the stretch. The biggest reason for their success was the hot shooting of Blake Ahearn and Mike Gansey. With the return of Cedric Jackson on Saturday (and the assignment of Darnell Jackson from the Cavs), the BayHawks' offense had a whole different focus.

    Touches and shots were hard to come by for both Ahearn and Gansey, and the offense became stagnant, revolving around one or two players. Both Ahearn and Gansey are too good to be underused as they were on Saturday. Darnell Jackson won't be there tonight since he was released by the Cavs yesterday, so there should be additional shots to go around. In my opinion, those shots should go to Ahearn, Gansey, and Ivan Harris, especially when Cedric Jackson drives to the hoop and draws extra attention from help defenders.

  • Limit the Bryant/Sweetney combo
    The Michael Sweetney experiment has been, for the most part, an effective one for the BayHawks. The big man has shown a deft shooting touch and a nice arsenal of post moves. You can see glimpses of why he enticed the Knicks as a lottery pick a few years and a few dozen pounds ago. The one area where I think Sweetney has proven to be a detriment to the team is when they play him at the power forward position beside John Bryant. Offensively, it's tough for other teams to match that kind of front line size, but Dakota exploited them on the defensive end, pushing the ball up after makes and misses and utilizing the quickness and agility of their 4s and 5s. Sweetney and Bryant are each effective on their own, but together, they seem to do more harm than good.

  • Continue to control Rob Kurz
    Rob Kurz is another reason to limit the Bryant/Sweetney combo. Both players would struggle to defend the 6'9" Kurz, who is very comfortable stretching the defense. In four games against the BayHawks this season (he missed three of their matchups earlier this season), Kurz averaged just 9.3 points per game. Aside from the 16-point, 19-rebound effort he had in a 93-82 win over Erie back in November, Kurz has been pretty much a non-factor against the BayHawks. But Kurz was named an all-star for a reason, and this Erie roster is different than the ones that Kurz faced earlier in the year. The BayHawks need to be conscious of where he is on the court at all times. If they can keep his production down, they'll have a good shot to win the game.

Game Review: Dakota Wizards 101, Erie BayHawks 100

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The BayHawks wound up on the wrong end of a March Madness buzzer beater last night, losing 101-100 to the Dakota Wizards in an exciting game that was also featured on Versus.

It was a heartbreaking loss for a BayHawks team that included Darnell Jackson on assignment from Cleveland and Cedric Jackson back from his 10-day stint with the San Antonio Spurs. After Mike Sweetney hit 1 of 2 free throws to give Erie a one-point lead with 3.5 seconds remaining, Dakota's Corsley Edwards found Curtis Withers for the game-winning layup as time expired.

The loss dropped Erie to 18-27. Meanwhile, the Wizards improved to 26-19, ever closer to clinching a playoff berth.

The Jacksons led the way for Erie. Cedric had 22 points and 11 assists while Darnell had 32 points and 11 rebounds in his second game with the BayHawks this season. Sweetney added 20 points for the BayHawks. Unfortunately for Erie, the new and returning additions to the roster seemed to throw their rotations and team chemistry a bit out of whack.

Mike Gansey and Blake Ahearn seemed particularly affected by the changes. With Cedric Jackson dominating the ball at the point and Darnell Jackson commanding it in the post, there weren't many touches to go around for what had been the hottest guard tandem in the league. Gansey was held scoreless for the first time since being traded to the BayHawks Dec. 31. He did pitch in with 8 rebounds and 2 steals, but it had to be frustrating for him to get just six shots after averaging more than 24 points a game coming in.

Similarly, Blake Ahearn, who set a BayHawks team record with 38 points on Monday night in Utah and then tied it with 38 again Friday night, struggled to find his rhythm offensively. One night after hitting 7-11 from 3, Ahearn shot 1-5 from 3 and 4-12 overall, while tying his lowest point total as a BayHawk of 13 points. As a team, Erie shot just 1-14 from 3.

I'm not sure exactly where the last two losses would rank on Bill Simmons' Levels of Losing, but they were among the toughest to take as a BayHawks fan this season. Between Friday night saw Erie blow a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and surrender a 10-0 in the final 2:57 to turn a six-point lead into a four-point loss. And Saturday's follow-up was a lesson in how to silence 5,000+ (reported, more realistically 3,000) free-fries-frenzied fans. A layup at the buzzer? That just can't happen. And let's not forget about missing 11 free throws on the night, including a big one that could have made it a two-point game with 3.5 seconds left.

Jackie Manuel missed his third game since returning home for his grandfather's funeral. His absence was never missed more than on the final possession, where they could have used Manuel's stout perimeter defense.

For another perspective on the game, check out Jon L's review of the BayHawks-Wizards game over at Ridiculous Upside. It's always worth reading the comments over there as well.

Next up for the BayHawks is a three-game set against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. All three games will be held in Erie.

Game Review: Dakota Wizards 109, Erie BayHawks 105

Saturday, March 20, 2010

These highlights really don't tell the story

This D-League game recap does a little better job.

My in-game tweets fill in some of the parts you won't find in the recap.

The bottom line is that Erie led 89-72 early in the fourth quarter and led for more than 22 minutes of the second half. Dakota outscored them 37-20 in the fourth and 10-0 in the final 2:57 to steal the win. Erie had a good look for Mike Gansey, Blake Ahearn, and John Bryant to either take the lead or tie in the final minute, but they couldn't get the shots to fall.

Ahearn was spectacular in the losing effort against his former team. He tied the BayHawks-record 38 points he scored last game against Utah. Tonight he did it on 11-22 shooting, 7-11 from 3, and 9-10 from the free throw line. Ivan Harris also had a big night with 26 points on 9-17 shooting, 6-12 from 3.

The refereeing was shaky down the stretch. Erie was whistled for twice as many fouls as the Wizards in the fourth quarter including a critical phantom foul call when it appeared that Lester Hudson tripped and fell over his own feet in the open court. That allowed Hudson to push Dakota's lead to 2 (he made 1 of 2 free throws) instead of giving the BayHawks the ball down by a point with a minute left.

With the loss, the BayHawks fall to 18-26. Dakota improves to 25-19 and increases their chances of earning a playoff berth. These teams will meet again Saturday night in Erie in a matchup that will air on Versus.

Weekend Games Preview: Dakota Wizards (24-19) vs. Erie BayHawks (18-25)

Friday, March 19, 2010

After a successful but brutal four-day West Conference road trip during which the BayHawks won three games, Erie returns home to host games tonight and tomorrow against the Dakota Wizards. The BayHawks and Wizards split a pair of games last month in Erie. An interesting scheduling quirk: all four of the meetings between these teams this season will take place in Erie.

On February 25, the BayHawks won the first meeting 114-108. That was Erie's only win in the month of February, which came thanks to a monster effort from forward Darnell Jackson in his one and only game on assignment from Cleveland. The Wizards took their revenge the following night, winning 108-103 in Hasheem Thabeet's D-League debut.

Dakota coming in: The Wizards (24-19) are currently seventh in the D-League standings, but they come to Erie having lost two straight and three of their past five games. Hasheem Thabeet is back in the NBA and showing signs of improvement for the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the Wizards have a new NBA assignee in Lester Hudson. Erie fans may remember him as the guy that averaged 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while leading the Maine Red Claws to back-to-back wins over the BayHawks back in December. Hudson hasn't played big minites in his eight games since joining Dakota, but he's still averaging 14.5 points per game off the bench.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks (18-25) are riding a season-high five-game winning streak and trying to make a desperate last-minute playoff push. If there's any chance of a playoff berth, the BayHawks need to win out. They'll also need to get some help in the form of losses by the teams ahead of them (Dakota, Utah, Reno, and Idao). Erie just beat Utah, Reno, and Idaho, and now they're presented with a chance to increase their slim playoff odds with a back-to-back against Dakota.

The month of March has been especially good for Erie's backcourt of Blake Ahearn and Mike "Snuggles" Gansey. Ahearn has turned his (and Erie's) season around since arriving in a trade from Bakersfield. This month he's averaging 26 points and 7.2 assists per gane and shooting lights out from 3 (43.2 percent) and the free throw line (96.1 percent). Gansey's numbers have spiked this month as well. He's averaging 26.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from 3. For selfish reasons, I don't want to see this backcourt get broken up; they play so well together, and the team is fun to watch with them clicking the way they have been the past several games. But if there's an NBA team out there in the market for a shooter, now would be the time to give Ahearn or Gansey the call-up.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Keep it up
    Call it lazy on my part or a cop-out answer, but I'm not going to bother getting too technical. Let the good times roll. The BayHawks are playing their best basketball of the season, and they know it's going to take that same sustained effort and execution the rest of the way if they're going to sneak into the postseason. Their next six games are at home, so the schedule helps them out a little bit in that regard, but it won't be easy.

