Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Dec 27, 2006, 04:29 pm
Andriuskevicius Injured by Teammate

Martynas Andriuskevicius, who was playing for the Dakota Wizards on assignment from the Chicago Bulls, was knocked unconscious by teammate Awvee Storey on December 23. Martynas suffered a skull fracture and concussion as well as a bruise to the left side of his brain. The entire story of the altercation has not been released yet, but there is an ongoing investigation into the incident. For the time being, Storey has been suspended until the investigation is over. Andriuskevicius is expected to return to Chicago today to receive further examination from team doctors.

Stu Jackson handles the suspensions in NBA altercations, and is looking into this incident. He needs to come down hard on Storey to continue to send the message that altercations like this are not acceptable. It will be a long time before Andriuskevicius can play again, and Storey should be suspended for the rest of the season for endangering a teammate’s life. Martynas Andriuskevicius doesn’t wish to press charges at this point in time.

Troy Bell Released, Douthit Leaves Team

Former NBA first round pick Troy Bell has been released by the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Bell struggled throughout his time in the D-League with both his scoring and distributing. The Thunderbirds will also have to deal with the loss of their top big man, Marcus Douthit, who has likely left the team to go overseas. Douthit averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game for Albuquerque this season. To replaces Douthit and Bell, Albuquerque has acquired guard Chris Rodgers and forward Duane Erwin from the available player pool.

Alan Anderson Joins 66ers

The Tulsa 66ers have acquired former Michigan State forward Alan Anderson. Anderson was recently released by the Charlotte Bobcats, who chose to bring in veteran guard Derek Anderson. Alan Anderson was in his second year with the Bobcats after going undrafted out of college. He averaged 5.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game as a rookie with the Bobcats. Anderson will add some toughness and versatility to the Tulsa 66er front line.

James White Recalled to San Antonio

James White was recalled from the Austin Toros on Tuesday after playing in 3 D-League games. The Spurs recalled White after injury concerns arose with some of their regular rotation players. It is quite possible that he will return to the D-League when the Spurs are healthy enough for him to do so.

Ryan Hollins Recalled

Ryan Hollins has been recalled by the Charlotte Bobcats. The rookie center appeared in 5 games with the Fort Worth Flyers, and averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He was likely called up so Bernie Bickerstaff could examine the progress he made in Fort Worth, and for team doctors to make sure his ankle is fully healed. Hollins will still need further development before he’s ready to contribute in the NBA. It would not be surprising if he was sent back to Fort Worth soon.

Azubuike Named Performer of the Week

Kelenna Azubuike of the Fort Worth Flyers has been named the D-League Performer of the Week. His consistent production this season has been key to the Fort Worth’s 8-2 record this season. Azubuike currently averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 54% from the field and 47% from the 3 point line. He has slimmed down considerably from last season, and is much more agile in the lane, though he is still strong enough to hang in the air and take contact. With his production this season, Azubuike has placed himself on the short list for an NBA call-up. The 23 year old guard is playing his second year of D-League basketball.

Rimrockers look to Sally, Haryasz Injury Released

The Austin Toros have added Tyrone Sally to their roster. Sally played last season with the Roanoke Dazzle, and will add some experience to the Arkansas front line. Sally replaces injured center Matt Haryasz, who hurt his ankle in practice. Haryasz was inconsistent, but was 10th in the D-League in rebounding at 8.4 per game. He will have a chance to prove himself in the NBDL again upon recovering, but he also has the option of looking overseas to make some money.

Alfred Neale joins Wizards, Jemeil Rich added to Flyers

To boost their front line, the Dakota Wizards have added forward Alfred Neale, who played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the CBA last season. The Fort Worth Flyers have added point guard Jemeil Rich, and released guard David Logan. Rich will add talent to the Flyers bench and provide them with another guy who can create for teammates. He has experience both in the CBA and overseas.

D-League All-Star Balloting

Voting for the D-League All-Star Game is now open on the D-League’s website. The D-League’s first all-star game will be February 16th in Las Vegas. It will be a good chance for fans to get a look at the top performers in the NBDL this season. The format is the same as the NBA in that the fans choose the starters, and the coaches choose the reserves.

NBA Player Updates

James White, 15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists

White has been scoring the ball well over the past two games. On Friday night, he had 20 points on 7/15 from the field, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. He did turn the ball over 5 times, but he made 2 of his 4 attempts from behind the 3 point line. Saturday night he scored 17 points on 6/12 from the field and 5/5 from the free throw line. White was a pretty good all-around player in college, and he needs to start passing the ball a little better. He should also be a much better rebounder than he is right now considering he has good length and is very athletic. White has started to produce, but will need further development to reach his potential as a complete player.

