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Did the Vipers do it?

I blogged Sunday night after the first OT thriller versus the Reno Bighorns. I laid out what I thought the RGV Vipers needed to do to win and thus sweep Reno and proceed on to a chance to repeat with back to back championship appearances. Did they do it? Well, kind of, sort of. They failed to do some of the things that I thought they needed to do, but they advanced nonetheless. It would’ve been much easier the other way, but by some miracle (and I did not say referee goof) they pulled off ANOTHER overtime sensation. And it was crazy!

Still, it’s a major accomplishment to go back to the finals! This is a completely different team than last year’s. At this point no one remains from last years’ championship team. Asumnu was the only one at the beginning, but he’s gone now. Antonio Anderson came back shortly after the season started, but was traded for Matt Janning. Garrett Temple came back, but was traded for Jeff Adrien, who like Mustafa Shakur got called up for the rest of the season to the NBA. With only last year’s coaching staff intact, the Vipers are  off to defend their title. Tulsa had a lot of last year’s players but fell to Iowa. The Iowa Energy have some returning players, including league MVP this year, Curtis Stinson. They are going to be tough. Unlike last year, the Vipers will not have home court advantage, and there’s no homecourt like the Valleys! But there are some great new players, including champion Jon Scheyer in the mix this year to upset the league standings leaders and bring home the trophy again.

Jerel McNeal was huge again! He’s doing a great job of carrying the team when needed, and making others better by being unselfish. Terrel Harris had his best game ever and Richard Roby also contributed in a big way, both off the bench. Janning, Scheyer, and Faye hit a couple of shots after they had been struggling from their usual high percentage. Sully continued to do what he does so well. Onuaku had some nice hook shots, but I think his turnovers kept him on the bench longer.

What did they not do, that I said they needed to? I must be a prophet! I said they must contain Landry. That after being shut down in game 1, he’d come out hungry and have a good game. Well, how’s 35 points for you? Fortunately, McNeal matched his 35. Also, free throws could’ve won the game sooner, though they were a little better, I think. TURNOVERS are still high and out of hand. Cousin couldn’t show us any more, because he was in jeans still hurt from the last game, so no dice there. Hopefully he’ll be ready after an extra day of rest with the rest of the team to bring their energy against the Iowa Energy.

What did they do? Well, Roby seemed aggressive, but more under control. I think he only had one offensive foul. I also saw far less petty fouls that turned into possible 3 pt. plays for Reno. My philosophy is that if you’re going to foul, foul hard. Don’t let them get a bucket and a free throw. Make ’em beat you on the line. I saw a couple of arm wrap-arounds to impeded an easy layup and Reno could not convert the plays.

What are some areas to improve upon from the last game? A couple of things, from my perspective. The zone seemed to work well for a while, creating some breaks. Except for when someone would sneak back behind it for an easy dunk. Also, many times while in the zone, NO ONE boxed out. This created several points for Reno on second attempts. In man to man, it’s easy to box out. In a zone, you have to intentionally find someone to box them out. They did not. One last little comment regarding Atchley. He’s known as a catch and shoot guy and very effective at this. But at 6-10, he’s got to play like a big man too. A couple of times he grabbed some big offensive boards, and immediate looked to outlet back out beyond the arc. He was open to go right back up with it! Some food for thought.

By the way, the last time the Vipers lost was Thabeet’s 7th and last game with them. Since he was recalled, the team is 4 – 0! (Read my post “Give Thabeet Thaboot” about him.)

That’s about it, for me. I’ll be at the arena for game 1. Put that game in the books with a W, but please, do it in less dramatic fashion! Then I’ll watch on futurecast as you play in Iowa and defend your title. Go Vipers!

  1. April 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    My wife’s convinced, that Atchley read this post somehow, although I think that watch the game tape, they arrived at the same conclusion. Last night Connor had at least 4 big buckets down low that last Sunday would’ve been kick outs. Too bad the 3 balls were in and out. But great 6-10 aggression down low. Gonna need more of that on Wednesday.

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