Weekend Games Review: Erie Loses to Maine, Defeats Springfield

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Erie BayHawks should've gone 2-0 on this weekend road trip. They didn't. The Erie BayHawks could've gone 0-2 on this weekend road trip. They didn't. After the smoke cleared on two games in two cities in a span of 18 hours, the BayHawks wound up 1-1.

I watched (and tweeted throughout) all of Friday night's giveaway game, which Erie lost 82-78 against a roster-depleted Maine Red Claws team. I watched none of Erie's 93-91 win over Springfield this afternoon, which featured Mike Gansey hitting the game winning layup with just seconds remaining.

There's a lot to cover from these two games, so I'll offer some quick notes on each game along with the video highlights and then go on to a player-by-player analysis for the BayHawks.

Erie BayHawks 78 at Maine Red Claws 82
With J.R. Giddens getting recalled by the Celtics, and Alexis Ajinca and Billy Thomas out with injuries, the Red Claws had a makeshift roster heading into this one that included two players making their team debuts, Russell Robinson and Dominique Coleman. Despite shooting 1-15 from 3-point range, the Red Claws found a way to win, outscoring the BayHawks 32-17 over the final 15:25 of the game.

Erie BayHawks 93 at Springfield Armor 91
The BayHawks overcame the early 1 p.m. tipoff, staying within a point at the end of one and taking the lead at the half in this one. It's no surprise that a game that featured 13 ties and 13 lead changes came down to the wire. Mike Gansey hit a driving layup with just 8 seconds to play, and T.J. Cummings missed a jumper that would've tied the game for Springfield as time ran out. Springfield star Morris Almond didn't get the start, but he still managed to score a game-high 28 points, going 12-13 from the free throw line.

Player notes:

  • Mike Gansey's calf must be feeling better. Not only did he tie for the team-high scorer in both games (21 vs. Maine, 27 vs. Springfield), the sharpshooting guard also played all 96 minutes of this weekend's game action. In addition to scoring the game winner against Springfield, Gansey was hot from the outside, connecting on 8 of 17 from 3 in the two games combined.

  • Like Gansey, Jackie Manuel played every minute of the way this weekend. He didn't shoot well (just 7-24 in the two games) but he contributed in other facets of the game—5 steals, 2 blocks—and the team is noticeably more active defensively when he's in the game. He also converted a team-high 11-12 free throws in today's win against Springfield.

  • The box score show that Frank Tolbert got the start in both games as a forward.
    Considering how much more often he handled the ball than Manuel, I'm going to disagree. That said, Tolbert isn't fooling anyone into believing he's a point guard. His 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is not good, but the crucial nature of the turnovers actually made it worse, really costing them some crucial possessions against Maine. He also blew a dunk in that one and continued his shooting woes. Not a good weekend for Tolbert.

  • The fourth and final player that started both games this weekend was Ivan Harris, who shot the ball well (14-22 from the field, 3-6 from 3). Of course, more than 6 of those 22 attempts should have been 3s if Harris didn't have such an affection for shooting the long, foot-on-the-line 2-point jumpshot. This has been an issue that's bothered me all year long. Since it doesn't look like it's going to be changing anytime soon, I tweeted during the Maine game to start calling the long, foot-on-the-line 2-point jumpshot a "Harris" for the sake of concise language.

  • The biggest question of the weekend is what is going on with Alade Aminu? Unless he's got some sort of unreported illness or something, there is no reason he should play a COMBINED 38 minutes in two games. After getting off to a slow start against Maine, coach Treloar took Aminu out of the game at the 5:54 mark of the first quarter. He didn't return until early in the fourth quarter. Then today, Aminu didn't even get the start, entered almost 9 minutes into the game, and played a total of just 21:26, scoring just 2 points on 0-4 shooting. I'm not sure if more of the blame goes to coach Treloar for not giving Aminu the minutes or to Alade for underachieving, but these two performances definitely hinder him, especially when inconsistency has been the biggest critique of his game as he tries to earn an NBA call-up.

  • As much as Alade Aminu wants to forget about his weekend, John Bryant wants to remember it. Big Bad John went for 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots on Friday, and he was even better today with a much more efficient shooting performance for 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. Are Scott Schroeder and I the only two who think Bryant and Aminu should be starting and playing together for the BayHawks? The starting five should be Bryant, Aminu, Manuel, Gansey, and a point guard, but probably not Tyc Snow.

  • As reported by Duane Rankin, point guard Tyc Snow tried out for the BayHawks all six times they've had open tryouts since the franchise began last season. This weekend, his persistence finally paid off as he made his BayHawks. With Cedric Jackson playing for the Cavs and Cliff Clinkscales a late scratch with an injury, the team needed to find a fill-in at point guard. Snow played just 20 minutes total with 3 assists and 2 turnovers in each outing. Snow likely will last until either Jackson and/or former BayHawk Maureece Rice returns to the team.

  • Jarvis Gunter saw limited action in both games, but he was the third big man in the rotation, behind Aminu and Bryant, but ahead of Kyle Goldcamp, who ironically has not played at all in the three games since this article was published with the headline "Goldcamp seeing more action with BayHawks."

  • Cliff Clinkscales missed both games with a foot/ankle injury.

  • Cedric Jackson played just 2 minutes in a Cavaliers 94-73 blowout victory over the Pacers. The BayHawks call-up scored his first NBA point (on 1-4 shooting from the free throw line) to go along with 1 rebound and 1 turnover. Despite Cleveland's shortage at guard, Jackson has played just 5 minutes total in 3 games with the Cavaliers.
Up next for the BayHawks is arguably their toughest four-game stretch of the season. All four games are against conference-leading Iowa. The first one is Wednesday night when they welcome the Energy to Erie, but the final three games are on the road in Iowa. Erie is 0-4 against the Energy this season, although all four games were decided by 10 points or less.

Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (11-15) at Maine Red Claws (16-9)

Friday, January 29, 2010

First, an update on the BayHawks' guard situation:

Cedric Jackson is still with the Cavaliers. His 10-day contract runs through Tuesday, February 2, unless he signs a second contract with the team.

Maureece Rice is still on the team's radar, but he'd have to be bought out of the deal with his Ukraine team.

Cliff Clinkscales was hurt late in Wednesday night's win against Springfield but said he plans to play tonight against Maine. He will likely get the start considering the fact that he's the only point guard on the roster.*

*Not anymore. The BayHawks announced the signing of Tychicus “Tic” Snow today. Snow is a 5'7" 165-pound point guard from Mississippi Valley State. He played two seasons for the Delta Devils from 2005-2007. It's likely that he's a stopgap solution while the team figures out the situations involving Jackson and Rice, but it's not a bad idea to add someone considering how thin they've been at guard the past few games.

And now, on to tonight's preview:

Game 27 Preview: Erie BayHawks (11-15) at Maine Red Claws (16-9)

Erie coming in: The BayHawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a dramatic come-from-behind win at home against Springfield Wednesday night. They have a rematch on the road against the Armor tomorrow, but first they have to focus on doing something they have yet to do all season: beat Maine. The BayHawks are 0-4 against the Red Claws this season, including a 94-86 loss New Year's Day in their only trip to Maine so far this season.