March Madness with Blog Talk BayHawk

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I know this is a D-League blog, but that's not going to stop me from getting involved in the wonderful spectacle that is March Madness, specifically the bracketology. If you'd like the opportunity to compete against me, head on over to ESPN's Tournament Challenge. Sign up/log in, fill out your bracket and join my group:

Group name: Blog Talk BayHawk
Password: nbadleague

It's free to enter, and I'm giving away a Blog Talk BayHawk prize pack to the winner, which will include a customized bracket champion T-shirt and a few other items that I've yet to think of just yet. Oh, and 365 days of bragging rights 'round here. So, sign up today and tell a friend.

2010 Erie BayHawks: March Madness Edition

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The NCAA Tournament tips off tomorrow, and it's likely that most, if not all, of the Erie BayHawks will be tuning in to check out some of the tournament action. March Madness is something many of them are familiar with. Four of the BayHawks' alma maters are in the Big Dance this year. West Virginia and Ohio State are both 2-seeds, Georgetown is a 3-seed, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff plays Tuesday against Winthrop in the Opening Round game. Here's a breakdown of all of the BayHawks' NCAA postseason resumes.

Blake Ahearn, Missouri State (2003-2007)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 0
Ahearn's Bears made three appearances in the NIT in his four years at the school. The 2005-06 team was the closest to earning an NCAA Tournament bid. They were No. 21 in the RPI, finishing 20-8 overall and 12-6 in the Missouri Valley, which was rated No. 6 in Conference RPI. The Bears finished 4-8 vs. the RPI top 50 and didn't have a loss outside that category. They lost in the Missouri Valley quarterfinals in a 4-5 game and saw their bubble burst on Selection Sunday.

John Bryant, Santa Clara (2005-2009)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 0
Bryant had just one winning season in his four years with Santa Clara. The Bears posted a 21-10 mark his sophomore year, but lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the West Coast Conference Tournament and did not play in the NCAA or NIT. Despite Santa Clara's 16-17 record last year, Bryant was named the 2009 WCC Player of the Year as a senior.

Cliff Clinkscales, DePaul (2004-2008)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 0
Clinkscales was a limited contributor for two DePaul teams that played in the NIT. In his freshman year, DePaul advanced to the second round of the NIT before being bounced by Texas A&M. Then, in his junior year, DePaul again qualified for the NIT and advanced to the quarterfinals where they lost by one point to Air Force.

Mike Gansey, West Virginia (2004-2006)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 2
After transferring from St. Bonaventure, Gansey made the most of his two seasons with the Mountaineers. In 2005, he helped West Virginia make a run to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed in the West bracket. Gansey's 29 points led the Mountaineers' upset of the 2-seed, Wake Forest, a team led by Chris Paul in a 111-105 double-overtime thriller to reach the Sweet 16. There they knocked off Texas Tech. In the Elite Eight, West Virginia had a 20-point lead and appeared poised to move on to the Final Four before Louisville mounted a comeback for the ages. The Cardinals eventually won 93-85 in overtime.

In 2006, Gansey's final season at West Virginia, the Mountaineers returned to the tournament as a 6-seed, losing in heartbreaking fashion in the Sweet 16. Moments after WVU tied the game at 71, 3-seed Texas raced down the court and Kenton Paulino hit a 3 at the buzzer to advance the Longhorns. Gansey had 18 points and 5 rebounds in the final game of his storied Mountaineer career.

Kyle Goldcamp, Gannon (2007-2009)
Personal NCAA Division II Tournament appearances: 2
Goldcamp's arrival at Gannon sparked the Golden Knights to back-to-back NCAA Division II tournament appearances. Goldcamp's presence inside was one of the main reasons Gannon made it all the way to the Elight Eight.

Jarvis Gunter, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2003-2008)
Personal NCAA Division II Tournament appearances: 0
Gunter's Golden Lions are dancing this year, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff never enjoyed a winning season during his seasons. They came the closest in 2006 when they lost to Southern in the finals of the SWAC Tournament.

Ivan Harris, Ohio State (2003-2007)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 2
In his junior season, Harris and the Buckeyes earned a 2-seed in the Midwest bracket but were bounced in the second round by Georgetown. The following season, the Buckeyes earned a 1-seed. Harris played 20 minutes per game on a loaded team that also featured Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Ron Lewis, and Jamar Butler. In the Final Four, Harris scored 9 points and added 7 rebounds as the Buckeyes avenged the previous season's loss to Georgetown. However, the Buckeyes lost in the championship game to Florida.

Jackie Manuel, North Carolina (2001-2005)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 2
The Tar Heels missed the tournament in Manuel's first two seasons. His junior year, they qualified as a 6-seed and defeated Air Force in round one before losing to Texas in the second round. Of course, no one on the BayHawks can compete with Manuel's senior campaign, where Manuel teamed with four NBA lottery picks to win the 2005 national championship. While Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Marvin Williams got the glory, Manuel did the dirty work as the team's best defender en route to the national championship.

Michael Sweetney, Georgetown (2000-2003)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 1
Sweetney's only appearance in the tournament came in his freshman year at Georgetown when the Hoyas advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2001. He averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for that Hoyas team. Though his production increased as a sophomore and junior (he declared for the NBA draft after his junior season), the Hoyas did not make the NCAA Tournament. Sweetney did, however, lead the Hoyas to the NIT championship in 2003, where they lost to St. John's.

Frank Tolbert, Auburn (2004-2008)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 0
The Tigers never made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in Tolbert's four seasons. His greatest year of statistical production came in 2007-08 as a senior when he averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in just over 30 minutes per game.

Cedric Jackon, Cleveland State (2007-2009)
Personal NCAA Tournament appearances: 1
He's currently playing with the Spurs, but BayHawks call-up Cedric Jackson deserves a mention. After playing two seasons at St. John's, Jackson transferred to Cleveland State and sat out the 2006-07 season. He helped the Vikings make the NIT in 2008, but it was last season that he really put Cleveland State on the map. First, he hit this shot to upset Syrcause. Then, he led his 13-seed Vikings past Wake Forest in an impressive 84-69 first round upset with 19 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. They then lost in the second round to Arizona, but the fans of Cleveland State will always remember the '09 team and Cedric Jackson.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 111, Utah Flash 101

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Erie BayHawks won their season-high fifth consecutive game with a 111-101 victory over the Utah Flash on Monday night. The win, which improved the BayHawks to 18-25 on the year, also completed a perfect three-games-in-four-days road trip out West.

The Flash, who entered the game holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot, gave the BayHawks all they could handle in this one. The teams battled in an entertaining, back-and-forth game that featured 24 lead changes and 12 ties. Through the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, neither team led by more than three points. But the BayHawks closed the final three minutes on a 15-6 run to earn the victory.

The crucial sequence started with about two and a half minutes remaining in the game when Blake Ahearn found Michael Sweetney on a beautiful pick 'n roll. Sweetney slammed it home to put Erie up 98-95. Bennet Davis missed a shot at the other end. Mike Gansey grabbed the initial rebound, then had it poked away. Eventually Erie recovered and found John Bryant under the basket at the other end. He pumped, double-clutched, and scored the bucket plus the foul to extend Erie's lead to 101-95. On Erie's next offensive possession, Blake Ahearn hit a 3 from 35+ feet that put the nail in the coffin of the Flash.

Player/team notes

  • Ahearn had a tremendous game. He scored a season-high 38 points (12-22 FG, 3-6 from 3, 11-11 FT), 9 assists, and 5 rebounds in 46 minutes.
  • His tag team partner in the backcourt was on fire as well. Mike Gansey continued his March Madness memorial tour, scoring 33 points (12-17 FG, 4-6 from 3, 5-6 FT) with 7 rebounds and 4 steals.
  • Speaking of tag teams, John Bryant and Michael Sweetney finished the game on the court together, but for most of the game they rotated in and out for one another. Together, they accounted for 33 points and 17 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field.
  • In case you haven't done the math, that accounts for all but 7 of Erie's points. Ivan Harris had 4 and Cliff Clinkscales had 3 on a big 3 that he hit to give Erie its first lead of the fourth quarter.
  • Jackie Manuel and Frank Tolbert did not play.
  • The BayHawks shot well in this one: 41-78 (52 percent) from the field, 8-16 (50 percent) from 3, and 21-25 (84 percent) from the free throw line. On the flipside, Utah shot 38-85 (44.7 percent) from the field, 6-20 (30 percent) from 3, and 19-28 (67.9 percent) from the free throw line.
The BayHawks now return home to play back-to-back games against Dakota on Friday and Saturday night. Erie has their next six games at home before finishing the season on the road at Maine on April 3. In order to make the playoffs, the BayHawks need to win out and get some help, but they are not mathematically eliminated just yet.