Julius Hodge, 12.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 10.8 assists

Hodge has been up and down as a scorer, but has made his living in the D-League as a transition passer. Right now he is leading the league in assists at nearly 11 per game. To show that he has a future in the NBA, Hodge will need to start shooting the ball better. Right now he is only shooting 56% from the free throw line this season. On Monday Hodge had his best scoring game of his D-League season, scoring 23 points on 11/16 from the field, and adding 7 assists and 6 rebounds. He also hit his first 3 point attempt of the season in that game. It appears that Hodge’s future could be as a playmaker guard off the bench, but he will have to improve in other areas to get to that point.

Maurice Ager, 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Ager has been struggling from the field, but has scored well at times in the D-League. He had his worst game in a loss Saturday against Colorado, and only shot 4/15 from the field while scoring 12 points. His best effort of 22 points came in a Friday game against Anaheim. He was 6/12 from the field in this game, and made 8 of his 12 free throw attempts. Ager will need to learn to use his mid-range game more often, as he has the ability to be deadly from the 13-17 foot range. He usually relies too much on his 3 point shot. If he can learn to use his athleticism and power more effectively, he’ll have a bright NBA future.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu, 10.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 0 assists

Mensah-Bonsu has been one of the most inconsistent players in the D-League. He struggled with an ankle injury, and has displayed some good potential since coming back. He exploded for 29 points and 9 rebounds against Anaheim, and went 14/18 from the field. Mensah-Bonsu followed it up with 7 points and 8 rebounds on 3/6 from the field with no blocks. He should be blocking shots at a much higher rate considering his athleticism, but is only averaging 1 per game thus far. If his assists numbers speak at all to his basketball IQ, he has a lot of work to do. He has yet to make 1 pass leading to a basket in 4 games in the D-League. Mensah-Bonsu is a long term project, and will probably spend the better part of this season in the D-League.

Team Updates

Fort Worth Flyers, 8-2

The Flyers went 2-1 last week, beating both Sioux Falls and Anaheim at home, before losing to Colorado on the road. Kelenna Azubuike has continued to lead the Flyers, and is becoming a much better all-around player than most people expected. The other Flyer who has really stepped up is Jeremy Richardson. He scored in double figures in every game last week, and is averaging 18 points per game on the season. His three point shot has not been falling, but he has a pretty complete game. The Flyers lost Ryan Hollins for now, but they still have two NBA players, and are solid at every position.

The Flyers will try and continue their winning ways with back to back home games on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night’s game is against Idaho, followed by a Saturday game against the Albuquerque team they lost to in the D-League championship game last season.

Colorado 14ers, 6-3

The 14ers had their Friday night game postponed last week due to a snowstorm, but they managed to beat first place Fort Worth on Saturday night. They played a Christmas game on Monday and lost by 10 to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Von Wafer has continued to score the ball for the 14ers, but on varying levels of efficiency. Elton Brown played really well last week, picking up a pair of double doubles. Pooh Jeter has also provided a nice scoring punch for Colorado. To keep up their current pace, Julius Hodge will need to continue his playmaking in transition.

Colorado closes out 2006 with three games this week. Wednesday they face off against Anaheim at home, and they also play Friday and Sunday games on the road against the Dakota Wizards.

Dakota Wizards, 6-3

The Wizards are left without two talented players thanks to the unfortunate incident where Awvee Storey put teammate Martynas Andriuskevicius in the hospital. They lost a pair of games last week. On Tuesday they lost by 5 to Los Angeles, and they lost to Sioux Falls by 1 on Saturday. Renaldo Major will need to be more consistent with his play for the Wizards. He had 7 points Tuesday, but bounced back on Saturday with 26. Justin Williams had his lowest rebounding total of the season on Tuesday with 6, but bounced back with 14 against the Skyforce. Quemont Greer has also played well for the Wizards lately, and has upped his averages to 11 points and 5 rebounds per game for the season.

This week, the Wizards play in Idaho on Wednesday, before hosting the Colorado 14ers on Friday and Sunday.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 9-5

The Skyforce did very well last week, especially considering their tough schedule. They lost at home to Fort Worth on Tuesday, but won 3 games in 4 days to finish the week. Their wins were over Austin, Colorado and Dakota. The addition of Vince Grier has really helped Sioux Falls so far. In 7 games, Grier is scoring nearly 20 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. His all-around effort may lead to a chance for him to play in the NBA. Andre Brown has continued his strong play, and is now averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. Frank Williams has been inconsistent with his point guard play, but he’s scoring the ball well, and shooting the three point shot with consistency.