Maine coming in: The Red Claws return home after a 3-0 trip out west where they defeated Bakersfield, Utah, and Idaho to improve to 16-9, good for second place in the East Conference. The Red Claws have been one of the busiest teams with NBA player movement this season as Alexis Ajinca, Bill Walker, Lester Hudson, and J.R. Giddens have all seen time with the team this year. According to the team's current roster, Giddens and Ajinca are on the roster for tonight's game. Additionally, the team just signed guard Dominque Coleman and made a deal sending Will Blalock to Reno for guard Russell Robinson. Both acquisitions are expected to be active for tonight's game against Erie.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Keep the game in check early.
    Two of Erie's losses against Maine were losses of 20+ points. They need to fight and claw through the first half to keep within striking distance. As they found out Wednesday night, anything can happen late in a close game. No one's expecting Erie to win this one, but if they stay close early, maybe they find a way to steal another one with some late game heroics from Mike Gansey...again.
  • Speaking of Gansey, ride the hot hand.
    The BayHawks are just 11-15 on the season. Not so good. They are, however, an impressive 5-1 when Mike Gansey is in the lineup. The midseason trade that sent top draft pick Donell Taylor out of Erie raised some eyebrows (guilty as charged), but it's paid off for the BayHawks so far. Gansey gives them a pure shooting presence that they didn't have before, and he's also an underrated rebounder and defender.
  • Find a way to lesson the load for Clinkscales
    Cliff Clinkscales has done an admirable job filling in for Cedric Jackson, but it's taking a toll on him. As the team's only point guard, he's played 40 minutes per game since Jackson was called up to the Cavs, and he's missed important minutes down the stretch of each of the past two games with injury issues. With Snow in uniform tonight, perhaps he gives Clinkscales a few minutes to rest up in this one. Otherwise, Mike Gansey and/or Frank Tolbert are going to have to play out of position. Neither is a natural point guard by any stretch of the imagination; however, the BayHawks did use a Gansey/Tolbert backcourt to go on an 8-0 run to close out the game Wednesday night versus Springfield. It might not be pretty, but they need to be creative in the short term until they get their point guard situation straightened out.

Game Review: Springfield Armor 94, Erie BayHawks 95

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was wrong, and I'm glad I was wrong. I wrote in the preview that Erie would likely be playing with eight players. Fortunately, Mike Gansey made his return after missing five games in a row for the BayHawks with a calf injury. He was hands down the best BayHawk on this night, so it was only fitting that he hit a pair of free throws with 5 seconds left that put the BayHawks up 95-94.

By all accounts, it was a game the Armor should have won. Erie led for most of the first three quarters, but they let Springfield hang around despite a subpar game from Morris Almond, who finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds but 0 assists and 6 turnovers. After hanging around all game, Springfield finally sprung ahead in the fourth, leading by as many as 8 with just 4:05 left. But Erie stormed back with an 13-4 run, capped off by the Gansey free throws.

For the sake of full disclosure, the BayHawks may have been bailed out by a non-call on the game's final possession. I only got one look at it, but in live action Almond certainly seemed to draw contact worthy of a foul call as he drove to the basket in the closing seconds. He didn't get the call, instead was credited with a turnover, and that was the game.

BayHawks player notes:

  • Gansey was great in his first game back from injury. Playing a team-high 45 minutes, he led the way with 25 points on 9-15 shooting, including 5-8 from 3 to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
  • Cliff Clinkscales will never be mistaken for a jump shooter, but he had his second straight solid performance filling in as the starting (and only) point guard for the called-up Cedric Jackson. He scored 12 points on 6-12 shooting to go along with 14 assists and just 2 turnovers. He did, however, have to leave the game late with an apparent leg injury. Without him on the court, Gansey and Frank Tolbert shared ballhandling duties. Neither player looked comfortable in that role, and the team's offense did not have the same rhythm and flow when Clinkscales was out.
  • Jackie Manuel remains the most consistent player for the BayHawks—not necessarily as a shooter, though he was on tonight—but in the way that he seems to leave his mark on most games with his defense, energy, and intangibles. He nearly had another drive for a posterizing dunk, but was fouled and failed to finish the slam.
  • Disappointingly, both Alade Aminu and John Bryant were not overly effective in this game. Aminu attempted just 9 shots, scoring 16 points with 8 rebounds. Meanwhile Bryant played just 22 minutes, scoring 11 on 4-8 shooting with 5 rebounds.
  • After scoring a season-high 10 points two games ago, Kyle Goldcamp did not play at all in this game.
The bottom line is that this was a 1-point win against a 5-win team, hardly reason to celebrate. Still, the win snaps the BayHawks' 3-game skid, and the fact that they were able to come back from 8 points down in the final four minutes says a lot about the team's resolve.

Now 11-15 on the year, the BayHawks have a tough road ahead of them. Next up, Erie goes on the road to meet a 15-9 Maine Red Claws team on Friday. The BayHawks have yet to beat Maine in four tries this season, losing by an average of more than 12 points per game. Then, on Saturday, Erie will travel to Springfield, where they'll undoubtedly encounter an Armor team hell bent on revenge after tonight's controversial defeat. Following the two game trip east, Erie has four straight against the D-League's top team, the Iowa Energy.

Game Preview: Springfield Armor (5-16) at Erie BayHawks (10-15)

The good news for Erie is that they were just 11-14 at the midway point last season before turning things around with an eight-game winning streak and qualifying for the playoffs. The bad news is that they have a lot going against them if they're going to repeat that turnaround feat for the second straight year. For starters, they're a game worse than they were a year ago through 25 games. Secondly, their starting point guard and (arguably) best player is currently in the NBA and will miss, at minimum, the next three games. And third, starting guard Mike Gansey has missed five straight games with a bruised calf.

If the BayHawks are going to turn things around, tonight's the night to start it as they host the East Conference's basement dwellers, the Springfield Armor.

Game 26 Preview: Springfield Armor (5-16) at Erie BayHawks (10-15)

Springfield coming in: After going 3-2 in five straight against the Maine Red Claws between Jan. 8-21, the Armor dropped their most recent game, a home game against Austin on Saturday. After starting the season 1-10, the Armor is 4-6 in January, including an 87-75 win over Erie on Jan. 2. However, they are 0-7 for the season on the road. It was announced today that Major Wingate was released, which means the Armor will suit just eight players for tonight's game.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks have lost three straight, the last two without Cedric Jackson, who was called up to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Without Jackson and Mike Gansey, who has missed the past five games, the BayHawks are also down to an eight-man roster. News broke today that the BayHawks are considering bringing back Maureece Rice, who starred for the team last season and had been playing in Ukraine, but it could take some time before a deal is reached (if one is reached at all).

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Feed the post.
    I wrote about this very topic at length on Monday, so I won't go into too much detail. I will simply add that in Erie's win over Springfield, Alade Aminu and John Bryant combined for 41 points and 21 rebounds. In the loss against the Armor, Aminu and Bryant had just 27 points and 19 rebounds.
  • Don't allow Mo to get any momentum.
    Springfield's Mo Almond leads the D-League in scoring (among players who have played at least 10 games). He's going to score some points; the key is containing him and preventing him from scoring in bunches.
  • Win the the hustle battle = win the game.
    Grabbing offensive rebounds, diving for loose balls, taking charges, getting deflections on defense. With both teams down to eight-man rosters, fatigue is bound to play a role in this one. The team that commits to making these energy plays throughout is likely to come out on top.

Know Thyself, Erie: Feed the Post

Monday, January 25, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Press Release for the Cedric Jackson Signing

Saturday, January 23, 2010


CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Cedric Jackson from the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today. The signing of Jackson marks the ninth GATORADE Call-Up of the 2009-10 D-League season. Jackson will wear No. 9 for the Cavaliers.