The Flash, 22-20, next travel to Los Angeles for a game on Friday night.

Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (17-25) vs. Utah Flash (22-19)

It's only March 15, but today is the final road game of the the month for the Erie BayHawks. It's also their third in the past four days. After winning on the road against Albuquerque on Friday and Idaho on Saturday, the BayHawks would love to sweep this West Conference roadtrip and extend their current overall winning streak to what would be a season-high five games.

This is the first and only game between the BayHawks and Flash this season. Utah currently holds the eighth playoff seed, but the race is tight, and a loss against the BayHawks would hurt as they try to make their playoff push.

Game 43 Preview: Erie BayHawks (17-25) vs. Utah Flash (22-19)

Erie coming in: The BayHawks have won four straight and have scored at least 100 point in every game this month. In the month of March, the trio of John Bryant, Mike Gansey, and Blake Ahearn have combined to average 71.2 points per game. The BayHawks still have very slim playoff hopes. They are 5.5 games out of the eight seed with just eight games to play, meaning they basically have to run the table and hope the teams ahead of them stumble down the stretch. A win over eighth-place Utah is essential if those flickering hopes are going to stay alive.

Utah coming in: The Flash are 3-2 in March, going W-L-W-L-W. Their most recent game was a 115-109 overtime win on the road against the Reno Bighorns. Jazz assignee Kosta Koufos led the way with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks, and Gabe Pruitt added 20 points off the bench. The Flash are 10-10 at home this season.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Combatting Kosta Koufous
    Barring any news that he gets recalled by the Jazz, Kosta Koufous will present an interesting matchup for the BayHawks. The 7-footer has averaged 20.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in three D-League appearances this season. Erie's best bet may be to try to punish him when he's on defense with their behemoth frontline combo of John Bryant and Michael Sweetney, which had some effectiveness Saturday against Idaho. The question will come at the other end if Bryant or Sweetney can defend Koufous. Jarvis Gunter and Kyle Goldcamp are the smaller but quicker options for defending Koufous. Whoever draws the assignment will play a key role for Erie tonight.

  • Attacking early
    It's easy to fall in love with the 3-ball, especially when it has been working in your favor as it has for the BayHawks the last few months. But without Cedric Jackson and on the last game of a road trip, the team needs to be extra careful not to rely on outside shooting alone, especially early on in this one. A few missed shots and that's a recipe for digging an early hole that they don't have the energy to climb out of. Minus Jackson, Jackie Manuel is probably the best player Erie has to drive and create off the dribble, but Mike Gansey and Blake Ahearn are also capable of setting up plays for their teammates as is backup point guard Cliff Clinkscales.

  • Avoiding the last game letdown
    By winning the first two games of this roadtrip on back-to-back nights, the BayHawks could simply call this trip a success and pack it in. No one expected them to sweep the three games anyway. Hopefully, that will not be the case. They have the chance to extend their winning streak to five, which would be the best they've done all season. Now is not the time to let up, not with an extended homestand (Erie plays its next six games at home) on the horizon. The last game of road trip is one of those extra-gear games where the standard effort won't be sufficient.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 116, Idaho Stampede 102

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Erie BayHawks never trailed en route to a 116-102 win on the route over the Idado Stampede. The win was the fourth straight for Erie, which ties a season high for consecutive wins. The BayHawks are now 17-25 on the season. Idaho drops to 20-20, on the outside looking in at the playoffs if they started today.

As has been the story in recent games, the trio of John Bryant, Mike Gansey, and Blake Ahearn led the way for the BayHawks. Together, they combined for 68 percent of Erie's points. Bryant had 24 points (10-26 shooting), 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The big man did have 6 turnovers, but he's responded in a big way since Erie traded Alade Aminu and put the onus on him to produce.

On the same night that his alma mater West Virginia won the Big East Tournament Championship, Gansey had a triumphant return to Idaho, where he played before being traded from the Stampede to the BayHawks back on Dec. 31. He scored 26 points (10-20 shooting) with 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. In the month of March (5 games), Gansey is averaging 24.8 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting (45.2 percent from 3, 92.3 percent from the free throw line), to go along with 9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals while playing 45 minutes per game.

Ahearn led the team in scoring with 28 points (10-20 shooting), but he did have just 3 assists with 6 turnovers. After scoring just 13 points in his BayHawks debut, which Erie lost, Ahearn has averaged 26.3 points per game as a key player in Erie's four-game winning streak.

The other story for the BayHawks tonight was the debut of Michael Sweetney. The former Georgetown Hoya played just under 24 minutes off the bench and made his presence felt with 19 points on 7-11 shooting while grabbing 9 rebounds. Conditioning remains a question for Sweetney, but he knows how to handle himself in the paint. And Erie did play the tag team of Sweetney and Big Bad John Bryant at times in this game.

Former BayHawk Donell Taylor did not play tonight for the Stampede, missing his second straight game (both losses). Taylor's production has improved across the board since being traded from Erie. With Idaho, Taylor averaged 22 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting (up from 18.7 and 45.4 percent with Erie). He's also averaging 6.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists with the Stampede (up from 6.2 and 2.8 with the BayHawks.)

The BayHawks will shoot for a 3-0 West Conference roadtrip Monday night when they visit Utah to take on the Flash.

BayHawks-Thunderbirds Review + BayHawks-Stampede Preview

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If the BayHawks can cram three games into four days, surely I can cram two posts into one. So, I'll start off with a quick review of last night's 101-97 victory over the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and then move on to a preview of tonight's matchup on the road against the Idaho Stampede.

Erie entered the game having scored at least 25 points in 11 straight quarters, but that streak wouldn't last long in Albuquerque. The BayHawks struggled offensively to start, scoring just 17 in the first quarter and 19 in the second to trail 48-36 at the half. As a team, the BayHawks shot just 15-46 from the field (32.6%), 0-7 from 3, and 6-10 from the free throw line in the first half.

But this game proved to be tale of two halves. Either coach Treloar gave one helluva halftime speech or else the BayHawks found a bottle of "Michael's Secret Stuff" from Space Jam. Either way, the BayHawks came out like gangbusters, scoring 30 in the third quarter and 35 in the fourth to claim a 101-97 victory. The win improves Erie to 16-25 on the season and extends their current winning streak to three games. The team's longest win streak this season is four, which happened back in mid-January.

Player notes:

  • John Bryant led all scorers with 28 points (on 10-24 shooting, 8-8 FTs) and added 13 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
  • Blake Ahearn also had a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists (with 5 turnovers). He did, however, end his consecutive made free throws streak at 54. He finished 11-13 from the line in this one.
  • Mike Gansey also chipped in with 20 points (on 9-19 shooting) with 7 rebounds, 4 assists (though he did have 5 turnovers), and 3 steals.
  • Kyle Goldcamp got his second straight start for the BayHawks. His foul trouble continued as he fouled out in just 18 minutes of game time with 4 points and 6 rebounds.
  • Jackie Manuel also felt the wrath of the whistle. Coming off the bench after missing the last game with the flu, Manuel fouled out after playing 38 minutes, scoring 9 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
  • The newest BayHawk, Michael Sweetney, did not play.

Game 42 Preview: Erie BayHawks (16-25) vs. Idaho Stampede (20-19)

Erie coming in: They're now riding a three-game winning streak and have scored at least 100 points or more in all four games since acquiring Blake Ahearn. An interesting subplot in this game will be the matchup of Mike Gansey against Donell Taylor. Erie traded Taylor to Idaho for Gansey back on Dec. 31. Both players have seen their production increase with their new teams, so it'll be interesting to watch them compete against their former teammates in the only meeting these teams have this season. Taylor missed last night's game and told me he's most likely not going to play tonight either.

