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Did the Vipers do it?

April 21, 2011 1 comment

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!

What the Vipers must do.

April 18, 2011 1 comment

The RGV Vipers squeaked by the Reno Bighorns in an exciting nail-biter of a game. Round 2 game 1 is in the books and my wife almost had a heart-attack in the stands. The game should not have gone to over time. If my memory serves me, Reno did not ever lead late in the game until 89-88.  This having led 86-73! They were 6-10 points behind the Vipers most of the game. After the game I gave Daryl Morey, the Rockets GM, the “whew” sign. He put his hand on my shoulder. I said, “At least it’s a W!” He said they’d take it.

The good thing is that now the ball is in their court, so to say, as they play on the road in Reno on Wednesday. The awesome home crowd won’t be there, but it’s Reno who will have the pressure of a must win. They’ll come hungry and ready and with the crowd behind them. What do the Vipers need to do to win?

Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order. Marcus Landry is a DLeague all-star. He had an off night tonight. He looked better down the stretch, but still was off. That usually means that he’ll have a good next game. Contain him again. Don’t let him get hot behind the arc. Similarly, we had guys who had an off night tonight- mainly Matt Janning. Coach Finch has been starting Matt Janning instead of Richard Roby lately and playing well. Tonight, he only had one bucket, a layup.  He needs his confidence back to start draining those 3-balls. Terrel Harris only made 1 of 4 threes, but it was almost like Winder’s game winner in the finals last year! Atchley was cold from beyond the arc and Mouhammad Faye as well. This needs to change. Roby as well needs to attack the rim, but under control. Too many charges.

MAKE FREE TRHOWS! Stay aggressive defensively. Jon Scheyer’s defense is mentioned as being the one thing he needs to improve on.  He and the rest of the team played some very good defense. Connor Atchley fouled out. 2 of those fouls looked like clean blocks! Roby fouled out and 2 of those were offensive fouls with shots going in.  Aggression, without fouling! And if you do foul, foul hard!! Don’t let them make the bucket. So many times tonight, Reno had and 1 opportunities because of weak fouls.

Get Patrick Sullivan going. He plays with passion. He’s been a back seat to Patterson, then Adrien, and sadly to Thabeet for 7 games. They are 3-0 without Thabeet! Move the ball around, take it inside and Sully will put up great numbers for you, whether it be 1st option or trash points.

Jerrel McNeal was great and a leader. Scheyer too. Smart play wins games. Refs will miss calls or botch what should be no calls, but you can’t control that. The Viper had twice as many turnovers than Reno did (18-9). RGV many times this season has built a lead and loss it. Rebounding was good. They out rebounded a bigger Reno team 58-41 and must keep it up.

I think one more thing that needs to happen is to get newly assigned Marcus Cousin involved some more. He’s new to the system. Having played most of the season in Austin, he may not be used to the sets being run by his new team. He is, however, a DLeague all-star, and it’s time to play like one for the Vipers. Hopefully his injury sustained during the game that sent him to the locker room is not one that will have long term effects!

That’s this fans take on tonight’s “ugly” win, but a W nonetheless. Hopefully some of the items I bring up get taken care of in the next game. If so, a sweep of #2 and NBA experienced Reno is a very possible outcome. Go Vipers!

Bowling with Jon Scheyer

March 21, 2011 3 comments

Last night I went to a season ticket’s party with the Vipers. They recently acquired NCAA champion Jon Scheyer. I first spoke to him at the snack bar. We talked about his alma mater’s close victory just an hour earlier in the day. He came off of one defending champion team onto another. Later we’d be bowling on the lane next to his.

I reminded him to follow through. He was doing much better than I, at one point with two strikes in a row. I brought to his attention that one more would be a Turkey, and he said I jinxed him. Well, I looked up at the screen later and saw two gutter balls after the two strikes! He was playing two lanes and started goofing off. I told him to put some spin on it and on the first try made a spare this way. After a high five, most using this method ended up in the gutter. I didn’t have a nice camera, but got this blurry pic in the dark off of my phone. I didn’t ask for an autograph but won a ball autographed by the team!

I told him I was glad he’s with the team. He’s been playing really well lately and can help the Vipers defend their title come playoffs. He sustained an injury to his eye,  in Summer league with the Heat.

Now he wears goggles when he plays. I’m selfishly hoping he stays with the team for the playoffs, but that he quickly makes his way into the NBA. He’s a great player and a really nice guy.

After I got home I sent him a tweet. I saw him with his phone earlier, wondering if he was tweeting, and he was. He quickly responded to mine:

fishxpressions Gregory Fish: “@JonScheyer bowling was fun. nice spare with the crazy spin!”
JonScheyer Jon Scheyer@”@fishxpressions thank u sir! Haha. All skill.”

Here’s a good article: http://dimemag.com/2011/03/now-in-the-d-league-jon-scheyer-is-one-step-closer-to-the-nba/

Here’s to Jon!

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