During 10 games during the month of January with Erie, he increased his averages to 21.5 points on .407 shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.4 steals in 35.0 minutes per game and led the BayHawks to a 6-4 record, including a four-game winning streak from Jan. 10-17. The point guard posted game highs of 34 points on 9-21 (.429) shooting and 13 assists in his most recent game with the BayHawks on Jan. 19th versus the Austin Toros. In his 14 starts this season, he is averaging 16.5 points on .369 shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 35.4 minutes per game and in 23 games (14 starts) overall, Jackson has averaged 14.7 points on .397 shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 31.3 minutes per game.

As a senior at Cleveland State in 2009, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder was named 2009 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and to the All-Horizon League Second Team for the second consecutive season. In two seasons with the Vikings, he had career averages of 12.3 points on .405 shooting, 5.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.8 steals in 32.2 minutes per game. He is only the second Cleveland State alumnus (Darren Tillis, 1982-83) to ever play for the Cavaliers.

Cedric Jackson to Sign 10-Day Contract With Cleveland Cavaliers

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cedric Jackson is about to become the answer to a trivia question. It's been reported by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the BayHawks point guard will be signed to a 10-day contract by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. That would make Jackson the first *second Erie BayHawk to earn a Gatorade Call-Up since the team joined the NBA Development League. (A shout-out to Ridiculous Upside's Scott Shroeder for calling/suggesting this move by the Cavs ahead of time.)

The decision comes on the heels of injuries to Cavaliers guards Mo Williams and Delonte West. Williams is out for about a month with a shoulder injury whereas West is expected to miss just a few games with a finger injury. It remains to be seen how (or if) the Cavaliers will use Jackson, but it's definitely exciting for the former Cleveland State star to get the call-up to play with LeBron and company, arguably the best team in the NBA fresh off a sweep of the defending champion L.A. Lakers.

What it means for Jackson
The whole point of the D-League is to develop players for the NBA, so the fact that Jackson has earned that call-up is great. Now that he's there, what does he do with his opportunity? (I don't know that any call-up is going to overshadow Sundiata Gaines this season, but who knows.)

Aside from the injured Williams and West, the Cavs' official roster lists just two other guards: Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker. Even if you stretched to mention Danny Green and/or Jawad Williams, the truth of the matter is that no one left on the roster is anything close to a point guard. Unless you count LeBron. Gibson has the body of a point guard, but he's a spot-up shooter (and a good one) way before he's a traditional point guard.

Jackson is definitely not a shooter, which, oddly enough, is part of the reason I think the Cavs decided to bring him in. Between Gibson, Parker, Williams, West, LeBron, and even Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland is loaded with shooters. Jackson brings something different to the table. He's explosive off the dribble and gets to the rim as well as any point guard I've seen in the D-League this year. His 148 free throw attempts put him sixth in the league among guards. And he's really been on a tear lately, as I wrote following the BayHawks' recent four-game winning streak:

The story of the BayHawks' mini-resurgence (let's not get carried away, they're still just 10-12 on the season) has been authored by Cedric Jackson. Whether it's Ridiculous Upside's Scott Shroeder or GoErie's Duane Rankin, Jackson has been the lead story from the past few BayHawks' games and for good reason. Over the four-game winning streak, Jackson has averaged 25.3 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. He has had some ball control issues, turning it over 4.3 times per game over that four-game stretch, but he gets a good chunk of them back, also averaging 2.3 steals.

Most impressive has been the way Jackson's been scoring. He's always been good at getting to the line, leading the team with 131 free throw attempts (Alade Aminu is second on the team with 96 attempts), but lately he's been making the most of his opportunities. During the four game streak, Jackson's shot 34-38 from the line. I'll do the math for you: that equals 89.5 percent. As someone who still struggles shooting from the field (39.4 percent for the year, 29.5 percent from 3), that kind of performance from the free throw line is huge. And it's been a major key in Erie's recent success, but Jackson hasn't had to do it alone.
With Jackson not in the lineup for tonight's game against Rio Grande Valley (Cliff Clinkscales got the start at point guard), it looks like this deal is done, pending a physical. Cleveland plays at home against Oklahoma City tomorrow night. If Jackson's not in uniform in time for that one, the Cavaliers' next game is on the road against Miami on Monday.

What it means for the BayHawks
From a business perspective, this is great news. The team/organization should be proud to have one of its own called-up to the big time. They played a major role in helping Jackson develop this season and find his niche as a pro. Now maybe they can hope the Cavs return the favor in kind by being open to sending down the likes of Danny Green at some point this season.

I'm not sure that will happen, but this call-up does show that the Cavs have been monitoring the BayHawks, and that there is a healthy relationship between the two organizations as I've heard from numerous sources. Hopefully this experience will lead to more player movement between the two teams in the future in a continued partnership that should benefit both Cleveland and Erie longterm.

On the flipside, this definitely hurts Erie as a basketball team. The BayHawks had won four of their last six games heading into this weekend's homestand against Rio Grande Valley, and Cedric Jackson was one of the most important reasons why. Ideally, Jackson gets some run in Cleveland and does enough to earn himself a spot on their roster the rest of the season. But it's possible that 10 days from now Jackson returns to the BayHawks. Even if he's back in Erie in a week and a half, that's still five or six games for the BayHawks sans Jackson. Add to Jackson's absence the injury of Mike Gansey and Erie's offensive firepower is suddenly severely depleted.

Clinkscales will take over the starting point guard duties. He's capable of running the team as a facilitator, but he doesn't have the scoring punch, lightning-quick first-step, or ability to finish at the rim like Jackson. Maybe Erie can find another Frank Tolbert-like signing from the pool of available free agents. Look for the team to focus on the power game with Alade Aminu and John Bryant getting a lot of touches inside. But truth be told, it's going to be very tough for the BayHawks to contend and win games without Jackson running the show.

What it means for Blog Talk BayHawk
I'll still be focusing my effort on the BayHawks, who are currently down by double digits in the second quarter against Rio Grande Valley, but I'll also be paying more attention to the Cavaliers over the next 10 days, tracking Jackson's progress in the NBA, which could begin as soon as tomorrow night. So be sure to check back for updates and look for Jackson in a Cavaliers uniform (my guess is as good as yours as to which of the Cavalier color combinations he'll be wearing) very soon.

*Quincy Douby was the first BayHawk to earn a Gatorade Call-Up. Douby was called up to the NBA by the Toronto Raptors last season after playing five games for the BayHawks. Jackson, however, becomes the first BayHawk called up by the team's NBA affiliate (Erie and Toronto were not aligned until this season) as well as the first BayHawk player to start the season in Erie before earning the NBA call-up. Thanks to Jeff Johns, BayHawks director of marketing and communications, for alerting me to fix this error in my original post.

Game Review: Austin Toros 121, Erie BayHawks 113

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This was an entertaining game throughout. It featured blood (Alonzo Gee had to don a different jersey for most of the game after suffering a cut above his eye early on), sweat (a combined 85 free throw attempts meant their were plenty of bodies hitting the floor, a busy night for the towel boy), and tears (if you're an emotional fan of Toros Coach Quin Snyder, who was tossed in the first half for arguing with the referee.)

But it was a 72-second span late in the fourth quarter that proved to be the decisive stretch in this one. It started with 2:26 remaining in the game. That's when Cliff Clinkscales floating bank shot in the lane (he may or may not have called glass on that one) went in to tie the game at 111. That was the last field goal for the BayHawks, who were outscored 10-2 the rest of the way, losing 121-113 in Austin.