Idaho coming in: The Stampede lost to the Los Angeles D-Fenders last night in overtime by a score of 121-115 and now sits ninth in the D-League standings, a half game back of Utah for the final playoff spot. They had won three straight prior to last night's loss.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Embrace the pace, but don't be foolish.
    If you're going to beat the Stampede, you're going to have to score in bunches. Under coach Bob MacKinnon, Idaho pushes the pace unlike any other team in the league. They've only had six games all season when they failed to score 100 points, and that's happened just once dating back to mid-January. So, Erie needs to be ready and willing to run and score with Idaho. But at the same time, they need to make sure they're taking smart shots and not making careless passes to jumpstart the break the other way for Idaho. It's the old saying, "Be quick, but don't hurry."

  • Control the defensive boards.
    Idaho had 22 offensive rebounds last night on 58 missed shots. For the season, they get the offensive rebound on more than one third of their missed shots. By comparison, Erie has only allowed their opponents to offensive rebound one fourth of their missed shots this season. If John Bryant, Kyle Goldcamp, Jarvis Gunter, and company can win the battle of the boards, that'll be a major step toward stifling Idaho's high-powered offensive attack.

  • Don't rush things with Sweetney.
    Michael Sweetney joined the BayHawks yesterday, but he did not play in their win over Albuquerque. He could debut tonight, but the matchup is not a good one for Sweetney as Idaho loves to run 'n gun whereas Sweetney is best-suited for a physical game, working down in the trenches in the half-court offense. The team is rolling right now with three straight wins, and Sweetney is an intriguing addition to the roster. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This may not be the game for Sweetney to get his feet wet in the D-League. We'll see.

Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (15-25) vs. Albuquerque Thunderbirds (18-22)

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Erie BayHawks start a three-game, four-day roadtrip tonight when they travel to Albuquerque to take on the Thunderbirds in what will be the first and only meeting between these teams this season. But before I get into the preview, a quick note on the latest roster move for the BayHawks.

With Cedric Jackson called up to the Spurs, the BayHawks were back down to nine players until yesterday when they made a big addition. That big addition is Michael Sweetney. You may remember him from his days at Georgetown when he starred for the Hoyas and became a 2003 lottery pick of the New York Knicks. His NBA career appeared over after he was cut by the Celtics this preseason, but now he's in the D-League, so the final chapter of his story remains to be told.

Sweetney gives the BayHawks some additional size after they recently traded Alade Aminu. He's supposed to meet the team in Albuquerque today. I haven't seen Sweetney yet. But his D-League profile lists him at 6'8", 260 pounds. Given the commentary here from his preseason with Boston, I find it hard to believe that he's all the way down to 260. Regardless of the exact number, Sweetney is a big man's big man. He's not going to be spotting up from long range and stretching the defense. He's going to be banging bodies in the paint.

The question is where does he fit in? If they put him alongside John Bryant, the BayHawks could have the biggest front line in the D-League. Bryant's got the touch to play a high post position, but I'm not sure the two of them can coexist without hampering Erie defensively. Neither has the quickness or agility to keep up with power forwards at this level.

The better option, in my opinion, is to have Sweetney spell Bryant (or vice versa depending on production) and pair them with either Jarvis Gunter or Kyle Goldcamp. Both Gunter and Goldcamp are coming off arguably their best performance of the season in a blowout win against Sioux Falls. Furthermore, they're better equipped to handle the type of frontcourt player that bothers Bryant and Sweetney.

For more on Sweetney, check out Ridiculous Upside where Scott Schroeder broke the news of Sweetney's entry into the D-League and broke down the acquisition by Erie.

Game 41 Preview: Erie BayHawks (15-25) vs. Albuquerque Thunderbirds (18-22)

Erie coming in: After a forgettable February, the BayHawks have shown signs of life in March. The team is scoring 118 points per game led by the hot shooting of new acquisition Blake Ahearn and teammate Mike Gansey. In three games this month, guard tandem has combined to hit 24 of 45 from 3-point range while averaging nearly 48 points per game. They're also riding a two-game winning streak with the wins coming over two of the top three teams atop the latest edition of the D-League Power Rankings, Sioux Falls and Iowa.

Albuquerque coming in: The Thunderbirds finally ended a seven-game losing streak by defeating Fort Wayne on Tuesday, and they haven't had consecutive victories in more than a month. The departure of Carlos Powell to China has really hurt the team, leaving them searching for players to pick up the slack. Also, looking through the Albuquerque stats, I'm reminded that Kevin Pittsnogle is no longer with the team, robbing West Virginia fans of the coveted Gansey-Pittsnogle reunion.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Offensive balance
    Recent roster changes have forced the BayHawks to adjust on the fly. The smallball trend of a week ago appears dead, especially with Sweetney in the mix. Though I'm not sure if he'll play tonight since he's just meeting the team for the first time today, his presence inside gives them options. The key is to find balance. You don't want to force-feed (insert wisecrack here) Bryant and Sweetney in the post too much, and you don't want Gansey and Ahearn launching from deep all the time without giving the post players some touches. Balance the inside and outside game offensively and success will follow.

  • Smart play from the point guard position
    One of the strengths of Erie this season has been their point guard play, particularly in regards to being smart with their decision-making. Recent call-up Cedric Jackson ranks 12th in the D-League this season in assist-to-turnover ratio and backup point guard Cliff Clinkscales actually leads the league at 4.02. Now the pressure is on Blake Ahearn to step up his game as a point guard. to In his debut at the position with the BayHawks, he had 15 assists with 5 turnovers against Sioux Falls. If he can maintain that kind of assist-to-turnover ratio, the BayHawks' hopes of winning will be in good hands.

  • A healthy Jackie Manuel
    After missing Erie's last game with a nasty case of the flu, Manuel will return to action tonight. Like PlayStation 3, he only does everything. He is second in the D-League in minutes per game (41.5) and Erie's best defensive player, always accepting the challenge to check the opponent's top offensive weapon. He's also shown an array of offensive abilities this season, including an improved jumper, a post-up game against smaller defenders, and a penchant for the where-did-that-come-from posterizing dunk. A healthy Jackie Manuel is a big boost for the BayHawks as they try to get off on the right foot on this three-game roadtrip.

Talking Cedric Jackson with Project Spurs

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Last night I was interviewed by ProjectSpurs.com during their Spurscast Live post-game show following the Spurs-Knicks game. (San Antonio won 97-87.) Anyway, they wanted me to share my expertise on Cedric Jackson and discuss what kind of player the Spurs were getting. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the first few minutes of my interview are cut off from the archived podcast, but the good news is that my Skype recorded the full thing.

So I uploaded it in two parts to YouTube, which you can listen to below. Much thanks to Michael De Leon and everyone at Projec tSpurs for having me on the show:

Part 1

Part 2

I also shared some thoughts on the Spurs' call-up of Cedric Jackson with Kurt Helin of NBC's ProBasketballTalk blog.

In other news, my weekly post is up on D-League Digest today. With March Madness just around the corner, I examine the D-League standings like a bracketologist and offer my playoff projections. For the full article, click on over to D-League Digest.

Game Review: Sioux Falls Skyforce 93, Erie BayHawks 116

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I don't know if the BayHawks have a roster full of morning people or just a collection of players who really care about the children, but Erie put a whopping on Sioux Falls earlier today in the 2nd annual School Kids Jam, which meant an 11 a.m. tipoff and more than 4,000 screaming kids packing the arena. Erie's 116-93 win snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Skyforce.

As expected with the early tip time, both teams started off a bit sluggish. They traded baskets for much of the first quarter with neither team leading by more than 5 until the final minute when Erie closed on a 7-2 run, capped off by a Blake Ahearn 3 at the buzzer. Despite being without both Cedric Jackson (called up by the San Antonio Spurs) and Jackie Manuel (out with the flu), the BayHawks' offense continued its recent success, scoring at least 25 points in each quarter en route to its third straight game of more than 100 points (or, as the Erie fans know it, three straight vouchers for free fries from McDonalds!)

Erie built the lead to 14 at the half and Sioux Falls would never get any closer the rest of the way. Erie spent the second half resting comfortably with the lead growing as big as 24. The Skyforce cut it down to 14 again late in the fourth, but the BayHawks had an answer every time and cruised to a convincing 23-point victory in front of a jubilant bunch of youngsters.

Player notes
Aside from 9 minutes of Cliff Clinkscales, who was scoreless with 2 points and 2 rebounds, the BayHawks essentially won this game (easily!) with just six players. And again, I feel I need to reiterate that neither Cedric Jackson nor Jackie Manuel were in uniform.

