Substance over Flash at the D-League All-Star Game

Substance over Flash at the D-League All-Star Game
Feb 19, 2008, 10:10 pm
Generally the term all-star game makes one think about high flying dunks and big men bringing the ball up the court when the term is tied in with basketball. This couldn’t have been further from what happened at the second D-League All-Star game over the weekend in New Orleans, where the fundamental team basketball of the Blue Squad brought an easy victory against the Red Team.

The Game


The game stayed fairly close at the beginning with the momentum hanging slightly in the favor of the Red Squad. Lance Allred started the game hot from the field, and finished the quarter with 10 points and 5 rebounds on 4/5 from the field. Kasib Powell also started out the game with a strong push, scoring 9 points. Kyrylo Fesenko was the counter inside early on for the Blue Team, finishing with 6 points on 4 attempts from the field.

The second quarter was controlled by power forward Elton Brown of the Colorado 14ers. Brown was unstoppable inside, finishing with either a hoop or a trip to the free throw line nearly every time he touched the ball down low. Despite Brown’s strong performance, the Blue Team was able to score many easy baskets in transition, and limited the scoring of the Red Team outside of Brown to gain a 53-43 halftime lead.

The second half continued to work in favor of the Blue Team, who was led by the play of two NBA wing players in Jeremy Richardson and Morris Almond. Richardson’s ability to create his own shot was on full display through the second half, and Almond displayed to all in attendance why he was a first round pick last June. Almond missed only 2 shots during the game, and the Blue Team coasted to an easy win by a 117-99 margin.

The end featured some flashy fast break plays and the usual transition basketball that fans expect in an all-star game, but with NBA scouts in the audience, the focus was on fitting in and playing team basketball. Players focused on executing on offense and closing out with the proper rotations on the defensive end of the floor.

The Stars


The obvious star of the game was wing player Jeremy Richardson, who was quickly rewarded with a call-up. Harold Ellis, the minor league scout for the Hawks, watched Richardson from the sidelines as he showed the ability to shoot the three and create his own shot off the dribble. The second year player scored very efficiently and at key times to grab the MVP award for the game. Particularly impressive was Richardson’s play on the defensive end, which has clearly improved with the time he spent at the NBA level this season. He finished the game with 22 points on 9/15 from the field.

“As a team we were coming in trying to play hard and win first of all and most importantly,” said Richardson after the game. “For me personally I’m just trying to go out there and be aggressive and have fun. It worked out that I got the MVP and I’m very thankful for it.”

Morris Almond could have easily won the MVP award with his play, scoring 20 points on an extremely efficient 8/10 from the field. He showed an impressive ability to get his shot off quickly while moving off screens, and improved scoring ability off the bounce compared to a season ago at Rice. The rook still needs to work on his defensive game, but has a great attitude and looks to be a steal considering his draft position.

Andre Barrett also showed his value setting up his teammates in the winning cause, and showed impressive finishing ability at the hoop in the win. Ian Mahinmi also impressed with his quick leaping ability on a couple blocked shots, and Kyrylo Fesenko showed nice hands down low on a number of easy dunks.

Coach Brian Gates of the Idaho Stampede couldn’t get things going for the Red Team, but was thankful for the chance to coach the team that featured three of his own players and 4 Colorado 14ers. “It was nice to have that team, they’re all veterans, the Colorado guys have been through this before. Obviously, with Randy, Cory and Lance, that continuity was there we just couldn’t get it to fall.”

“When you shoot it up there and it doesn’t go in, and we’re missing free throws, missing layups, that’s going to happen,” said Gates about the loss. “Games like games today are the best reason we’re basketball coaches and not football coaches. We don’t have to sit around for 6 days to think about it.

Elton Brown was the star for the losing Red Team, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. It would be hard to imagine Brown maintaining his level of play this season and not receiving a look from an NBA team at some point. Low post scorers are hard to find, and the big man shows amazing footwork considering his size.

Kaniel Dickens started the game slowly, but really picked up his play in the second half. He showed the ability to stroke the three point jumper with great accuracy, and his freakish athletic ability wowed everyone in the gym on a couple of dunks. The veteran forward currently suffers from a hip bruise that makes it difficult for him to play, but he has caught the eye of a lot of NBA scouts this season.

Lance Allred finished the game with 16 points and 8 rebounds, showing the ability to play the high post and the low post. Dwayne Mitchell also impressed with his athletic ability at the rim.

It was a successful weekend for the D-League looking back at the two days of events. The All-Star game proved that team basketball can be fun to watch in an exhibition setting. The dunk contest was outstanding considering the high level of athleticism as well. With the expansion of the D-League over the past few season, we can only look forward to what is on the way for the 2009 All-Star weekend in Phoenix.

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