The sequence of events from Clinkscales' made basket at 2:26 down to 1:14 on the clock put this one to bed in a hurry. So let's do something a little different and use the play-by-play account to break down the breakdown of the BayHawks down the stretch.

2:15 - Austin's Curtis Jerrells misses a 3, but Dwayne Jones grabs his 6th offensive rebound of the night and is fouled by Kyle Goldcamp. He hits both free throws: Austin 113, Erie 111.

2:04 - Erie's Cedric Jackson takes a hop step into the lane and is called for travelling.

1:53 - Curtis Jerrells comes back at the other end with a layup off an assist from Alonzo Gee to put Austin up 115-111.

1:36 - Cedric Jackson misses a 3-pointer, and Austin's Alonzo Gee clears the rebound.

1:16 - The play that did essentially put the nail in the coffin of the BayHawks reads like this on the play-by-play: Gee Turnover: Lost Ball, Steal: Tolbert, Tolbert Foul. That's basically what it looked like live on FutureCast as well. Gee lost the ball to Tolbert, but in the scrum for the loose ball, Tolbert was called for his sixth personal foul. Curiously, there's also a play that says Tolbert Turnover: Lost Ball, Steal: Bowen listed at 1:14 after Tolbert was fouled out. I'm thinking the play-by-play must have that out of sequence, and that the Tolbert turnover happened right before his sixth foul on the loose ball.

1:14 - Technical foul on BayHawks Coach John Treloar, who clearly disagreed with the call against Tolbert. Malik Hairston hit the technical free throw and Alonzo Gee added two more for the personal foul, extending Austin's lead to 118-11.

That's how you give away a game in just over a minute: committing one turnover, missing your one and only shot (a 3), surrendering one offensive rebound, committing two personal fouls, and a adding technical foul for good measure.

Following all of that, Erie came out of a timeout with a missed three from Ivan Harris and a missed putback attempt by John Bryant, and the rest was history like the BayHawks' four-game win streak. They now sit at 10-13 on the year while Austin improves to 10-9.

Because it's too late to keep writing, and Internet readers love bullet points, here are some quick hit observations from watching the game on FutureCast:

  • Malik Hairston shredded the BayHawks defensively, scoring 31 points on 11-20 shooting (8-10 from the free throw line), and Dwayne Jones owned the boards, grabbing 15, including 6 on the offensive end. He also made a living at the line, shooting 10-12 from the stripe, accounting for a good portion of his 22 points on the night.
  • *Jackie Manuel and Mike Gansey did not play for the BayHawks. No word on why, but the FutureCast announcer did say on more than one occasion, and I quote, "Jackie Manuel not playing tonight." Thanks for elaborating...not.
  • Cedric Jackson continues to impress: a team-high 34 points (9-21 from the field, 3-8 from 3, and 13-17 from the line) with 13 assists, 5 rebounds, and just 4 turnovers. Seriously, 17 free throw attempts?! He's a one-man wrecking crew driving the lane.
  • By my count, Alade Aminu had 7 dunks on the night. That's not a stat the D-League counts, but it's impressive. He also matched Dwayne Jones with 15 rebounds. Those are all good things. In the "not good" column, he shot just 4-12 from the free throw line.
  • Speaking of free throws, Austin was 5-15 at the line early in the second half before connecting on 27 of their last 30 from the charity stripe. On a whistle-heavy night, they finished 32-45 (71.1 percent) while Erie shot 27-40 (67.5 percent).
  • Cliff Clinkscales had his best game in awhile, scoring 16 points on 8-11 shooting.
  • Kyle Goldcamp had his best game as a pro: 6 points (3-3 shooting), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal in 21 minutes.
The BayHawks now return home to host a weekend series against the best team in the West, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Games are Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m.

*EDIT: I finally learned that Mike Gansey has missed the past three games with a bruised calf. No word yet on the status of Jackie Manuel and his DNP from last night.

Game Preview: Erie BayHawks (10-12) vs. Austin Toros (9-9)

Two teams hovering at or near the .500 mark hook up tonight down in Austin. It’s the first and only time these teams will meet this season. Although Tulsa currently sits in sixth in the overall D-League standings and Erie is 11th, the teams are only separated by three games in the loss column. And who knows, a win for Erie could be a difference maker down the line if a playoff run is in the cards.

Game 23 Preview: Erie BayHawks (10-12) vs. Austin Toros (9-9)

Erie coming in: The BayHawks arrive in Texas riding a four-game winning streak that is not only their longest streak of the year, it’s also the longest active streak in the D-League. Cedric Jackson has been the catalyst for the recent turnaround, getting to the line and pushing the ball in transition. The team’s also gotten nice complementary play from recent additions Frank Tolbert and Mike Gansey, although Gansey did not play in the past two games (and I still haven’t heard why!)

Austin coming in: Whereas the BayHawks enter this game fresh off a weekend sweep of the Tulsa 66ers, the Toros lost their last game, which was Thursday night against those same 66ers. The player to watch for the Toros is Dwayne Jones. The Toros center leads the league in rebounds with 15.3 per game, including a whopping 6.2 offensive boards per game. He also scores 17.8 a game. It’ll be interesting to see how the BayHawks choose to defend him. John Bryant is a top rebounder himself, but Jones has a definitive agility advantage. Alade Aminu may be better suited to match Jones step-for-step, but I’m not sure he has the strength. Backups Jarvis Gunter and Kyle Goldcamp may also see time on Jones depending on the flow of the game. Malik Hairston is another Toro of interest, as he is on assignment (last I checked) from the Spurs, scoring a team-high 28 in Thursday’s loss against the 66ers.

And In a mostly unrelated note, I saw a guy at the gym the other day wearing an Austin Toros T-shirt. That seemed really unusual, especially without the team even being in town. If we weren’t both in the midst of exercising (woohoo for the treadmill!), I might’ve said something. Instead, I’ll forever wonder who that guy was and why he had a Toros shirt in Erie. So, a shout-out to that guy, whoever you are.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Control the defensive boards.
    This is obviously related to Dwayne Jones. As mentioned above, he averages more than 6 offensive rebounds per game, which is about half of the Toros’ team average. If John Bryant and Alade Aminu can control Jones and limit the Toros to one shot on offense, Erie will be in good shape.
  • Use the 3-ball wisely.
    Earlier this year, I told the BayHawks to limit their 3-point shooting. That still holds true, but with the addition of Mike Gansey (if he’s playing) and the in-season improvement from Ivan Harris, Erie does have a few guys that can be dangerous from distance. Cedric Jackson, Jackie Manuel, and Frank Tolbert should resort to the 3 only as a last resort or when wide open after a nice setup pass.
  • Pace yourselves.
    It’s the last game of a three-game roadtrip before returning to Erie. The team is riding high after four straight wins. This is a classic run-out-of-gas game. Erie needs to avoid the pitfalls. The first five minutes of the game. The first five minutes of the third quarter are typical times to give up a devastating run. This is a night when the coach need’s to have a quick trigger with a timeout to halt any pending surges by the Toros. Be ready, Coach Treloar.

Game Reviews (Yes, Plural): BayHawks Complete 2-0 Sweep in Tulsa

Monday, January 18, 2010

All of a sudden, the Erie BayHawks are starting to show signs of life. After winning back-to-back home games against rival Fort Wayne, the BayHawks travelled to Tulsa and won a pair of tough games on the road against a 66ers team that entered the weekend second in the West (apparently not Western?) Conference.