Before I get to the regulars, let me call attention to Kyle Goldcamp and Jarvis Gunter, who were both instrumental in today's win. . Playing behind John Bryant and Alade Aminu most of the year, neither player has had a lot of playing time, but they made the most of their opportunity today. It was just a little over a month ago that Goldcamp was released by the BayHawks for medical reasons. Today a healthy Goldcamp made his first career start and came through with arguably his best performance of the season. His statline was solid 12 points on 6-11 shooting, 7 rebounds in 27 minutes, but it was his energy, hustle, defense, and physical play (yes, he earned another 5 fouls for his efforts) that made the biggest impact by neutralizing the effectiveness of the Skyforce's fron line.

Similarly, Gunter came off the bench to spark the team defensively and managed to contribute on the other end as well. A pair of dunks highlighted his 15-point performance (on 6-8 shooting, 3-3 from the free throw line), and he also grabbed 13 rebounds in his 30 minutes on the court.

With the departure of Jackson and absence of Manuel, the recent smallball craze was not in the cards for the BayHawks, but that didn't stop the starting guards from producing. Something tells me Mike Gansey really likes playing basketball in the month of March. His hot start to the month continued as he tied for the team-high with 24 points, including 3-8 from 3-point range to go along with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 dunk (see the :48 mark of the embedded video highlights atop this post.)

Meanwhile, the newest BayHawk, Blake Ahearn had a ridiculous statline. He went 8-8 from the free throw line to extend his streak as a BayHawk to 22 straight made free throws. He also dished out 15 assists. As for his shooting from the field? He was 4-7 from 3 and 0-10 from everywhere else for 20 points in all. Go figure.

The only two BayHawks I've yet to mention are John Bryant and Ivan Harris, both of whom had the jump shot flowing today. Bryant tied for a game-high with 24 points on 11-18 shooting with most of his success coming via his patented top of the key jumper. Harris was one of two BayHawks that played all 48 minutes (Gansey was the other). Harris scored 21 on 9-15 shooting, including 3-5 from downtown (see what happens when you take 3s and avoid the Ivans!).

Game notes
Defensively, Erie heeded my advice and honed in on Alexander Johnson, forcing the reigning D-League Performer of the Week to earn every point. He was just 2-5 from the field, in no small part because he went to the line for 18 free throw attempts, where he converted 13.

From the field, Erie was just slightly better shooting than Sioux Falls at 48.9 percent compared to 43,2 percent. The difference really showed up beyond the arc where Erie was 10-21 (47.6 percent) and Sioux Falls was 0-8 and at the free throw line where Erie was a perfect 16-16 and Sioux Falls was just 23-34 (67.6 percent).

With the win, the BayHawks improve to 15-25. The Skyforce falls to 24-16. Up next for the BayHawks is a major West Conference road trip. They will play in three cities in four nights all against teams they've yet to play this season. First, they'll take on the Albuquerque Thunderbirds on Friday night, followed by the Idaho Stampede on Saturday, and the Utah Flash on Monday.

Cedric Jackson Reportedly to Be Called Up by Spurs

Monday, March 8, 2010

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Cedric Jackson is going to be called up by the San Antonio Spurs in lieu of the recent injury to Tony Parker. This will be Jackson's second NBA call-up this season. The first came with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in January. He then earned a second 10-day contract with the Cavs before returning to the BayHawks in mid-February.

In my opinion, Jackson is a great pickup by San Antonio. Like Parker, Jackson is lightning quick off the dribble, and he has an uncanny knack for getting to—and finishing at—the rim. Just how fiercely does Jackson attack the rim? Well, he has taken nearly a quarter of the BayHawks' free throws this season (219 of the team's 980 attempts) despite missing nine games during his time with the Cavs.

His offensive shortcomings are outside shooting (28.6 percent from 3) and occasionally questionable shot selection, but that's been less and less of a problem as the season has progressed and he's matured as a player. Of course, on a team with players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli, Jackson isn't going to be asked to be a primary scorer the way he is for Erie. The good news is, Jackson is also a terrific and efficient distributor who is more than capable of getting others involved. When he's not finishing at the rim, his dribble penetration is setting up open shots for his teammates. He's 3rd in the D-League with 7.4 assists per game, and his 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio is good for 10th.

Jackson will likely assume the backup point guard role behind George Hill. In his previous NBA stint, Jackson played just 10 minutes in 5 games. The Cavs' short-handed guard situation was covered up quite nicely by LeBron James. The Spurs, however, don't have that same luxury, so it would not surprise me to see Jackson earn some legitimate minutes for the Spurs (*edit* Gregg Popovich may have other ideas with this less than ringing endorsement courtesy of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Anyone we sign isn’t going to help us this season.")

San Antonio has traditionally been a team built on defense. How's Jackson fit in on that end? He's a rookie, so there's room for improvement, but he is a good on-ball defender. He's fourth in the D-League in steals, averaging 2.1 per game, and he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of just about anyone. He's listed at 6'3," which is pretty good size for a point guard, but he's a little on the slender side and could struggle defending a bigger, physical point guard like Chauncey Billups or Andre Miller. Off the ball, I think Jackson is still learning some of the intricacies of NBA help defense and the pick 'n roll, but that's where his time with the Cavaliers—one of the best defensive teams in the league—surely helped out.

I'm not familiar enough with the Spurs to know if they have a unit that really looks to fast-break, but that's one area where Jackson really excels. Whether he's starting the break with a steal of his own or taking the outlet pass from a big man, Jackson has shown game after game that he's one of the best in the D-League at getting the ball from one end of the court to the other and making the right decision to get a score in transition. I know Richard Jefferson has had trouble adjusting to his role in San Antonio. Perhaps Jackson can get Jefferson some easy baskets on the break a la Jason Kidd when Jefferson was starring for the Nets.

The bottom line is that with Parker out six weeks, the Spurs are in the need for someone to fill in for the rest of the regular season. George Hill is capable of playing big minutes, but they're going to need a backup to contribute as they fight for playoff positioning. If Jackson signs on, he'll have an opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in the game, Gregg Popovich, and the rare privilege of playing with LeBron, Shaq, and Duncan all in the same season.

Even if Jackson's tenure with the Spurs ends with Parker's return in April for the playoffs, this upcoming six week period (assuming he's on board for more than just another 10-day stint) could do wonders for Jackson's career future. He's already demonstrated that he's a willing and capable learner, taking his bench-heavy Cleveland experience in stride and saying all the right things upon his return to Erie. Plus, his game has never looked better. In the first two games this month, he's averaging 27.5 points on 56.7 percent shooting with 12.5 free throw attempts per game (76 percent free throw shooting), 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 4.0 steals per game.

The Spurs are in Cleveland tonight, so Jackson will miss out on the opportunity to suit up against his former teammates. But he could be in uniform as early as Wednesday when the Spurs are home hosting the New York Knicks. It may take some time to adjust to a new system, new teammates, etc., but given the opportunity to be an NBA player for the second time this season, I'd be surprised if Jackson didn't make a positive impact as a Spur the rest of the way.

Implications for the BayHawks
As for Erie, this move puts a major dent in their offensive attack as Jackson was the conductor that helped their offensive engine get going with back-to-back 100-plus point efforts this past weekend against Iowa. Jackson's call-up would likely shift recently acquired Blake Ahearn into the starting point guard spot unless coach Treloar is set on going with a smallball lineup. If that's the case, toss Cliff Clinkscales into the mix alongside Ahearn, Mike Gansey, Jackie Manuel, and the line big man, John Bryant, when the BayHawks host Sioux Falls tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.

For another savvy D-League blogger breakdown of Jackson to the Spurs, check out Scott Schroeder's take from Ridiculous Upside.

Game Preview: Sioux Falls Skyforce (24-15) vs. Erie BayHawks (14-25)

You would think the BayHawks' schedule would get easier after finishing off a weekend series against the team with the best record in the the league, the Iowa Energy. But up next for Erie is a showdown with the league's hottest team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, winners of nine straight games.

On the positive side, the special 11 a.m. tipoff time Tuesday morning should be a little easier on the BayHawks since the game is at home. The early start time is part of the 2nd annual School Kids Jam, which means the arena will be packed with youngsters.

The BayHawks and Skyforce have not played each other since they split two games in early December in Sioux Falls.

