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Posts Tagged ‘Jerel McNeal’

VanderMeer or VanderFlop?

April 28, 2011 3 comments

Scott VanderMeer has been playing really well for the Iowa Energy. After backing Courtney Sims most of the season, now he is coming into his own. More specifically, he has made his presence known down low in the Finals series agains the RGV Vipers. However, I have to take issue with him on one thing, and not only him, the whole league and the NBA, but especially him, for Flopping. Since VanderMeer is a serial flopper, I’ll refer to him throughout this short post as VanderFlop. I know others do it, including the Viper’s McNeal, last night, and Iowa’s Hannah, but these guys are not 7 foot towers.

It seems as though this is VanderFlop’s game plan. Well, buddy, I got your number back in game 1, and it seems now that the refs and the Vipers got it too. Let me break this down. There’s a lot of physical play going on, and commentators talk about Scott taking a beating. His hard fall came from his own hanging and slipping off the rim. The foul was not hard. This guy is big and tough and strong. But he’s playing like a pansy when it would benefit him. I think Stan Van Gundy would agree with me- (http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2011/04/stan-van-gundy-wants-the-hawks-to-stop-flopping/).
 
In game one, he had a rare and almost unheard of 7 blocks. He also “forced” 5 charge calls against the Vipers. He was in foul trouble and ended with 5 fouls in both games. However, if one of those 7 blocks was not clean (and several were not- McNeal only shot 4 free throws with a 9 average and 13-13 in game 2) or if one of those offensive fouls is actually a block or a flop (duh!) then he’s out of the game. 12 calls went his way in game 1!- calls that affected many points for RGV. Game two was a different story (thank goodness, I mean, come on!).
 
To see this 7 footer’s brute strength you’d have to see the end of the 1st or 2nd quarter of game two, I can’t remember which. Anyway, Terrel Harris was defending, I believe, league MVP Curtis Stinson after a Viper’s make and VanderMeer sets a screen for his point guard. He is like a brick wall- a wall that Harris runs into and goes flying off in the other direction. Scott does not budge. It’s 6 ft. versus 7 ft. burly-man bulk. STRONG. That is until we’re on the other end of the floor and Roby or McNeal or anyone from Red (large or small)  is scoring on this tree of a man, they may redirect themselves, graze him and then with a slightly delayed reaction then the tree comes down…TIIIIIMMMMBBBEEERRRR!!! Over and over again. VanderFlop, we’re not falling for your falling anymore. You’ve proven your strength AND your weakness. We’ve got your number.

 
The Vipers win in extraordinary fashion in front of a DLeague record crowd of hostile (but stunned) Iowa fans. I, of course a Vipers fan, was one of the few on the twittersphere to predict this. Everyone else seemed to be picking the #1 ranked Energy. Now the tune is, well, Iowa’s playing without Sims, Jeffers, Lofton, and Weaver. On the other side, the Vipers too are playing without Shakur, Adrien, and Cousin (due to injury)! I think Iowa’s a great team and not to be underestimated. But I think the same about the Vipers. I predicted them to win game 2 and I predict them to come out and win game 3 too on Iowa’s turf. Be afraid, Energy. Be very afraid.

P.S. Watch VanderFlop in action trying to get the same calls in game 2– :54 second mark- http://www.nba.com/dleague/games/20110427/RGVIWA/gameinfo.html?ls=gt2hp2041000302

Finals Game 1 take aways

April 25, 2011 1 comment

You can’t blame a game on the refs. Especially when you dig a huge hole and only score 9 points in the third quarter. But the refs didn’t help much. In the last ditch effort in the fourth quarter, the Vipers closed the gap to within 4. The fans were into the game and really cheering them on, believing they could do the impossible again. A couple of what seemed to be bogus calls and no calls turned into several 3 pointers on the other end that took the wind right out of the sails. It was felt by all.

I was there and came home to Brownsville, and hour drive and stayed up to watch the Versus broadcast. I tried to watch the referees objectively. They definitely were “letting them play”, well Iowa anyway. Here’s what I saw, and again, I’m trying not to be biased.

Lot’s of Vipers points taken away by offensive foul calls. VanderMeer at 7 ft. getting grazed by a 6 footer and tumbling down should be nicknamed VANDERFLOP. (In the refs defense, Roby got away with a block that was called a charge too, but only once.) VanderFlop had foul trouble early, then with 5 fouls managed to draw several charges, and not foul out, while racking up a rare and impressive 7 blocks! I noticed what a presence he was down there, but come on! Who get’s 7 clean blocks in a game? They were not all “all ball” and if only one was called, he’s out of the game. I bet the refs had an escort out of the building. They got booed a lot more then usual last night and rightly so.

A quick look at the stats and I found out that Iowa went to the line 5 more times than RGV even though the Vipers shot the ball 9 more times than the Energy. A series of no calls, offensive foul flops, not calling a clear shot clock violation of Iowa’s, overlooking obvious traveling, not counting 5 seconds on Stinson, these were places where the refs influenced the outcome. But as I said, you can’t blame the game on the referees. It’s only a factor. The symptoms of the loss were toughness and offense/ defense.

Way too many transition points for Iowa, who seemed to play with more Energy, pun intended. Bad offense must not lead to poor defense, if they are to repeat as Champions. So while the refs can’t be blamed, what can the Vipers do to ensure a better outcome?

Here are my thoughts: McNeal is getting double and triple teamed. That means 1 or 2 players are wide OPEN. He does a good job of feeding others, but they need to get into a good passing lane for Jerel and call out for the ball and be ready to convert.

Get tough, and since it’s a physical finals contest, protect the ball better. Be smarter and limit the careless turnovers. Scheyer and Janning, while faking the three, driving and dishing, know what you want to do before getting in the air. Onuaku also had some uncharacteristic turnovers and missed hook shots, including an air ball. Sullivan had an off night, though Faye was huge.

I mentioned in my last post that Connor Atchley needed to play like a big man, after grabbing an offensive board to take it up strong and not automatically look for the outlet. He did just that, some three times! We need that. Too bad his 3 balls were in and out. Others who struggled lately with 3 pointers started to connect again.

Don’t leave the shooters open. At one point Hannah had a good 3 seconds to set up a 3 pointer with Scheyer and Janning both standing together by Stinson. Nobody budged.

We’ve got guys who can attack the rim. McNeal, Roby, Harris, even Scheyer and Janning are. Keep that up and you should be able to get to the line more. Well, you should! (I know, ref complaint, again)

Traditionally we play well in must win situations (5-0 the last two years). I wish it didn’t come to this having to play on the road. But it is what it is. As Coach Mo says, gotta play all 48 minutes. At one point Coach Finch yelled at the players during a time out. Something to the effect of waiting all year for this moment and blowing it. The whole arena could hear him. This got even the complacent fans behind the guys again, showing some encouragement. It was too late. But I believe they can win twice in Iowa. It’s gonna take a “firing on all cylinders” approach.

Last year, with a completely different team, the Vipers had the #1 rank, the coach of the year, the league MVP. This year all those belong to Iowa. This year, we’re the underdogs who usually respond when under intense pressure. The pressure is ON!

What a rivalry! Good friends, now enemies, Coach Finch and Coach Nurse. Curtis Stinson and Jerel McNeal.  Gotta love it. Our guys can play with them, no doubt. I’m sure the hunger will be there. Go Vipers!

(you can see my boys in the fan tunnel)

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