Erie won 97-91 on Saturday night and 102-97 on Sunday. Highlights are below:

The story of the BayHawks' mini-resurgence (let's not get carried away, they're still just 10-12 on the season) has been authored by Cedric Jackson. Whether it's Ridiculous Upside's Scott Shroeder or GoErie's Duane Rankin, Jackson has been the lead story from the past few BayHawks' games and for good reason. Over the four-game winning streak, Jackson has averaged 25.3 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. He has had some ball control issues, turning it over 4.3 times per game over that four-game stretch, but he gets a good chunk of them back, also averaging 2.3 steals.

Most impressive has been the way Jackson's been scoring. He's always been good at getting to the line, leading the team with 131 free throw attempts (Alade Aminu is second on the team with 96 attempts), but lately he's been making the most of his opportunities. During the four game streak, Jackson's shot 34-38 from the line. I'll do the math for you: that equals 89.5 percent. As someone who still struggles shooting from the field (39.4 percent for the year, 29.5 percent from 3), that kind of performance from the free throw line is huge. And it's been a major key in Erie's recent success, but Jackson hasn't had to do it alone.

Erie hasn't lost since acquiring Frank Tolbert. After making a 15-minute cameo Wednesday night in Erie's win over the Mad Ants, Tolbert got the start in both games against Tulsa. He made Coach Treloar look smart right off the bat, scoring 8 points in the first quarter as the BayHawks jumped out to a 24-15 lead. He followed that performance with a team-high 25 points yesterday on 8-10 shooting and a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line.

Tolbert's starting role came in place of Mike Gansey, Erie's other recent addition. Curiously, Gansey didn't play at all in Tulsa. No word on whether this was injury-related, a coach's decision, or what. Seriously, how is it that there is no news on this? He went from starting to not playing at all, and no one knows why? Lack of accessible information FAIL.

On a more positive note, Alade Aminu also played well over the weekend. Consistency has been the issue for him this year. With four straight double-doubles, he's on a bit of a streak of his own. Scott Schroeder thinks he'll get an NBA call-up before the year ends, writing, "If there was a stat that combined youth+athleticism+length+untapped potential, Aminu would lead the D-League." DraftExpress also values Aminu's potential, ranking him as the #2 D-League prospect.

The BayHawks head to Austin for a showdown with the 9-9 Toros on Tuesday night before returning to Erie for three straight home games.

Quick observations of the opposition

  • Moses Ehambe is one of the best shooters I've watched play against the BayHawks this season. He went 7-15 from downtown over the two games, but it seemed like every shot he hit was a big, momentum-gaining shot.
  • Mustafa Shakur had the dunk of the weekend, driving past his man and then hanging in the air long enough that Kyle Goldcamp may see himself on a poster someday. Kevin Henry of 66ers Nation said Shakur's a quiet scorer and generally, I agree. He gets 20 points, and you wonder where they all came from, but the two from that ferocious dunk were anything but quiet points.
  • High school-to-pros player Latavious Williams managed to grab 13 rebounds in 36 minutes, but he's clearly a raw talent at this stage of the game.
  • Deron Washington is a great energy player. It shows most in this stat. Of Tulsa's 66 free throw attempts in the two games, Washington attempted 22 of them, making 15.

Sizing Up the 66ers

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In anticipation of the weekend series against the Tulsa 66ers and in lieu of a traditional game preview, I turned to Kevin Henry, beat writer for the Tulsa World and author of the 66ers Nation blog, for a Q&A to get some information and insight regarding the 66ers. The 66ers enter the weekend with a record of 11-7, second in the West. Erie comes in at 8-12, fifth in the East, but riding a two-game winning streak.

BTB: For starters, Tulsa has won 5 of their last 6 games. What's been the main reason(s) for their recent success?

This is a completely different team than the 66ers of last year. Right now, there's only one active player (Moses Ehambe) from last year. Last year's team was very me-centered at times. This year's squad is truly a team and does a good job of making the extra pass to find the open man. It's a good unit that enjoys hanging around each other on and off the court. Also, I think Tulsa has a defensive-minded mentality and that has certainly made a difference this year. That comes straight from the parent Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also a vastly improved team this year.

BTB: Coming straight out of high school to the D-League, Latavious Williams was one of the biggest stories of the D-League draft. The 66ers used their first round pick (16th overall) on Williams. How has he developed through 18 games this season? What's his role on the team?

Tay, as he's called around here, is still picking up the game on the D-League level. He has started a number of games this year and has made more of an impact on the boards than in scoring. If you watch him play, you'll see he is very productive in the time he's in the game. Coach Nate Tibbetts watches his playing time and makes sure he's not overused. When Tay is in there, he'll do something on the defensive end to provide a spark. He has so much potential, and I think he'll only get better and better.

BTB: Tulsa currently sits tied for second in the West Conference. What will it take for the 66ers to surpass Rio Grande Valley and win the conference title?

Right now, it seems that the Vipers can't lose, despite different players being called up to the NBA. If Tulsa keeps playing solid defense, I think they can fight for the West Conference lead all season. This team may not be loaded with superstars like Idaho or RGV, but it is a solid team from top to bottom that can compete with, and beat anyone. They're 2-2 against RGV this year, so they have confidence when they step on the court with the Vipers.

BTB: Which 66ers players could you see playing at the next level? What do they need to do to make that next step?

I'll say Mustafa Shakur. He's a solid point guard who can create and score. He's also a leader and you can tell that the 66ers rely on him in close situations. He's a quiet scorer, meaning at the end of the night you'll look at the score sheet and wonder when he scored all of his 20-plus points. He does what he needs to do to make the team run and run well. That's a must for any NBA point guard, and I think Mustafa has the skills to play in the NBA.

BTB: Who's the most underrated player for the 66ers?

Larry Owens. He's a guy who can play the three or four position and score from anywhere on the court. He's not getting a lot of attention as so many people are focused on Latavious or Mustafa. Larry is quick and his teammates have faith in him to score if they need a big basket.

And finally, what do you see as the keys to defeating Tulsa?
Make Tulsa take bad shots. The 66ers haven't shot under 50 percent in any game for the last seven contests. Tulsa is playing with a smaller lineup right now because of callups and injuries so I think a team with a dominant inside game could cause problems. However, Tulsa's guards can rebound and beat you down the court, so another team has to be dominant inside and rebound well to give the 66ers a big headache.

Game Preview: Fort Wayne Mad Ants (8-11) vs. Erie BayHawks (7-12)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Familiar foes prepare to tangle once again tonight. For the BayHawks, it's the third straight home game against the Mad Ants. Fort Wayne and Erie currently sit at fifth and sixth (out of seven) in the conference standings, respectively. That fact alone makes this game meaningful. Neither team can afford to fall further behind the playoff pace at this point.

Erie coming in: The BayHawks will be playing their third straight home game against the Mad Ants. They lost Saturday night 89-87, but then they bounced back with a dominating 100-70 win on Sunday afternoon. Tonight they will shoot for their first two-game home winning streak of the season. Alade Aminu is also coming off a big game. Like the BayHawks, his problem has been consistent, and the team will look for him to post big numbers again.