Game 40 Preview: Sioux Falls Skyforce (24-15) vs. Erie BayHawks (14-25)

Sioux Falls coming in: The Skyforce have won nine in row, including a pair of victories over Iowa and a dramatic 99-98 win yesterday over Maine on a Leemire Goldwire 3-pointer with just 0.5 seconds left. Whereas Erie went just 1-8 in February, Sioux Falls enjoyed an 8-1 record last month and have stayed hot through three games in March. Their recent winning streak has them in second place in the East (six games back of first place Iowa) and fourth overall in the D-League.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks are coming off of arguably their biggest win of the season, a hard-fought 127-120 win over Iowa. It was Erie's first win against the Energy in 10 games this season and it came with a season-high in points. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Erie and was just their second win in their past 11 games. Although wins have been gard to come by, the BayHawks' offense has made some strides lately. They've scored more than 100 points in four of their last five games after topping the century mark just six times all season before that.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Play to your strengths: embrace smallball
    Since acquiring Blake Ahearn, coach John Treloar has started a smallball lineup with one big man (John Bryant) and four smalls (shooting guard/small forward Jackie Manuel plus guards Mike Gansey, Ahearn, and Cedric Jackson. I don't have access to the advanced statistics I'd like to see if this has, in fact, been the team's most effective lineup the past two games, but based on my personal observations, it certainly wouldn't surprise me. The combination of Jackson's driving ability and Gansey and Ahearn's shooting has worked very well. Jackson can get into the paint at will and has attempted 25 free throws in the past two games. Over the same stretch, Gansey and Ahearn have combined to shoot 17-30 from 3-point range.

  • Find an answer for Alexander Johnson.
    The Skyforce forward has been on a tear as of late, averaging 30.3 points and 12.3 rebounds over the past four games, picking up the slack since Reggie Williams was called up by the Golden State Warriors and earning D-League Performer of the Week honors. He's doing all this while coming off the bench, but he is still playing 31.2 minutes per night. Johnson has been hard to handle for anyone, but considering the point I just made above about smallball, he poses an added challenge for the BayHawks.

    The 6'9," 206-pound Johnson has three inches and nearly 20 pounds on Erie's best defender, Jackie Manuel, which may press Kyle Goldcamp into some additional playing time. Though he's averaging just 9.5 minutes per game, Goldcamp is probably Erie's most physical player. He has had foul trouble (7.7 fouls per 48 minutes...if that stat has any relevance), but he makes his opponent work for every shot and tends to frustrate them with his physicality. Jarvis Gunter and Ivan Harris are two other options for defending Johnson. Gunter is Erie's quickest big man and a talented shot blocker. Harris, more known for his offense has been called into post-defense duty lately with Erie's smaller roster, sometimes even moonlighting at the center position.

  • Get an early start to the early start.
    The 11 a.m. tip will fill like 10 a.m. for Sioux Falls (you know, because of the time zone difference). That's early in the day to be playing basketball. Considering how hot the Skyforce has been lately, the first few minutes may be all Erie has to take advantage of this opportunity before muscle memory kicks in and the game intensity picks up. I'm looking forward to seeing what a crowd of hundreds of kids feels/sounds like. Hopefully it's enough to get Erie an early advantage as they try to pull another upset.

Game Review: Iowa Energy 120, Erie BayHawks 127

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How do you beat a team that you've never beaten in nine attempts?

The Erie BayHawks supplied the answer to that question in rousing fashion, defeating the Iowa Energy 127-120 to improve to 14-25 on the season.

So, how did Erie finally beat the Energy? Let us count the ways:

  1. By scoring a season-high 127 points.
    Erie entered the weekend averaging just 92.1 points per game. In last night's tough loss, they put up 111. Tonight, they made that look like a junior varsity effort. They scored at least 30 points in three of the four quarters and put up 66 in the first half.

  2. By shooting lights out.
    Erie also entered the weekend shooting a league-worst 44.7 percent from the field. Tonight they were marksmen, connecting on 54.9 percent from the field, including 12-18 from 3-point range.

  3. By feeding the hot hands. Yes, plural.
    Welcome to Erie, Blake Ahearn. After a so-so debut yesterday, Ahearn's second game as a BayHawk was a shooting clinic. He hit 5-8 from 3 and was a perfect 9-9 from the line, scoring 32 points to go along with 9 rebounds. Mike Gansey one-upped Ahearn from downtown, hitting on 6 of his 7 3-point attempts on his way to a 30-point, 11-rebound, 5-assist (with no turnovers) game.

  4. By letting Cedric Jackson do his thing.
    He came into the night with bruised ribs and left with a limp, but that didn't stop him from another night chalk full of purposeful drives to the basket. He finished with 25 points on 8-13 from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line as well as 6 assists and just 1 turnover.

  5. By getting some unexpected bench help.
    Although John Bryant got the start at center and managed to record yet another double-double in just 19 minutes of action, it was Kyle Goldcamp who played most of the crucial fourth quarter minutes (before fouling out with 4:26 remaining). His stat line wasn't spectacular, but stats don't always tell the story in the paint, and Goldcamp's feisty, scrappy play inside, particularly on the defensive end was key.

  6. By playing with passion.
    Whether it was Blake Ahearn trying to dunk (didn't quite work out) or Jackie Manuel sprinting in to the other side of the court in disbelief/disappointment when he thought he'd been whistled for his sixth foul (they changed the foul to Goldcamp), it was clear that the BayHawks had a sour taste in their mouths from the way they let last night's game get away from them in the fourth quarter. Moreover, no one wanted to be on the wrong end of 0-10. Gansey and Ahearn both played all 48 minutes. Manuel played 47:22. Even the bench was on their feet swinging towels above their heads, trying to fire up the crowd in the final minutes. This was a team playing like it had to have this game.
Iowa didn't make it easy. After Erie surged ahead by 12 in the fourth, Cartier Martin did his best to bring the Energy back by himself, scoring 15 of his game-high 37 in the fourth. But the BayHawks made the plays they needed to down the stretch and Ahearn iced the game at the free throw line.

The BayHawks next game is a matinee 11 a.m. tipoff Tuesday morning against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Game Review: Iowa Energy 116, Erie BayHawks 111

Of the nine meetings this season between Erie and Iowa (all Erie losses), this was probably the most entertaining yet (and I'm not just saying that because I had a courtside view of this one). The teams combined for 227 points after averaging 185 points in the first eight matchups.

The Energy jumped out to an early lead, and finished the first quarter up 34-20, which had everyone thinking "here we go again." Mike Gansey drained three 3-pointers while Cedric Jackson attacked the rim relentlessly, bringing the BayHawks within one point before Iowa closed the half strong to lead 64-57.

Iowa started the second half as they started the game and reestablished a double-digit lead, but Erie would not go away. Another 3 from Gansey and one from Manuel helped chip away at the lead. Then, Cedric Jackson stole a pass and raced downcourt for the jam to tie the game at 84 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. Moments later, the BayHawks took their first lead of the game at 86-85 as Cedric Jackson scored on another fearless drive that sent him crashing to the floor. The lead lasted just 5 seconds as Iowa took advantage of Jackson being down, pushed the pace and found Pat Carroll, who hit a 3 to put Iowa back up 88-86 at the end of the third.

The BayHawks gained momentum early in the fourth, retaking the lead and extending it to 100-92 on a tough fallaway foul line jumper from Blake Ahearn. The lead was still 6 points with 3:06 left to play, and it looked like the BayHawks might finally break through with their first win in nine tries against the Energy this season, but Iowa had one last push left in them and Erie went cold.

With the game tied at 108, Iowa played volleyball under the rim until Mark Tyndale finally scored underneath and gave Iowa its first lead since the start of the fourth quarter. Tyndale then applied fullcourt pressure to Cedric Jackson and drew the charge with an exaggerated fall as Jackson pushed off to try to get open. Tyndale hit one of two free throws to put Iowa up 113-110. Cedric Jackson then drew a foul at the other end and hit 1 of 2 to bring Erie within 2 with 32 seconds, but Jeff Trepagnier hit a dagger 3 with 17 seconds left to seal the victory for the Energy.

It was a crushing loss for the BayHawks. They led for 9:19 of the fourth quarter, but couldn't make the plays down the stretch to close out the win.

A quick look at how the BayHawks fared in terms of my 3 keys to success from my preview post:

  • Work the offense from the outside in.
    They shot 8-21 from 3 (38.1 percent), which is an improvement from their season average but not by much. They did, however, ride the hot hand of Mike Gansey in the second quarter as he hit three triples that spearheaded their comeback. Also, while the shots weren't falling at an extremely high rate, the 3-point shooting did produce the other effect I wrote about by spacing the floor and opening up lanes for Cedric Jackson to penetrate.

  • Keep Bryant out of foul trouble.
    While he did eventually foul out, he spaced his 6 fouls out pretty well and managed to play 35 minutes. The problem is that he had no answer for Earl Barron on the night as the Energy center had a banner night with 35 points and 24 rebounds (6 offensive).

