Inside the D-League

Inside the D-League
Mar 13, 2007, 02:56 pm
Edit: Luke Schenscher Called up by Portland

Luke Schenscher will be called up by the Portland Trailblazers on Thursday for a 10-day contract, D-League sources told Mike Schmidt this evening. The Australian 7-footer averaged 9.6 points and 7 rebounds per game this season in 23 minutes playing for the Fort Worth Flyers, and will get his second stint in the NBA after playing 20 games in the 2005-2006 season with the Chicago Bulls.

The Trailblazers recently waived Jeremy Richardson after two consecutive 10-day contracts, and are in need of some help up front after Joel Przybilla underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a few weeks back. Raef LaFrentz is also out with a strained left calf. Richardson on the other hand is already back in the D-League with Fort Worth.

Amundson Receives 2nd Callup

Louis Amundson received his second call-up of the season last week when the Philadelphia 76ers signed him to a 10 day contract. Amundson played two 10 day contracts with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before returning to the Colorado 14ers. The Sixers needed another player to reach the league minimum of 13 players, and Amundson will give them somebody to use up front until Alan Henderson becomes eligible to return to the team. A rookie out of UNLV, Amundson will likely have a chance to earn a second 10 day contract, and could potentially be signed for the rest of the season with strong play.

Randy Livingston Named D-League Player of the Week

Idaho Stampede point guard Randy Livingston has been named D-League Player of the Week. In his last game against Albuquerque, Livingston put up a triple double with 16 points, 19 assists, and 11 rebounds. To this point, the veteran point guard has been one of the best point guards in the D-League. His veteran leadership on the floor is unmatched by any other player in the league. Livingston could be an option for a team looking for an NBA team looking for a veteran leader as a third point guard, but if he doesn’t receive a call-up this season, he will have many opportunities to start his coaching career.

Idaho Releases Hodge, Signs Gaye

Former Denver Nuggets first round pick Julius Hodge has been released by the Idaho Stampede after two games. To replace him and bolster their front court, the Stampede have added 6’9” center Badou Gaye. Hodge played for Denver and Milwaukee during his season and a half in the NBA, and joined Idaho recently after he was cut by the Bucks. At this point, he will likely re-enter the available player pool and try to continue his D-League career with another team.

Blalock and Ray Recalled

Will Blalock and Allan Ray were recalled from the D-League last week, shortly after receiving their first assignments. Blalock was needed by the Pistons, who recently lost veteran Lindsey Hunter to a 10 game suspension. With only Flip Murray left backing up the point, the Iowa State rookie received the call after a handful of games in the D-League. Ray was recalled after just 2 games in Austin. The Celtics currently are working their way through injury woes, and Allan Ray was recalled as added insurance off the bench.

Marcus Campbell to Austin

Center Marcus Campbell has been signed by the Austin Toros from the available player pool. Campbell appeared in 35 games with the Arkansas Rimrockers this season, averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. The 25 year old was cut from the Rimrockers after they added James Lang via free agency, and Alexander Johnson was assigned to them by the Memphis Grizzlies.

O’Bryant Back in Bakersfield

Rookie center Patrick O’Bryant of the Golden State Warriors will play in Bakersfield for the second time this season after being reassigned last week. The rookie 7 footer from Bradley appeared in 17 games with the Jam earlier this season, and averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds per game. He started slowly for the Jam, but picked up his play on the court after he was publicly criticized by Warriors head coach Don Nelson. O’Bryant has the athleticism and raw skills to play in the NBA, but will need to show that he is willing to put in the time to improve.

Sene Likely to Help with Idaho Playoff Push

Sonics rookie center Mouhamed Saer Sene will likely return to the Idaho Stampede for their playoff run, according to Bob Hill. The Sonics feel that practice time with the team is best for Sene’s skill development at this point in time. The rookie from the Senegal played 15 games with Idaho so far this season. He remains raw at this point, but possess good defensive instincts, as well as a developing offense game.

NBA Player Updates

Mile Ilic, Colorado 14ers/New Jersey Nets
4.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg

Ilic has started to become more comfortable with his playing time, but is still adjusting to the different style of play. His playing time has slowly increased over the past few games, as has his production on the floor. Ilic uses his size well to get rebounds in the D-League, but he will need to work on positioning in this area. His best game came last week in about 20 minutes, when he had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Ilic appears to be semi-skilled on the offensive end, but will need to continue to develop in all areas to have an NBA future.