Fort Wayne coming in: Despite injuries to Rob Kurz and Jared Reiner, the Mad Ants won a big home game last night, defeating Maine 103-93, on the strength of a 34-11 third quarter. The Mad Ants hit 10 3s in the game, including 4 from Kyle McAlarney. Ex-BayHawk Oliver Lafayette had a big game as well, scoring 19 points on 8-13 shooting with 11 assists and 5 steals.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • 1st-Quarter Energy
    The weekend series with Fort Wayne was determined by the first quarter. On Saturday, Fort Wayne dominated the opening quarter, outscoring Erie 23-13. On Sunday, Erie won the first quarter 27-20 and never looked back. Expect the first quarter to be vital again today, especially with the Mad Ants playing the second night of a back-to-back after travelling in from Indiana.

  • Frustrate Sonderleiter
    Without Reiner, who had a major impact in the Mad Ants' win on Saturday, Sean Sonderleiter will have to carry the load at center. Whoever he's guarding, whether it's John Bryant or Alade Aminu, should be a focal point on offense. If they can draw a few early fouls, they should be able to control the paint.

  • Give Jackson the keys to the car
    Cliff Clinkscales has done some good things for the BayHawks, but he doesn't have the all-around game that Jackson brings to the table. Jackson's explosive off the dribble and gets to the rack better than anyone else on the roster. He may commit a few more turnovers than Clinkscales, but he also accounts for more points by virtue of his offensive abilities. Use Clinkscales as a change-of-pace reliever, but let Jackson be the main driver the rest of the way.

Poll: Which three BayHawks would you want as a team roster for NBA Jam?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I could not be happier about this news that NBA Jam is coming back in 2010. Not only was it one of the most enjoyable games of my youth (Tecmo Super Bowl was #1 in my book), but it's gameplay was also very user-friendly, allowing anyone to pick up and play without feeling overwhelmed.

The fact that it's coming to the Nintendo Wii and that I just got the Wii for Christmas (well, my family, but that's close enough) makes it all the more perfect.

Anyway, one of the cool things about NBA Jam was its assortment of unusual hidden characters that ranged from Bill Clinton to Benny the Bull. I can only hope the Wii version replicates this.

Right now, you can vote on the new NBA Jam site for the three players you want to be on the roster for the Clippers, Kings, and Thunder, respectively (with the ability to vote on other teams coming in the future).

For hypothetical purposes, and to make this post blog relevant, I thought I'd pose the same question with a BayHawks twist. So, cast your vote for three BayHawks below and feel free to leave other fun NBA Jam thoughts/3-man rosters you'd like to see included in the game in the comments section below.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 100, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 70

For the second time in five days, Alade Aminu was the focal point in an Erie BayHawks victory. The Georgia Tech product was a force on both ends of the court, dominating the paint and controlling glass, leading the BayHawks to a 100-70 thumping of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The win improves the BayHawks to 7-12 while the Mad Ants fall to 7-11.

Aminu played a team-high 45 minutes and made the most of his time on the floor, scoring 30 points on 11-17 shooting that included a variety of post moves and putbacks. He had 6 offensive rebounds to go along with 9 defensive. On the defensive end, he also added 3 blocks and 2 steals.

While Aminu helped the BayHawks put this game away, it was Cedric Jackson that got the BayHawks on the right track in this one. After the team scored just 13 points in the first quarter Saturday night, Jackson scored 13 in the first quarter all by himself on Sunday, while also dishing out 3 assists. He finished the game with a great all-around statline: 21 points on 7-10 shooting, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 turnovers. He was also mainly responsible for frustrating former BayHawk Oliver Lafayette, who finished 1-8 with just 4 assists for the Mad Ants.

It was a great offensive performance for the BayHawks after a miserable one the night before. Their shooting went from 35 to 50 percent, including 4-10 from 3-point range. Defensively, give some credit to Erie as they were more active on that end. But also chalk some of that up to Fort Wayne playing the second day of a back-to-back on the road in less than 24 hours. The Mad Ants shot a lowly 31 percent from the field, including 5-20 from downtown.

John Bryant is madly in love with the pick-and-pop jumpshot from just outside the free throw line. He's got a nice touch for a big man, and hits the shot at a high percentage, but he can't allow himself to become one dimensional. It was a good effort from him on the night as he notched another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also added 2 blocked shots.

On the Mad Ants side, what happened to Jared Reiner? The Fort Wayne center dominated the matchup Saturday night, but he played less than 24 minutes in this one, scoring just 8 points on 3-10 shooting. I saw that he came out of the locker room late at halftime, so maybe there was some sort of injury issue. If so, that could spell trouble for the Mad Ants, who were once again without Rob Kurz, who missed the each of the games in Erie with a back injury.

The BayHawks once again suited just nine players. Word on the street is that Frank Tolbert is headed to Erie to replace Booker Woodfox on the BayHawks' roster. The BayHawks started a lineup with Bryant at center, Aminu at power forward, Mike Gansey and Jackie Manuel on the wings, and Cedric Jackson at the point. I think that's Erie's best five going forward with Ivan Harris potentially taking minutes from Manuel/Gansey as the sixth man depending on the game situation.

Looking ahead, Erie trails Fort Wayne by just one game in the loss column with another rematch coming up in Erie Wednesday night. The BayHawks will try to win two straight at home for the first time this season as they continue to try to dig themselves out of this early season hole.

BayHawks Release Booker Woodfox

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Remember how I wrote that thing about the *newest, coolest named BayHawk, Booker Woodfox? Well, forget that ever happened. Woodfox was released by the team without ever playing in a game for the BayHawks.

The team is in the works to add a tenth player with former Auburn Tiger Frank Tolbert as a rumored possibility. They'll suit up just nine players again this afternoon as they host the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at 2 p.m.

*Cliff Clinkscales regains the title of coolest-named BayHawk

Game Review: Fort Wayne Mad Ants 89, Erie BayHawks 87

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The BayHawks won the final 36 minutes of this game, outscoring the Mad Ants in quarters two and four and playing them dead even in the third. But they still lost the game. It was the first quarter that did them in tonight, puzzling when you consider that they came in riding their first two-game win streak of the season. It seemed like this was as good a chance as any to get the home crowd buzzing with an electric start, but apparently the BayHawks blew a fuse somewhere between Boise and Erie.

They came out flat on offense, scoring just 13 points while committing five turnovers. Meanwhile, Fort Wayne came out with a purpose, scoring 23 in the period. The Mad Ants were led by center Jared Reiner, who scored 8 of his 18 points in the first quarter.

On the rivalry front, Oliver Lafayette made the most of his return to Erie, scoring 16 points that included 4-6 on 3-point shooting. Lafayette added 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals in his solid all-around performance. Rod Wilmont was less of a factor, scoring just 3 points, but he grabbed 8 rebounds, including the final one that allowed him to clinch the game with 2 free throws in the final seconds. He made both to seal the win for Fort Wayne.

In a strange occurence, Erie actually shot better from 3 (41 percent) than they did from the field (37 percent). Mike Gansey's home debut was a mixed bag. He had 10 rebounds, which is good, and he hit 4-10 3s, which is good. But he also shot just 6-15 overall and committed a team-high 4 turnovers, 3 of which came in the team's sluggish first quarter.

Ivan Harris was 3-5 from downtown, but the two misses were chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter, including a shot with just six ticks left on the clock. Both Gansey and Jackie Manuel played the full 48 minutes for the BayHawks, who suited up just nine players. According to Ridiculous Upside, Booker Woodfox was released by the BayHawks, but I don't have any further details at this time.

Overall, it was a disappointing performance for the BayHawks. Fresh off a strong performance at the D-League Showcase, there was a glimmer of hope for a turnaround. With this loss, Erie's small margin for error grows even slimmer. They turn around for a rematch with Fort Wayne tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. and then again on Wednesday night. Unless they can bounce back with back-to-back wins, things are not looking up for the BayHawks.

