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.
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.