  • The pride factor.
    I'm not a big believer in moral victories. This loss hurt like all the others, but I was glad to see the way this team was competing in the fourth quarter. Execution was lacking in some areas down the stretch but the effort was definitely there. In the brief interaction I had with Gansey right after the game, his frustration was palpable. I'm pretty sure was a game the team felt they could have and should have won. And Gansey made it very clear that they're going to do whatever it takes to win the rematch tonight and avoid an 0-10 mark for the season.
There are several individual performances worth noting from this game:

  • We'll start with my co-MVPs of the game: Cedric Jackson and Mike Gansey. Jackson is reportedly nursing bruised ribs, but you'd never know it from the way he plays. I would have loved to see a shot chart from his game because I think it would look like a mass of dots around the basket. I tweeted that he was taking it to the hole like a young A.I. He spent a lot of time on the ground and probably picked up a few more bruises along the way, but he earned every one of his 30 points, which came on 9-17 shooting (11-15 from the free throw line). He also added 11 rebounds, 8 assists (6 turnovers), and 6 steals. Meanwhile Gansey had 24 on 9-16 shooting, including 4-7 from 3 to go along with 8 rebounds.

  • John Bryant also scored 24 points on 9-15 shooting. He had just 7 rebounds but an impressive 5 blocks. The biggest issue for him was on the defensive end dealing with the activity and athleticism of Earl Barron.

  • Blake Ahearn's debut wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. He got the start in the backcourt with Cedric Jackson as Erie went smallball with Gansey and Jackie Manuel at forward to start alongside Bryant. Ahearn's final statline: 13 points on 3-10 shooting (2-7 from 3) with 3 assists and 2 turnovers in 32 minutes. His reputation as a dead-eye free throw shooter preceded him, earning him the right to shoot the technical free throw on an illegal defense call. He made it and all five of his free throw attempts on the night.
Other miscellaneous team/game notes:

  • Neither team relied much on their bench in this one. Ivan Harris got 37 minutes as the sixth man, but the rest of Erie's reserves played just 12 minutes. Iowa got 27 quality minutes from Mark Tyndale, and that was about it.

  • Aside from Earl Barron, Jeff Trepagnier's performance stood out for the Energy. The veteran gunner scored 22 points on 7-14 shooting, but it was his two clutch 3s in the final three minutes that helped the Energy pull off the late comeback.

  • I'm not usually one to comment on the officiating. In fact, I'm not sure I've written anything about the officiating yet this season. If I have, it's been very little because, for the most part, I think they've been just fine. But last night the crew of Scott Bolnick, George McDaniels, and Janetta Graham struggled. There were at least three or four instances when they needed to huddle after making a call to discuss what just happened with a couple of the calls being reversed and several other calls that just seemed incorrect. Obviously I'm biased, but I'd love to see the video tape and check out some of those calls again.

  • The BayHawks and Energy meet for the 10th and final time tonight. Things will get underway in Erie at 7 p.m. As always, you can catch the live streaming action with FutureCast.

Game Preview: Iowa Energy (30-9) vs. Erie BayHawks (13-24)

Friday, March 5, 2010

After a forgettable February that saw the BayHawks go just 1-8 and be all but eliminated (never give up hope!) from the playoff race, no one is happier to turn the calendar to March than the Erie BayHawks. The Bayhawks host the first of theireight March home games tonight as the East Conference-leading Iowa Energy return to Erie for a weekend set of games tonight and tomorrow.

These teams are pretty familiar with each other at this point, having played each other eight times already this season. The margin has been as much as 24 and as small as 3, but the result has always been the same: a BayHawks loss.

Erie is hopeful that their new acquisition, Blake Ahearn, who came from Bakersfield in exchange for Alade Aminu will be the missing piece that finally helps Erie defeat the Energy. Ahearn is expected to debut tonight, though his role is yet to be determined. If Cedric Jackson is good to go, Ahearn will likely come off the bench to spell Jackson at point guard and possibly Mike Gansey at shooting guard. If Jackson, who is dealing with bruised ribs, is unable to go, it's possible Ahearn could get the green light to be on the court from the opening tip. We'll have to wait and see.

There will be some new faces on the other sideline as well. Gone from the Energy roster since the last time these teams met are Courtney Sims (now playing overseas) and Othyus Jeffers (called up by the Utah Jazz). One of the new names on Iowa's roster is former BayHawk Darian Townes.

Game 38 Preview: Iowa Energy (30-9) vs. Erie BayHawks (13-24)

Iowa coming in: Despite maintaining the league's best win/loss record, the Energy enter this game riding a season-high three-game losing streak with all three losses coming at home. Tonight's game will also be the team's first since Othyus Jeffers was called up to the Utah Jazz. In four games against the BayHawks, Jeffers averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 33 minutes per game.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks current losing streak (two games) is actually shorter than Iowa's, but as I mentioned in the opening, that is just the tail end of a bad month of basketball that started with four consecutive losses to Iowa from February 3-9. March presents them the opportunity to redeem or repeat themselves.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Work the offense from the outside in.
    If you've been following my game previews this season, you'll note that this is a change of philosophy. But with the departure of Alade Aminu and the acquisition of Blake Ahearn, the BayHawks clearly have a team with different strengths and weaknesses. This is now a guard-heavy, perimeter-oriented team. Ahearn, along with Mike Gansey and Ivan Harris gives Erie three dangerous shooters to space the floor. If any one (or, preferably, a combination) of these players gets in a rhythm from long range, it will force Iowa to stretch its defense, opening holes for dribble penetration.

  • Keep Bryant out of foul trouble.
    John Bryant is arguably the most dependable, consistent performer on Erie's roster. With the departure of Alade Aminu (had I mentioned he was traded yet?), Big Bad John becomes the anchor down low for Erie on both sides of the floor. Both Jarvis Gunter and Kyle Goldcamp provide great energy and will have to make up for the loss of Aminu's production on the glass, but Bryant is the big man most capable of carrying the team with his offense, which is why he needs to play smart and stay out of foul trouble against the Energy. Interestingly, Bryant and Iowa counterpart Earl Barron are tied for third in the D-League with 16 double-doubles this season.

  • The pride factor.
    Don't try to tell me that Jackie Manuel, Mike Gansey, Ivan Harris, and company don't know what it takes to win in March. At this point in the season, the BayHawks are aware that it would take a monumental win streak and some luck to finish the season and make the playoffs. But there's still a lot to play for, including the shot at an NBA call-up, Summer League invite, etc.

    One additional motivating factor that I hope and expect to see on display starting tonight at the Tullio Arena is the pride factor. Losing is one thing. But losing to a team eight straight times without a single win is tough to swallow. Six of Erie's eight losses against Iowa have come by 10 points or less, three by 5 or less, so it's not like they're being run out of the arena.

    In order to break through with a win tonight in the ninth attempt it's going to take a determined, focused effort. Diving for loose balls, taking charges, holding that box out for an extra second to ensure the rebound is possessed, taking care of the ball, and working each possession for a quality shot attempt. The total package (insert Lex Luger joke here). NCAA March Madness is just around the corner, but the D-League version starts tonight for Erie. Like a tourney team in the big dance, the BayHawks have no margin for error. It's winning time.
(I'm feeling a little extra geared-up for this game because I have courtside seats for the action tonight. The game starts at 7 p.m. If you can't make it out to the arena but still want to watch the action unfold check out FutureCast, which streams all the D-League games live for free. Also, be sure to follow @BlogTalkBayHawk on Twitter. Depending on who I'm with at the game, the frequency of my in-game tweeting varies, but the enjoyability factor always remains a 10 out of 10, at least in my mind.)

More on the Alade Aminu Trade at D-League Digest

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's day three of Alade Aminu trade analysis for me. The news broke on Tuesday and I weighed in on what Blake Ahearn brings to the BayHawks yesterday, but I had to write a more in-depth piece regarding the departure of the team's lone all-star this season.

The article, which I titled The Curious Case of Alade Aminu, is featured as my post of the week over at D-League Digest. It takes a closer look at the unusual progression/regression of Aminu's season with the BayHawks and my thoughts on what the move to Bakersfield could mean. Be sure to check it out along with all the great content provided at D-League Digest from site creator Steve Weinman and fellow contributor Matt Kolsky.