Should the BayHawks Be Hopeful for 2010?

Friday, January 8, 2010

After a rather lengthy holiday hiatus, I finally took the time to get back to my when-I-have-extra-time gig moonlighting for the popular local blog, ErieBlogs.com. I wrote about the positive vibe surrounding the BayHawks after a 2-0 showing at the D-League Showcase and the importance of the upcoming homestand against budding rival Fort Wayne. Here's an excerpt:

By playing well on the D-League’s big stage, in front of scouts and NBA executives, the BayHawks proved that they’re capable of bigger and better things this season. With more than half of the season schedule to go, there is still time to turnaround after a disappointing start, but there is also little room for error. And it starts this weekend against Erie’s rival, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Read the full post here.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 102, Los Angeles D-Fenders 89

The Erie BayHawks picked as good a time as any to win two games in a row, doing so in front of the NBA scouts gathered in Boise, Idaho, at the D-League Showcase. Yesterday's win came over the L.A. D-Fenders, 102-89. After the D-Fenders took a 3-point lead midway through the third quarter, the BayHawks went on a 17-4 run to close the quarter and never looked back, leading the rest of the way to improve to 6-11 on the season and 2-2 in 2010. The D-Fenders fell to 7-7 with the loss.

The big story of the game for the BayHawks was the performance of Mike Gansey: 25 points on 9-12 shooting (3-6 from 3), 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He also led the team in minutes played for the second straight game, showing that Coach Treloar plans to ride him the rest of the season. If he continues putting up numbers like he did yesterday and winning (the BayHawks are now 2-0 with Gansey in the lineup), the trade for Donell Taylor will be a successful gamble after all.

Of course, Gansey didn't win this one on his own. Despite struggling from the floor (5-13 shooting), Cedric Jackson continued to get to the free throw line (6-9), and registered a double-double (16 points, 11 assists). Jackson also atoned for 5 turnovers by recording 4 steals of his own.

John Bryant and Jackie Manuel both responded nicely after struggling in their Showcase opener against Reno on Wednesday. The BayHawks big man Bryant had 18 points on 7-10 shooting, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Manuel contributed 14 points on 6-12 shooting with 5 rebounds.

Offensive consistency was the key for Erie in this one. Their quarter scores were 24, 25, 27, and 26. And the BayHawks also played a solid defensive game, forcing 18 turnovers that included 9 steals and 7 blocks while limiting the D-Fenders to 44 percent shooting. It was a good win, but like Jay-Z says, it's on to the next one, which happens to be the rival Fort Wayne Mad Ants tomorrow night back in Erie.

Game Review: Erie BayHawks 92, Reno Bighorns 88 (Overtime)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Erie made their 2010 D-League Showcase debut this afternoon, defeating the Reno Bighorns 92-88 in overtime. The game was broadcast on NBA TV. I was at work, so I followed most of the first half through some combination of the D-League site's box score/play-by-play and the Ridiculous Upside Twitter account.

At halftime, I tweeted this simple statistical analysis. That's why they play 48 minutes. Erie's final shooting numbers were not nearly as pretty (41 percent from the field, 27.8 percent from 3, and 79.3 percent from the free throw line), but they found a way to grind out the win.

How'd they do it? Here are a few reasons why and some other general reactions to the game I unfortunately wasn't able to watch:

  • Alade Aminu.

  • Alade Aminu. Yes, he deserves the first two bullets. He was a beast today. In a game where John Bryant struggled, Aminu thrived. He played almost 45 minutes and led the team in both scoring (30 points on 12-20 shooting) and rebounding (23, including 7 offensive). Prior to the game, I suggested that the team needed to find a way to showcase someone in front of all the scouts in attendance. Aminu was that someone on this day.

  • What do we make of Mike Gansey? The newly acquired Gansey missed his first five shots as a BayHawk and finished just 5-17 from the field (3-11 from 3)—not exactly an improvement from Donell Taylor's shooting percentages. But perhaps the threat of his 3-point shooting helped the offense in general? Hard to say since I didn't watch, but he played a team-high 52 minutes, so apparently Coach Treloar liked something about what he was giving them. He did score 4 of the team's last 6 points in overtime, including a pair of clutch free throws and had 6 rebounds. Still, I'm a little surprised he was such a big part of the gameplan in game one with the team. Then again, if he can give them some 5-, 6-, or 7-11 games from beyond the arc, it'll make a lot more sense why Treloar pulled the trigger on this deal. After one game, it's way to early to say whether it was the right move, but the team is 1-0 with Gansey in the starting lineup, so that's a start.

  • The player most affected by Mike Gansey's arrival seemed to be Jackie "Iron" Manuel. He'd played 42.5 minutes per game coming into this game, but saw just 24 minutes of action tonight. Foul trouble also may have played a role, however, as Manuel picked up three fouls in the first quarter, his fourth before halftime, and eventually fouled out of the game.

  • Cedric Jackson got the bulk of the point guard minutes. Though he had 5 turnovers with his 11 assists, my bet is that his aggressiveness is getting his number called more often than Cliff Clinkscales. He led the team with 11 free throw attempts, converting 9, including the final two in overtime to seal the win. Jackson has a knack for getting to the rack and drawing contact (say that five times fast). He's under 70 percent at the line for the season, so if he can shoot like he did tonight on a regular basis, he'll become a much more dangerous threat when he drives to the basket.

  • It's hard to judge defense by numbers alone, but unless Reno just had an awful shooting day, you have to credit Erie for holding the Bighorns under 40 percent from the field.

  • What a tough Showcase experience for the Bighorns, losing both of their games in overtime.

  • Just as I was surprised by how much time Gansey saw, I was surprised that Booker Woodfox never got in the game at all, especially when the team went ice cold shooting in the second half.

  • One more for Alade Aminu. He grabbed the first defensive rebound of overtime. Scored the first four points of overtime to give the BayHawks new life after they squandered the lead in regulation. And fittingly he grabbed the final rebound as the game ended.
The BayHawks, who improved to 5-11, have little time to celebrate the win. They return to action tomorrow on the final day of the D-League Showcase, taking on the 7-6 Los Angeles D-Fenders. The game can be seen on NBA TV at 3:45 p.m. Eastern. If, like me, you don't get NBA TV, that unfortunately means you're out of luck for this one as the D-League is not streaming the NBA TV games on FutureCast.

Game Preview (Special Showcase Edition!): Erie BayHawks (4-11) vs. Reno Bighorns (5-9)

BayHawks have a capital H, but Bighorns have a little H. Some things I'll just never understand.

These two teams square off today at 1 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. local time) in Boise on day three of the D-League Showcase. It's the first and only time they'll play this year, meaning it's the first and only time the BayHawks will match up against the (unfortunately) recently retired from blogging "Boom Tho" Rod Benson this season. I won't be able to watch the game today as I'll be at work, but judging by the Twitstream of info I've been enjoyably following through the first two days of the Showcase, there will be good coverage of this game from other sources. So, be sure to check them all out as you go about your business.