Alexander Johnson, Arkansas Rimrockers/Memphis Grizzlies
11.5 pgg, 6.0 rpg, .75 bpg

Johnson has been a productive player offensively in the D-League, displaying both the ability to hit a jump-hook on the block, and stepping out to hit the jumper to 15 feet. His rebounding looks to need some improvement, and he needs to be more aggressive and use his body more effectively in this area. Johnson had his best game last week with 22 points and 8 rebounds, while going 8/11 from the field. He should continue to produce in the D-League, and looks to be the type of player who will be a career rotation big man.

Amir Johnson, Sioux Falls Skyforce/Detroit Pistons
17.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.6 apg

Amir Johnson has been streaky in the D-League thus far, but has a promising future in the NBA. Lately, foul trouble has been a little problem for Johnson, but this is the only thing restricting his playing time in Sioux Falls. Physically, Johnson plays tough on the offensive end, and is able to finish well at the rim thanks to great elevation. He will need to be more physical when it comes to defense and rebounding, but the skills are in place for him to become a very good player in the future.

Damir Markota, Tulsa 66ers/Milwaukee Bucks
10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg

Markota seems to be gaining confidence as of late, and his play has certainly improved over the past couple games. The best game of his short D-League career came on Friday, where he finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds on 8/13 from the field. Markota has legitimate 3 point range at this point, but he must continue to take shots within the flow of the offense, rather than forcing things off the dribble. He has also displayed the limited ability to drive to the hoop, but he needs to work on finishes more aggressively inside. At this point, it’s tough to project Markota’s future, but he certainly has a lot of assets to work with on the court.

PJ Tucker, Colorado 14ers/Toronto Raptors
10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg

Tucker started off his second stint in the D-League with a strong game on Saturday. He finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the game against Los Angeles. In the game, he knocked down a 3 point shot and both of his free throws, which is encouraging considering he has always struggled with the range on his shot. Tucker’s first step could be quicker, but he has displayed the ability to create off the dribble. Defensively, he uses his length a little better at this point, and he will now need to work on proper positioning techniques. The most Tucker can gain the D-League is more confidence, which will come with production and playing time on the court.

Marcus Vinicius, Tulsa 66ers/New Orleans Hornets
13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.6 apg

Vinicius has been a pleasant surprise during his D-League time so far. He creates many of his points going to the basket off the dribble, and he knows how to use a shot fake to create the space and get to the rim. Rebounding has been another strong point for the Brazilian rookie, and he has displayed a great feel for the game. Vinicius rarely forces things on the offensive end, and always hits the open man when unable to score himself. He has NBA 3 point range as well, and is a very smooth as a player. Defense is a weak point for Vinicius at this point, but he does have good anticipation in the passing lanes. His best game last week came with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists, and he had another game with 5 assists to go with 9 rebounds and 14 points.

Team Updates

Idaho Stampede, 27-11

The Stampede have emerged as the clear cut best team in the league, and they won a pair of games last week to maintain this position. Randy Livingston has continued to lead the team, and his strong play allowed him to win D-League Player of the week. Luke Jackson has also played well for Idaho as of late, and Eddie Robinson has come on strong since returning from an injury. Lance Allred came up big in a victory against Dakota last week, where he finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while going 11/16 from the field. D-League all-star Ronell Taylor has also been a key contributor for the Stampede.

Idaho will look to continue their winning ways this week with 3 games at home. They host Austin on Wednesday, and back to back games against Anaheim starting Friday night.

Colorado 14ers, 26-13

Colorado has continued to play well, despite the loss of Louis Amundson for the second time this season. Last week, they won a pair of games against Los Angeles thanks to an overall team effort. Von Wafer has struggled from the field since returning to the team, but was able to get to the line with frequency on Friday night. Pooh Jeter continues his strong play as the floor general of the team. He had 14 assists in 2 games last week, and has a 2.5 assist to turnover ratio on the season. Elton Brown has continued to be a presence inside, and he will be relied on to carry the load up front for the rest of the season. Colorado has a well balanced roster at this point, and they will look to make a strong push going into the playoffs.

Colorado plays back to back games in Arkansas this Friday and Saturday.

Dakota Wizards, 21-14

Dakota lost to Idaho last week, but bounced back with a strong win over Arkansas. Point guard Dontell Jefferson had 28 points and 7 assists in the win. Renaldo Major has continued to lead the team, and was the only Wizard who played to his full potential in the loss to Idaho. He averages 17.2 points per game on the season, and is shooting 52% from the field. Dakota’s front court is now much deeper with the acquisition of Brazilian big man Morrow, and they can play him, Rod Benson, and Kevin Lyde at the 5. Chris McCray has struggled to get into the flow of things so far, but he still displays talent that few other D-League guards can match.

Dakota opens this week with Tuesday and Wednesday home games against Arkansas. They finish their week Sunday at home against Tulsa.