A Changing of the Guard?: What Blake Ahearn Means for Erie

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Depending on your perspective, the acquisition of Blake Ahearn either adds depth to the BayHawks' backcourt or clutters it. Depending on how you classify Jackie Manuel and Frank Tolbert, Erie's 10-man roster now consists of as many as 10 guards. At the very least the roster has shrunk with seven of the 10 players now listed at 6'7" or shorter, five of which are 6'4" or shorter.

After spending much of last season with the undersized Erik Daniels at center, Erie entered the 2009-10 season determined to be bigger, drafting in round two John Bryant after trading for Alade Aminu in round one. Aminu and Bryant made the team along with the returning Jarvis Gunter and local allocation Kyle Goldcamp. With the frontcourt seemingly solidified, Erie's early season question marks came in the backcourt, specifically outside shooting and ballhandling.

When the experiment to play top draft pick Donell Taylor at point guard failed, the BayHawks sent Taylor to Idaho in exchange for Mike Gansey. While Gansey was not a point guard, he aided the team's other pressing problem: the lack of outside shooting. Meanwhile rookie Cedric Jackson was establishing himself as a top-flight D-League point guard, even earning back-to-back 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers for his strong, consistent play at point guard where he demonstrated his knack for getting to the rim (or at least the free throw line) and a remarkable assist-to-turnover ratio (second best in the D-League).

All of a sudden, with the combination of Jackson and Gansey, the BayHawks had a formidable backcourt to go along with Aminu and Bryant upfront. Add to that Jackie Manuel or Ivan Harris as the fifth man depending on need (perimeter defense and a slashing offensive game from Manuel and streaky-but-game-changing-when-he's-on outside shooting from Harris).

Yet for some reason, the BayHawks never seemd to role with what seemed to be their strongest quintet, and they began to play Aminu fewer and fewer minutes per game. His playing time dropped from more than 34 minutes per game in January, when he shined at the D-League Showcase and earned himself a D-League all-star selection, to just 19 minutes per game in February. Aminu's role in the BayHawks went from focal point to expendable asset in no time at all as he was dealt to Bakersfield for sharpshooting guard Blake Ahearn yesterday.

I'm obviously not a fan of letting Aminu go. I've been writing in game recaps for awhile now that he was being mis/underused by the team. I wish him all the best in Bakersfield. I hope he gets a chance to play big minutes there, and I also hope he takes the opportunity to use the change of scenery to his benefit and make the most of his potential.

So what do we make of the incoming talent? Acquiring Ahearn is no small feat. Last year, the 6'2" guard won the 3-point shootout and earned co-MVP honors of the 2009 D-League All-Star Game. Although he has been struggling with his shot in Bakersfield (36.7 percent from the field, 27.7 percent from 3), there is hope that he can regain his stroke as a BayHawk considering he is a career 41 percent 3-point shooter in the D-League and an unbelievable 95.4 percent from the free throw line.

The simple truth is that Erie is not a good 3-point shooting team. Mike Gansey has helped expand the offense, but even he's connecting at 31.7 percent from beyond the arc, which is just slightly above the team average. In fact, of the five BayHawks who have attempted at least 25 3-pointers this season, only Ivan Harris (38.1 percent) is above 32 percent. If Ahearn can't find the range with Erie, it's unlikely that this trade will be viewed as a success.

Ahearn also comes as insurance at the point guard position where Cedric Jackson is nursing a serious bruised ribs injury suffered last weekend against Dakota that will take weeks to heal completely. There's no word yet if Jackson or Ahearn will get the start at point guard this Friday when the BayHawks return to action. If Jackson can't go or is relegated to a supporting role, Ahearn and Gansey can team to give Erie its best shooting backcourt of the season at the expense of losing Jackson' penetrating ability. Along with Ivan Harris, the BayHawks now have three legitimate outside shooters to help space the floor. At the very least, it's a new wrinkle worth a shot considering where the team stands in the standings.

While it remains to be seen if the acquisition of Ahearn makes up for the departure of Aminu, the bottom line is that Erie is running out of time no matter who is on the roster. At 13-24, the BayHawks have already ensured themselves of a worse record than they had as an expansion franchise last season when they qualified as the seventh seed in the playoffs.

This season came with legitimate playoff hopes as well, but those thoughts are all but gone at this juncture of the season, especially with a weekend set against the Iowa Energy looming. The BayHawks are 0-8 against the Energy this season. Unless they manage to break through with a win Friday or Saturday, they will ensure themselves of a sub-.500 record for the season.

BayHawks Trade Alade Aminu to Bakersfield Jam for Blake Ahearn

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For the second time this year, the BayHawks have traded a first-round draft pick. In December, they traded the number two overall pick, Donell Taylor to Idaho for Mike Gansey. Today, they traded the number 10 pick, Alade Aminu, to the Bakersfield Jam for Blake Ahearn.

I have my own thoughts on this trade and what I'd call the misuse of Aminu, but I'm saving them for later this week when I have a little time to process and hopefully gather some more information on the trade. For now, here's the info on the trade straight from the press release:

The Erie BayHawks today acquired guard Blake Ahearn from the Bakersfield Jam in exchange for forward Alade Aminu.

Ahearn, 6-2 180 lbs., is currently in his third NBA Development League season. He was drafted by the Dakota Wizards in 2007 and averaged 19 points per game, including a league-leading 96% free-throw shooting percentage, helping him earn Rookie of the Year honors. In 2008-09 he again led the league in free-throw shooting connecting on 95% of his attempts, and averaged a team high 22.7 points and 5 assists per game.

After spending two months playing for Asefa Estudiantes of Spain's ACB league at the start of the 2009-10 season, Ahearn returned to D-League and was dealt from Dakota to Bakersfield. He’s appeared in seventeen games with the Jam this season averaging 14.3 points and 4.1 assists per game.

In 2009, Ahearn starred during All-Star Weekend, earning co-MVP honors in the League’s All-Star game a day after winning the three-point competition. He is a 2007 graduate of Missouri State where he finished as the all-time leading free throw shooter in NCAA Division I history with a 94.6% career mark.

Ahearn has had short stints with three different NBA teams including the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs.

Aminu, a 2009-10 All-Star, was part of a 2009 draft day trade that sent the rights of forward Rob Kurz to Fort Wayne in exchange for the forward from Georgia Tech. He was averaging 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Erie. Aminu will join the Jam today and is expected to be available for today’s game against the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Ahearn will be in uniform for the BayHawks when they host the Iowa Energy in a two-game series Friday and Saturday night at the Tullio Arena with tip-off set for 7:15 p.m. each night.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 95, Maine Red Claws 102

Monday, March 1, 2010

The BayHawks' season-long struggle against the Maine Red Claws continued yesterday in a 102-95 loss at Maine. Erie is now 0-6 against the Red Claws. Their seventh and final meeting will take place on April 3, the last game of the season for both teams.

Danny Green was recalled by the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to this game, leaving the BayHawks to fend for themselves without the aid of Green, who led the team in scoring in their previous game.

John Bryant got the start at center and came through in a big way, scoring 32 points on 14-20 shooting while adding 12 rebounds. He did have 5 turnovers, however.

Ivan Harris and Jackie Manuel started at forward. Harris was 4-8 for 9 points in 27 minutes. Manuel played a team-high 46 minutes. It took him 16 shots to score 16 points, but he did chip in with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal.

At guard, Cedric Jackson got the start despite severely bruised ribs, an injury he suffered Friday against Dakota. He scored 19 points on 7-13 shooting, but he had just 4 assists with 3 turnovers. Mike Gansey had 7 assists as the starting shooting guard, but he scored just 6 points, shooting 3-14 overall, 0-6 from downtown.

The mystery of Alade Aminu continues to be a storyline for the BayHawks. The lone BayHawk to be named a D-League All-Star, Aminu went into the all-star break in a bit of a slump, and he has yet to emerge in no small part because he hasn't received the playing time. He played just 13:24 in this one, scoring 4 points on 2-3 shooting and grabbing 3 rebounds in the short time he was on the floor.

The BayHawks followed up a 35-point first quarter with 37 points combined in the second and third quarters. The game was tied at 54 at the half, but Maine scored the first 7 points of the third quarter, and Erie never regained the lead after that.

Erie falls to 13-24 on the season, ahead of only Springfield in the East Conference standings. Their flickering playoff hopes are now nothing more than a dream as they sit 6.5 games behind Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot with just 13 games to play.

And things don't get any easier. Up next for the BayHawks is a two-game set against the East Conference leading Iowa Energy, another team Erie has not beaten all season (0-8). Erie will host the Energy this Friday and Saturday at Tullio Arena.

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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