This week, Sioux Falls plays in Austin on Thursday before traveling back home for a Friday game against Albuquerque.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 8-5

The D-Fenders went 3-0 last week, winning road games in Dakota, Arkansas, and Austin. Devin Green has continued to produce for the D-Fenders, and had 20 points, 8 assists, and was 11/11 from the free throw line against Dakota. Green is now averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. He is also first in the D-League in both free throws attempted and made. The D-Fenders have a number of players who can step up and give them a needed boost on any given night. Akin Akingbala, Jackie Manuel, Brian Chase, TJ Cummings, and Chet Mason have all stepped up with big performances in the last week.

The D-Fenders play 2 road games this week, starting off against winless Austin on Tuesday. On Friday night they play their last game of 2006 in Bakersfield.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 6-5

Albuquerque lost a pair of road games against Idaho last Friday and Saturday nights. Dijon Thompson struggled Friday night with only 10 points on 4/11 from the field, but he bounced back on Saturday with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Joe Shipp has been playing well for the Thunderbirds lately, and is currently averaging nearly 14 points per game. They will need a better effort out of the struggling Tony Bland if they are going to start winning some games again. Former NBA big man John Edwards has been inconsistent for the Thunderbirds, and needs to produce better rebounding numbers.

Albuquerque starts their week with a Wednesday home game against Bakersfield. They finish the week with a pair of home games in Sioux Falls and Fort Worth.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 6-6

The Rimrockers lost a pair of games last week to Los Angeles and Bakersfield. They injury released their first round pick Matt Haryasz after he was sidelined by an ankle injury, and they are currently lacking a starting quality center. Brandon Dean has been their most consistent producer recently, and is now averaging 12.3 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game. Myron Allen has been struggling lately, and only played 24 minutes in the loss against Bakersfield. Clay Tucker has also struggled recently, though he is still fairly effective.

Arkansas will try to bounce back this week with a pair of Friday and Saturday home games against the Tulsa 66ers.

Tulsa 66ers, 6-7

Tulsa went 1-2 last week, and dropped home games to both Bakersfield and Anaheim. Forward Mike Hall had a very strong week for Tulsa, and is now averaging 16 points and over 8 rebounds per game. Will Conroy has continued to show he is capable of being a third point guard on an NBA roster, and he is one of the steadiest players in the D-League. Denham Brown had two games this week where he scored over 20 points, but he followed it up last Saturday with only 7. Frans Steyn has continued his solid play, but he will need to learn to stay out of foul trouble.

Tulsa plays a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday in Arkansas.

Idaho Stampede, 5-6

The Stampede have been playing well lately, and won two games last week against Albuquerque. Eddie Robinson had a solid week, averaging 17 points per game in his two games. Former Cleveland Cavs first round pick Luke Jackson struggled in his first two D-League games, and only shot 35% from the field. Randy Livingston is producing at the point guard position, and would make a good addition to an NBA team in need of an experienced point guard.

Idaho hosts the Dakota Wizards Wednesday night before traveling to Texas for a pair of weekend road games. They play in Fort Worth Friday and in Austin on Saturday.

Anaheim Arsenal, 5-8

Anaheim lost a game in Fort Worth last Friday, before bouncing back the next night with a victory in Tulsa. Jawad Williams has kept his level of play at a high level, and he has been hitting the 3 point shot with consistency. Sean Banks looked great on Friday in an effort that included 13 free throw attempts, but followed it up with a disappointing 5 point, 5 turnover effort against Tulsa. Andre Owens has continued to quietly score the ball well, but he hasn’t really displayed any other part of his game.

Anaheim plays in Colorado on Wednesday night this week, and hosts Bakersfield on Saturday night.

Bakersfield Jam, 3-7

Bakersfield had the best week of their young season, winning 2 of their 3 games. Andre McCollum played well in the first two games of the week against Tulsa, scoring 17 in the loss and 21 points in the victory. Kevinn Pinkney has continued to be solid, and is averaging 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting over 53% from the field. Brandon Bowman had his best game so far with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists Tuesday night. Newcomer Gerry McNamara has scored the ball well since joining the Jam, but has struggled with turnovers thus far.

This week, Bakersfield plays Wednesday on the road in Albuquerque. They return home Friday for a game against Los Angeles, and travel to Anaheim for a Saturday night game.

Austin Toros, 0-12

Austin had a tough week, going 0-2 in a pair of home games against Sioux Falls and Los Angeles. Jay Williams returned from his injury against L.A. but went 0/2 from the field with only 1 assist and 5 fouls in 26 minutes. Jamar Smith has been playing well as usual, but has struggled with foul trouble lately. BJ Elder has continued scoring the ball at a good rate, but has done little else to help his team win a game. The Toros will need multiple players to step up and lead them to their first win, and James White returning to San Antonio doesn’t help much either.

This week, Austin will host Sioux Falls on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday.

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