Sioux Falls Skyforce, 23-16

Sioux Falls won a pair of games against Albuquerque last week, as well as a Sunday game against Bakersfield. Frank Williams has continued to pick up his play as of late, and he now averaged 15.8 points and 4.7 assists per game on the season. Robert Hite has played well in the role of a scorer lately, and Stephen Graham’s all-around strong play has helped the team greatly. Amir Johnson has filled in nicely up front since Jared Reiner’s departure to the NBA as well.

Sioux Falls opens their week against Anaheim on Tuesday, and closes with a Sunday home game against Austin.

Fort Worth Flyers, 20-14

Fort Worth didn’t play any games last week, but they did add former Syracuse shot blocker Jeremy McNeil to their roster. They play Tulsa on Tuesday, before traveling to California for games in Bakersfield on Friday and Los Angeles on Sunday.

Los Angeles D-Fenders, 19-20

Los Angeles dropped 3 games last week, and they are currently on a 4 game losing streak. Brian Chase has continued his strong play as a scorer, but has the tendency to dominate the ball. Sean Banks plays really well some games, but remains one of the more inconsistent players in the league. Andre Emmett has been a steady presence for the D-Fenders, and his strong play will help them fight for playoff spot. Los Angeles is currently in the third spot in the West, and will be in a close battle the rest of the way for the final playoff spot.

Los Angeles hosts Albuquerque on Friday and Fort Worth on Sunday.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds, 18-21

Albuquerque struggled last week against some of the leagues top teams, and followed up their 7 game winning streak with 3 losses. They dropped two games to Sioux Falls, and another one to Idaho. Dijon Thompson remains one of the best players in the league, and his presence will give the Thunderbirds a chance to win more often than not. Tony Bland had a triple double last week, and Joe Shipp produced at his usual level as well. The big challenge for Albuquerque will be to get consistent play from players like Andreas Glynaidakas and Brandon Robinson.

Albuquerque plays in Los Angeles on Friday night, before moving on to Bakersfield for a Sunday game.

Anaheim Arsenal, 18-22

Anaheim won their only game last week in overtime against Bakersfield. They won because of strong play from Magic Dorsey, who finished with 28 points, 9 assists, and only 1 turnover. Steven Smith also had 32 points and 8 rebounds, including 13 attempts from the free throw line. Jawad Williams added 21 points, and 20 came from Andre Owens. They will look to get to the third spot in the west during the remainder of the season to get into the playoffs.

Anaheim hosts Sioux Falls on Tuesday, before traveling to Idaho for Friday and Saturday games.

Tulsa 66ers, 17-21

Tulsa won 3 games last week including games over Los Angeles, Austin, and Arkansas. Their improved play results from the strong play of Will Conroy, who recently rejoined them after a brief stint with the Clippers. Des Farmer has also played well since the return of Conroy, and has benefited from more open looks. Former Charlotte Bobcat Alan Anderson has been great as a glue guy for Tulsa. He played the point guard position when Conroy was gone, and he does all the little things on the court. The important thing for the 66ers from here on out will be stronger play from the center position.

Tulsa plays on Tuesday in Fort Worth, before wrapping up their week with a game in North Dakota.

Austin Toros, 15-20

Austin lost their only game last week against Tulsa. BJ Elder continued in his role as the first scoring option for the Toros, and managed to net 19 points on 8/18 from the field. They will need strong efforts from both Jamar Smith and Troy Bell in order make a playoff push. Bell is talented as a scorer, but struggles with consistency, and tends to dominate the ball. Cheyne Gadson also needs to start asserting himself more on the offensive end.

This week, Austin plays in Idaho Wednesday and in Sioux Falls on Friday.

Bakersfield Jam, 13-27

Bakersfield has dropped their last 5 games, including a pair to Anaheim and Sioux Falls last week. Patrick O’Bryant played well upon his return to the D-League, with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Tamar Slay has continued to play well recently, and has increase his D-League scoring average to 12 points per game on 50% from the field after a slow start. Mateen Cleaves now starts in the back court with Gerry McNamara, and they have seemed to struggle in figuring out their new roles. Kevinn Pinkney has remained consistent for the Jam, and his production will help them from here on out.

Bakersfield hosts Fort Worth on Friday and Albuquerque on Sunday.

Arkansas Rimrockers, 11-28

The Rimrockers have only won 2 of their past 10 games, and have continued to struggle despite the addition of James Lang and Alexander Johnson. They lost games to both Dakota and Tulsa last week. Roger Powell is averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists per game since joining the D-League, and has been one of the better forwards in the league over the past 2 months. Clay Tucker has continued to play well, but the new players have yet to build up chemistry thus far.

The Rimrockers play Dakota in back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. They finish their week with Friday and Saturday games in Colorado.

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