Season Ticket Review – The first step to recovery

“He really brought a lot of energy. He’s one of those guys that you could wake up at three o’clock in the morning and say, ‘Let’s go play 48 minutes’ and he could do it.” -Sioux Falls coach Mo McHone, after newly-allocated guard Vincent Grier scored 21 points in his first game with the Skyforce on Thursday.


Game 4: December 14th, 2006

Arkansas RimRockers (6-2) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (3-4)

That was the word on the street, after all – we picked up a great player and didn’t lose anything in the process. And now the Sioux Falls Skyforce looks better than they have all year.

Yeah – we won this game quite handily. In fact, we nearly blew the RimRockers out, which is quite a surprise considering they came into the game with a five game winning streak.

(And while I’m thinking about it – Kerrie had a good point. Doesn’t RimRockers sound kind of filthy? Like the team was named after some gross sexual act involving a sphincter? Is that really necessary in professional basketball?)

While Grier had a great game, our starting point guard Frank Williams had a horrible one – 10% shooting and only three points (though he had eight assists.) I felt kind of bad for him. Thankfully, the rest of the team picked it up for him – the Skyforce shot over 50% as a team, and Always Foulin’ Joe Dabbert made it through his five minutes of play without a foul. The stars were aligned. The Skyforce looked unstoppable.

Before the game, we were treated to our first repeat National Anthem singer – one of the fastest we’ve heard. I mean, we’re talking 60 seconds, tops. He barely took a breath. This is often a good sign for the game – a longer Anthem-ist tends to get the game off to a slow start.

The refs, as they have been all year, were horrible. Of the three, two could barely make a decision on his (or her) own without consulting the full referee crew. One call – a goaltending – was reversed, but the reversal resulted in a technical foul for the RimRockers and then a jump ball at mid court. Later on, a jump ball was suddenly ruled a backcourt violation.

The problem with D-League refs is that they are in training for the big leagues. You’d think this would mean a highly competitive arena where referees tried to do their best – and, truthfully, they probably do. However, what we’re seeing every game is a group of young, green referees that are trying to break into the top ranks, mixed with a second group of older referees that have never really been good enough to call truly professional games – and probably never will be. The D-Leauge is a practice space for future NBA refs. Unfortunately, that means WE have to put up with horrible calls and terrible indecision.

But as the referees become more and more green, the presentation becomes a little more professional. Our little D-League team seems to be getting some help from above, right down to the advertisements. Apparently, the full slate of promotions were finally delivered from the league office, as we had rolling Adidas (official shoe of the NBA), NBA D-League Cares, and Gatorade signs throughout the night.

The league is even getting some truly high-profile players. Former #2 overall pick and Dukie Jay Williams, who has been out for years after a near-fatal motorcycle accident, made his triumphant return to organized basketball with a 14 point, 9 assist (30% shooting, 11 turnover) game. If it weren’t for Yao Ming, Williams would have been the #1 pick in the draft, would be playing for the Rockets (instead of the horrible Bulls) and might have had a different contract – one that forbade motorcycle riding as a million dollar player.

Of course, those are the breaks in life. Your decisions dictate your future. From the heights of the NBA, an outstanding college player is reduced to playing for the worst team in the D-League, the 0-7 Austin Toros.

It’s not uncommon. Look at Frank Williams. Look at Randy Livingston. Look at P.J. Ramos. All had bright futures. And now, they’re all fighting for a return to the normal – an encore on the big stage. They’re playing at top form every night just for a chance to show that they still have it, and they’re doing it just a rung below the players they’re trying to displace – a quick, straight shot to the big time.

Without the D-League, what else would they have?

Skyforce 105, Arkansas 93

This was lovingly handwritten on December 15th, 2006