Game 16 Preview: Erie BayHawks (4-11) vs. Reno Bighorns (5-9)

Erie coming in: After winning the final game of 2009, Erie started off 2010 with back-to-back losses on the road against Maine and Springfield, bringing their record to 4-11. Their disappointing record has brought about some changes. Mike Gansey was acquired from Idaho in a New Year's Eve trade that sent Donell Taylor to the Stampede. And earlier this week, the BayHawks cut Martin Zeno and signed former Creighton sharpshooter Booker Woodfox. Both Gansey and Woodfox are expected to be in uniform for their BayHawks debut today against Reno as Coach Treloar and the Erie staff try to get back on the winning track. This is Erie's first Showcase game this year. They play again tomorrow against the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Reno coming in: The Bighorns have lost four straight games to drop to 5-9 on the year with their last win coming Dec. 26 against Tulsa. They lost their first game of the Showcase on Monday in double overtime against Dakota, 118-110. Russell Robinson led the way in defeat, scoring a game-high 34 points. You better believe they'll be geared up to make up for that tough loss in their second and final chance to impress the scouts in attendance at the Showcase today.

BayHawks keys to success:

  • Work in the new guys, but don't overwork them
    Gansey and Woodfox should get some minutes today, but the team shouldn't be expecting them to carry the scoring load on day one. If they can get some timely 3-point shooting, that would be a great boost that the team has been searching for all year long.
  • Defend the paint
    Whether its Reno's post game or penetration from the point guard position, Erie needs to buckle down and play some lockdown D. Generic? Maybe, but it's still a key to success.
  • Showcase someone
    Jackie Manuel, Alade Aminu, John Bryant, and Cedric Jackson are all viable options. The point is, the BayHawks need to find a go-to player, and what better time to do so than the D-League Showcase?

Booker Woodfox: The Newest, Coolest-Named BayHawk

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Amid all the hubbub (there's a fun word I don't get to use often enough) surrounding the D-League Showcase this week, it's likely that the Erie BayHawks' roster move was merely a glitch on your basketball radar. They signed guard Booker Woodfox and waived guard Martin Zeno. If you did catch the news, your first thought was probably something like "Booker Woodfox? What a (insert descriptive adjective of choice here) name. Who's he?"

Well, I've done a bit of research to answer that question for you.

After playing two years of junior college at San Jacinto College, Woodfox went to Creighton as a junior and earned Missouri Valley Conference 6th Man of the Year. Then, as a senior, Woodfox averaged 15.8 points in 24.9 minutes per game and earned the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year Award. More importantly for the BayHawks, he's a shooter, which is something they lack. Woodfox upped his 3-point attempts and 3-point percentage last year at Creighton, converting on 91-191 (47.6 percent) of his 3s, including a 7-9 effort on the road against St. Joseph's. He also shot 86.8 percent from the free throw line.

Woodfox coming out of nowhere is nothing new. The 6'1" guard was barely a blip on the Creighton fans' radar when he first signed on, but he won them over in a hurry as Max Univers writes on Inside Creighton Hoops here and here.

Of course, he wasn't totally off the Erie radar this season. After all, he did start out the season in training camp with Erie's favorite roster rival, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. It's only fitting that the BayHawks should add him now. Following the D-League showcase, Erie hosts the Mad Ants for their next three games, Saturday, Sunday, and next Wednesday (Jan. 13). Woodfox is just the latest in a growing list of players with ties to both the Mad Ants and BayHawks, which should make for a spirited series of games.

Shooting is clearly the reason he was brought in for Erie. Martin Zeno was not getting the job done at 36 percent from the field and just 0-7 from 3-point range. Along with the trade acquisition of Mike Gansey, the BayHawks are clearly trying to rebuild on the run with an emphasis on shooters.

Woodfox's size makes him a bit of a concern on the defensive end, howver, especially if he's going to play the two-guard at this level. I don't foresee him taking a lot of point guard minutes from Cliff Clinkscales/Cedric Jackson right now, but maybe that's a possibility down the line. In the meantime, other teams will try to exploit him on the defensive end if he's matched up against other two-guards. But that's a problem for the future.

The bottom line is that right now Erie has problems—major problems—shooting the ball, especially from 3-point range. Considering that Woodfox trails only Kyle Korver on the Creighton single season 3-pointers made list, I think he's definitely worth a look as an answer to solve Erie's shooting woes.

And finally, in totally useless non- and uber-non celebrity trivia, Woodfox is one day shy of being exactly two years younger than me. Hey, I told you I did some research!

NBA D-League, BayHawks on National TV

Monday, January 4, 2010

The NBA Development League announced a deal with cable network Versus today. According to the press release, Versus will air 10 regular season and six playoff games throughout 2010. The games will air on Versus on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. Eastern, beginning Jan. 16, when the Fort Wayne Mad Ants meet the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Versus will tip off NBA D-League playoff coverage on April 10. All regular season and postseason games will be presented in HD.

The Versus schedule includes two Erie BayHawks games: March 20 when the BayHawks welcome the Dakota Wizards to Erie and April 3 when the BayHawks travel to Maine for the regular season finale.

The full schedule of D-League games to be televised on Versus is as follows:

January 16 Fort Wayne Mad Ants at Sioux Falls Skyforce
January 23 Fort Wayne Mad Ants at Iowa Energy
January 30 Bakersfield Jam at Idaho Stampede
February 6 Reno Bighorns at Rio Grande Valley Vipers
February 20 Dakota Wizards at Sioux Falls Skyforce
February 27 Bakersfield Jam at Austin Toros
March 13 Tulsa 66ers at Rio Grande Valley Vipers
March 20 Dakota Wizards at Erie BayHawks
March 27 LA D-Fenders at Rio Grande Valley Vipers
April 3 Erie BayHawks at Maine Red Claws

*Schedule subject to change

New Year, Same Old Struggles for BayHawks

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Erie BayHawks started the New Year with back-to-back road games at Maine and Springfield, two expansion franchises at opposite ends of the standings. Erie lost 94-86 to Maine on Friday night.

They followed that up with another loss, falling 87-75 to Springfield yesterday afternoon.

The pair of losses came on the back of a blockbuster trade announcement New Year's Eve when the BayHawks shipped their leading scorer, Donell Taylor to Idaho for Mike Gansey. Neither Taylor nor Gansey have played for their new teams yet.

With the two losses, Erie now sits at 4-11 in a tailspin heading into the D-League Showcase, where they'll play—as will all 16 D-League teams—in front of NBA scouts during a four-day stretch running Monday-Thursday. Erie's games are Wednesday against Reno and Thursday against Los Angeles. This will be the only time Erie plays these two teams this season.

I didn't see the game against Maine, who is now 4-0 against the BayHawks, but I did watch almost all of the game yesterday against Springfield. The Armor came into the game with just one win on the season, and after the teams played to a 66-66 tie after three quarters, Erie hit the proverbial wall. They were outscored 21-9 in the fourth, and quite honestly, those numbers don't come close to showing how much they were outplayed down the stretch.

Looking at the stats, you'll see that John Bryant had a double-double and Jackie Manuel had 18 points on 8-16 shooting. They were OK, but no one had what I'd call a good game in this one. The team looked like a team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back. Ivan Harris shot 4-19 from the field (2-8 from 3), Alade Aminu was 3-11, Cedric Jackson went 4-13 with just 1 assist. And while Cliff Clinkscales had 8 assists, he added 4 turnovers and 0 points on 0-5 shooting.

The BayHawks are hoping that Mike Gansey will be the magic elixir for their shooting woes, but their biggest problem seems to be inconsistency. With the possible exception of Jackie Manuel, no one on the BayHawk roster seems to be dependable from game to game. Several of them have had breakout performances, including John Bryant, Ivan Harris, Cedric Jackson, and Cliff Clinkscales, but unless they can find a way to get them all on the same page soon, this team is not going to repeat its first year success, which culminated with a playoff berth.

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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